AFSOC Implements Wing-Level A-staffs, Breaks Down Bureaucratic Barriers and Increases Readiness


Five wings assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command implemented the new wing air staff (A-staff) structure on March 30, 2023.

This change has been in the works since the 2021 CORONA Conference when Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. approved a redesign of the wing headquarters that adds a functional staff to an existing wing headquarter staff. The A-staff is designed to break down bureaucratic barriers, improve speed and quality of decision making, allow better alignment with higher headquarters and grow leaders needed for Great Power Competition.

“By reorganizing wing staffs, we streamline authoritative actions and processes throughout the chain of command,” said Col. Jocelyn Schermerhorn, AFSOC Director of Operations (A3). “This new structure alleviates the administrative burden at the squadron level allowing them to focus on the mission.”

Each wing within AFSOC is organized with an A-staff that best suits their mission set, which includes:

A1 – Manpower, Personnel, and Services  

A2 – Intelligence                                  

A3 – Operations  

A4 – Logistics, Engineering & Force Protection

A5 – Plans & Requirements 

A6 – Communications  

Wing Staff Agencies – such as Public Affairs, History, Chaplain, JAG Corps, Inspector General, etc., transition to Special Staff in the A-staff model.

Ultimately, Airmen are exposed to the wing A-staff and their processes earlier in their careers, making them better prepared for operating within joint organizations.

“Prior to this change, Airmen were arriving to headquarters assignments and joint deployments without a good or even general understanding of how a numbered staff functions,” said Col. Christopher Busque, AFSOC Director of Manpower, Personnel and Services (A1). “This new structure addresses that concern by allowing Airmen to gain exposure to the A-staff construct earlier on in their careers.”

The transitioning AFSOC wings are expected to meet full operational capability of the A-staff implementation by early FY24.

By 2nd Lt Cassandra Saphore

3 Responses to “AFSOC Implements Wing-Level A-staffs, Breaks Down Bureaucratic Barriers and Increases Readiness”

  1. Ray Forest says:

    Can someone explain what’s different other than changing the S or the J to an A?

  2. Mike says:

    Someone who knows AFSOC will probably explain that like many SOF organizations they decided not to use the old Napoleonic codes some time ago. And then decided they really should be using them after all. Every time you fix something about an organization you break something else. The non-A code model was adopted because A1/A2/A3 etc. has issues. I don’t have specific knowledge of AFSCOC, but I’ve seen other organizations go away from and back to the traditional structure over time.

    I suspect this line is somewhat ironic: “The A-staff is designed to break down bureaucratic barriers…” If you can find a press release from way back when that explains why the organization moved away from traditional departments, it will say the goal was to break down bureaucratic barriers.

    This is the military – we create bureaucratic barriers all the time. Reorganize us, and we’ll just create different bureaucratic barriers. But every now and then you need to shake things up.

    • Eric G says:

      The AF has used a staff structure that is somewhat reminiscent if it’s time as part of the Army. For instance, Communications was known as SC. Now ask a comms troop what SC stands for and they won’t know, but anybody who was in the Army will figure out it’s for Signal Corps. Another for instance. While in an Intel shop at the Group level, I was in the IN shop. At a Squadron? I was DOI for Directorate of Operations Intel (once removed). That meant I worked for the Ops Officer and not directly for the commander.
      And so on…