By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (April 25, 2005) -- The four capabilities the Air Force brings to the joint warfighting environment will be the focus of the service's contribution to the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review.
Officials in the office of the secretary of defense produce the Quadrennial Defense Review every four years with input from the services. The report details to Congress the anticipated needs of the Defense Department out to about the year 2020.
"The QDR is important to all of the services, … because it looks at what capabilities we have today verses what capabilities we are going to need in the future," said Maj. Gen. Ronald J. Bath, Air Force director of strategic planning. "We do an analysis of that and make (decisions) as to where we are going to invest DOD dollars so that we make sure we have those capabilities when we need them."
The Air Force brings three major operational capabilities to the joint warfighting environment, General Bath said. Those capabilities include global mobility, rapid strike, and persistent command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance -- or "C4ISR."
"Those are the three things we tout as being unique to the Air Force," he said. "But there is one other thing. That is the assets we call our people -- the incredibly ingenious force of Airmen (who) can take those other things and make them applicable wherever and whenever."
Those capabilities together allow the Air Force to contribute to joint air dominance -- control of air and space over any battlefield in any part of the world.
"Air dominance guarantees that whenever we put a Soldier or a Marine on the ground or a Sailor on the seas, the (sky) above him will be safe, and that we will control that," the general said.
Part of maintaining that air dominance is ensuring the Air Force has the right tools to do the job. One of those tools is the F/A-22 Raptor, General Bath said.
"The F/A-22 is part of joint air dominance, as is recapitalizing the force," he said. "One of the things that came about with (the budget) was the decision to stop production of the F/A-22 in 2008. That would mean we have fewer (aircraft)."
Air Force officials said they expect to purchase as many as 381 F/A-22 Raptors, though DOD Program Budget Decision 753 has directed that number be cut back to 179. The F/A-22 Raptor is a multirole fighter and attack aircraft expected to replace all F-15 Eagle aircraft as well as some of the F-117A Nighthawk and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. General Bath said the secretary of defense said everything is "back on the table" for the QDR, and he thinks the Air Force can get those planes back in the budget.
"But we think through this QDR, with everything on the table, our number will stand and the F/A-22 production line will run longer," he said.
Also part of the QDR is the Air Force's focus on "Future Total Force." This concept means a smaller, but more capable Air Force in both people and aircraft. It also focuses on finding new ways to use Guard and Reserve units.
"We know we are going to come down in the total number of airplanes," General Bath said. "We are also moving toward an all stealth and all precision force. As that changes, some of the missions will change. We are also looking at changing the way we utilize the Guard and Reserve. We are not looking at drawing down the numbers of people in the Guard and Reserve, but we are going to have to use them differently. Some of the missions are going to change, some will shift to those missions that are becoming more important as the times are changing."