Air Force Gen. T. Michael Moseley Transcript, Part Two
- October 31, 2007
Q: General, you've made a good case for the need for fire modernization and looking to the future. And I do believe that the Air Force does look to the future to a great extent. But could the Air Force be looking too far into the future to the extent that we miss some of the things that are our current mission, for example, our nuclear mission. And could we be taking attention off of some of that? As an example, I'm talking about the inadvertent movement of nuclear weapons.
Moseley: Now, that's a great question. I mean, you know from what you read in the media and you know from your experience how traumatizing that was and how disappointing that was and what an absolute failure that was on some people's leadership, oversight, and adherence to tech orders and checklists. What I have commissioned is, we now have 12th Air Force looking at the collateral piece of that, after we had the command-directed inquiry. I've also tasked Major General Polly Peyer to do a blue-ribbon panel. And I've invited, and the Navy CNO has accepted, Navy participation in this to look at the broader perspective of leadership, tech orders.
Are the tech orders still contemporary? Is the data still contemporary? Has anyone taken their eye off the training, the discipline? And what does the blue-ribbon panel come back to us with recommendations to A, negative that option or the failure, but also to take us to a different level of - should we organize ourselves different? Should we think about this different? Because on the missile side and the air-breathing side, there are almost two different worlds. And have we missed something in here that we should go back to a different set of principles?
And then, you know, General Larry Welch, previous chief, has been chartered to look at an even broader umbrella look from all nuclear issues from the top of DOD and U.S. STRATCOM down. So I'm confident that between General Welch, who understands this very well, having been a chief and also commander of Strategic Air Command, and Major General Polly Peyer, who is a wonderful officer that understands logistics and understands all of this, I think we'll be able to answer that question in a much more detailed manner with much more fidelity to see if something has gone wrong here institutionally that we need to come back and reassess.
But make no mistake, the failure was a failure in adherence to tech orders and checklists. The existing policy piece, the existing seriousness, the existing oversight of that capability is there. What we had out there in our weapons storage area, in two locations, were folks violating the tech orders and ignoring the existing checklist. So the implementing piece, the oversight piece is intact; it's the execution piece that broke down in this particular case; those are two different things.
Having said that, I'm interested now in the blue-ribbon panel and I'm interested in what General Welch comes back with because I think that will cage a little bit better what you're asking. I don't know. Does that make sense?
Q: Yes, that's the kind of answer I was hoping for.
Q: Good morning, General. I'm John Warren with the Naval Air Systems Command. I've got a question about how you feel unmanned aerial vehicles and such weapons such as directed energy weapons play into the future Air Force strategy.
Moseley: Let me take the second part first. Directed energy weapons are very interesting to all of us. We've got airborne laser that we've been approaching a capability with in what I've - since it doesn't live inside the United States Air Force - but what I've asked our planners a pretty simple question: What if it works? What if the dog brings that bus home? If that works like we think it may, that will be a fundamental change in the ability to project that kind of effect through the atmosphere. Because if you can shoot 400 kilometers through disturbed air space with that laser, then you can shoot up and you can shoot down.
And what does that mean to us? And how do we think about that? And how do we test that? And how do we operationalize that? And then, what does that mean relative to the follow on because the big 747 with a chemical laser is limited by the number of shots it can take, but is there another technology that takes us to something we can partner with, the land component, the maritime component, to do a better investigation of directed energy? I don't know the answers to that. I'm stick trying to figure out how to ask the right question, but I think there's something very useful there.
On the unmanned aerial vehicle said, I'm a big fan of that. I'm a big fan of that entire capability. When I was lucky enough to command the 57th wing at Nellis, the chief gave me the first predator squadron. In fact, it was not a real squadron because it only had a squadron commander; there were no airplanes; there was nothing. So we started the UAV world in the Air Force, this current evolution with one lieutenant colonel, a folding table, and a blender. That's how we started the squadron. And we fleshed it out from there.
