Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Carter: DOD must embrace future to remain best force

By Amaani Lyle, DoD News / Published September 16, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Two days before the Air Force’s 68th birthday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Sept. 16, at the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition 2015, that the military must embrace the future to remain the best force.

The defense secretary said the gathering’s theme, “Reinventing the Aerospace Nation,” could not be more appropriate in the year marking the 100th anniversary of the first successful use of combat aircraft.

“Over the past century, no nation has used air power to demonstrate its global reach, to compress time and space like the United States,” Carter said.

Today, he said, it’s vital to innovate and reinvest in the people, strategies and technologies that will sustain the U.S. military’s dominance into a second aerospace century.

Just as Russia and China have advanced cyber capabilities ranging from stealthy network penetration to intellectual property theft, the defense secretary said, criminal and terrorist networks are also increasing their cyber operations.

“Low-cost and global proliferation of malware have lowered barriers to entry and have made it easier for smaller, malicious actors to strike in cyberspace,” Carter said. “From cyber to electronic warfare to threats in outer space and under the sea, we need to redouble our effort on those frontiers.”

But developing the best technology and strategy calls for recruiting and retention of the best people to implement these concepts, the secretary explained.

Commitment to people

The secretary said his “first and most sacred” commitment is to the current and total force: active duty, Guardsmen, Reservists, veterans and their families.

The Air Force has been at war since Desert Storm, despite leaner forces and aging platforms, Carter said, continually providing the United States the flexibility to demonstrate the “example of our power and the power of our example anywhere in the world.”

U.S. Airmen, he said, have conducted two-thirds of all airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant since last September, enabling ground partners to reclaim territory ISIL took last summer.

In the west, Carter said, the U.S. sent Airmen to Europe to take face Russian aggression with NATO partners and deployed F-22 Raptors to spearhead a persistent and dominant air, land and sea presence in the region.

“Our strategic approach to (Vladimir) Putin’s Russia is strong and balanced and necessitates a new playbook for the NATO alliance in which our Airmen play a vital part,” the defense secretary said.

Whether bringing swift relief to Nepal after its devastating earthquake in April, or convening a global, orchestrated effort to contain the Ebola virus in West Africa, the Air Force has led the way, the secretary said.

A new national security strategy

Carter said he is committed to provide President Barack Obama with candid, strategic advice and to implement the president’s decisions.

“Every strategic decision we make should be a step toward keeping us safe, protecting our country and protecting our allies and friends,” he said.

After 14 years of war, the Air Force plays a critical role as the military writ large embarks on a critical strategic transition, adjusts its counter-insurgency focus and redoubles its full-spectrum capabilities, Carter said.

The Asia-Pacific region encompasses nearly half of humanity and accounts for more than half the world’s economic power, Carter said. And the Asia-Pacific region, he added, is where the Air Force will position the majority of its high-end assets as part of strategic rebalance efforts.

“We’re working to align our security, economic and diplomatic investments in the region to match our vital and growing interests there,” he said.

The rebalance has long represented the sustainment of peace and prosperity across the region and support of a security architecture that is inclusive, capable and resilient enough to ensure all nations have the opportunity to ascend, Carter said.

The Air Force strengthens its posture in the region with tactical aircraft such as the F-22 in conjunction with space and cyber forces, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets such as the MQ-9 Reaper and Global Hawk, the secretary said.

The United States will bolster and modernize infrastructure across the Pacific, deepening security cooperation with long-standing allies like Guam, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines, and with new partners such as India and Vietnam, Carter said.

However, the secretary acknowledged relative complexities in the relationship with China, noting that it is defined by elements of both cooperation and competition.

“Our military engagement with China seeks to build sustained and substantive dialogue to advance concrete, practical cooperation in areas of mutual interest and to enhance risk reduction measures to diminish the potential for miscalculation,” he said.

