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Leaders focus on Air Force priorities at Corona South

2/15/2007 - WASHINGTON (AFNEWS) -- The secretary of the Air Force, the Air Force chief of staff and other key service leaders met for Corona South to discuss key strategic issues, priorities and initiatives of the Air Force Feb. 12 to 14 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

Michael W. Wynne and Gen. T. Michael Moseley led the meeting, with one of the highlights being a video teleconference with Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives. 

Speaker Gingrich discussed the geo-strategic environment Airmen operate in across the globe and the security challenges that will face the nation and its armed forces in the years to come.

"The development of American national security is complicated by the reality that there are four major challenges which have to be met simultaneously," Speaker Gingrich said. The challenges include "leading and sustaining the existing world system; coping with the enormous increases in scientific knowledge compounded by the economic competition caused by the rise of China and India; defeating the threat inherent in an age of nuclear and biological weapons when our enemies are collaborating to create weapons and strategies fully as dangerous as any used by our opponents in World War II or the Cold War." The fourth challenge is "creating an effective homeland security system capable of coping with the possibility that nuclear and biological weapons could do devastating damage in lives lost, economic destruction and loss of our freedoms."

Speaker Gingrich also discussed the future strategic landscape Airmen will confront in the war on terrorism -- a world that will require an agile, capable and modern expeditionary force.

H. Ross Perot Jr., a former Air Force pilot, businessman and chairman of the U.S. Air Force Memorial Foundation, joined the conference to give a presentation on global economic and business trends and how they affect the security situation.

"For the first time in a long while, all the major economies in the world are on line," he said as he surveyed an encouraging global economic landscape. At the same time, he acknowledged the challenges the Air Force faces as it operates in a fiscally constrained domestic environment.

With the 16th year of continuous operations in Southwest Asia, all conferees stressed the need to effectively communicate to the nation and its leaders the need to recapitalize and modernize the Air Force even if it means dedicating a higher percentage of America's gross domestic product.

With warfighting as our Air Force's No. 1 priority, conferees received a "report card" from Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, the commander of 9th Air Force and Central Command Air Forces. General North discussed the air component's critical role in the war on terrorism, but highlighted the need to modernize the aging tanker force critical to joint air operations in the area of responsibility, which encompasses nearly 6,000 miles.

General North also emphasized the degree of air, space and cyberspace integration that occurs every day in the AOR.

Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, deputy chief of staff for Intelligence, discussed the major reorganization coming within the Air Force intelligence community. The general laid out the Air Force plan for overhauling the service's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance functions.

"I want to manage ISR from a capabilities-based perspective," he said. "Organizationally, I want to treat Air Force intelligence as an Air Force-wide enterprise. And personnel-wise, we need to reconstruct our bench of Air Force senior intelligence officers so we can viably compete for joint and interagency positions."

The general said he hopes to create more intelligence officers who rise to the rank of general officer, so they could play a larger part in the greater joint and U.S. intelligence community.

Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, deputy chief of staff for Manpower and Personnel, discussed, among other things, the Air Force Combat Action Medal and the implications of potential Army and Marine Corps growth for Airmen. He also discussed how the Air Force is working to reinvigorate all levels of professional military education and development with the warfighting ethos that is part of the Air Force's proud heritage.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley discussed varying ways that senior leadership communicates with Airmen, including such tools as the "CSAF Vector," the "Enlisted Perspective" and the secretary of the Air Force's "Letter to Airmen."

New on that list is the weekly "Roll Call," a document meant to be printed out and read aloud to Airmen by their supervisors, Chief McKinley said.

"Nothing beats face-to-face communication," he said. "Roll Call is not something Airmen read off a computer screen or in a newspaper. It is something delivered by their own supervisors -- people they know, trust and work with -- and something that can be tailored, if needed, for local situations. Roll Call is a way for those in the highest level of our Air Force to get their important messages delivered straight to Airmen."

The state of the U.S. Air Force Academy is strong, reported Lt. Gen. John E. Regni, the academy superintendent. The academy ranks among the nation's top universities in several academic disciplines. Academy graduates continue to make a significant impact across our Air Force in air, space and cyberspace.

However, General Regni highlighted the need to fully staff the academy with qualified professors in several academic arenas, as well as with the right mix of Air Force officers to educate and train cadets.

The Corona event is held three times a year at different locations. Corona South features major command commanders and all four-star generals held annually at Maxwell AFB. Corona Top adds numbered Air Force commanders and center commanders to the mix; that conference is held annually at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Corona Fall includes A-Staff directors and deputy chiefs of staff, as well as key civilian staff; that conference is held annually at the academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

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