Airmen In Demand By Jeff Schogol

DeM Banter: Important Article… CSAF Priorities… “Winning the fight, strengthening the team and shaping the future.” Quotes from Gen McNabb, McPeak, and Dr Chiabotti… what more could you ask for on a Monday morning!

Air Force Times
September 24, 2012
Pg. S1

Cover story

ISR and mobility roles in Afghanistan, embassy security and other hot spots will increase workload

Buckle up: It’s going to be a bumpy year. From Afghanistan to Africa to wherever the next flash­point is, airmen are going to have a busy 2013.

In Afghanistan, the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission will assume an even greater importance next year, said Brig. Gen. Jeff Harrigan, assistant deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

“We’re thinking through right now how we would plus-up or at least be as effective as possible with the assets that we have, recognizing there will probably be an increased requirement for some of that ISR,” Harrigan told Air Force Times.

Harrigan, who helped plan the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, said one lesson from Iraq is the need for ISR goes up as the number of troops on the ground goes down.

“As we’re transitioning to the security force assistance mission, we still need to get the soldiers and folks out to the different locations with the Afghans and to make sure that they’re able to do that in a manner that is safe and will get them to those locations we got to make sure that we provide them the appropriate top cover,” he said.

Next year, mobility airmen will continue to supply U.S. troops in Afghanistan while also ferrying troops and equipment out of the country as part of the drawdown of U.S. forces there.

“The guys will be busy … especially bringing out wheeled vehicles, which is not something that you can — for the most part — use commercial to do,” said retired Gen. Duncan McNabb, former head of U.S. Transportation Command.

The role of airlift is all the more important because there is always the possibility that ground supply routes through Pakistan could be closed, as they were from November 2011 to July, McNabb added.

The Air Force has made significant progress in finding efficient ways to move people and supplies since the Afghanistan war started, McNabb said. Mobility flights now make quick hops from Afghanistan to staging areas outside the country, where cargo can be moved to ships.

This combination of air and surface transportation will help the Air Force fly out thousands of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and the lighter all-terrain variants that have been sent to Afghanistan over the years, he said.

“Originally, when we were first going to Afghanistan, our only option was to take it all the way from [the continental U.S.] on a C-17 or even a C-124,” McNabb said. “We would pick it up in the States and take it all the way in by air. We’re much better at doing a multimodal combination of surface and air, which allows your C-17s just to shuttle back and forth — or your C-5 — to shuttle back and forth; a much shorter route, maybe a two- or three-hour flight, and they just go back and forth. You load them quickly; you do engine-running onloads; it’s a very high velocity, very good use of assets.”

Currently, about 12,000 vehicles in the MRAP family are in the Afghanistan theater of operations, according to the Defense Department.

With recent attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts in Egypt and Libya, don’t be surprised if the Air Force gets in the business of embassy security, said Stephen Chiabotti of the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

“I think at some point, someone is going to say, ‘What if each embassy was surveilled on a daily basis by an RPV [remotely piloted vehicle] that was armed,’ ” Chiabotti said. “You would have an ISR capability but also have a strong deterrent capability: The fact that we got eyes on you and we can bring force to bear from above.”

The need for long-range surveillance aircraft will grow as the U.S. pivots from the Middle East to the Pacific region, where the distances are tremendous, Chiabotti said.

In other missions, the Air Force will continue to build partnerships with militaries in Afghanistan, the Pacific region and Africa, Chiabotti said. Africa in particular is “pivotal” because it is between the Middle East and the Pacific.

“I think our interest in Africa is going to increase, which means that there is going to be more humani­tarian work, and I think there’s going to be a lot more building-partnership capacity issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, the effects of climate change on weather patterns ensures the Air Force will have to respond to natural disasters in 2013, said Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t know where the next hurricane is going to be, but I do know that their numbers are going up because of climate change, human populations are clustered in more vulnerable locations, and the USAF has continually been called upon to assist after them both at home and abroad,” Singer said in an email.

