An unlimited horizon of opportunity.
Thanks for an opportunity to open some remarks up after this. [Senator Ted Stevens Leadership Award presented to Lt. Gen. Glen W. "Wally" Moorhead III, Commander, 16th Air Force] To be able to provide an award named after another great Airman who happens to be a senator. He's also a fellow that flew the hump in China, flew numerous missions in 14th Air Force, flew C-47s and C-46s in and out of places that are hard to pronounce even today, and who is still a great friend and a great advocate of air power and the United States Air Force. There could not be a better recipient of that award than Wally Moorhead for the first numbered Air Force award.
Wally, you've been a brother and a friend since we were captains, since we were painting tanks pink at Nellis (Air Force Base, Nev.), and when the F-15 and the A-10 bubbas lived together in any number of ways. We learned and we grew, and here you are as a numbered Air Force commander and a warfighter of the first order. So congratulations on that award. You're a role model for all that are here today and all that come after us.
General Peterson (retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Donald L. Peterson, Air Force Association executive director), thanks also, you and the AFA have given us an awesome opportunity to share some great ideas, to see some things, to meet some new friends and catch up with some old friends. It's great to see so many staunch Air Force advocates and leaders here.
Secretary Geren, thank you again for riding this trail with us and for being a friend, and for taking the flight lead role for the finest air and space force on the planet.
Pat Condon (AFA Chairman of the Board) and Bob Largent (AFA National President), thank you also for the things you've done. And I'd like to give special thanks to Ed Ruzinski, the Marriott's General Manager, for all the work that he's done to make this happen and to make this as painless as possible for all of us so we can come and go and spend time thinking great thoughts and having discussions like this today.
Don, you and the whole Air Force Association team do such incredible work for our Air Force and for our nation.
In this particular last couple of days you've also focused on improving career development, recognizing outstanding Airmen, reaching out to Congress, holding seminars, senior staff updates, and actually providing the Air Command and Staff College an opportunity to work on their second thesis, I'm not sure they know that they have a second paper due. I think (Lt. Gen.) John Regni (Commander, Air University) and those guys will probably spring that on them when they get back down to Maxwell. But to capture all the things they've seen and provide some thoughts and some vectors, it's good to have the class of Air Command and Staff here also.
This is world class, this conference and this symposium and this exhibition, and I'm sorry to see it end. While this is not my first Air Force Association conference and exposition, it is my first addressing you all in my new job.
Let me start by saying that I'm truly humbled and honored to be serving alongside my fellow Airmen, and I mean Airmen not in separate tribes, but I mean Airmen as Airmen--the absolute finest people in the world and the best at what you do in the world. And I'm equally honored to serve alongside our fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, DOD Civilians and Merchant Marines who alongside Airmen are in harm's way this morning.
Today, Sept. 14 is a great day to be here at the Air Force Association because it's a day that is an interesting one to reflect on. Eighty-seven years ago today American Airmen were engaged alongside their surface components in the first great mission of World War I. It took place in and around and over a small French village named St Mihiel and it turned into the biggest air battle of that war.
The Germans had occupied that particular sector ever since they'd attempted to surround the fortress at Verdun. For four years eight and a half German divisions had been fortifying that position. They had dug trenches, strung miles of razor wire, cleared avenues for machine gun fire and direct artillery, built two continuous lines of concrete bunkers and pill boxes and firing positions and fighting positions, and they also had the high ground.
As part of that allied offensive in the early fall of 1918 the American Expeditionary Force commanded by General John J. Pershing had the mission to break the Germans in that strategic sector.
For that task "Black Jack" Pershing had some reasonably competent officers to help him work through some of these problems. Men like Colonel George Marshall, Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur and Lieutenant Colonel George Patton. The air effort which was to be joint and coalition--as much as it could be joint in those days--was to be a combined operation that included not just the U.S. but the French, Italians, British and Portuguese Airmen. And it was to all be under a single command.
Pershing entrusted that command to an American, and that officer is no stranger to this audience. His name was Colonel Billy Mitchell. That made him the first Combined Force Air Component Commander in history.
Mitchell's plan for the offensive looked pretty familiar, and if he were here today to brief his notion of how to get about this, I think you would recognize every bit of it. First, he built expeditionary airfields that had the required repair hangars, fuel, munitions, billeting, messing, command and control. He stocked them up for the offensive ahead. For the opening shot he sent his fighters deep into German airspace to directly attack the German Air Force. That cleared the way for the bombardment and attack squadrons to go after German headquarters elements, troop concentrations, staging areas, transportation infrastructure, and airfields. And, in his words, only when pilots were certain of solid air-to-ground liaison with the infantry could they engage in close air support.
That sounds fairly familiar to what we do today. And at the end of that four-day offensive, Mitchell's air component had flown about 2,500 sorties and delivered over 44,000 pounds of bombs. But that's a lot when you're delivering them 100 pounds at a time. He had over 150 aerial engagements.
General Pershing was so pleased with his air component endeavor he promoted Colonel Mitchell to Brigadier General Mitchell and he became a big believer in air power in his air component. And at the end of this it set the stage for the Muse Argonne offensive and then later for the end of World War I. For this audience, it showed the world what air power can do.
