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Preserving our Edge

Remarks to the National Security Forum, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, May 30, 2003 by Dr. James G. Roche, secretary of the Air Force.

Thank you General Rayburn (Major General Bentley B. Rayburn, Commandant Air War College) for your kind words and gracious introduction.

Someday in the not-to-distant future, those introductions may be preceded with the phrase "Former Secretary of the Air Force." Increasingly, I now want to reflect on the distinct privilege I've had to lead the finest corps of officer, enlisted and civilian airmen ever assembled in the history of powered flight. It's been a wonderful and unique opportunity to serve our nation, and one I will long relish. But, as I'm careful to point out to my staff in Washington, nothing is ever certain. I do not presume confirmation. So, I will continue to drive on working the tough issues and, with (Air Force Chief of Staff General) John Jumper taking care of our Air Force until formally nominated and confirmed.

Although it's the end of the week, I wish again to welcome you to our 50th National Security Forum. We began this outreach program not long after the Air Force was established as a separate service in 1947. Since then, we've been successful in bringing together future military leaders -- our students here at Air War College -- and influential Americans of national prominence from a broad cross-section of business, academic, industry, media, legal, religious and government backgrounds. As a result, you and your predecessors have brought the perspective of the nation to our students and have helped shape the thinking and perspectives of generations of Air Force leaders. Through this important forum, we reinforce the solemn bond we have with you and our citizenry whom we serve and defend.

I want to extend my thanks to each of you for taking time from your professional demands and busy schedules to attend this week's events. To the many national, community and state leaders who are here, I offer my sincere thanks for the magnificent support you provide to the officer, enlisted, and civilian airmen of our Air Force who live in your communities. Across the nation, we enjoy many special relationships with the cities and towns that care for our men and women. Just like the Alabamans from the greater Montgomery area -- our wonderful host community for Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex -- you educate our children, employ their families, provide for their spiritual needs, and, without exception, develop communities suitable for raising and nurturing families. In my travels around the Air Force, I've often heard the phrase "we don't know where the base stops and the town begins." As an institution, our service is stronger than ever -- and much of that credit goes to the communities who provide a rock-solid foundation to our Air Force family.

To the business and industry leaders here today, in addition to providing a variety of job opportunities to the families of our airmen, you and hundreds of other business leaders across America have supported our Total Force in a manner unseen in a generation. Our Air Guardsmen and Air Force Reservists have served in great numbers since 9/11, with nearly 40,000 airmen called to active duty at the peak of our mobilization this past year.

Most Americans appreciate the importance of our National Guard and Reserve forces, but many are unaware of the sacrifices employers make to support them. As a former businessman, I'm acutely sensitive to the price you pay for this support. An employer's greatest resource is his or her people. By sharing them with us, you subordinate your interests for the good of our country. And despite the demands placed on your workforce -- and your bottom line -- you and your counterparts have continued to protect the jobs of our airmen; in many cases, you've maintained their health benefits and supplemented their military pay; and many of you have made special efforts to care for the families that stayed behind.

To honor this loyalty, we initiated the "Employer Pin" campaign -- a contemporary adaptation of the World War II "Employer Flag" campaign -- to thank the employers of our guard and reserve airmen. Along with our "Parent Pin," which we give to the parents of our airmen, we appropriately recognize the vital partnership between America's Air Force and those whose support is so critical to our success. Thank you.

And since we are at the hub of Air Force learning, I'd like to also extend a special welcome to our friends from academia that have joined us this week. In the Air Force, we understand the value of challenging our force with continuing, life-long education. To succeed in this complex new world, our leaders will require knowledge of history, economics, culture, language, religion, finance, psychology and technology -- even game theory and chess. In this era of conflict against an unconventional enemy, we are reassessing how we think, and adapting to the world in which we find ourselves. Through the schools of this Air University -- and through programs such as this -- we are striving to develop thinkers and leaders with this broad perspective. Along with the many professionals here this week, you add immeasurably to this dialogue and exchange of ideas.

Today, I'd like to share with you my perspective on this new era of security, the challenges we face in sustaining the air and space superiority we've displayed over the past decade, and offer a brief prescription for the future.

  • Asymmetry and a New Era

It is a vitally important time in the history of our nation and for modern civilization as we work to solve the challenges posed by the threat of global terrorism. No longer can we rest on the protections of geographic isolation and friendly neighbors. Our position of immunity is being eroded as more nations and rogue groups obtain the capacity to project power over long distances, employing asymmetric weapons and tactics.

