Challenges and capabilities of the U.S. Air Force.
Senator (John) Cornyn, thank you so much for that warm introduction.
Let me also thank the folks that set this up. What a wonderful opportunity to share some thoughts about American air and space power and to share those thoughts in the context of a joint team, and to share those thoughts in the context of a team that's at war this morning.
I know you share those same sensitivities with me because we have about 30,000 Airmen--active, Guard and Reserve--deployed this morning. We're flying about 200 combat missions a day. We're still dropping bombs and we're still doing the Lord's work in some fairly hostile places alongside great Americans that wear Army uniforms, Navy and Marine uniforms, Coast Guardsmen uniforms and great coalition partners.
Congressman (Jim) Gibbons, thank you also for spending time with us, and for all of us that have had a magic opportunity to serve in Nevada, we appreciate your help and support in all the things you do for our folks out there.
All of you that are here from industry, from the congressional staff, from the media, thank you also for your time because it is of great importance to all of us to understand the issues of the day and to understand how American air and space power fit into a joint team and how American air and space power makes that team better for a joint force commander and for a Department of Defense and for a President and for a coalition team.
With that in mind I would like to share a few thoughts with you, then I truly look forward to your questions and comments.
We are at war this morning. We are conducting combat operations across a global setting. We are flying missions over the top of the United States under Operation Noble Eagle. You have guardsmen, reservists and active-duty Airmen over the top of the East Coast, West Coast, Gulf Coast, aboard tankers, aboard fighters, aboard AWACS (airborne warning and control system aircraft), flying from little airfields and big airfields to make sure this country is safe. On any given day we'll have 40 or 50 fighters involved in this, we'll have a couple of AWACS involved in this, and we'll have up to a dozen tankers involved in this to make sure we can cover the tasking for Operation Noble Eagle. That's how the Air Force starts its day, to assume that the country is safe and that we play a part in doing that every day.
There are other threats out there and those other threats out there are growing. Some of them are symmetric, some of them are traditional, some of them are catastrophic, some of them are asymmetric, but they're out there. So the challenge in this business is to be able to dissuade, to deter, but also to be able to fight and fight jointly alongside great Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
So how does the Air Force contribute to that? How are we, as you look around this room, all of us in this uniform, how are we thinking through this problem as we look at the challenges of recapitalizing the United States Air Force and modernizing the U. S. Air Force while fighting a global war on terrorism, while going through some other kind of afternoon issues like BRAC (base realignment and closure) and Quadrennial Defense Review that aren't taking too much of our time. So how do we do this?
Well let me share with you the thing that when most of us wake up in the morning, the first thing we think about and that's our people. Our folks, we believe we have the best people in the world in the United States Air Force. Whether they are in the Reserve, the Guard or the active force, we believe they are the most effective, they are the most trained, the most educated, the most creative, and the most adaptive. We believe that they're absolutely the best people that any Air Force has ever had and we're fortunate and blessed to have them with us every day.
We are attempting to work the stresses on our people by attempting to look at those career fields out there that are historically stressed and to move people around within those career fields to balance those deployment times and those stresses on those particular folks.
It would be no surprise to you to know that our combat rescue forces, our air traffic controllers, our engineers, there is a select set of career fields out there that are very, very stressed because they're deployed at higher rates than the others.
So one of our focuses has been to level this out and to look at our end strength numbers and to look at the stressed career fields and to make sure we have that mix right. And to look at what is the right balance as far as transformational missions and new missions that we can partner better with the Reserve and the Guard and the active force.
So at the beginning of the day it's our people. Some numbers for you. Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom we've deployed about 260,000 Airmen--again, Guard, Reserve and active. Those 260,000 Airmen have gone to a variety of places. In the Arabian Gulf along U.S. Central Command's AOR (area of responsibility), we have stood up at max rates about 50 expeditionary airfields. This morning we're operating out of 16 expeditionary airfields and we're flying about 200 combat sorties a day.
Something that some of you truly understand and some of you may be surprised, but we also have about 2,500 Airmen that are driving Army trucks, that are doing interrogation work alongside the Army and Marines, that are doing force protection things and guarding prisoners. Now if you took the book of Air Force and opened it up you would not find that as a career field inside the Air Force, but as part of a joint team and in an effort to mitigate the stresses on our system, these great Americans are doing just that.
