Airpower’s role in today’s fight

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Torri Hendrix
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Command Information
Lt. Gen. John W. Hesterman III, the Air Force assistant vice chief of staff and director of the Air Staff, highlighted the Air Force’s role in the fight against ISIL during a discussion at the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 16.

Prior to assuming his current position, Hesterman served as the commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, and gave his unique perspective on operations in Iraq and Syria.

“(I’ve talked about) how complex and difficult the role of Airmen in the current fight in Iraq and Syria is right now, and yet what an incredible job they’re doing,” he said. “Your Airmen are magnificent – they’re superb – they’re better than we’ve ever been.”

He credited AFCENT Airmen contributions on the battlefield of Iraq and Syria, together with their coalition partners, for achieving positive effects in Iraq and Syria.

“They’ve taken the enemy off the battlefield by the thousands,” Hesterman said. “Back in August (2014), your airpower coalition stood up in a little less than a week; the week after that, we were matching and exceeding the levels of effort in Afghanistan. Only airpower can do that, with that kind of speed and on that kind of scale.”

Airmen are delivering supplies; degrading ISIL operations; providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; training Iraqi forces and building coalition partnerships.

“We are part of a big joint team and it takes all of it to get anything done,” Hesterman said. “Without airpower, in low-end and high-end warfare, the joint team fails – period.”

He said the Airmen operating in the AFCENT theater are hitting targets with remarkable precision with little to no collateral damage or friendly casualties.

“It’s literally the most precise, least amount of unintended damage conflict in the history of air warfare, without a doubt,” he said. “Last Tuesday, we emptied three B-1’s over Iraq and Syria – 80 targets in 20 minutes – that’s significant. Your guys are good at this.”

The role of Airmen in the joint fight is one that’s essential, he explained, and not a role that is going away at any point in the future.

“There’s nothing that we do – no conflict that we’re in – that isn’t dependent on airpower and all the realms of it,” Hesterman said. “Your Airmen are doing that mission, and they’re incredibly good (at it).”