Editor’s Note: Another entry for our ever-growing, color-us-shocked file. While the U.S. has repeatedly shown its ability to dominate the battlespace in the current COIN (COunter INsurgency) fight with the likes of Daesh, al Qaeda, et al, Air Force senior leadership is deeply concerned about our readiness to face a near-peer-level fight in an Anti-Access/Area-Denial battlespace. That is the looming scenario, be it in Europe or the Far East, and decisions need to be made in order to ensure readiness for that possibility.

After a decade fighting in the uncontested skies of the Middle East, the Air Force is now concerned about its readiness for the high-end fight just around the corner.

“If you ask about the readiness of the United States to fight violent extremism, we’re ready,” Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said Thursday during an event in Washington. “If you ask us to retake Estonia, if you ask us to fight in the Far East against a near-peer, we’re not as ready as we need to be.”

From the close-air support (CAS) A-10 attack planes to the high-end F-16s, the Air Force’s fleet has spent over a decade flying and training to protect soldiers on the ground in the Middle East, Goldfein said during the Credit Suisse/McAleese FY2017 Defense Programs Conference. But very little of the training to support missions in an uncontested environment is transferable to a near-peer conflict in contested skies, Goldfein warned.

USAF Concerned About Near-Peer Engagements
The Russian-built Sukhoi Su-35S Super Flanker. Photo courtesy of thefiscaltimes.com.

For aircraft like the modernized F-16 Block 50, which is designed to suppress enemy air defenses in a non-permissive environment, every flight hour dedicated to training for close-air support missions is one less training for the high-end fight, Goldfein said.

“So we are fully ready for the Middle Eastern violent extremist fight, 100 percent,” Goldfein said. “But we are concerned about our readiness for the other fights that might be around the corner.”

The original article in its entirety can be viewed at Defense News right here.

(Featured photo courtesy of CNN)