But I don't think it would surprise you to know that also we've refocused on C-130 activities within the AOR and by increasing the numbers of C-130 sorties we've taken about 1,200 vehicles off the roads in Iraq because so much of this stuff can be flown. The outsized cargo, some of that has to be driven, but things that can be flown that we can fly in a C-130 takes it off the road which means you don't have the trucks, you don't have the protection vehicles and you don't have the numbers of targets on the roads for either vehicle-borne IEDs (improvised explosive devices) or other forms of IEDs.
So about 2,500 Airmen are out there doing those sorts of things.
Since the beginning of OEF, something that I know all of you will find dear. Besides the 260,000 people we've deployed, we've flown 300,000 sorties. We've dropped 37 million pounds of bombs or delivered 37 million pounds of ordnance. And again, there's about 30,000 to 32,000 folks deployed in the AOR now.
Air Mobility Command on any given day, to include the activities in the AOR, are flying about 1,000 sorties worldwide. So your Air Mobility Command is out there flying its global mission every day to include the AOR. And again, about a thousand sorties out there in the system.
Predators. Now who would have thought a few years ago we would have these things out flying around? But Congressman Gibbons remembers the day that the Predator came to Nellis (Air Force Base, Nev.) May 1996. General (Ronald) Fogleman was the Chief. Called and said Buzz, I'm going to give you this airplane and this mission. I said, "Sir, what is it?" I quickly called General (Marvin) Esmond who was the Center Commander, and said, "Sir, do you know what this is?" He said, "No, but you probably need to go find out."
So between the two of us in May of 1996 we got the first Predator. We started that operation off, we named a squadron commander--some of you have heard this story. The other squadron commanders at Nellis felt sorry for him because he didn't have any people or any airplanes or a building or a hangar or anything, so they bought him a folding table, a blender and two chairs. So we had a squadron commander, a blender, a card table and two chairs--that's how we started this Predator thing.
Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom we have flown 6,000 sorties with that airplane, 23,000 hours. Not bad from a start with a squadron that didn't even have an airplane.
But let's talk a little bit in a broad sense about as we look forward from ongoing combat operations, as we look forward how do we view Air Force contributions to a joint fight?
Let me talk a little bit about persistent command and control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or C4ISR. This is what the Air Force does for the joint team. We provide persistent coverage at range both from space and from air-breathing systems.
In Operation Enduring Freedom we flew the longest air-breathing reconnaissance mission in the history of combat aviation with the Global Hawk--about 24 hours. The first combat mission the Global Hawk flew collected on 600 targets. Not a bad start for the Global Hawk.
We've used U-2s in ways that when Kelly Johnson built that airplane for Lockheed, he had no idea what we were going to do with the U-2, and in the tasking that was going to evolve from the U-2 and the U-2 crews. We've kept U-2 crews up over the tops of battlefields longer than anyone has ever flown the U-2. And in fact in one event called Anaconda we kept a couple of U-2s airborne so long that we had to bring the pilots back and put them in decompression chambers because we were approaching the limit of the human.
Which takes us back to the Global Hawk as an answer to the U-2 because there is no human in it so you don't have to worry about that.
We've used these UAVs in a way that from the beginning of this we had no idea that we were going to evolve into using UAVs as shooters with air-to-surface missiles on them, and in one case with air-to-air missiles on them. We loaded Stingers on a Predator and took it up to engage Iraqi aircraft in the Southern No-Fly Zone. Who would have thought that three or four years ago, that we would be engaging ground targets as well as air targets with UAVs?
We're flying about 70 percent of the IED effort in Iraq right now alongside the Army, watching and doing various things with electronic countermeasures. Also in partnership with the JSTARS and in partnership with the Guard who has the [TARS] pod that we deployed for one very successful deployment and it's about to go back for another successful deployment.
