Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ACC commander outlines imperatives for the Combat Air Force

by Michael Martin
Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs

9/17/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- "The ability to provide dominant combat airpower underpins our nation's ability to pursue and protect our vital interests, and without it, we put at risk the precious bastion of liberty, the United States of America."

Gen. Mike Hostage, the commander of Air Combat Command spoke about the future of the Combat Air Force at the 2014 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, here, Sept. 16.

"At ACC our task is clear: provide warrior Airmen trained, equipped and ready to fly, fight and win America's wars when and where they are called upon to do so," Hostage said.

In his remarks Hostage said budget cuts, force structures and reductions will ultimately make the force smaller, but by leveraging the technology of today and the advancements of tomorrow, the Air Force can be a more capable force with the ability to counter our most dangerous threats.

"We cannot take air superiority for granted," Hostage said. "I can assure you that potential peer competitors out there do not."

"To be relevant, the CAF must be ready to operate in highly-contested environments and have an adequate number of technologically advanced aircraft and operators trained to deal with the most dangerous threats."

Hostage spoke about the need to complete the transition of the fighter fleet from fourth to fifth generation, develop the next generation of joint surveillance and target attack radar systems, recapitalize the rescue force, and continue to develop the long-range strike bomber.

"We must retain the capacity and capability to deal with our most likely threats, sustaining the hard earned skills and lessons learned during our most recent conflicts," Hostage said. "Dynamic threats will require further advancements to maintain the combat edge we have become accustomed to over the last 60 years."

Hostage also spoke about the need for better, faster and cheaper solutions to our existing capability gaps.

"In recent conflicts we saw our adversaries use common inexpensive items to develop effective weapons," he said. "We need to flip this cost imposition paradigm. I want future adversaries to spend a million bucks to counter a five dollar weapon."

The general acknowledged that fiscal and adversary threats in the environment are constantly evolving, but insisted readiness is still vital to air combat.

"Readiness is the linchpin for ACC. I won't deploy our Airmen if they're not ready," Hostage said. "We owe it to our young Airmen to only ask of them what we have trained and equipped them to do. That's our mission at Air Combat Command. To organize, train and equip combat ready forces.

"By understanding the enduring role of the CAF, the historic need for our restructuring, and the imperative to grow our fifth-generation fleet, we'll be able to arm our Airmen to deliver dominant combat air power that America expects," he said.

Soldier Missing from Korean War Accounted For

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. Arthur Richardson, 28, of Fall River, Mass., will be buried Sept. 18 in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C. In January 1951, Richardson and elements of Company A, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment (IR), 24th Infantry Division (ID), were deployed northeast of Seoul, South Korea, where they were attacked by enemy forces. During the attempt to delay the enemy forces from advancing, Richardson and his unit were moving towards a more defensible position, when his unit suffered heavy losses. It was during this attack that Richardson was reported missing.

When no further information pertaining to Richardson was received and he failed to return to U.S. control during prisoner exchanges, a military review board reviewed his status in 1954, and changed it from missing in action to presumed dead. In 1956, his remains were declared unrecoverable.

Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea turned over to the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain more than 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents, turned over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the remains were recovered from the vicinity where Richardson was believed to have died.

In the identification of Richardson’s remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and Armed Forces DNA Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, to include mitochondrial DNA, which matched his niece and grand-niece.

Today, 7,880 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams.

Obama Tells Central Command Troops America Will Lead

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2014 – In the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant, America will lead the right way, President Barack Obama told service members at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, today.

Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received a briefing from U.S. Central Command commander Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III detailing the fight against the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria. The president also met with representatives of 40 countries allied in the fight against the militants.

The president thanked the service members for their contributions in 13 years of war, and told them he must call on them again to battle the newest menace in the Middle East. Still, the president stressed that American service members will lead the fight against ISIL, but will not shoulder the entire burden.

“We’re going to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy,” Obama told the troops. “And whether in Iraq or in Syria, these terrorists will learn the same thing that the leaders of al-Qaida already know: We mean what we say. Our reach is long. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven. We will find you eventually.”

Destroying ISIL

Destroying ISIL is not America’s fight alone, Obama said. The United States military has unique -- and decisive -- capabilities it can bring to the fight, he added, but this does not mean American troops will engage in ground combat. “The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission,” the president stated, but rather will advise and assist Iraqi forces.

“As your commander in chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our armed forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq,” he said. “After a decade of massive ground deployments, it is more effective to use our unique capabilities in support of partners on the ground so they can secure their own countries’ futures.”

America will provide air power and air mobility, the president said, and U.S. service members will train and equip partners. “We will lead a broad coalition of countries who have a stake in this fight, because this is not simply America versus ISIL, this is the people of the region fighting against ISIL,” he added. “It is the world rejecting the brutality of ISIL in favor of a better future for our children, and our children’s children.”

