By Patty Welsh, 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein visited Hanscom March 28 to 30 to learn more about the work done at the base, meet with local civic officials to discuss collaboration, and share his insight about where the Air Force currently is and where it’s headed.
Speaking to the workforce during an all-call March 30, Goldfein said this was his first visit to Hanscom, adding that he had been the beneficiary of the work done here. Many of those benefits were as a long-time operator of various systems, but he also shared one very specific personal incident.
Speaking of being shot down in enemy territory, he said, “Much of the technology to get me back to my family was developed right here. Never take for granted the importance of that work. You enable the fight. I can’t tell you how proud I am; both as a beneficiary and as your Chief.”
Goldfein shared the way he describes the Air Force and the volume and breadth of what the service does for the nation.
The Air Force is two legs of the nuclear triad, bombers, and ICBMs, and responsible for the vast majority of nuclear command and control. The service also commands and controls the preponderance of constellations in space, providing services that enable GPS, cell signals and more. Another area is intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, for all six domains of air, land, space, cyber, sea, and undersea.
It’s Airmen who knit that vast volume of data into common operational pictures so commanders can make critical decisions, the chief said.
“Many of these capabilities are managed right here at Hanscom,” Goldfein said. During his visit, the Chief saw presentations from the Nuclear Command, Control and Communications Integration Directorate; Battle Management Directorate; Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate; and also saw demonstrations within the Hanscom Collaboration and Innovation Center. In addition, he visited with Airmen from Hanscom’s 66th Medical Squadron.
And while the previous topics mainly showed what the service does at home, Goldfein also emphasized what the service does while deployed.
The Air Force provides air superiority and global reach; every 2 ½ minutes an aircraft is taking off around the globe, he said. The service also provides global strike, Goldfein said, specifically highlighting the air campaign again ISIS.
The Chief said he has a favorite quote from Gen. “Hap” Arnold, “The problem with air power is we make it look too easy.”
Goldfein said the Air Force has the broadest portfolio of any of the services, so it’s often hard to articulate.
“We’re always there,” he said. “In every domain, every mission, every location, an Airman is required and essential for success.”
Talking about future conflict, he mentioned the attributes that he thinks will be part of the next fight and said that many of the personnel at Hanscom will be participants through the “incredible work” done here for the warfighter.
First, he said it will be a transregional conflict. He also explained that wars will be multi-domain, and this second attribute of future fights is an area where he see Hanscom playing a large part because of the expertise.
“The heart and soul of multi-domain command and control is here at Hanscom” he said.
The third attribute is multi-component, while the fourth is “coalition at the core.” Goldfein said that for this fourth attribute, it will probably be harder to implement culturally than technologically. He said this is another area where he’ll be asking for help.
“Most of us have grown up asking, ‘What can I share?’” he said. “Perhaps what we should be asking is ‘What can’t I share and show me where it’s written?’”
The last attribute is speed. Goldfein said the speed of conflict over the last 16 years, with a relatively uncontested air environment, is likely far slower than conflicts in the future will be.
The Chief then went on to emphasize his three focus areas: revitalizing squadron and squadron-like organizations; strengthening how we develop joint leaders and teams; and multi-domain command and control, once again saying this is an area where Hanscom will play a significant role.
During his three-day visit, the Chief also had a chance to meet with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker along with members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation and other regional leaders. He also visited the local Federally Funded Research and Development Centers in the area, MITRE and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, to discuss the work they do for the Air Force. In addition, he saw the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, visited with personnel at Otis Air National Guard Base, and spoke to cadets from Boston University.
Throughout the all-call, he continually emphasized the importance of the work done at Hanscom.
“If I can leave one message with you, thank you for what you do here every single day,” Goldfein said.