VCSAF: America is an air and space nation

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force vice chief of staff dis­cussed many top­ics con­cern­ing the cur­rent and future state of America’s air­pow­er at the Air Force Association’s Glob­al War­fare Sym­po­sium Nov. 18 in Los Ange­les.

Air­pow­er has made the Unit­ed States a glob­al pow­er, Gen. Phil Breedlove told an audi­ence of approx­i­mate­ly 300 AFA mem­bers, Air­men and indus­try offi­cials attend­ing the annu­al con­fer­ence.

“It has allowed us to achieve unprece­dent­ed con­nec­tiv­i­ty, facil­i­tat­ing our nation’s eco­nom­ic rise as well as our abil­i­ty to influ­ence events half a world away with­in hours,” he said.

Breedlove said Amer­i­ca is an air and space nation and in almost every cat­e­go­ry the U.S. has been the glob­al bench­mark for air and space pow­er.

“The unique com­bi­na­tion of speed and flex­i­bil­i­ty has made air­pow­er the key to our strate­gic agili­ty — and in the future of small­er, less-deployed mil­i­tary forces, agili­ty will be the name of the game,” he said.

Speed and flex­i­bil­i­ty, two ten­ants of air­pow­er, pro­vide the Air Force with the strate­gic, oper­a­tional and tac­ti­cal abil­i­ty to rapid­ly move between the­aters of oper­a­tion, Breedlove said. For exam­ple, with on-going air oper­a­tions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Air Force was able to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pro­vide sup­port to the Japan earth­quake human­i­tar­i­an oper­a­tions and pro­vide com­bat air sup­port to NATO over Libya.

“This abil­i­ty to rapid­ly move from one the­ater of oper­a­tion to the next, unin­hib­it­ed by moun­tains, deserts, straits or vast oceans, allows our nation­al lead­ers the strate­gic flex­i­bil­i­ty to choose when to engage — and when to dis­en­gage — from con­flict,” Breedlove said.

The suc­cess of air oper­a­tions in the quick build-up and response to the Libya cri­sis relied on intel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance and recon­nais­sance assets for not only strate­gic, but oper­a­tional and tac­ti­cal plan­ning as well, the gen­er­al said.

“We had nei­ther the time nor the on-sta­tion assets to begin build­ing detailed tar­get lists for strike air­craft,” Breedlove said. “We threw a whole range of ISR assets at the prob­lem and relied on the inge­nu­ity and flex­i­bil­i­ty of our Air­men to piece them togeth­er.”

Lessons learned from the Libya oper­a­tion and oth­er recent oper­a­tions high­light­ed a need to defeat anti-access and area-denial strate­gies of poten­tial adver­saries, he said. The Air Force also rec­og­nized the need to devel­op a clos­er air-sea inte­gra­tion with the Navy.

With­out full insti­tu­tion­al sup­port, the arrange­ments and coop­er­a­tive suc­cess­es between the two com­po­nents would atro­phy again and for this rea­son a strate­gic part­ner­ship has been formed with the cre­ation of the Air-Sea Bat­tle Office at the Pen­ta­gon, Breedlove said.

“Togeth­er, the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps are devel­op­ing the Air-Sea Bat­tle oper­a­tional con­cept in order to cre­ate an endur­ing part­ner­ship between our nation’s air and sea ser­vices to defeat these (anti-access and area-denial) strate­gies,” Breedlove said.

Bud­getary con­straints affect how the grow­ing threat of anti-access and area-denial adver­saries will be addressed, he said.

“Our task would be daunt­ing even in the rel­a­tive­ly per­mis­sive bud­get envi­ron­ments of past decades, dur­ing which we enjoyed a greater abil­i­ty to pur­chase cut­ting-edge weapon sys­tems and capa­bil­i­ties,” Breedlove said. “Our bud­getary strat­e­gy has been to reduce capac­i­ty while main­tain­ing capa­bil­i­ty.”

The future Air Force will be capa­ble of accom­plish­ing many of the mis­sion sets of today, but will do so at a sig­nif­i­cant lev­el of risk and with less capac­i­ty to respond to mul­ti­ple crises, he added.

“I am con­fi­dent that Amer­i­can air­pow­er, com­bined with the com­pli­men­ta­ry capa­bil­i­ties of our joint and coali­tion part­ners, will con­tin­ue to be deci­sive, no mat­ter the foe we face,” Breedlove said.

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

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