Leveraging 'lessons learned' with tactical operations.
Remarks for the keynote address at the National Security Forum, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., May 27, 2003
Thank you. Thank you all very much. And (Major General) Bentley (Rayburn, Commandant Air War College) thanks for that kind introduction, I've known Bentley a long time. We worked closely together when he was the planner down at Air Combat Command. But earlier, right after the Gulf War, he was the Commandant out at the United States Air Force Weapons School at Nellis AFB (Nev.) and with lessons learned from the Gulf War, we introduced the Bomber Weapons School and the Space Weapons School, and opened up that Center of Warfighting Excellence to all of our disciplines. Bentley was a big part of that. So, what better place for him to be than right here where he can spread that wealth of knowledge.
It's a pleasure to be here today and to be able to join the National Security Forum. It's interesting to draw the similarities between that first meeting in 1947 as we faced the occupation of Germany, the occupation of Japan, and as we looked at the new National Security Act that created the United States Air Force. All of those came together at a very pivotal time as we watched the emergence of the Soviet Union toward nuclear power status and we took the first steps in the Berlin airlift and the Cold War. You think about that in contrast to today as we contemplate this world order that few of us understand with terrorism, a new attitude toward Europe, a new attitude toward the Gulf states, and new ways to think about the application of military power.
That's what I'm going to talk about today, these points of leverage and these points of focus that we as airmen think about. I'll try not to get too fired up. I'm going to stray a little bit from the normal military context of things and get down into the weeds probably once or twice. I'll try not to do that. I'm going to put my watch right up here so we can keep track of the time. What I'm going to try to do is get everybody ready to go for the rest of this week and give you some things to think about.
As the world entered the 1900s two guys, (Julian S.) Corbett and (Alfred Thayer) Mahan (naval theorists), were able to instruct us on how to think of our nation as a seafaring nation. How to contemplate ourselves in a world where we relied on the seas and the control of the seas to control our commerce and our well-being.
In the 1930s right here at Maxwell AFB people like (Brigadier General) Billy Mitchell (air power theorist) started to take that into the vertical dimension for us and tell us how we should think about this thing we call "air power" and its extension into space.
In the short time since then we've gone from 12 seconds of flight to routine missions out of Whiteman AFB (Mo.) that last in excess of 44 hours that go halfway around the world. Indeed, around the world flight is not that difficult anymore. We've gone from 1926 with a rocket that went up about 185 feet in the air to today where we have space vehicles that launch satellites that weigh tons into an orbit of 24,000 miles into space.
So just as Sun Tzu (Chinese general and military strategist) and (Antoine Henri) Jomini (French military theorist) taught us about land war, and Mahan and his like taught us about sea power, we're here to think about how we put these things together. And we're caught between two valid axioms--one that says you shouldn't fight the last war.
I was a commander in Europe during the Kosovo War. My critics at the time said we should have done this like Desert Storm. We should have had 3,000 sorties a day up over Kosovo. We should have done it like the last one. And even at the start of the conflict in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, these same people emerged. We should have done it like we did in 1991.
We're caught between that and the other axiom that says those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it. Somewhere in the middle there's a balance between jumping to tactical conclusions too quickly and taking the enduring lessons that truly leverage your power into the future. So today I'm going to tread lightly down that tightrope and try to discuss that balance.
An example of this axiom was the Gulf War. By any measure it was a resounding success. We did 100 days of bombing with tens of thousands of sorties, 2,000 to 3,000 sorties a day. We were just getting started with precision munitions. We had a very limited night capability. We had the F-117 in combat in downtown Baghdad and, by all measures, when the ground forces came in the effort was in its entirety a success.
We went to Kosovo--38,000 sorties in 78 days. Again, by every measure at the end it was a success. But I think there were things we could have done a lot better and those were the lessons we needed to take away. And that's what we tried to do as we left Operation Desert Storm with an oil slick in the Gulf, with oil fields burning, and with SCUD missiles shot at Israel. There were things we could have done better.
As we went into the Kosovo War and started off with the air campaign, the guiding principle was "no troops on the ground." That was a strategic mistake that we should never make again, because when you tell the enemy that we're not going to have ground forces then they no longer have to dig in their positions. They no longer have to stockpile food and ammunition. That's what we airmen call "targets." They're free to hide under trees and it makes the airman's job that much more difficult.
