Thursday, February 23, 2012

“State of the Air Force” General Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff of the Air Force

General Schwartz kicked off the 2012 Air Warfare Symposium speaker sessions by addressing the current state of our Air Force, saying that “we will get smaller, but we will become more valued due to the current security environment”. With an increase in deployment since 9/11, our personnel and equipment have been placed under heavy stress over the past decade, causing leaders to reevaluate how we can maintain a ready force—not a hollow one.

Schwartz administered a call to action that urged developing integrated and coordinated operations with cross domain approaches, and insisted upon having harmonized voices and close partnerships with other branches as well as our industry relations.

While dealing with personnel and budget cuts, Schwartz noted that the number of current Active Airmen has been cut to the point where it cannot be cut any further without negative effects to the capabilities of the force. In our attempts to avoid a lesser voice, we must restore the balance of the Active to Reserve ratio and ensure the reserve components stay relevant. Working with the smallest Air Force since its inception, Schwartz reassured his commitment to bold action without splintering our unity. He rightly noted that “100% of what covers both land and sea is air and space,” and this must be kept in mind to appropriately balance a force structure.

1 comment:

Vance48 said...

A dramatic “revisioning” of the United States role in the world complicates these tough budget times. But, we have first class capability available at bargain prices to help bridge the fiscal abyss.

Now more than ever we need a robust, engaged, and fully exploited Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. We cannot allow loose reasoning or misguided comments that describe a marginalized National Guard and Reserve from 30 to 50 years ago to divert our focus. The modern Air Reserve Component has “the right stuff.”

The USAF should have both a robust force of manned fighters and a stealthy remote force. USAF should be sized with an eye on future threats not the cost of capability.

The bottom line is exactly what General Dunn wrote in a recent email: we cannot afford a second-rate Air Force. Increasing reliance on the Air National Guard can stretch our USAF dollar, leverage Congress, and enhance the Total Force.

It is tough to get one's arms around the problem of force mix and sustainability. A good chart might help. The set of questions that should be asked concerning the appropriate fielding for Total Force structure begins with two core issues.

First, "What force structure, missions, roles MUST remain with the federal standing military?" This produces a baseline that is the absolute skeleton for sustainable, capable combat power. USAF should produce this answer, but cannot do it alone. The Guard and Reserve must play in the decision or the absolute will be developed by the uninformed.

Second, "What missions and force structure should NOT be given to the Air National Guard and Reserve?" The Air National Guard and Reserve will define this limiting factor; they understand what they cannot do and what they cannot do well. USAF should play in this process of potential mission elimination or the unwilling may be confused with the unable.

Combining the answers to questions one and two on a chart of Total Force Requirements will identify the relationship between Air National Guard and Reserve capability and capacity, and the USAF "NO ARC" zone. USAF would own every mission rejected by the ANG and the USAFR. USAF would own every mission in the NO ARC zone.

Every other mission would fall into "the area of appropriate force mixes." There are many appropriate force mix combinations.

The best mix in the most difficult fiscal environment will be one of the appropriate options that buys the most bang for the buck. The best mix in the most unstable global environment will be the one that buys the most bang for the buck.

The Air National Guard has been shoulder to shoulder with its federal brothers and sisters in virtually every air engagement since World War I, including a little known sortie I flew during Grenada. The Air National Guard is and will always be part of the USAF family.

But, HQ USAF neither understands nor properly employs the Guard in the war for resources. As the greatest realignment of forces, roles, and missions since WWII is unfolding, USAF is sacrificing the high ground by gutting the Air National Guard, especially the ANG fighter force. This is a self-inflicted wound, wrong-headed and bad for America.

Let’s push our Aerospace and Cyber Security agenda together and stop the misguided effort to pay for federal survival at the expense of the organized militia. It is time to cooperate, to modernize and expand the Total Air Force.

We are, together, the most effective combat power in the history of war. Now is the time to exploit the experience, capability, and fiscal leverage of the ANG to enhance the air, space, and cyber team.