Odierno “Pleased” with Joint CAS Conversation

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told reporters Thursday he is “pleased with the conversation” the Army and Air Force are having on the evolution of the close air support mission. The March “CAS summit” has moved along discussions about how new capabilities and technologies will affect the CAS mission in the years ahead. “I am confident that the Air Force is dedicated to providing close air support for ground forces,” Odierno said. But, as the joint force brings on the F-35 in large numbers, it also is important “that we understand how it’s going to work and how it is going to be used in a close air support role,” and how CAS will be conducted in denied and degraded environments, he added. CAS on the Korean Peninsula or in Europe would be “very different” than operations in Afghanistan, “and we have to make sure that we don’t lose sight of how we do that.” Odierno praised USAF for moving “large numbers” of joint terminal attack controllers into the Army’s division headquarters to “maintain CAS expertise for the future,” and said two exercises later this year (one at Fort Irwin, Calif., and the other at Fort Bliss, Texas) will help “reaffirm” some of the work the Army is doing with USAF to evolve CAS.