US Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein is nearing the end of his career by mid-2020, but not before he has to convince Congress to make room for funding and force venerable aircraft -such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II- into retirement.
On top of that, it seems, the general feels the “Space Force” isn’t sustainable in the current budget.
Goldfein’s unpopular push to kill off such aircraft as the A-10 and B-1 stems from a specific project that he holds much personal investment in: the Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, a system that would allow US military assets to instantly share data over a secure net.
In addition to pushing JADC2, Goldfein is also urging the USAF to finish its goal of creating 386 operational squadrons by 2030, an effort to meet and dominate threats from near-peer factions like China and Russia.
Though Goldfein is pushing the matter, he still believes that the “386” number may be hard to reach.
“There’s a difference between the Air Force we need and the Air Force that we can afford,” he told Defense News. “When Congress asked the question, what do you need to be able to adequately support the National Defense Strategy to moderate risk -and that’s as far as I can say in an unclassified setting- we ran 2,000 computer iterations against different force elements, different combinations. What we came up with is what we rolled out in answer to the congressional question- to actually defeat a nuclear peer threat in a 2030ish scenario, it requires 386 operational squadrons.”
Goldfein also noted that prior to massive cuts by the Clinton administration in the 1990s, the USAF was well over the 386-squadron force.
“The 386 target is still the absolute viable target,” he said.” And I shouldn’t back off the answer to the question just because we’re not able to afford it. It’s still the absolute answer to the question we got from Congress. And it’s not a gold-plated number. We had 402 operational squadrons when we kicked a non nuclear middleweight out of Kuwait. And we have 312 today, and we’re saying we need less than we needed in 1991 to defeat China and Russia.”
As for the Space Force, the current budget isn’t going to cut it.
“I don’t think it [Space Force] is going to be sustainable for what the nation requires when it comes to space capability,” he said. “That’s why that’s one of our very top investment strategies; other than joint all-domain command control, the next thing is dominating space.”
Born in 1959 at a US Air Base in France, Goldfein graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1983 and has over 4,200 flying hours. He flew combat missions during Desert Storm and was shot down over western Serbia in 1999.
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