Billy Mitchell was the first of the Air Force's founding fathers and great captains, and he's one of mine and I know of your personal heroes because of what he saw, what he put together, how he executed and the outcome of those offensives. He stands truly alongside Frank Andrews, Hap Arnold, Ira Eaker, "Tooey" Spaatz, Bernie Schriever and others. What he and those early intrepid Airmen demonstrated in those frail World War I aircraft, how they began to think, how they began to organize, how they forever changed warfare, have given us a sense of perspective and a way to understand our future.
They've also given us a proud heritage and they've shown us an unlimited horizon. Each of them lived in difficult times and faced difficult challenges. Today we also live in difficult times and face interesting and difficult challenges. On my plate I believe we have three immediate challenges.
First, we must maintain a razor-sharp focus on fighting this global war on terrorism.
Second, we must look for ways to continue developing our Airmen and continue our culture of excellence and dignity and individual value.
Third, we must recapitalize and modernize almost everything in our existing inventory.
So let me take a few minutes and explain what I mean.
Our first challenge, maintaining this focus on fighting the global war on terrorism, would seem to be a nobrainer to this audience, but when anyone has been at a task for 1,438 days straight they run the risk of letting their focus wander a bit.
Let me be clear. We cannot now or ever lose sight of the fact that the mission of the United States Air Force is to fly and to fight. If we are to operate as a true joint coalition interdependent team and win this war on terror we can never take our eyes off that ball or our concentration on this task. We fly and we fight.
Whether it is flying a spacecraft in geosynchronous orbit; or a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) over Afghanistan or Iraq from half a world away; or an A-10 providing that close air support over Afghanistan or in Iraq; or an AWACS crew or a tanker crew over the top of the United States operating in pursuit of missions under Operation Noble Eagle; or a Pave Hawk crew over Biloxi, Mississippi providing absolute required personal recovery, this is what we do.
This brings me to my second priority, our people. We truly have the best people in the world. If we're going to ask our Airmen to defend this nation then we owe it to them to give them the best opportunities for career development, the best opportunities to be everything that they can be, and to give them the best possible standard of living and the best possible training.
During the 1918 St. Mihiel offensive one of Mitchell's biggest problems was finding enough experienced or even qualified maintainers and pilots and crews. He had to concentrate the veterans at the operating airfields and the squadrons given the most difficult missions and then just put a sprinkling in the others.
Today we are blessed not to have that problem. After 14 years of continual combat, 14 years of being shot at, and 14 years of returning the favor, we have the most combat experienced Air Force in our history. We are even sending lieutenants to Red Flag and Cope Thunder with more combat hours than they have peacetime hours.
I'll share a little story with you about a trip i took with a tanker crew on the April 3, 2003. On April 2, 2003 we had close to 200 SAMs shot at us over Iraq. On April 3rd, because it was the right thing to do and to get the sensors forward and the fighters forward, we had to get the fuel forward so we could support the land component commander's drive on Baghdad so we sent a set of tankers to within 60 or 70 miles of Baghdad to be able to provide that fuel.
I flew on that first tanker. I figured as the CFACC if I was going to send them, I'd fly with them. On that tanker was a captain aircraft commander, a lieutenant co-pilot and a very young, boomer. And as we're flying out toward the check-in point over Southwest Asia to move into the boxes up close to Baghdad the captain and the lieutenant were telling me that they were married to another captain and lieutenant who were also a paired crew and also at Prince Sultan Air Base.
As I was talking to the boomer, I asked her, how long have you been doing this? She said, sir, I left Fairchild five days after I was mission qualified. I said how long have you been in theater? She said well, sir, I've been here 45 days. I said how many combat missions have you flown? She said I've flown 47 combat missions.
Now she left Fairchild five days after she was mission ready and she'd flown 47 combat missions in 45 days. This is all this young lady had ever known.
I asked her what do you think about all this? She said I've got the best job in the world. She said I wouldn't do anything different. I said well how did you get to be a boomer? She said sir, that's easy. My daddy was a boomer, I'm a boomer and when I have kids, they're going to be boomers.
This is 60 miles from Baghdad. That day we only had about 120, 130 SAMs shot at us.
So we do have the best people in the world. And oh by the way, on the way home on our return to base as we're coming out of the boxes up around Baghdad, a young lady checks in on the AWACS frequency and the co-pilot turns around and looks at me and says that's my wife. The other crew was coming outbound as we were coming back into Saudi Arabia.
So how then do we continue to keep this training and how then do we continue to focus on these great people? And how then do we make training more like the combat that we're seeing every day? And how do we ensure that we have the right mix of joint and coalition and composite force training? And how do we focus on those activities in space, in the atmosphere and on the surface to give us those core competencies and continue to improve and continue to innovate so that there will be no surprises in the future, and those surprises that do come up that we're able to quickly adapt.
