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Air Force Vice Chief of Staff to Congress: help us win any fight at any time

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson speaks to the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., Feb. 14, 2018.  Wilson and other members of the panel discussed the readiness of the Armed Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson speaks to the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, D.C., Feb. 14, 2018. Wilson and other members of the panel discussed the readiness of the Armed Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson testified before the Readiness and Management Senate Subcommittee concerning the Air Force’s current readiness Feb. 14, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

“Today, our chief competitors are moving ahead with a speed and scale unseen in recent history,” Wilson said. “We must counter that with sustained, urgent action.”

To move at “the speed of relevance,” he asked for the subcommittee’s continued support in the following areas: support for competitive personnel policies to attract and retain talent, risk-taking innovation, and national research efforts in science and technology to expand the country’s competitive space. In order to address the concerns, budget stability and a return to fiscal order are needed, Wilson said.

“Collectively, these efforts will help build a more lethal and ready force,” Wilson said.

To attract and retain talent, the Air Force plans to increase its end strength by 4,700 total force Airmen in 2019. Leaders are supporting innovation by investing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the workforce. Currently more than 25,000 Airmen have STEM degrees and the Air Force plans for additional recruitment, retention and development of this vital area, he said.

Air Force leaders are also promoting pilot production and training to address pilot shortfalls, he said. Additional training and weapon systems sustainment funding will establish a strong foundation for improved aircraft availability and higher flying hour execution rates. This increases peacetime operational training and readiness, supporting retention, innovation, and promoting technological advancement.

The Air Force will also invest in jam-resistant satellites, purchase more F-35A Lightning II fighters and KC-46 Pegasus tankers, and continue the development of the B-21 Raider bomber, expanding competitive space in science and technology.

“With your help, we can accelerate to building a more lethal force, ready to defeat terrorists and to win any fight, anywhere,” Wilson said.