In addition to providing capabilities, the United States also will provide leadership, “because in an uncertain world full of breathtaking change, the one constant is American leadership,” the president said.

Effort will be different

But this effort will be different, because America has learned the lessons of the past, Obama said. “We’ve got to do things differently,” he told the troops. “This is why we’ve spent the past several weeks building a coalition to aid in these efforts. And because we’re leading in the right way, more nations are joining us. Overall, more than 40 countries so far have offered assistance to the broad campaign against ISIL.”

Obama said France and the United Kingdom already are aiding the effort, flying missions over Iraq. Others have promised help, he added.

Other nations will support the forces fighting ISIL terrorists on the ground, Obama said. Saudi Arabia has agreed to host efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces, he noted, while Australia and Canada will send military advisors to Iraq. German paratroopers will offer training.

Still other nations have helped in resupplying arms and equipment to forces in Iraq, including the Kurdish Peshmerga, the president said.

Arab allies

“Arab nations have agreed to strengthen their support for Iraq’s new government and to do their part in all the aspects of the fight against ISIL,” Obama said. “And our partners will help to cut off ISIL funding, and gather intelligence, and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East.”

Finally, almost 30 nations have helped with humanitarian relief to help innocent civilians ISIL has driven from their homes and villages.

“In a world that’s more crowded and more connected, it is America that has the unique capability to mobilize against an organization like ISIL,” he said. It is also why the world turns to America when another threat -- this time from the pathogen Ebola in Africa -- threatens.

Who do they call?

“That’s the story across the board,” Obama said. “If there is a hurricane, if there is a typhoon, if there is some sort of crisis, if there is an earthquake, if there’s a need for a rescue mission, when the world is threatened, when the world needs help, it calls on America. Even the countries that complain about America, when they need help, who do they call? They call us. And then America calls on you.”

The president said the world asks a lot of American service members. But that is because of the U.S. military is one of the few organizations in the world with the expertise, knowledge, reach, equipment and agility to accomplish these diverse and challenging missions, he explained.

“Even when it seems like our politics is just dividing us, I want you to remember that when it comes to supporting you and your families, the American people stand united. We support you,” he said. “We are proud of you. We are in awe of your skill and your service. Only 1 percent of Americans may wear the uniform and shoulder the weight of special responsibilities that you do, but 100 percent of Americans need to support you and your families -- 100 percent.”

Defense Leader Praises Air Force as Backbone of Global Reach

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2014 – The Air Force’s dominance in the skies, space and cyberspace is the backbone of the military's global reach and U.S. commitments around the world, a senior Defense Department official said here today.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, delivered this morning's keynote address for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at the Air Force Association’s 2014 Air and Space Conference in Maryland. Hagel was scheduled to speak, but was called to attend a meeting with President Barack Obama and other administration officials at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

The undersecretary had read Hagel’s prepared speech before the event and said he was moved to pass the secretary’s message along. As he did so, at times he added his own thoughts.

And before beginning the presentation, Kendal told the audience that Hagel wanted to recognize the sacrifice and achievements of all airmen and women in ongoing and recent military operations.

Broader spectrum of conflict

“Today our military as a whole, and the Air Force in particular, are being tested by protracted budget uncertainty, technological and commercial transformations, and the changing character of war,” Kendall said. At the same time, he added, the nation continues to call on its airmen and women to respond rapidly to new sources of instability across the globe while preparing for a broader spectrum of conflict than they faced over the past 13 years of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The Air Force's charge today,” the undersecretary said, “is to ensure that America's air power is unrivaled for the next generation, and to do so with fewer resources but more numerous and more sophisticated competitors.”

The Air Force is the military service most closely associated with cutting-edge technology, he added, but all airmen know that the ability to recruit and retain exceptional people is the foundation of the Air Force's extraordinary capabilities, Kendall said.

Vanguard programs

To compete with commercial competitors, especially in space, cyber and other high-technology areas, the Air Force is working on vanguard programs that other services should strongly consider, the undersecretary said, such as encouraging breaks in service that let airmen gain diverse work experience, establishing specialized career tracks that allow for promotion, and education and training that span a lifetime of service.

“The Air Force must also continue to move beyond tribal cycles of promotion, moving beyond bomber or fighter generals and instead just promoting generals -- leaders who are also world-class strategists, managers, innovators and problem solvers,” Kendall said.

The Air Force also must continue taking steps to expand and diversify its international partnerships.

