WASHINGTON --- Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson discussed readiness, force structure and modernization of the Air Force at the McAleese/Credit Suisse “Defense Programs” Conference in Washington, D.C., March 22, 2017.
“We need congressional support to prevent a year-long continuing resolution,” he said. “A year-long CR forces me … to solve a $1.3 billion math problem in late April … and that will force us into actions similar to what was taken in 2013 for sequestration.”
Wilson explained a potential year-long CR would affect readiness, result in halting civilian hiring, limit flying hours and prevent the start of 60 new programs.
“The demand for airpower is insatiable and I predict it will only increase, so being there, being always there, comes at a cost,” Wilson said. “To ensure we remain ready to defeat both the high and low-end threats to our national security, we are making significant investments in our people, nukes, space, cyber, combat air forces and infrastructure.”
In addition, he stressed the need for technological investments as rapid global technological advancements continue.
“Artificial intelligence can help us by being able to go through volumes and volumes of data,” he said. “So, we have pilots that are in fact quarterbacks of a command and control apparatus that are able to sense and understand the situation and take the fight to the enemy. That’s where big data and artificial intelligence, coupled with our technology, is going to take our Air Force in a decade or so.”
Wilson also discussed multi-domain command and control, and the Air Force’s key role in that future.
“Winning in future high-end conflicts depends on which side can command and control forces in a degraded and contested environment, while denying the enemy the ability to do the same,” he explained. “We are going to put the enemy in the horns of multi-dilemmas so if he is able to affect one area, then I can bring effects across any of the other domains: air, land, sea, space, cyberspace and undersea.”
Enhancing multi-domain command and control is Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein’s third focus area, which he outlined in a paper released in March. According to the paper, evolving command and control capabilities will require “new thinking, new training and perhaps new technologies or new ways to use older technology.”
“We must be prepared to win decisively,” Wilson said. “We owe that to our nation, joint teammates and our allies.”