By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Sept. 17, 2003) -- The Air Force’s top uniformed leader addressed more than 90 air chiefs from around the globe Sept. 16 as part of the Air Force Association's Airpower Symposium.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper's comments covered a broad range of topics, including the making of today's heroes, the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles and the regaining of the service's expeditionary heritage.
Jumper said that early in airpower history, when that responsibility was still relegated to the Army, the role was expeditionary.
"We started off with an expeditionary Air Force, dating back to (World War I) in the early expeditionary force of Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing," Jumper said. "We watched James H. Doolittle (Gen. James H. Doolittle) take bombers off the deck of a carrier … We watched bold airmen deploy down into North Africa."
That expeditionary role deteriorated following World War II as the military and the Air Force settled into their Cold War roles, Jumper said.
"We faced one giant adversary, and we stayed planted in one place,” the general said. “Our expeditionary roots eroded for a while.”
About 40 years later, that expeditionary nature began to creep back into the service as a result of contingencies that demanded an expeditionary force, Jumper said. Such contingencies began to appear in the early 1990s.
"Operation Desert Storm provided the need for an expeditionary air force and sent us to reclaim our heritage," Jumper said. "We today observe the success of our airmen in conflicts throughout that volatile decade of the 90s, in Bosnia and in Kosovo."
Jumper said today's Air Force, like the expeditionary air force of the past, is making its own heroes.
"We called (World War II) heroes 'the Greatest Generation,' but we (are making) our own 'Greatest Generation' today," Jumper said. "In this recent conflict, one hero who comes to mind is Capt. Kim Campbell, who had her A-10 (Thunderbolt II) badly shot up while working with the 3rd Infantry Division. With a complete hydraulic failure, she was able to take her plane back into Kuwait and put it on the ground.
"That is an act of heroism that is characteristic of the outstanding airmen we deal with, day-in and day-out,” he said.
Another such example, Jumper said, is the retired Air Force pilot who came back to duty when he realized the importance of the mission he had done during his active service.
"Lt. Col. Muck Brown is an A-10 pilot," Jumper said. "He has a son, Nick, who serves in the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. During the recent war in Afghanistan, Muck's son wrote to him and told him how important the A-10s were to the operation of the 10th Mountain Division. Nick told his dad that seeing the A-10s in action made him understand why his dad was so passionate about his work for so many years."
Finally, Jumper talked about the expansion of the role of unmanned aerial vehicles. In Iraq, Jumper said, the Air Force found new applications for the Global Hawk.
"We found new ways to think about Global Hawk, about the Combined Air Operations Center and about (the RC-135) Rivet Joint," Jumper said. "And we found occasion to put the Global Hawk up over the Medina Division, south of Baghdad. The Global Hawk was seeing down through a dust storm where you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. But the Global Hawk could, and the (E-8C) Joint Stars could, and the B-1 (Lancer), with its ground moving target radar could."
By integrating technology, taking intelligence from the Global Hawk and merging it with that from other intelligence assets, coalition forces were able to pinpoint the exact locations of enemy targets, Jumper said. The technology allowed the Air Force to see through a sandstorm that had some media outlets claiming a timeout in coalition activities.
"The enemy made the mistake of thinking we couldn't see him any better then he could see us, and that was a tragic mistake for the Medina Division," Jumper said. "I had to smile when I thought of the news commentators talking about a 'pause.' I was wishing at that moment I could ask the Medina Division commander if he thought there was a pause, as thousands of sorties a day came down on them."