Nellis AFB, Nevada -- General Carlisle: Thanks folks. Thanks. It's wonderful to be here and I truly appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with you.
I have to tell you, though, that as I got ready, I was sitting here with Chairman McKeon, Secretary Peters, General Walls, General North, General Hester, I kind of feel like a Weapons School student for his final ride and he's got eight IP's with him. You know, you're just waiting. When every one of them looks down and writes something, you know you're in trouble. So if I look around you and the big brains are out here, if they all start writing at the same time, I'll stop talking.
It is great to be here, and [Brennan], thanks very much, I appreciate the opportunity. This is a great forum and I have to say I appreciate the opportunity to give my point of view, and that's what I'm going to give you today is an opinion on how things are going and what's going on out there and where ACC is headed. But this is a great opportunity for us to tell the story, and frankly, I don't think as airmen we are as good as we need to be in telling our story because what air power does for this nation is simply amazing. We are the key to success in any joint fight and we have to be better at telling that story. AFA and the Mitchell Foundation do a great job in helping us do that, so hopefully we'll get to that.
Most folks know, ACC's got a lot going on. It's the largest command in the Air Force as we're all well aware of. CAP air power is everywhere in the world. As I always brief when I do a Commander's Call, the sun never sets on Air Combat Command. Worldwide locations. It's actually up to about 70 now. There's not many -- Well, there are no corners of the globe that we're not covering.
So a couple of things I'll tell you.
We know that as an Air Force and certainly as an Air Force and the military in the future, we have more demand on us than we have money, manpower or time. We are going to run out of one of those resources before we get to what we want to do or what's being asked of us. That's a fact of life. In today's BCA level budgets it's only going to get worse with time until something changes, hopefully, but nobody's counting on that now. So we have to prioritize.
And it's pretty basic when we get to ACC. We talk about three basic priorities. They're simple, they're very understandable, and it's not deep thinking at all, as you might imagine, because I'm not known for deep thinking. So I'll kind of talk today kind of in those three priorities.
The first priority is, we have to win today's fight. We have to provide to the combatant commanders the most capability we possibly can and capacity to meet their demands. And I will tell you, if you look at the global force management and the desire of the COCOMs, we are not meeting their demands. We're trying. We're getting as close as we can, but we are not giving them everything they want, just because we don't have enough folks to do it.
As part of that, and I think everybody is well aware of that, but part of that as we struggle through these budgets, and I wasn't going to talk a lot about budgets today, but was we struggle through these budgets there's some modernization that we have got to do. We'll talk about that a little bit in the second priority. Then there's an infrastructure and there's a force structure that as everyone's well aware of we're having challenges getting through Congress with our plan and what we would like to do, whether it's divesting old infrastructure or other things. And then there's readiness and the O&M budget. Unfortunately, there's a constituency for modernization and there's a constituency politically for force structure and infrastructure. The only real advocate or constituency for readiness is us. I will tell you, that's the thing that worries me the most in the future. If you can't diverse force structure you have got to continue to modernize to be the best Air Force in the world 10 and 15 years down the road, which frankly, I think everybody knows is in jeopardy, then the only place to go is readiness. That's one challenge that we're facing today.
So as I go through there priorities I'll talk to them fairly basically and then I really would like to open it up for questions for what everybody would like to talk about.
So basically what CAP air power is doing today -- 18 nations coalition fighting the Daesh extremists in the Middle East. I know there's a lot of talk about on about what air power is and is not doing in that fight. I would just like to kind of talk about it from what we have under our control. There's a political side of this, there's an all of government side of this, there is an international coalition side of this in what's going on, but from what we have control over, air power is doing amazing things in the fight. They truly are.
As everyone here knows, you need only spend a few minutes looking at it, but it is an incredibly complex battlefield. What's going on over there, the factions, who's fighting who, who's a good guy and who's a bad guy, is incredible. And critical for long term success, I think if you talk to Lloyd Austin, John Hesterman or anybody, is we can't afford to disenfranchise the local people. We can't afford to disenfranchise the tribes that we're fighting with over there, and our ability to prevent civilian casualties and not do unintended harm is critical to our success.
We all know that no single tactical strike is going to change the war but if we take away from the Iraqi government, if we disenfranchise the locals then we're going to have a problem.
So the discussions on what air power is and is not doing is one that I'll address and I'll address more in questions if people have it. But air power's doing amazing things over there. We are simply the most precise and the lowest civilian casualties in history as we conduct these strikes. We can't afford to do anything different, as you're all well aware of, but the fact that we have got the least amount of civilian casualties and we are being the most precise as we move forward is something that's incredibly important to me.
The question that comes up and you hear a lot of different folks talk about it in a lot of different venues is could we do more?
Again I will tell you within our control of what we have to work with today, our air power is doing everything we can do and they're being amazingly successful and I think that's some of the part that is dropped by the wayside to some extent.
We're taking a serious toll on their morale and their capability to Daesh. About 4200 strikes so far and about 14,000 weapons have been dropped. We've taken about 13,000 enemy fighters off the battlefield since the September/October time frame and despite what again is a lot of talk, we have regained territory, about 25 percent in Iraq of the territory that was lost initially has been gained back.
Then you have to think about the successes we had at Sinjar and Amerli in the humanitarian disaster that occurred there that we prevented from happening. We dropped about 1.4 million tons of and resupply to the Iraqi Security Forces and prevented what would have been a horrendous human disaster if you think about what could have happened.
We've taken about a thousand of their vehicles off the battlefield to include tanks, armored personnel carriers and other military type vehicles. We've taken out in the order of 50 improvised explosive device factories where they're making them, to prevent those from being used against coalition forces and against the Iraqi Security Forces.
