USAF aims to ‘re-optimize’ for great power competition
Kendall dispatches teams to seek better ways to organize to take on China.
The U.S. Air Force will conduct a “broad review” to look for ways to improve how it deploys its troops, and identify areas for change by early next year, as it gears up for a potential fight in the Pacific.
This new effort to “re-optimize” for “great power competition” will examine all aspects of how the service organizes, trains, and equips to support combatant commanders and the joint force, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said Monday at the Air & Space Forces Association’s annual Air, Space & Cyber conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
“As I learned how we had optimized to support current deployments, especially to the Middle East, it’s becoming increasingly clear that more change is needed and that we need to accelerate that process,” Kendall said.
“We need to examine all aspects of how the Department of the Air Force is structured and operates, and be open to major changes that reflect the requirements of the National Defense Strategy to deter and, if necessary, prevail against China or Russia,” Kendall said.
Kendall said he started this effort because the Air Force is “not as deployable as I think we should be” to support its operations.
The Air Force is also sending three new task forces to various commands to practice how it intends to project forces in the future, in an effort to improve the service’s ability to deploy its troops.
“On Friday, I approved the Air Force creation of three new air task forces to serve as pilots in order to experiment with ways to more efficiently provide deployable integrated units: two for [U.S. Central Command] and one for the [U.S. Indo-Pacific Command],” Kendall said.
The new “air task forces” are not permanent, deployable units—but they’ll help the service learn how to better deploy around the world, Kendall said.
The goal of this new effort is to identify a “range of changes” by January, the secretary said. The effort will be conducted by five teams from the department, and each will focus on a different line of effort: how the department is organized at headquarters and in the field; how it equips the force; how it recruits and manages talent; how it creates and sustains readiness; and how it supports operational units, Kendall said.
“My goal is by the time we meet at the next AFA, the changes that we need to re-optimize for great power competition and possibly for conflict will be well underway,” Kendall said.