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Air Force l’Armée de l’Air

The organization of the Air Force is characterized by three hierarchical levels and three complementary chains of command. The High Command comprises the Chief of Air Staff (CEMAA = Chef d’État Major de l’Armée de l’Air), assisted by his central administration. The organization chart shows that he is directly subordinate to the Minister of Defence, whom he assists in his duties relating to the operational readiness of the Air Force. He is adviser to the Joint Chief of Staff (CEMA = Chef d’État Major des Armées) concerning the commitment of air assets and the conduct of air operations.


The very nature of air power demands a flexible organization in order to allow «ad hoc» task forces (occasionally joint task forces) to be assembled, according to the type of crisis and the nature of the operation. Such task forces are composed of elements drawn from organic (specific) assets. They are placed under the authority of an operational command, which is responsible to the Joint Chief of Staff, and tailored to meet a specific task. The organization of the French Air Force provides the necessary operational flexibility and a command structure adapted to the use of military force whilst ensuring coherent planning of air operations, unified tasking and the most effective use of resources. Thus, it can be seen that the missions and deployment of the Air Force are the responsibility of the Operational Commands while its operational readiness depends on the Organic Commands. The latter role also includes the Air Regions that are responsible for the support of air bases and the units attached to them. The Air Force has units throughout France, as well as in its overseas territories and foreign countries.



There are three Air Regions:


The organic (specialised) chain of command comprises five major commands:


The Air Force base is the level at which all the links from the various commands (operational, organic and territorial) are brought together. Thus, it plays a crucial role in the functioning of the Air Force. The Base Commander has authority over all the units that are stationed on the base (this can include from 600 to 3,500 personnel). He is responsible for maintaining operational effectiveness and for the execution of orders regarding specific missions.


The operational role of the Air Force relies on an organization that is adapted to the flexibility and mobility of air power supported by the necessary infrastructure and logistics chain. Thus, the flying units remain as light and mobile as possible, ready to be deployed rapidly in the knowledge that the support required to enable them to accomplish their missions will be provided. We apply the same concepts to our overseas units by establishing mobile support units which deploy with their parent combat units.

Sources and Methods

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Created by John Pike
saftergood@fas.org">Steven Aftergood
Updated Monday, November 15, 1999 12:55:32 PM