Thursday, January 31, 2013

Commander, NATO Allied Air Command Izmir, to Speak at February Air Force Breakfast

AFA welcomes Lt. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II, the current Commander of NATO's Allied Air Component Command Headquarters at Izmir, Turkey, as the guest speaker for the February installment of AFA’s Air Force Breakfast Program. This session will be held on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at the Sheraton Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia.

Allied Air Command Izmir is subordinate to Allied Joint Force Command Naples and is solely responsible for command and control, oversight, planning, coordination and execution of all air-related tasks in NATO's Southern Region. The command contributes to the security peace, stability and territorial integrity of alliance member states throughout its area of functional responsibility.

General Jodice began his career as a propulsion structural durability engineer before attending undergraduate pilot training where he was a distinguished graduate. His aviation assignments include fighter pilot, instructor pilot, flight examiner, flight commander, assistant operations officer, and operations officer. Operational overseas assignments include England, South Korea and two deployments to Saudi Arabia: one in 1991 post-Desert Storm and the second in 1995, as a squadron commander, in support of Operation Southern Watch.

Registration available

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Paula Roy Joins AFA Staff, Heads Airmen and Family Programs

Paula Roy, spouse of retiring Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy, joins the staff of the Air Force Association, as the Director of Airmen and Family Programs, a newly established initiative. This program will help AFA expand the support provided to Airmen and families.

This will include exploring new opportunities, coalition building and launching new programs. These varied programs are vital but core to AFA’s long-term health and significance because they tangibly demonstrate the Association’s commitment to Airmen, spouses, and the greater Air Force family.

"In an effort to better support our Airman and their families, AFA is launching an Airman and Families Program initiative and they have asked for my assistance,” said Paula Roy. “What a better way for me to be able to continue to serve and support those who are fighting for the freedoms I enjoy every day! I’m truly grateful for this opportunity!”

Paula has been a chief supporter for spouses for years, giving many a voice to address their concerns. During her husband’s time on active duty, Paula took a strong interest in airmen and their families. Over the past 3.5 years, she has visited U.S. bases around the world where spouses have been able to discuss with her the issues they face. She has also advocated for the Key Spouse program, in which each unit commander designates a spouse as the liaison between families and senior leadership.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Air Warfare Symposium Update - Air Force Approval

AFA is proud to confirm that the Secretary of the Air Force and Under Secretary of the Air Force have approved Air Force participation in AFA’s 29th Annual Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition, February 20-22, 2013.

The conference will once again be held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida. Themed “Airmen, Mission, and Innovation”, this unique event brings together Air Force leadership, industry experts, academia and current event specialists from around the world to discuss the issues and challenges facing America and the aerospace community today. Invited to the event are high-level speakers from both the Air Force and the Department of Defense.
Expect two days of forums and panels on relevant topics, including: 
  • Air Force Update by General Mark Welsh, Chief of Staff of the Air Force
  • Projecting Effective Power in an Era of Decreased Resources
  • Sustaining Global Presence with Diminishing Assets
  • Sustaining the Fleet into the 2020s
  • AirSea Battle
  • Quadrennial Defense Review
AFA's Technology Exposition will allow attendees to discover 50,000 square feet of the most exciting aerospace exhibits assembled to display and demonstrate the most current developments in aerospace technology and education.
Registration details can be found here.
(Don't forget: Symposium registration fees are waived for a class consisting of all Department of Defense civilian employees and all uniformed military personnel.)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Words from an OAY: SMSgt Hernandez

Senior Master Sergeant Emilio Hernandez, of the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, is the third guest OAY blogger in the series. This year, SMSgt Hernandez was recognized for leading 52 people in 53 civil engineering projects at 163 forward operating bases in support of 85,000 warfighters. He orchestrated $80,000 in repairs to nine Marine Corps aircraft hangars to safeguard $300 million in assets in support of a vital ISR platform. Sergeant Hernandez oversaw a project to upgrade an electrical grid on a dam, which preserved water and power flow to 450,000 Afghans, and managed the construction of two tactical operations centers worth $500,000, securing Afghanistan’s key district of Panjwai.

What is your Air Force Story?

