The New Chief

June 30, 2008

Gen. John Jumper on Sept. 6 became the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. At his Aug. 1 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee and in a separate written statement for the record, Jumper provided his views on a wide range of issues. What follows are excerpts from his testimony and his statement.

Problem One

“The most serious problem facing us today is adequate resources. … No matter how you slice it, the Air Force needs more funding to provide the essential tools to our warfighting commanders.”

Bomber Requirement

“The Air Force needs a minimum of 157 bombers-B-52, B-1, B-2–at their full capability to employ a variety of weapons across the full spectrum of conflict.”

“[W]e also need to recapitalize our bomber force and to continue to modernize so that our long-range strike assets can communicate en route to targets and have the ability to carry larger loads into the target area.”

Long-Range Operations

“[USAF’s warfighting] concept calls … for forward deployed bomber assets … at our bases in England and Diego Garcia and other places that are specified bomber beddown bases. We want to include the B-2 in this forward deployment capability, and we are now, as you’re aware, sir, developing a shelter that will allow us to do the self-maintenance on the B-2 in forward locations.”

“When we do put these bombers forward, we get greater sortie rates out of them and they’re much more useful to us.”

“[In Allied Force,] I was frustrated with our inability to retarget, so I went to Whiteman Air Force Base [Mo.] myself and sat down with the young captains, and we figured out how to do it. And we created a very meager flexible-targeting capability which is exactly the type we’re trying to expand [and make] more sophisticated.”

B-52s Forever

“We benefit from the way they built airplanes back in the ’60s, before the advent of computer-aided design. Not knowing all we know about structures today, they overbuilt them [B-52 bombers] by two or three times. So the structure of the B-52, with the rate we fly at today, is very sound out to [2037].”

Bulking Up the B-2

“[W]e have $3.7 billion over the Future Years Defense Plan invested in the B-2 for its survivability, its maintainability, and its supportability. … It does not do all that we would like to do with the B-2, but what it does do is it begins a program where we’ll be able to take the aircraft from the current load of 16 near-precision guided munitions up to 80 near-precision guided munitions.”

B-1 Consolidation

“The decision to consolidate B-1s is a monetary one. The money saved from consolidating the B-1 units onto two bases will be used to bring the remaining B-1 fleet up to current modernization levels. With over $2 billion in unfunded requirements, we can pour that money back into modernizing the remaining B-1 fleet.”

F-22 Fighter

“This F-22 puts us as far ahead of anything that we know is coming down the road as the F-15 did over the MiG-21 25 years ago.”

“The F-22 will enable us to kill the most difficult SAMs. It will allow us to bring stealth into the daytime for the first time. This is the generation of technology we need.”

“We have had two new bombers before we’ve had the last new fighter. … And that’s why we put the emphasis now on the F-22-not to the denigration of the other platforms but just because of the necessity to upgrade.”

F-22 Affordability

“If we committed the same percentage of national resources for the F-22 that we did for the F-15, we would be buying an inventory of 1,000 F-22s [rather than the planned 339].”

“The F-22 program is structured around a buy of 339 aircraft. … [T]he need for this airplane is very clear. The numbers will be the question as we go through this review.”

Strike Fighter

“The Joint Strike Fighter brings stealth-persistent stealth-over the battlefield for the first time. … The Joint Strike Fighter is the persistence force. That’s the one that stays over the battlefield to do things like close air support when the troops come ashore, time-critical targeting, and to handle those critical targets that emerge very quickly that you can’t deal with with a bomber that’s 3,000 miles away.”

Military Space

“The Air Force has fully embraced the findings of the Space Commission. And Gen. [Michael E.] Ryan and Secretary [James G.] Roche are implementing provisions of those recommendations as we speak. … I will continue to do the same thing.”

“The Air Force is the right service for departmentwide responsibility for planning, programming, and acquisition of space systems.”

“I think our greatest leverage lies in space.”

Threats From Space

“I … see the threat emerging-the threat that allows you to take your Visa card and dial up an address on the Internet and get a picture almost instantly of anywhere you want on the Earth. This is going to impact our ability to provide strategic surprise. We’re going to have to learn to deal with this problem in our space-control mission in the future, because we won’t be able to hide our intent to deploy.”

No Space Pearl Harbor

“[M]uch like other US military resources, space assets make a lucrative target for those that wish to discredit or damage the United States. However, we are aware of the threats posed to space-based assets and are vigilant to finding ways to counter possible threats. It is unlikely we would be taken completely unaware by an attack on our space capabilities.”

