Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley Transcript, Part One
- October 31, 2007
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General T. Michael Moseley: Thanks.
Clark: Thank you very much for being here and thank you for your service.
Moseley: Thanks for the invitation.
Clark: You're most welcome.
General Moseley needs little introduction, but just to say a word two, he has been Air Force chief of staff now for two years. Is that correct? Comes out of a fighter-pilot background, if I remember correctly. As chief of staff of the Air Force, he overseas a force of some 710,000 active-duty guard, reserve, and civilian forces serving in the United States Air Force. And as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he functions as a key military advisor to the secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, and the president.
The format of these breakfasts, for those of you who haven't been to one before is basically a question-and-answer format. I have tried to put together a set of questions that proceed reasonably logically from one topic to another and try to hit the main topics that seem (atop of mine ?) about the Air Force.
And so let me start, General Moseley, by asking you this question: Some say the Air Force is configuring itself for threats that don't exist now but are on a distant horizon. But you see some urgency. At the House Armed Services Committee last week, you talked about, quote, "storm clouds on the horizon, troubling global trends that will bring friction, competition, and conflict." So let me ask you what you see as the strategic threats the Air Force may confront over the next 10 to 20 years.
Moseley: Okay, thanks. Before I jump into that, let me thank you guys for the opportunity to spend a little time with you this morning and for the Government Executive Magazine, and the organization to be able to bring us together every once in a while to share these thoughts because this is - this is a big deal for a service chief to be able to sit and think about some things together with you all, and it's also a wonderful opportunity to actually share some thoughts and get at some things that really matter to us this days. So let me open up with that.
I believe there is a couple of facets of how to answer your question. One is what do we worry about today and what do we worry about tomorrow, and what do we know about tomorrow. Today we are in a fight; we are in a global fight that some say is an existential fight for the health of the - (off mike) - and I kind of agree with that. It's a global fight. It's a very, very complicated set of events, not just in Afghanistan and Iraq, but on a global scale.
When you look at the connectivity of terrorist groups, of militant extremism, with transnational criminal activity, whether it's narcotics or human trafficking, or piracy, when you begin to connect those dots, you begin to see some real connecting tissue of threats out there to the values that we have and the way of life that we hold dear and that of our coalition partners.
So I think today's fight is a critical piece of answering the question about tomorrow. We spend in the Air Force, alongside the Army and Navy and Marine Corps and Coast Guard, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to fight today's fight better, more jointly, more coalition. We spend a lot of time looking at how to get the best return on the resourcing available and not to get at redundant systems.
We spend a lot of time looking at how to truly be interdependent with each other because in the world jointness, you're either joined or you're not. And if we are spending time and resources on things that are redundant, then we should reassess that because in today's world, we don't have - today's world, we don't have a lot of time or excess resources to be spending on things that are redundant; we should be focusing on things that are truly interdependent.
For the United States Air Force, that is the ability to see things. That is our global vigilance piece, to be able to surveil the entire surface of the earth from space or from the atmosphere, and be able to see activities on the surface. The second piece of that is our global reach, which is the ability to take assets or capabilities anywhere on the surface, whether it's humanitarian relief or disaster relief, or to move supplies - as a member of the joint team, to be able to move things inside big strategic air lifters anywhere on the surface.
And then the last piece of that is global power, which is the ability to project force; that is, the ability to project firepower anywhere on the surface because at the end of the day, the soul of an Air Force is range and payload. So the things that an Air Force - that makes an Air Force unique in today's fight, which sets the stage for tomorrow, is we're the only service that has the mission of global vigilance to be able to surveil the planet, to be able to see anything that goes on, to be able to range that activity, whether it is with mobility assets or whether it was a strike assets, to command and control it and to assess the effects.
So when you look at tomorrow, the testimony last week and the discussions I have had, the piece that troubles me about tomorrow is the true unknowns. When you look at the competition for energy source, the potential competition for consumption of energy, when you look at the potential competition for food stuffs and possibly water, when you look at changing population dynamics, when you look at aging populations in some sectors, when you look at overall disease, when you look at pandemic activities, when you look at famine, you begin to paint a picture that is both ethnic strife, population-dynamic uncertainty, perhaps even economic uncertainty as we all navigate this international collection of partners and players, and then there is a notion of technology is changing so rapidly - we're talking about communications technology.
Imagine not too long ago the cell phones were big and they had antennas on them and you had to carry them around in a little briefcase-looking thing, and now we are down to something that you have in your pocket that is 50-times more capable, and the nano technologies, and the ability to shrink that, and to compute, what does that mean? And so when technology changes that fast, and the militarization of that technology keeps up with it, and the marketing of that, in the middle of the other strategic uncertainties, what does the future look like? How then does the coalition partners and the American military play in that to continue to dissuade and deter, and if that fails, to be able to fight and win quickly.
And we haven't even talked about peer competitors; we haven't talked about the rise of a couple of countries that are becoming a bit more aggressive on the world stage. What does all of that mean? That is what I've talked about when I say that the horizon is a bit uncertain and we need to be preparing for that horizon while we deal with today's problem. Long answer to a short question.
Clark: No, good answer. It brings to mind a follow-up question, which is that the Air Force - I started off by talking about the configuration of the Air Force, and we haven't really gotten there yet. But the Air Force is heavily invested in very capable, large aircraft. And what you talked about there, the population dynamics, pandemic, international terrorism, crime, and so on, is that something - are those kinds of trends something that the Air Force with its heavy investment and heavy assets is able to deal with, or are we more worried in the Air Force in particular - and I agree that these trends you talk about are worrisome for the nation at large - but in the Air Force in particular, are we more focused on this state-to-state challenges that we haven't yet really begun to discuss?
