DCAPES Transition its Forces from Postured Force Elements to Executable Capabilities

  • Published
  • By Jason Bindewald and Rebecca Huelsmann

The war planning system the Department of the Air Force (DAF) uses to transition its forces from postured force elements to executable capabilities is poised to address the force presentation changes required for Global Power Competition reoptimization.

Recent successes in the Deliberate and Crisis Action Planning and Execution System (DCAPES) program have positioned it for Full Deployment Decision (FDD) in Fall 2024 and a transition to the Software Acquisition Pathway (SWP) thereafter, enabling DCAPES to adjust to evolving DAF war planning requirements.

DCAPES enables DAF involvement in joint planning and execution, providing warfighters the means to project combat capability worldwide. Through DCAPES, war planners can create and modify standard packages of manpower and equipment to accomplish a stated mission; create and present the DAF library of capabilities across the Air Force Force Generation (AFFORGEN) cycle; participate in joint operations planning and execution; and project and track DAF strength accountability from home station to deployed locations and back.

DCAPES successfully fielded two major releases in February 2024, saving the program vital development time and enabling better Unit Type Code (UTC) management.

The first release, v7.0.0.0, culminated a six-month engineering project migrating DCAPES’s production hosting environment and operating system to match its development environment, enabling the program to reduce the government acceptance process from days down to hours.

The second release, v7.1.0.0, provides a Shortfall Workflow capability to report manpower shortfalls in a tasked UTC. Once Headquarters Air Force (HAF) war planners turn on workflow, Wings will be able to route shortfalls to the owning major command (MAJCOM), HAF, Director of Current Operations, War Planning and Policy Division (AF/A3OD), and/or Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) for resolution. Additionally, this release delivers a shortfall dashboard depicting the status of all reported shortfalls, enabling DAF senior leaders with a clearer site picture of shortfalls in the AFFORGEN process.

These recent DCAPES releases enabled the program to begin Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) for DCAPES Increment 2B. DCAPES was granted permission to enter IOT&E in February 2024 and began the testing events. Increment 2B will culminate the 18-year initial development of the system where the DAF designs and presents its force posture to the Joint Force. The IOT&E requirement is a major achievement within the DCAPES program and represents the last major milestone before a FDD, which is expected in Fall 2024.

Upon completion of Increment 2B’s FDD, DCAPES will become the first Program Executive Office Business and Enterprise Systems (PEO BES) program to move to the SWP. The SWP enables DCAPES to respond more rapidly to evolving Air Force needs as the Air Force continues to grow and evolve the AFFORGEN process. The SWP provides DCAPES this flexibility through annual requirements development identified through a Capabilities Need Statement and HAF, MAJCOM, and Wing level support through a coordinated User Agreement (UA). These documents capture the agreed-upon work for the next year and allow the program to plan and prioritize future work with key HAF and MAJCOM stakeholders.

The ongoing work within the DCAPES program gives DAF war planners the ability to dynamically address Gen. David Allvin, Chief of Staff of the Air Force call to “ensure our force presentation and force generation models are aligned to the way we intend to fight.”