In the future we see C4ISR as one of the key enablers. We see that as an imperceptible linkage of space and air-breathing systems. We see us beginning to move into modern systems on the heels of JSTARS, Rivet Joint, AWACS, Compass Call, ABCCC, and moving into an airplane that is linked 24 hours a day with the command and control system as well as with space.
We're thinking through the notion of combining the Space Warfare Center and the Air Warfare Center into a seamless set of activities relative to thinking about the future in space and with air-breathing systems.
We're also thinking about the notion of standing up a UAV Center of Excellence. We're working our way through the details on that now. But if you think about a set of brain surgeons out in a place out west that can think about from geosynchronous orbit to medium altitude orbits to low altitude orbits to near space to high UAVs to medium level UAVs to low altitude UAVs and have all of that work in a true joint setting with the Army, the Marines, the Navy and the Special Ops forces, you can begin to realize some incredible synergies with this.
Near space is another area that we're beginning to think through and look at some incredible options. The Chief is very excited about this and has got us on a pretty high speed vector to figure out what's possible.
Space guys don't think much about things below orbital altitudes. Air-breathing guys don't think much about things above 65,000 to 68,000 feet. But between 65,000 or 68,000 feet and 150,000 or 200,000 feet is a band of activity opportunity in there that we haven't mined yet. There are various technologies out there that will give us some incredible persistence if we can get into that altitude band which is not really a satellite and not really an airplane--pretty exciting.
Global mobility. Let's think about that for a minute. Every day Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command is out there moving things on the surface of the oceans and through the air, and again by using the C-130s the way we have begun to think about that we've taken 1200 vehicles off the roads which means there's a lot fewer people to be impacted by IEDs in Iraq.
Look what happened with the tsunami relief effort. Moving an aircraft carrier is a wonderful way to get command and control to a place and to get sustainment to a place. Beginning to move surface forces into a place to help coalition partners stabilize the environment is a wonderful way to provide persistence, but the first sets of people on the ground are normally Airmen tasked by USTRANSCOM to Air Mobility Command, and normally the first things you see on CNN or Sky News or BBC are a big T-tail airplane, and these days you'll see a South Carolina flag on it or you'll see a mountain painted on the side of it from McChord (Air Force Base, Wash.). So it is normally a C-17 out of Charleston (AFB, S.C.) or McChord. Pretty soon you'll see a big gray T-tail airplane with Jackson, Miss., painted on the side of it because the Air National Guard now has eight of those airplanes and are involved in C-17 work also.
As you look at that C-17 taxiing across the backdrop, once Jackson gets into the mix you won't know really whether it's a Reserve crew, an active crew or a Guard crew, so it makes the point again about total force and the ability to respond very quickly.
We need to think in terms of being very light and very quick to respond to global mobility challenges and we need to think in terms of bulk deliveries also.
Who would have thought before Operation Enduring Freedom we would have conducted the largest humanitarian airdrop in the history of combat aviation with C-17s in combat over the top of AAA (antiaircraft artillery) and SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) to be able to drop the humanitarian relief packages into northwest Afghanistan? And on the first night we flew those escorted by F-15Cs out of Germany--the biggest humanitarian airdrop in the history of combat aviation.
And if you remember those images of those boxes going out the back with the humanitarian packs in them, think about it was a sergeant at Ramstein (Air Base, Germany) that designed that pack because he was trying to figure out a way how to hold the packs together until they could get out into the free airstream from the aircraft, slowed down and then break apart so he had the dispersion of the things about right.
The way he designed that, his wife had bought a new refrigerator at the BX and when they delivered the refrigerator in the big cardboard box he looked at it and said that's it. He went back to the BX, rounded up some more of the refrigerator boxes, taped them up, put the humanitarian relief things in them, put them on a pallet, tried it out and it worked like a champ.
Again, the most creative and adaptive people in the world find every opportunity, looking for a way to make this better.
Rapid strike. That's the third piece of this as we look into the future--persistent C4ISR, global mobility and rapid strike.
Who would have thought before Operation Enduring Freedom we would have flown the longest bomber mission in the history of combat aviation, 42-plus hours from Whiteman (AFB), Mo., to targets in Kabul and Kandahar? Who would have thought we would have flown the longest fighter mission in the history of combat aviation from Kuwait into Kabul and Kandahar? About 16 hours with a flight of two F-15Es on targets around Kabul and Kandahar which was the mission that we struck and killed Mohammed Ateft, which we all know who he was.
