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April 12, 2012The new national defense strategy "very clearly" makes a priority of air and naval forces, and that's a "tremendous opportunity" for the Air Force to articulate its vision to the nation, said retired Gen. Ron Fogleman, former Chief of Staff, Wednesday.

"The troops need to understand what the Air Force is all about. The American public has to understand what your Air Force is all about," asserted Fogleman during a talk in Arlington, Va., sponsored by AFA's Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies.

Accordingly, Fogleman called on the Air Force to "produce a very simple white paper" that makes clear that "the primary reason that the United States Air Force exists is to fight America's wars."

He recommended that service officials dust off and re-read the service's Global Reach-Global Power white paper from June 1990 as inspiration for drafting a new document. Global Reach-Global Power, he said, helped the Air Force come up with "a definition of no-kidding core competencies," something Fogleman favors laying out again.

He presented his list of core competencies as: air dominance; space dominance; cyber superiority; global mobility; global logistics; and global intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Fogleman said, in response to an audience member's question, he'd have a hard time understanding why the Air Force wouldn't be able to seize upon this opportunity to articulate its importance to the nation.

"I cannot remember a time and a strategy" so "dependent on naval and air forces," he explained. "So, not to be able to pick that up and make something of it, I have a little trouble sorting my way through that. . . . And if we don't, the folks that will want to slide back to something else will step in."

That something else might be a return to more emphasis on ground forces.

Fogleman called for decisiveness, saying he thinks "the Air Force spends too much time on its inferiority complex." Instead, he said, "You have to step up. You have to articulate. You have to have the vision and tell people what the vision is and why: This is what America needs to execute this strategy and they cannot do it without the United States Air Force."

During the 1990s, Fogleman said all he heard in debates about the relative value of air, naval, and ground forces was "'By God, you've got to have boots on the ground.'" He continued, "Okay, we've had 10 years of boots on the ground. Ten years. And where are we today?"

He added that this view "doesn't take anything away from the courage and the sacrifice and the motivation of the troops who were the boots on the ground, and the people who led them." But "somewhere in my heart, I think the problem was the strategy."

The new defense strategy "is one that airmen should embrace," he affirmed.

Fogleman was the Air Force's 15th CSAF, serving from October 1994 to September 1997 in that role.