We've also taken out most of their cash cows and that's one that again is not highly publicized. But their best way to make money was oil collection and refining capacity. We've taken out about 90 percent of that. So if you think about their ability to finance what they're trying to do, we've done some significant work. We've aided in great Iraqi and other forces in their move to take territory back. And if you look at what happened in Kobani, we had CAS 24x7x365 for about three and a half months. We had airplanes overhead continuously for about three and a half months, every minute of every day. Pretty impressive when you think about it.
The resources required to do that, as you all know, is amazing but the folks over there are meeting that demand. So as we talk about this, I think one of the problems, one of the challenges that you face is there's a lot of discussion on what air power can and cannot do. It is a complex battlefield and you all know that, but if you think about what's going on there and the factions that are fighting each other, what we've discovered from people on the ground in the case of the Iraqis, the Iraqi Security Forces and other folks inside of Syria. If you think about the people on the ground and what they're looking at, from both ground and air, determining who the actual adversary is is an incredible challenge.
I just talked to Jeff Lofgren who just came back from being [DCFAC], and he said in his last year there, so since the war started in the fall, he said from both ground source and air sources, our initial report of who the adversary was, who was Daesh, he said we've been wrong about 50 percent of the time. Fifty percent. And that's with ground forces as well. So being able to identify the enemy is an incredible challenge. And think about what would have happened if we would have acted on those first reports and about half the time we would have been wrong.
But we have changed their way of fighting. We have been very deliberate in our attacks. We've been very deliberate in who we've taken out. Again, lowest civilian casualties and the most precise airstrikes in history. And we have changed the way they fight. They don't march down the middle of any battlefield, they don't march down the middle of any towns anymore. We have taken out a huge amount of their capability to conduct operations. We've changed the way their hierarchy works. And you saw recently we took out one of their financiers. So our ability to change the way they fight and to change their ability to mass is pretty impressive.
Again, it's a complex battlefield. Is there more we could do? I think there's a lot of opinions about that out there and there's a lot of things we're looking at, but air power is doing some amazing work in that theater and in that fight. Again, I'll talk about that with anybody that wants to talk about it in questions. We can continue to expand on that.
Just briefly, though, there are other things going on in the world that you're well aware of. And what combat air forces power is doing around the world is amazing.
I'll tell you one thing, we stood up 25th Air Force, which used to be the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency and it became a NAF under ACC. I think it's one of the smartest things we could have done. My good friend Dave Deptula said it a long time ago. ISR is ops, and ops is ISR. It is no more true today than it has ever been. And having them part of the warfighting command and what we're able to do with that enterprise is simply amazing.
With respect to forces deployed throughout the world, if you look at what our ISR airmen are doing in the Pacific theater, what they're doing in the African theater, what they're doing in the European theater. Whether it's North Korea, China, South China Sea, East China Sea, reclamation projects, or it's the Ukraine and what's going on there, the Baltic air policing, what's going on in Africa everywhere from Libya to Somalia and Boko Haram and everything else, our airmen, especially our ISR airmen, are doing amazing work. Deployed almost continuously for the last 20-plus years, and the effort that they're doing is simply amazing.
Some of the products that you will see that come out on, whether it's what the Chinese are doing in the South China Sea or East China Sea, what the North Koreans are doing or what is happening in the Ukraine is all accounted for by our incredible ISR airmen.
Some of the things that are incredibly successful if you look at the Pacific in particular, our ability to use all our assets.
We used to have a tendency to just put people in CAPS and try to get whatever we could. We've become very much more deliberate in how we do that. Our ability to use different sensor suites on different airplanes, combine them to get greater fidelity on what the potential adversary is doing out there in a cross-cueing and using multi-INT capability from everything from U-2s, Global Hawks, to the P-8 to RC's to JSTARS and everything included is truly impressive.
So our first priority is we have got to meet the requirements of what the combatant commanders are asking of us. We're not doing that to the full extent. We're doing it to the best of our ability. Today we have about nine fighter squadrons deployed. It's probably going to go to 10 or 11. We have in excess of two bomber squadrons deployed. All of those exceed capacity for dwell with anything reasonable. If the plans occur as they currently are, we're somewhere around 54, going down to around 49 fighter squadrons in the future, which makes it a huge challenge if you have that many deployed continuously and depending on the balance between the ARC and the Active. So challenges as we go forward.
I believe that the requirement for fighter capability in the European theater is going to go up. The fighter requirement and the bomber requirement in the Middle East theater is not going to go down. And I think the desire for the Pacific is to retain all their forces assigned and get more if at all possible.
So the first priority is to be able to do that. The challenges are huge and we're working hard to get everything out the door that we possibly can.
The next challenge, and I kind of alluded to it in the beginning is how do we maintain greatest air power capability and to be the best in the world 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road? You've heard the Chief talk about it, many people have, our advantage over every other nation in air dominance is shrinking and it's shrinking at a very rapid rate. We still have the best Air Force in the world, we have the best capability in the world, but if we are not able to modernize, if we can't bring the F-35 fully into FOC, if we can't do long range strike bomber and family of systems, if we can't recap JSTARS, if we can't get new weapons, if we can't continue to modernize, based on what potential adversaries are doing out there, we will not own the dominance that we own today.
So what can we do to continue to be the best Air Force in the world?
In the case of ACC, we're the core function lead for 5 of the 12 core functions of the United States Air Force. The first is air superiority and that is the one that is the lynch pin for every other success in the joint fight. You have to have air superiority or you lose not only the air battle, but you lose the ground battle as well. I think everybody's well aware of that. And our advantage in a highly contested environment is shrinking rapidly with what our adversaries are doing out there. We need only look at both what the Russians and the Chinese are doing to see that that advantage is shrinking.
