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Goldfein speaks on the imperatives of airpower

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein addressed the budget, people as his number one readiness priority, a networked approach to warfare in the 21st Century, and the nuclear enterprise at a Military Strategy Forum event Feb. 23, 2017, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

Before taking questions from the audience, Goldfein highlighted airpower’s role in the joint fight and the many ways the Airmen protect and defend the nation. 

Goldfein compared the Air Force mission to a light switch, saying people don’t necessarily know the ins and outs of how the light switch works – they simply expect that once flipped, the light will turn on. Many, he said, assume the same about the Air Force and all the capabilities the service brings.

“Our challenge as an Air Force is that while [our] missions have been growing, our Air Force has been getting smaller,” he said. “We’re actually the smallest Air Force we’ve ever been. If you don’t provide the resources, the light won’t turn on. But, it’s not all doom and gloom – there are great opportunities ahead.”

The first priority is the budget, he said. He discussed the need to get the Air Force sized appropriately for current and future requirements. There are serious challenges when it comes to readiness, and if the needed budget isn’t approved, it will put air superiority at risk, he said.

“The number one readiness priority is people,” he said. “People run the Air Force — whether enlisted, officer, active duty, Guard or Reserve—people operate the equipment, pilot aircraft, collect information and get the mission done.”

The general also discussed the need to recapitalize the nuclear enterprise. The Air Force is responsible for two thirds of the Nuclear Enterprise—the bomber and the missile legs of the triad—as well as approximately 75 percent of the nuclear command and control, he said. This includes ensuring the commander in chief stays connected to the nuclear enterprise at all times. There are thousands of Airmen operating twenty-four hours a day to ensure that capability.

The chief of staff acknowledged that despite some of the challenges the service faces, he is looking forward to accomplishing more in space, cyber, and the nuclear enterprise, and getting the force sized right for the all missions it performs.