Snapshot of the Force

Jan. 1, 2005

Gen. John P. Jumper, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, has been USAF’s top uniformed leader since September 2001. On Nov. 17, he and the Chiefs of the three other branches appeared before the House Armed Services Committee to discuss a broad range of US military topics. What follows are excerpts of Jumper’s remarks.

AEF Reconstitution

“Last February, … we talked about the reconstitution of our air expeditionary forces [after the Iraq war]. … We were in the midst of experimenting to see if the AEF concept actually worked. It was the first big test—… reconstitution following major combat operations. … While we weren’t able to reconstitute quite as quickly as I thought, … we will be through with all of our major reconstitution by July [2005]. … I can report that our ability to pull eight of our 10 AEFs forward to engage in major combat operations, and then reset those, has been a success.”

Longer Rotations

“We are now in a good rotation pattern. We’ve reset our deployment time during current operations from 90 days to 120 days. … About 80 percent of our force … is on a 120-day rotation. About 20 percent of the force that’s in very high demand is longer than that—up to one-year rotations. But we are very pleased with that success.”

More From Tactical Airlift

“Our C-130 fleet … is flying many sorties a day in support of ground operations [in Iraq]. In my recent visit [to Iraq], one of my conclusions is that we can still do more. And we came back with a charter to our tactical airlift community to see what we can do even more to … reduce some of the pressures on the convoys that are on the road and reduce the casualties that result from those convoy operations.”

Airlift Under the Radar

“Our airlift forces, 55 percent of which are Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, have lifted more than 2.8 million tons and over 11 million passengers. It’s remarkable that, when we did the swap-out of the Army between phases of the current operation, we swapped out more than 250,000 soldiers in a very short period of time, and, quite frankly, nobody knows [about it]. It was a seamless operation, and I’m very proud of that.”

Future Total Force Missions

“Our Future Total Force [initiative] will look at our Air National Guard and our Air Force Reserve and get them into the modern missions that define contingency operations today. … We’ll do this with a plan to inaugurate associate units that associate National Guard and Air Force Reserve units with active units, in there working with them every day to take advantage of the manpower in more efficient ways.”

No ANG Reductions

“There’s nothing in any of our plans that reduces the manpower of the Air National Guard. That’s point No. 1. We will be asking the Air National Guard to transition into the more modern missions, along with the active duty. These more modern missions will include different things, like space operations, information operations, command and control, unmanned air vehicles.”

Recruiting, Retention Success

“We are enjoying … excellent results in our recruiting and our retention. As a matter of fact, one of the problems is that our end strength is more than it should be. And we’ll be spending the next year working down to our authorized end strength of 360,000 active duty in our Air Force. In order to keep from breaking faith with anybody who wants to stay in the Air Force, we’re going to take this mostly out of our initial recruiting. We have a plan to do that, and I think it’s going to work. I do not want to kick any airman out of the Air Force who wants to stay.”

F/A-22 for the World Environment

“We’ve seen around the world the continued manufacture of highly technical surface-to-air missile systems and highly technical aircraft—still being produced, still being delivered around the world. We have taken pride in the fact that our F/A-22 program is now emerging from the test phase and into production phase with magnificent results. And we will look forward to getting that deployed [for use when USAF must] go into contested airspace in the future.”

Raptor Program on Track

“With regard to the F/A-22, we [are] in the final phases of the operational test and evaluation. It is unbelievable the results that we have gotten. … The [program] is on track for the deployment to Langley [in 2005]. And, as you know, the facilities are being built, and we look forward to activating that first operational squadron.”

Ubiquitous UAVs

“There are some 450 unmanned air vehicles over there [in the Gulf theater] right now. … We have seen great progress in integrating those with our bomber forces and our kinetic forces and even weapons that are carried on the UAVs themselves.”

Old Aircraft, Ridden Hard

“When I came into the Air Force, the average age of our fleet in the Air Force was about eight years. Today that is 23 years, and if we do everything that’s in our program, that will grow to 26 years—the average age of our aircraft. It’s not unknown to this committee what those problems are. … Just taking our tanker fleet alone, we’ve increased the flying time of our tanker fleet by some 33 percent, just since 9/11. And we are working ways to try and work that average age down.”

Cost of Operations

“Our current monthly burn rate in the ongoing operation [in Iraq] is about $800 million. … As we look out to the future, it’s hard to get the exact estimates, and we’re still working on the categories of modifications, vehicles, equipment, and bare base equipment that are being used up at a great rate. We have some 14,000 tents out there, set up throughout the AOR, right now, and those will last for about one season before they have to be replaced.”

Blurring Lines

“The line between all strategic, operational, and tactical levels of warfare is beginning to get fuzzy. … Assets that might be taking the picture or gathering the intelligence in one part of the world on one operation … are the same platforms that have to be able to shift seamlessly over to help the engaged maneuver unit of soldiers or marines on the ground with their current fight. You may be gathering signals intelligence or photographic intelligence with this asset, … and then the next minute it’s called over to participate in … a firefight, with streaming video to put weapons on targets for maneuver units on the ground. It’s our ability to be able to shift seamlessly back and forth between those two things that we have to pay the closest attention to, in my estimation.”

The Modern Airman

“What’s remarkable to me is how well these youngsters in this contemporary culture respond to leadership, to sense of mission, and take pride in being a part of something that’s bigger than they are. And when you go over there and talk to them, it’s all about those higher-order values that they cherish—and thus this sense of mission and their dedication to complete this mission.”