Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning answers questions during a press conference at the Air Force Association Annual Air & Space Conference on Sept. 16. (Mike Morones/Staff)
WASHINGTON — The acting Air Force secretary warned on Monday that his service needs to double down on innovation in order to survive budget reductions.
“Are we spending more and more money to gain only marginal capability in tomorrow’s battle space?” Eric Fanning told an audience at the annual Air Force Association Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., just outside Washington, D.C.
Continued Fanning: “Where is the next game-changer in airspace and cyberspace? And if we can’t name it off the top of our heads, is that a red flag that we are not paying enough attention to strategic innovation?
“We need to take a long hard look in the mirror. And ask ourselves how are we going to shape an Air Force that is affordable and sustainable over the long term.”
Fanning’s comments will likely set the tone for the conference, which brings in top generals and industry officials alike.
Despite widespread pessimism over declining budgets, Fanning told the audience that he remains confident in the Air Force.
“The Air Force is truly the nation’s innovative service,” Fanning said. “If we make the right choices today, building on the innovation, we will be the dominant service in the foreseeable future.”
Part of that solution may come from further partnerships between industry and the Pentagon.
“Without the industry partnership, there is no Air Force,” Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, said during the ribbon cutting to officially open the show. ■