The Air Force in the Long War: Reorienting Air Force Culture and Capabilities, Joel, 9781288290345

Author: Joel


Since 2001, the US has been engaged in the ‘long war’ – the Global War on Terror. The threat posed by individuals and groups acting in the name of radical Islamic philosophies emerged from the wreckage of 9/11 as the next great challenge to US national interests and security. The US military has devoted much serious thought to discerning the nature of the ‘long war’, and the emerging consensus is that Irregular Warfare will be predominant. While Air Force doctrine has changed and dialogue about Irregular Warfare has blossomed, the USAF has yet to redirect significant resources towards this area. The time is right for the USAF to assess the orientation of its force – still largely a Cold War legacy – and adapt its culture and capabilities to maximize its effectiveness, and even its relevancy, to the long war. This paper asserts that it is imperative the USAF balance its focus and force structure the ‘Kick Down The Door Air Force’ – optimized for high-tempo combat against a symmetric force, and the ‘Irregular Warfare Air Force’ – optimized for extended conflict fought ‘by, with, and through’ partner nations. Equally as important as having the right hardware for Irregular Warfare is having the right mindset, and this will require a change in Air Force culture.

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