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Airpower leaders stress stronger role for Airmen in future ops

ORLANDO, Fla. (AFNS) -- Two generals who oversee the Air Force’s combat and global strike aircraft touted a nonflying asset able to drop a precise airstrike anywhere in the world -- an Airman.

“Our overwhelming advantage is our Airmen and the way they think,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the commander of the Air Combat Command, during the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 25.

Carlisle and Gen. Robin Rand, the commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command, kicked off the 32nd annual conference with a presentation on global precision strike, a group of systems the Air Force can use for rapid and accurate strikes around the world.

With more than 120,000 Airmen and civilians in both commands, the generals said there are many roles people play behind successful strikes.

“The global precision attack is not conducted without targets, without intelligence and is needed in every spectrum and every domain in today’s contested environment,” Carlisle said.

In the future, he said, the Air Force will need to boost its capacity and capability so Airmen can deter and destroy enemies.

“It’s the data to information to knowledge to decision capability,” Carlisle said. “At the end of the day, we need better information sooner, with greater fidelity and the ability to act on it faster with greater precision. If we can do that, we can always be inside the adversary’s decision cycle and he will react to us instead of the other way around.”

Rand said modernization is vital for warfighters and those dealing with nuclear deterrence.

“We have to keep our systems updated and in some cases replace them,” the general said.

He praised the Air Force’s recent contract award for the Long Range Strike Bomber, which will take the place of aging bombers.

“We’re really excited about our Long Range Strike Bomber,” he said. “We’re going to start to build them, procure them and fly them, but that’s still a good 10 years off. In the meantime, we have to take care of what we have.”

He mentioned ongoing upgrades to bring the bomber fleet into the 21st century, and also stands ready to send B-52 Stratofortesses into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility this spring to backfill B-1B Lancers that were redeployed for much needed updates.

“If approved, that will be the first time we’ve had them over there since 2006,” he said of the B-52s under CENTCOM, “so we’re really pulling for that to happen.”