Moseley: I think you have to be able to deal with all of that. I think you have to be able to provide options across that entire spectrum. For instance, air-mobility command, which is responsibility for the big aircraft mobility side of the Air Force, every 80 or 85 seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, whether the weather is good or not, launches the big gray T-tale airplane someone on the service of the earth, every 85 seconds - C-17, C-5, C-130 is lifting off somewhere to go do something. And a lot of this is humanitarian relief. A lot of this to be the first on the scene when you have an earthquake, mudslide, floods, hurricanes, fires in California, to be able to get on the scene and be able to provide both surveillance, in the case of California and the fires, with our Global Hawks, our U-2s, and our unmanned vehicles, but also to be able to get there to fight fires with the C-130s that are configured to be able to do that.
So I believe it covers the entire set of circumstances from conflict and fighting in a theater all the way out to deterrence and dissuasion, and in the middle of that are opportunities for humanitarian relief and disaster relief because the crew in the C-17 can deliver combat power or it can deliver humanitarian assistance. It just depends on the mission and the task. The challenge here is to be able to have the aircraft that is reliable enough over the long term to be able to launch with high-launch probability - with success, and to have your tanker so that you can extend the range of these airplanes so you can get to Pakistan for an earthquake, where you can get to Indonesia for floods, or you can get to a place that requires that sort of assistance. So I believe it covers the entire spectrum from hot conflict all the way out to deterrence and dissuasion.
Clark: Of course we are in a hot conflict now, but what you have just talked about seem to emphasize the humanitarian relief and relief from natural disasters and so on. As you think about the Air Force's mission nowadays, what kind of share of mind do those kinds of things get as opposed to the more traditional combat and deterrence operation?
Moseley: Well, it's always a part of the equation. It's always a part of the sets of options that the president has on any given day. The combat piece of the Air Force - no different - the combat-tasking piece of the Air Force - no different than the Navy or the Army or the Marine Corps - is always at the top of your mind because that is what we do for the country. You have to be able to fight this afternoon, and you have to be able to fight tomorrow morning, you have to be able to fight tonight, so you need to be able to fight daylight and dark right now. But you also have to be able to fight 10 years from now, 15 years from now, 20 years from now. And the programmatic decisions that we're making in our planning process right now will matter 10, 15, 20 years from now.
So a service chief's challenge is to be able to fight this afternoon, tonight, tomorrow morning, but also to set the conditions for 10 or 15 years from now.
Clark: Let me ask you another question on the topic of strategy. There - and you and I talked a little bit about this earlier, but there seem to be a perception among some in Congress that the Air Force is perhaps too focused on the budget as opposed - at the expense of strategy. And during a testimony last week, Chairman Skelton of the House Armed Services Committee said he was, quote, "disappointed," unquote, that you and Secretary Wynne hadn't outline a more strategic vision. He said, "I had no word about strategic thought or whether the Air Force should be in the strategic position for our country so I take it from your testimony that everything is budget-driven in the Air Force as opposed to giving thought to where this fits in the defense and security of our nation." Do you think this perception really exists among policy leaders in Congress, and if so, why?
Moseley: I would be disappointed if it exists. I have had a chance to talk to Chairman Skelton about those comments. I believe what he was saying at the hearing was - as a leader in Congress, he is at times frustrated that it seems these discussions always come down to budget issues and money without a parallel discussion of the strategic vision. I had a chance to spend some time with him.
And of course, he knows and we know we spend a lot of time on strategic vision, on how to lay in programs that matter to the tasking that we get from the combatant commanders, and also the vision that we have relative to space, cyberspace, air, taking care of our people, today's fight, tomorrow's fight. So I believe the chairman was expressing some frustration in a hearing that it always seems to come down to money without the first chapter being the overall discussion of the strategic vision.
We do spend a lot of time in the Air Force - in fact, I would say we are as good at this as anybody - on laying out a strategic vision and laying out roadmaps relative to the portfolios, relative to the tasking and the challenges that you receive ahead of time, and then from those portfolios, we lay in what we call a planning force, which is the force required - which is our 86 wings, our template, relative to the combatant commander tasking and the things that we have been told to look at from the secretary of Defense, and then the things that we believe matter for this afternoon fight and tomorrow's fight.
So it's all there. I share Chairman Skelton's frustration. In the hearings sometimes it always seems to net down to a particular program and money without the first bigger discussion of what does all of this mean.
Clark: I would like to get back to the 86 wings and where you are in terms of getting to that goal in a minute and talk about the budget and funding for these -
Moseley: See, we're coming right back to money again.
Clark: Yeah, we are; we are. (Laughter.) But first, I want to go to people. I want to go to people, although that is also a money question, isn't it?
Moseley: It is. Always about money, isn't it?
Clark: (Chuckles.) But let's talk about the related Air Force decision two years ago to reduce its uniform ranks by 40,000 people. First, let me ask you how much money - (chuckles) - was projected to be saved on an annual basis when you made that decision to help fund the modernization program, and when the reduction - when the reduction is fully achieved, how much would it save if it is fully achieved?
Moseley: Okay, rough numbers: For every 10,000 people, whether it's Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps - I can't say that about Coast Guard because I have not had this discussion with Thad - but rough numbers for us, it's about 1.5 billion per 10,000 people, give or take a little. So the department, the Department of the Air Force has issued a bill in PBD 753 that we had to figure out how to pay inside the Air Force.
