The Air Staff is one of the Department of the Air Force's two statutorily designated headquarters staffs: the other staff is the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, also known as the Secretariat. The Air Staff is headed by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (currently General Charles Q. Brown Jr.). The Air Staff is primarily composed of uniformed U.S. Air Force officials who assist the Chief of Staff in carrying out his dual-hatted role: as the principal military advisor to the Secretary of the Air Force, and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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The Air Staff was reorganized in 2006 to be numbered in accordance with the Joint Staff system. For the most part, the Joint Staff numbering system applies to the air staff. The Air Force separated Analysis and Assessments from A8 to create a separate directorate, A9, then in 2008, followed up with the creation of a separate directorate, A10, for the Air Force's nuclear mission.
For reference, the organization of the Joint Staff follows. See full article.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff organization includes the following departments where all the Joint Staff's planning, policies, intelligence, manpower, communications and logistics functions are translated into action.
National Level Command Structure
Multiple Air Force military commands follow this structure, but for the HQ Air Force at the Pentagon, they combine several into one office (A5/8 and A4/7). In addition, unlike the other branches of the U.S. armed forces that place "force development and training" in J7 like elements (i.e., G7, N7, etc.), the Air Force has no A7 "training" organization at the HAF level, retaining that function within its A3 organization.
The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, located in Washington, D.C., reports directly to a board of directors chaired by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Board members also include the Secretary of the Air Force, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. The office responds to Combat Air Force and combatant command requirements.
The RCO reports to a board of directors comprising the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics and the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force. The office is staffed with a variety of functional specialists.
The Secretary of the Air Force activated the office 28 April 2003. One of its first projects was to deploy significant upgrades to the Integrated Air Defense System, now operational around the National Capital Region. Currently, RCO is working on the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle to demonstrate a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the United States Air Force. Additionally, RCO, in conjunction with MIT Lincoln Lab and other partners, is developing a sensitive airborne receiver system. The system is scheduled for in-theater evaluation during the summer of 2009. The RCO Red Team assesses current and future threats to U.S. combat operations by providing independent technical assessments.