Though not in the top three acquisition priorities, the Air Force must think hard about how to rebalance its combat search and rescue forces, Air Combat Command boss Gen. Hawk Carlisle said March 17 in Washington, D.C. Speaking at a McAleese Associates/Credit Suisse conference, Carlisle said ACC is now working on ensuring the success of the Combat Rescue Helicopter and is moving out on modernizing the HC-130 fleet with HC-130J models. ACC also wants to evolve how it trains and utilizes joint terminal attack controllers and pararescue airmen across the CAF, including work on how these forces deploy to some of the more “challenging events” that USAF could be called to fight in. “[Personnel recovery] in PACOM is different than in Iraq,” Carlisle said, and in scenarios in places such as Europe or Africa. Another important factor in retooling CSAR for future high-threat challenges is how to fill the “Sandy” armed escort role, currently performed by the A-10, Carlisle said. Though the close air support discussion has dominated the debate over the future of the A-10, Carlisle said USAF has to work out what the “’sandy one’ airplane that will be part of that PR fleet” will be.
Adm. Christopher Grady, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and head of the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, is pushing a “portfolio” approach to requirements and wants his position to have “more teeth” so he can enforce it.