USAF Would Struggle to Fight Simultaneous Wars

Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said the Air Force can “sustain the current fight at the current operations tempo for the next 10 years,” but the service may not be ready to fight simultaneous wars. Speaking at New America’s “Future of War” conference in Washington, D.C., Goldfein said future readiness “depends on what else we’re doing.” In a global threat environment marked by the reemergence of great powers Russia and China, Goldfein warned that simultaneous conflict is where USAF starts “having challenges.” This is partly because “tiered readiness is not possible” for USAF, when “upwards of 80 percent of the Air Force goes forward first in the opening weeks of any campaign.” This creates a readiness imbalance across the force. Forward bases like Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, represent “my highest level of readiness,” Goldfein said, but homeland bases become a “bill payer” when they “contribute the level of forces necessary” to maintain in-theater readiness. As a result, places like Shaw AFB, S.C., and Dyess AFB, Texas, have “significantly lower readiness,” he said. This is a “risk” Goldfein can live with today, but it would leave the service in a vulnerable spot in the event of simultaneous conflict.