NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on Tuesday announced the three one-star generals who will lead the effort to revamp the service's squadron structure, command and control, and joint leader development.
Brig. Gen. Stephen Davis, director of manpower, organization and resources, will be in charge of overhauling squadrons, Goldfein said during his speech to the Air Force Association's Air Space Cyber conference here. Brig. Gen. Brian Killough, director of strategy, concepts and assessments, will oversee improving jointness, and Brig. Gen. Chance Saltzman, director of future operations, will head the effort to improve command and control.
Goldfein described these three elements as "foundational," and said focusing on them over the next four years will set the Air Force up to accomplish even more than it already has.
Revitalizing the squadron structure is first on Goldfein's list, and he wants to see some ideas by Jan. 1.
"I believe it is at the squadron level where we succeed or fail as an Air Force," Goldfein said. "It's where our culture resides. We are a service where, five minutes into any conversation, we say, 'I'm a Bulldog,' or 'I'm a this or I'm a that.' It's where airmen are developed. It's where training and innovation occurs."
But Goldfein cautioned that "revitalizing squadrons" doesn't necessarily mean throwing more money and manpower at them.
"Quite frankly, we don't have it," he said.
Instead, Goldfein said, the Air Force will figure out how to better use the resources it already has. That could mean adding civilians to squadrons, he said, or using a mix of active duty, Guard and Reserve forces.
"We have to redefine what our 21st century squadron looks like, to do the mission of the 21st century," he said.
When asked later whether he envisioned an individual squadron being made up of active, Guard or Reserve airmen, or whether he saw an active squadron serving side-by-side with a Guard squadron at a base, Goldfein declined to share his ideas.
"If I start, as the chief, giving everyone the 'how' and the 'what,' it will immediately limit the creativity [that] the secretary [Deborah Lee James] and I are looking for," Goldfein said.
But Goldfein predicted the new squadron structure will not be "one-size-fits-all," and different squadrons will look different, depending on their missions and requirements.
Goldfein also said the Air Force has to re-examine its career development paths for both officers and enlisted to improve its joint warfighting capabilities with other services. Because its career fields are often more technical than those of other services and sometimes require years of training to achieve full proficiency, airmen are often left with a short window to be exposed to joint planning, leadership and warfare, he said..
"We've got to take a look at what point in our careers do we get exposed to joint planning and joint warfighting," Goldfein said.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.