Chief of staff visits with Elmendorf Airmen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Gross
  • 3rd Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force's top uniformed member spent time with the men and women of Elmendorf Air Force Base July 6. 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz received mission briefings from Col. Thomas Bergeson, 3rd Wing commander; visited the 3rd Wing's award-winning hospital; and stopped in at Hangar 1 to "transmit and receive" with members of the Elmendorf team. 

General Schwartz said this was his first visit back to the hangar since his out-going change of command in 2002. The general was the commander of Alaskan Command, the Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command Region and 11th Air Force from September 2000 to October 2002. 

During the Airmen's Call, the general impressed upon the Airmen the importance of their job and the importance of the Air Force family. 

"Each of us is making a contribution," General Schwartz said, "...and respecting one another's contribution is key." 

He went on to tell the Airmen that every career specialty matters to the mission, and it is a mission that demands precision and reliability. Being the best is the only option, he said, 

"We owe the American public nothing less," General Schwartz said. 

General Schwartz addressed one of the main issues on the minds of Elmendorf Airmen: the F-22 Raptor. 

"Would we like to have additional F-22s, of course," said General Schwartz. "We have said 243 is the ideal fleet size given the things we see in front of us. Can we afford 60 more F-22s? The conclusion we came to is we can't, given the other demands we have, including production of the F-35 (Lightning II) and supporting the current fight." 

"So the decision was to discontinue F-22 production at 187 and discontinue C-17 (Globemaster III) production at 205," he said. 

When the general opened up the floor for questions, the F-22 continued to be the topic of discussion. 

"How is stopping the production of the F-22 going to affect our ability to fight the current war?" asked one Airman. 

"I am personally convinced that 187 is enough for a single major campaign," said General Schwartz. "I have no doubt that we can prevail." 

"The truth is that our country is in a difficult financial situation," he said. "Things aren't as good as they were years ago, and we in the Department of Defense have to make adjustments, too.  We will give America the very best Air Force we can, given the resources made available to us. It is better for the Air Force to make the tough choices. We are all in."