Measuring Readiness


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee.  I appreciate the chance to appear before you today and speak about the readiness of the world’s most powerful air and space force.  I’m sure you know this year is the 50th anniversary of the Air Force and we are celebrating it with the theme "Golden Legacy--Boundless Future."  As we celebrate our past, we remain focused on building an air and space force with the capabilities to meet the nation's needs into the 21st century.  We have reshaped the forward-stationed Air Force of the Cold War into an increasingly expeditionary force, largely based in the Continental United States (CONUS), and able to rapidly deploy around the world and conduct operations across the spectrum of conflict. 

Today’s Air Force
Today, Air Force people are globally engaged and demand is increasing for the unique capabilities we provide for the nation’s defense.  From global attack operations in Iraq to humanitarian assistance in the Caribbean, we employ air and space power to achieve the objectives outlined in the national security strategy of Engagement and Enlargement. 
People First.  As always, people are at the heart of our military readiness.  Since the end of the Cold War, the Air Force has witnessed a fourfold increase in the number of people deployed, 13,700 on an average day in FY96 versus 3,500 in FY89, but has 32 percent fewer people.   Despite downsizing, the Air Force continues to provide ready, capable forces with the precision, range, and flexibility our nation needs to pursue its interests and objectives. 

OPTEMPO/PERSTEMPO.  The increase in demand for Air Force capabilities has, of course, increased taskings on our people, units, and weapon systems.  We have taken several steps to share the burden of these taskings and posture the force to sustain readiness at this higher tempo.  We established a goal of no more than 120 days per year deployed to limit the time our people spend away from home, and we are refining the system we use to track this data.  We also have a strategy to meet that goal: first, share the burden of increased taskings across Major Commands; second, eliminate or find alternative capabilities where taskings allow; and third, adjust our forces where appropriate to meet the need using the Air National Guard (ANG) and Air Force Reserve (AFRES) when possible; their participation in contingency operations and joint-sponsored exercises is at a level nearly equal to that of the DESERT SHIELD mobilization, but now it is all volunteer. 

OPTEMPO is a concern at both Air Force and OSD levels, and there are continuing efforts to reduce taskings on our most stressed systems.  To help manage the demand and maintain the readiness of our specialty systems such as AWACS, reconnaissance, special operations, and rescue, OSD implemented the Global Military Force Policy (GMFP) in July 1996, to prioritize the allocation of these assets for crises, contingencies and long-term Joint Task Force operations. 

Finally, we have taken steps to strengthen some portions of our force which are facing particularly heavy demands.  As an example, we established a reserve associate unit for our AWACS wing at Tinker AFB to reduce personnel tempo in that highly tasked system.  We have also begun the procurement of two additional RC-135 RIVET JOINT aircraft along with some of the manning for the additional air frames, to help lessen the worldwide TDY mission load on the current fleet of 14 airframes.  Air Expeditionary Forces (AEFs) will provide a rapid response capability anywhere in the world, while reducing the need for standing deployments.  We will continue to work this issue to enable us to provide these capabilities while maintaining reasonable PERSTEMPO into the future. 

Current Operations.  The Air Force continued an important role in Bosnia, deploying and protecting NATO's implementation force.  As of January 31, 1997, we had flown more than 5,000 sorties over Bosnia, providing the full range of theater air capabilities.  At the peak of operations in 1996, there were over 4,100 Air Force people deployed to five nations supporting NATO-led contingency operations with airspace control; on-call close air support; command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; airlift and special operations. 

 Last year, the Air Force flew over 28,800 sorties for Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, the coalition air operation over southern Iraq, accounting for 68 percent of the total sorties at the end of January 1997.  Similarly, the Air Force executed the bulk of the missions over northern Iraq in Operation PROVIDE COMFORT (now NORTHERN WATCH), flying over 4,500 sorties in 1996--about 60 percent of the coalition total. 

