WASHINGTON --- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein told a group of senior British military officials, including Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, that success in “the future fight” relies on data, networks and the ability to link systems of allies and partners, Oct. 10.
While historically the focus has been on individual platforms and defined weapon systems, Goldfein said at the annual meeting of British military officials based in the United States that future conflicts will be “wars of cognition versus wars of attrition. This is a debate about the nature of warfare and networked operations.”
“In wars of cognition, it’s about information, it’s about data, it’s about analyzing and acting on it faster than an adversary can react,” he said at the meeting held at The Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C.
In that respect, there are few stronger partners than Britain, he said. “We think alike,” Goldfein said, adding that the two countries have decades of experience and shared philosophies. “We’ve learned together; fought together, died together and invested together over many years."
“That history, he said, is even more important today since adapting effectively requires not only solving technical challenges but also changing institutional cultures to bring about multi-domain operations that link air, space, sea, cyber and land components in a new way.
The U.S. Air Force and the Royal Air Force are close partners in that effort. The goal, Wigston said, who became the highest-ranking RAF officer in August, is in 30 years “we can look back to 2019 and 2020 and agree that (those leaders) made us even stronger by the things they did together,” he said.
Goldfein’s remarks to the British audience, as well as the discussion that followed, highlighted themes and goals that Goldfein has often mentioned, most recently in a keynote address Sept. 17 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference.
But unlike previous speeches in which the focus was on how best the Air Force and U.S. military can achieve full and seamless interoperability, his remarks Oct. 10 emphasized the need to expand the effort to partners and allies.
“What I’m looking at,” he said, “is what’s the future look like for the Air Force from a joint and allied partnered perspective.”
Viewed that way, he said, there’s no better model than the joint effort and operations of the U.S. and Britain.
It extends, he said, to successfully developing and deploying the Advanced Battle Management System, a sprawling and technically complicated endeavor that is expected to be the heart of an MDO system and which “links every shooter to every sensor and to real time data and information.”
That system can only achieve its full potential if allies are included.
“If we don’t build this to be interoperable with our allies, we are writing off our No. 1 asymmetric advantage,” he said.