As Air Force Shrinks, Grow the Squadron

As the Air Force shrinks to the smallest size in its history, the squadron must become “the heartbeat of the Air Force,” the service’s top uniformed officer said. Offering a rationale for his plan to revitalize the squadron, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein called squadrons spaces to “infuse … the culture of what it means to be an airman.” The squadron is “where we’re going to mold them, we’re going to groom them, that’s where they’re going to thrive….that’s where the mission of the US Air Force is going to succeed or fail,” Goldfein said at the Defense One Summit in Washington, D.C. In 1990, the Air Force had 1 million members and 134 fighter squadrons. Today, the Air Force has only 660,000 members and 55 fighter squadrons. At the same time, “we’ve grown the mission over time,” Goldfein said, demanding more from a smaller force. The challenge of sustainability in this environment requires a “four-year effort” to place the squadron back at the center of the force. The program will be an “evolution, not a revolution,” Goldfein said. “If we can get that piece right both from a resource perspective and from a cultural perspective …then we’ll get a lot right.”