You have only got four kinds of money that you operate with. You have got a personnel account, an infrastructure account, and ONM account, and an investment account. The infrastructure account, we have just had a BRAC, so you're not going to close any more bases, so there is no savings there. In fact, the last BRAC, instead of savings, it ended up costing the Air Force $1.8 billion.
On the ONM accounts, you're not going to reduce that much more because that is the flying hours, the sustainment piece. You're fighting a war right now so you're infrastructure and your ONM accounts are pretty much fixed. I mean, you can wiggle (?) that and take some risks, but you're not going after large amounts of money.
So that leaves only personnel and investment accounts. If you're trying to modernize and recapitalize, and you're trying to move away from Eisenhower-era airplanes to move into something that matters for the 21st century, and over and over and over again, you have had to nip at those investment accounts, that is not the best place to go. So to pay the bill, we looked at the personnel accounts, and that is where the 40,000 people came from. And that is across the guard, the reserve, active, and civilians. That is a hard set of actions to take while you're at war, to be able to look across the entire endeavor and look at the efficiencies that would be required.
Now, on the other side of this, the newer equipment takes less people to operate. The C-17 takes infinitely less people to operate than the C-5. The F-22 takes less people to operate than the F-15 or the F-16. So the new equipment offers some savings. So part of the 40,000 is wrapped up in the efficiencies that you get with newer equipment and the efficiencies you get with newer organizations and cultural changes, and we're working our way through that. But to pay the bill is where the 40,000 people came from, and that takes us down to about 316,000.
I got a note from the historian and the public affairs folks the first week of this month. It said, congratulations, Chief; your Air Force is now smaller than it was on 7 December 1941. Seven December 1941 was 354,000 and this month we're at 333,000. So this is creating some challenges for us and we're working our way through this.
We have said that about 330,000, which is about where we will be at the beginning of '08, that is probably a plateau from which we can have additional discussions to see if we continue to go to 316 or do we reaccess that because since the bill was paid, our Army and Marine Corps have grown, which has a direct impact on Air Force theater operations relative to the thousands of folks that we have embedded inside the Army to do terminal attack combat controllers, combat weather (?), combat coms, all of the business of air-to-ground coordination that we have living inside the Army, and our partnership with the Marines, as well as theater airlift, as well as inter-theater airlift.
So we are reassessing what does that growth in the land component mean to us as our numbers begin to go toward 316 and their numbers begin to go up, what is that cross over and what is that sweet spot relative to our participation with them as they grow brigade and regimental combat teams. And that part we don't quite have figured out yet.
Clark: So in the two years since you have announced the 40,000 reduction, you have actually caught about - is it about 14 or 15,000 so far?
Moseley: Actually, we were above 356. We were at about 360 or 365, so we have cut close to 30,000
Moseley: Yeah, real - touching real people.
Clark: Is that right. So 30,000 - only 10,000 more to go if you were to meet the original bill?
Moseley: (Inaudible, cross talk) - 14,000.
Clark: Fourteen thousand.
Moseley: And we don't know that yet. We're in the process now of doing this assessment with the Army and the Marines over is this a plateau that makes sense. Is it a plateau that is affordable, because, again, we're talking money? And if we go to 316,000, which is the glide slope we're on, what does that mean for our representation inside the land component?
Clark: So in the - as you have planned and thought about this reduction in force, what kind of functions are you losing there? I mean, you have talked a little bit about the efficiencies in modern aircraft, but some of those are not online, and I'm imagining you are having to lose certain functions and reorganize and whatever. How are you adjusting to the low - (inaudible).
Moseley: I'll give you what I think are a couple of good examples. The Air Force has been in combat for 17 straight years. We deployed into the Arabian Gulf in August of 1990 for Desert Shield. Combat operations began in January of 1991 and the Air Force has not left. After hostilities in Desert Storm, we stayed there for 12 years in the no-fly zones, northern and southern no-fly zones. While we did the no-fly zones - this is guard, reserve, and active, total - we also did Mogadishu, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo. That led up to Afghanistan and Iraq.
So when people muse over the notion that we have been doing this since October 2001, actually the Air Force has been doing this since January of 1991. Out of that 17 years have come some wonderful lessons learned on mobility, on expeditionary airfields, on mixes of skill sets.
We have changed fundamentally the way we rotate. In our force-generation model into the theater, we now have an AEF, Air Expeditionary Force concept that serves us very, very well, with our aviation units and our support units. But also it's given us a chance to look at the mix of skill sets. AFSCs, Air Force specialty codes - we have 263 of those and I have said why can't we get down to something that looks like about a hundred or so.
We have merged, for instance, personnel manpower and services into one. So you're saving two schoolhouses. You are saving two sets of trainers. You are saving two sets of books, desks, light switches, utilities. If you can combine those into one deployable grouping, then you save money upfront on how you train enlisted and offices to be in each of those career fields.
As we look at going from 263 down to some other number, you will get inherent savings. That is an example of being in combat for 17 years and understanding what is needed in the theater, and making the entire Air Force process match the theater, not the other way around.
Clark: And so you're comfortable that the Air Force, with a fewer number of people, except for what we discussed about the Army and the Marine, new requirements, is going to be able to do the job without somehow having to hire contractors or - or reassign civilians and so on.
Moseley: Well, you're never completely comfortable because you don't know what you don't know about tomorrow. So the conditions that you set today have to be able to transfer to future tasking. And so the difference in 330,000 and 316,000 is not just 14,000 people. That is a wedge of capability in there. And I don't know yet about the brigade combat teams and regimental combat teams.
