Friday, November 18, 2011

Day Two of GWS

Day Two of GWS began with an Air Force Update from Gen Phillip Breedlove, Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force. Aware of upcoming budget cuts he recognized that the Air Force will get smaller, but was adamant that we will not go hollow--stating that he "do(es) not believe that we should go into a fight and NOT have the upper hand." Take Away: We must find a way to reduce capacity while maintaining capability. Recent history has given us many firsts in working as a team, rather than in separate stovepipes, with our allies, and must continue as we will have more daunting foes further from our bases. It is critical for us to work with the Navy in an Air-Sea partnership. This united message will tell all enemies to cease their aggression.

Continuing the Air-Sea debate, Dr. Alan Vick of RAND Corp. spoke again on “Forging an Air-Sea Partnership for the 21st Century.” Lt Gen David Deptula (Ret., USAF), the first Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, chimed in from the audience on a few issues in what was a great discussion. Dr. Vick led the audience through this history of joint ventures, such as the Old War precedent of AirLand Battle with the Air Force and the Army, further catalyzed by the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Take Away: While joint structures should allow services to work together, Dr. Vick suggested that Air-Sea should be modeled on a combination of AirLand and War Plan Orange, which in combination would cover long- and short-term planning. Future problems will be in anti-access threats, information disruptions, incentives for the enemy to strike first, and US vulnerability, which will raise the costs of conflict. Working together, we can ensure reliable information flows to decision-makers.

Secretary Michael Donley wrapped up the conference with the State of the Air Force. The theme of the conference was teamwork, and cautious hope for the future through budget cuts. Donley continued with this, facing obstacles while insisting that it's not all bleak. Everything is on the table for consideration for the sustainability of the Air Force. He committed to standards of proper care for our fallen, and remarked on the stewardship of the Federal budget, accepting some risk to our security and the need to drive efficiency. Preserving Air Force core missions, Donley spoke of sustaining post 9/11 improvements, air superiority, and freedom of action in space, and maintaining an Air Force presence in every state. He closed with faith that the Air Force will keep evolving despite strained resources.

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