Longtime observers of Air Force leaders have grown accustomed to hearing that the service’s capabilities include the ability to strike targets anywhere on the globe. However, there was a subtle change in that regard in the remarks made Tuesday by Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Schwartz said the Air Force can “hold at risk practically any target on the face of the earth.” (Please note: use of italics is our emphasis). It’s unlikely this was a slip of the tongue as Schwartz proceeded to repeat the comment, seemingly to stress the point. Schwartz also qualified a classic Air Force boast that it will control the air no matter what. “Airmen provide control of the air over our homeland, and wherever friendly forces operate,” he said, adding that, “they ensure freedom of action in all domains by minimizing the threat of attack from above.”
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.