America is—and always will be—an aerospace nation. To fully realize the Nation’s aerospace potential, President Truman established an independent Air Force in 1947 to better protect America, its citizens, and its allies. From this beginning, we have grown airpower into the ability to project global military power through air, space, and cyberspace. Today, complex security and fiscal challenges demand that our Air Force develop innovative Airmen who find better and smarter ways to fly, fight, and win.
For generations, the allure of airpower has attracted outstanding Americans to serve their country. One of our Air Force’s greatest strengths is its ability to recruit, develop, and retain innovative patriots with strong character, a belief in respect for others, and a commitment to high standards and our core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do. We are the greatest air force in the world because of our Airmen—Active, Reserve, Guard, and Civilian—to remain the greatest, we must make our team even stronger.
Education and training are the foundation of our airpower advantage. To maintain this advantage in the future, we must safeguard and reinforce that foundation. All Airmen, whether teacher or student, have a role in ensuring that we remain the most technically proficient, best-educated, and best-trained air force in the world. We will maximize our Airmen’s potential by refining our development programs to move beyond classroom-based instruction and incorporating leading-edge educational concepts. Through a personalized, career-long building block approach, we will eliminate duplicative and extraneous training, returning valuable time to our Airmen. We will also integrate our development, promotion, and assignment processes to recognize excellence and grow Airmen to have the breadth, knowledge, and capabilities to serve where our Nation needs them.
The source of Air Force airpower is the fighting spirit of our Airmen, and squadrons are the fighting core of our Air Force. The evolving threats we face demand that our squadrons be highly capable, expeditionary teams who can successfully defend our Nation’s interests in tomorrow’s complex operating environments. We will reinvigorate squadrons and emphasize a unified chain of command, focused on mission success, and supported by centralized functional managers. Our squadrons will be the cohesive, ready, and agile fighting forces that the Air Force, the joint force commander, and the Nation require.
The Air Force’s enduring contributions are rooted in our original roles and responsibilities that were assigned in 1947. Today we call them: (1) air and space superiority; (2) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; (3) rapid global mobility; (4) global strike; and (5) command and control. We already combine our air, space, and cyber forces to maximize these enduring contributions, but the way we execute these five calling cards must continually evolve as we strive to increase our asymmetric advantage. Our Airmen’s ability to rethink the battle while incorporating new technologies will improve the varied ways our Air Force accomplishes its missions. Faced with fiscal challenges, we must make prudent choices to ensure that the Air Force is able to unleash the full potential of airpower. To strengthen our enduring contributions, the Air Force will:
• Deter and defeat adversaries with a credible first look, first shot, and first kill capability;
• Hold our adversaries and what they value at risk while operating on a global scale with unmatched joint integration;
• Exploit and defend air, space, and cyberspace, especially in contested environments, while denying our adversaries unrestricted use of the same;
• Integrate and organize our Active, Reserve, and Guard forces to leverage the unique strengths and perspectives of each to seamlessly execute Air Force missions;
• Enhance relationships and interoperability with our sister Services, other government agencies, allies, and partners;
• Better train Airmen to bring their unique specialties together in more realistic, intense, and diverse environments to advance integrated airpower operations;
• Emphasize readiness to ensure the highest quality force, regardless of size; and
• Modernize our capabilities to reduce operating costs while attaining desired effects with greater persistence, survivability, longer range, and more versatile payloads.
The story of the Air Force is a story of innovation. Airmen, using their unique perspective, have long stood for and pioneered innovative ways to win the fight while shaping the future. Airmen characteristically view security challenges differently—globally, without boundaries. Whereas pre-Kitty Hawk warriors relied on breaking through fortified lines on the ground, Airmen have always sought to go over, not through, those fortifications, to achieve victory. By recruiting innovative people and making them Airmen, we capitalize on their inherent creativity to find better and smarter ways to approach and solve our Nation’s security challenges. Now, more than ever, we need bold leaders at every level who encourage innovation, embrace new thinking, and take prudent risks to achieve mission success.
Every Airman should constantly look for smarter ways to do business. The person closest to the problem is often the one with the best solution. Leaders should empower Airmen to think creatively, find new solutions, and make decisions. Airmen at all levels must have the courage to take risks and learn from mistakes as we pursue a stronger Air Force. As we do this, all of our actions will be shaped by our warrior ethos, bounded by our core values, and underwritten by common sense.
The future of the Air Force starts with you. Every Airman matters, and delivering airpower requires all of us working together as an unbeatable team. Every Airman, regardless of specialty, must understand and be able to explain how they contribute to producing unparalleled airpower for our Nation. Each Airman has a compelling story that needs to be told. Tell your story. Let your fellow Americans know that their Air Force provides Global Vigilance, Global Reach, and Global Power to defend our great Nation. Airmen should be proud of who they are, what they do, and how well they accomplish the mission.
The United States Air Force is a remarkable success story! Our history may be short, but our heritage is legendary. We truly stand on the shoulders of heroes. Those heroes expect us to make this Air Force even better. To do that, each of us must find new ways to win the fight, strengthen the team, and shape the future. Every Airman, every day, can make a difference—be that Airman!