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General Officer Explains Transformation

General Officer Explains Transformation

By Staff Sgt. A.J. Bosker, Air Force Print News.

Washington D.C. -- (AFPN) October 4, 2002 -- Transformation is a good thing but putting a face on it and understanding what it is can be difficult, said the Air Force's director of operational requirements at the Pentagon.

The key to understanding it, said Maj. Gen. Daniel P. Leaf, is the word "fundamental."

"Transformation is a fundamental change in what we're able to do or how we do it," Leaf explained.

Using a baseball analogy to illustrate this, Leaf explained that baseball players know and take for granted that the average pitcher throws between 90- and 100-mph fastballs.

When the leadoff batter steps up to the plate in Game One of the World Series, he thinks he knows the capabilities of the opposing pitcher, the general explained. However, what if the batter suddenly learns that the opposing pitcher throws 130-mph fastballs and he does so with better control than any other pitcher in history? Also, the pitcher is standing on second base instead of the pitcher's mound, making it harder for the batter to pick up his arm motion and see the ball in his hand. What if, before the first pitch, the stadium lights are turned off?

Opposing militaries will soon be faced with the same types of obstacles, presented by the F/A-22 Raptor, which will bring fundamental change -- transformation -- to air dominance, Leaf said.

"The F/A-22 is so much faster and has much greater control of its weaponry through its integrated avionics than any other aircraft in the world," he said. "It can shoot from farther away and is extraordinarily stealthy and maneuverable. The Raptor is going to bring startling, stunning change to air dominance, combating both air and ground threats."

The first adversary, whether an enemy surface-to-air missile operator or an enemy pilot, who has to face the F/A-22 in a fight is going to have a complete mind-set shift, Leaf said. Things are going to happen so fast the adversary will be unable to deal with it. That is transformational.

"Sometimes to help people better understand transformation, it helps to define what is not transformation," he said. "Unmanned aerial vehicles, just because they are unmanned, are not examples of transformation; they are just different.

"And we've been using drones in combat since Vietnam," he added. "However, if you can use the unique capabilities or attributes of UAVs in a new way that changes the nature of the fight, then it's transformational."

Transformation is not limited only to weapon systems or equipment.

"Ideas, processes and approaches can also be transformational," Leaf said. "They can even be used in relatively subtle ways to do things that we've always done and still be transformational. A good example of this is our transformation to the expeditionary air and space force construct."

According to Leaf, operating from forward-deployed locations, working in harsh conditions and rotating people deploying in and out of these areas is nothing new for the Air Force.

"We've been doing that since WW I," he said. "We did it again in WW II as we worked our way across the globe as an expeditionary U.S. Army Air Force. We go wherever we need to conduct operations and kick the enemy's butt. That's the nature of the Air Force.

"However, the EAF structure and mind-set has transformed the Air Force in many subtle ways," he said. "We were able to put more predictability into our rotation cycles to help our people plan time to take a vacation, attend training or continue their education. It also transformed the way we present forces and explain our capabilities."

Transformation will not happen overnight, the general added. While the Air Force has made significant strides in transitioning to the EAF construct, there is still much to learn and much work to do. Transformation does not have a clear beginning or end and cannot be put on a schedule, he said. It is an ongoing process.

"You can't decide one day to work on some transformation," Leaf said. "It happens when the bright men and women of the Air Force question the assumptions that they operate under and look for new ways to achieve the desired effects. Thinking about better ways to do business is the fertile ground from which transformation can grow."

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).