And to be honest, in the summer of 1996, we deployed the airplane and we've never got him back. We have been in continual surge with those airplanes since the summer of 1996. So fast forward to when I was lucky enough to command U.S. Central Command Air Forces for Afghanistan and Iraq, we used unmanned vehicles in a variety of ways - for surveillance, for strike, for long-dwell. I am a big believer in unmanned aerial vehicles to do a variety of things. I'm not - I've been criticized or asked every once in a while, well, you're a fighter pilot. Don't you worry about that?
The answer is no, I don't worry about that because remember there's only two reason to go down the road of being unmanned or uninhabited, if you want to be gender neutral. Either the human is at risk and you're afraid you'll lose the human to this IADs or the human is the limit relative to dwell-time and persistence. On the risk side, we've never found a target already that we won't penetrate and go into. So I'm less worried about losing the human, conceptually, then I am about the human being the limit.
The great example of that is the difference in the U-2 and the Global Hawk. The U-2, you put the person, she or he, in a spacesuit, put them in the U-2, and you can keep them up for about 11 hours or so. Then anything exceeding that, you've got to bring him back and decompress him in a decompression chamber. The Global Hawk you can send out there for 24 plus hours because the computer chip doesn't need to be decompressed. The sensor suite on the airplane is constant, whether it's a sensor suite on the U-2 or the sensor suite on the Global Hawk, the Global Hawk doesn't care. And you don't have to decompress the chip.
So when you look at persistent coverage and you look at the ability to go out and maintain presence over the top of ground activities or inside thread arrays, to go look at things, to provide situation awareness in either intelligence or refined intelligence or targeting information, the unmanned system is an incredibly capable platform.
And look what we've done with the predators. We've gone from just a simple airplane, Cessna-150-like, with a sensor on it, to adding a laser on it, to adding air-to-ground ordinates on it to adding air-to-air ordinates on it - because remember, December 2002, we took an airplane up and shot at Iraqi airplanes with it - to now, we have the capability to drop laser weapons as well as rockets and missiles off of it as well as maintain presence with a sensor. So the progress of the UAV I think is moving very well.
I would offer to you that the Predator-A, to a certain extent the Predator-B is a lot like the Wright brothers' first airplanes; we're just at the place where these are now becoming known and the notions of how you operate them are becoming better and better and deeper and deeper. So as you move from the right flier to the A model to the B model that the Wright brothers built, we're moving from the Predator-A to the Predator-B into a completely different world, which is why I've been fairly vocal about establishing an executive agency to ensure that we have all of this standardized, that we have the ground slots, the distribution of data, understanding the tasking from the land component of the special ops or the air component being able to meet the capacity and the depth, the orbits, the caps, being able also to deal with the acquisition world and fuel the airplanes at the highest possible rate at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer and get the capability into the field faster. So I'm a big fan of that, have been.
Clark: Let me ask one little follow-up question on the UAV question. When I was over in CENTCOM, I got the sense that they could have used more UAVs than they had and that we were constrained in our ability to field them by bandwidth and other considerations. Is that a problem?
Moseley: Yes. Our desire is to move toward 50 plus caps or orbits. Our desire is to get - right now, we're constrained by forestructure into only being able to get the airplanes into Central Command's AOR. We don't have the depth of capacity to go to Korea, to go to PACOM, SOUTHCOM. We have taken airplanes out of our school to use in the fires for USNORTHCOM, to be able to see things and provide information USNORTHCOM to civil authorities. But we don't have the depth to be able to meet Commander Korea, Commander Pacific, Commander SOUTHCOM, NORTHCOM, Commander EUCOM tasking for these things.
So that's the other piece of streamlining the acquisition scheme, the acquisition modality to be able to get more, faster, cheaper, and to better understand bandwidth, connectivity, distribution of data, ground stations, the rover system - standardize all of that so you're dealing with a set of standards instead of counting (?) the options which then diffuses the effort and you end up where you're describing.
