Gen. Schwartz addresses Air Force future

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
The chief of staff of the Air Force addressed Air Force Association Air and Space Technology Convention delegates Sept. 16 here to share his vision for the future of the service.

"The work we must accomplish is serious stuff," Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said, "but I know we are up to the task."

Part of the joint fight

Overall, his message stressed the importance of the role the Air Force plays in supporting combatant commanders and operations around the world. Further, General Schwartz shared anecdotes and stories of Airmen to illustrate his points, many of which are featured in the current Portraits in Courage.

"Every day, I come to work as the chief and I ponder 'what are we doing to support the joint fight?' and there is never a shortage of impressive answers," General Schwartz said. "You'll find the Air Force on every continent. There are 33,000 Airmen deployed to contingencies across the globe."

The general outlined several initiatives that will bolster ongoing Air Force missions, particularly air refueling, unmanned aerial systems and nuclear operations.

"We have defined areas of emphasis that require our immediate attention," he said. "The Air Force is taking a hard look at what we do, how we do it and why. We must do this to restore our stature as professionals and uncompromising joint warfighters."

Acquiring a new tanker

Without tankers, the Air Force isn't global, the general said. Tankers are the backbone of the nation's ability to project global reach and power.

"Tankers are a joint asset," General Schwartz said. "They serve our sister services, giving us the ability to provide relief, persistence, and command and control. We have to lead turn this critical acquisition priority and get it moving, or we will have failed in our obligation to the nation."

Nuclear enterprise

The Air Force is going through some "rough air" in the realm of nuclear deterrence, General Schwartz said.

"We have to return our focus to the fundamental capabilities of supporting deterrence," he said. "Air Force capabilities help dissuade and deter our adversaries.

"'It is best to win without fighting,'" General Schwartz added, quoting Sun Tzu, an ancient Chinese military philosopher.

Unmanned aircraft systems

Unmanned aircraft systems provide commanders with capabilities that play a critical role in mission success. They have surpassed all expectations and hold even greater promise for the future, General Schwartz said.

"It is no surprise that combatant commander demand for these systems and their game-changing capabilities has skyrocketed," he said. "The Air Force is dedicated to increasing equipment, training and operational capacity as quickly as possible to help win the fight."

The Air Force is projecting an additional 800 UAS operators over the next five years. To meet this goal, the service will assign 100 pilots a year from undergraduate pilot training directly to UAS operations, General Schwartz said.

"Ultimately, our intent is to form a dedicated cadre of professional UAS operators," he said. "The Air Force is dedicated to building the UAS force our nation requires while continuing to lead innovation in capabilities and employment."

More to come

General Schwartz said he and acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley have more initiatives to reinvigorate Airmen in carrying out Air Force missions. In addition, the general said Secretary Donley and he have set the direction to ensure the Air Force's status as the finest in the world.

"It's going to take every one of us to restore trust," General Schwartz told the crowd in the packed auditorium. "Maybe the best place to start is by remembering the oath we all swore to support and defend. Everything changed when we made those solemn promises that inspire and require the best in each of us -- promises that changed us for a lifetime. It's a back-to-basics approach for what we do." 

Click here for the complete transcript of General Schwartz's remarks.

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