If you learn those lessons well and you apply them to Operation Iraqi Freedom, hopefully you'll see a tittle bit of what we were able to do. The statistics aren't in yet, but I think what we will find is that we did this part better than we've ever done it before and we can do it a lot better than we how we just did.
So there are some centers of gravity and some points of leverage and that have to do roughly with technology and organization and concepts of operation--and that's what we'll talk about today.
My lesson number one is our relationship with the other services. We have this concept we call Air Dominance and it's different from the old concept of Air Superiority, where we kept the skies clear of things that might drop bombs on our soldiers and Marines on the ground. It's this notion of dominance that allows us first to get into the place we're trying to go to, to kick down the door or be a part of kicking down the door, and allows us to operate at the times and places of our choosing. We saw a little bit of this when for the first time we saw our ground forces maneuver past large enemy formations without first destroying them, and allowing air power in all of its forms to protect its flanks. We can take this too far, but I think there's more that we can do here that has to do with leveraging the air power to make the ground forces more effective.
In the western part of Iraq, we saw a significant amount of air power leveraging the capability of small numbers of forces on the ground, largely Special Forces, and influencing, if not completely controlling, a large segment of the country. Does this mean now that we can get away with a few airplanes and some special forces? No, it does not, But it does mean that there is leverage there that we need to know how to exploit at the right place and the right time.
We've got to be careful about leaping to conclusions when we talk about air dominance. The new Stryker Brigade combat team concept of operations being developed by the Army is going to call for maneuver units deep in enemy territory, behind enemy lines. The lines aren't even defined the way we used to anymore.
And these units when they're back there are going to have to be resupplied, and they're going to have to be kept safe. We're must be able to respond to them in one way or the other. This notion of Air Dominance is why we fight so adamantly for the F/A-22. I'm not here today to promote the F/A-22. But there is a need for us to be able to get back deep and rapidly to formations on the ground with an airplane that can penetrate anything the enemy has, can deal with anything the enemy has in the air, can put weapons precisely on target, and can keep the corridors open for the C-17s and the other aircraft that will have to get back there to resupply.
I get a lot of comments on the F/A-22. You read a lot about it in the paper. Mostly they say, "You know General, you guys are so good. The Iraqi Air Force threw its arms up and said, 'I quit,' the first day of the war. They didn't even fly a single sortie. You had four guided surface-to-air missiles the whole war so you've got what you need. What's the problem?"
Let me give you a minute on the problem. The problem is that our friends the Russians have not stopped building very capable fighter aircraft. They have a series built by the Sukhoi Company. They've been building the latest generation aircraft since the mid 1980s. They are delivering them today to countries around the world.
From time to time we get our hands on these airplanes and we put our very best pilots in these airplanes and put them up against our very best pilots from the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force flying our own F-15s, F-14s, F-18s, and F-16s. And the fact is that our guys flying their airplanes beat our guys flying our airplanes every single time. These airplanes are being delivered today and they are a threat for the future.
So when we argue about the F/A-22, it's not for the Iraq war we just fought. It's for the challenge that we might face 20 or 25 years from now.
This is accompanied by a growing threat in the surface-to-air missile business. Every air force that doesn't like our country is out there trying to figure out how to beat U.S. air power--the United States Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Army aviation. They're trying to figure out how to beat it. Nobody's been very successful lately. The way they are trying to do it on the cheap is to invent surface-to-air missiles that can detect stealth airplanes and the like. We need to be able to deal with these. Again, this is why we need a high-end aircraft, and why I push so hard for the capabilities that we have in that F/A-22.
Another conclusion we leap to rapidly is one that says if you guys are so good and we can do this with manned aircraft, we'll just take all those manned aircraft and make them unmanned. And certainly we have some successes at which to point. The Predator is a remotely piloted vehicle. It has done great work. We read about it in the newspapers all the time. Any article you read about transformation usually has something to do with the Predator UAV in there. But the Predator UAV is not a high tech piece of equipment. It's about the size of a Cessna 172. It has a snowmobile motor in the back. It's got a rotating turret in the front. You can see it and watch streaming video from it. It's like watching television. It's a TV camera. You can see it day or night. It has a synthetic aperture radar image on it so some things you can see through in the weather. Its great virtue is it stays airborne for 24 hours. So you can sit and watch what the bad guys are doing for a long period of time.
