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Officials release updated transformation flight plan

1/24/2005 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Air Staff officials recently updated the U.S. Air Force Transformation Flight Plan, which spells out the transformation strategy of the Air Force.

According to the secretary of defense's transformation planning guidance, officials in the office of force transformation use the flight plan and the transformation roadmaps from the services and Joint Forces Command to conduct an appraisal of transformation progress. Issues and concerns raised by this appraisal are used to form the secretary’s guidance to the services when building their budgets.

“Transformation is critical to give the warfighter more capabilities to address the challenges of the new security environment,” said Col. Gail Wojtowicz, chief of the future concepts and transformation division.

“The U.S. military has come a long way since the days of the Cold War when it was expecting to face a Warsaw Pact invasion from large, heavily armed forces or when we sat on alert awaiting an inbound nuclear strike from the Soviet Union,” Colonel Wojtowicz said.

“We now must face new, largely nonstate adversaries such as terrorists and insurgents who do not play by the same rules as traditional nation states or conventional militaries. In addition, even our potential future state adversaries know they cannot compete with us in traditional combat operations and are rapidly devising new ways to challenge us, both at home and abroad. Transformation is essential so that our combatant commanders can effectively address these new challenges,” she said.

For its part, the Air Force is pursuing transformation to address these challenges in various areas, officials said.

For example, it is improving its capabilities to deny sanctuary to adversaries anywhere through persistent global surveillance combined with the ability to quickly strike them anywhere on the globe before they can hide, officials said.

The Air Force is also developing new nonlethal weapons that will give commanders the option to affect targets without having to blow them up, officials said.

The Air Force is also pursuing machine-to-machine integration of manned, space and ground systems so the right information gets to the right place at the right time. When combined with precision weapons, effective information operations and advanced intelligence capabilities, this networked capability will revolutionize the ability of U.S. forces to conduct operations by helping commanders to see, think and act much faster and more effectively than adversaries while blinding their ability to see, think or act at all, officials said.

Enhanced joint, coalition and interagency operations are also an essential piece of transformation, officials said. For example, because U.S. ground forces must now be more agile, light and rapidly deployable, they depend far more on rapid, precise combat air support than in the past. The Air Force has worked closely with the Army and Marine Corps to achieve this by deploying battlefield Airmen with ground forces. These Airmen can call in precise, rapid air strikes by providing Global Positioning System coordinates to bombers and fighters. This has worked splendidly in recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said.

In addition, the new threats to homeland security, so vividly demonstrated during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, require dramatically improved coordination between the military and nonmilitary agencies and organizations. The Air Force, along with the rest of the department of defense, is working hard to transform in these areas as well, officials said.

But transformation is far more than new high-technologhy capabilities and improved coordination, officials said. As emphasized in the flight plan, the new security environment also requires changes in the concepts of fighting, organizing, training and overall business.

In the past, the Air Force often developed new capabilities then determined how best to use them. Now, through the concept of operations and capabilities review and risk assessment process, Air Force officials said they methodically figure out what capabilities Airmen actually need to get the job done, then focus on gaps in capabilities and funding.

The Future Total Force initiative is dramatically transforming how the Air Force is organized to enable much closer integration and coordination between active-duty, Reserve and Guard units, officials said. This is critical as aircraft inventories and future defense budgets continue to shrink, because it will allow the Air Force to man equipment at higher ratios and exploit their increased capabilities at a lower cost, officials said.

“The (plan) digs down into each of these and many other areas in detail and shows how they link together to present a logical picture of how the Air Force plans to support warfighters and joint commanders,” Colonel Wojtowicz said.

The plan is available online at http://www.iwar.org.uk/rma/resources/usaf/transformation-flight-plan-2004.pdf [3.5 MB pdf]