An Air Force Air Battle Manager has a very important role in the service, using strategy, experience, and a knowledge of aircraft and weapons to "control the outcome of an air battle," according to the Air Force.
It's a demanding job that requires the individual be able to keep composure in stressful situations while acting with confidence and decisiveness.
This job is separated into three codes:
- AFSC 13B4, Staff
- AFSC 13B3, Qualified
- AFSC 13B1, Entry
This specialty includes the following primary duties:
- Performs and manages air battle manager (ABM) operations functions and activities
- Effects control of assigned forces
- Plans, organizes, and directs operations, including airspace management, directs aircraft conducting air defense and tactical missions, coalition integration, sensor system management, operations management activities, and data link operations
- Supervises mission crew activities, and sector and regional operations control centers.
- Provides staff supervision and technical advice
- Supports the planning, programming, and budgeting process for command and control (C2) and battle management functions (related DoD Occupational Group: 2G)
In addition to the aforementioned duties, an air battle manager has other responsibilities that are essential to the job.
For example, an ABM must direct personnel and manage operations. They also select and employ surveillance, combat, reporting, and data link management systems in order to give aircrews the best chance to succeed on the battlefield.
ABMs must receive a directive, interpret it to create a specific guidance, and then create procedures that will guide controllers. The ABM must evaluate the operational readiness of communications, sensors and related support equipment, all while managing operations personnel who are performing air weapons control and surveillance. And they must draft a force status report to advise the commander on the readiness of forces.
ABMs are involved in a lot of planning and development of policies and procedures. These policies are vital to ensuring aircrews are as effective as they can be on the battlefield. ABMs also develop budget inputs to make sure they have the resources they need, and they plan and conduct exercises to evaluate how operationally ready crews are. An ABM also develops and implements operational procedures and management agreements with sister services, allied forces, and even civil authorities to make sure everything runs smoothly.
ABMs must also be involved in training operators. that means developing formal curriculum and developing training plans to meet mission needs. They must also establish performance standards and procedures for improving operations.
ABMs also get into battle management architecture, which means writing technical requirements and equipment specifications, as well as analysis on things like the optimum sitting of ground units and positioning of airborne assets. The ABM must then collect all the data collected and use it to improve operational effectiveness.
The following knowledge is mandatory for award of the AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) indicated:
- 13B3X. Organization, mission, and principles of operations deployment; directives, procedures, and techniques to manage and operate airborne and ground C2 systems, theater, or scope of operations equipment, and operational policies of weapons and systems employment; strategic, theater, and tactical C2 (command and control) and communications systems; limitations and capabilities of manual and automated C2 systems; C2 reporting; deliberate and contingency planning; principles of radar and Electronic Attack and Electronic Protection; the air defense organization of North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) and Theater Air Control Systems.
- 13B3B/C/D/K/L/U. Weapons control, airspace, and data link management, mission crew commander functions, or C2 operations support of airborne battle management platforms; air threat analysis; allocation, distribution, and positioning of air weapons systems; air control procedures, tactics, and techniques; radar, radio, and data link capabilities; aircraft performance characteristics and armament; radio and telephone procedures and phraseology; meteorology; electronic combat operations and techniques; sensor system management, limitations, and operations; fighter tactics and forces management; operating procedures and relationship among air, ground, and naval forces and effective use of their combined resources; surveillance and data management activities; surveillance situation analysis; detection, tracking, reporting, display, and dissemination of air situation and tactical threat information; and management, interoperability, and integration of command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I).
Education. Candidates should have an undergraduate academic specialization in a technical discipline with courses in administration and management.
Training. The following training is mandatory:
- For the award of AFSC 13B1X, completion of Air Force Undergraduate ABM Training (UAT)
- For the award of AFSC 13B3X, completion of transition and operational training in the suffix specific aircraft of the system
Experience. The following is mandatory for award of the AFSC indicated:
13B3B/C/D/K/L/U. A minimum of 12 months of experience in a weapons assignment or air surveillance position and certification as combat or mission ready, including experience in organizing, directing, and managing operations and related activities of assigned C2 systems.
Other. Candidates must have physical qualification for a Flying Class III physical according to AFI 48-123, Medical Examination and Standards. Also, for the award of 13B1U, the candidate must have prior qualification as a 13B3B/K/L.
D—Mobile Air Control