We have plus-ed up a significant amount of people inside special operations. In fact, by the time we get through this budget cycle, we will have almost doubled the capability in Air Force Special-Ops Command. In fact, if you remember, we stood up a second wing at a second location - this one at Cannon Air Force Base - so we have Hurlburt and Cannon. So we have effectively doubled the footprint of Air Force Special-Ops Command plus all of the equipment: unmanned vehicles, the B-22s coming on board, et cetera. So you're never comfortable because you don't really know what the horizon looks like until you get there.
But I am comfortable that we're trying to ask the right questions. And I am comfortable that this notion of a plateau at 330,000 in-strength will inform us should we go to 316 or should we go back and look at resourcing back to 330.
Clark: As I understand it, there has been some problem actually devoting the savings from the personnel reductions to the investment accounts. And the savings, I guess it would be - well, as you said, a billion and five per 10,000 people - have been eaten up by operating costs. Is that right? Is that -
Moseley: A lot of it has for sure. And it happens quick because it's always about money. In the budgeting cycle, the savings that we thought we were going to get on the divestiture to pay that bill was consumed very, very quick. Also, the frustration - one frustration and a reality is the age of the aircraft, which the average age of the Air Force inventory now is the oldest that it's been in the history of the Air Force. As an airplane ages - no different than a car or anything else - it costs you more money to operate it. Costs per flying hour goes up; that's exacerbated by fuel costs. But you can factor the fuel costs out and the cost of flying hour goes up.
Maintenance actions per flying hour go up; break rates per flying hour goes up; drives your supply counts up; takes time from your crew chiefs, time from your intermediate maintenance and fly-line maintenance. Your availability rates go down. Your in-commission rates go down. So you can put a lot of money into an aging inventory, but you consume a sizable percentage of that just on the fact that it takes that much more effort and resources to maintain an aging system. Which is one of the reasons - I mean, you've seen Secretary Wynne and I a bit out banging the drums on recapitalization and retirements, because a lot of the investment potential you are consuming on maintaining an older system.
Said another way, there is a time to park the B-17 and move onto a new aircraft. We could still be flying B-17s, but we don't have piston engine mechanics anymore and we don't have the specialists to maintain that sort of airplane. But the cost per flying hour would still be going up on the B-17. And in fact, in 1937 is when we took delivery of the first B-17. So that's 70 years ago. If we can't divest ourselves of some of these older airplanes, we will operate them longer than 70 years. So we would be theoretically still operating a four-engine piston bomber to do what? So it comes full circle though on the people and on training the people and on resourcing the people in the enterprise. Because if you're spending an inordinate amount on maintaining older, less efficient, less capable, obsolete systems, that investment capital is not available to you to move into the new generation systems, whether they are space or air breathing.
Clark: You've leaped into my next topic here. And we're getting deeper into the budget here now, aren't we?
Moseley: It's always about money, isn't it? We like that strategy piece, but it also drags down into the money. I'm exactly where Chairman Skelton is about that.
Clark: Secretary Wynne has said that the Air Force is, quote, "desperate to save money." He's also said that when the age of the equipment reaches a certain point, the Air Force will, quote, "be going out of business," if I understand what he said correctly. You've also said that successful anti-satellite test shots escalating nuclear efforts continually outpace our estimates. So I was going to ask you - well, let me go on for a minute - asked by Congressman Conway during the HASC hearings, Conway asked what Air Force capitalization should look like if there were no budgetary concerns. And you said - I think it was you who said - we call that the planning force, which is the force we planned against, with the combatant commanders' requirements. So this is the force, I think, that is said to be under-funded by about $100 billion or $20 billion a year over a five-year period. Is that correct?
Moseley: Yes. It's about a 20 billion (dollar) a year average. For POM-10, as we look at this one, it's going to be somewhere around about 11 billion (dollars). But then it goes up, and toward the end of the FIDEP (ph) because you're looking at delivering higher numbers of machines sooner to get over the economic order of quantity curves so that you can deliver at the cheapest possible rate from the aerospace industry, you need to be able to put that kind of money in.
But let me go back. When we talk about being out of business, one way to look at that is the obsolescence of a system relative to what I talked about before about the rate of technological change and the militarization of the technological change. There are people out there building systems right now, air-breathing fighters, capable space systems, that our current systems become obsolete. We are at the point where the F-15, F-16, and the fourth-generation systems, which is everything except the F-22 and the F-35, is at a point of comparison with the new exported Sukhoi and MiG fighters that are being co-produced in a variety of places, and the surface-to-air missile systems that are on the open market as well as the early-warning radars and target-tracking radars.
But let me preface that discussion by saying the mission of an Air Force in a theater - of the Air Force in a theater - is to first get control of the medium and the air domain. If you can't control the air domain and space, and soon to be outer space, then nothing happens on the surface. We take this very, very seriously. The last time a soldier - a U.S. Army soldier - was killed from an attack by the air was in April 1953. So the partnership we have with the U.S. Army, Marines, and Navy, this is a big deal for us in the theater, and this is a responsibility that is not to taken lightly. And it is the first fight in any theater is to get control of the airspace, whether that was the first week or so in Operation: Iraqi Freedom or wherever we will go next.
So if your systems are approaching obsolescence and others are marketing and building systems that are equal or better, the trend lines are in the wrong direction. So the absolute requirement to get control of that domain before anything else happens in the theater falls on us. So that takes you to the fifth-generation systems, which are F-35 and F-22. The signature reduction, the maneuverability, the speed, the ability to operate 24 hours a day against the surface-to-air missiles or against the other air defense pieces of an integrated air defense system are absolute requirements.
