Still Plenty of Fight Left

Colorado Springs, Colo. Cadets at the Air Force Academy who doubt there will be important work left to do once they graduate should not worry, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said at the Air Force Academy on April 14. “The work of ensuring our national security never ends. Your skills, your leadership, will be in high demand for decades to come,” Rice told cadets. Rice’s comments focused mainly on ISIS, which she called a “hybrid: a terrorist organization and an insurgency.” The campaign against the terrorist organization is “truly a whole-of-government campaign” that represents an evolution in the way the US confronts terrorism, Rice said. The strategy focuses on attacking ISIS’ core in Syria and Iraq, targeting the terror organization’s branches, disrupting its global network, and protecting the homeland, she said. The Air Force has stepped up to meet the challenge by increasing its manned and unmanned ISR capacity, and now about 11,000 airmen around the world are “dedicated solely to piloting and supporting Predator and Reaper drones.” Still, she said, the US needs more ISR—and more remotely piloted aircraft pilots to get the ISR. “I know not everyone grew up dreaming of piloting a drone,” but RPA airmen “are in the fight every day,” and RPAs have launched more strikes against ISIS than any aircraft other than the B-1 and F-15, Rice noted.