September 10, 2018

Discussion with Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Heather Wilson

By Jaelin Lespier

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) hosted a discussion with Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Dr. Heather Wilson, on strategic competition, Air Force readiness and force structure challenges, and acquisition reform. The discussion, moderated by CNAS Senior Fellow Susanna V. Blume, touched on the how the Air Force will realize the National Defense Strategy and change to account for an era of renewed strategic competition with China and Russia.

Synopsis of Secretary Wilson’s Opening Remarks:

The United States now exists in an era of great power competition, as outlined in the National Defense Strategy. The Air Force needs to adjust to the return of great power competition by preparing for high-end fights. The Air Force’s FY2019 and FY2020 budgets have both been heavily influenced by the NDS. There is a need to reorganize how the Air Force trains, how it’s equipped, and how it’s structured to face new threats posed by adversaries like China and Russia.

To the Air Force, the squadron is the fundamental fighting unit and it is also the unit that needs to be built out further. The number of fighter squadrons has dropped dramatically since beginning of engagement in the Middle East 27 years ago. The squadron is the heart and fist of the Air Force, as it’s the unit that creates a physical effect. The question that needs to be answered regarding how to best implement the NDS is “what kind of fist, with how much of a punch” is needed? Answering this question will help create a plan to build the Air Force needed for future fights.

The full video is available online here.

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