The Air Force also faces personnel challenges in 2013, said Douglas Birkey, director of government relations for the Air Force Association.

“On the uniformed side, they face major problems like the 100 fighter pilot shortage via training generation,” Birkey said in an email. “On the civilian side, DoD chose to convert several thousand contractor billets to government employees. However, budget shortfalls arose before the plan could process, and so now the service finds itself without the contracts AND the government civilian billets.”

In addition, the Air Force would also be called upon if the U.S. goes to war with Iran, experts said.

The possibility that the U.S. will have to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations is “fairly high,” said retired Army Col. Peter Mansoor, former executive officer for Gen. David Petraeus.

“Even if the administration (of either party) does not want to engage in such a conflict, action by Israel could force its hand,” Mansoor said in an email. “If I were an Air Force or Joint Force leader, I’d be fine tuning the plans for an air-sea campaign to destroy Iranian nuclear capability and prevent Iranian retaliation in the Gulf and elsewhere.”

But the Air Force’s biggest battle in the coming year may not be overseas. If lawmakers fail to act by January, $500 billion in cuts to defense spending will automati­cally kick in, adding to the Air Force’s budget woes.

“I think it’s highly likely that we will enter a period of long-term reductions in defense budgets, and so the biggest challenge we will face in 2013 is how to plan for an environment in which resources are sharply constrained,” said retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, former chief of staff.

The Air Force will have to become stronger and tougher with less money and fewer people and aircraft, McPeak said.

“The problem is building a better Air Force that’s also less expensive and diminished in every aspect of resource availability but not diminished in the aspect of combat capability,” he said.

When McPeak was chief from 1990 to 1994, the Air Force took $25 billion out of its annual bud­get through reductions in end strength and aircraft, he said.

The key to budget cuts is not to make cuts across the board; rather the Air Force must only fund what it needs to control the air, McPeak said. Everything else needs to be eliminated.

“Don’t wound anything — kill it,” McPeak said. “That keeps the rest of it healthy. So what you don’t kill, you want to feed. You want to reinforce success.”

However, McPeak said he doesn’t have any lessons for current Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III on how to cut spending. “Gen. Welsh is smarter than I am,” McPeak said. “He should be giving me advice.”

4-stars put priorities on display

In his few public appearances since becoming Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Mark Welsh III has said he wants to instill pride in airmen and work in lockstep with the Air National Guard.

“Those people who are operating at the front end of the business are looking back over their shoulder [saying], ‘Fix this problem and let us do our work,’ ” Welsh said Sept. 11 at the National Guard Association of the United States conference.

A 1976 Air Force Academy graduate and pilot with 3,400 flight hours, Welsh has said he has three priorities for the service: Winning the fight, strengthening the team and shaping the future.

Here’s what the Air Force’s 12 other four-star generals say about what’s important to them.

GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE — Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe; Graduated Georgia Tech in 1977; Command pilot with more than 3,500 flight hours in the F-16, T-37 and C-21; Years of service: 35

In his words: “Supporting the fight is job one. USAFE has a long history of forward presence; we will con­tinue to answer our nation’s call across the full spectrum of military operations, as we have for the past 70 years. Second, I believe our airmen are our most valuable weapon system and greatest strength. Many nations in the world have great air forces. Some nations may even rival us in certain capabilities, but the caliber and dedication of our airmen are unmatched and always will be. Taking care of these fine Americans, enabling their success, and providing them with the best training and equipment is a critical focus of mine. Finally, I’ve been married for 33 years, so I’m keenly aware of how important the support of our Air Force families is to our mission success. I’m always striving to ensure the team and the infrastructure supporting our airmen’s families is the best in the world; our people deserve nothing less.”

