More than 150 hand-selected civic leaders from around the United States made the trip to Air University for the 66th annual National Security Forum, May 14-16, 2019.
The NSF is designed to inform community influencers on Air University and the Air Force’s current and future objectives as well as plans for enhancing national security, and is hosted by Air War College on behalf of the Secretary of the Air Force.
As the secretary’s program, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson opened the forum and shared her vision for tomorrows Air Force.
“We must move fast to stay competitive,” Wilson said. “We are going faster in three ways: We are using prototyping and experimentation to move risk to the front. We are tailoring acquisition strategies to eliminate wasteful and redundant requirements. We are putting coders and warfighters together early … and using agile software development to deliver software solutions to the warfighter through continuous incremental improvement.”
One of the primary topics of discussion Wilson brought up was the need for additional operational squadrons.
“The Air Force is too small for what our nation demands,” she said. “We [currently] have 312 operational squadrons, which are the clenched fist of American air and space power, but we need 386 to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy. [Additionally], a fist is nothing without the power of the body behind it so we must modernize and grow our support squadrons, as well.”
To close out the forum, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein spoke with guests, informing them on ways they can personally help in the development of air superiority.
“We must prepare the force, present it to combatant commanders to compete, deter, and, if deterrence fails, to fight and win,” said Goldfein. “Improving lethality, readiness and strengthening our team can only come with the speed and innovation gained by the expertise and different perspectives of our engaged civic leaders.”
An important aspect of accomplishing the mission is the quality of life for military families, which civic leaders can directly impact. Improving school systems around military installations and creating a more seamless process for military spouses to transition into a new state’s job market are two areas that impact retention and therefore readiness.
The guests themselves, who were hand-selected by the secretary after being nominated by Air Force units across the country, AWC faculty and students, prior attendees or senior government officials, filled their week attending small-group discussions, demonstrations by local security forces and touring historic Maxwell Air Force Base.