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Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Hostage addresses an audience at AFA's Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Sept. 16, 2014. Staff photo by Kristina Parrill.​

Force structure reductions will make the combat air force smaller, but leveraging technology and advancements will enable USAF to have a “more capable force with the ability to counter our most dangerous threats,” Air Combat Command boss Gen. Mike Hostage said at AFA’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Tuesday. “In addition, we must sustain the capability and capacity to deal with the lesser but more likely threats,” said Hostage. Balanced recapitalization and refurbishment of the CAF is crucial to accomplishing this in the coming years, he emphasized. This means USAF must complete transitioning to a fifth generation fighter fleet, develop a “next generation” JSTARS capability, and continue development of the Long-Range Strike Bomber. Hostage also said USAF needs to recap its rescue force, to include the combat rescue helicopter fleet and new HC-130Js, in order to meet the demands for rescue forces from combatant commanders. “Our CAF rescue forces have been in high demand in Africa for over a decade, and the worldwide demand will only continue,” he said, highlighting rescue needs in places such as Libya and the Horn of Africa.