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Wynne: Air Force needs more joint role

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 08, 2005) -- Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne said as the Air Force evolves to a new global war on terrorism era he wants it to participate in more joint operations.

The Air Force is operating “as a joint service, right now -- today," the secretary said. But he said the service needs to foster a more joint approach.

"Looking to take missions instead of … waiting to be asked,” said the secretary, who took office Nov. 3. “This is a change we are going to go through over time. I think we need to be ready for it."

Currently, the Air Force deploys more than 300 aircraft and 24,000 Airmen in support of the war on terror. This includes providing air mobility and refueling, indirect fire, security missions and training, tactical communications, contracting, close air support, intelligence, aeromedical evacuation and convoy operations in Iraq.

But the secretary wants Airmen to do more. Instead of “waiting to be joint,” Mr. Wynne wants the Air Force to be “aggressively pursuing joint."

"Aggressively pursuing joint is different,” he said. “We have been very patient, frankly, in (asking) should our lane be essentially the lane we have been in."

Mr. Wynne said, now the question is whether the Air Force should encroach more on unfamiliar territory and begin to ask “can we do that job?”

"Our quest for more jointness should also be inventive,” he said.

He has two goals aimed at helping the Air Force move towards more joint operations. The first is persistent situational awareness. The second is development of trained and battle-ready Airmen.

"The trained and battle-ready Airmen has to do with -- are we training our Airmen to be joint, both in the noncommissioned officer ranks and within the officer ranks?" Secretary Wynne asked. "Can we train better to facilitate joint, as we think about the Air Force in the future? I think we need to take a look at that in a very different way."

Persistent situational awareness is always being aware of what is going on both inside and outside the battle space, he said. That includes everything from keeping the lines of communication open to the warfighter, to knowing at all times the state of maintenance on weapons systems, to knowing how much money is left in the budget.