Not Going “To Be Timid”

The views of the new Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton Schwartz, are emerging through his confirmation hearing testimony, a few public forums, and now in one of his first media interviews. Schwartz clearly disagrees with some positions taken by his predecessor. For instance, Schwartz has declared that 381 F-22s is too many; that he is not sold on restricting UAV flight operations to pilots; and that he would not put aircraft maintainers under flying units. Those views are supported in an interview with National Public Radio’s Tom Bowman, but Schwartz also expressed approval of positions of the previous USAF leadership. He believes the Air Force is “on a war footing” when it comes to providing intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capability, unlike Defense Secretary Robert Gates who has criticized the Air Force for not pushing unmanned aerial vehicle assets into combat operations more quickly. Schwartz told NPR that the Air Force can meet its 50 UAV combat-patrol objective, but to go above that would “require more resources.” The service is increasing its operator training capacity, but Schwartz noted that there’s also an industrial base limitation. And, Schwartz believes that the nation must “balance [defense] for the current fight and future fights.” He also believes there may be a need to “suppress some appetites” in the services, but he declared, “At the same time, I don’t intend to be timid about why America has to invest in its Air Force.”