Q: Morning, sir. My name is Eric Kaw (ph). I'm an Air Force civilian. I have two questions. One, I'd like to hear what books you are currently reading. And the second part is, from a Citizen Moseley perspective, what investment does America need to make to ensure our continued military dominance over the next 30 years.
Moseley: Okay, the book part, two. When we were in the United Kingdom over the last couple of weeks for a ceremony with the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Britain memorial flight. And then we went back over for the British Air League hosting us for the 60th anniversary of the Air Force. An author gave me what he claims to be the definitive on the Spitfire. Of course, since he wrote it, he would say it's the definitive - but he said that he googled up the rest of the books, and there's like five hundred and eighty-something volumes on the Spitfire, so he knew that he had to write a good one.
I mean, it's a huge, honking, big book. That I'm reading because he really intrigued me because he said, General, I said, what's your premise? What is different about your book than the other five hundred and something books on Spitfire? He said, my premise is that at every point in the development of the airplane, people tried to kill it. And he said, I wrote this book to make sure people understand, along the way, the people tried to kill it from the design phase, tried to kill it in the manufacturing phase, tried to kill it in the equivalent of DT and OT&E, tried to kill it before it got operational, tried to kill it all the way up to the summer of 1940.
And I said, boy, that's - nothing's changed, has it? We have people trying to bayonet the programs in the crib from the time you begin. And then I said, what do you think would have happened had the Spitfire been killed? He said, that's the other premise. He said, what do you think? So we're back into the dialogue here with the author. I'm answering you question here because it matters today. I said, I think it would have been catastrophic for Great Britain had the Spitfire been killed because the decision to kill it would probably not have been paralleled with the decision to build more Hurricanes; so you would have lost the Spitfire; you would have lost the forestructure on the Hurricane. And then, what would have happened in the summer of 1940?
Because remember, what happened during the Battle of Britain? The British Navy was out in the North Atlantic attempting to attack and maintain sea lines of communication; the British army had abandoned most of its equipment on the beaches at Dunkirk. So the only thing that stood between Nazi Germany and London were the fighter squadrons of Royal Air Force.
What would have happened without the Spitfire? You wouldn't have had the capacity; you wouldn't have had the technology; you wouldn't have had the overall numbers. And the Battle of Britain would have probably been different. And then, there would have been a whole different set of circumstances. Don't know what would have happened, I just believe it would have been different. He said, exactly, that's why I wrote the book. So I'm reading it. Sounds familiar relative to F-22; sounds familiar relative to C-17; sounds familiar relative to some of the systems the Army is attempting to field, the Navy, and the Marine Corps.
The other book is a new one out about the revolution, which is another discussion of the American Revolution and the details and I haven't gotten into that one yet because the Spitfire one has been pretty fascinating to me.
Citizen Moseley believes that it may be time, knowing what we know now and not knowing what we don't know about the horizon, it may be time to have substantive discussion on percent of GDP for defense expenditures. I'm not going to get outside my lane, but I would say it's probably time to have that discussion as we look at an election and we look at a new administration and a new Congress and we look at a transition. I mean, this is an operative time to be having a substantive discussion on resourcing. And if the decision is made to not resource, then we'll figure out what we do inside then. But there will have to be, over time, discussions and decisions about what we stop doing and what do we not start doing because the resources are becoming limited.
And I've been fairly open about it. I think it's a useful discussion to have. And I don't know, I don't know what the outcome of that discussion would be. I mean, I know where I would spend the extra money. I say, I know where the Air Force would spend the extra money. And if it doesn't happen, we have a series of strategic backup plans because one thing we do is we strategically plan. So I don't know if that answers your question.
Clark: Do you have a GDP number right now? We're now at about 4 percent. Would you like to see it at 5 or do you have any number in mind?
Moseley: Well, I will stay out of that I've tried to and I will stay out of that. I don't think it's useful to have a discussion about 10 or 11 or 12 percent. I think that's unrealistic. But I think on the aegis of what would 1 percent or .5 percent, what would that mean to Army's future combat system, Navy shipbuilding, Marine modernization and for sure, taking care of our people in recapitalization of the Air Force. I think there is something there to have a reasonable discussion. And I believe, I just believe it's time to open that door.
