Top Airman discusses Air Force future

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  • By Staff Sgt. Torri Ingalsbe
  • Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location-P
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III spoke about the importance of embracing change and creating an adaptive Air Force at the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition, Sept. 16.

“We need to be bold – we need to be a little fearless right now,” he said. “We need to realize that we can spread our wings a little bit and, in fact as a service, I believe we have to.”

He explained the Air Force’s core missions of air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and command and control are, and always have been, the constant focus of the Air Force.

“No problems are new – no challenges are new – no missions are new for us,” he said. “This is just a new time. Circumstances are a little different and we’ll roll through these just like we rolled through the past ones. I don’t worry about that.”

Welsh has no question America’s Air Force is the best in the world, and he plans to keep it that way, well into the future.

“The real question – how do we stay the best Air Force in the world?” He said. “This is a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight and you don’t stay great for a couple of days – it’s a journey and you need a map. That’s what our new strategic framework is intended to be. The idea is a call to the future that’s looking down the road to keep us moving in a consistent direction.”

The map focuses on maintaining competencies and superiority in the Air Force’s five core missions across the domains of air, space and cyberspace. Welsh wants to be transparent in Air Force decision making, and to make the decisions that make the most sense at the right time.

“Nobody should be surprised by what happens in the Air Force,” he said. “The Air Force Master Plan is being built right now – it brings together all of our core function plans into a single, prioritized master plan so we can have strategic trades discussion from the beginning of the fiscal year to the end.”

The general talked about operating across different domains, and the importance of the Air Force staying in front of the unique challenges that come from each domain.

“We’ve got to understand these domains are growing, changing, becoming more contested and more congested,” he said. “We’ve got to get better at integrating and synchronizing effects in and through these domains in every one of our mission areas.”

Welsh believes the only way the Air Force will continue to grow and adapt to the current climate is through the innovative Airmen who power it.

“We have to be able to do the same things in new and different ways,” he said. “We have to be more cost-effective in the way run and operate the Air Force. We have to think differently and open the aperture about potential solutions. We have to unlock ourselves from the things we’re used to, and listen to some of these brilliant young people we have coming in to our Air Force today, when they have ideas that are different.”

While making innovative decisions and changing processes, Welsh still wants Airmen to hold true to the heritage of the Air Force.

“I believe the Air Force reflects America’s spirit,” Welsh said. “This bold, indomitable will to always reach higher – to always see over the next ridgeline or the next decade – the idea that there’s always something worth dying for.”