A New Paradigm

A New Paradigm: Weighing in on the matter of resetting the Air Force after over a decade of combat deployment cycles in US Central Command, Air Combat Command boss Gen. Michael Hostage suggested Wednesday afternoon as the Four Star Forum at AFA’s Air & Space Conference that the operational construct which has evolved for airmen and expeditionary air forces to deploy will not go away. Recalling what a “peacetime” Air Force looked like when he was coming up in ranks, Hostage said it was built around large garrisons of forces in Western Europe, waiting for a Soviet provocation or invasion through the Fulda Gap—and pilots and crews would jump at a chance to get a TDY or deployment outside of their stations. When the US brought forces out of Iraq, only 20 percent went back stateside—the rest were shifted to Afghanistan, he noted. “We are a much smaller Air Force today and those requirements continue to grow,” Hostage said, noting that in addition to combat tours, airmen and aircraft are heavily engaged in partnership engagements in all theaters. Even as the force draws down from Afghanistan, it will be “expeditionary in character” and is a “new paradigm for our Air Force, and it will be a part of the future.”