As one of this year’s 12 Outstanding Airmen, we have the honor to represent our total force family not just on the enlisted council but whenever called upon by Air Force leadership. This requires being present at events to advertise the 12 OAY program and the benefits of AFA membership. One common request I always hear from leadership is that airmen share their Air Force story. At first, I asked myself, what is my story? Then I asked others if they fully understand or could capture and share their story. There were many answers to this question; mission, job specialty, deployments, assignments, and personal experience were almost always the more common ones. Where to begin? Which is right? What do they want me to say? All of these questions ran through my mind until I put it all in perspective. Your Air Force story can be one or all of these categories and at the same time should not be restricted to any one of them. It is about what you feel is important to you. It’s about your personal interpretation of how your Air Force experience has shaped your life and your selfless devotion to serve.

Another question is why? Why tell your story? No matter what your job, rank, or status we are all important contributors to the Air Force mission and to our nation’s security. We serve in one of the most diversified community composed of men and women from all aspects of our society with the ability to influence public opinion and further foster diversity. We have the power to recruit our replacements…yes we are all recruiters, every single one of us to include active duty, guard and reserve, retirees, civilians and yes even dependents. Ask my wife, she can share many Air Force stories of her own. We all share the responsibility of making the Air Force the best place to serve and sharing our experiences with others provides a view into what we and the Air Force bring to military service.

My particular story starts with a need to serve based on gratitude, gratitude towards a great nation that adopted my family and me without question or conditions. See I was born in Cuba and as a young boy traveled 90 miles to Florida and ultimately the city of Hialeah where I grew up alongside my father, mother and sister. I entered the Air Force in 1992 to learn a trade, but also for a calling of giving back to a nation that gave my family and me so much. The Air Force has trained me, taking me places I used to dream off or watch on television. It has given me the opportunity to make a difference in events that will shape our future. It has also given me the opportunity to help those in need both at home and abroad, but most important it exposed me to a diverse force composed of the best men and women our nation has ever known. After 20 years I still feel this calling, even stronger than before. I once again feel indebted as I watch my children grow and start to pursue their dreams and goals. I also feel inspired as I see a new generation of airmen answer the call to serve. For me, the Air Force is my way of life, it’s the most important cause I will ever have and the most rewarding job I will ever experience. That’s my Air Force story, what’s yours? Will you share it?

SMSgt Emilio Hernandez 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Secretary Donley on Air Force Challenges: Part 4

From AOL Defense:

This is the conclusion of a series of four op-eds Sec. Donley wrote exclusively for AOL Defense on the future of the Air Force. Today's piece makes the case that investments in new technology cannot be deferred.

Sec. Donley: Why The Air Force Can't Delay Modernization
By Michael Donley
Among the most difficult challenges facing the Air Force is the need to modernize. In the sine waves of defense spending since World War II, most resources during defense buildups have supported wartime operations in Korea, Vietnam, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan. The early-1980s build-up was the only one to focus on modernization without the burden of large combat operations, and to a significant degree we have been living off the investments from that era or even earlier.

The need for modernization is pervasive across the Air Force. While service life extension programs and periodic modifications have largely kept our inventory up to date, the cost of maintenance and sustainment is rising as budgets are flattening, and new threats and technologies require new investments.

The average age of our fighter aircraft is now 23 years, rescue helicopters 22 years, training aircraft 25 years, bombers 37 years, and tankers nearly 50 years. Satellites for missile warning, navigation, secure communications, and other needs are also aging, and replacements must be built and launched on a schedule consistent with the life expectancy of current constellations.

Given the proliferation of ballistic missile technology, integrated air and missile defense is a compelling operational need. Cyber defense and secure and resilient command and control networks are increasingly important. From nearly every aspect, the defense enterprise struggles to keep up with the demand for modern information technologies in its weapons and business systems.

The Air Force spends about 30 percent of its budget on research, development, procurement and construction -- investments in future capability. Annual investment has been as high as 59 percent during the Reagan years, but is often the first casualty of shrinking defense budgets as leaders focus on operating and maintaining the current force. Within the $54 billion in reductions aligned to the Air Force over the next five years under the Budget Control Act, over 70 percent came from lower priority, delayed, or poorly performing investment programs.

