Anticipating the Future Fight
March 8, 2023
By David Bitton
USAFA graduates serve as presenters at annual symposium
More than a dozen USAFA graduates shared their expertise and opinions about preparing for a future fight during the Air & Space Forces Association’s annual Warfare Symposium March 6-8.
The three-day event attracted thousands of military personnel and industry leaders to Gaylord Rockies in Aurora, Colorado, to hear from more than 100 speakers and learn about the newest technology while visiting more than 100 exhibitors. This year’s theme was “Dominant Air & Space Forces to Deter, Fight & Win.”
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Doug Raaberg ’78, executive vice president of AFA — a professional military and aerospace education association — led a panel discussion titled “Joint Warfighting Requirements: The Forces Needed to Win and Fight.”
Gen. Raaberg spoke with fellow USAFA grads Gen. David Thompson ’85, vice chief of Space Operations for the Space Force, and Gen. David Allvin ’86, vice chief of staff of the Air Force.
Gen. Thompson and Gen. Allvin both sit on the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) and are direct representatives to the joint force on all current and future capabilities the Air and Space Forces provide combatant commanders.
“They lead an important role to articulate strategic and operational imperatives that drive force structure and force presentation to warfighting commands,” Gen. Raaberg said.
Gen. Thompson talked about the Joint Warfighting Construct — which then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper advocated for in 2019. Since then, the Department of Defense has been working to develop the construct of how the joint force will approach a future war and what it could look like.
“We are talking about thousands of targets over billions of cubic miles on land, at sea, in the air, in space and in cyberspace that we will have to identify, track, target and defeat at a size, scope, speed and scale that is never heretofore been experienced,” Gen. Thompson said. “And in order to do so, we will have to very, very tightly integrate air, land, sea, space, cyber and special operations forces together in a way that we have never done before.”
Gen. Allvin said getting the U.S. military service branches to work as one has been a challenge.
“Getting the entire JROC to be as it was envisioned has been a long slog, and we can really credit some of the most recent acceleration of that to Gen. (Ret.) John Hyten (former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff),” Gen. Allvin said. “I’m optimistic that once we have a common set of assumptions that we can compare capabilities against, we are going to be able to go faster to achieving better joint efficiency.”
Gen. Allvin also spoke of the importance of one team, one fight.
“This is going to be challenging for the joint force to do because it is a significant shift,” Gen. Allvin said. “Here’s why I’m confident that we can do this. I believe that from the top down, from the president’s National Security Strategy, through the National Defense Strategy, through the supporting National Military Strategy, through the Joint Warfighting Concept, through the supporting concepts, through the Air Force Future Operating Concept, and the secretary’s Operational Imperatives, there is alignment like I have never seen in my over three and a half decades. There is an alignment about the threats that the facing challenge offers us.”
Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting ’89, commander of Space Operations Command, participated on a panel titled “Every Threat a Target” where he spoke about how cyber is the soft underbelly of space and how important it is to embrace the intelligence being collected.
Gen. Whiting also mentioned how assets in space gathering information and sending it immediately back to friendly forces works as a deterrent against potential adversaries.
Another panel with heavy USAFA grad presence titled “Agile Combat Employment: Are We Ready?” featured Maj. Gen. Derek France ’92, Third Air Force commander; Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind ’91, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command; Lt. Gen. Alexis Grynkewich ’93, commander of Air Forces Central Command; and Lt. Gen. Michael Loh ’84, director of the Air National Guard. That panel discussion was led by Col. David Pappalardo, French Air and Space Attaché.
Gen. Bauernfeind spoke about the importance and impact an agile team can make, highlighting how Air Force special operations has created mission support teams in the past two years. Airmen from a variety of career fields spend more than one year learning and training with special operations forces. They are part of a team and train for a specific mission.
“We have seen great success,” Gen. Bauernfeind says. “Our airmen are so much more than one AFSC.”
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Doug Raaberg ’78, center moderates a panel discussion with fellow USAFA grads (left) Gen. David Thompson ’85, vice chief of Space Operations for the Space Force, and Gen. David Allvin ’86, vice chief of staff of the Air Force during the Air & Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium in Aurora, Colorado.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting ‘89, commander of Space Operations Command, speaks during a panel discussion during the Air & Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium.
Col. David Pappalardo, center, French Air and Space Attaché, leads a panel discussion with USAFA graduates (from left) Maj. Gen. Derek France ’92, Third Air Force commander; Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind ’91, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command; Lt. Gen. Alexis Grynkewich ’93, commander of Air Forces Central Command; and Lt. Gen. Michael Loh ’84, director of the Air National Guard during the Air & Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium.
Maj. Gen. Derek France ‘92, Third Air Force commander, speaks during a panel discussion during the Air & Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium.
Lt. Gen. Alexis Grynkewich '93, commander of Air Forces Central Command, speaks during a panel discussion during the Air & Space Forces Association Warfare Symposium.