More troubling, we can now foresee threats posed by ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and smuggled chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. We can foresee the prospect of new kinds of attacks, such as computer network attacks and attacks on other critical infrastructure, in which distance is less important and our traditional defenses will likely provide little protection. The attacks on 9/11 served notice to the world, not that there was a new kind of warfare, but that the intensity and nature of this asymmetric form of warfare would make defeating it an imperative for our nation and the Western world.

This "world war," as CIA Director George Tenet so aptly describes it, began long before 9/11 -- nearly two decades ago in Beirut, an attack that affected me very personally -- and continues to the present, as the spate of recent Al Qaeda-sponsored bombings so clearly demonstrate. For those of us charged with protecting America, these realities have forced us to redefine our enemies as well as our concepts of defense.

The capabilities we deliver -- global reconnaissance and strike, and the mobility assets that make it all happen -- these are exactly what America needs at this time in our history. Operation Noble Eagle -- over the United States -- began the moment the Air Force was notified of the Sept. 11 hijackings. Operation Enduring Freedom, our fight against terrorism, began less than a month later. Despite fighting in a landlocked nation -- one of the toughest scenarios we've war-gamed throughout my professional life -- we succeeded. Everything going into Afghanistan moved by air, even the Marines that came ashore via ships transferred to Air Force aircraft to be flown into Afghanistan. In short order, but not without costs, we liberated that nation and set it on a course of reconstruction.

In Iraq, we have again liberated an oppressed people and have begun the process of rebuilding in a very difficult tribal and political climate. That operation featured the most dramatic illustration to date of what a coalition can accomplish with a just mission, advanced technology, a commitment to joint and combined military operations, and the bravery and creativity of magnificently trained soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines of several countries. They demonstrated to the world -- thanks in part to the embedded media who witnessed firsthand our men and women in action -- an impressive level of commitment, remarkable competence, and steadfast professionalism. We owe it to them, and the millions of Iraqis who yearn for freedom, to succeed in the rebuilding effort in Iraq, and the wider effort to assure stability and self-determination in the region.

  • Warfare Enters the Information Age

The task of dissecting the lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom is a growth industry of late. As the variety of think tanks, interest groups, and defense subcultures race to define the lessons of this recent conflict, we need to avoid defining those lessons through the prism of our special interests. We need to draw conclusions that contribute to our overriding national objectives versus those that may be more appropriately interpreted as post-conflict rationalization versus impartial analysis.

Recently, General Pete Pace, the Vice Chairman (of the Joints Chiefs of Staff), spoke to a gathering of Air Force senior leaders and offered his perspective on several strategic lessons learned from this conflict and why we were so successful. I think he's summed it up rather well:

First, this was the first war that executed a campaign as designed by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986; a truly joint warfighting effort from planning to execution.

Second, ground forces were comfortable with bypassing major enemy divisions for two reasons: Our precision systems and weapons are very lethal -- and plentiful. And, in his words, because of the trust our ground forces had in precise and timely airpower if those forces tried to move.

Finally, he concludes -- appropriately so -- that this was the coming-out party for Special Operations Forces. They controlled large areas with limited forces and the strength of airpower. They were a light, lean, yet lethal force and were truly joint in how they operated.

At the operational level, our plan worked well for a variety of reasons:

Saddam was expecting a Desert Storm-style, 30-day air campaign to start, but we didn't do that;

We prepped the battlefield with thousands of sorties in the year preceding the operation, and during the 10 years of Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch;

The opening strike at the leadership target was effective in disrupting command and control;

We opened with a rapid ground maneuver, completely opposite of what Saddam expected;

The speed of the advance was overwhelming, offering no time for the enemy to make decisions and counter our moves;

And, the effective PSYOPS (psychological operations) campaign helped break the will of the average soldier.

The lessons we've learned in the Air Force complement well the conclusions of the Vice Chairman. From our perspective, we learned that there is truth to the phrase "flexibility is the key to air and space power." And we've demonstrated that air and space power is vital to achieving strategic, operational and tactical objectives.