International partnerships

“The United States and the U.S. Air Force do not fight alone,” Kendall noted. “In space, the Air Force is operating a military satellite program with Australia, Canada, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and New Zealand. And it maintains a joint strategic airlift capability in Hungary with 10 NATO allies and two NATO partners.”

The Air Force also has established a NATO MQ-9 Reaper Users Group to enhance alliance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, capabilities.

“In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan last year, decades of Air Force-led training and exercising enabled the coordinated response of C-130s from countries that included Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand, along with other aircraft from 24 nations,” Kendall said.

Especially in times of constrained resources, he added, such partnership initiatives are vital and should deepen and broaden going forward.

Foundation of U.S. national security

Addressing Air Force capabilities, Kendall said the nuclear deterrent is the foundation of U.S. national security.

“Earlier this year, following revelations about troubling lapses and poor morale, Secretary Hagel traveled to see missileers at F.E. Warren [Air Force Base in Wyoming] and talked to launch control officers underground at Malmstrom [Air Force Base in Montana],” Kendall told the audience. Hagel also ordered comprehensive internal and external reviews of the nuclear enterprise spanning the Air Force ground- and air-based nuclear deterrent and the Navy's submarine-based systems, he said.

Today, Hagel is in full agreement with DoD senior leaders that America's nuclear deterrent is a safe, secure, effective and reliable force, Kendal said. But it has become clear to Hagel and the leadership that a consistent, long-term lack of investment in and support for the nuclear forces “has left us with little margin to cope with mounting stresses,” he added.

Support for the nuclear forces

“The fundamental problem has not been a lack of rhetoric or top-to-bottom reviews,” Kendall said. “It has been a lack of focus, attention and resources, and it has been a pervasive sense that a career in the nuclear enterprise offers too few opportunities for growth or advancement.”

Kendall said that is something Hagel knows well from his conversations with personnel within the nuclear enterprise.

“We will fix this,” he said. “DoD will ensure that our joint nuclear enterprise attracts the best people and that it is coherent, integrated, synchronized and on a sustainable path to modernization.” Under the leadership of Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, he added, the Air Force already has taken significant steps in the right direction.

“I was with Secretary Hagel when he visited Kirtland [Air Force Base in New Mexico], and I was with him when he went to F.E. Warren, and I will tell you that he takes this very seriously,” Kendall said. “I’ve had enough experience in the Pentagon – I’m speaking for myself now – to know how seriously your national leadership takes the nuclear mission.

“I had a chance to have dinner with Secretary Hagel in a small Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque after we visited the site at Kirtland,” the undersecretary continued. “We talked a little about the emotional impact of seeing that vast amount of power in such a small confined space, and what it meant to the nation to have responsibility for that enormous destructive power.”

Absolute commitment

“It’s not a small thing to our national political leadership,” Kendall said. “It’s not a small thing to the Air Force, and there is absolute commitment to this. It is our most important mission. … I want to reinforce that message on Secretary Hagel’s behalf this morning. He is very serious about this. We will do what needs to be done.”

Beyond the nuclear enterprise, he added, the Air Force is responsible for maintaining America's air superiority in any operation, now and in the future. Preparing for the decades ahead requires careful planning and investments and hard choices, he said.

Cutting-edge technology

Savings achieved by retiring older platforms will help the Air Force maintain and acquire more cutting-edge technology and weapon systems, Kendall said.

“That is why the president's budget protects investments in next-generation jet engine technology,” the undersecretary said, “as well as priority modernization programs including the new long-range strike bomber, the KC-46 tanker and the F-35 joint strike fighter.”

High-end platforms like the F-22 and F-35 have a vital role in the fleet, he added, and the F-22 will underwrite America's air dominance for a generation.

“The F-35, with its unique networking capabilities coupled with its electronic warfare, advanced sensors, stealth and advanced weapons systems, will enable the United States and its closest partners and allies to dominate in the air and conduct joint operations more effectively than ever before,” Kendall said.

A primary mission of fighter squadrons is to open the door for the rest of the air fleet and the military to enable less-sophisticated platforms such as the Air Force’s remotely piloted aircraft, to operate freely and successfully, Kendall noted. The demand for remotely piloted aircraft has grown from around 7,000 flying hours in 2001 to more than 300,000 last year, he said, adding that this year they will account for 15 percent of all Air Force flying hours, and that the number would only increase.

In space, the undersecretary said, the Air Force must adapt to a new environment in which space is no longer a sanctuary, but instead is contested by other nations, an environment in which next-generation space architecture is being deployed by the private sector rather than by governments, and an environment in which resilience is becoming as critical as capability.

“We can't predict the direction of technological change,” Kendall said, “but imagination and vision and the innovation, operationally and technically, that must accompany them are what Secretary Hagel calls on the next generation of airmen and women to reach for in the years ahead.”