The Air Force has a clear picture of its investment spending and priorities. Over the next five years, modernization of fighters and bombers accounts for just over 30 percent of Air Force investment. Fighter modernization is dominated by the F-35 program, which alone accounts for 15 percent of total Air Force investment, followed by continuing upgrades to the F-22 fleet, F-15, and F-16.

Read the full article here >>

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Secretary Donley on Air Force Challenges: Part 3

From AOL Defense:

Michael Donley, Air Force Secretary, wrote this third of
four op-eds on the future of the Air Force exclusively for AOL Defense. Today's piece deals with the difficult decisions the Air Force must make to preserve its readiness to respond to crises around the world.

Sec. Donley: How Low Can The Air Force Go? -- EXCLUSIVE
By Secretary Michael B. Donley, January 10, 2013

Over the past decade, the Air Force has fielded new and impressive warfighting capabilities in support of joint and coalition operations. Bolstered by combat experience, our military has never been stronger.

At the same time, the sustained focus on Iraq and Afghanistan has come with an indirect cost. While the Air Force has met the demands of a high operational tempo in support of these and other operations, this has inevitably taken a toll on our weapon systems and people, putting a strain on the overall readiness of the force. We have seen a steady decline in unit readiness since 2003.

Given the projected decline in defense budgets, we have made a strategic choice to trade size in order to protect a high quality and ready force that will improve in capability over time. Air Force and Department of Defense leaders are working hard to avoid a hollow military: one that looks good on paper, but has more units and equipment than it can support, lacks the resources to adequately man, train and maintain them, or to keep up with advancing technologies.

"Readiness" can be generally defined as the ability of a unit to provide the capabilities or outputs for which it was designed when and where needed. While protecting future readiness includes modernizing the force (a separate subject [for tomorrow's piece--the editor]), creating combat readiness in the near term is a complex task mostly involving the intersection of personnel, materiel, and training. This includes balancing time between operational and training commitments, finding the right combination of funding from different sources, and effectively managing these resources to achieve the desired effects.

Mitigating the risk associated with a smaller military requires a ready force. When units are called to deploy on short notice, a larger force structure provides capacity to reinforce units where some aircraft may be unavailable due to maintenance, repair or modification and when personnel are in training status or educational programs, or positions are vacant. The larger capacity can compensate for shortages in personnel and materiel readiness.

Given the resources available, however, we have reached a point where this larger force structure cannot be adequately sustained. If we attempt to sustain current force levels with rising personnel and operational costs, there will be fewer resources available to support our excess capacity of installations, maintain existing aircraft inventories and other vital equipment, or invest in future capabilities.
Read the full article here >>

This is the third of four op-eds written by Sec. Donley exclusively for AOL Defense.
Click here to read the whole series.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Secretary Donley on Air Force Challenges: Part 2

From AOL Defense:

Michael Donley, Air Force Secretary, wrote this second of
four op-eds on the future of the Air Force exclusively for AOL Defense. Today's piece grapples with just how small the Air Force's force structure can get while the service can still accomplish its missions.

Sec. Donley: How Low Can The Air Force Go? -- EXCLUSIVE
By Michael Donley

Like all of our military services, the US Air Force has been through an extraordinary decade of change. Airmen have moved unprecedented amounts of personnel and equipment to remote theaters of operation; built global command, control, and intelligence operations; provided 24/7 close air support to ground forces; and introduced new technologies, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft [RPAs, aka UAVs].

All of this was accomplished as the Air Force retired nearly 1,900 aircraft and downsized by more than 30,000 active personnel. Today's Air Force is smaller than before 9/11, and its base budget after accounting for inflation has been relatively flat since 2005.

Faced with further reductions in defense, Air Force leadership made the decision to become smaller in order to protect a high quality and ready force that will improve in capability over time. The question is, how?

Determining where the Air Force can take additional risk in force structure and fulfill the defense strategic guidance is a challenge. Options are limited because, in most mission areas, our "supply" of forces is equal to the strategic "demand" with almost no margin in capacity.

