Air Force Chief Reveals Parts of New Master Plan

By Stew Magnuson

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh said the service is working on a plan to move forward while assuring solvency in the face of a diminishing budget.

“We need a map,” he said. “We have to think differently. We have to unlock ourselves from the things we’re used to,” Welsh said at the Air Force Association's annual conference.

That map is the Air Force master plan for 2015, which seeks to secure the Air Force’s future in shaky economic times. It will serve as “a call to the future, a 20 year look,” said Welsh. He did not say when it will be released.

It will spell out how the Air Force intends to balance its budget for 10 years, he added.

The Air Force will focus on several key efforts. It plans to keep all “must-have” acquisition programs on track and within budget, put in a nuclear weapons modernization program, oversee the live, virtual constructive operational training flight plan, and continue focusing on infrastructure, Welsh said.

The Air Force will turn its attention to an effort he called “big cyber.”

“We need to think about what cyber does in the air component,” he said.

This effort will allow the Air Force to continue helping the National Security Agency with cyber security, while establishing a new cyber innovation center.

The goal for cyber and air power is vigilance, accountable leadership, and strategic flight partnership plans, Welsh said.

There are potential setbacks, he noted.

“Airplanes are falling apart, there are just too many things happening because our fleets are too old,” Welsh said.

He added that a major part of moving forward was leaving the old behind.“When we find something that doesn’t work, we throw it out.”

He highlighted leadership as a key element in the process of determining best practices for coming years, echoing the sentiments of Air Force secretary Deborah Lee James.

Overall, the Air Force’s goal is to move forward efficiently, and to continue its history of excellence. For that, Welsh thanked the airmen who have made that possible. “It’s not just the weapons. It’s not just the pilots. The Air force reflects America’s spirit,” Welsh said.

Welsh quoted Air Force chief of staff special assistant Jason Yaley saying, “It’s time to become the Air Force we need to be, not the Air force we used to be.”

Topics: Aviation

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