Well, we've got some ideas. Whether it's the new central focus and the new central campus at Moody (AFB, Ga.) for all of our surface warriors; whether it is a rejuvenated Red Flag to include operations in Alaska and Nellis and with a new focus on a complete rebuild of the aggressor program looking to perhaps three squadrons with a full complement of intelligence exploitation, weapons controllers, road shows, road trips and a full-up set of experts that provide nothing but surrogates and are the best at what they do; whether it's an improved air warrior to be able to work closer with 29 Palms and the National Training Center with the Marines and the Army and Special Ops; whether it is a new improved Green Flag or a new improved Eagle Flag, across the board we owe it to this Air Force and these Airmen to develop these skills, to capture these lessons learned, and to be much more effective.
If we do this training right, two things will occur. One, we will give ourselves the opportunity to continue to innovate. It is Colonel Moody Suter's legacy that Red Flag is still providing that innovative laboratory, that vehicle for combat experimentation, that vehicle for joint and coalition operations. And it's no accident that the Red Flag building is named Suter Hall and that there is a showcase at the front door that has got his flight suit, his picture, his helmet, because Moody Suter took a bit of a risk when he began to think about what's possible out in the western deserts of Nevada, to build something that we now take for granted known as Red Flag.
Second, this recommitment to composite force training would allow us to eke out every ounce of capability left in these legacy platforms.
This brings me to my final priority which is to recapitalize and modernize this great Air Force. Old equipment is not a new problem. On Monday, when Secretary Geren and I were having an opportunity to talk to some media one of them allowed that the past four Air Chiefs had been deeply concerned about aging Air Force inventories. Well, they were right. We do have an aging inventory. We are operating the oldest fleet of aircraft in our history. We've gone from an average age of 8.5 years when I put on a uniform at Texas A&M in 1967-'68 to today, an average age of 23.5 years, and it's getting older.
So what's the way ahead and what should we look like?
Well, I believe first we have a future total force, and I believe that future total force must be adaptable to this afternoon's fight but also tomorrow's fight, and equally adaptable to unknown applications ahead.
Who would have thought a few years ago that we would have a special operator NCO on the back of a horse with a laptop in his lap hooked to a CAOC across the theater, hooked to an intercontinental bomber loaded with GPS-guided weapons directly attacking Taliban and al-Qaida positions with only Special Ops capabilities on the surface, all in real time? There's an adaptive Airman, there's an adaptive situation, and an ability to think through new problems as they present themselves.
I believe this future total force must also be seamless between Active, Guard and Reserve, and I believe this future total force must be joint. Not just in what we buy, but in how we fight, how we think, how we talk, and how we conduct operations.
Finally, I believe this future total force must be affordable. We're going to be faced with some hard decisions but we have to move on with this modernization and recapitalization.
I believe also to meet these challenges head on we must continue to look for better ways to operationally exploit air and space as a domain. Whether it's looking at better ways to build and operate 50 expeditionary airfields in the Central Command area of responsibility; whether it's working to make joint warfighting space more responsive to combatant commanders and protecting the ultimate high ground in following through with our space superiority efforts; whether it's conducting combat search and rescue missions over Afghanistan and Iraq or conducting recover missions over New Orleans or Biloxi; whether it's maintaining that critical nuclear capability for the country from our missile silos in places that General Lord says is north of Interstate 80; whether it's providing persistent strike and close air support from long range bombers based forward; whether it's to continue to provide those keystone capabilities that we comfortably know as global mobility, global ISR, and global strike; whether it's flying unmanned aerial vehicles in combat a half a world away and looking for ways to make that even better; whether it's empowering the finest noncommissioned officers in the world to work their magic and continue to be the backbone of this great Air Force; or whether it's producing the finest second lieutenants in the world as they graduate from the United States Air Force Academy your Air Force stands ready to meet these challenges.
So from September 1918 and the first CFACC, 87 years is not that long ago. It's not that long when you look back and see how much has changed. And each one of these pioneers have left a legacy--from Mitchell to Schriever. These heroes have overcome countless obstacles and some skeptics to achieve their vision and to get the United States Air Force where we are today.
We Airmen in this room and the Airmen out there on the line and in the field are the realization of that vision. From the Lafayette Espadrille to the Tuskegee Airmen to the Jolly Green Giants to today's Airmen on watch defending this great republic, these pioneers have given us a proud combat heritage, a heritage that speaks to us and calls us to higher standards and calls us to new, adaptive, creative ways to look at air and space power, and new ways to think about jointness and coalition operations. Their work, their ideas and their courage, propel us toward an unlimited horizon of opportunity which is the birthright of your Air Force. No different when Billy Mitchell in France in 1918 began to think through how to apply air power to this problem.
So when someone asks you what the Air Force will be doing in the future, tell them this. We will do what we've always done. We will stand on the shoulders of giants. We will take care of each other and every member of this great fighting force. We will innovate, and we will fly, we will fight, and we will win.
So Don, members of the Air Force Association, brothers and sisters at arms, thank you for the opportunity to share a few thoughts, and thank you for what you do every day. God bless this great country, and God bless this great United States Air Force. Thank you.
Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley
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|Title Annotation:||Air Force Association|
|Author:||Moseley, T. Michael|
|Publication:||Air Force Speeches|
|Date:||Sep 14, 2005|
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