The Air Force's senior military officer released his vision for the future in the CSAF Vector 2011, which highlights the service's unique contributions to national security and also provides updates and the way ahead on the Air Force's priorities.
"A year ago I presented a vision for our Air Force," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said. "That same vision remains: I see our Air Force rising, strong and capable -- an Air Force consistently and reliably delivering Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for America -- in what is likely to be a very challenging future.
"We made a lot of progress last year, but there is still much to accomplish," he said. "This Vector provides an update of where we have been and where we still need to go as the world's greatest Air Force."
In his Vector, Schwartz discusses the strategic environment and challenges facing today's Air Force, to include budget pressures.
"In the coming years, our nation and our Air Force will face a budget environment unlike anything we have encountered in decades," he said. "As elected officials consider what to do about the growing federal debt, pressure will mount to reduce defense spending.
"The Air Force will play a role in the solution, but not by retrenching or continuing business as usual on a reduced scale," he said. "My pledge for the coming year is to strengthen unit readiness and avoid a creeping hollow force that provides only the illusion of Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power.
"Yet, even as we operate aging systems, many Air Force capabilities require modernization to help us shape and respond to a very challenging future," the general said. "We must make difficult choices to balance near-term operational readiness with longer term needs, and fit all of that into a more affordable package."
The first step to achieving that balance is to reaffirm the Air Force's commitment to its Airmen and its mission, Schwartz said.
"We take pride in having a diverse, highly trained and educated force, and will continue to devote the necessary time and resources to develop Airmen who are prepared, individually and collectively, to solve the challenges of the future," he said.
The Vector also highlights the Air Force's unique contributions to national security, which the general said Airmen must understand, appreciate and be able to articulate.
"While we conduct many missions, there are four unique Air Force contributions that define us: gaining control of air, space and cyberspace; holding targets at risk around the world; providing responsive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and rapidly transporting people and equipment across the globe," Schwartz said. "We carry out each of these unique, advanced capabilities through an unmatched global command and control network.
"Collectively, they not only distinguish our Air Force as the preeminent air and space power, they also bolster the United States ' reputation as the world's most responsive and capable strategic actor," he said. "The nature of the rapidly changing security environment demands that we focus on sustaining these enduring contributions."
Schwartz's Vector also provides an update on progress made and the way ahead toward sustaining the Air Force's five priorities of continuing to strengthen the Air Force nuclear enterprise, partnering with the joint and coalition team to win today's fight, developing and caring for Airmen, modernizing inventories and training, and recapturing acquisition excellence.
"Guided by a common vector and the coming year's emphasis on unit readiness, we will continue to train and educate our people while we execute today's missions and work hard to develop the next generation of capabilities that will shape the future security environment," the general said. "Paired with the complementary capabilities of our Joint and coalition partners, we will ensure our Air Force remains poised to preserve peace and to provide Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for today's fights and for generations to come."
To read the CSAF Vector 2011 and other senior leader viewpoints, visit the information section on AF.mil at http://www.af.mil/information/viewpoints/index.asp