Waking Up from the Pipe Dream

The Air Force’s strategic plan “for the mid-20’s and beyond is a pipe dream; we can’t afford it,” Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said Thursday. Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, D.C., Welsh said USAF will publish a new strategy in June; something it hasn’t had for nine years, he said. Called “Strategic Agility,” it will be a 30-year “call to the future” and a new guiding concept in the continuum that started in the 1940s with strategic bombardment and moved on, over the decades, through nuclear deterrence, AirLand, counterinsurgency, parallel warfare, and Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power, Welsh said. Broadly, it means flexibility in “decision making … resourcing … acquisitions … how you respond to a crisis (and) … how you deliver weapons on the battlefield.” It will include a threat assessment, how the Air Force fits in with the other services, “human capital development, training and education,” science and technology, and a research and development element to enable USAF to get where it needs to be in 2040-2050. It also will encompass 13 smaller roadmaps and master plans to ensure they agree with each other. The strategy is to be “something that lives and breathes” and is constantly debated and updated, Welsh said. In addition, it will be reviewed every two years and updated every four. It will be “fiscally informed” and anything new will have to displace something else within a service-wide portfolio. “If you go above that line, you can’t add it,” he noted, insisting the new plan will be realistic.