We showed that our ability to conduct multiple campaigns across a spectrum of operations could have a deterring and compelling effect on our enemies. Our diverse and parallel campaigns -- Strategic Attack, Interdiction, Close Air Support, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, Scud Hunting, and Information Operations -- enabled our maneuver, maritime, and special operations forces to operate under an umbrella of air dominance throughout the theater.

We demonstrated the incredible effects that advanced technology could have on the battlefield. Weapons conceived in the 1970s and 1980s, and fielded in the 1990s, now are having a revolutionary effect on combat. A variety of joint and precise weapons, aircraft like the Joint STARS, remotely piloted aircraft, a generation of space capabilities and the ability to integrate those assets proved decisive.

I'm very proud of how our team of air and space professionals came together for this conflict, and how well they worked with our Navy, Marine, Army and coalition partners. General Buzz Moseley (Commander, 9th Air Force and the Combined Forces Air Component Commander) fully integrated joint and coalition forces into a single team, all commanded from a Combined Air Operations Center at Prince Sultan Air Base in Southwest Asia. Throughout the campaign, the air picture in the CAOC showed a dense presence of air power over the entire country of Iraq.

Our ground forces moved more swiftly and further than virtually at any time in our history, and our air-ground coordination was similar to the historic cooperation demonstrated by Generals Arnold and Patton in their famous breakout of Normandy, and Patton's race across France in 1944 - - a goal General Jumper and I have shared for the last two years, to return to the relationships and capabilities of that era. And General Pete Quesada of the 9th Air Force in 1944 would be proud indeed of how Generals Moseley and McKiernan (Commander, Third U.S. Army, and the Coalition Forces Land Component Commander) worked together.

During the entire campaign, the Iraqi Air Force didn't fly a single sortie against coalition forces. In fact, the Iraqi Air Force took to burying their airplanes -- we presume in an attempt to save them. I'm not sure if those engines will ever start again or if the planes will fly, but this has to be one of the more surprising tactics one of our enemies used to preserve their Air Force when faced with the prospect of fighting ours. In 1991, they flew their airplanes to Iran. In 1998, the Serbs rarely turned on air defense radar for fear of sure destruction. In Afghanistan, we achieved air superiority at the end of the first day, and flew tankers, airlift, ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), and strike aircraft over the nation with virtually impunity. And now in Iraq, they buried their airplanes. Ladies and gentleman, we have achieved air and space dominance. It is what we pledged to deliver to our combatant commanders and to our nation, and for over a decade, our airmen have performed magnificently.

In a broader sense, we've also learned that the American way of war has undergone a remarkable evolution in terms of how we command and control warfare, with respect to the speed and range with which we can deliver decisive effects, and, with respect to the global information dominance that enables our nation to see first, understand first and act first. Years of development of integrated systems and the professional training of airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines in their application were on display for the world to see and, by all accounts, the results were unprecedented.

Since the advent of industrial warfare, one would be hard pressed to cite an example of greater speed, maneuver, and precision on the battlefield, all while simultaneously limiting collateral damage, delivering humanitarian aid, and saving the lives of combatants and civilians alike. This is a new era of warfare -- the product of decades of sustained and relentless research, acquisition, strategy, and doctrinal evolution, and the demanding training of 21st Century warriors who understand the complexities of warfighting in the information age. In this decade, our years of evolution -- quite literally since World War II -- came of age.

    • The Challenge -- Sustaining our Dominance

While we are making progress in adapting the armed forces and our Air Force to the new challenges we face, I remain concerned that we can do better to deliver superior combat capability to our men and women. We must ensure that our armed forces have the tools they need to fight and win our nation's wars -- now and in a generation from now. I remain concerned that we are not leveraging our nation's prosperity, our intellectual capital, or our industrial base sufficiently to deliver the capability we need to sustain our dominance.

We must remember that the United States doesn't have a patent on "progress." Innovation and technology belong to those who act. And advantage in warfighting goes to the nation -- or in the case of the current world environment, possibly to that rogue group -- that figures out how to use that technology best to advance their cause.

The increasing proliferation of advanced surface-to-air missile systems threatens our ability to gain and maintain air superiority. Man-portable surface-to-air missiles have proliferated extensively and tactical ballistic missile and cruise missile technology is spreading. An advanced fighter has already been produced -- specifically, the Russian SU-37 -- that is superior to our best fighters. Our reliance on and the threats to our information, communication and computing systems are increasing, and the trend shows no sign of reversing. The proverbial "first shot" of space warfare has been fired with the introduction of GPS jammers, a capability specifically designed -- albeit unsuccessfully -- to neutralize our precision-strike systems. As we grow increasingly dependent on space, we can expect a comparable increase in counter-space threats.

