Air Force chief of staff addresses 2010 CAF Airpower Symposium

  • Published
  • By Harry J. Lundy
  • Air Combat Command Public Affairs
Although last minute plane troubles kept the Air Force's top uniformed leader from physically attending the 2010 Combat Air Forces Airpower Symposium at Langley Air Force Base May 19, it didn't keep him from delivering his keynote address to participants.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz addressed members by video, stressing the importance of the CAF mission to national security and reinforcing Air Force officials' commitment to the CAF mission and people.

"With all of the uncertainty in our strategic environment, the necessity for the Air Force's commitment to its Combat Air Forces, and our preparedness to meet challenges and neutralize threats across the full spectrum, is apparent," General Schwartz said.

"What this means is that military capabilities underwriting our diplomatic efforts, our economic and financial leverage, and our information influence, must be that much more credible," he continued.

He stressed that for this credibility to exist, combat professionals must be competent, systems must be reliable, and capabilities versatile.

During the first decade of the 21st century, CAF members have made critical contributions and amassed impressive achievements with the rise of special operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

With their talents in operational focus, flexibility and strategic vision, their impact has resonated through the entire Air Force, General Schwartz said

"The CAF consistently have given valuable cues to our Air Force, helped lead our Air Force, and provided exceptional and essential combat power for the joint and coalition team," General Schwartz said.

The chief of staff went on to say CAF Airmen used their innovation, creativity and adaptability where current capability fell short.

"When our previous weapons were not effective against fast-moving targets -- a problem for which they were not originally designed -- the CAF quickly tested and fielded the laser joint direct attack munition, providing a quantum leap in essential capability," General Schwartz said.

Additionally, B-1B Lancers were fitted with targeting pods, providing a new capability for U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs are being transitioned into a precision strike aircraft -- the A-10C.

Unfortunately, nations are seeking advanced weapon systems, and the proliferation of advanced technology is narrowing access to air domain. However, CAF officials have been proactive in their response.

General Schwartz lauded CAF Airmen's efforts in developing tactics, techniques and procedures to counter evolving threats and stem the proliferation of advanced weaponry.

And while ongoing operations and a challenging fiscal environment have forced difficult choices for the service including ones, understandably, "that some have disagreed with" like the restructuring of the fighter forces, General Schwartz reinforced his commitment to the platforms and people performing this vital mission.

The commitment to platforms comes in the form of funding the F-35 Lightening II, investing in the F-22 Raptor fleet, and upgrading the capabilities of legacy bombers and fighters to ensure they remain viable until the fifth-generation force is largely in place.

Moreover, he said there remains a requirement to ensure the nation can hold virtually any target around the world at risk with a long-range strike capability.

"We are making initial investments in a family of systems that can answer the immediate need more readily than perhaps completely independent, more exquisite systems can," General Schwartz said.

Air Force officials continue to work with Office of the Secretary of Defense officials and combatant commanders to determine what systems will best meet the nation's needs for long-range strike.

Likewise, investment in human capital will continue for CAF Airmen.

"Major predeployment exercises like Red Flag and Green Flag will remain the best in the world, providing timely, realistic and relevant training to our aircrews and others on the latest tactics, techniques and procedures," General Schwartz said.

Additionally, efforts will be made to ensure that the weapons school continues its tradition of producing the world's finest air, space and cyber tacticians.

During his closing remarks, the general said he had faith in continuing the "mantle of combat airpower excellence."

"With the caliber of the professionals who currently serve our nation, I am assured of our Air Force's and joint team's future, and I am proud to stand with each of you in common cause," General Schwartz said.