NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The U.S. Air Force’s effort to modernize command, control, communications and battle management has proved more challenging than expected, Secretary Frank Kendall admitted Monday morning while announcing the appointment of a new program executive officer to supervise the project.

During his keynote address at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, Kendall said he wants to keep a closer eye on how the C3 battle management effort is progressing.

Brig. Gen. Luke Cropsey will be the integrating PEO for the service’s C3 battle management effort, Kendall added.

“One of the findings of the operational imperative work to date is, we have not appreciated the scale of the effort needed to modernize [the Air Force’s] C3 battle management in a JADC2 [Joint All-Domain Command and Control] context,” Kendall said. “Our efforts to date have not been adequately focused, nor have they been adequately integrated.”

Kendall also said he and the chiefs of the Air Force and Space Force — Gen. CQ Brown and Gen. Jay Raymond, respectively — will hold quarterly reviews on the C3 battle management effort.

“The [Department of the Air Force] is a large ship, and it turns slowly,” Kendall said. “But to use a sailing expression, the helm is hard work. We’ve identified the change we need to accelerate to avoid losing. Now we have to resource that change and execute the plan to make it happen.”

Modernizing the Air Force’s battle management structure was one of seven “operational imperatives” Kendall announced at AFA’s March conference in Orlando, Florida, calling the effort necessary if the service hopes to counter a potential threat from China. Other imperatives include modernizing the force’s airborne warning capability, defining the Next Generation Air Dominance program, establishing a system of resilient basing based on the Agile Combat Employment doctrine and establishing the B-21 Raider bomber, among others.

Kendall said the Air Force will continue to follow the operational framework plan and will set up a “program of actions” for each imperative designed to make it happen.

Who is Brig. Gen. Cropsey?

Cropsey most recently served as both the director of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate and the director of international affairs at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, overseeing foreign military sales.

Cropsey will report to Andrew Hunter and Frank Calvelli, the assistant secretaries in charge of acquisition for the Air Force and Space Force, respectively, Kendall said.

Cropsey will be in charge of the C3 battle management’s program’s overall architecture and systems design, system engineering, and other technical matters, Kendall added.

And the general will represent the Department of the Air Force when working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and other services while developing the Air Force’s JADC2 effort. He will also work with Brig. Gen. Jeffery Valenzia, who leads the Air Force’s Air Battle Management System cross-functional team, and Brig. Gen. John Olson, who is the Space Force’s lead on JADC2 and ABMS efforts.

Kendall also said the department’s operational imperative work has helped it start projects to modernize electronic warfare capabilities, plan for munitions in the future, and outline efforts for the service’s future mobility and aerial tanking needs. Kendall said he will be reaching out to the defense industry for ideas on these projects.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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