Goldfein: Optimistic about future of airpower
WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Equals part challenge and opportunity — that’s how Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein described as the current state of the Air Force March 10 during a Defense Programs Conference in Washington, D.C.
“As I stand here today, I could not be more optimistic about our future,” Goldfein said to the defense industry audience. “Your Air Force today is too small, too old, less ready and out of balance for the challenges that we as a nation are going to face for the next decade to two decades and what the Air Force brings to the joint team … but also, as I stand here today, we have unlimited opportunity right now.”
Most of America, he said, still remembers the Air Force of Operation Desert Storm. It was a time when there were 134 fighter squadrons across the total force from which the Air Force deployed 33 squadrons to execute operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Now there are only 55 fighter squadrons, he added. The Air Force has nearly 240,000 less total force Airmen than during those operations.
“Over the last 25 years the demand for airpower as the world has gotten more and more unstable has actually gone up,” Goldfein said. “So we have gotten smaller over time as the demand for what we bring to the joint fight has gone up … we are too small.”
Goldfein said the challenges of an aging fleet also effect Air Force readiness.
“When we went into Desert Storm, the average age of the aircraft was 17 years,” he said. “Today, the average age across the fleet of all of our aircraft is 27 years old.”
With the force getting smaller and equipment getting older, the challenges around the world have begun to take their toll. Readiness is one of the most difficult obstacles for the Air Force, he said, because the service has so many mission requirements.
“Our portfolio, of the four services, is clearly the broadest,” Goldfein said. “When we are asked, ‘what is the state of your readiness?’ It’s actually a complex answer because we really need to answer the question with a question…
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By Tech. Sgt. Bryan Franks, Secretary of the Air Force Command Information / Published March 14, 2016
Editor’s note: Master Sgt. Lesley Waters contributed to the article)