When we first invented the Predator, the intelligence community owned it. So in Kosovo we had the Predator up over the villages of Kosovo and they'd see the tank between the two red-roofed buildings with the television camera. And you'd have the person piloting the Predator trying to talk the eyes of the A-10 pilot onto the tank between the two red-roofed buildings. But the people flying the Predator were not people who were schooled in close air support or the tactics of forward air control. They were largely intelligence people.
So you'd have this dialogue of the deaf between the Predator crew and the A-10 crew. "Sir, it's the tank between the two red roofed buildings." Here's the A-10 up here. He sees 40 villages all with red roofs. The guy in the Predator's looking through a soda straw at 10-power magnification. He says, "Well, if you look over to the left there's a road right beside the two houses. A tree line is right next to that. A river ..." Forty-five minutes later you might be in the same postal code, but you certainly haven't gotten your eyes on the target.
So we said, 'I know what--let's put a laser designator on the target!" I was the commander over in Europe so the great acquisition community back here, came in and they did that. It took them two weeks to put a laser designation device on that Predator so that it could designate the target for someone else who could drop a laser weapon on it, or help get somebody's eyes on the target. It worked very very well.
But in the tyranny of our process, I left my job in Europe and came back over to Langley AFB (Va.) to be the Commander of Air Combat Command. I say, "How are we doing on our laser designator Predator?" The answer was, "Guess what? We took it off because it's not in the program." I said, "I have an idea. Let's put it back on."
The stovepipes come out of the woodwork and they argue with you about this. One of the arguments I received was, "Sir, we can't do this. We don't know which congressional committee will have oversight. Is this now an Armed Services Committee thing or an Intelligence Committee thing?" That was a short conversation.
Then we said, "This thing can find the targets and can laser designate the targets, so why can't it shoot the targets? Let's put a Hellfire missile on it." Again the system rattles around not because the system is full of bad people. The system is full of magnificent people. They want to do the right thing. But the stovepipes we create don't allow it to happen easily.
So they came back to me with a briefing that says, "Sir, we can put a Hellfire on the Predator but you know it's going to take about four or five years, it's going to be about $15 million to develop it, and it's all high risk. Here are the charts." Everything is red on the charts.
I said, "I know what. Here's $3 million. You take three months, get out there and make this Predator shoot a Hellfire and you do it now. Just do it. Oh, and I'll take the risk." "Oh, you'll take the risk? Well, everything's green in that case."
And of course they did it. And of course it worked. But the more it worked, the more everybody wanted to jump to the extreme conclusion. "Let's take everybody out of cockpits. Let's make them all go unmanned."
We have to think about it a minute. Do we really want to take the judgment out of the cockpit that is responsible for dropping weapons on people? Do we want to buy a vehicle that does a significantly advanced mission?
We have a debate going on about the UCAV today, the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, that carries bombs and weapons. I asked a group one day, "If it weren't for the novelty of not having a man in it, would we even be thinking about this vehicle?" The room was silent because the answer is no.
Now does that mean we shouldn't be thinking about a vehicle that absolutely advances the mission order of magnitude that happens not to have a person in it? We should absolutely think of that. I can envision the day where we'll have an ultra-stealthy vehicle that orbits over the battlefield. They'll be talking to the combat controllers and the people on the ground. The person on the ground will dial up what they need and the dispenser up in the sky will put the weapon right exactly where it's needed. I envision that day will come.
But in order to invent that machine it has to have the virtues we admire most in an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, a UAV. It has to persist for long periods of time over the battlefield and be able to survive. It has to be able to defend itself or at least have a minimum of help in defending itself. It has to be able to air refuel, in order to get that persistence on any stealthy platform we know of today.
If it's going to air refuel it had better carry enough weapons to be useful to the people on the ground because the minute you put air refueling on it it's no longer a razor blade that we consider dispensable. It is now a Norelco and it costs a lot of money.
Those are the balances that we have to think about before we jump to tactical level conclusions and start reciting bumper stickers that sound good in the abstract and fail in execution.