So we're spending a lot of time on that. Mike Holmes is here. He can spend more time and help us out in understanding that, but we've stood up what is called an Air Superiority Enterprise Capabilities Collaboration Team. A guy named Grinch Grynkewich is going to lead that. He's the 53rd Wing Commander. He's about to go [up north] from [Mobile]. We're reaching out to everybody and we're looking at air superiority in the future and how we maintain it. We're looking at the other services. We're talking to the other services, DoD, industry, think tanks. Industry to a large extent to get a benefit from all their insights and what we're doing moving forward.
So our ability to do air superiority in the future is one that we have got to be able to do. That's the first premise that we have to get to. We have to understand what it means in the future context, what kind of threat environment we expect to face out there, how do we maintain freedom to attack and freedom from attack through the air domain. And we're not looking at it from a platform centric mentality. We're looking at it through the Capabilities Collaboration Team and a system of systems or family of systems capability. We're deconstructing that and bringing it back together to get where we can make a difference. What we can do to continue to maintain that advantage in the air domain in the future.
The other four core functions besides air superiority are global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; global precision attack; C2; and personnel recovery.
On the global integrated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, that is the most in-demand capability by any of the combatant commanders. That's what they want. If you ask any one of them, if I have one more dime, what do you want? The first thing they'll ask for is more ISR, and more ISR, and more ISR to meet the demand out there.
So as we move forward and we're looking at what happens is, what is the follow-on to our ISR platforms? What does penetrating ISR look like? What is that capability?
The other part of ISR that I think we have to work really hard on is the penetrating platforms will probably be the F-22, the F-35, and the long range strike bomber. So how do you off-board the ISR piece of that? Those are all flying sensor suites that have amazing capabilities, so how do we take advantage of that as part of the ops as ISR and ISR as ops? And how do we off-board all that and get as much as we can to enable the entire fight?
As we've seen with F-22s, by the way, in the Syria fight and the Iraq fight, every single package that goes north has F-22s in it because of the advantage that airplane gives to the entire fight, it enables almost everything else that happens and it makes every other airplane in that strike package that much better. And we've learned that and we think the same is going to be true with the F-35. Again, the incredible sensor suite on that airplane as it comes forward, and our intent obviously the long range strike bomber is going to be the same way. So how do we take advantage of that in our discussion of ISR? What does next generation ISR look like? What is penetrating ISR? How do we do that? What's the combination of on-orbit capability and air-breathers and other sensor suites that we can put out there to include cyber ISR which is part of that discussion? What does the sensor and data gathering capability look like?
The next part of that and the one that is often not talked about enough is the PED part of that. How do you do the processing, exploitation and dissemination? What kind of machine-to-machine? How much valuable information today in the fight has fallen on the floor because we simply don't have enough people to look at every bit of data that we're collecting? And y'all know that. If you look at how much information we're collecting in the AOR today and in every AOR today, and how much we're actually able to process and exploit and get the information back out to the warfighters, how do you do the machine-to-machine? How do you take advantage of those advanced capabilities? What's next on the PRA front?
Every time I talk about RPA's I say RPA's DCGS, because RPA's is only part of it. You have to have the DCGS part of it as well.
So as we look at the Geezer portfolio, as we affectionately call it, is how do you do all those things? It is not a step back, it's a step in, in that we have to take advantage of every sensor suite that's out there to include our fifth gen capability as we move forward.
The next one is C2 and I've been affectionately called the C2 zealot, and I am because the command and control of theater air power is something we do better than anybody in the world. We do command and control of theater capability better than anybody in the world, but it is in jeopardy. Every other nation in the world, every potential adversary out there knows that if we own everything more than eight feet off the ground, we'll win. We'll take them down. And we've proved it again and again. So how can they deny us our ability to command and control air power? How can they keep us from getting inside their decision loop and their decision advantage so that we maintain it?
So on the C2 front there's a couple of platform specifics. We've got to recapitalize the JSTARS. We're working hard on that. Not long after that we've got to figure out how to recapitalize the E-3 as a command and control platform. We've got to put BMC2 -- battlefield management command and control -- on the airplanes. We firmly believe that. And then we have to do the entire enterprise. We're looking at AOC 10.2. We're making huge inroads on that. That is going to be a step in the right direction. It's not going to be the final answer but it's going to be a step in the right direction.
Then as we look at the platform capability and the weapon system specific, the next thing we have to think about is what's the organization look like?
So one of the things, we just had a C2 Summit and now that's going to be, a C2 Summit's going to be part of every WebTAC every year. The intent is where we're at, where we're going, and what progress we've made.
So one of the questions is, we have seven AOC's out there. Seven geographic AOC's, two global AOC's. How can we man those? What kind of resources does it take to take care of them?
At AFCENT you have 1200 or 1300 people in an AOC. In PACOM and in EUCOM you have 400. So how much can we afford? How are we going to build that? How much has to be forward and how much can you do with a federated reach-back capability?
We just stood up the 363rd Intelligence Wing which took the Air Force targeting center, some of the analysis, some of the other work and they're doing incredible work.
Just a quick vignette, the guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they're combing through social media. They see some moron standing at this command, and in social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capability for Daesh, ISIL. These guys go ah, we've got an in. They do some work. Long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three JDAMs take the entire building out. Through social media. It was a post on a social media; the bombs on target in less than 24 hours. Incredible work when you think about it, and it was these incredible airmen out there doing these kind of things.
So how do you stay inside of that? How much can be reach-back? How much of that can be done from one place instead of the other?
I believe, being a former JFAC, we have several in here that were former JFACs, you have to have, I don't know, 400-500 people forward. You have to have a number of folks that are talking to the other components, that are talking to the joint force commander, that understand the theater and they have to be there. But you probably don't need a thousand or 1200. You can probably do a lot of that in what we're now terming America's AOC. But some reach-back capability. How do you federate that and how do you get it to reach-back? So it's not just the systems when we talk about where we're going with C2, but rather it's the discussion of organization and effectiveness and how you can build the system for the future. We're starting down that road. We've got a long ways to go.
