The Importance of Being Civil

The Air Force and the special operations community should build their expertise in the area of civil aviation, says Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. After all, they’ve helped partner nations build up such capacities, for example, in Iraq over the past several years. Plus, the importance of civil aviation is not lost on the Afghan government, particularly its minister of transportation, Schwartz told attendees at this week’s conference on special operations and low-intensity conflict in Washington, D.C. “They have discovered that Afghanistan sits in a very important place on the planet, and it’s a place that, if properly orchestrated, becomes an aviation highway,” he explained. This highway, he continued, might lead to potential income and offer an alternative to the fledging economy’s dependence on the narcotics trade. “This could be a real boon to the Afghan economy and the Afghan government,” he said. Civil aviation “brings things to market. It allows people to coalesce. It allows governments to reach out from the center [of their country] to the periphery,” said Schwartz. (For more from Schwartz’s speech, see Promises Aren’t Made to be Broken and Game-Changing Integration)