CSAF: AF will be smaller but superb force

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Richard A. Williams Jr.
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz explained the service's contributions to the new Defense Department strategy during a Pentagon press briefing here Jan. 27.

Schwartz said that as the Air Force approaches future constrained budgets, service officials will trade size for quality in order to ensure a ready force.

"We will be a smaller but superb force that maintains our agility, our flexibility and readiness to engage a full range of contingencies and threats," Schwartz said in the news conference, which followed the Defense Department's major budget decisions briefings on Jan. 26.

With Airmen regularly serving jointly and deploying with their coalition counterparts, the Air Force must ensure its unique contributions to national security are preserved, he added.

"Air Force capabilities are clearly instrumental to the major priorities of the new defense strategic guidance, such as deterring and defeating aggression, power projection in anti-access and area-denial environments, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, space and cyber operations, and strategic deterrence," Schwartz said.

Future plans call for the Air Force to reduce its total force end strength by approximately 10,000 personnel, the general said. The changes will be tied to reductions in aircraft and other force structure, and are not being made to simply save money, he added.

Confronted by a complex security environment and significant reduction in defense resources, the Air Force determined that the best path forward was to become smaller in order to maintain and protect a high-quality force, Schwartz said.

"To avoid a hollow force, we must and will protect readiness at any force level and strengthen our integration of the total force team of active, Guard and Reserve Airmen," Schwartz said. "It is our intent, indeed our obligation, to the American people and our Airmen that we will remain the world's finest Air Force in the years and decades to come."

Schwartz said the Air Force supports a new round of base realignment and closures as a way to reduce excess infrastructure, and echoed comments from senior defense officials that the Block 30 version of Global Hawk would be terminated.

"The reality is that the Global Hawk is not less expensive to operate than the U-2," Schwartz said, confirming that the Air Force would continue to use the U-2 rather than the Global Hawk Block 30 as a way to reduce costs. "And in many respects, the Global Hawk Block 30 system is not as capable, from a sensor point of view, as the U-2."

Schwartz also touched on the importance of the nuclear triad, stating "the diversity, the variety and the attributes associated with each leg of the triad actually reinforce each other to a great degree."

Other key programs and investment priorities for the Air Force include the KC-46A tanker, F-35 Lightning II and the future long-range strike bomber, Schwartz said.

"The bottom line is these are important capabilities for the nation and ones that we will make sacrifices in other areas to sustain," the general said.

Schwartz ended the news conference by touching on the importance of America's servicemembers, and their families, to the success of the armed forces.

"I would just like to remind everyone that the real power of our Air Force, like our sister services, is our people, and not only in the excellence that they strive to provide, but also in the commitment that their families offer us on a daily basis," Schwartz said.