CSAF’s Way Forward

New Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has three areas he wants to deeply study to revitalize the Air Force, and he has named three generals to lead a team charged with figuring out how to do that.

Goldfein, speaking for the first time as Chief at ASC16, said he wants to spend four years looking at how to revitalize the squadrons across the service, strengthen joint leaders and teams, and improve multi-domain command and control.

“If we focus on these, we’ll be ready for the next conflict,” Goldfein said. “We have from right now until then to get ready. And it will take all of us—airmen, industry, allies, joint partners. All of us working together.”

Brig. Gen. Stephen Davis, the director of manpower, personnel, and services, will lead the team looking at how to revitalize squadrons. “I believe that it is the squadron level where we succeed or fail as an Air Force,” Goldfein said. “It’s where our culture resides. It’s where airmen are developed, where airmen and families thrives. Where training and innovation occurs.” The service needs to ask the “fundamental question” of what does a 21st century squadron look like, including a possible civilian and military mix.

Brig. Gen. Brian Killough, the director of strategy, concepts, and assessments, will begin the study of strengthening joint leadership. This includes changing how officers and enlisted airmen are developed to focus more on work across services. Goldfein said he is starting with 9th Air Force, certifying Air Force leadership as joint task force commanders.

Goldfein also wants the Air Force to change how airmen deploy, moving away from sending a single airman to combat. Airmen need to prepare to deploy as a team, and return as a team. While there is no solid idea yet of what these teams would look like, Goldfein said he would expect at least three airmen would work together.

Lastly, Brig. Gen. Chance Saltzman, the director of future operations, will look at developing next generation, multi-domain command and control as the joint force moves to the “information age of warfare.”

The Air Force has a significant portion of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and the service needs to find out how to “fuse that information” in a way to reach decisions faster than possible opponents. This could include common mission systems, common data, and common architecture analyzed by machine-to-machine teaming to let the AIr Force process the massive volumes of ISR data it receives faster than adversaries, Goldfein said.