Defense

July 26, 2012

Air Force will thrive despite fiscal challenges

Tags:
by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz responds to questions in the Pentagon on July 24, 2012, during a media availability to discuss during his time as Chief of Staff. Schwartz, who finishes a four-year term in office shortly, said he believes the Air Force will continue to thrive despite fiscal challenges.

The Air Force has reinvigorated the service’s nuclear mission, incorporated unmanned aerial capabilities and made progress in acquisition, the service’s chief of staff told reporters July 24.

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, who finishes a four-year term in office shortly, said he believes the Air Force will continue to thrive despite fiscal challenges.

President Barack Obama has nominated Gen. Mark Welsh to replace Schwartz. If the Senate approves the new chief, Schwartz will retire next month.

Going forward, Schwartz said, the Air Force will get smaller. “We’re putting together the (fiscal 2014) program as we speak,” he said during his final briefing in the Pentagon press studio. “Clearly, we have indications from the Congress on what they believe is executable.” Congress took the service to task for cuts that impacted primarily on the Air National Guard.

But even as the Air Force gets smaller, the pressure to maintain the quality of the team will remain. “There are still going to be hard decisions,” the general said. “We will do our best to ensure that those decisions are properly vetted, that the rationale for them is well understood, and while … not everyone may agree with them, … they have a greater chance of surviving contact (with Congress).”

It is obvious today that everybody in the Air Force is needed, Schwartz said – not only pilots, but also all members of the service. “While we should be proud of who we are, what we do, and how we ‘grew up’ in this great institution,” the service needs everyone to contribute, he said.

“It’s about active duty. It’s about Guard. It’s about Reserve. It’s about all the dimensions – air, space and cyber – that allow us to have the best Air Force on the planet.”

This is a different Air Force from the one of four years ago, Schwartz said. In 2008, the Air Force was providing air support for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as worldwide operations. Unmanned aircraft were not as significant in the service’s arsenal. There were problems with the service’s nuclear mission, illustrated by mistakes in transporting and accounting for materials in 2008. Then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates asked for the resignation of Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and nominated Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Schwartz for the positions.

Fixing the nuclear stewardship issue was the most important task for the new leadership team. Gates said that nuclear deterrence was going to become more critical, not less — in part because of the rising threat of nuclear proliferation. A second important task facing the Air Force was getting its modernization program back on track.

The modernization program has improved, Schwartz said, but the whole process throughout the Defense Department is plagued by a shortage of qualified contracting personnel. The specialties needed to push contracts through are unique and important skills, he said, and it is going to take time “to build back that bench of folks who can run major programs, who can tell the difference between a good deal and … good advertising, and … understand what it takes to manage the tradeoffs between cost, schedule and capability.”

The new KC-46 tanker program has been a success, the general said, but there have been disappointments as well. For example, he said, the light air attack strike aircraft for Afghanistan’s air force has not gone well.

“I think the lesson here is that it’s … just like the Washington Nationals, instead of playing Atlanta, playing somebody else, and perhaps relaxing,” he said. “In this business, there can be no relaxing.”

The Air Force is changing in basic ways, Schwartz told reporters. “We’re training … more (remotely piloted aircraft) aviators than we are bomber and fighter pilots,” he said. “Ultimately, it is conceivable that the majority of aviators in our Air Force will be remotely piloted aircraft operators.”

Still, the general said, he believes there will always be a mix. “Manned aviation will be a part of the chemistry here, because at least for the near term, the remotely piloted aircraft capability is not for contested air space,” he said. “It is a benign-airspace capability.”

The Air Force’s people, Schwartz told reporters, give him the most confidence for the future of the service.

“They are talented, they are dedicated, and they will handle today’s challenges and tomorrow’s contingencies in the manner that has earned America’s and the joint team’s trust over the years,” he said.




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


 
 

 

Headlines September 2, 2014

News: Debris yields clues that pilot never ejected - When investigators were finally able to safely enter the crash site of an F-15C “Eagle” fighter jet on the afternoon of Aug. 27, they made a grim discovery that concluded more than 30 hours of searching – the pilot never managed to eject from the aircraft.  ...
 
 

News Briefs September 2, 2014

Pentagon: Iraq operations cost $560 million so far U.S. military operations in Iraq, including airstrikes and surveillance flights, have cost about $560 million since mid-June, the Pentagon said Aug. 29. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the average daily cost has been $7.5 million. He said it began at a much lower...
 
 

Unmanned aircraft partnership reaches major milestone

A team of research students and staff from Warsaw University of Technology have successfully demonstrated the first phase of flight test and integration of unmanned aircraft platforms with an autonomous mission control system. The demonstration marks a significant milestone in a partnership between the university and Lockheed Martin that began earlier this year. This is...
 

 

Raytheon delivers first Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missiles to US Navy

Raytheon delivered the first Block 2 variant of its Rolling Airframe Missile system to the U.S. Navy as part of the company’s 2012 Low Rate Initial Production contract. RAM Block 2 is a significant performance upgrade featuring enhanced kinematics, an evolved radio frequency receiver, and an improved control system. “As today’s threats continue to evolve,...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

Two Vietnam War Soldiers, one from Civil War to receive Medal of Honor

U.S. Army graphic Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and former Spc. 4 Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam. The White House announced Aug. 26 that Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. A...
 
 

Sparks fly as NASA pushes limits of 3-D printing technology

NASA has successfully tested the most complex rocket engine parts ever designed by the agency and printed with additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, on a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA engineers pushed the limits of technology by designing a rocket engine injector – a highly complex part that...
 




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>