By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency
The third and final day of the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C., was led by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld, Jr., Air Force Chief of Staff Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody.
Winnefeld discussed the impact of sequestration on the military’s ability to meet its mission requirements and emphasized the Air Force’s role in national security. Welsh led a panel of Air Force senior leaders who answered a variety of questions on Air Force issues. Lastly, Cody shared his views on the service’s enlisted force and lauded Airmen for their contributions and achievements.
The day started with Winnefeld discussing the effect of the nation’s current fiscal challenges on military readiness.
“We need to balance our national security interests, the way the military goes about defending those interests and the financial means we use to defend those interests,” Winnefeld said. “We owe it to the taxpayer to always search for ways to become more efficient. It’s time for us to lean this business out, or we won’t have the means to protect this nation.”
Winnefeld praised the Air Force and its leadership for continuing to find innovative ways to balance operational requirements and stay combat-ready.
“If the Air Force were a stock, I’d be buying it right now,” he said. “Aim high, and give the Air Force the backing they need. Fly, fight and win.”
National Guard Bureau Chief Army Gen. Frank Grass followed up Winnefeld with a discussion about the future of the Guard as budget constraints change what resources they have to perform their diverse mission.
“Our mission hasn’t changed, but our vision is probably at risk because of sequestration,” Grass said.
According to Grass, the Guard’s operational forces include homeland operations, deployments, exercises and creating individual opportunities for Guardsmen to serve in other joint capacities.
“They want to maintain their relevance and be a resource to the Air Force and the nation,” he said.
One of Grass’s priorities is for the Guard to act as a responsible steward of the bureau’s resources.
“We must consolidate and prioritize our programs,” Grass said. “We have to re-double our efforts to be accountable for everything and everyone. We must take care of our people and organizations and support and sustain the National Guard community.”
Welsh and more than 10 other senior Air Force leaders answered a variety of questions about sequestration, science and technology, acquisitions, modernization, training, leadership and other issues.
Welsh stated he would like every commander and supervisor to feel like they are part of the decision-making process.
“We need commanders to command, supervisors to supervise and Airmen to lead,” Welsh said. “Common sense is the first standard we need to apply.”
Gen. Edward Rice, Air Education and Training commander, said he would like to see new training platforms for pilots to gain more insight into the Air Force’s next generation aircraft.
“We need a new, advanced trainer to be ready for a 5th generation system to continue to provide world class education and training for our Airmen,” Rice said.
“Our Airmen are our greatest asset,” Cody said. “Airmen equal airpower, and we bring them in from across the globe. They all have great stories.”
Cody said he is immediately bringing Roll Call back to the Air Force to deliver messages to the field from senior Air Force leadership for Airmen to use as a topic of discussion when they gather for daily or weekly meetings.
PHOTO 1: Air Force Chief of Staff Mark A. Welsh hosted a senior leader forum during the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, Sept. 18, 2013, in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Stout)
PHOTO 2: Army Gen. Frank Grass leads a discussion about today’s National Guard at the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Technology Exposition Sept. 18, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Grass is the chief of the National Guard Bureau. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya)
PHOTO 3: Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody discusses why deliberately developing Airmen is more important than ever at the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, Sept. 18, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Cody says training, education and experience are required to effectively develop Airmen. Cody’s role is to provide direction for the USAF enlisted corps and represent their interests to those in all levels of government. (U.S Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nesha Humes)