Schwartz Discusses Change in the U.S. Air Force

WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2010 — The world has changed and the Unit­ed States Air Force must change too, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Nor­ton Schwartz said at the Nation­al Press Club here today.

Schwartz made the point that polit­i­cal lead­ers have been deal­ing with the effects of glob­al­iza­tion since the 1970s, but that the cir­cum­stances and con­di­tions that glob­al­iza­tion engen­ders con­tin­u­al­ly change. 

What the Unit­ed States faces today, he said, is dif­fer­ent than any­thing the nation has con­front­ed in the past. 

“The rub is, of course, that we can only esti­mate the nature of the future threats, the capa­bil­i­ties of poten­tial adver­saries or the topog­ra­phy of future oper­at­ing envi­ron­ments,” Schwartz said. “We are not afford­ed, and nev­er be, com­plete cer­ti­tude about such things.” 

The eco­nom­ic envi­ron­ment also influ­ences the choic­es lead­ers must make and the paths the nation –- and the Air Force -– must fol­low. Tril­lion-dol­lar deficits will lim­it what the ser­vice can buy. 

“We can­not com­mit sub­stan­tial finan­cial invest­ments to pre­pare for an infi­nite vari­ety of con­tin­gen­cies,” he said. “We must be more flex­i­ble across a wide -– but far from infi­nite -– range of con­tin­gen­cies, and [be] more ver­sa­tile and effi­cient in every­thing we undertake.” 

The Air Force must bal­ance today’s needs with tomorrow’s chal­lenges, he said, adding that his ser­vice must be more agile and faster than in the past. That is noth­ing new to the Air Force, he added, as it is the nature of oper­a­tions in air and space to be quick. 

Schwartz said the Air Force also must be more effi­cient. “An impor­tant strat­e­gy is to reduce over­head oper­at­ing costs, to cre­ate more sav­ings and shift them direct­ly to force struc­ture and mod­ern­iza­tion, and to warfight­ing needs,” he said. 

Being more effi­cient also requires a new way of work­ing with oth­ers, Schwartz said. Schwartz said he and Adm. Gary Rough­head, the chief of naval oper­a­tions, are ful­ly com­mit­ted to a new part­ner­ship called “Air-Sea Bat­tle.” The part­ner­ship, Schwartz said, will enable the Navy and the Air Force to project pow­er in new ways. 

First, the Navy and Air Force will work togeth­er insti­tu­tion­al­ly, Schwartz said. A sec­ond way to work togeth­er, he said, calls for agree­ment on how Navy and Air Force sys­tems will inte­grate and oper­ate together. 

“A third way of coop­er­at­ing is mate­ri­al­ly with inter­op­er­abil­i­ty among cur­rent sys­tems and inte­grat­ed acqui­si­tion strate­gies for future joint capa­bil­i­ties,” Schwartz said. All this, he said, will ampli­fy the ser­vices’ effectiveness. 

The U.S. Air Force defends the skies over the Unit­ed States and allied coun­tries and over friend­ly forces wher­ev­er they may be based, the gen­er­al said. Pre­ci­sion strike world­wide, tanker and air­lift sup­port, satel­lite con­nec­tiv­i­ty and ear­ly warn­ing, he added, are all part of the Air Force’s core mis­sion. And, air­men are help­ing to rebuild war-torn areas, con­duct­ing con­voy oper­a­tions, man­ning out­posts and oth­er non-tra­di­tion­al jobs, the gen­er­al said. 

Yet, “con­trol of air and space; hold­ing at risk prac­ti­cal­ly any tar­get on the Earth’s sur­face; intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance; air­lift and the com­mand and con­trol of space capa­bil­i­ties, again, will remain our most fun­da­men­tal and endur­ing core con­tri­bu­tions,” Schwartz said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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