Another principle is we have to focus on is concepts of operations. Right now all the services are focused on programs. It's all about the programs that we buy. And we talk first about the programs we're going to buy before we start to talk about how we're going to fight. One of the things we started doing in the Air Force is to turn the system upside down. We start with CONOPS (concept of operations) first and then we go into the programs. But it's the concept of operations guys that get the money.
If I go into an Air Operation Center today I can go to one of our workstations and find in front of that person at that workstation who performs the function will be three screens. So you ask the obvious question, "Why isn't there just one screen for the job that you do?" The answer is "Oh, well, sir, that's simple. There are three manufacturers that make the three programs that I need to do my job." "How do you integrate those three programs?" "Oh, sir, I do that right here in my pea-sized brain of a fighter pilot here sitting behind this console."
Why is that? The reason is that we went out and bought the three programs before we decided what we were going to do with it. That's why it is. You can watch, in the Air Operations Center, the guy sitting behind the console interpreting his tribal hieroglyphics behind his tribal workstation, get up and walk three stations down to the other tribal member three stations down, have an analog conversation with this person, watch that person enter what he or she was just told into the tribal workstation with his or her own tribal hieroglyphics, and send it out for something to do with it.
Imagine if the machines could talk together. That's where we've got to go. We've got to let the concepts of operation lead the way.
When you talk about concepts of operations, you do it with the most difficult task that you need to do. One of the things we must be able to do is "kick down the door." It's the anti-access problem, if you will. It's countries that have the competence to keep us from going in where we need to go in. When you do the analysis you learn that the leveraging features are stealth, standoff and precision. It's having people on the ground with eyeballs on the targets able to standoff with very precise weapons and with stealthy weapons that can penetrate very capable defenses.
When you put that to work then you go together with the other services and you figure out what you bring to the fight that gives you the maximum stealth standoff and precision to do this particular job and you go after that as a concept of operations. Then you ask yourself, what is it that we need to do this job? That's what we've got to do. That's where we're going.
I'm in a particularly foul mood this morning because in the New York Times this morning Robert Corum wrote an editorial. I don't know if you've had a chance to read it or not. He lit a fire of his own making by once again saying that the Air Force is going to cut A-10s. And he then proceeded to vilify the Air Force for its lack of support for close air support. He is dead wrong and he and the New York Times will hear about it.
And it irritates the hell out of me when you try your very best to make sure that the services are working together to do their job and you have someone who does not have their facts straight attempting to throw barriers up in the eyes of the public.
He claims that we've ignored the A-10, and that we're about to cut the A-10. The fact of the matter is, between Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom, we've flown more than 7,000 A-10 sorties. The A-10 has had a higher mission capable rate than any airplane except the F-117. We have a billion dollars that we're spending on the A-10 to upgrade it to increase its capabilities. There is no intent to cut the A-10.
We've got to make sure that we understand the A-10's role because it has changed. Close air support is no longer the way it was when I was in Vietnam. In Vietnam we had no precision weapons, so the only way you could ensure the accuracy that you needed to get close to the troops was to cut down the time of flight of the weapon. So we'd go in at 50 feet and you'd put the weapon down so you could get the time of flight down to less than two seconds. And more than one guy blew themselves out of the air trying to make sure that they were putting the weapons in the right place.
We've got combat controllers in Afghanistan. You saw the pictures in the paper of these sergeants riding around on a horse on the plains of Afghanistan. He's on the ground. He's got his laptop computer bouncing off the saddle horn of the horse. He's got his tripod and laser goggles bouncing off the horse's butt. They stop. They set the thing all up. He sends this little message that says, "You know, sir, you guys never taught me how to ride this horse. And these Afghans use these wooden saddles and they're not the least bit comfortable. How about a leather saddle and how about some Vaseline?"
He sets this thing up and he laser spots the enemy on the far ridge line and there's 100 of them along the ridge line and they're taking fire from these guys. They databurst the data up to a B-52 at 39,000 feet and the B-52 puts laser-guided munitions down to within a 1,000 meters of the position of the people on the ground. That's the effect of close air support. You didn't see the airplane or feel the heat from the engines, but the precision was even better than we were able to do in Vietnam.
We have to understand that the effect is exactly what we want for close air support. And that's got to count just like the A-10 below 1,000 feet, which they had to do in Iraq because the weather was bad, you had to have the eyeballs on the target for identification, and they're the only ones that could do it, so that's what we did. And we'll continue to do so.