Clark: Okay, well why don't we have one more question and then we will let the general get back to his usual -
Moseley: More strategic planning - (laughter).
Q: I have a question about in lieu of taskings. You didn't talk too much about the mission support function of the Air Force today. Basically, today the Army, to some degree, is outsourcing some functions to the Air Force. Those Air Force members are tasked with an in-lieu-of tasking. I'm wondering if the Army's need is more acute for boots on the ground. Why doesn't it work the opposite way, that when those soldiers come back from the field, they have an in-lieu-of tasking to the Air Force, particularly in functions that aren't specific to the Air Force like civil engineering or personnel?
Moseley: Well, that question would be probably better served by asking George Casey than me, but let me attempt to answer it from my perspective. This morning, we have about 6,100 people out doing that. We have about 15,000 people in the pipeline, preparing them to do that. I have some emotional issue with the term in-lieu-of tasking because that denotes that some of the folks are just sitting around waiting for something to happen; they actually have jobs and they actually have critical pieces inside the United States Air Force that are now not being met by them being out doing something outside that task.
Also, as we get closer to 316,000, there will be zero opportunity to have someone outside their specific task and competency doing something outside the Air Force. Because you hit a certain point that the civil engineering function is required inside the Air Force and there is no capacity to do anything outside. I've been very clear that I'm fully supportive of a joint fight. I'm fully supportive of where the Air Force can contribute. Sign me up.
But I've also been very clear that I don't want airmen out doing something that is outside their core competency. I don't want them outside of their training set. I don't want them to be placed into a combatant situation that they don't have the training tools or the equipment to be able to function. So we've been able to work this by keeping the 6,100 people that are out there today inside their competencies of security force, civil engineering, intel, et cetera. But it's taken some training. And that's the 15,000. For instance, our security forces, we have multiple squadrons at Camp Buca doing detainee watch. The Air Force doesn't have a prison. Most of the time, we don't have anybody in prison.
But we don't have a prison so we don't have guards. So to take Air Force security forces and train them to be detainee or to be guards takes some time. And it takes them outside their competency. But we're contributing where we can and we're contributing to the notion of putting people inside tasking that they are familiar with and trained. But as we go through 330,000, as we get closer to 316,000, the capacity of the Air Force to offer up this kind of help will diminish down to about zero.
Now, what does the bigger system do about that? The growth of Army brigade combat teams and Marine regimental combat teams has to be consistent and balanced as General Casey has been talking about with combat service support and the capacity that it needs to be able to put those forces on the ground in any sets of locations because you've also got a commensurate number of naval personnel out doing this sort of thing also. In fact, the preponderance of EOD, Explosive Ordinance Disposal, is Air Force and Navy.
So we're reaching a point where we say, we will continue to contribute; we will continue to play in the joint world; we will continue to be present. But as the overall N strength comes down, this is going to be a very challenging D grade in in-state numbers to be able to provide those kinds of skill-sets. I don't know. I don't know if I answered your question.
Q: Yeah, I think so.
Clark: I thought that was a very interesting answer and I think we're going to leave it there. Thank you very much, General Moseley, for having been with us this morning. I think it's been a most interesting discussion. Please join me in offering the general a round of applause. (Applause.)
Moseley: Guys, thanks. Let me, before I get off the stage, let me solicit your thoughts and prayers for those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that are out there in harm's way today, doing what we've asked them to do. I'll tell you, we've got the best people we've ever had in the American Military. Whatever color uniform they wear, wherever they came from, we've truly got the best folks out there committed to defend the Constitution and the population. And so, I would just ask you to hold them and their families in your thoughts and prayers because we're asking a lot of those people every day and they're performing; they're just magnificent. So having said that, God bless you all and I appreciate the time to share a few strategic thoughts with you even though it seems to always come down to money. (Laughter.) Guys, thanks.