We are now facing the undeniable reality that other nations are investing in advanced American military technologies and fielding the best our aerospace industry has to offer in their Air Forces. While the investment of our good friends and allies is of great value to our alliances and industrial base, superior capabilities are now, or shortly will be, present in American-produced airplanes that don't fly the American flag.

Who has the best air battle management platform? -- Japan. Since 1998, Japan has been operating an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) with comparable radar capabilities to ours, but on a Boeing 767 platform, a more reliable and capable airframe than the quarter of a century old 707 platform we use for our AWACS.

Until we field the F/A-22, who will have the best twin-engine multi-role fighter? -- The Republic of Korea. The F-15K, produced by Boeing for the Republic of Korea Air Force, has an advanced radar, an advanced passive infrared search and targeting system, anti-jam GPS navigation, and an advanced avionics display suite that is night vision goggle-compatible -- capabilities that are absent in our most advanced multi-role fighter, the F-15E.

In the near future, who will have the best single-engine fighter in the world? -- The United Arab Emirates. The 80 Block 60 F-16s we start delivering in 2004 employ an Active Electronically Scanned Array radar, an advanced targeting pod, an advanced electronics weapons suite, and will be powered by one of the best jet engines being built today -- the F110-GE-129. Our F-16 pilots do not have these advances. Nor do they have the remarkable avionics advantages being deployed in new F-16s to be delivered to Israel, Greece, Oman, Singapore, Chile and Poland.

This concerns me. And it should concern anyone who cares about giving the best our nation has to offer to the men and women of our armed forces. This is not an argument against foreign military sales. It is fundamentally, a continuing recognition of the need to recapitalize our own aging fleet of aircraft. It is time for us to reverse this trend, to make a renewed commitment to investing in the best technology our aerospace industry has to offer for our armed forces, and to streamline our acquisition processes to match the dramatically shorter time lines foreign buyers enjoy when they fund and buy American.

While other nations are modernizing, we continue to employ aging systems that are becoming more difficult to operate and more expensive to maintain. The average age of the operational Air Force fleet is 23 years. Even with planned aircraft procurements, the total fleet average age is expected to increase to 27 years by the year 2020. And while average age communicates an aggregate picture, in some major design systems, such as the KC-135, some aircraft are approaching 45 years of service.

The tyranny of age has birthed the long-promised "modernization death spiral." We are now migrating dollars from "Procurement" to "Operations and Maintenance" accounts to sustain our aging fleets. For example, in 1997, the direct cost of corrosion maintenance for all USAF aircraft was $795 million. Today, we estimate it will cost over $1 billion a year, despite a 5 percent reduction in aircraft inventory over the same period.

The KC-135 is one of our more serious concerns. In the last decade, mission capable rates are down 16 percent, programmed depot maintenance costs tripled, depot work packages doubled, and flow days more than doubled, primarily due to the challenges posed by aircraft aging.

Other systems face significant challenges as well. Our F-15Cs have suffered catastrophic vertical stabilator failures, forcing us to limit the operational flight envelope for our front-line air superiority fighter. Two-thirds of our entire F-15C fleet now average over 21 years and the stresses on that airframe will only increase. Corrosion is now causing major cracks to the oldest F-15s, and at Kadena AB in Japan, they have been forced to replace five wings in the past seven months.

Our maintainers are doing great work keeping the fleets flying, and we've made a significant investment in spares, repairs and modifications. But all of this involves time, energy and funds we should be investing in our future, not in our past.

We've already seen how much cheaper it is to operate the C-17 over the C-141 and C-5. The F/A-22 promises to be 25-30 percent less expensive to operate than the F-15 right from the start. We must retire some of our aging aircraft and we must deliver new systems more rapidly.

The difficulties posed by aging systems are felt in our space operations community as well. We face degrading on-orbit capabilities and a generation of aging systems that must be replaced soon.

We've begun to address some of these recapitalization challenges by looking for innovative ways of delivering capability. Our plan to retire 68 KC-135E's and our proposal to lease 100 new 767 tankers are examples of this innovation, at least as we see it. The capability contributed by the E-model tanker is becoming too expensive to justify. The E-model's offload capability is only 84 percent of the R-model and they spend almost twice as much time in depot. Retiring 68 of these aged aircraft allows us to avoid costly repairs and reinvest the savings in the remaining fleet.