Again, on the relationship with the other services, we have to look at the melding of the missions we can do. If you get the Air Force and the Navy together in the same room you find out that their EP-3s and our Rivet Joints do pretty much the same thing. They do signals intelligence. Ours is a Boeing 707 platform, theirs is an old P-3 platform. Both of them are falling apart. We both need to find a way to modernize it.
We find ourselves parked side by side all over the world doing signals intelligence missions. What better opportunity to create a few squadrons than say the United States Navy on one side and the United States Air Force on the other that do the same missions? Why don't we do that?
I think we can. So does Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark. We're going to give it a shot.
Global Hawk is the same way. The Navy's got a sea surveillance mission and we have global responsibilities with the Global Hawk. Why can't we do it together? I don't know. We're going to see if we can.
There are lots of similar opportunities we need to take advantage of.
The next thing I want to talk about is the integration of command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. We've talked about this already just a little bit with the Air Operations Center example.
On March 25, there was a sandstorm in Iraq. You couldn't see your hand in front of your face. We watched the news commentators talk about the sandstorm and the ensuant pause that took place, There was this pause--was this part of the plan? Are we off our plan now? Is this now a disaster? Wow, these Iraqis are good.
I had to sit there and smile because while the commentators were rattling on there were a 1,000 sorties a day over the heads of the Medina Division. We were watching these guys with the Joint Stars and the ground moving target indicator radars coming out of Baghdad trying to reinforce the Medina Division and the B-1s and the B-52s were up there pounding the heck out of them.
I'd like to ask the commander of the Medina Division when he thought the pause was. There was no pause.
But we can do this better. You've got the Rivet Joint that can hear the things. You've got the Joint Stars that can see them through the weather. You've got other capabilities from the other services up there that can do similar things. You've got the satellites that are looking from high into space. Isn't it time we let the machines start conversing about what they see? Think about it.
Why do you need a satellite photo? The digits don't care. It's so that the analog brain can interpret what's going on out there. That's why you have a photograph.
If the thing that took the photograph and the digits that made that photograph talked to the digits that were listening with signals intelligence or the digits that were looking through the synthetic aperture radar or the imaging infrared at night, they could more than likely get together and tell you precisely where the target is and precisely what it is.
And once they locate it, you can then determine what you're going to do. If it's a bad target you want to kill it. If it's a good target, like in humanitarian relief operations, you go save it. You drop food to it. You do something. But it's still found and discovered and located in exactly the same way.
Then we have these processes. In the intelligence world our habit is to collect, analyze and report. You collect terabytes. You analyze it to death. You circle the things on the pictures. Then you send it out for people who are going 500 miles an hour trying to find the target and kill it. Is there something wrong with that picture? You bet.
Where does it have to go? We need to take this serial process we have of collect, analyze, and report, and we need to get that into our everyday peacetime mode so that we can turn that process into a predictive process. We have to invent the tools of predictive analysis. Let me give you an example.
The Kosovo War, 1999. We had SA-6 surface-to-air missiles that we were trying to kill so we could get the airplanes into the airspace, but the Serbians were not using the SA-6s. They knew if they turned the radars on we could find them and we'd kill them. So they'd tow them from place to place and try to hide them, and they'd bring them out at just the right minute and turn them on at the last second and try and get that last second shot. It was driving us crazy.
I had a bunch of intelligence lieutenants in there and I said, "Lieutenants, you go out there. I want to know the name of each SA-6 battery commander, each fire unit commander. I want to know his family, I want to know his children, and I want to know what movie he saw last night. I want to know where they are."
These youngsters went out, came back about a week later, and said, "Sir, here's one right here. This guy used to move between here, here, here, here and here. He's now gone down to three places, and he's getting complacent. We think he lives in this village because every other time he goes back to this place right here. We think tomorrow morning he'll be right there"--and that's where he was. The lieutenant studying the movement knew more about what that guy was going to do than he did.
Project that into intercontinental ballistic missiles that might be hidden in forests around the world and the like. Now you have the power of prediction--the forensics of the battle space.
Then you take those same assets and you abide by a philosophy that says the sum of the wisdom of the integration of my manned, unmanned and space platforms ends up with a cursor over the target. You integrate them to do just that.
