Air and Space Power -- Extending the Nation's Strategic Advantage
James G. Roche, secretary of the Air Force
Keynote address to the Air Force Association National Convention,
Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2003
and gentlemen, distinguished guests, I am thrilled to stand
before you today at the Air Force Association's National Convention
and to share the dais with great leaders such as Secretary
(of Transportation) Norman Mineta and our featured speaker
later this morning, the Vice President of the United States,
Dick Cheney. They both are public servants in the noblest sense
of the term, and each is a good friend of the U. S. Air Force.
We are fortunate that they are taking the time to join us,
given their very hectic schedules.
me also offer my thanks and congratulations to the assembled
leadership of the Air Force Association. This is always a highlight
of the Air Force year, and it takes an awful lot of sweat equity
to make it happen. From your recognition of our outstanding
airmen and teams to the thoughtful symposia you've sponsored,
the AFA's charter to increase public understanding of air and
space power is invaluable to those of us on "active duty" in
the Pentagon and throughout the Air Force. Thank you for your
strong advocacy of our efforts to recapitalize and modernize
our force. You inform, you advocate, and through the Aerospace
Education Foundation, you help to educate and inspire the next
generation of aerospace pioneers.
important, I offer my sincere thanks for your support of our
airmen and their families. The active, guard, reserve and civilian
airmen who populate our Total Force team are buoyed by your
tireless efforts. Through your work, they understand the issues
of the day, and have gained an appreciation of our storied
traditions and heritage. For all these reasons, and for your
sponsorship of this historic gathering of international leaders,
I offer my sincere congratulations.
want to pass on a very special welcome to the Global Air Chiefs,
the representatives of many nations around the world with whom
we fly, and from whom we always learn a great deal. We've been
honored to welcome you to our nation's capitol this week and
to open the doors of this great city to you and your spouses.
General John Jumper even scheduled a hurricane for you, just
to heighten the excitement of the week.
we celebrate the achievements of the past year, we recognize
that there is a common language of airmen and a bond that transcends
our nation's borders. The world is shrinking through the power
of ideas and our shared values. Just as the dreams of two bicycle-makers
launched us into a century of innovation and exploration, the
air forces of our nations will continue their vision into the
next century, and will be an instrument to spread the promise
of freedom. So, again, I thank you for being with us this week.
year ago today, I addressed this audience just after the first
anniversary of the events of Sept. 11. Last year, our airmen
were diligently patrolling the skies of Northern and Southern
Iraq -- on watch to catch an occasional Iraqi MiG crossing
the boundary into the U.N.-mandated no-fly zones. Our airmen
were stationed en masse at Incirlik and Prince Sultan Air Bases.
We were aggressively developing intelligence on Al Qaeda around
the globe and hunting their leadership. And last year, when
I spoke, we were proudly reporting on the results of our first
offensive battle in the global war on terrorism, the Battle
months later, our nation would again engage in another major
combat operation. More than 50,000 airmen would deploy to expeditionary
bases throughout Southwest Asia. That we would fly over 70,000
strike, reconnaissance, and mobility sorties in conflict. By
the way, of those, 10,000 were tanker sorties and 43,000 were
cargo sorties. And, our footprint around the world would evolve
substantially, with new bases and renewed relationships growing
in importance. Our Air Force has proven remarkably flexible
in adapting to these new demands. That is a testament to our
expeditionary operating concepts, as well as the airmen who
have adopted this mindset as the norm rather than the exception.
have heard many leaders this week discuss the successes in
Iraq. You've recalled how our joint and coalition air and space
forces blanketed the entire region with an umbrella of air
dominance, enabling maritime forces and the ground component
to operate without fear of attack from the sky. You've heard
stories of the airmen who -- in the tradition of Doolittle's
raiders -- developed new B-1 bomber tactics and brought precision
firepower to bear against Iraqi leadership targets in minutes.
We've celebrated the flexibility of airpower and the capability
of our global mobility forces to adapt to the exigencies of
coalition operations and conduct the largest combat airborne
insertion of forces since D-Day at Normandy.
AFA this week, we've saluted the airmen who have demonstrated
the precision, flexibility, and speed of air and space power.
