Air Doctrine Note 14/01, RCAF Air Task Force Commander: Considerations for the employment of air power in joint operations

Article #6 in a series on command and control and the Royal Canadian Air Force[1]

By Lieutenant-Colonel Pux Barnes, CD, MA

With the 28 May 2014 approval by the Commander Royal Canadian Air Force (Comd RCAF) of Canadian Forces Air Doctrine Note (ADN) 14/01, formally entitled “Royal Canadian Air Force Air Task Force Commander Definitions, Roles and Responsibilities,” the way forward for the command and control (C2) of the air task force (ATF) has now come into sharper focus. Almost a year in the making, this ADN does two critical things for RCAF Air doctrine: it solidifies the ATF Comd concept, and it paves the way for the forthcoming second edition of the keystone-level B-GA-401-000/FP-001, Royal Canadian Air Force Command Doctrine.

The first pan–Air Force C2 doctrine since the end of the Cold War, the B-GA-401 was released in March 2012 following two years of research and review. The B-GA-401 provided a new, coordinated RCAF C2 solution for the evolving entities of the ATF and air expeditionary wing (AEW) in joint/combined operations. As an unexpected spin-off, the RCAF’s Command doctrine served as a catalyst for change across the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), prompting reviews of existing, outdated C2 doctrine. Since 2012, extensive “testing” of RCAF C2 doctrine has occurred through numerous operations and exercises and the Air Force Lessons Learned Programme identified a need for greater fidelity in available C2 options for the complex, ever-changing operating environment.

In short, the RCAF began to realize that the ubiquity and reach of air power comes with the responsibility for the RCAF to fit into every domestic or expeditionary operation with a predictable and tested C2 structure that is both flexible and agile. It was obvious that the normal four-year cycle of doctrine development would not be fast enough to capture the C2 lessons being learned, so B-GA-401’s second edition was fast-tracked. It is expected to be promulgated later this year.

In the meantime, Comd RCAF guidance in the form of ADN 14/01 ensures planners and commanders of current operations and exercises can benefit from the analysis of these lessons learned until the revised B-GA-401 is approved. The result of Air Force–wide collaboration and consensus, ADN 14/01 offers planners and commanders of air operations with options to ensure the effective C2 of the RCAF’s principal war-fighting force, the ATF.[2] ADN 14/01 will be incorporated into the second edition of B-GA-401 to ensure it continues to be a central component of the RCAF’s C2 solution.

A signed copy of ADN 14/01 is available at in an effort to help socialize its contents; it includes key guidance on the following items:

a. new definitions: air task force, air task force commander, air task force headquarters (ATFHQ) and residual authorities (RA);

b. considerations for the selection of an ATF Comd;

c. ATF Comd roles and responsibilities;

d. the C2 relationship between the CAF joint force air component commander (JFACC) and ATF Comd;

e. the ATF Comd with other C2 roles such as an AEW Comd or detachment commander (DETCO); and

f. five basic options for ATF Comd employment in the form of C2 organization charts for different types of operations. These options are designed as a starting point for staffs, planners and commanders for operations where:

i. the CAF JFACC exercises operational command (OPCOM) of the ATF;

ii. the ATF is supporting a regional joint task force commander (RJTF Comd);

iii. the ATF is part of a CAF joint task force (JTF) employing the component command method;

iv. the ATF is part of a CAF JTF employing the direct command method; and

v. the ATF is part of an allied/coalition (multinational) operation.

ADN―air doctrine note

AEW―air expeditionary wing

ATF―air task force

B-GA-401―B-GA-401-000/FP-001, Royal Canadian Air Force Command Doctrine

C2―command and control

CAF―Canadian Armed Forces


JFACC―joint force air component commander

JTF―joint task force

RCAF―Royal Canadian Air Force

[1]. This is the sixth in a series of short articles on the subject of command and control in the RCAF. For more detailed information, consult B-GA-401-000/FP-001, Canadian Forces Aerospace Command Doctrine found on the Internet at and the Defence Wide Area Network at (both sites accessed September 29, 2014). (return)

[2]. A detailed discussion of the RCAF ATF and ATF Comd can be found in article #5 of this series. Command and Control and the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-Colonel Pux Barnes, “The RCAF Air Task Force: Considerations for the Employment of Air Power in Joint Operations,” Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre, both sites accessed September 29, 2014, (Internet) and (Defence Wide Area Network). (return)

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