Concurrently, given concern over China’s growing military capabilities and coercive approach to disputes, Carter noted the United States is taking prudent steps to prepare for heightened competition.

Of the South China Sea disputes, the defense secretary acknowledged the interest of the United States in slowing further militarization and land reclamation and in promoting renewed diplomacy focused on a lasting solution that protects the rights and interests of all.

“The United States will continue to protect freedom of navigation and will reflect principles that have ensured security and prosperity in this region for decades,” he said.

The specter of sequestration

Despite deep cuts in defense spending since fiscal year 2013, the national defense strategy’s four pillars -- land defense, multiple contingency response capability, sustainment of the counter-terrorism campaign and response to cyber and space threats -- remain sound, Carter said.

But with only 14 days remaining in the fiscal year, he lamented the budget impasse that portends sequestration or another continuing resolution.

“Without a negotiated budget solution in which everyone comes together at last, we will again return to sequestration, reducing discretionary funds to their lowest real level in a decade,” the defense secretary said.

And, Carter explained, a continuing resolution can also jeopardize national security and eventually result in a $38 billion deficit in resources for the U.S. military if Congress elects to pursue that path for a full year.

“What we have under sequestration or a long-term continuing resolution is a straight-jacket,” the defense secretary said. “Without reinvestment in recapitalization, without a long-term budget horizon, we simply cannot achieve what (this event) has brought us all together to achieve, which is reinventing the aerospace nation.”

Welsh cites heroes, talks modernization during Air Force Update

By Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Office / Published September 16, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III shared the spotlight with a cross-section of people he called his heroes during an emotional multimedia presentation at the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 15.

During his Air Force Update, the general leveraged videos, photos and music to highlight the service’s history, current capabilities and future operational requirements, while recognizing attendees and even military therapy dogs who exemplify the Air Force’s core values.

Welsh recognized French train hero Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, honoring him with a surprise promotion to staff sergeant effective Nov. 1. Stone sews on senior airman in early October.

The general wonders, he said, if pioneers such as first Air Force Secretary Stuart Symington, first Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Carl Spaatz, and Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, would recognize the same level of effort in today’s Air Force. He said he believes so.

In July 2015, for example, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer and Sen. John McCain recognized 2nd Lt. John Pedevillano, the 306th Bomb Group’s youngest bombardier who was shot down during a historic raid, captured and subsequently liberated from a prison camp in Germany 70 years ago.

Among others, the general recognized Air Force Capt. Christy Wise, the HC-130 King pilot who nearly lost her life during a paddleboat trip after a fishing boat claimed her right leg. Wise has since competed in the Defense Department’s Warrior Games and is currently preparing for the Army 10-miler in October.

“There’s just something special about this profession; there’s something special about the people who share it, and there’s something really special about the pride that consumes them,” Welsh said.

He pondered the source of that pride.

“Maybe it’s not the airplane that hooks you at all,” Welsh said. “In some of the places our Airmen serve, maybe it’s the science of flight or maybe it’s the friendship that captures you.”

The general said whether it’s a local air show, simple observation of a civilian airliner thundering overhead or even a teacher blowing on a piece of paper to explain the concept of lift, the Air Force, for some people, becomes a passion and a commitment to a community that understands.

And Welsh takes equal pride in the service’s operational feats as he does in the people to whom he bestowed recognition during the event.

Since Welsh’s last update, the Air Force has finished its 24th consecutive year of combat operations.

“No Air Force has ever done that before,” he said.

But the “meat and potatoes of the fight,” Welsh insisted, are equipment programs such as the combat rescue helicopter, which he said is tied to the fabric of the Air Force.

Similarly, while the joint surveillance target and reconnaissance system is “phenomenal,” it’s time to recapitalize this airframe, Welsh said.

He also noted that the service continues its “incredible” success story of launch by Air Force Space Command and its global partners.

“Our great Air Force Space Command team continued to make sure that if you drop a precision weapon on the other side of the planet, it will hit where you’re aiming,” he said.

