Schwartz: Back to Talkin’ Blue

The Air Force needs to resume advocating for its unique role and capabilities, especially now that the new national defense strategy demands such weapons systems and expertise, said outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz in a mid July exit interview. During his tenure, which began in August 2008, Schwartz said the service made “a conscious choice” not to promote airpower, focusing instead on being a supporting player in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I don’t apologize for making the best use of Air Force resources to see American objectives attained in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “There is still wisdom,” he added, “in your performance speaking for your institution. False bravado serves no useful purpose.” However, Schwartz recognizes that “this is a competitive environment” for resources “and it’s important for decision-makers, both on the policy and resourcing side, to appreciate the contributions of their Air Force.” Shifts in the “strategic setting” causing the United States to swing its focus to the Pacific—where distance and near-peer threats demand the Air Force’s long-range capabilities—”portend well for ‘global reach, power, and vigilance’ going forward,” asserted Schwartz. He also said the next Chief of Staff “will have an opportunity to change the formula” of how the Air Force presents itself to decision-makers and the American people.