We have had incredible liberty to do what we want for the past 20 years. Nobody's threatened our command and control capability to any degree at all in the last two decades. That is not going to hold true in the future so we have to figure out how to fight C2. Even when you talk to John Hyten, one of the smartest guys I know, he talks about fighting SatCom. How do you fight SatCom? You can do it but you have to have authorities, you have to have responsibility, you have to have ability to do things that you can't necessarily do today when our SatCom enterprise is bifurcated in many different areas, and one service has one capability and another service owns another one and they don't come together. But you can fight SatCom.
There are some other great technologies out there. Wideband HF. There are some other things out there we're looking at, how to maintain that C2 capability. So all of that is part of the C2 enterprise. You can tell I'm a little passionate about it as I go forward.
Global precision and attack is one that I think we talk about all the time. It's incredibly in demand. The two keys to that today are the FOC of the F-35. It's got to get there. It's got to get there with all the capabilities we need it to have. It's got to -- And it will, but we have work to do to get there, as you well know.
The long range strike bomber is the other one on global precision and attack where you have got to get there on that platform.
The success we're having with F-22 when it comes to GPA is phenomenal. We're seeing it every day. There's another vignette where we had our Raptors, again in a reach-back mode, got a kind of a late indication of some artillery pieces, AAA that the adversaries had in Syria. Again, long story short, put them on alert, loaded them up and within from notification ID to bombs on target it was about fourteen and a half hours. They found out that morning they wanted to attack sometime around two or three in the morning and we made it in about fourteen and a half hours. Loaded the airplanes up, sent them as far west into Syria as you can possibly go. F-22s are the only ones that could have done it and we took out artillery pieces, again, staying inside that adversary's decision loop.
So global precision and attack and where we're going in the future. I think weapons are the other part of it and I think everyone is well aware industry's helping us with this. What does the next generation of weapons look like, what do you get with standoff capability? How much long range, long endurance capability do we need? How much long range, long endurance penetrating capability can we get to when we get to long range strike? And how we take advantage of that capability or standoff with a long range weapon that can get in there and do the same type of thing that we're working really hard on on GPA.
Survivability in the standoff, I will tell you directed energy weapons is the other thing we're looking really hard at. Directed energy initially will probably be survivability to allow our platforms to penetrate and then at some point we'll transition that to an offensive capability with directed energy as well. So both high powered microwave, laser capability, those are two that we're looking really hard at, trying to move that forward. The labs are doing some great work for us in helping us out across the board.
The final core function that we're responsible for is personnel recovery. We have got to keep the combat rescue helicopter on track. We have to keep the HC-130J on track. PR is a moral imperative that we as an Air Force have got to do. Our success in the fights we've been in in Iraq and Afghanistan are second to none. If you look at the coalition force, the entire airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines, coast guardsmen. Everybody that we've pulled out the PR capability is core to what we do. We've got to keep those on track and we've got to move forward on that.
So as we look at modernization, those are kind of the things that we're thinking about and that's the area that we're working forward on in each one of those. Again, I can go into more detail on what we're thinking about if there are any questions.
Our final priority, as you might imagine, I won't spend a lot of time on this because they speak for themselves, but our incredible airmen. What they do every single day is incredible. My job in life is to take care of our airmen and their families and I'm doing everything in my power to do that. They continue to produce and do things that are second to none.
I have a few vignettes, I'll just tell stories because I love talking about then. We have young airmen out there. Tech Sergeant Ziebert down at 554th Maintenance Group. He's figuring out, he's in what's called AFREP. It used to be called Gold Flag. It's where you take stuff that the depot said is not useable, you have to buy a new one. The new one costs a thousand hunyackers, and some airman can figure out how to fix it for ten. So Tech Sergeant Ziebert's doing that. He's fixing MPGs, he's fixing, building new circuit cards to be used in the E-3. Now think about that. Talk about an aging weapon system, and he's figuring out how to get in front of that.
Some folks may have seen it in the paper, Staff Sergeant Marion, and it's commonly referred to as the Frankenphone. If anybody has heard this. An amazing story. These guys in the GCS's, they're trying to talk on the phone and fly their airplane and they've got chat over here and they've got another headset here and they can't keep it all straight. They can't hear anything.
So the first iteration was they put it on speakerphone. That didn't work. The second iteration was they took a headset apart and duct taped it to the phone, which you know, duct tape fixes everything, right? So they put an ear piece and a mouth piece and they duct taped it on the phone. Well that didn't work either. So this young airman said, you know, I can do this. He went to Radio Shack and spent $17 and got his soldering iron out, put up a little sign that says don't touch the soldering iron, it's hot. And then he built this universal adaptor device with parts from Radio Shack. So you can plug anything into it and it can come through your headset to either transmit or receive and it cost him $17.
Now if the Air Force would have done that it would have cost us $800,000 and taken six years, but this airman did it in one afternoon and figured out a way to do this. Just an amazing guy.
Master Sergeant Miller from the Vermont Air National Guard built, again, this guy this is the glory of our Guard and Reserve brethren and what they can do for us. This is a very very experienced master sergeant in the Vermont Burlington Guard unit there, but he built an F-16 beam repair tool. It used to be a case where you had to send all the Vipers back to depot to get this done. Well he figured out how to build this tool. An amazing accomplishment. He built it himself with the fab shop there. Took it to the depot guys and the depot guys go oh my God, this is brilliant. Now it's going to be Air Force wide for the Viper fleet and in the tens of millions of dollars he's saved. Because now for beam repair they don't have to go back to the depot. They can do them at home station. Just an amazing, amazing accomplishment.
