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Moseley: Future of the Air Force

by Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle
Air Force Print News

9/15/2005 - WASHINGTON -- To determine the way ahead, one must understand the heritage and history of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said during his keynote address on the future of the Air Force at the Air Force Association’s 2005 Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 14.

In World War I, the Allies were faced with breaking the German lines near the city of St. Mihiel. The Germans were entrenched and fortified, and it was up to Col. Billy Mitchell to plan the air offensive.

Looking at the plan and execution, it is very similar to the tactics the Air Force uses today to gain air superiority.

"First, (Colonel Mitchell) built a series of expeditionary airfields that had repair hangars, billeting, and messing facilities," General Moseley said. "He then stocked them with fuel and munitions. For the opening shot he sent his fighters deep into German airspace to directly attack the German air force. This cleared the way for the bombardment squadrons to directly attack German headquarters, troop concentrations, staging areas, transportation infrastructure, and airfields."

During his address, the general cited many of the founding fathers of air power as laying the foundation for today's future.

"What (Colonel Mitchell) and these early, intrepid Airmen demonstrated in those frail (World War I) aircraft … how they began to think and organize … how they forever changed warfare -- they have given us a sense of perspective and a way to understand our future," he said.

Also, in understanding the future course for the Air Force, there are current challenges that must be met.

General Moseley cited three challenges the Air Force must tackle: focus on fighting the war on terrorism, continue to develop Airmen and recapitalize and modernize the inventory.

The Air Force has been involved in the war on terrorism for more than 1,400 days. After such a long time, as with most tasks, an air of complacency can set in, he said.

"Let me be clear: We cannot now, nor ever, lose sight of the fact that the mission of the United States Air Force is to fly and to fight," General Moseley said. "We fly and we fight … that's what we do."

It is the Airmen who fly and fight, and training those Airmen is an Air Force priority.

"We clearly have the best people in the world," he said. "If we are going to ask our Airmen to defend this nation, then we owe it to them to give them the best opportunities for career development … and give them the best possible standard of living and the best possible training."

The general said the Air Force must continue to make the training more realistic and find the right mix of joint, coalition and composite force training.

For the Air Force to train and fight, it has to have the proper equipment to ensure mission success.

"Old equipment is not a new problem," General Moseley said. "We are operating the oldest inventory of aircraft in our history."

The average age of the fleet has gone from 8 1/2 years old in 1967 to an average of 23 1/2 years old today, he said.

General Moseley commented on the way ahead for the Air Force and the four points that will drive its future.

-- The future total force must be not only adaptable to today's fight, but also tomorrow's fight and equally adaptable to unknown applications.

-- It must be seamless among the active duty, Guard and Reserve components.

-- It must operate in a joint environment; not only in what is purchased, but also in the way we fight, talk and think.

-- It must be affordable.

"To meet these challenges though, we must continue to look for better ways to operationally exploit the air and space domain," the general said.

General Moseley also spoke of the innovativeness and execution the early pioneers of the Air Force used to overcome obstacles in their path.

"The pioneers have given us a proud combat heritage, a heritage that speaks to us today," he said. "Their work, their ideas, and their courage propel us toward an unlimited horizon of opportunity which is the birthright of your Air Force.

"So when someone asks you what the Air Force will be doing in the future, tell them this: We will do what we have always done," he said. "We will stand on the shoulders of giants. We will take care of each other and every member of this great fighting force. We will innovate. And … we will fly … we will fight … and we will win."

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