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CSAF Visits Academy, Shares Priorities with cadets, Staff

By Ray Bowden, U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs


Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein talked to cadets and staff Sept. 26 at the U.S. Air Force Academy about his three focus areas: revitalizing squadrons, strengthening joint leaders and teams, and multi-domain command and control.

Goldfein also discussed his priorities with 15,000 radio listeners during a KAFA interview, and thanked the city of Colorado Springs for its support of cadets and the military.

“Thank you to the leadership and community of Colorado Springs for taking such good care of our cadets,” he said during the KAFA broadcast.  “This place is like home to me.”


The structure of Air Force squadrons haven’t changed much in 50 years, but advancing technology has fundamentally changed how Airmen conduct business. In addition, the Air Force has faced deep budget and manpower cuts which have, to a degree, Goldfein said, significant effects on the force.

“We’ve unintentionally undermined what I believe is the most critical aspect of the Air Force: it’s Airmen,” he said.

Goldfein appointed Brig. Gen. Stephen L. Davis as the focus area lead for revitalizing squadrons beginning Jan. 1.

Joint leaders and teams

Powerful joint leaders and teams are necessary to grapple with China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, and countering violent extremists — the five most pressing challenges the U.S. and its coalition allies currently face, Goldfein said.

“Air power is central to all these campaigns,” he said.

Goldfien appointed Brig. Gen. Brian M. Killough to lead this focus area and improve how the Air Force develops joint leaders and teams in the decades to come.

“We need to bring these abilities together and provide clear and succinct commander’s intent,” he said.

Multi-domain command and control

The Air Force’s foundation is based on multi-domain, multi-functional command and control, Goldfien said. These elements are the connective tissue the Air Force brings to the fight.

Brig. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman leads this focus area and is researching how to advance multi-domain, multi-component command and control capabilities which, Goldfein said, will help the Air Force link up faster with its allies and speed up the decision-making process.

“We need to be coalition-friendly,” he said when it comes to command and control. “This will take some work for a very risk-averse force.”

Goldfein said that while sharing information is sometimes difficult in modern Air Force culture, it’s a step toward success in a joint environment.

Character and competence

Goldfein spoke to the Cadet Wing about the importance of character and competence as leaders.

“There are questions Airmen will never ask [Academy graduates],” he said. “What they will ask is, ‘Are you a leader of character’ and ‘Are you a leader of competence?’”

Goldfein said Academy grads must be prepared to lead in the Air Force.

“We’re going to entrust to your care the greatest treasure in America’s arsenal: Airmen,” he said. “We’ve got to be asking ourselves, ‘Are we worthy?”’

The general said officers must work to ensure their character and competence is above reproach.

“More than anything, we’re graded as officers on really two major categories: character and competence,” he said. “As I look back now on the formative experiences I had here as a cadet, it was really in those two areas. Between the two, developing our cadets as leaders of character is probably by far the most important. Our Airmen are incredibly bright and they’ll see right through us if we’re not acting in ways that are appropriate for the positions we’re privileged to fill.”

Goldfein said trust is the engine that drives joint warfare and character underwrites trust.

“Make no mistake, character and competence — and making sure you have them in equal measure — is integral to success,” he said.