One of my favorite ones, and this is the simplicity and the brilliance of what our airmen are doing every single day. So I'm walking through the Isochronal at the E-3s down at Tinker talking to these guys and they're talking about how they're getting their airplanes through Isochronal faster, they're getting them out on the line. Obviously we're short of airplanes in the E-3 community so they're trying to turn these airplanes as quickly as they can. They de-panel them, and if you've ever seen a depot kind of Isochronal, what they do with the wings, it's amazing. So he's telling me, he's bragging about it and he goes yeah, sir, we've taken 16 work hours off the Isochronal for the E-3. It's working great. And he goes, you know, it was really simple. The answer, the reason we saved all that time was, we locked the door. I looked at him and I went okay, you've got to tell me more, young man, I don't understand. He goes, we locked the door.
So here's our office space. Here's my office in the front and here's where all the guys are doing the work and they're doing flow days behind. Well, the back door was always unlocked. So everybody that wanted to talk to me would walk in the back door, bother all my guys for 15 minutes, and then finally make their way to my office and talk to me. So we just locked the back door. Now everybody has to walk around and come to me directly and I won't let them in the back door. He said 16 hours by locking the back door.
I decided I'm going to try that at ACC. [Laughter]. I'm going to lock the door and see how that works out for us.
Folks, our airmen are amazing. What we do for them is nothing short of spectacular, what they produce for this nation. I truly believe they are the greatest of their generation and I think they are the finest our nation has to offer. You see it every day out there. I know many of you have an opportunity to see it. We have some of them sitting here in the room with us today.
So that's what we're looking at at ACC. Huge challenges. I will tell you, those three priorities, we've got to win today's fight. We've got to provide for the capability and capacity we can. We've got to prepare for the future as we modernize, and then we've got to take care of the airmen and their families.
I will tell you the challenge that I face today I think and the biggest one. I mentioned readiness versus modernization versus force structure and infrastructure, it is capability versus capacity. You hear Secretary LaPlante and everybody talk about bending the cost curve. We have got to figure out a way to get the capacity -- I mean you can have the greatest widget in the world, the greatest airplane in the world, but if you only have one of them it's tough to get there from here. So capacity is part of our discussion.
We're going back to try to modernize some of our fourth gen capability to give it the most capability we can, because that capacity is required. We're trying to get back on the F-16s to get more capability in that platform because it is such a large portion of our capacity.
With that, I am open for questions for whatever is on any body's mind. Hopefully I didn't talk too long.
Moderator: Not at all. Thank you, sir.
Question: Sir, James Drew, Flight Global.
There's been a lot of discussion recently about the Block 4 roll-out for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. What capabilities does Air Combat Command need in that block upgrade that you can't afford to have slip further into the roll-out cycle? And specifically what type of weapons are critical?
General Carlisle: That's a great question. We're working that. As a matter of fact I think we just had a big meeting out in Oslo, Norway on the joint team.
So Block 4 for us, it's, the near term things. Centrifusion is one of the things we're working hard on and we're making some progress. We've got a ways to go. But I think as we look to the future, the big SAR and the advanced [EOTs] are the things that we have to have on the sensor side. The big SAR radar, can't afford to move and we've got to get to that advanced capability on the EOT. Those are two that are kind of in the lurch right now. The advanced capability on the EOTs is one we're working hard on. Weapons, obviously [SED-2s] and what that looks like.
I will tell you the other thing about the F-35 is it is going to have to be able to do air-to-air, and how we build the air-to-air capability into that platform. Again, just capacity. Obviously if we had more F-22's -- and we'll let that linger out there for a while. If we had more F-22's, probably one of the greatest mistakes made was the lack of more F-22's. But the air-to-air capacity of the F-35. Those are kind of the key things that I'm looking at as we move forward.
Question: Thank you, General. Sandra Irwin with National Defense Magazine.
On your point about the air power doing amazing things in Iraq, Syria, can you talk a little bit more about why it is that we hear such an optimistic assessment from you, but what we hear from a lot of the analysts on the ground, retired generals and other people, is that air power is not really moving the needle in this conflict. So can you maybe explain the wide disconnect between your assessment and their assessment? Thank you.
General Carlisle: Sure. Great question. I would hesitate to say optimistic.
Air power, I guess you have to start with the discussion of the conflict writ large and whether it's going well or not, and the adversary out there and the recruiting capability and what the Daesh is able to do and how they're able to continue in that part of the world. But that's the challenge that is the Middle East today, the factions that are fighting out there. Whether it's the extremist Sunnis, the Shias, the Kurds, the moderate Sunnis, the Iranian influence. You look at Yemen, the Houthis. So I'm reluctant to say I was -- I'm optimistic about what air power's doing that is within our control.
And so I think there's a lot that's outside of our control. There are a lot of whole of government challenges that we're facing. There are a lot of challenges that exist in the Syrian government. Obviously Assad, and there are a lot of challenges that exist within the Iraqi government and what Abadi's doing. And then there's the right on the ground. And as I said earlier, when these guys, whether it's an ISR capability looking at something that's going on, or it's a manned platform or whatever, the ability to tell who's on what side and who's fighting, whether it's civilians fighting back for their own land or it's a tribal or it's a militia or it's a Sunni extremist or it's an ISF, that is a huge challenge.
So I think from the air power perspective I would say that our air power's doing amazing things over there given what they have to work with as they go forward.
The broader context of the fight is a challenge. I think everybody has said, and I think it's true, this is a five to seven year conflict. This is a challenge for factional integrity that is a huge part of that part of the world today. Just the Sunni/Shia conflict is one that I don't think a lot of Americans understand the depth of that hatred for each other and how deep and how far that goes.
The Anbar Province, which is one that keeps getting thrown out there in Ramadi and what happened, first of all remember what it was like for the Americans fighting in the Anbar Province and the incredible amount of American blood we lost there. Then you think about the population that lives there and where their loyalties lie, and then you think about what's it going to take for the Iraqi government to have sovereignty over the Anbar Province. That's not an air power challenge. That is a challenge for that government and what's going on there.
