Top Priorities for New Air Boss
During his first month as Air Boss, Vice Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller III, Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF), shared his priorities with Naval Aviation News in the following questions and answers.
Sir, how has your role as Director, Air Warfare prepared you for your role as Air Boss?
My position at OPNAV N98 was a perfect job to prepare me for Commander, Naval Air Forces. As Director, Air Warfare, I was in charge of shaping the budget to support Naval Aviation. I established the requirements and fought for funding to support those requirements. Now, it is my job to take that funding and ensure that it is applied to the optimal organizations that will improve readiness and support our ability to fight and win in combat.
In addition to safety, what are your top three to five priorities?
My top priorities as the Air Boss are warfighting, people and the readiness of both. Paramount to our success is maintaining our laser focus on readiness recovery. It is a complex problem that requires cooperation from across Naval Aviation and the Navy writ large and aligns with the three pillars of manning, training and equipping. Through a methodical approach of repairing our current force structure while continuing to procure the latest generation equipment, we will ensure we balance current capacity with future capability. We will prepare our people to safely and flawlessly execute all duties on deck and in the air, and we will attract, hone and retain the best, most highly motivated and talented warriors and support their families. We will grow and sustain our people and equipment to meet all future warfighting requirements.
What is your perspective on aircraft readiness?
Aircraft readiness requires the three domains of personnel, aircraft and supply to work in perfect harmony. Having the right people in the right place at the right time with the right equipment is the key to success and will ensure we deploy combat-ready Naval Aviation forces that win in combat. Naval Aviation is full of tremendous leaders that are working feverishly to ensure Sailors have the tools they need to succeed. My job as the Air Boss is to weave the many stakeholders together to ensure the readiness generation machine is operating at its utmost efficiency.
What is the plan for the Navy’s retirement of the F/A-18C Hornet? How will the impact to the Marine Corps be mitigated?
The Navy will have phased out F/A-18Cs in operational fleet squadrons by this time next year. Adversary and Reserve squadrons will continue to operate the aircraft to support the fleet, as required. As part of that transition to Super Hornets, “best-of-breed” legacy aircraft will be transferred from those active Navy operational squadrons to the Marine Corps. This will allow the Marines to continue strike fighter operations in the F/A-18, as part of our air wings, while they transition to the Joint Strike Fighter.
What is the Naval Aviation Enterprise’s role, and how will you guide it as Air Boss?
Naval Aviation is a complex system of systems and not managed by a single process owner. The mission of the Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is to sustain required current readiness and advance future warfighting capabilities at best possible cost. The NAE serves as the single framework for facilitating collaboration, transparency, cross-functional engagement, information sharing and process improvements that are necessary to drive stakeholders in removing readiness barriers and resolving warfighting degraders.
As the Air Boss, I am committed to continuing this important work. As the lead for the NAE—along with Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, Deputy Commandant for Aviation, and Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Commander, Naval Air Systems Command—I intend to keep the stakeholders within the NAE focused on the top three priorities of warfighting, people and the readiness of both. Readiness recovery across all type/model/series (TMS), particularly within the F/A-18A-F TMS, is my foremost concern today.
What do you hope to accomplish as Air Boss?
My charter is to man, train and equip Naval Aviation forces to win in combat, tonight as well as in the future. I will continue to build upon the phenomenal efforts of Air Boss #7, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker. All good things come from “up” jets. We must improve aircraft availability and full mission capable (FMC) rates to meet our training and warfighting demands. Our aviators deserve and require more flight hours to prepare for and win in combat. It took several years for us to get in this state of readiness, and it will take years to get where we want to be. But there is goodness ahead for both current and future readiness. Also, I am 100-percent committed to our Sailors. It is my job to get them what they need to prepare for and win decisively in combat. If I can make their jobs or lives any easier, I will have succeeded.
Anything else you would like to add?
To the readers, thank you for everything you do each day to prepare us to win in combat. We fly, we fight, we lead….and we win!
A native of Annapolis, Maryland, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III grew up in York, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981. He holds a Master of Science from the National Defense University and is a Syracuse University national security management fellow and graduate of the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program.
His operational assignments include Training Squadron (VT) 19 in Meridian, Mississippi; Attack Squadron (VA) 56 aboard USS Midway (CV 41); Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 on USS Constellation (CV 64); VFA-131 and VFA-34 aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69); executive officer of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70); Commanding Officer of USS Nashville (LPD 13); Commanding Officer of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77); and, as a flag officer, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2, where he participated in combat Operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve.
Miller’s shore tours include Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 5; aviation programs analyst Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N80); Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic; deputy director of naval operations at the Combined Air Operations Center during Operation Allied Force; Office of Legislative Affairs for the Secretary of Defense; aircraft carrier requirements officer for Commander, Naval Air Forces; and flag officer tours in OPNAV as director for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (N2N6F2); assistant deputy chief of naval operations for Warfare Systems (N9B); and most recently as director, Air Warfare (N98).
Miller became Naval Aviation’s 8th “Air Boss” in January 2018.
He has earned the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal and other personal, unit and service awards.