Our airlift and aerial refueling forces provide us with the capability to rapidly deploy, employ, and sustain our nation's armed forces in operations around the world.  Beginning in December 1995, U.S. and allied nations deployed peacekeeping forces to Bosnia in support of Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR (now JOINT GUARD).  In just three months, Air Force mobility forces completed 3,000 missions; carried over 15,600 passengers; and delivered more than 30,100 short tons of cargo. 

Space Operations.  During 1996, our Service supported 33 successful space launches using Air Force launch, range, and support facilities.  Of particular note, we launched five Titan IV heavy-lift vehicles, and all achieved successful orbital entry on the first attempt.  Two of these launches were three weeks apart, demonstrating improved turn-around capability of the launch facility.  The Delta II launch vehicle continued its string of successful launches with another 10 in 1996. 

The Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) controls over 95 satellites daily with greater than 400 individual contacts with satellites per day, totaling approximately 148,000 contacts per year.  Aside from routine communications with our satellites, the AFSCN, along with Air Force Space Command, have kept our space assets flying while providing uninterrupted service to the user. 

Training & Exercises.  The pace and complexity of air warfare places demands on our people--not just those who operate our air and space systems, but on those who plan, command, control, and support our forces as well.  It is essential that we continue the sort of aggressive, realistic training that has been a distinguishing characteristic of Air Force readiness for decades.  State-of-the-art modeling and simulation is leveraging exercises like never before.  We use our exercises not just to train, but to develop operational concepts and tactics, adjust to new missions, and test new approaches.  In 1996, the AEF completed exercises in Bahrain, Qatar, and Jordan.  Each AEF flew their first combat sorties with less than 72 hours of notification to deploy and provided a balanced capability for air superiority, precision attack missions, and suppression of enemy air defenses.  This capability is key to winning the air battle and ensuring the success of the Joint Task Force.  The fourth AEF is now in Qatar.  We expect to structure more of our training exercises to build expertise in employment of the Air Expeditionary Force. 

Installations & Logistics.  Historically, the logistics system has achieved readiness by "pushing" the nation's wartime support to forces in the field to compensate for imperfect resource information and planning systems.  This resulted in an expensive and wasteful stockpile of materiel in U.S. warehouses and forward locations.  Such a logistics model is untenable in today's austere environment--politically, economically, and operationally. 

Our nation is moving away from deploying masses of materiel to support its forces.  To compensate for this, the Air Force is now using high-velocity, high-reliability transportation and information systems to get the right parts to the right place at the right time.  Through this approach, we increase our operational readiness while reducing both our mobility footprint and our costs. 

Joint Warfighting

As part of a larger military force, air and space power acts as a force multiplier in joint operations.  Chairman Shalikashvili outlined a vision of joint operations for the coming decades in Joint Vision 2010. 

From our vantage point in air and space, we bring tools to the battle that can determine the success of the four joint operational concepts of Dominant Maneuver, Precision Engagement, Full-Dimensional Protection, and Focused Logistics. 

Tomorrow’s  Force 
From the National Security Strategy, the National Military Strategy, Joint Vision 2010, and 18 months of reflection and projection, a strategic vision that will lead the Air Force into the next century emerged:  "Global Engagement:  A Vision for the 21st Century Air Force". 

The Air Force must ensure the nation has a full range of capabilities in air and space.  In developing Global Engagement, we examined the possibilities of what our nation will need from its future air and space force, and how we could best provide those capabilities.  They are outlined in six areas we term core competencies--the areas where we will focus our attention and resources.  While these competencies are not exclusive to the Air Force, we must be engaged in the following six areas: 
Readiness is the key thread connecting all of these competencies.  We must upgrade current systems and acquire leading edge technologies.  It is the Air Force's central responsibility to develop, organize, train, equip, sustain, and integrate the elements of air and space power to maximize the effectiveness of these core competencies and meet the needs of the Nation. 

Equipment.  Our next generation of tactical fighters will ensure we achieve air dominance in all future conflicts.  The F-22 air superiority fighter is the key component in this effort.  This aircraft will bring a revolutionary combination of stealth, supercruise, and integrated avionics to the fight.  The  F-22 will provide an overwhelming advantage against the sophisticated air- and land-based threats we expect to proliferate around the world in coming years. 