The system - the fourth-generation systems, are less survivable in those environments to a point at which you can't penetrate that airspace. You have to be able to go in and keep the fight inside your opponent's airspace, no different than World War I. And if you can't do that, then the question of air supremacy becomes testy.
So as you look at building a new bomber, as you look at building the F-35 and the F-22 in reasonable numbers, on the parallel equation of what is out there to contest this, it's fascinating to me that in that question, people still say, well, you're only building these Cold War-era airplanes, because you like it. Absolutely not. I reject that argument, because having done this for 36 years, I know what's required to be able to penetrate that airspace and hold that airspace or take it away from someone. The proliferation of fourth-generation systems, surface-to-air missiles and fighters, is real. And we have some experience with those airplanes.
Clark: Yeah, let me pursue for a second the surface-to-air missile question. There is several generations of the SAM missiles that are being produced in Russia. The latest one, I think, is called the SAM 300. Is that correct?
Moseley: There's SA-20s. Yeah, there's export versions of 300, 400, et cetera. But the SA-20.
Clark: The most capable versions of that are not yet deployed in places like Iran; is that correct?
Moseley: Not that I know of.
Clark: Not that you know of.
Moseley: That's another one of those unknown unknowns. And you don't want to be the first guy to find out that the leadership chose poorly.
Clark: Okay, well, I mean, I agree. It's a tough problem. What I'm trying to get at is, okay, you have said the F-15s, the F-16s, they are not able, or potentially not able to penetrate airspace that are protected by these SAM systems, whether it be the most modern or maybe even one generation down from that. Does that mean that we'd face a problem - say- if we had to invade the Iranian airspace potentially with the SAMs and the MANpads and so on?
Moseley: Let's don't talk about Iran as a target set, because that's speculation. Let's talk about a integrated air defense system made up of those sorts of systems. Whether it is something like North Korea or whether it's something like Venezuela who has also purchased new Sukhoi and new SAM systems. So it's not a particular flag or nation-state; it is a capability that you have to worry about.
Let me also say that in days past, you only worried about nation-states having this sort of capability. But now, you don't have to have a thousand people in white lab coats running around building these things; you can just buy them on the open market. And so, for instance, if Saddam Hussein had bought one of these systems and put it on Saddam dam in the northern no-fly zone, he could have covered the entire northern half of his country with one of those systems. You would not penetrate without losses, without serious attrition, that airspace against those systems unless you can go in there and tear it up. Which means, then, there is no ability to do intra-theater lift; there is no ability to get AWACs, JSTARs, the sensors in. There is no ability to go in and re-supply or even get on the surface, unless you control the airspace.
So the first fight in any theater fight, having done this a couple of times, is to get control of the airspace. What are the predicates of that activity and against what threat level do you worry about, and how long do you have in the theater operational plan to do that takes you back to the notion of enhanced technology, using everything that we can use against those systems whether they are surface or air-breathing, which takes you back then to the fourth-generation systems - F-15, F-16, F-18 - are not the survivable platforms to get inside those IADs and tear them up and do damage and get air superiority, which is exactly why the Navy, the Marines, and the Air Force are looking at the F-35, and the Air Force is building the F-22. That's the job of those airplanes.
Clark: And so those airplanes, the joint strike fighter F-35, and the F-22, they are survivable against the most modern SAM systems, whereas the older aircraft are not?
Moseley: Yes, no. But let me follow up. There is another piece of this. When folks say, well, chief, you're only building these new fighters because you like fighters, no. That's not the case. We're building these new fighters - fifth-generation systems - to be able to control the airspace in a theater, so everything else is enabled. Without the first step, nothing else happens. But also, the existing infrastructure force structure that is being replaced is aging out at a high rate because inside those no-fly zones for 12 years, guard, reserve, and active Air Force, we flew these same airplanes.
The F-15s and F-16s were designed and built in the late '60s and '70s. Some of them were produced up until the early '80s. But they've led a pretty hard life of 17 years of combat. So you have to replace them with something, because we were continuing to restrict the airplanes. In the F-15 case, we've got the airplane restricted to 1.5 Mach. It was designed to be a 2.5 Mach airplane. We've got it limited on maneuvering restrictions because we've had tail cracks, fuselage cracks, cracks in the wings. The problem with that is - and Mike Wynne uses this analogy - it's almost like going to the Indy 500 race practicing all the way up until Memorial Day at 60 miles an hour, and then on game day, accelerating the car out to 200 miles an hour. It's not the time to be doing that on game day.
So in our training models and in our scenarios, we're limiting these airplanes because they're restricted and getting old. So there's two parts to the recapitalization of the fighter inventory. The first part is the existing stuff is old and it's getting broke, and it's getting harder to get it out of depot on time. And our availability rates and our in-commission rates are going down. The ability to generate the sorties on those old airplanes is in the wrong direction.
So the new airplanes have to be more reliable, have to be much more capable. And so, the second chapter then is against what threat, which gets to your surface-to-air missile and your new fighter threat.
Clark: Yeah, and so, if you're going in against a integrated air defense with these sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, with fighters, aren't you going to have to have bombers too? Or are these fighters equipped -
Moseley: Great question. Great question. The F-22 carries eight small-diameter bombs. The F-35 carries a mix of bombs from small diameter up to 2,000-pounder. And so, you carry that internal to maintain the signatures on the airplane. So at high speed and high altitude, you can drop a small-diameter bomb somewhere close to 70 miles. And the accuracies on the thing, which are both inertial and GPS-guided, will take you to two or three feet from the target. So to go tear up this SAM system, to tear up the target-tracking radars, the early-warning radars, the launchers, the vans, to kill the crews, go in there and strike them. And the way to do that is from these stealthy platforms, the fighters and the new bomber.