In the airplane business we know how to do this. We're used to this. If you're in the F-15 and you're working with the AWACS out there and you're talking to the AWACS, he says, "Eagle One, you've got bandits out there at bullseye 0-4-0 for 40." You run your cursor out there, you lock onto that target, and the minute you lock onto the target you've taught the system to go to work for you in a very particular way. It brings up the target altitude, the target air speed, the target type, the target heading, and everything you need to know about the target.
At the right time when it has enough information it has a conversation with the AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) missile that's sitting down here on the rail. It says, "Mr. AMRAAM, when you come off the rail look right there. That's where the bad guy's going to be." The AMRAAM says, "Got it." It puts up in your heads up display the max range, the mid range and the no escape range. It tells you even in big flashing lights for the fighter pilots who can't figure it out any other way; it says, "Shoot." It's all automated because it's important that we shoot this guy before he shoots us.
Now imagine this in an operational level setting where you're sitting in the Air Operations Center. You've got the big screen up here. You have your Rivet Joint that just tells you, "I've got a signals intelligence hidden down here. It looks like it could be a SCUD missile. I don't know, let's take it." You lock onto that area of interest and the system goes to work. It inquires of the Joint Stars. It inquires of whatever's up there--manned, unmanned, or space. It brings in all that they know about what's going on in that piece of earth right now. It tells you about it. Then it tells you what it doesn't know so that you can go get it.
You've got a little thing on the right-hand side that looks like a Combined Federal Campaign thermometer that as your confidence level builds it continues to build until it builds to what you told it it needed to be--95 percent confidence.
We need to do that. We need to bring this great information technology that's a part of the space and the air and the manned and the unmanned, and the things that are afloat and the things that we have on the ground together in a seamless way.
There's one great shot of the Predator UAV over downtown Baghdad. We were trying to shut down Iraqi TV. As entertaining as Baghdad Bob was, it was really time for him to go away. So we found one of these portable mobile satellite dishes that they had and they put it right outside the Grand Mosque in Baghdad. And of course we weren't going to use a 1,000--or a 500-pound or a 2,000-pound bomb that close to the Grand Mosque. Also, that satellite dish was parked about 150 feet away from the main Fox News antenna.
So a female F-15 pilot happens to be flying the Predator this day. She flies the Predator up in there and they locate this thing. Again, using signals intelligence and all of the seamless interfaces that I talked to you about. Only it still takes too long. She finds it and schwacks the antenna with a Helifire missile, a 40-pound warhead. Didn't hurt anything else. And you listen to the tape where she says, "Now we're going to dash out of here." The Predator goes 70 miles an hour. We like to say that if there's a 70-knot wind you can either go or come back but you can't do both.
What we've seen is this fuzzying up of the distinction between the operational level of war and the tactical level of war. Now that scares a lot of people because it says, "Oh, what that means is that from the Air Operations Center they're going to be trying to fly my airplane." It doesn't have to be that way.
The way we have to look at it is that if there's going to be strategic level decisions made about which targets are going to be hit, and we have nothing to say about that by the way. Then we have to have the system that puts that information in front of that strategic level decisionmaker in as clear and concise a way as possible so that that decision doesn't slow down the entire process. Find, fix, track, target, engage and assess. Part of that is the decision to engage.
Again, that's what we've got to do with our systems.
Number three. We learned a lot about the value of rapid response, of mobility and of support. I have to smile at the people that talk about how the Air Force just can't get into any place these days. Access is a big problem.
We opened 36 bases for the conflict in Iraq. It doesn't mean that other modes were not valuable. It means that when the chips are down, access in most cases, certainly not all, is available. When it's not, we have this great coordination and cooperation between and among the services that gets us what we do need.
In Operation Desert Storm, there was this great thing about the air power and the air war and the way that the Army "walked up the road" after they got in. That wasn't true. The Army fought hard going up the road, and so did the Marines and the coalition forces. Then in Kosovo it was all about air power. As I said before, no troops on the ground. A big mistake.
In Afghanistan it was "the Air Force can't get in." Well, we could get in but why should we? We had aircraft carriers around out there that had all the tactical air power we needed. We did put some A-10s in there and we put some Marines in there on the ground as well, and we had bombers coming from Diego Garcia. We could have put more fighters in there but why would we? We didn't need them. And everybody was using the tankers to get themselves on these eight--and 10-hour missions. The whole country was land-locked so for the first part everything that went in there went in by air.