Our tanker lease proposal will further mitigate these retirements and deliver essential capability sooner than a traditional aircraft buy. The lease would secure 100 new, FAA-certified, commercial-based air refueling aircraft. Secretary (of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld has agreed that our initiative makes sense, operationally and for the American taxpayer, so we'll submit the program to OMB (Office of Management and Budget) and then the Congress. I should point out, that under the lease option we'll have 67 new KC-767 tankers in the fleet and operating before we could deliver a first purchased airplane.

In addition to these plans, I'm proud to report that our plans include sustained and stable production of several new weapons systems. We maximized -- and stabilized -- production of the C-17 at 15 aircraft per year. This creates sufficient efficiencies in the production of the airplane to enable Boeing to enter the commercial sales market for the C-17 without degrading the ability of the industry to deliver capability we need in the Air Force. The previous lack of stability in this program taught us all an important, yet costly lesson. Had we maintained a set production goal of 210 for this aircraft from the beginning -- vice the fluctuations that saw its near elimination before returning to the figure of 180 airplanes -- we could have saved the taxpayers nearly $10 billion dollars.

Stable production in the F/A-22 program is also starting to produce cost savings. Last month, we exercised an option with Lockheed Martin adding one F/A-22 aircraft to the Lot 3 contact, increasing our buy to 21 airplanes for the price of 20! So how did we do this? This is a direct result of our "Buy to Budget" acquisition strategy. Bottom line: our budget is fixed, if we free up resources through efficiencies in the program, we can use those dollars to buy more planes. In this case, funds became available, in part through gains in supplier confidence, which in turn, led to reduced supplier cost quotes. This kind of supplier confidence is the direct result of stability in the program. When we mess with the program, confidence goes down, suppliers want their investment up front, and the reduced confidence translates to increased costs.

What we fail to appreciate too often in government -- despite the best intentions of many government officials and military officers -- is that industry won't build products at a loss. When I was at Northrop Grumman and found myself in the position of manufacturing sonobuoy batteries for 85 cents on the dollar, I approached the government to adjust the price so we wouldn't lose money. When the Navy told me they weren't going to pay my price, I shut down the operation.

If we aren't careful in our relations with the defense industry, we'll again find ourselves in the situation we experienced in the inter-war period when some in the government who knew little were convinced that the failures of American aviation in World War I resulted from an antitrust conspiracy and profit gouging by U.S. firms.

In the 1920s, the War Department resented aviation's growing shares of military budgets. As hostility toward the aviation industry in Congress continued in the 1930s, the air transport and aircraft industry became the focal point for antitrust resentment. As a result, during these two decades, the government followed a number of polices that damaged our nation's readiness and warfighting ability in World War II.

In the interwar period, the government's policies effectively sought to prevent firms from being profitable. In 1926, the Army Air Corps stipulated that all new designs would be surrendered to the government at no price beyond the prototype price agreed to by contract. In 1931, the Navy did the same thing. In 1925, the Comptroller General of Congress found that no proprietary right existed for aircraft designs. As you would expect, the negative effect on the industry was staggering.

From 1926 to 1933, airframe manufacturers made only "point .2 percent" profit on cost from combined military and commercial sales. In Air Corps contracts, firms suffered an average loss of 50 percent on experimental work. In 1933, the Navy proudly reported that contractors operated at substantial losses, losing 34 percent on design and development in a six-year period. And it got worse in 1936 when Admiral Moffet revealed that manufacturers lost an average of 71 percent on development contracts. The Lockheed brothers went bankrupt, as did Josh Northrop.

Prior to the late 1930's, the military implemented policies that discouraged research and took the view that they were not responsible for understanding or managing the industrial base. For more than twenty years, price and performance received more consideration than the health of the industry, and the attitude that the buyer is not responsible for production, first expressed during World War I, prevailed until 1939. As World War II approached, military-industrial relations had been so restricted and adversarial, that no institutional base existed for interaction with the industry. Consultation on business matters was rare and considered generally to be illegal and immoral. As a result, many firms lost money over extended periods of time, and even left the business. Martin, disgusted with sales to the Army in 1919, declined to deal with the Army until 1931. Boeing refused Navy work in the late 1930s, its executives critical of demands by the Navy to audit both their commercial as well as military work.

