HomeNewsArticle Display

Goldfein discusses changing face of war

Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber, left, speaks with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein about multidomain warfare at the Defense One Summit in Washington D.C., Nov. 17, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber, left, speaks with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein about multidomain warfare at the Defense One Summit in Washington D.C., Nov. 17, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- New technologies, new tactics, new threats, limited budgets -- all these have combined to change the face of warfare in the 21st century, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein is among the leaders sorting out just what that will mean.

Goldfein spoke with Defense One’s Marcus Weisgerber here Nov. 17 and gave the reasoning behind the changes being contemplated for the future of defense. In addition to being responsible for the “man, train and equip” mission for the Air Force, the chief of staff is also a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Goldfein said he wants to have a conversation about the future of combined arms and joint warfare. He also wants to talk about what has changed and what remains constant. “What hasn’t changed over time is the idea of trust and confidence,” he said. “This is a foundation of doing joint warfare.”

The U.S. military is the most joint force on earth, he said, a fact that has been proven over the past 15 years of warfare. “We actually have trust and confidence that is built to the level that has set the table for us to do some really evolutionary work in the future,” the general said.

Information age

The military is now in the age of information warfare, Goldfein said, and the question now is what does the future look like?

“It’s going to be far more about networks,” he said. “It’s going to be far more about how you take all the information you collect and turn that into decision-quality information faster than any adversary could ever counter.”

It also will entail creating effects across all domains to create operational agility, which, he said, when combined with decision speed, creates a deterrent that no one can counter.

The United States probably makes decisions faster than any other country, but it will not be fast enough for the future, Goldfein said.

Common systems

The future must be a common operating system, the general said. The proprietary systems that exist now are separate and require another system to amalgamate the information and assess it. The current system does not give leaders the situational awareness they need fast enough.

Some of this will be dependent on new technologies or advances in current technologies. Intelligence analysis today is too dependent on “industrial age” procedures, in which humans do much of the assessments that could be done faster and more accurately by computers.

“We got to get into the next stage, which is machine-to-machine, human/machine teaming, and artificial intelligence -- to turn all that data into decision-quality information and then you act,” he said.

The Air Force is already experimenting with the process, Goldfein said. Called Data to Decision, the experiment takes information from all domains and places it into one common operating system, he said.

This could help the Air Force in many ways, the general said.


Americans see the results of airstrikes on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Mosul almost every night, he said, as they see footage of bombs or missiles going exactly where intended. “Sometimes we tend to focus on the end game, which is a bomb that goes into its intended location,” Goldfein said.

People need to understand what happens before the boom, and that includes collecting the pattern of life at a target location, collecting intelligence, ensuring it is a valid and lawful target, confirming the position of any friendly forces and limiting the exposure of any innocent civilians, the general said.

“When I grew up flying F-16s, the pilot’s prayer was, ‘Please God, let me find my target and not let my buddies down,’” Goldfein said. “It’s changed. In precision warfare and the information age, it’s ‘Please God, let me hit the right target, and not let my buddies down.’ Because I am going to hit what I aim at, with 98 percent accuracy.”


Facebook Twitter
We're proud to introduce the 2019 Air Force Warrior Games team! The 40 team members will compete during the… https://t.co/mQVxXwip01
#MedalofHonor recipient #USAF Col. (Ret.) Joe M. Jackson was interred @ArlingtonNatl today. Known as an #AirForce H… https://t.co/Q4H59xYGA3
RT @AFSpace: "If at first you don't succeed, fly, fly again!" @NASA_Astronauts @AstroHague completed his first #spacewalk on Friday while r…
This #HercWork was truly herculean! Eight units. Seven days. One team. Recently #C130 J units from around the globe… https://t.co/QzsEWlCOqK
#ICYMI, @SecAFOfficial recently met with @Offutt_AFB leaders & elected officials to discuss the base's rebuilding e… https://t.co/FDVGeNlTi0
The #USAF is looking for men and women for the 2019 Armed Forces Triathlon June 19-23, in Ventura County,… https://t.co/Dqjgj02qC8
Part of being in the military involves traveling to foreign countries. The #380AEW Host Nation Coordination Office… https://t.co/6mKtO5NWqj
Sharp eyesight is key to an #Airman’s readiness to fly, fight & win. This #AirForce Tech Report highlights how… https://t.co/MaxAEXIOpz
Next-generation warfighting is all about data...yet sometimes our email doesn’t even load. @USecAF_Official is driv… https://t.co/5DsspMgYv8
Today is #MedalofHonorDay and we take a moment to honor our nation’s greatest heroes who have received the highest… https://t.co/B5CVsuV3vX
From foster kid to #Airman, mentor and raising the #AirForce’s next generation. @TeamMisawa https://t.co/7NmxHqOJGe https://t.co/vVoVVnjEgf
Riveting story! Learn more about Ms. Mae Krier, a #WorldWarII pioneer who joined legions of other Rosies in the wor… https://t.co/0QUBOzh4Rr
RT @HollomanAFB: Happy #NationalPuppyDay! Our #MilitaryWorkingDogs protect and defend us each and everyday. Check out these #adorable photo…
RT @AirForceMag: HIT THE BOOKS: Check out a non-exhaustive list of Air Force Chief of Staff @GenDaveGoldfein's reading recommendations from…
Some of us are women, but we are all Airmen! #WomensHistoryMonth https://t.co/pcBtWWIiE6
.@GenDaveGoldfein: "Celebration of #diversity and making sure we understand the flesh colored band aids is not abou… https://t.co/iUqNbSpCPB
.@RAFMildenhall #KC135 crew strengthened relationship with Romanian #AirForce through air refueling training. For m… https://t.co/8dGvm2HQwC
RT @SecAFOfficial: Mother nature can’t beat the 55th Wing! We will recover @Offutt_AFB from the devastating flood. Amazing American 🇺🇸 spir…
Today the #AirForce announced a new Infrastructure Investment Strategy following a yearlong review that brings a ne… https://t.co/i1yDRQkaPl