Gen. Michael Moseley, Air Force Chief of Staff, said Thursday that he has directed a number of bureaucratic and organizational changes to raise the profile of unmanned aerial vehicles within the service. First, Moseley said he instructed the USAF Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev., to stand up a UAV squadron by July. He also instructed Gen. William Looney, head of Air Education and Training Command, to begin looking into assigning airmen directly to UAV operations as first assignments. Moseley said the details of such assignments are still to be worked out, but one possibility would be for fighter- or bomber-track pilots to serve a two-year assignment first with UAVs. (To offset a current shortage of UAV pilots, the service reportedly already has tapped more than a hundred experienced fighter and bomber pilots for UAV duty.) Finally, Moseley said the service will assign a new Air Force Specialty Code to UAV operators and sensor operators. These airmen would then have both a “primary” and a “secondary” AFSC to better capture their UAV bona fides. These moves are a reflection of the growing importance of UAVs within the Air Force’s operations. Moseley noted that the Fiscal 2009 budget funds 93 new Air Force aircraft—and 52 of them are unmanned Predators, Reapers, and Global Hawks.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.