In offensive and defense space control, Welsh said senior airmen and staff sergeants are affecting every activity that occurs in the counter-terrorism war.

Welsh described the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance team as “unbelievable,” noting some 1.6 million flying hours with 35,000 ISR Airmen who support every U.S. military activity on the globe.

The cyber team, Welsh said, is broadening its knowledge base with Airmen who have been involved in over 9,000 cyber operations, in addition to defending fellow Airmen and their networks from security breaches.

Welsh described the Air Force’s mobility machine as “awesome,” citing the U.S. air refueling fleet passage of some 200 million gallons of fuel, movement of nearly a billion passengers, and execution of about 900 global aeromedical evacuation missions for diseased, injured and severely-wounded Airmen.

“We now have the capability developed by (mobility) Airmen to actually do critical surgeries in-flight,” Welsh said. “Can you imagine?”

Some of the Air Force’s “hidden gems,” Welsh shared, are the 50,000-plus Airmen conducting commanding and control, including airborne and dynamic targeting at air operations centers around the globe.

Of his recent visit to the 624th Operations Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, the general reported, “We now have Airmen who’ve taken the concept of air operations centers, ISR and global operations … and are … developing a way of allocating resources to provide cyber support to forces from all services, all commands, all the time, all over the world.” And this concept, he was “a PowerPoint slide” three years ago.

Meanwhile, air staff has been developing the Air Force Future Operating Concept, which fits into a series of documents encompassing the service’s vision statement, while its global vision, reach and power outline the products the service provides theater commanders and national leaders.

But, according to Welsh, the future operating concept is more specific than an aspirational document, because it’s potentially what the Air Force could look like in 20 years.

The overall intent is to reach toward the “call to the future,” a 30-year focus on research and development, and science and technology against a changing global landscape.

The Air Force Strategic Master Plan, Welsh added, is the actual road map for getting to these goals. “Based on the money we have, what are we going to buy, develop, teach and train … to reach that operating concept?”

The future-operating concept will be released this week when Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James gives the final approval, Welsh explained. “You can even get the (application) for your phone.”

The fundamental missions, however, are not going to change, the general said. “I think the chief of staff of the Air Force number 35 or 40 is going to be standing right here -- maybe as a hologram by then -- and telling you that the mission of the United States Air Force is going to stay the same for the next 20 years.”

But, Welsh acknowledged, he hopes that future Air Force chief doesn’t report the equipment remains the same. “We must modernize our Air Force.”

As such, Welsh and other senior leaders have been trying in earnest to retain the funding for and timelines on the F-35A Lightning II, the KC-46 Pegasus and the long-range strike bomber.

“The secretary has been very faithful to these programs,” he said.

Welsh said the Air Force must continue funding for its space capabilities, as well as reinvestments in the nuclear infrastructure and cyber domain.

“If we want to have acquisition reform, we are all going to have to accept some risk,” Welsh said.

More than a hero: An American Airman

By Senior Airman Hailey Haux, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information / Published September 16, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- “I am an American Airman: wingman, leader, warrior. I will never leave an Airman behind, I will never falter, and I will not fail.”

The Airman’s Creed is recited from the very beginning of an Airman’s career. For one Airman, that creed became more than words – it became a part of who he is.

“When you think about it, what would you rather do? Walk away and let everyone die, or would you want to die trying to save somebody?” said Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, who thwarted an attack on a train bound for Paris. “There is no greater honor than saving someone else’s life or giving your life for someone else.”

Stone has been given praise from around the world and is recognized as an American hero, yet is still modest about his actions.
“I am just really humbled by it all, I am very grateful of all the praise I am getting,” Stone said , who joined the Air Force to travel, help others and make a difference. “I don’t feel deserving of it, but I appreciate it all, it feels good.”

Friends since the age of 12 and 13, Stone, Anthony Sadler and Army Spc. Alek Skarlatos, never dreamed they would be thrown into that situation, however they had plenty of practice.

