Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson (shown here at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in May 2018) told a Washington audience that although the US Air
Force is the best in the world, it must be bigger to deal with the
challenges the country now faces. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rachel Yates.
While the United States has the best Air Force in the world,
it needs to be bigger to deal with the challenges the country now faces, Air
Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in Washington Thursday.
Speaking to an audience at the Center for a New American
Security, Wilson said that "to remain the global leader and meet the threats
we face, America needs more from its Air Force, and the Air Force is too small
for what the nation is asking us to do."
The Trump administration's National Defense Strategy, she
said, recognizes that there are US adversaries who are "innovating very
rapidly" and "seeking to influence their own regions ... to shape the
world towards their interests, which in some ways are contrary to our own and
to those of our allies."
The unit that matters most when it comes to right-sizing the Air Force, she
said, is the squadron, particularly the operational squadron, of which there
are now 312.
Those squadrons, she said, are "the fist and the heart
of the United States Air Force." They "are the ones that create
physical effects, like bomber squadrons, and fighter squadrons, and cyber
operation squadrons," though she also acknolwedged "a fist without the body behind it doesn't make a real
she had made the day before, she added that during this month's AFA Air, Space & Cyber Conference, she would be "talking more
about this and laying out what it is we think is the size and composition of
the Air Force we need to implement the National Defense Strategy at moderate to
low levels of risk."
Meanwhile, Wilson also voiced full support for the Trump administration's
effort to establish a new Space Force.
"I believe that we can't do half measures. We should put this forward in the right way
to make sure that what goes to the Congress can work, and that means that you
have a full department with all of the authorities necessary for that to be
functional for the long term."
"I think this debate will be a good one, and there will
be a greater understanding of what the military does in space, and why all of
our missions are dependent on it and why we must dominate in space in order to
be successful as a nation," she said.
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