Defense

July 19, 2012

Welsh addresses Air Force challenges at confirmation hearing

by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Gen. Mark A. Welsh III in his confirmation hearing July 19 to become the next Air Force chief of staff, was optimistic about the service’s fiscal challenges, but warned there are limits to how much it can cut.

Welsh, who currently commands U.S. Air Forces Europe, addressed the full range of issues confronting the Air Force, from sexual assault to the mix of active and reserve forces to building the force to defeat future threats. If confirmed, he will replace Gen. Norton Schwartz, who is retiring.

Welsh acknowledged the difficult fiscal environment facing the military, but also was upbeat. “I am very excited about the opportunity to work with you to find ways to reduce our deficit and to keep our Air Force trained, equipped and ready to defend our nation, its citizens and its interests.”

Still, he warned that the so-called sequestration measure in the deficit reduction law that will force DOD to cut more than $500 billion more from the defense budget beginning in January, will be catastrophic.

In Europe, officials have tried to look at the impact of sequestration at the operational level, Welsh said.

“The impact is almost immediate, just from the perspective of training and readiness,” he said. “If you assume a 14 percent budget cut across the board, which is what I’m assuming as I look down the road, everything is affected.”

The Air Force’s ability to provide ready, deployable units would be affected. “Our ability to keep airplanes flying and train in specific munitions to support counterterrorism activity in either (U.S. Central Command or U.S. Africa Command) is affected,” he said.

Welsh also addressed what he said is the perception by some governors that personnel cuts in the fiscal 2013 budget request would disproportionally impact the Air National Guard. The general said he was not part of the discussions on the 2013 budget, and doesn’t know how the proposal was translated into reducing, shifting or eliminating specific units and equipment.

“Having said that, I think what matters the most today is how we move forward from here, because we’re in a place we cannot stay,” he said.

Any decisions on the future Air Guard must have “a more inclusive coordination process” and should include discussions of state missions up front, the general said.

“It has to include better coordination and information sharing, not just with the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, but with the National Guard Bureau,” he said. “And clearly the link between the National Guard Bureau, the Council of Governors, the (state adjutants general), has got to be energized in a more meaningful and productive way.”

If confirmed, Welsh said, “I will work very closely with General Grass and with our great Air National Guard commander and Air Reserve director to help adjust this process so that we never end up here again.”

Welsh also addressed the problem of sexual assault in the service. Courts martial are underway in San Antonio of military training instructors accused of multiple counts of sexual crimes. The Air Force has put a lot of effort into eliminating sexual assault in the military, but “what we have been doing is not working,” he said.

The service has tried many approaches, including training at all service levels to combat sexual crimes, Welsh said.

“We do annual refresher training. We have completed bystander intervention training for the entire uniformed Air Force over the last six months or so. We have new special prosecutors. We have additional … investigators who specialize in investigating these cases,” he said. “Everyone is trying to do the right thing and figure out some way of stopping this. But the fact is, we haven’t. In fact, we haven’t even reversed the trend.”

The service has made progress in investigating the crimes, providing victim care and in protecting those who report assaults, the general said.

“The one thing none of us have figured out how to do is stop the perpetrator before the crime,” he said. “The simple fact is, the goal for [ending] sexual assault in the United States Air Force … is not a declining trend. It’s zero. We don’t accept that there can be more than zero aircraft accidents in a year or zero suicides in a year. And for this crime, the goal is zero.”

Commanders and supervisors must speak up about the crime of sexual assault, Welsh said. “We have to get that institutionalized in our Air Force,” he said.

“The other thing we need to do … is look at a series of things to attack that perpetrator side of the equation,” he added, and suggested that better screening into the service could be in order.

Welsh grew up in a family of pilots, and said he is excited about the opportunity to lead “the world’s finest air force.” He said U.S. airmen around the world do so much for America.

“Today and every day, those airmen move people and cargo to every corner of the world,” he said. “They conduct (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) operations for every combatant commander. They conduct life-saving aero-medical evacuations for our wounded warriors, and they bring our fallen comrades home to the nation and the families who love them.”

Airmen clear roadside bombs, provide critical resupply with tactical air drops and armed ground convoys, deliver space-based communication and navigation to missile defense warnings, Welsh said.

“They fight shoulder to shoulder with Army, Navy and Marine Corps comrades on the battlefield, and they patrol the skies above them, ready to respond when lives are on the line.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

AMC relocates KC-135 simulator

As Air Mobility Command fields the KC-46A Pegasus, displaced KC-135 Stratotanker pilot simulators will be relocated across the Total Force to maximize simulator access across the mobility enterprise. As a result, AMC, in coordination with the Air National Guard, recently identified four KC-135 pilot flight simulators and one KC-135 Boom Operator Weapons System Trainer to...
 
 

Two C-17 squadrons to be inactivated over next two years

Air Mobility Command will inactivate two C-17 Globemaster III squadrons during the next two years – one at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and one at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – based on the President’s Defense Budget for fiscal year 2015. “In this fiscally constrained environment, we have to balance readiness, capability and capacity,” said Maj. Gen....
 
 

Hagel authorizes up to 1,300 additional troops to deploy to Iraq

Up to 1,300 more U.S. troops, including approximately 1,000 soldiers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, will begin to deploy to Iraq in late January, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said Dec. 19. “Their mission will be to train, advise and assist Iraqi security forces,” Kirby told reporters at a Pentagon briefing....
 

 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Army to launch cruise missile-detecting aerostat at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez The Army plans to launch an aerostat, part of the “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor,” in late December 2014. The JLENS aerostat will be tethered to the...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan

AF delivers Iraqi F-16s for training in US

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan Iraqi air force captain Hama conducts preflight inspections while inside a new to service Iraqi F-16 Fighting Falcon Dec. 17, 2014, located at the nearby Tucson International Airport...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn

Short-notice: A new way to exercise

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, prepare for an aeromedical evacuation exercise on a KC-135 Stratotanker Dec. 5, 2014, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The operation was executed in supp...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>