JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas —
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein discussed the State of the Air Force as the keynote speaker at the Air Force Sergeants Association Professional Airmen’s Conference and International Convention Aug. 24 in San Antonio.
Goldfein, who swore in as the Air Force’s 21st chief of staff on July 1, addressed challenges and opportunities he sees for the future of the force. He began addressing these ideas Aug. 9, in the first of a series of papers, “The Beating Heart of the Air Force…Squadrons!”
“I am honestly more optimistic about the future of our Air Force than I have been in my entire life,” Goldfein said. “There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with the global challenges we face and the importance and the recognition of what the global component brings to the joint team.”
Goldfein pointed out the nation’s focus on violent extremism put a “demand signal” on the services to make strategic trades and shifts, and he believes among all the services, the Air Force made the largest shifts. Among the major demands on the Air Force are space, cyber, ISR and the nuclear enterprise.
“We did exactly what the nation required,” Goldfein said.
Stating that up until 2014, before threats of Ebola, China, Russia and ISIL became more prevalent, the world was a different place. Goldfein said the Air Force was able to take more risks in capacity “to emerge on the back end smaller but more capable.”
However, with these emerging threats, Goldfein said the Air Force has to change again.
“We are too small, too old, less ready and out of balance for what the nation needs of us,” Goldfein said. “But the next 10 years provides unlimited opportunity for us as an Air Force to move the ball forward.”
The reason for his optimism, Goldfein said, is there is a greater recognition among the combatant commanders that understand each of their challenges are global and transregional.
“The air component is going to be absolutely central to success,” Goldfein said. “It has become the oxygen that the joint force breathes. If you’ve got it, you don’t even think about it, but if you don’t have it, it’s all you think about.”
Goldfein laid out three key areas he wants to focus on over the next four years before handing over the reins: revitalizing squadrons; building a joint task force warfighting capability into the Air Force’s daily battlefield and rethinking how the service presents forces; and taking the lead on helping the nation move forward in the information age of warfare using multi-domain, integrated and command-controlled measures.
“It equals a service that sees itself and others that see us as an independent service that’s equally capable of leading or supporting joint, combined arms of the future in the global campaigns,” Goldfein said.
Before concluding, Goldfein said he would need the help of all Airmen to accomplish these goals.
“The force expects us to deliver, and so I’m going to need your help as we do this together,” Goldfein said. “It’s worthy work, and I believe if we get those standard three elements, a single person in charge, a written plan and a calendar-based product that keeps us going forward, we’re going to make it.”
Goldfein also visited Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph and spoke with Maj. Gen. Peggy Poore, Air Force Personnel Center commander, and other officials Aug. 23 to discuss critical Air Force personnel programs and Airmen and Family Programs.
Goldfein’s wife, Dawn, used the base visit as an opportunity to have lunch with JBSA Key Spouses to allow for greater understanding of the successes, issues and concerns and overall culture for Air Force families.
Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, Air Force Recruiting Service commander, and other officials also met with Goldfein to provide information on methods for recruitment as well as challenges faced for specialty careers such as medical, engineering and special operations.
“This is about opening the door for people to come in,” Goldfein said. “This is the greatest treasure in the nation’s arsenal, our young men and women that we bring in.
“We mold them; we train them; we groom them; we lead them the best we can,” Goldfein continued. “We marry them up with the greatest treasure on the planet, the greatest technology on the planet, and through our domain of air and space we make the world a better place. That’s what we do.”