The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a new “warrior class” of airmen capable of operating outside the wire alongside their counterparts in the ground services, said Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, the Air Force’s assistant vice chief of staff. That’s a significant cultural shift from the Cold War days when pilots, navigators, and other combat aviators were regarded by many as typifying that warrior spirit, he said addressing a Military Reporters and Editors conference in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 19. Gorenc said he doesn’t think the new skill set will fade away as the US military shifts its focus from the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region. “It has been very good for the development of our airmen and they really like it,” he said. “Some of the training changes we’ve made have . . . elevated the pride in our force. It’s going to be advantageous anywhere we engage,” said Gorenc. “We may have shifted [our focus] to the Pacific, but there are other things that are happening in the world that require that warrior ethos,” he added.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.