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In Service to the Nation: Air Force Research Institute Strategic Concept for 2018-202300
John A. Shaud (au) (fr); Allen G. Peck (fr)
On 12 Sept. 2007, the Air University commander tasked the Air Force Research Institute to provide a look at what the U.S. Air Force (USAF) should be about in the future, specifically 10–15 years from now. This timeframe was far enough outside the Fiscal Year Defense Plan to avoid some current programmatic boundaries, but not so far out as to be immune to current trends. Additionally, constraining the “future” to 15 years limits the rather miraculous invention of extraordinary weapons found in some war games and other future studies — for example, rods from space — and similarly bounds the geo-political landscape. The goal of this study is to identify the enduring attributes of our nation’s air, space, and cyberspace force in context of major transitions. The tasking construct identified that the study should avoid a focus on hardware and resourcing, and implied the focus should be on roles, missions, and functions “such as the transition from the Cold War to Long War — or whatever it is to be called — era.” Finally, the tasking identified the study’s target audience as the presidential transition teams, with a delivery date “prior to the next election.” This study attempts to neither reinvent the USAF nor protect the status quo at the expense of conventional wisdom. The intent is to understand the value of the service’s contribution to national security and, where appropriate, offer considerations for change. This study is informed by an understanding of airpower history and a realization of current USAF systems and strategies. It is not meant to be all encompassing, but rather provides insight into the most pressing issues facing the USAF in the post–Cold War era. Figures.
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