Clark: Let me see. During these House Armed Service Committee hearings, you and Secretary Wynne pointed out that the Air Force wants 381 F-22s. And so far, there's been 183 authorized. You said nobody in ACC, Air Combat Command, has changed the requirement. The chairman asked about strategy.
You have one kind of strategy when you have 381 F-22s. You have another kind of strategy when you have 183. You have one kind of strategy when you have 1,736 F-35s, and you have another one that purchase is stretched out over 25 years. So seemingly, there is a big mismatch between the strategy and the resources. And I want to ask you this question, but you can reformulate it if you like. Can you explain the difference between the two kind of strategies you were talking about there?
Moseley: Sure. Well, it's 1,763, not 35. You lost 36 airplanes in there somewhere.
Clark: Oh, I think that was just a typo.
Moseley: I see. It's okay, but I'm sensitive to that sort of thing.
Clark: Okay, didn't mean to deprive you of 30 aircraft.
Moseley: The 381 number on the F-22 comes from the presentation of forces in a theater on a global scale. We have 10 air expeditionary forces that we have in our rotation model. Each of those 10 AEFs has a slice of capability that is deployable. Our numbers take us to 10 squadrons of F-22s, one per AEF. But it also takes us to bedding the airplanes down in sufficient numbers adjacent to sufficient ranges to be able to train the pilots and the crews on the airplane.
We have operating locations at Langley in Virginia, which we've got the over-water ranges over the Atlantic. We have an operating location at Elmendorf, which we have the red flag ranges up in Alaska. We have the next operating location at Holloman in Alamogordo, New Mexico, so we have all of the MacGregor and New Mexico ranges. And then, we have a squadron in Hawaii.
So that gives us ideally 10 squadrons, three in each of the big wings and one in Hawaii. So that's 240 combat-coded airplanes, which makes the 381 number, because you need the additional numbers for the training base, the schoolhouse, and you need about 10 percent or so for tests in continuing the upgrades on the airplane. So that's the number.
So there's several factors to this. You need the ability to generate numbers of sorties at any location. Right now, because of the 183 number, which is a budget number, we have seven squadrons - two, two, two, and one - of 18 aircraft each. The difference in an 18 and a 24 possessed squadron is not just six airplanes. It is a much bigger capability to generate sorties and present forces. Our classic squadron size in a fighter squadron is 24. So that's where the 381number comes from.
And also, at each of these locations, the three squadrons gives you three squadrons worth of leadership - squadron commander, operations officer, maintenance officer, senior NCOs, flag commanders. Each one of those is a deployable package.
So you need the 10 deployable packages with 10 sets of leadership, but you need them at a location that you can train composite force training with the Army, down at Fort. Bliss with the Navy, at Oceania off the East Coast and Alaska with the Army. So you need the complexities o the overlays of the basin, and the size of the units to be able to give you the leadership team, to be able to give you access to the joint training opportunities to be able to give you the deployability, to give you the depth and the sortie generation capability. That's the 381 number.
When you have 183, you have a different reality. Your strategy may be the same. CINCPAC, PACCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM may have the same tasking for you, but you don't have the overall capacity to deploy and generate forces with 183 total versus 381. But it's really about combat-coded airplanes.
The same with the F-35. We have a number of 1,763. We are just now getting the airplane. We have the first a-model flying. Somewhere over the next year, our A-model and the Marines B-model, we will have those flying. And we will be able to get better and better information about the airplane. We're looking to begin to take deliveries of the airplane in larger numbers by 2010.
The challenge in this case is not necessarily on the 1,763 number. It's on the delivery rates up front. The desire is to get the delivery rates up to a higher number so we can divest ourselves of the F-16s faster, so you don't have to go spend billions of dollars on service life extensions on the F-16. So the connective tissue to your questions is smaller numbers of the fifth-generation systems, create less capability forward, less ability to provide the capacity to the theater commanders, less sortie generation rate, less training capability, less squadron leadership deployable, which all equates to then having to make choices on where do you put the limited asset, and then what do you do to make up the rest of the capacity. I mean, that's the challenge that the senior airman in theater has, which we call the combined force air component commander, the CFACC.
So there is a difference between 381 and 183 that is not just a numeric math problem; it's a real operational delta, which is a different challenge than the F-35. The F-35 challenge right now is to get the delivery rates up at a higher delivery schedule for both the early versions - the A model, the B model - for the Air Force and the Marines so we can flesh out the fourth-generation systems and not have to continue to spend money on those. So again, long answer to a short question, but this is a complicated sets of thoughts relative to those numbers.
Clark: Yeah, and that's an articulate articulation of the strategy and the operational requirements. It strikes me - and I've been around this town a long time as you have - that we have an unusual situation here with regard to the budget. I can't recall too many other times when a military service - has said publicly - quite publicly - that the budget approved by the Office of Management and Budget, and by the president is short by $20 billion a year. That's quite an unusual public postures, I think. And I'm wondering what kind of reaction you are getting to that among policymakers, wherever they may be, on the Hill or in the administration?
Moseley: Well, actually, I wouldn't couch it that way. What I have said is, when asked, could you use additional resources? When asked that question, I have said yes. We could use additional resources and we have, because we have a great strategic engine that we think about these things relative to the requirements and the force and functions and the velocities and the timing in the theaters. We know exactly what we would do with 381 airplanes, for example. Or we know exactly why we should not spend money, billions of dollars, on service life extensions and fourth-generation systems that are not survivable.
