Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. received the General James Doolittle Award from Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his significant contributions to the advancement of U.S. airpower during a virtual event April 22.
Since 1994, the Security Studies Program has held an annual event to honor the memory of MIT alumni and World War II hero Gen. James Doolittle.
“It is a real honor, and I wish I could be there in person,” Brown said. “I’d really like to thank you for this prestigious award, and the honor of being associated with such a legendary Airman and a national hero. He was really involved in a lot of ground breaking aviation areas. He lived with ingenuity, innovation and he was one that was willing to take risks.”
Brown spoke on many topics and took questions from the attendees, consisting of Ph.D. students and military leaders during a virtual conference.
“MIT has a long history with the United States Air Force of innovation and bold leadership, and I’m very thankful for institutions like MIT that have great leaders who have served not just in the Air Force but across the Department of Defense and other fields in our nation,” Brown said. “Just like the Doolittle Raiders, we have a window of opportunity to accelerate change.”
Doolittle served as a test pilot and aeronautical engineer before entering MIT, where he earned his master’s degree and the first Ph.D. in Aeronautics from any American university. He received the Medal of Honor for leading the famous Doolittle Raid and was promoted from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general, skipping the rank of colonel.
Doolittle remains the only American to receive both the country’s highest military and civilian honors – the Medal of Honor and the Medal of Freedom.
After reflecting upon Doolittle’s accomplishments, Brown explained his strategic approach to positioning the Air Force for future success in high-end conflicts.
“I really think the future of warfare will be conducted across all domains,” Brown said. “We’re talking air, maritime, land, cyber space, and I would ask you add (to your consideration), the information domain. All those will happen simultaneously and happen at a pace globally that we need to prepare for, so I think there’s an imperative that we must change.”
He also included information regarding the advancements in the discussion of near-peer adversaries China and Russia and emphasized the need to be clear about the future of the force.
“I’ve laid out what I would call the first principles for the five core mission areas of the United States Air Force,” Brown said. “Those core missions are air superiority; global strike; rapid global mobility; command and control; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The key aspect is being able to clearly articulate what we want to look like in the future in each one of those areas.”
Brown expanded on his key focus areas and included leadership suggestions for cadets in attendance from MIT’s Detachment 365.
“There are no dumb questions,” Brown said. “Don’t be afraid to ask and then always ask for what you want. The worst the Air Force can do is tell you no, and the answer is a guaranteed no if you don’t ask.”
He further championed how the diverse balance of perspectives regarding science, technology, engineering and math, and liberal arts helps the Air Force progress technologically and in areas such as international relations, citing the United States’ dynamic and innovative Airmen.
“We have the agility and the speed that we can do airpower, anytime, anywhere and truly focus on air superiority globally to make decisions by putting Airmen in the right jobs and allowing them to grow,” Brown said. “Our young Airmen will really wow us with their talent if we give them the opportunity.”