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CSAF: Airmen key to new defense strategy

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Airmen will play an important role in the joint team's effort to achieve the priorities laid out in the new defense strategic guidance, according to the Air Force's top uniformed officer.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz spoke to members of the World Affairs Council of Wilmington here Jan. 19, where he discussed the capabilities the Air Force contributes to the new Department of Defense strategy.

The strategy, which was announced by defense officials Jan. 5, lays out a way forward for the military to defend the United States and its national interests while reducing military spending in a responsible, balanced manner.

Schwartz said he sees the Air Force contributing to the new strategy through the service's four core contributions to the Nation's joint military portfolio: domain control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air mobility; and global strike.

These four contributions, which are enhanced by the Air Force's superior command and control networks, "have a proven track record of sustaining our Nation's military advantage in the face of emerging threats," he said.

"The nation has come to rely on the strategic flexibility the Air Force provides to create desired, timely and precise effects at times and places of our choosing, and your Air Force is committed to providing it, even as current combat operations wind down," Schwartz said.

While the United States will maintain its focus on the Middle East, the defense strategic guidance also calls for a rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific theater, he said.

The Air Force will continue to strengthen its long-standing partnerships in that region, such as those with Australia, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, and continue developing burgeoning relationships with others like India, Indonesia and Thailand, the general said.

"Through these air force partnerships, we will work to leverage the unique characteristics of airpower to support our Nation's, and mutual, strategic interests," Schwartz said.

The new defense strategy also affirms that the United States will maintain its commitments and advance its long-standing alliances in Europe, the general said.

"Working with our European allies, as well as with other global partners, we will seek to develop an enhanced, 'smart defense' approach that capitalizes on our ability to specialize, share and pool capabilities toward collective effects," Schwartz said.

In addition to strengthening interoperability with selected key global partners, Schwartz said the U.S. military will continue to increase joint interdependence, as seen in ongoing efforts on the Air-Sea Battle concept.

"As potential adversaries are pursuing strategies and investments in technical capabilities that are designed specifically to challenge our access to, and ability to maneuver in, areas where we have national interests, our Nation's advantage in establishing and maintaining air superiority, sea control, and access to forward bases is being threatened," the general said.

Air-Sea Battle will help to maintain U.S. freedom of action across the full range of missions, including non-military; enhance power projection capability in defense of U.S. and partner-nation interests; and preserve access to the global commons, Schwartz said.

Leading and pursuing all of these efforts to ensure the U.S. military's readiness in the years ahead is a dedicated team of joint service members supported by their remarkable families, he said.

"I am grateful for your support of our brave men and women in uniform, as well as of their families," Schwartz told the audience. "They have served our country nobly, and continue to serve with great distinction."