CPIP expands horizons, sharpens RPA readiness

  • Published
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs

In an effort to take care of Airmen as they take care of the mission, Air Combat Command has a Culture Process Improvement Program on the remotely-piloted aircraft community. A team consisting of leaders across several functional areas in the RPA and intelligence communities constantly work together to develop solutions to key areas of concern in the career field.

“We’re building a sustainable enterprise and protecting readiness for the long-term,” said Lt. Col. Jason Rabideau, ACC CPIP team deputy director. “CPIP provides focus to getting processes done.”

The program also is setting the strategic vision of where the RPA enterprise is going in the years to come. The Air Force is working to define what RPA community going to support in terms of mission sets, operational tempos and participation in contingency operations.

“It’s not this constant demand by the combatant commanders,” said Lt. Col. Landon, ACC RPA operations chief, also whose last name was withheld. “It’s building new bases. It’s giving you opportunities and trying to stabilize the force.”

As Air Force leaders plan to add 2,500 to 3,000 personnel to the RPA enterprise, the new bases are being constructed to accommodate for the influx of new Airmen. As of today, there are approximately 700 RPA pilots and 700 sensor operators worldwide. Of note, there are also 115 Air Force Reservists and 200 Air National Guard RPA Airmen in the career field.

“The most important thing we’re looking at is the ability to train,” Landon said. “Right now we’re in such high demand that we are doing the majority of our training in joint combat operations. “As time is available, what the new bases will do for us is give us additional airspace, facilities and equipment.”

Additional Airmen, training and infrastructure will also enable RPA operators to be ready for whatever that next mission set is during future conflicts. This also makes it possible for Airmen to more adequately answer their nation’s call, Landon said.

“That’s what I’m messaging to the senior leaders: if we need to do more missions, then we need to have more Airmen,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Otto, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. “The people are the most important aspect of the mission.” 

“We can have the right collection platforms, the right sensors, the right communication paths and all of the exploitation tools, but the secret sauce is the analysis and the critical thinking, and that comes from our Airmen.”