I don't know if that answered your question, but it's what we can do given the capability and what we're allowed to do and what we need to do given all the other things that are going on in that part of the world.
Question: Andrea [inaudible] with Reuters.
Just to follow up on Sandra's question, Senator McCain and others have called urgently for the U.S. to send in ground forces as advisors to help call in those airstrikes. Can you tell us where you are in terms of your thoughts on that? How it's going now working with the Iraqis and whether you feel confident, whether your crews are confident that they're getting the right information. And what difference would it make to have Americans on the ground?
General Carlisle: First of all, I think that's a great discussion and it's not one that should be taken lightly, and it's certainly not one that's an easy discussion. As I mentioned earlier, what we have discovered even when we do have what we think is very competent, capable folks on the ground watching, it's hard to tell who's -- I mean it's not necessarily easy for those folks on the ground. We've made, as I said, about half the time we haven't got it exactly right of who's fighting who and what's going on here in what is a dynamic and very rapidly changing environment. So that's one part. So even with folks that we have fairly good confidence in, it's hard to tell what's going on on the ground.
I think the idea of putting American folks in there, there's more to just putting them in there. First of all, you have to protect them, you have to support them, you have to have all the capability to make sure that you're not putting them out on an island somewhere that you can't take care of them. And then the question is what's next? Again, this is a Hawk Carlisle opinion, so don't take this as any more than it is, but you start putting American soldiers back on that ground, you own it. Are we ready for that? There's a bigger discussion there.
I think if the decision is made to put American soldiers on the ground, I think we need to think long and hard about that as a nation. I think we need to understand, and I think when you make those comments, I think you've got to understand what it looks like on the ground today, and it is a complex, challenging environment, and putting Americans back in the middle of that, it's a big discussion.
Question: Good morning. Sergeant Bryce from Public Affairs Information.
What do you think is a misconception that the public has on the war on terrorism, and what would you like them to know?
General Carlisle: You notice how our airmen are smarter every single day? [Laughter]. They ask really good and difficult questions. I think, and part of it's a knowledge base and what is out in the open press versus what is actually happening. I think one of the challenges that we face, social media, the blogosphere, everything that we do with respect to communications, especially generations that are younger than I am, I think there's a lot out there and a lot of it's not factual. I think people throw stuff out there because they can write it in a blog and they heard it somewhere and you know, passing secrets through 27 different people, you never get the same at the end.
So I think what I'd like the American people to know is first of all, don't believe everything you read because often it started from misinformation and it just propagates as misinformation. But the fight is active, it is being heavily engaged across all the spectrums and all the domains, and I would tell you from an airman's perspective, air, space, our portion of the cyber fight, we are actively engaged in that and we are actively having successes that many people will never know about. But I think the biggest thing I would say is try to get to factual type information. You can always ask those questions and be careful of what you read in the environment that exists out there. That's what I would say. But we are having some -- It's a huge challenge, and I think it's one that is going to continue to be a challenge for decades to come. I think the fight that we have going on now in the Middle East is a five to ten year fight, but I think we're having more success than a lot of people probably realize.
Question: Good morning, General. John Tirpac, Air Force Magazine.
You're working with a lot of coalition allies, nations that we haven't really partnered with in dropping ordnance before. Tell us what they do well, and what they need coaching with, what kind of support we're giving them and what they can give us.
General Carlisle: Coalition partners have been fantastic. They're doing some great work. I'll tell you when you look at the folks who are flying, the 18 nation coalition that's flying in Iraq and Syria, and there is, some nations will fly only in Iraq, some will only fly in Syria, so there's a little bit of a challenge in some cases, but actually it's not much of a challenge. We've worked through it fairly easily.
I think one of the things is our air crew and our folks are so honed into ROE and precision engagement. We do a lot at night, obviously, and so I think most of the nations that we're flying with, the strict adherence to the rules of engagement, and they're great at it, they're learning it. It's something that they're learning as they go forward. I think their precision engagement, because they haven't necessarily had near the practice that we've had, they didn't have the level of munitions, and then ability to operate at night. So that combination of those three is one that I think coalition nations -- Now obviously, depending on which coalition you're talking about. The UK and the Aussies are right, we're all in it together. We've been doing this together for a long time. But some of the coalition nations from the GCC -- But there I will tell you, their learning curve is huge and some of the work that those nations have done -- The Jordanians have been outstanding. And they had a steep learning curve because they didn't have as much experience at precision munitions, they didn't have as much night experience. But they're picking it up really fast. They're doing well.
Question: Sir, Felicia Blair with A3Q Studies Group.
I was just wondering about AFRL's working on the newest version of Champ. What's ACC's next step? Is it an NKCE AOA? And do you see this becoming a requirement very soon.
General Carlisle: I mentioned directed energy weapons are something we're moving toward in the future. I think that what Champ has shown us and what we've learned from it is fantastic. What AFRL's done on that is great, and I think that is a great avenue and that directed energy capability and where it's going forward. The challenge we're facing right now is Champ and the platform it's on, CALCM versus the JASSM, the JASSM-ER type thing and how we transition that. So a huge future for that capability. We're working our way through, with Global Strike Command, and Sevvie Wilson and soon to be Bob [Oran] of the weapon and how we move that forward. It is going to be a requirement. That capability, it will be in our arsenal because it does provide great capability. We're just working our way through what weapon it's on.
Question: Sir, Rob Frank with the Air Force Sergeants' Association.
I appreciate the incredible stories of our technicians. I remember having many of those, fellow crew chiefs and other aircraft maintainers in the '90s that were frankly getting out because of the compensation in small part, or maybe large part at the time. So my question is we're on the cusp of a major change. The commission's report as well as what has been put into the House's bill and of course what we may see in the Senate. What do you think -- pro or con -- are concerns that you have that a change in a compensation system will have on retention and the ability to organize, train and equip airmen to carry on the nation's fight in the future?
