PACAF, USAFE Lack Resources and “Perfect” Posture for Major Wars

PACAF chief Gen Charles Brown (left) and USAFE chief Gen. Tod Wolters (right) said their commands lack the resources and posture needed to fight a large-scale war against a near-peer adversary. Staff photos by Mike Tsukamoto.

The Air Force’s two geographic major commands do not have the resources and posture needed to fight a large-scale war against a near-peer adversary, and would likely never get to a place where they are 100 percent comfortable.

But, it’s their job to make do and be as effective as they can with what they have, the heads of Pacific Air Forces and US Air Forces in Europe said at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

PACAF boss Gen. Charles Brown said during a panel discussion there is currently not enough fuel or a large enough weapons stock in the Pacific to meet the need for a fight against an adversary such as Russia or China, as outlined in the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy.

“Unlike Europe, I don’t have roads and railroads that connect everything, and it takes time to get places,” Brown said, adding that PACAF and allied nations in the region are working through ways to preposition materiel. His command is conducting airfield surveys to get an idea of the fuel that is available as well.

In Europe, the Air Force’s posture isn’t “perfect,” USAFE boss Gen. Tod Wolters said during the same panel. “Right now we don’t have the posture that we would prefer,” he said, adding that the command needs to take the resources it does have in place and “get the greatest effect” possible.

Wolters, in an interview following the panel, explained that in Europe, “We’re probably not as fast or as deep” as they would like to be with regards to being able to bring combat effects into a possible conflict in Europe, speaking not just of a lack of aircraft in USAFE but also of limits in ground and maritime assets available to US European Command.

“You always want to shoot faster, you always want to shoot more accurately, you always want to be able to shoot longer,” he said.

Additionally, there is room for improvement in being able to more quickly bring materiel into Europe. “I’ve yet to meet a commander who will look you in the eye and say ‘I’m really happy with how fast everything shows up.’ ”