GEN. HERBERT “HAWK” CARLISLE — Commander of Pacific Air Forces; Graduated Air Force Academy in 1978; Command pilot with more than 3,600 flight hours in the AT-38, YF-110, YF-113, T-38, F-15A/B/C/D, and C-17A; Years of service: 34

In his words: “My vision is to make Pacific Air Forces the absolute best component major command and war-fighting headquarters it can be. The Air Force is undergoing a transformation with core function lead integrators, lead commands and reach-back centralized support to generate the most combat capability in a time of declining resources. Simply put, our job in PACAF is to be war fighters and airpower experts for [Pacific Command]. We must be able to bring everything that air power offers to the joint war fight. The inherent attributes of speed, range and flexibility make airpower critical to success in this theater, and we must be able to provide these capabilities 24/7 for every possible scenario, from humanitarian assistance to theater war.”

GEN. DOUGLAS FRASER — Commander of U.S. Southern Command; Graduated Air Force Academy in 1975; Command pilot with more than 2,700 flight hours in the F-15A/B/C/D, F-15E and F-16; Years of service: 37

In his words: “USSOUTHCOM’s focus will remain working with our partner militaries across Latin America and the Caribbean to sustain and enhance security, stability and prosperity. USSOUTHCOM should continue its efforts to enhance military-to-military relations, build partner capacity as required to meet our mutual security requirements, work with the U.S. interagency to support the president’s Combating Transnational Organized Crime Strategy, and be prepared to respond following natural disasters in the region.”

GEN. WILLIAM FRASER III — Commander of U.S. Transportation Command; Graduated Texas A&M University in 1974; Command pilot with more than 4,200 flight hours in the T-37, T-38, T-1, KC-135R, B-1B, B-2, B-52G/H and C-21; Years of service: 38

In his words: We have an opportunity to develop and implement bold, innovative practices to adapt to a challenging future operating environment. To ensure USTRANSCOM is postured for the future, we’ve undertaken the most comprehensive and collaborative strategic planning and change effort in our command’s 25-year history. We are focusing our efforts on developing processes, structures and reinforcing a culture, which supports our four priorities: Preserve readiness capability by ensuring the nation has access to necessary commercial and organic capability; achieve information technology excellence to guarantee systems enhance decision making and can operate in a contested cyber domain; align resources and processes for success to make certain we continue to provide world-class transportation services and enabling capabilities; and develop enterprise-focused professionals to improve our focus on customer requirements.

GEN. GILMARY MICHAEL HOSTAGE III — Commander of Air Combat Command; Graduated Duke University in 1977; Command pilot with more than 4,000 flight hours in the T-38, F-15A/B/C/D, F-16A/B/C/D/CJ, F-22, E-3B/C AWACS, MC-12W and T-6A; Years of service: 35

In his words: “ACC has four overarching priorities: We need to define a force structure of new and legacy systems that’s sustainable in the current fiscal environment.

Develop, retain and care for innovative, motivated, combat-focused airmen and their families. We’re ensuring we continue to provide essential services and promote airman fitness and resiliency.

Focus organizations, training and education to improve combat capability for current and future operations across the entire spectrum of conflict. This requires building on combat expertise in supporting ground forces in permissive environments developed in recent conflicts while improving our readiness to operate at the higher end of the conflict spectrum in environments that are contested (asymmetrically or symmetrically).

Remain focused on producing the most operationally effective force for the money. This will entail hard decisions as to those capabilities that are critical to our future success and those which, despite being desirable and useful, are less critical to mission accomplishment.”

GEN. RAYMOND JOHNS JR. — Commander of Air Mobility Command; Graduated Air Force Academy in 1977; Command pilot and experimental test pilot with 4,500 flight hours in the C-17, C-141, T-38, VC-25, N/K/C-135, KC-10 and C-5; Years of service: 35 (retires in November)

In his words: “What we do is deliver hope, fuel the fight and save lives, but why we do it is more important. When our airmen talk about why they love their jobs, they say, ‘We answer the call of others so they may prevail.’ We’re a maintainer and aerial porter who ready an aircraft that will deliver hope to a remote forward operating base in Afghanistan running low on supplies. We’re an aerial refueling crew ensuring our war fighters on the ground are never without a canopy of protection above them.

