AF Chief: Joint Force in
Excellent Shape, But Needs Resources, Prioritization
By Jim Garamone, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. — (DoD
News) — June 15, 2016 — The joint force is in excellent shape, but leaders
must pay attention to it, Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, the Air Force chief
of staff, told the Defense Writers Group here today. Welsh – a member of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff – spoke to the group as one of his last public acts in
office. He retires later this month after 40 years in uniform.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III speaks with
airmen at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., May 9, 2016. The general is retiring
later this month and spoke about the joint force to the Defense Writers Group in
Washington, June 15, 2016.
But the general didn’t look back, and he said his service is well-placed to
counter future threats.
Transnational, Multidomain Threats
Welsh said he agrees with Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that transnational, multidomain threats
will be the hallmark of conflict in the future.
“Compared to any other service, the Air Force is already
operating transnationally and across domains today,” he said. “We cross a lot of
Aircraft, by their nature, are a transnational asset, he said,
noting that aircraft launching from the United States can cross a number of
combatant commands. The Air Force also does multidomain operations every day, he
The Navy is another service with this expertise in its DNA,
Welsh said. He noted the Navy is launching sorties from the Mediterranean Sea to
the Middle East, crossing the boundary from U.S. European Command into U.S.
Central Command’s area of operations.
“But what we need to do as a joint force is how do we bring
all that together,” he said. “The other services do the same thing -- we just do
it on a broader scale day to day. The American military is used to dealing with
transnational and multidomain conflict, the general said, but military leaders
need to make sure the command and control systems and sensor networks are
capable of connecting across all lines.
Prioritization of Planning, Resources
The Joint Chiefs are worried about prioritization of planning
and prioritization of resource assignment as they look at problems that straddle
geographic lines, Welsh told the writers.
“If you take Russia as an example, if someone asks, ‘What’s
the issue with Russia, and what’s our plan for action if the next Russian action
should occur?’ It’s not just U.S. European Command, which is where everybody
tends to look,” he said. “European Command is worried about any engagement with
Russia, but so is Central Command, so is Pacific Command, so is Strategic
Command, Northern Command – everybody is worried about it.”
The question then becomes how the military balances the
priority for planning and resources across all those lines. “The chairman really
has to be the one, along with the Joint Staff, to do that direction and
prioritization,” Welsh said. “That’s what General Dunford is talking about.”
Joint Force is Healthy
The joint force is really healthy, the general said -- able
to execute the strategy well and amazingly capable. “If you look at the results
of joint operations over time, they are pretty darn good,” he said. “There is no
one on Earth that’s as capable as the American military.”
The joint force has the same problem the Air Force has, the
general said. “We’re short on people in many areas,” he explained. “We need to
modernize. We just have got to realize that for the tasks we’ve been given,
there needs to be a certain level of resources assigned to it, or change the
The last is not something military leaders decide, Welsh said.
“If we decide that the United States is not going to be as
engaged and use its military as it has for the last 50 or 60 years, OK,” he said.
“Then we will tell you what the military needs to look like to do whatever the
nation wants us to be able to do. But you can’t expect to keep using us the way
we’ve been used over the last 50 years and cut the size of the force and limit
our ability to modernize it. That combination doesn’t work.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)
Related Biographies :
Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III