JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Virginia —
Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, held a town hall July 8 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to discuss the strategic importance of integrating the 24th and 25th Air Forces to form the first information warfare numbered Air Force.
“There's a lot of opportunity to make up new ways to do business and to create new things in the Air Force,” Holmes said. “We have the right people to be able to do that in the wings and in the headquarters here.”
ACC announced the plans for this reorganization in April of this year as a way to better integrate cyber effects, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, electronic warfare operations and information operations. The synergy among cyber, ISR, EW and IO will increase unity of effort across these capabilities, resulting in new and improved options for combatant commanders.
Holmes broke down what major changes will be taking place as the new NAF moves toward initial operating capacity. He said there will be many moving pieces and obstacles to work through, but he remains confident in the team.
“I thought it was important for me to get down here and have a chance to talk to you a little bit and to have a chance to take your questions,” Holmes said.
Holmes began the town hall by explaining why ACC made this decision based on the viewpoint of the National Defense Strategy.
“The fundamental things I carry from that are that we're returning to a world where great power competition is our primary task,” Holmes said.
He spoke about the changes that have taken place regarding the direction of the Air Force during his years of service, eventually circling back to peer adversaries and regional conflicts while still defending against violent extremists.
“I was in the Air Force that fought rogue nations and regional conflicts, and I was in the Air Force that focused on violent extremists,” Holmes said. “We're going to have to keep doing all three of those things while we try to focus our resources on that biggest threat.”
Holmes went into detail over the strategies and over-compassing views regarding certain revisionists powers, ultimately stating it is an on-going challenge in which the Air Force is already preparing to overcome.
The general explained that while the readiness of conventional warfare is being worked across the services, it is time to offer unconventional options to national decision makers.
“That's the ‘why’ of what we're doing to change our force, so we're making changes at the headquarters level,” Holmes said. “We're combining to bring the power of our intelligence apparatus, which is thinking about how do we pull large realms of data together from all sources around the world, analyze that and get it out to decision makers along with the cyber and information tools that we've had in 24th Air Force and how can we pull those together to make it more than the sum of those parts.”