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Preserving our Edge
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.