There's plenty of war to go around and we've got to knock it off with the parochial interpretation of things.
We don't have a tent left in the United States Air Force. There are 36 bases worth of support equipment out there. We don't have much left. That's why we've reinvented ourselves to put more emphasis on mission support and our trying again to figure out how to share this stuff with the other services is going to be important
We saw the value of tankers, as I already mentioned, such as the tankers that refuel the aircraft coming off of the aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean. When the northern fight went away with the loss of access to Turkey we had a big problem out there getting the fuel to the aircraft carriers out in the Mediterranean. We had to reposition assets because they were out there for the northern fight. We needed them for what happened next and it took us awhile to reposition those tankers. They proved their value.
The C-17s dropped the 173rd Brigade right into northern Iraq. That is the first time we've done something like that in a very long time. Notably there were 17 airmen that jumped in with the 173rd Brigade and those airmen were responsible for getting down there and making sure that airfield was ready to be used as rapidly as possible. It's a mission we're developing on the model of the RAF regiment. It's a good model to use and we're going to press with that. But the whole mission support notion is one to which we're paying a lot of attention.
Fourth, I want to talk for a few minutes about our global laydown. This is one of many, and each one of these topics that I'll touch on is a PhD thesis in itself. There's no way we can do it any justice today, but you can talk about it during this week because it's vitally important to our future.
You're going to talk about this week the Mid-East peace process. You're going to have a variety of distinguished speakers.
One of the things we really have to get our arms around is our relationships in the Gulf. One of the things we do very poorly as Americans is try to look at things from the other country's point of view. When we're Americans and we go over into the Gulf we think that they should be grateful to us for being there to defend them. Why are we there? For our own selfish interests. It's a little bit more than that because part of our selfish interest has to do with the world economy and its stability, but it's not from their point of view to defend the nations of the Gulf.
These are complex cultural interfaces that we deal with day in and day out over there. It is as hard to understand your friends in many cases today as it is your enemies. And we in the military spend some time doing that. We're going to have to spend more.
Bernard Lewis just wrote a great book called The Crisis of Islam. It's a quick read. It is extremely captivating and interesting, and it tells us things that are basic. The difference between a crusade and a jihad and how the definition of crusade has changed for us over the years, but the definition of jihad for the Islamic world has never changed for the Muslim religion. And how difficult it is for the great majority of Muslims to think of separating church and state. Their fear of imperialism is based on history. The impact of the Ottoman Empire and its relationship to the situation in the Balkans. The attitude of German liberal writers leading up to World War II about America and its ties with the Ba'ath party and its formation in Iraq. Complexities of the world that impact everything we do today but which we have little understanding. Go pick up Bernard Lewis' book and read it. It is extremely informative.
NATO and our relationship with our friends in Europe. Where is that going? Again, something we have to pay extremely close attention to. There's a great book that just came out, Of Paradise and Power. I don't know if you've had a chance to look at it yet--it's by Robert Kagan. It's another short read, barely 100 pages long. It captures and diagnoses perfectly our relationship and the different perspectives we have from the nations of Europe.
We want to think we're the same. We want to think we have much more in common than differences with our NATO allies, but history teaches us otherwise. It means we have to take a different approach from what we're taking to be able to deal with it. Kagan captures it beautifully and I highly recommend his book.
It's not only our partners in Europe, but it's NATO itself. As we contemplate how the center of decision making and power is still firmly anchored in Western Europe and the center of activity of NATO is drifting to the southeast, we have to think about what that means. What are our relationships in that world?
You think about NATO and the difficult decisions it had as we approached the Kosovo War. Here was an alliance of more than 50 years: here was the first time it's ever fired a shot in anger, and here was the first time it's called upon to do not a defensive engagement as we were trained for all those years, but an offensive one; and it's not within the borders--it's outside the traditional borders of NATO. A difficult decision that was taken by 19 nations, it also enunciated the differences that we have and those that we need to contemplate for our future.
In Asia and in the Pacific, things are inevitable. I believe it's inevitable that North and South Korea will come together. What does that mean? When you accompany that with the power of an emerging China, what does that mean? How does Japan look at that? What does that mean we have to do to be ready for that eventuality?