So when asked, do you have a plan, I've been able to say, yes, I do have a plan, and I know where we would spend the money. And it is about an average of 20 billion (dollars) short over the FIDEP. And so, if someone wants to talk about additional resources, I know exactly where that money would go into the accruals to protect infrastructure, the ONM accounts, quality of life for our people, hedges against fuel, hedges against inflation and exchange rates, et cetera, because this morning the price of a barrel of refined jet fuel is going to go probably over $100 a barrel. U.S. Air Force burns more jet fuel than anyone in the U.S. government. We burn over 4 billion gallons a year. So the price of refined jet fuel is something I watch.
So I would have those sorts of finance securities inside our budget to be able to guard against the unknowns and to be able to pay those bills, then roll the remainder of that into procurement and get the economic order quantities of the new systems to a rate that American aerospace or aerospace can deliver at the best value to the American people. That's what I've been saying.
Clark: Yeah, I think Secretary Wynne too has talked about the need for $20 billion extra per year. Is there any kind of positive reception to that idea that you can see?
Moseley: Well, it's hard to argue with the logic. It's hard to argue that you'll put an American aviator in an airplane designed in the 1960s in combat against a likely opponent that has a much more capable system. If the outcome of that engagement is that nothing moves on the surface or any other theater activities are at risk, the first principle is still get control of the air. Then, we're able to do anything else. If you can't do that, then it becomes an interesting discussion when you talk about the unknowns on the horizon.
Clark: We've talked a little bit about - and I did some research on how the age of some of these systems that you are now flying - you have said that the C-5A model is aging, geriatric, has cancer in it. And there are a lot of other cases like this. And I myself, when I went out to al Udaid Air Force Base last year, sat in cockpit of an ancient tanker where you had to, sitting on the hot runway at al Udaid Air Force Base, they had to bring in a huge, heavy air conditioning unit and run it for an hour so that the avionics that had been put into this ancient aircraft would be cool enough to actually operate out there. And then, they had to take the air conditioning unit off and fly it out of there within 45 minutes or so or it would get too hot again. I mean, this is really ancient stuff.
And in many instances, as I understand it, you are actually required by Congress to keep some of these ancient systems in place. Why does that happen?
Moseley: Well, it's about 15 percent of the Air Force inventory that we have on some language that says we can't retire it - C-5, C-130A, KC-135E, U-2, B-52, F-117. The language tells us that we have to keep it in a certain status, so you can't just take it off the books, which means in the case of - and we talked about this in the hearing - in the case of one of those ancient - I like that word ancient - KC-135Es at Maguire or at Scott every seven or so days, you've got to take a crew chief out, take a tug, attach it to the airplane, tow the airplane around so the tires don't go flat. Every 25 or 35 days, you have to put a ground crew in it to taxi the airplane out to an engine test area, run the engines, run the avionics. Taxi it back; shut it down.
Those activities on our people, on those airplanes that are not deployable, is an interesting thing to try to explain to them. And it costs us money, to be blunt. It costs us money to not take these airplanes off the books. The KC-135E that we only operate in two locations now, because the rest of them are parked, we only operate them inside the country. We only operate them for Operation: Noble Eagle, which is our air defense of the country mission or in the northeast tanker taskforce.
We can get them out of Maguire, get them over the top of the airfield, refuel them and get them back. You can't deploy them into the theater because they're not reliable. The engines on them you can't lift the weight, especially at those pressure altitudes and temperatures. And by April 2010, the time expires on the mods that we put on these airplanes a long time ago, relative to the pylons and the security of the pylon and the engine. So they all go away by April 2010.
Why we have the restrictions is probably a question to ask certain members of Congress and the committees. Whether it is jobs, whether it is basing, whether whatever, I mean, I have those discussions with them. But I'm on the receiving end of that language. And so my desire is to let us manage our inventory. Let us manage and spend the money in the right place to be able to recapitalize or not to have to spend the money and the time on our people and that crew chief and that ground crew to do this to airplanes that we don't fly.
Clark: So you would think that when you go and you talk privately to Chairman Skelton that he would be sympathetic to this in the interests of a more efficient military operation?
Moseley: Chairman Skelton is very, very interested in working this problem.
Clark: And so, might we see that in the defense authorization bill coming up?
Moseley: I hope.
Clark: You hope?
Moseley: I hope. But that's what you would expect me to say. We've made our case on please allow us to manage our inventory and spend this limited amount of resources on recapitalization and on new equipment and on our people so that we don't have to spend this kind of money on maintaining these aircraft at a specific status. And that is across the Air Force. That is Air National Guard, reserve, and active. It's not just an active issue.
Clark: Let me ask you a question about the prospects for the long-range bomber. It strikes me that - new long-range bomber - it strikes me that the SAM systems and the more capable defensive systems and so on might make the case for a long-range bomber. And I know the Air Force has been talking about fielding one in 2018, which would be I guess based pretty much on existing or near-term technology, and one in 2037, which would have a chance of having much more advanced technology.
What is the status of the Air Force thinking about that now? Is the Air Force committed to actually producing a new bomber in the 2018 time frame and how would it fund it?
Moseley: Great question. Let's go back to how many bombers we really have right now. You didn't ask that question, but I'll answer it.
Clark: Okay, good.