They reflect the humanity and discipline of our airmen, their
commitment to coalition operations, and above all, their courage
foundation of our success can be found in two simple concepts:
teamwork and trust. This was a truly joint and coalition warfighting
effort from planning to execution. Air, ground, maritime and
space forces working together -- at the same time for the same
objective -- not merely staying out of each other's way --
but orchestrated to produce a decisive outcome. And when our
ground forces engaged with the enemy, they trusted that our
airmen would be there -- either in advance of their attacks,
or in support of their assaults. And we were there.
will judge how well we sustain these accomplishments. We can
feel good about the accomplishments of our colleagues, but
we can't be complacent. There are still many areas where we
need to improve.
General "Buzz" Moseley
(Air Force Vice Chief of Staff) has been quite vocal in his
concerns over the responsiveness of the Battle Damage Assessment
process, and how traditional concepts of BDA need to be reevaluated
in the current era. General Jumper made this same point yesterday.
And, based on researching the Bomber Study of World War II,
I also have argued this point since the late 1980s. We need
to make this system as dynamic and responsive as our ability
to strike; anything less undermines the inherent deterring
and compelling effects airpower brings to our warfighting team.
also can be proud of how space was integrated into the fight.
The designation of a Space Coordinating Authority was a success
and proved invaluable. We now need to accurately analyze
the lessons we learned from this effort, and then codify
those roles into our doctrine. We need to make sure we have
the right staffing in the Combined Air Operations Center
to support space missions, such as space control. And we
need a space Common Operating Picture; not a series of PowerPoint
slides representing one.
great concern to me was our difficulty in detecting and defending
against air breathing land attack missiles. I've spoken and
written of the emerging cruise missile threat for two decades.
Iraqis killed seventeen U.S. sailors in 1987 with air launched,
anti-ship, cruise missiles. Sixteen years later, we witnessed
the Iraqis shoot six Seersucker missiles -- modified Chinese
anti-ship Silkworms -- into Kuwait. The cruise missile threat
is one that we must be prepared to meet in the future. It is
one of the reasons that General Jumper and I have modified
the F-22 program into the F/A-22 program.
as John has pointed out many times, we need to ensure our air
and space systems are talking to each other so we can integrate
information at the machine-to-machine level and produce high-fidelity
intelligence that results in a cursor over the target. Currently,
we have too many obstacles and cultures in the way of achieving
we need to focus much more -- and now -- on what we can do
to help our American and allied troops on patrol in Iraq, day
after day, and night after night -- standing or going into
harm's way. There are troopers, standing, riding, or walking
into harm's way as we meet today. With all our brains, with
all our technology, what are we doing to ensure that each soldier
or Marine finishes his or her patrol or duty safely? What are
we doing in this phase of the war to watch the "six" of
those on the ground? Where is the Predictive Battlespace Analysis
for that patrol? And, we must keep in mind that our ground
component partners are not the only ones in harm's way -- Air
Force airmen are running convoys from air bases in Iraq to
Baghdad and they are patrolling outside the perimeters of our
bases. They face the same dangers as our allied, Marine and
Army brethren. Together, they are the cutting edge of our coalition's
military power in Iraq today.
as we have drawn these combat lessons, there are powerful lessons
that we must draw from the events and trends of the past four
have witnessed major bombings, not of coalition targets in
Iraq, but against those whose principal objectives are the
introduction of institutions and values that support a free
Iraq. The carnage of the bombings against the United Nation's
headquarters in Baghdad and the holy temple in Najaf confirm
the persistent threat posed by those who oppose freedom and
tolerance. The rising insurrectional alliance between radical
Islamic groups and the Baathists will prove to be yet another
front in our war on terror. The reemergence of the Taliban
in Afghanistan -- albeit small -- and its politics of assassination,
and the expanding presence of terror groups in Morocco, Yemen,
Indonesia, and other locales, remain a persistent threat to
the values we all cherish.
imperatives demand our action. They demonstrate beyond any
doubt the truth of President Bush's oft-stated belief that
this will be a long fight. To prevail, we must stay the course.
Our enemies will test our collective commitment. We must bolster
the resolve of our citizens, and those nations around the globe
that share our love of freedom. And we must continue to invest
in the capabilities that will allow us to prevail in conflict,
whether in major conventional war or the asymmetric battles
we increasingly face these days.
is why in the Department we are committed to pursuing innovations,
capabilities, and adaptations that will help us win the fights
of today and tomorrow. As airmen, we have been evolving rapidly
since the first Gulf War -- with the sole objective of improving
our ability to generate overwhelming and strategically compelling
effects from air and space. It is our heritage to adapt and
we will continue to do so.
will continue to pursue innovative strategies and evolve our
doctrine to capture the best practices that work in today's
asymmetric world. The use for the first time of the Air Component
Coordination Element, led by Lieutenant General Dan Leaf (now
Vice Commander, Air Force Space Command), was an idea that
grew from the lessons learned in Operation Enduring Freedom.
