New for 2017: Squadron revitalization to take center stage
By Kent Miller
An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot with the 134th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron removes exits his aircraft after arriving at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, Southwest Asia, Dec. 10, 2016. The F-16 squadron is comprised of Airmen from the 158th Fighter Wing of the Vermont Air National Guard. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)(Released)
The effort to revitalize squadrons — one of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein's top three focus areas as chief — will get underway in earnest during the first half of 2017.
Goldfein said revitalizing squadrons — including "support organizations that may not line up under a squadron construct" — will be his primary concern during at least the first half of 2017. He has tasked Brig. Gen. Stephen Davis, director of manpower, organization and resources, with leading that charge.
Davis is reportedly on track to present ideas shortly after the new year begins.
"The squadron is where we develop our airmen and where the standards and expectations are set," said Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe-U.S. Air Forces Africa. "As the chief of staff has said numerous times, it is the beating heart of the Air Force.
"What the chief has us doing is looking at the structure of our squadrons to ensure we have the right people at the right place at the right time," he said. "A year from now, I hope to be able to come back and look you in the eye and say we have optimized the construct of our squadrons so we can get the best possible outcome from every one of them."
Goldfein has said that revitalizing squadrons doesn't necessarily mean throwing more money and manpower at them. Nor does it mean that one solution will work for all types of squadrons.
Instead, Goldfein said, the Air Force must figure out how to better use the resources it already has. That could mean adding civilians, he said, or using a mix of active duty, Guard and Reserve forces. But it could also lead to more innovative suggestions for sustaining and building the Air Force's warfighting ability.
Work on Goldfein's other two areas of focus — improving multi-domain command and control and developing joint leaders and teams — is continuing, although no timelines have been announced.
Reporters Stephen Losey and Charlsy Panzino contributed to this report.