With these domestic constraints, foreign sales became essential to the American aircraft industry during the 1930s. The manufacturers of that era reported that foreign sales provided two-thirds of their development costs in the 1930s. By the way, in the 1990's, one third of all of my defense electronics sales were to foreign customers.

Thus, at the beginning of World War II, the U.S. inventory of combat aircraft -- especially fighter/attack aircraft -- was not the state of the art -- and in some cases was much inferior to the enemy. By the late 1930s, U.S. research facilities were in many respects inferior to those available to European powers and only American heavy bombers and transports were at the state-of-the-art in comparison to other nations, thanks to Boeing's persistence in the large airplane field. Even in May 1940, with Europe on the brink of collapse, aircraft manufacturers showed increasing reluctance and in some case downright refusal to sign production contracts. They feared being forced into bankruptcy if required contractually to deliver performance on experimental designs that the military wanted to move directly into production, and they were still being asked to surrender proprietary information. By the way, Hap Arnold was instrumental in fixing their problem. He demanded, for example, that the companies be allowed to make profit on research, development and prototypes.

As we pursue innovation, efficiencies and the "best price" in today's market place -- whether on our next generation fighter-bombers, future versions of command and control aircraft, or on tanker aircraft -- we would be well served to remember these lessons. We cannot constrain manufacturers to the point that the aerospace business is not profitable. We must not discourage research and development by companies seeking to advance technology. We must never forget that government has an obligation to help sustain the health of the industry and that a constructive, open dialogue builds trust, cooperation, and, ultimately combat capability. Or, we need to make an unfortunate strategic decision not to regulate what technology and intellectual property are sold abroad! And, I don't want to do that!

We should ensure that it is our government to whom the industry finds it is most loyal. Our firms should be producing the best America has to offer for the brave men and women of our armed forces, and we should be manufacturing state of the art capability as fast or faster for our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps as we do for our allies.

    • Prescription for the Future: Focus on Strengths

As we think about the challenges we face as a nation, our focus should be on those enduring sources of strength that give us the advantages we enjoy today -- in warfighting, technology, biomedical capabilities, in space, and economics, among many others. There is a growing body of thought that our defense strategy -- absent a peer competitor -- should be based on understanding and exploiting our inherent strengths; a strategy predicated on the idea that if we accurately assess our own strengths, we can invest in these and enjoy high rates of return and develop portfolios of competencies that will help us to exploit our own asymmetric advantages for the future.

In the Air Force, we share this view. Further, we have consistently used this approach throughout our comparatively short, but distinguished history. We are the best at what we do because of our focus on our core competencies developing professional airmen, bringing technology to bear in combat, and integrating our people and our systems together in new and innovative ways. These core competencies are the source of our enduring strength.

General Jumper and I remain focused on learning the lessons from the recent conflict and preparing for a future of uncertainty and asymmetry. We are working hard to balance near-term readiness and operational demands with long-term transformation. We must, and will, continue to fight the global war on terrorism while simultaneously adjusting to this new era -- otherwise we may be forced to pay later -- in dollars and perhaps even in lives.

It is an exciting time to be in our Air Force. We are engaged in developing new strategies and new concepts of operation to meet an entirely different set of challenges and vulnerabilities. Technology is creating dynamic advances in information systems, communications, and weapon systems, enabling us to understand the enemy, deploy forces, and deliver more precise effects faster than ever before. Our airmen are more educated, more motivated, and better trained and equipped than any time in our past, making service today as rewarding as at any other time in our history.

In 1940, during the height of his nation's struggle for survival, Winston Churchill proclaimed to his war cabinet that the supreme effort of the nation must be "to gain overwhelming mastery of the air." With this brief but prescient comment, he foretold of the strength such mastery would deliver to that nation which controlled the high ground of air and space. He didn't succeed as he had wished, especially in the case of the Royal Navy. It simply was too late to overcome the poor decision-making of the earlier year. Just as we will promote our nation's strengths to guarantee our national security, in the Air Force, we will seek to build on our mastery of air and space, for the benefit of our nation and our nation's interests around the globe.

Thanks again for taking the time to participate in our National Security Forum and for making our Golden Anniversary event a great success. Thank you. I'd be happy to take your questions.

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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).