General Carlisle: A great question and you could obviously from the way I speak know what I think of our airmen. They're absolutely amazing in what they do every day.
It's not the first time. We've changed it before. We've changed the retirement system before. So this is not the first time.
I think there's a couple of things about it. I've read the report. I think there's some good stuff in it. I think there's some stuff that's misinformed and probably not as good, and I would be against that. I think if you look at what the JCS, the Chiefs all got together and looked at it. I think we're making some recommendations, they are making some recommendations as we go forward.
I think the personnel cost is a factor. It is in the big U.S. budget, what's called entitlements or whatever you want to call it. What is the personnel cost, and what it is in the military is something we have to address.
I think if you look at the retirement plan, the one in particular, the co-pay and the medical care one, I think we've got to get really deep into that and understand it. In my opinion let there be no doubt, the best medical insurance in the world is what the U.S. military gives, especially into retirement. In my opinion.
So I think we have to look at that. I think that's a key point for our airmen to keep them in and certainly stay in for 20 years. On the commissary and BX, I think there's something we can do there. I think the BX is amazingly, they do well. AAFES and the Navy Exchange System, they do well. They handle it. Commissaries cost us a lot of money, and there ought to be a way they shouldn't. So I think there's something we can work our way through there.
On the retirement, piece, I think there's a couple of things that I would tell airmen. First of all if you're in uniform today you're going to be grandfathered. So nobody in uniform today needs to worry about it. So it's really the folks we're bringing in.
I think if you look at the options that are out there of being vested sooner, and you've heard the numbers. I think everybody has. Military writ large about 80-83 percent never get to 20 years that join. In the Air Force that percentage is lower. I think it's in the 65 percent or so because in the Air Force we have a tendency to spend a lot of money training folks and we keep them longer.
So I think the idea that you could have something at an earlier age, an earlier time, makes sense. I think some of the incentives to keep people in at some critical points, at the 12 years point and the 20 year point, I think you would still have some denominator of your pay later on, the 40 percent after 20 years which is being talked about.
And then if you're disciplined, potentially you would have more money and your annuity would actually provide a better retirement than the current one does today.
Now as Larry Spencer says, when I was 19 years old and they told me I could invest in a retirement plan or buy new hub caps, I'd buy new hub caps, and he's right. So there's a disciplined approach to this. But I'll tell you, and I get a chance to see the 100,000 or so that are in ACC, but I'll tell you, our young airmen are very smart, and they're forward thinkers. And I think if you give them all the information, let them look at it, and see what's available out there I think man of them will be as disciplined as we would hope. They'll get matching funds. They'll have what is a reasonable addition to their 40 percent retirement if they stay in 20 years. They have a lump sum potentially at the 12 year point. They can again, invest it wisely, can do some great things.
So I think there are some good things in the report. We've got to get personnel costs, we have to understand what it's doing to the rest of the budget and then how we're going to take care of it, but I think there are some positive things. I do.
Question: Colin Clark, Breaking Defense. Good morning, sir.
You're starting with the Marines to write the CAS and the new Joint Pub for the F-35. What lessons are you starting to draw, and are any of them affecting the A-10 retirement look and the general question of how much you'll use a gun vice PGMs?
General Carlisle: We're doing a lot of work and I would tell you what's happening at kind of the hub of this all as we move forward is what's happening at [Mott], what's happening at Nellis, and what's happening up at Falon. And Jay Silveria talks to those guys all the time. They spend a lot of time together. He goes down to Yuma, they come up to Nellis. We have exchange folks as we look at this.
I think there's a couple of things that I'll tell you. One is, and I think the Marines and the Navy are very open to this. The U.S. Air Force has been doing stealth for 35 years and the other services haven't. So we have a lot of experience from the 117's to the B-2's the F-22's and down to F-35's. So we've learned a lot over that last three and a half decades. We're bringing that into the discussion. But we're learning a lot from those services as well and their employment concepts.
The 3-1 is going to be co-written by all the services and it's going to incorporate those inputs from both the Marines and the Navy. And it's actually, it's going really well. And I will tell you there are portions that the Marines have already written and they're doing some fantastic work.
I think if you look at what we're learning with the F-35 as a coalition platform, as a joint service platform, its ability in the battle space to enhance everybody else around them, its capabilities in the environment, and it's across the spectrum for the missions we're asking that airplane to do, it's going to be amazing when it gets out there. And we're finding that as we're doing the tests and we're doing the OT&E out at Nellis and the airplanes out there as well as what they're still doing at Edwards.
When you talk about the discussion on A-10's, that discussion becomes very emotional very quickly. The A-10's a fantastic platform. You've heard everybody in the Air Force say that, the Chief included. That airplane will age out. We are going to have to retire it at some point. We'll work our way through with Congress how we're going to do that. The discussion on what the A-10 can do in the environment versus what an F-35 at FOC is going to do, the Block 4 F-35 with an IR marker and advanced [Fiat], all those things, the BDL, all those things that are part of that Block 4 we've been working hard to get into that airplane, it's going to be a great platform to be able to do that mission.
The question I keep asking when it comes to the A-10 is, the question you have to ask, okay, it's an uncertain future world. You don't know what's out in front of you. You can pick two out of three. F-16, F-35, A-10. Pick two. I mean I know the two I'd pick.
So I think it's not a question of the capability of the A-10, it's not a question of how much we think of that airplane in the future and when the F-35 is going to be to the level that it can do things that the A-10 can do. It's a different platform, but it is going to be an amazing airplane, and it's going to be able to do amazing things, and it's going to enhance the rest of the joint fight as we go forward. I don't know if that answers your question or not. But --
Question: -- Aussie Super Hornet pilot. You were talking about flying with the F-22 and you said he was able to do things he couldn't do any other way. Can you tell us a little more about the F-22 in the operation, because people don't grasp it.
