CSAF highlights Airmen contributions at AFA conference

By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

The second day of the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition featured Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III who thanked Airmen for their selfless contributions and discussed the future of the Air Force and airpower.

Welsh’s key focus areas for his briefing included winning the fight, strengthening the team and shaping the future. Each focus area also integrated with the Air Force’s five core missions – air and space superiority; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; rapid global mobility; global strike; and command and control.

“I just love our Airmen,” Welsh said. “Airman pride is what drives us to become even greater performers. We need to enable our Airmen to make decisions because they are remarkably capable.”

The Air Force chief of staff went on to showcase many Airmen – officers and enlisted – and thank them for their service, sacrifice and contributions to the mission. He was also candid about his feelings about the future of the Air Force.

“People ask me all the time if I’m worried about the future,” he said. “The answer is no. I’m excited about the future. It’s a great time to lead in our Air Force.”

Earlier in the day, Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke III, Air National Guard director, outlined the importance of integrating the Guard into the total force to keep them engaged in the nation’s national defense strategy.

“I’ll emphasize total force many times because I’m a true believer in it,” Clarke said. “The Air National Guard will continue to provide flexible and decisive airpower for America.”

Clarke also said the Guard needs to continue to meet the same standards and inspections as their total force counterparts. He emphasized the need for the Guard to stay operationally engaged and receive the appropriate amount of resources to accomplish their strategic missions and goals.

After the update on the Guard’s future, we learned more about cyberspace operations from a general officer panel that included Lt. Gen. Michael Basla, Air Force chief information officer, Lt. Gen. Robert Otto, Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and Maj. Gen. Brett Williams, U.S. Cyber Command J-3 director of operations. Each senior official gave his unique perspective on how the Air Force delivers and employs cyberspace capabilities.

“We deliver information technology and cyberspace capabilities to our warfighters and integrate with the joint community to achieve the Air Force’s core missions,” Basla said. “We must align our IT efforts in all areas and optimize every dollar. In today’s fiscally-constrained environment, the demand for full spectrum cyber capabilities has increased significantly.”

Otto said the cyber panel shares a common vision on the Air Force’s cyber strategy.

“We need to build and maintain our global network operations and optimize our capabilities for the joint fight,” Otto said. “It’s an exciting time for cyber, and we should see a lot of focus and progress on our cyberspace operations in the future.”

Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. William Shelton also took the stage to discuss how the Air Force is integrating its air, space and cyberspace capabilities.

“In my mind, this is a critical juncture for space and cyberspace capabilities for our Air Force,” Shelton said. “Space and cyberspace effects provide cost-effective and resilient capabilities for the warfighter and the nation.”

Shelton said combining the Air Force’s space and cyber missions makes sense and helps the Air Force provide better capabilities to combatant commanders.

“It is a very natural fit to put space and cyber together, and being in the same command it is easy to integrate them together. We want all warfighters to have access to space and cyberspace capabilities.”

Gen. Mike Hostage, Air Combat Command commander, talked about the need for smaller, more capable combat forces to meet the needs of our national strategy. He also stated that fiscal constraints will require combat air forces to balance recapitalization and modernization requirements.

“The F-22 and F-35 must sustain the combat air forces for decades to come,” he said.

Lastly, Hostage said today’s Airmen are critical to delivering dominant combat airpower.

“I’m privileged to serve with Airmen who provide dominant airpower around the world,” Hostage said. “They are our greatest treasure. They are the source of our combat capacity.”

PHOTO 1: Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III thanks Airmen for their service at the annual Air Force Update keynote address at the 2013 Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition held in Washington D.C. on Sept. 17, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael J. Pausic)

PHOTO 2: Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. William L. Shelton addresses conference attendees at the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 17, 2013, Washington, D.C. Attendees will have the opportunity to dialogue on important national defense issues during workshops, forums, seminars and major addresses by senior Air Force senior leaders. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)

PHOTO 3: Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clark, Director, Air National Guard, updates the audience on the current state of the Guard at the 2013 Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition outside of Washington D.C. on Sept. 17, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael J. Pausic)

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CSAF highlights Airmen contributions at AFA conference