Encroachment

“We can’t afford to wake up one morning and discover that encroachment [of civilian population near military areas] prevents us from launching our live ammunition training out of Nellis Air Force Base, for instance.”

“Encroachment is a very serious problem. … Maintaining continued access to our ranges, airspace, and frequency spectrum is absolutely critical. In fact, if our ability to train our aircrews continues to diminish, America will soon lose its only edge in air combat proficiency.”

New Training Demands

“With [introduction of] the F-22 and JSF, we will go to the limits of our current range and airspace capability to accommodate [test] and training requirements. Not only will more sophisticated instrumentation be needed but more complex surface-to-air threat emitters will be required. … We cannot endure further encroachments that will decrease the size or quality of the airspace and ranges we use.”

The Combat Edge

“The biggest advantage we have today is our edge in training. Every air force in the world out there that could contend against us in some way is trying to figure out a way to deal with and beat the United States Air Force. This training edge that we have is one that we absolutely have to keep. It’s absolutely precious to us. And by the way, we are still the best trained Air Force in the world.”

High on UAVs

“I’m the guy who’s supposed to fear [Unmanned Aerial Vehicles] the most. I’m the white-scarf fighter pilot that everybody says hates UAVs. As you may be aware, I’ve worked personally very hard to accelerate the Global Hawk. I’m the guy who had us install Hellfire missiles on the Predator UAV, and we’ve tested over a dozen shots of the Hellfire missile off the Predator. I do not fear UAVs, and especially the [Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle], which promises to give us great leverage in the suppression of enemy air defenses mission with its stealth capabilities.”

Future of UCAVs

“I would like … to pursue the marriage of the UCAV with directed-energy weapons to see if this promising technology would combine well with the UCAV [and provide a] payoff, which I think it will.”

UCAVs: A Third of the Force

“I don’t know if the goal of one-third is correct or not. We have to work very hard on the concept of operations to make sure that we don’t disturb other necessary elements of our readiness. For instance, if the concept for UCAV is to put them into boxes and load them aboard C-5s or C-17s, we’ve got to make sure that the balance of airlift is proper.”

Munitions Shortage

“In the current budget, we have attempted to fix some of our training munitions shortfalls, but we continue to be behind in procuring our most beneficial precision munitions, [a matter that is] complicated both by the expenditure rate of over 5,000 of these weapons in Operation Allied Force and then, as you know, we continue every day to expend a certain number of weapons in Iraq in Northern and Southern Watch. … The combination of these episodic contingency operations … has kept us from being able to replenish the spares that we need.”

“They [precision munitions] are still well below desired inventory level, and failure to increase stockpiles risks wartime shortfalls. … [S]erious shortfalls in standoff and legacy munitions persist through FYDP.”

Guard and Reserve

“Today … 25 percent of our deployed forces are from the Guard and the Reserve. This is a level of support that was higher than during the middle of Desert Storm, and they sustain that now on a daily basis.”

“[T]o be relevant in the present and future Air Force, which is key to funding and survival, the [Guard and Reserve] must at all times mirror their active duty counterparts. If the missions ever separate into [different parts], then funding, organization, training, equipping, etc., becomes threatened.”

Associate Units

“There are obvious synergies and benefits to reserve associate programs throughout the Air Force. … We have completed a very successful test of a fighter Reserve associate program at Shaw Air Force Base [S.C.]. [Air Mobility Command] has indeed been very successful in such programs, and [Air Combat Command] and [Air Force Reserve Command] are in the midst of developing the requirements for expansion to other weapon systems. Reserve associate programs have tremendous potential to leverage the experience resident in the Air Reserve Components.”

Readiness Worries

“[O]ur readiness requirement [is] 92 percent. Since 1996, our worldwide combat force readiness rates have decreased 23 percentage points to … 68 percent in April 2001. Furthermore, our overall Air Force readiness is lower than any time since June 1987. We are capable of winning today. However, we are concerned about these trends in readiness indicators.”

Aging Aircraft

“Day-to-day readiness of our aging aircraft fleet depends on continued robust funding of spare parts, aggressive efforts to enhance retention of skilled personnel, and engaged unit leadership on our flight lines. I plan on focusing much of my efforts on these three essentials.”