“We always talked about it, you know, went through scenarios and things like that,” Stone said of his lifetime friends. “(It was) kid’s stuff, zombie apocalypse, what are you going to do type scenarios so you could say it was a dream of ours. Checked that box, and hopefully we don’t have to do it again.

“I am very proud of (my friends), especially Anthony because he doesn’t have any military training at all and he was able to respond at the same level as me and Alek,” Stone continued. “Both Anthony and Alek saved my life. I am really proud of them and I trust them with my life and we’re going to be friends forever. We already were, but even more so now.”

After the attacker was unconscious and tied up, Stone tended to a passenger’s wounds, saving his life.

“(My training) helped me save Mark’s life for sure. I would have probably panicked if I didn’t have the training and (wouldn’t have) known what to do,” said Stone of his medical training. “That’s the thing, you go into a lot of places and the main reason people are nervous is because they’re not confident in what they are presenting or what they are talking about or what they are doing. So having the medical training let me act the way I did, confidently in that situation. I was afraid he was going to die. I have never seen anyone just die in front of me and I didn’t want him to die in front of his wife, that would have been pretty traumatic for her.”

Standing up, taking action and saving countless lives was only one way Stone has proven the core values of the Air Force live through him. His actions after the fact and how he has presented himself, and represented the Air Force, have proven time and again how integrity first, service before self and excellence in all you do aren’t just a bunch of words.

“It hasn’t really processed yet when people come up and tell me I’m famous and I’m a hero, I still don’t believe them,” Stone said. “My family keeps me in check, we kind of mess around sometimes but it’s not who I am to be boastful, I don’t like to be, and I don’t like other people who are. So, I just keep myself in check and make sure I maintain a good relationship with God and get checked by God and hopefully I’ll stay the way I am.”

Being in the news and gaining the attention of the world, Stone said he has learned a lot.

“I feel like I have grown up more in these past three weeks than the 22 years of my life,” said the Sacramento, California, native. “There is definitely a lot of pressure to be or act a certain way, but I enjoy it. It’s not going to be a negative on my life; it’s going to be a positive. I am going to grow and become a stronger and smarter person.”

Stone is set to receive the Airman’s Medal, Purple Heart and is being promoted to staff sergeant in November after pinning on senior airman in October.
“I know I have to earn it. I know the rank was given to me but I have to earn the respect of everyone else and I hope I can live up to what being a (non-commissioned officer) means,” Stone said about his spot-promotion. “I just hope I can live up to what I am supposed to be as an NCO. I will probably be mentored for a while because I’ve only been in three years. I would hate to be the guy getting their (enlisted performance report) written by me, because I don’t know anything about it right now. I gotta learn all that stuff first.”

Throughout everything that has happened since the incident, Stone’s family has been by his side every step of the way.

“They are just really, really proud. Going to New York the other day was the first time we all got to ride on a plane together as a family. It’s just been a lot of firsts for all of us,” Stone said. “It’s been awesome just having my family with me, it’s been a great support system. I wish everyone else going through anything in life, there’s people that lose their legs, and major body parts and have all types of mental trauma and have the worst thing happen to them and they don’t get to have their family around. So I am just really fortunate to have them with me and we are all just doing well.”

Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler all participated in a parade in their hometown of Sacramento and could not have been more humbled by the experience.
“That is something money can’t buy,” Stone said. “That really meant a lot. My city coming out and supporting all three of us and showing how much love they have for us and how proud we made them all, it’s just something you can’t just buy.”

Although he looks forward to settling down and getting back to work, Stone is keeping his options open for his future, but has a few words for his fellow Airmen.

“I am happy that I can make all of you guys proud, I just hope that if I needed help, everyone else would do the same and I believe they would,” Stone said. “Maybe go out and take a Brazilian jiujitsu class, it helped me.”