We’re a nurse who volunteers to be part of the first tactical critical care evacuation team, and by doing so helps save a soldier who is clinging to life on a roadside in Afghanistan.”

GEN. C. ROBERT KEHLER — Commander of U.S. Strategic Command; Graduated Penn State University in 1974; Years of service: 37

In his words: “STRATCOM’s fundamental responsibility is to deter strategic attack on the United States, our allies and our partners.

It’s the cornerstone of what we do today in our varied mission sets, and it underpins all our plans for the way forward. While there may be uncertainty in the global environment, my war-fighter priorities will not change — we must deter all types of strategic attack, whether kinetic or nonkinetic, in a way that safeguards our way of life, our democratic freedoms and all we cherish.”

GEN. EDWARD RICE JR. — Commander of Air Education and Training Command; Graduated Air Force Academy in 1978; Command pilot with more than 3,900 flight hours in the B-1B, B-52G/H, E-3, B-2, KC-135, T-37, T-38 and C-130H; Years of service: 34

In his words: “AETC is meeting our mission requirements today. The big question is, how will we continue to do so in a resources-constrained environment? So we are undertaking three strategic initiatives to enable future capabilities: Transformation in learning, developing a cost­conscious culture (we call it C3) and better utilization of airmen’s time.”

GEN. WILLIAM SHELTON — Commander of Air Force Space Command; Graduated Air Force Academy in 1976; Years of service: 36

In his words: “Even in an environment of shrinking budgets, emerging threats and accelerating technology, we must continue to provide a foundational level of space and cyberspace capability if our nation is to remain a global power. AFSPC continues to deliver excellence by modernizing vital space capabilities, strengthening cyberspace systems and defenses, maintaining a stellar space launch track record unmatched by any nation in history, exploiting the tremendous natural synergies of space and cyberspace, pursuing innovative designs to increase affordability and resilience, and develop­ing new ways to integrate and fuse information from disparate platforms across multiple domains.”

GEN. LARRY SPENCER — Air Force vice chief of staff; Graduated Southern Illinois University in 1979; Years of service: 32

In his words: “My commitment is to supporting the secretary of the Air Force and Air Force chief of staff in ensuring America’s airmen are ready to fight and win the nation’s wars and defend its interests around the world.

Against a backdrop of fiscal challenges and an uncertain security environment, the nation is looking to the Air Force to dominate air and space, provide rapid mobility, global strike and persistent [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance].”

GEN. JANET WOLFENBARGER — Commander of Air Force Materiel Command; Graduated Air Force Academy in 1980; Years of service: 32

In her words: “The command’s biggest challenge moving forward will be providing required support to the war fighter in an environment where money is tight. I contend that while the budget environment is challenging, it also can and should be embraced as an opportunity to fig­ure out ways to accomplish our missions more efficiently and more effectively. AFMC is doing just that, while also working to preserve the welfare of the command’s people. The AFMC mission is as serious today as it ever has been, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to make every defense dollar count and directly support the war fighter.”

GEN. (select) PAUL SELVA — Vice commander of Pacific Air Forces; Graduated Air Force Academy in 1980; Command pilot with more than 3,100 flight hours in the C-5, C-17A, C-141B, KC-10, KC-135A and T-37; Years of service: 32

In his words: “At the end of November, I will return to Scott [Air Force Base, Ill.] and take command of Air Mobility Command.

Having grown up as a tanker and airlift pilot, served as commander of the Tanker Airlift Control Center and director of operations (J-3) at TRANSCOM, returning to Scott feels a bit like coming home.”

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2 thoughts on “Airmen In Demand By Jeff Schogol

  1. Must point out Gen Welsh has not come out publicly with these three priorities–he declined this interview with AF Times to ensure his Keynote address at the AFA conference tomorrow represents the first formal expression of his views of the Service…recommend everyone watches the Pentagon channel live 18 Sep at 1100 EST to hear what the CSAF has to say…

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