Quadrennial Defense Review sparks shift from industrial to information age

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Vucic
  • Air Force News Service
In order to provide air superiority through difficult fiscal conditions, the Air Force must find ways to break paradigms and become affordable with sequestration level funding, the director of the Air Force Quadrennial Defense Review said here Sept. 17.

The Air Force will mitigate risk over the next 20 years by seeking more flexible technologies that contain the “elegance of sustainability,” and take steps to improve on outdated processes, Maj. Gen. Steven Kwast said at the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition.

In the congressionally-mandated Quadrennial Defense Review, Kwast and other Air Force leaders must submit long-term plans to fund current and future projects. Still, Kwast said he is optimistic about the future of the Air Force.

“This is fertile ground for air power -- this strategic environment, this world we live in is changing and moving, and it’s changed more than we might even recognize,” Kwast said. “The natural attributes of air power tend to gravitate toward that (changed) world.”

He explained the Air Force has a readiness model of being able to produce capability anywhere in the world in a timely manner, and the demand for that readiness model will rise in coming years. He added the service must find affordable ways to continually provide that capability. 

The Air Force was born out of an industrial era and still operates as such in some areas, Kwast said, noting that a cultural change will start with an architectural change.

The process will take time, but Airmen should look beyond their comfort zones to improve outdated and unnecessarily expensive processes. 

“(Progress) requires (the Air Force) to start breaking some paradigms,” Kwast said. “Our job is to ... take (the Air Force) from the industrial age into the information age (which) means letting go of precious paradigms that have emotional baggage attached.”

The general observed that the enemy has “gone to school” on the Air Force and is using the cost of air power to their advantage. To break that cycle, he said, the Air Force will need strategic innovation.

As such, Airmen must be bold but delicate with their adjustments. 

“If we are bold within our Air Force, we can find those avenues of transformation, and ... lay them out in a way that is slow and practical enough to not strip ourselves from those constraints … but be revolutionary enough to break the paradigms of the past and take the Air Force into the information age,” he said.

 Kwast challenged innovators to encourage collaboration while shaping and funneling resources and capital to buffer against failure.

“This is the time for heroes ... for visionaries ... for people to see this moment for what it is,” he said. “At a minimum we better be ready intellectually and strategically so … we can deliver for America.”