Moseley: How many penetrating bombers does the United States Air Force have right now to meet a global set of tasking and to hold deterrence and dissuasion targets at risk and to be present, because an air force is the only service that can strike those kinds of targets with that persistence and that accuracy and that lethality, how many do we have? The number is 21, 21 B-2s and the 509th bomb, Williams and Whiteman? We have 97 or so B-52s and 67 B-1s. They are not survivable in the scenario that you are painting; they are wonderful trucks to use in a war on terrorism. And 24 hours a day, seven days a week, we have bombers over the top of Afghanistan and Iraq to be able to support ground forces.
That's a good use of the existing airplane; it is not a future capability to be able to penetrate air space against these systems that you've described and to be able to strike with that accuracy those targets or better said, to provide the deterrence and dissuasion required from the National Command Authority so that if you do this right, you actually never have to fight. So 2018 is still a number and the 2018 capability will provide the combatant commander and the president the opportunity to do this day and night, 24 hours a day, against these types of threats.
It will reduce the signatures because remember the B-2 right now; we use it mostly at night because it's 1980s technology. And in fact, the first bombs we dropped off of that thing I think were 1988 or 1989. So it's not a new airplane.
The 2018 airplane will have the signatures and the capability to survive day or night in any of those environments. And we can make 2018 because we've asked industry to look at using the existing engines, existing sensors, existing weapons, weapons bays, just like we built the F-117 in the late '70s and early '80s. We used F-15 landing gear; we used internal structures off of other airplanes. This is doable by 2018.
The next generation is something that we're thinking about, but that is another one of those technological leaps that you want to know about it - propulsion, skin, control - but we're not there yet on those sorts of performance metrics. MAC-5, high-altitude, exo-atmospheric, we don't know that yet. So do we wait 30 years to do that or do we look now at the capability to replace the B1s and the B52s with something that is a penetrating, survival, day-utilization of stealth capability, again, for the deterrence and dissuasion for the president; if you do this right, it's going to be very difficult for someone to deal with that kind of capability.
Clark: And is that affordable in the 2018 timeframe so far as you can tell?
Moseley: So far. See, we're back to money.
Clark: (Chuckles.) Let me ask you, let me bring up one other topic and then if you have time, we'll take questions from the - you have - I want to talk about cyberspace, cyber security for a second. You've established a new cyberspace, global strike, and network operations command headed by Lieutenant General Robert Elder. Obviously, it seems to me that that connotes deep concerns about cyber security and the offensive operations of our enemies. So recently, General Lord, who is in this world as well, Major General William Lord, was quoted as saying, "China has downloaded 10 to 20 terabytes of data from the Nippernet." And he said there's a nation-state threat by the Chinese. I want to ask you how serious this threat is and are you concerned specifically about the Chinese government hacking into the networks of your major weapon-system suppliers in private industry.
Moseley: Cyberspace is a big deal. In fact, we've stood up a major command to look at this; we're the only service that's done that. And we've put Major General Bill Lord in command of Air Force Cyber Command provisional with the task of coming back to us within X number of months and telling us how we move from a provisional command into a real, major command, just like Air Mobility Command, Space Command, Combat Command, Air Force Special-Ops Command, et cetera.
This is a big deal. And I'm not worried specifically about China; I'm worried about, in this global network of interconnectivity and this global network of technology that CISCO worries about all the time, how do you protect the networks? How do you protect the data? How do you protect things as simple as your medical records, your driving records, your personal records, your archival data? How do you protect that as well as the things that matter inside a classified or unclassified network?
We get attacked millions of times a day, not just by nation-states, but by a variety of creative players. But it is not just about the Internet. Cyber is about the entire electromagnetic spectrum. It is about those early-warning radars; it is about the radars that operate off of those new fighters and those new surfaced-air missiles. It is about the connectivity from that battery of surfaced-air missiles to that command node, and from that command node to national command nodes. It is that entire electromagnetic spectrum.
Since the world is relatively flat in an economic sense, imagine how flat it is in the distribution of data and the movements of that kind of information? And the thing that is really concerning about this world that we're entering in is that while we move in the U.S. Air Force at two times the speed of sound, that information moves at the speed of light. And it moves across a variety of mediums - through space, through landlines, through fiber optic lines - but it is not just about the Internet; it is about the entire electromagnetic spectrum. And how do we defend that network? How do we operate and live inside that network? How do we stay aware of what is going on in that network and stay inside the legal boundaries and the policy boundaries that are currently established. That's a fascinating challenge.
Clark: And one that all of the services face, I guess, and we face as a nation. But let me just come back and press you a little bit on General Lord's statement that there is a nation-state threat by the Chinese. And I've talked to people who are experts in cyber security who say that, in fact, the Chinese government, military, and elements of the government, are trying to get into, on a sustained basis, networks that are sensitive defense networks.
Moseley: Yeah, we've seen some of that for sure. But we also see a variety of other non-nation-state actors doing the same sort of thing. I wouldn't want to pin the tail on the Chinese to say that they're the most evil or most aggressive of all players to live inside the electromagnetic spectrum because it cuts across a variety of players. Look what happened to Estonia, over the last few months, about a cyber attack on the nation-state of Estonia. How do you know that is about to happen? How do you deter, dissuade that? How do you guard against that? How do you negate that? How do you deal with that on a policy level and on a legal-boundary level as well as on an operational level? Those are the challenges that we are seeing as we move into this. And it's a fascinating opportunity, but it's also a very fascinating set of challenges that we have to think through.
Clark: Is the Air Force in the lead in terms of -
Moseley: Well, I like to think so. (Laughter.) Because when things move at the speed of sound or the speed of light, that's kind of us. We like that. (Laughter.)
Clark: Let me ask whether there are questions from the audience. There's one back there and there's another. Just - there are microphones here if you want to step up to them and -