As I have mentioned many times, our air and ground components
worked together marvelously, and in the tradition of Arnold
and Patton, used the combination of our capabilities to great
effect on the battlefield.
instance, agile organizations help us prevail against new enemies.
Task Force 20, the joint Special Forces team that won the battle
for Western Iraq, and the 86th Contingency Response Group,
the Air Force team that was first in to Kyrgyzstan and jumped
into northern Iraq, are the kinds of teams we have in mind.
We must shift from threat- and platform-centric thinking to
capabilities and effects-based thinking.
Challenge -- Sustaining our Dominance
we are making progress in adapting the armed forces and our
Air Force to these new challenges, we can do better. We must
remember that we do not have a patent on "progress." Progress
and technology belong to those who act. And advantage in warfighting
goes to the nation -- or in the case of the current world environment,
to the rogue group -- that figures out how to best use that
technology to advance their cause.
increasing proliferation of advanced surface-to-air missile
systems will threaten our ability to gain and maintain air
dominance. Man-portable surface-to-air missiles have proliferated
extensively and tactical ballistic missile technology is spreading.
An advanced fighter has already been produced that is superior
to our best current-generation, legacy fighters. But, not better
than the F/A-22. The threats to our information, communication,
and computing systems are increasing. And, there are instances
where our industrial capacity is being leveraged much more
by other nations and not for the benefit of our soldiers, sailors,
airmen and Marines.
is why Secretary Rumsfeld is so intent on continuing to transform
our armed forces. In the Air Force, we will continue to pursue
innovations that create new capabilities from legacy systems
-- the addition of targeting pods on B-52s, the integration
of real-time video from Predators to our AC-130 gunships and
to Special Operators on the ground, and our recent adaptation
of the B-2 bomber that General Jumper announced yesterday --
80 GPS-guided weapons dropped from a single B-2. And every
weapon hit within 40 feet of its intended target, from over
35,000 feet and 10 miles away, taking less time to target them
than the usual eight hours for 16 JDAMs through machine-to-machine
target data transfer.
of you I'm sure recall the impressive post-strike imagery of
Serbian airfields in Operation Allied Force that were rendered
unusable due to multiple precise strikes from a single B-2
bomber using a unique forerunner to the JDAM. The B-2 now gives
us the capability to hold hostage five times the number of
targets from a single airplane, and while reducing collateral
damage risks by employing a 500-pound weapon instead of one
that is 2,000-pounds.
our acquisition world, we are making progress as well in getting
stability in our programs. We have stabilized production of
the C-17, buying 60 airplanes for the previous cost of 56.
production in the F/A-22 program is also starting to produce
cost savings. Earlier this year we exercised an option with
Lockheed Martin adding one F/A-22 aircraft to the Lot 3 contact,
increasing our buy to 21 airplanes - for the price of 20! We
were able to make this happen through gains in supplier confidence,
which led to reduced costs. With 65 percent of aircraft costs
associated with over 1,400 suppliers in 46 states, a firm commitment
to program stability is absolutely essential to create conditions
where suppliers view efficiency gains as a path to increased
even as we manage the transition-to-production challenges of
the F/A-22, we continue to adapt the Raptor to the era in which
we find ourselves. General Jumper and I announced the new designation
of the system at last year's AFA convention, and some folks
commented at the time that it was all marketing fluff. Well,
ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you that those people were
about as accurate as the combat dispatches of Baghdad Bob at
the Iraqi Information Ministry.
F/A-22 has changed in a major way. With its suite of avionics,
the development of new weapons, and an enhanced Active Electronically
Scanned Array radar, we are transforming the world's greatest
air dominance fighter into the world's supreme multi-role attack
system, one that is nearly invisible to the enemy, and one
able to hold hostage virtually any target -- no matter how
heavily defended, no matter how deep in enemy territory. It
will be the only system especially effective against mobile
targets and land attack cruise missiles, due primarily to supercruise.
