ORLANDO, Florida — Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III outlined Air Force operations from 2015, the service’s plan for 2016, and what is to come in the future at the Air Force Association’s Air Warfare Symposium Feb. 25.
“We moved 350,000 tons of cargo last year, roughly. We also moved about a million passengers. Our mobility pros, along with the great aeromedical team, moved about 4,300 wounded warriors and other patients around the globe last year to (get) care they needed,” Welsh stated. “We have Airmen of all shapes, sizes, types and mission areas who are following the trail of terror that (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) leaves and every time they identify footprints, they make sure the person who left them doesn’t have the opportunity to walk that trail again. It’s a slow, steady drumbeat of professional performers that make a difference over time.”
There are roughly 22,000 Airmen deployed around the globe every day, Welsh said. The Air Force flew about 1.7 million hours last year, which is 195 years of flying, 300,000 of those being combat hours.
“This is an incredible enterprise folks, and it just never stops operating, all the time,” Welsh said. “It’s a thrill to be a part of this, and the Airmen who are making it happen are sitting amongst you out there.”
Welsh listed a number of areas the Air Force must focus on in order for the service to continue its airpower superiority: nuclear infrastructure and aircraft modernization, remotely piloted aircraft enterprise health, total force readiness, and Airmen.
“(It’s important) to make sure that these great, great young Americans believe that what they do is important, that we do everything we can to improve the environment they work in day to day, to make them feel like they are valued contributors, like their decisions make a difference,” Welsh said about Airmen in RPA operations. “We have a manpower issue in our Air Force and the secretary has made it her number one focus this year during the budget cycle. Right now, let’s fix where we know we are broken, stabilize, then figure out how to start filling in the holes in our Air Force that have been created by standing up new enterprises while we drew down the Air Force as a whole.
“Total force size matters … readiness matters,” Welsh continued. “The less ready they are, the more risky it will be for them to respond, meaning the conflict will last longer and we will count risk in terms of lives lost; that’s not acceptable. So everything we can be doing to improve readiness, we need to be doing.”
Welsh finished his speech by recognizing several Airmen and members of industry for their hard work in making the Air Force great.
Master Sgt. Gareth Davis, the 21st Comptroller Squadron Financial Services flight chief at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, said it was extremely humbling to share his story with the chief of staff and those attending the symposium.
“If you believe in our core values, then live our core values; if you believe in our Airman’s Creed, then live the Airman’s Creed,” he said. “Live your life worthy of what you say you believe.”
Welsh emphasized the importance for the Air Force to go “back to the basics” and outlined 10 fundamentals for Airmen to think about:
1. People matter
2. High ground is still high ground, and we own it
3. Airpower is our greatest asymmetric advantage
4. Airpower is a game changer … it’s time for Airmen to lead joint operations
5. Quantity has a quality all its own
6. The Air Force is “low density/high demand,” and without it you lose
7. “One Air Force,” it’s the only way we’ll succeed
8. Can’t build an Air Force overnight, can’t teach Airpower in a generation
9. Leadership must be an asymmetric advantage
10. Technology/innovation at the heart of success — air forces that fall behind the tech curve fail!