India-Pakistan. Will a nuclear weapon go off? Will it be from that or will it be from a terrorist organization? The technology's now 50 years old. Is it now just a matter of time? I don't know. What do we do about that?
Terrorism without borders can show up anywhere. How do we respond to that? Are we ready for it?
Finally, let me just take a minute to talk about what it all comes down to. It all comes down to the people who wear the uniform.
I've been doing this now for 37 years. I travel the world in times of crisis like the one we've just been through and I see our people at work and they are magnificent.
I love to tell my World War II audiences, "Do you think you're the only group that can be committed and patriotic?" I'd like to take you out there on the flight lines scattered around the world today, and this is true for every service. I happen to wear this suit. Any service chief could get up and tell you the same thing. It's the same story.
One of the favorite things I like to do is go to Lackland AFB (Texas). Every Friday we bring a 1,000 new airmen into our Air Force. There's a magnificent parade and they're all as proud as they can be.
The fun thing to do is to stand in the shadows and watch the youngsters get together with their parents who haven't seen them for several weeks, and watch them get back together again. You see the same scene every time if you look hard enough. Some newly minted airman standing in his or her new blue uniform, standing in front of his or her mother saying, "Yes, mom. It is me."
The dad's standing back saying, "Ain't the kid I brought here. Uh-uh. No, this kid's standing up straight saying ma'am and sir. The kid I brought here looked like he fell down the steps with his tackle box in his hand with a pierced eye and a pierced ear and a pierced lip." But it is their kid. It's their kid exposed to a little bit of sense of purpose, a little bit of pride, and a little bit of leadership.
I was in Charlotte, N. C., for the big NASCAR race on Sunday celebrating people in uniform on the Memorial Day weekend. I had numerous parents come up to me out of nowhere and say, "My son just went to basic training." It may not have been in the Air Force. "My son or daughter just went to basic training. I don't know what you did to them, but God love you, God love you, everything I have is yours, whatever you did."
Let me tell you a story about one of them. Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, 24 years old. He was a pararescueman--we call them PJs--stationed at Moody AFB, Ga. Dudng Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan he was aboard a CH-47 helicopter with a bunch of Army Rangers. They were going into Roberts' Ridge where a Navy SEAL had been lost and was missing and they were going back in to try and find that Navy SEAL. As they approached the landing zone their helicopter was shot down.
Senior Airman Cunningham was on that helicopter with three other airmen. Two of them were combat controllers, the other one was another PJ. As they hit the ground they were surrounded and taking fire, and they were already taking wounded. Cunningham dragged the wounded off to a place that was as safe as he could make it. The combat controllers got on the radio and started trying to call in the close air support that would get them out of this situation. Over the course of time Senior Airman Cunningham was mortally wounded.
Secretary of the Air Force Jim Roche and I went out to Kirtland AFB (NM) to present his widow with the Air Force Cross, the second highest award this nation gives for valor. While we were out there the Army guys who were on that helicopter were all there. These big strapping Army Rangers who you knew could crush anything in sight with one hand were sitting there with tears rolling down their cheeks telling me how Senior Airman Cunningham, as he was dying and knew he wasn't going to make it, was explaining to them how to minister to the other soldiers that were injured so they wouldn't die.
We gave the Air Force Cross to Teresa Cunningham, 23 years old. They have two daughters both under the age of three. She's in ROTC in Valdosta State College. I will go there in a couple of weeks for her graduation where she will come into the Air Force.
Now I told the audience that day that I have nearly a 1,000 combat missions, and on Senior Airman Cunningham's very first one he showed more courage and valor than I did in a 1,000.
It's our challenge in the ranks of the senior leadership of this military to be worthy to lead soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines like Senior Airman Cunningham. Are we worthy? That's the question I ask my four-stars every time we get together. The answer better be "yes." It's not only for them, it's not only for Senior Airman Cunningham, it's for the taxpayers of America and the American people who in times like this
look to those of us in uniform. And it doesn't matter which uniform, as the symbols of the power and the strength of this nation. We have a lot to live up to. And for those of you out there in uniform today there's nothing you could be doing with your lives that are any more meaningful or any more appreciated than what you are doing. Be proud of what you are doing.
Thank you all very much, and God bless each and every one of you.
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|Publication:||Air Force Speeches|
|Date:||May 27, 2003|
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