Fighters and bombers represent 18 percent of total Air Force personnel. Though fighter forces have declined for decades, the force levels outlined in the FY13 budget bring the supply in equilibrium with the demand outlined in the defense strategic guidance. We plan to protect the essential air superiority fleet and fighters with multi-role capabilities. While some reductions in the A-10 air-to-ground fleet and the oldest F-16s have been controversial, there could be more downward pressure on these fleets if budgets decline further. Any significant reductions in the bomber force would be inconsistent with the strategic guidance which values long-range strike capabilities.

Mobility forces, including long-range strategic airlifters, tankers, and tactical airlift comprise 13 percent of Air Force personnel. These forces are sized to move and sustain joint forces over long distances consistent with defense strategy. Congress manages the long-range fleet to a specific floor, currently 301 aircraft, with recent approval to go to 275 pending a report on capabilities. The tanker fleet is largely right-sized to support the joint force.

The tactical airlift fleet is sized somewhat larger than the defense strategy would require, but Congress has been inclined to protect Guard and Reserve C-130 units which make up about 70 percent of this force. If additional active duty C-130s are retired, then Guard and Reserve units could have to increase deployments to meet peacetime demand.

The Air Force provides a number of "enabling" capabilities for the joint force, including command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and space. These enablers, including cyber (an area where all services contribute), account for 19 percent of Air Force personnel and demand for these capabilities has been increasing. Reductions here would, in general, be inconsistent with joint needs; but potential adjustments in both ISR capacity and capabilities may deserve a closer look once US forces leave Afghanistan.

Read the full article at AOL Defense >>

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Secretary Donley Pens Series on Defense Challenges

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley penned a series of four opinion pieces on the future of the Air Force. Such a series -- written by the most senior civilian for the Air Force -- has said to be unprecedented, hinting at the severity of the challenges that await.
The series addresses some of the defense issues relating to the Air Force that Secretary Donley believes lie ahead, which include the difficulties in convincing Congress to let him retire planes and find the right balance of active, Reserve, and Air National Guard forces; how to replace an aging aircraft fleet without breaking the bank; and how to keep planes and people in the air, ready to fly and fight.

From AOL Defense:

In more than 15 years covering the US military, I don't remember a senior Pentagon official penning a series like this, and we are honored to run it. The series is, I think, an indication of just how deeply worried senior defense officials are about the future. Sequestration isn't really fixed, despite last week's momentary spasm of rationality on Capitol Hill. Defense budgets are likely to continue dropping over the next five years at a time when America faces enormous and widespread national security challenges – Iran, Syria, North Korea, a wobbly European Union, China,global warming, Al Qaeda and its friends – and those are a few of the ones we know about.

Sec. Donley On The Air Force's Budgetary Balancing Act: EXCLUSIVE
By Secretary Michael B. Donley

Since coming to Washington in 1978, I watched from vantage points including Capitol Hill, the White House, and the Pentagon as the defense budget rose dramatically during the Reagan buildup and then declined after Operation Desert Storm as part of the post-Cold War "peace dividend." Now the cycle is repeating again as higher post-9/11 defense budgets driven by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan begin to recede and our nation focuses on getting its fiscal house in order.

While still supporting ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, confronting immediate security challenges throughout the greater Middle East, and putting greater focus on the Pacific, we ask ourselves: How should the Department of Defense balance competing defense needs among the size of our force structure, today's readiness and modernization for the future?

From our collective experience in the 1970s, the generation of defense leaders with whom I serve learned that during periods of fiscal austerity, tough decisions have to be made to avoid a hollow military. I define this as one that looks good on paper, but has more units and equipment than it can support, lacks the resources to adequately man, train and maintain them, or keep up with advancing technologies.

Confronted today by a more complex and dynamic security environment, as well as a significant reduction in defense resources, Air Force leadership determined the best path forward is to become smaller in order to protect a high quality and ready force that will improve in capability over time.

In devising our fiscal 2013 defense budget and planning for the years after, we decided we must get smaller to ensure a fully trained and ready force that maintains the scope of capabilities and flexibility to engage a full range of contingencies and threats. The 2011 Libya operation reminded us that in today's security environment the Air Force must be ready to respond to rapidly emerging crises. We simply do not have months to prepare or to rebuild the readiness of an unready force.

Read the full article at AOL Defense >>