Taking pride in creating the future AF

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
I was privileged to attend and participate in the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference held near Washington, D.C., last month. It was simply outstanding.

There were many inspirational moments. The pride that I felt during the presentation given by our Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III was incredible. Many themes rang through loud and clear. Lead among them, our Air Force vision: "The world's greatest Air Force -- powered by Airmen, fueled by innovation."

Gen. Welsh offered many great examples of Airmen dedicated to excellence and -- together with their families -- making extraordinary sacrifices to defend America in all three domains: air, space and cyberspace. The nugget for me was, although we have incredible people teamed with the very best technology, it's the American spirit that makes us the world's greatest Air Force.

In the words of Welsh, “We can never lose the heartbeat of the American spirit. It is and always has been the secret to our success.”

Our leaders emphasized the new capstone 30-year strategy document, "America's Air Force: A Call to the Future." As the commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, this was an incredible source of pride for me because of AFRL's key role as the Air Force's science and technology innovation center. We provide direct support to the concept of "strategic agility" by leveraging technology.

During AFA, I also had the opportunity to speak, and I mentioned AFRL's three lines of operations: We are revolutionary, relevant, and responsive to the warfighter.

I'm often asked, what comes next? What is on the horizon? As a global technical enterprise, AFRL is revolutionary. We are the lens that focuses the national technical base to solve the tough Air Force problems, and our game-changing technologies answer those questions. The AFRL “game changers" are revolutionary technologies that make and keep the fight unfair. These game changers focus on three areas -- hypersonics, directed energy, and autonomy. I sincerely believe that our investments in these areas will pay off in a tremendous way.

AFRL is relevant. This is our focus on delivering new capabilities in the mid-term. Our investments in advanced adaptive turbine engines, sensors, and efforts to use new technology to enhance affordability and sustainment are good examples.

Finally, AFRL is responsive. Warfighters ask, and we respond with agility. We urgently work on those vital, high-priority challenges demanded by our warfighters "now." Creative capabilities that leverage existing technologies to defeat improvised explosive device threats and weapons to take out hard and deeply buried targets fit here.

We can't predict the future, but one thing is certain: Our commitment to keeping the technological advantage over our adversaries isn't going away anytime soon. Our team of AFRL Airmen -- military, civilian, and contractor -- all take pride in envisioning and creating tomorrow's Air Force.

Attending AFA served as a friendly reminder of how great our Air Force truly is. You can find our senior Air Force leaders' video presentations and transcripts online. Check them out and feel the pride!

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