The Air Force is pursuing the Airborne Laser (ABL) not only for its revolutionary combat potential, but as a part of an overall system of theater missile defense capabilities.  The most effective way to combat missile threats is with a layered capability: offensive counter air and attack operations; boost-phase interception of missiles in flight; and mid-course and terminal interceptors.  The layered systems will receive the best intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance possible and link with an effective theater-wide command and control system. 

The Air Force is working to extend this expertise to shape the architecture for counter-missile operations by supporting emerging technologies in Cruise Missile Defense (CMD) and National Missile Defense (NMD). 

Another major continuing effort over the past year was the Space-Based Infrared System, or SBIRS.  This system will replace the Defense Support Program (DSP) early warning system and will provide more rapid detection and warning to theater forces of strategic launches, improved capability to detect and track theater missile launches, and a cueing capability for missile defense systems. 

To ensure our domination of the furthest vertical dimension, the Air Force is now executing a transition of enormous importance:  the transition from an air force to an air and space force, on an evolutionary path toward a space and air force.  Space is already inextricably linked to military operations on the land, sea and in the air, and the capabilities provided by Air Force space-based assets have become essential to the success of operations conducted by all elements of America's joint forces. 

Spacelift is fundamental to our achieving air and space superiority in the future.  The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) offers clear advantages not just for the Air Force, but for other national security users and for the commercial sector as well. 

Air mobility will continue to be a most crucial element of readiness and national security.  Mobility forces enable warfighting commanders to influence operations throughout the theater.  The CV-22 will provide these forces long-range combat search and rescue as well as deep battle airlift.  The CV-22's speed, extended range and survivability will significantly increase the Joint Force Commander's ability to conduct operations in denied territory.  While procuring our newest airlifter, the C-17, is important to the CINCs, maintaining our overall lift capability with improvements to the C-141 and C-5 fleets and reducing lift requirements, are just as critical.  We are also ensuring our tanker fleet remains viable with improvements to the KC-135 fleet to improve aircraft performance while reducing maintenance time and operating costs.  We want to insure our mobility forces’ capability to support operations by providing a steady flow of equipment and supplies, as well as ensuring short-notice, critical needs are met and life saving emergency aeromedical evacuation is available. 

Infrastructure and Combat Support.   Focused Logistics and its forerunner, Lean Logistics, will provide the Joint Force Commander with an Air Force that is more mobile, responsive, efficient, and significantly more potent.  It may never completely turn the logistician's art into a pure systems-based science, but the future of Air Force logistics will maximize both technology and resource management reinvention insights to achieve and provide unparalleled combat power to the joint warfighter.  We must sustain funding for aircraft and vehicle spares to achieve our vision of Agile Combat Support and Focused Logistics. 

 We must continue to invest in our bases, and improve both family housing and dormitories.  In addition to the basic quality of life issues, we recognize the importance of taking care of the families of our deployed personnel.  The 84 Family Support Centers (FSCs) provide relocation, career, life, and crisis support for Air Force families.  We remain committed to continuing this kind of support for those who serve our nation and for their families.  This brings us full circle back to people--I can not over emphasize the importance of Air Force people in the Readiness equation.  In that light, the Air Force of the 21st century will continue to place the highest priority on recruiting and retaining high quality men and women and providing them with the training and quality of life they need to fulfill their missions in the coming century. 


As we embark on our journey into the next century, the Air Force is postured to build on our golden legacy and shape our boundless future.  We have defined a strategic vision that will take us into the next millennium and continue our Service's transition from an air and space force to a space and air force.  Air Force people are engaged around the globe building the capabilities, and sustaining the readiness our nation will require in the future.  The Air Force is proud of its golden legacy of service over the past 50 years, and its current role in support of our national strategy of engagement and enlargement.  We stand ready to work along side of the rest of the joint team to secure our country's security for the next 50 years and beyond.