“An aging fleet costs more, both in effort and dollars, to operate and maintain. Last year, while we flew only 97 percent of our programmed hours, they cost us 103 percent of our budget. Over the past five years, our costs per flying hour have risen almost 50 percent. The only way we can control these costs is to recapitalize the aging fleet.”

Global Strike Task Force

“It is imperative we develop our Global Strike Task Force, a kick-down-the-door force that will assure access and aerospace dominance for all our joint forces.”

“Global Strike Task Force …. [entails] the horizontal integration of manned platforms, unmanned platforms, and space platforms. … When you combine persistence of the airborne platforms with the high grounds of space, you have no place to hide. And you would integrate these at the machine level, at the digital level, so we don’t have human beings that have to interpret the digits in order for us to get precise target location and precise identification.”

Depot Philosophy

“[T]he founding notion behind the depots is that we have a capability within our service to surge and to repair what we have needed in times of crisis. I see no reason to erode that philosophy in any way, and I’m committed to that philosophy.”

Strategic Airlift

“The largest [airlift] challenge remains the reliability of the C-5 fleet and the modernization of this fleet. I will place a strong emphasis on the Air Force’s two-phase program to modernize the C-5. Phase I is an Avionics Modernization Program that replaces unreliable and unsupportable avionics components. Phase II is a reliability and re-engining program. … The resulting goal of this program is a 75 percent mission capable rate for the C-5 fleet.”

Standing Joint Forces

“There may be a place for a standing Joint Task Force (or Joint Response Force) headquarters, consisting of command and planning elements organized under a warfighting [Commander in Chief] and exercised jointly by [US CINC Joint Forces Command]. However, that requires further study and coordination with the services.”

Anthrax Vaccination

“In the past, almost everyone who has been fully informed of the [anthrax] threat and the protection afforded by the vaccine has chosen to be inoculated. For those few members who ultimately refuse an order to be vaccinated, appropriate disciplinary action should be considered.”

Keep ICBMs On Alert

“ICBMs are an essential element of the United States’ nuclear forces and I believe will remain so in whatever future framework evolves. As such, I believe that those systems should be operated as designed-on alert. To do otherwise, by increasing the time it takes to employ these forces, increases safety, security, stability, and possibly even proliferation risks. As a matter of military practice, lowering military readiness lessens credibility.”

Enlisted Retention

“We … this year will meet our goal in the first-term retention at 55 percent. The 75 percent and the 95 percent we attempt to get in the second term in the career, we’re still going to be [a few] percentage points short, but it’s improving.”

“The Air Force is recovering from several years of low retention rates from first-term airmen through career airmen. … Part of the trouble with retaining second-term and career airmen is they have been overtasked year after year. Collectively changing their minds to stay in the Air Force is more difficult than convincing a first-term airman to give us a second chance.”

End Strength Increase

“The requested end strength is justified. … Our long-term goal is to stop the decline in end strength and start growth to size the force to support increased operations tempo.”

“We are stretched too thin and are wearing people and equipment out. Sustained operations tempo is a major factor in recruiting and retention [problems]. It has taken its toll on the force-which is still deploying over three times more often despite the drawdown.”

Losing the Edge

“I fear that our technological edge is waning. … Our best pilots flying their airplanes beat our best pilots flying our airplanes every time.”

“Our science and technology portfolio is our investment in the future and cannot be forsaken. Already, potential adversaries possess capabilities beyond those of our own. We cannot afford to fall further behind.”

Expeditionary Force

“We will continue … to transition fully to an air expeditionary force structure. This puts predictability into the lives of our people. It includes the ability to fully incorporate the Guard and Reserve into our operations.”

Cost of Missile Defense

“[Building a national missile defense system] is going to mean some very tough trade-offs, and my belief is that we need to make sure that the technologies that emerge … prove themselves worthy as we invest in those into the future, because the trade-offs will be very difficult indeed.”

Cyber-War

“Information Operations personnel are part of our new warrior class, an integral arm of the Air Force, and Information Operations in synchronization with traditional kinetic means will remain a critical element of our strategy to fight and win future conflicts. … In particular, we must bring IO to the operational and tactical levels of war.”

Forward Bases

“We have already drawn down our overseas basing to a critical level. … [O]ur forces are capable of traveling thousands of miles to conduct precision strikes. However, to conduct an effective air campaign, … you must have persistent airpower and the capability to perform time-critical strike, which dictate that either permanent or temporary forward basing will continue to be a requirement for effective operations.”