The number two airplane was actually flown by a first lieutenant, and when, from the CAOC, when Woody (Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Wood, Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs) and I were there and asking these guys do you want to stop the airplanes in Oman or in the UAE or somewhere short and turn the crews over. These guys said no, we're going to fly them back to the original home station because we need to turn these airplanes so we can fly more strike missions tomorrow. That's the kind of people we've got.
This takes us then to what's the future look like? How do we maintain the ability to conduct rapid strike? How do we deal with contested airspace? How do we deal with sets of unknown unknowns? I'll tell you in my view, having had the chance and the privilege to do Afghanistan and Iraq that takes us to something like an F/A-22. It takes us to a platform that gives us persistence, it gives us speed, it gives us low observability, it gives us lethality, and you can take away contested airspace with this airplane and you can leverage the rest of the legacy systems and you can bring the bulk delivery systems to bear at your time and at your choosing.
Which gets us to Joint Strike Fighter which is the replacement for the bulk of our fighter systems and it gets us to the notion of a regional bomber or long range strike.
There's been nothing from the no-fly zone experience which was 8,222 days of doing no-fly-zone business, from Bosnia to Kosovo to Afghanistan to Iraq, we've seen nothing that tells us that less range, less persistence, less speed, less survivability is an inherent good. We believe as American Airmen that the way to be able to deal with rapid strike is to be able to penetrate airspace at a time and place of our choosing, to deal with contested airspace, and to do this across the spectrum for the joint team.
So to make this happen what are some of the challenges? We believe we will have smaller budgets. We believe as we go through this Quadrennial Defense Review we will have opportunities to look at better mixes. Better mixes of capabilities. We believe we will have opportunities to look and to focus on U.S. Air Force air and space key and core competencies. We believe we can look at ways to better leverage the talent and the incredible combat capability in the Air Force Reserve, the Air National Guard and the active.
Future total force is the vector that we're taking to be able to do that across the board. We're looking at anew set of missions and partnerships with the Air National Guard, and y'all know over the last few weeks we've announced with Danny (Lt. Gen. Daniel James III, ANG Commander) on the wing that we have UAV operations now standing up in Texas and in Arizona. We'll soon announce a couple more. We're looking at opportunities in California and Nevada to be able to leverage the inherent goodness of having very experienced people in one place to be able to maintain those operations while not having to mobilize and deploy them.
I share with you the excitement of being able to fly combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq with these UAVs from Nellis, which is exactly what we're doing--from Nellis and Indian Springs.
So that's a quick snapshot of where we are and a quick snapshot of what's on our plate and a quick snapshot of where we're going. Let me kind of close though from where I started, and that's with our people. We are very excited about getting this career field mix right. We are very excited about providing predictability for our people. We're very excited about balancing our AFSCs (Air Force specialty codes) or our career fields so we can keep certain career fields from being impacted over and over and over again which gets us into recruiting and retention and gets us into your Air Force has had no problems recruiting. We've had no problems with retaining.
In your Air Force every single Airman goes through basic military training and through a tech school. We are a retention force and we spend lots of time and lots of money on our people and we want to keep them because, again, they are the best folks in the world.
So that's my pitch to you real quick. That's from about 80,000 feet in fairly high roach. I am very interested in your questions and comments, so please let me again thank Senator Cornyn for being here and that warm welcome, and Congressman Gibbons, thank you for all you do.
Senator Cornyn, because people are an issue with us, thank you so much for the hearing last week that we could talk about death gratuities and we could talk about benefits for our families and for our people. That took about two seconds to spread through the Air Force that the Armed Services Committee was on board with looking at things to make these tragedies a little bit easier for our families.
So Senator, thank you so much. Congressman, thank you.
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|Title Annotation:||2005 Air Force Defense Strategy and Transformation Seminar|
|Author:||Moseley, T. Michael|
|Publication:||Air Force Speeches|
|Date:||Feb 9, 2005|
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