A second question, Ospreys and personnel recovery. I understand the Chief has asked you to look into that.
Third, about the GCC, one of the missing things --
General Carlisle: So much for the one question. [Laughter].
Question: -- about the fight that people don't realize is you're flying four countries are flying AirBus tankers in addition to us and doing a big part of the refueling. So when you talk about the coalition it's not just -- We're getting real help.
General Carlisle: The answer to your last question is true.
The first two questions, I will tell you, the F-22 and what we have learned in exercise, we learned it in Northern Watch, we learned it in Red Flag, we are relearning it. We just keep reinforcing this message, is the ability of that airplane to enhance everybody else. It's SA, it's obviously super cruise, its ability to get there, the sensor suite, its ability to pass information, it's the ability to give the entire fight SA. I was telling the JTAR this, JTAR's son, who's a Raptor pilot, he didn't get to read the MisRep, but I did. But he did a mission, took off at about 6:05 at night and landed at 6:30 the next morning. He was airborne about 11.5 hours. He [relo'd] five times in that mission. Went to the tanker about seven times. He did strikes he did escort, he did redirect. He did ISR and passed data. I mean it's amazing what that airplane can do.
Back in the day when we were eventually going to make that fatal decision about not buying more of the F-22 we had a big exercise, Northern Edge, up in Alaska. We had a bunch of Navy Hornet guys up there flying with the Raptor. There was a portion of people that wanted to say the Raptor's not everything it's supposed to be, it's up there playing, diada diada, and they went up and talked to the Hornet guys, the Navy Hornet guys that were flying with the Raptor and to a person the Navy Hornet guys said I will never say anything bad about that airplane because it made me a better fighter pilot and it made my airplane that much more effective on the fight. And it's all that capability that the airplane brings.
Obviously its ability to get there and to penetrate and the sensor suite and fusion on that airplane is phenomenal.
The second question on CV-22's, we are looking hard at that. There's a lot of data, there's a lot of research that's been done on that. We're not finished yet so we're still looking at whether -- And our missions, because of range Africa is one place I can think about where the CV-22 can do quite a bit. But there are also limitations. It survivability in a threat environment, how it enters and the environment it puts itself in when it's doing recovery. So when we look at it, the CRH, the combat rescue helicopter is one that we have to have. We're looking at is there a balance there between CV-22's and CRH where maybe a mixed fleet might work. We're still looking at that. There are places where as a ConOp a CV-22 has some great advantage, but there are also some limitations to the platform and the question then becomes capacity. Our PR forces are low density, high demand. We're out of Afghanistan. The demand for the PR guys has not gone down at all. AS a matter of fact it's gone up. So there's a capacity discussion in what you get and how much, what kind of
TOA you're going to spend on those airplanes, so that's kind of the discussion as we go forward.
Question: Sir, James Drew again, Flight Global.
This is a discussion that's not in the headlines much but it's something I'm sure the department is working on. The phase-out of cluster munitions. You have a 2018, 2019 deadline for phasing out those. I believe each of the services has to submit a road map on how they're going to still achieve the same effects without cluster munitions. I know the Air Force has some iron fragment bombs that they're working on. What's the latest on that, and what's the Air Force's plan going forward?
General Carlisle: I think you're right, and I think we actually have a pretty good plan. We have some capability to change the weapon, and based on some of the things you talked about, it's also the ability to not -- Obviously the challenge with mines and leaving cluster munitions where they're a potential hazard to the population in the future for unexploded ordnance. So there are things we're working on. I can give you kind of the thumbnail is we're making advances. We don't think we're going to have any problem meeting the time line of 2018. But I'll tell you, the Korea Peninsula is the one that is the biggest demand for that capability. So as we look at how we do that, the volume of what we do, in fact the amount of cluster munitions that we talk about and use is a pretty small number. So it's kind of meeting a particular theater's requirement, but we have a good plan for getting around it. I think we're going to make it fine in the future.
Question: Can you talk a little bit about sustainment for the JSF and ALIS and the coalition and where it's going?
General Carlisle: It's something that, I couldn't spell anatomic, autonomic,
ALIS -- I couldn't spell ALIS for a long time. We still have concerns about where that's at. We have concerns and I think some of our coalition partners and our sister services have some questions still reference prioritization and how you do that and how that works at a global level because we've never tried it before. So we're looking hard at what that's going to look like and how we engage with that, how we make inputs and how we have the ability to change things and affect the outcome of that.
Ultimately, though, we've gone down this road. We are going down the ALIS road. It is part of the weapon system, it's part of the global nature of this weapon system and I think it's probably going to take a couple of iterations to get it to where we want. But when we look in the long term, and we look at our ability to make inputs to that system, we think it's going to be fine. I mean it's just going to take some work.
I think we'll probably have some stumbles to begin with, trying to make sure that we manage the global supply system, but again, I think we'll get there. I think we're pretty confident that it's just going to take some iterations, and we've made huge in-roads from ALIS 1.0 to where we are today. We've made some huge in-roads. But it's the birth of a weapon system with that as part of it. That's just another challenge and complicating factor to fielding that weapon system.
General Carlisle: No. It's not going to be arbitrated through the JAPO. We're going to have business rules. We're going to have rule sets that are going to be part of it. We're going to have input at different levels. That architecture for how we arbitrate is not fully vetted and worked out yet. The JAPO I don't think -- JAPO will have a mechanical piece of it, but I think the ability to affect the prioritization through the supply chain for the worldwide is going to have inputs from different levers that we can pull in, and different business rules and rule sets based on what's going on.
Moderator: Thank you, sir. We very much appreciate it.