The Force We Present: Future of AF operations

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  • By Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos
  • Defense Media Activity
As the Air Force highlights revitalizing squadrons and the need to improve readiness to contend with near peer adversaries, the Air Force deputy chief of staff of operations spoke to an audience about “The Force We Present” and the necessity for coming changes in military operations during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Sept. 17, 2018.

“The world has changed,” said Lt. Gen. Mark D. Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff or operations. “Warfare has changed. Our National Defense Strategy has changed. Our strategic adversaries have changed, and so not changing is not a viable option.”

During his speech, he discussed how the Air Force will meet the intent of the 2018 NDS by focusing on great power competition shifting away from old practices that only work with fighting violent extremist networks.

“This new strategy, frankly, is peer competition with great powers,” he said. “Great powers that can deny sanctuary we've come to enjoy. Great power as it can cut into the time where we adapt, mobilize, move forward and acclimate.”

The goal is to be able to create air expeditionary wings and task forces that can deploy together, cut down on deployment spin up time and a force that can operate without the comfort of unopposed mobilization and acclimation periods upon arrival in deployed locations.

According to Kelly, in order to successfully conduct great power competition, forces need to be able to respond to crisis with little to no spin up time. Airmen also need to be able to effectively mobilize and transit in contested environments. He also stressed the importance of unity of command and unity of effort in order to have ready and cohesive units.

Kelly also addressed commanders, saying empowerment at every level is necessary in order for these plans to succeed. 

“We need our units to be adequately resourced with adequate authorities so that when they're cutoff from a decision maker at the top, they have the authority and they have the trust to make decisions,” he said. “We need our commanders to understand that the authorities, they have our trust, that when that communication is not there, they need to execute the commander's intent.”

Kelly said the ultimate goal is to build self-sustaining and self-defending teams able to withstand the effects of combat. These units will train, deploy and accurately report capabilities. He, along with Air Force leadership, will continue tirelessly in order to get the Airmen to that level of readiness.

“The ability to generate employed, sustained combat effects require those lifelines: lifelines of people, the lifelines of logistics, the lifelines of fuel, the lifelines of food – all that comes with it.” he said. “It comes down to logistics under attack. Tough, tough problems that we’ll not solve tomorrow. We'll work on them 24/7 until we get closer to it.”