Between the tanker wars, the battles over intelligence and space systems and the recent firefight between the service and OSD it’s hard to remember that the Air Force actually fights real wars. But the new Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz, knows and, in the first major brief laying out his priorities, Schwartz puts nukes top of the list, then he cites improving joint cooperation.
As part of this, he wants to “aggressively adapt AF ways and means across the spectrum” (read better balance between special operations and conventional forces). And he defines the spectrum as including command and control, ISR and “non-traditional roles.”
Next on the list comes that old time religion — taking care of airmen. But this includes two warfighting goals that are pretty revealing. Schwartz says airmen must be “trained & ready for 21st Century challenges” (can you say next war-itis) and he admits the service needs to “Reinforce our Warfighting Ethos, expeditionary combat mindset.”
Fourth comes reset, or “Modernize our aging air & space inventories.” And, for better or for worse, acquisition comes dead last.
Let’s look at some of the details from the brief. We’ll skip nukes for now since that has been covered in some depth already. On improving the Air Force’s joint role, Schwartz’s time at Transportation Command seems to be shining through. He says that “a specific emphasis on air-ground integration and ISR” is needed, something sure to be music to the ears of the Army and Marines, as well as the space community. He addresses the fighter jock mafia head on: “Exquisite support of Joint partners does not diminish us.” And Schwartz calls for more work “advising foreign military and security forces and defense institutions.”
Under improving training and taking care of airmen, Schwartz offers a laundry list of goals under things he wants to “Come to closure on.” They are: nuclear organization; uniform; maintenance organization; ad campaign; air operation centers; cyber (I hear he has issued a memo putting a kibosh on the planned expansion of cyber command); end strength; and the “way ahead on production lines.”
Only one item really draws any interest under acquisition. Schwartz says they need to “Enforce stability in requirements, CONOPS, funding.” This is a Sisyphean task and we wish him the very best.