And let me echo the comments of General Jumper from yesterday:
the F/A-22 is a capability that is moving to the field now.
The last of eight operational test aircraft arrived at Nellis
(Air Force Base, Nev.) just two weeks ago, we've had seven
in the air at the same time, and the first pilot training aircraft
will be delivered to Tyndall (AFB, Fla.) later this month.
are now focusing on preparations for successful operational
test -- albeit with new but expected problems -- expanding
the flight envelope, integrating weapons, and improving our
maintenance processes. Our avionics and software stability
are improving significantly as well. We remain confident that
when this aircraft transitions is fielded in numbers, and the
combatant commanders learn of its incredible capabilities,
we will produce as many as we need to ensure our nation's continued
security. But that is a decision for the future.
are only a few examples of how we are adapting. From remotely
piloted aircraft and the future E-10A battle management system
to our new CAOCs and Smart Tankers, we are transforming our
forces. It is what Secretary Rumsfeld challenged us to do --
and I'm proud to report that our uniformed, civilian and industry "airmen" are
making it happen.
a Portfolio of Advantages
we think about the challenges we face as a nation, our focus
should be on those enduring sources of strength that give us
the advantages we enjoy today -- in warfighting, technology,
biomedical capabilities, in space, and economics, among many
others. There is a growing body of thought that our defense
strategy -- absent a peer competitor -- should be based on
understanding and exploiting our inherent strengths; a strategy
predicated on the idea that if we accurately assess our own
comparative advantages and strengths, we can invest them to
yield high rates of military return. Over time, we can manage
portfolios of competencies that will help us to exploit our
own asymmetric advantages well into the future.
the Air Force, we share this view. Throughout our comparatively
short, but distinguished history -- a birthday we will celebrate
tomorrow -- we have remained the best at what we do because,
first and foremost, of our professional airmen, our investment
in warfighting technology, and our ability to integrate our
people and systems together in new and innovative ways. These
Air Force competencies are the foundation that will ensure
we are prepared for the unknown threats of an uncertain future.
They will ensure our joint forces continue to have the tools
they need to maintain a broad and sustained advantage over
any emerging adversaries. We must invest in education, training,
and leader development. We need to prepare every member of
our force -- officer, enlisted, and civilian -- with experience,
assignments, and broadening that will allow them to succeed
when we ask them to do the worthy work of our service. This
is even more important when our airmen interact in the joint
arena, whether as an Air Liaison Officer to a ground maneuver
element, or as a space advisor to the Joint Force Commander.
These competencies are the source of our enduring strength.
I came to the Air Force over two years ago, I said that I would
use as my measure of progress substantive improvements by the
Air Force leadership team in four principal categories: first,
in adapting strategy, doctrine, and concepts of operation appropriate
for a new era of threats to our nation's security. Second,
to fight the fights for capabilities, benefits, and improvements
that support our airmen, their families, and their ability
to accomplish our mission. Third, by gaining efficiencies in
how we do the business of the Air Force; and, finally, in taking
concrete measures to increase innovation in our industrial
believe we made substantial progress in meeting each of these
objectives, not only because of John Jumper and me but also
because of our broad leadership team across the Air Force.
But our work is not done, and whether or not I am confirmed
by the Senate and depart to serve as Secretary of the Army,
our wonderful Air Force must stay this course. If I do become
Secretary of the Army, you can all rest assured that I will
bring forward the great lessons and best practices I have learned
from so many airmen throughout the Air Force, and that I will
devote much of my energy to seeing the promise of air-ground
collaboration realized in ways that would make Generals Arnold
and Patton proud.
we join this week -- and later this year at Kitty Hawk -- to
celebrate the centennial anniversary of our powered ascent
into the skies, we more fully grasp the increasingly vital
role our Air Force plays in helping to defend our nation, assure
our friends and allies, and win our wars. And in terms of its
effect on society, commerce, and exploration, Bill Gates captured
the contributions of powered flight best when he said:
Wright Brothers created the single greatest cultural force
since the invention of writing."
a man and a company that has created another cultural force
of global magnitude, we all can be proud of what we do as airmen,
serving the cause of freedom.
to the Air Force Association for a great event, to the award
winners here today for your great achievements, and to every "airman" present
for your continuing contributions to this nation and the free
birthday to the United States Air Force, and may God bless
each and every one of you.