Discovering Air Force Identity: Airpower and Innovations
Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States
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In terms of defining a single, unifying identity, the Air Force suffers from its own success. Constant innovation and successful execution created a service of such mission and technological diversity that inculcating and conveying a single Air Force identity is both difficult. Furthermore, complex technologies and missions require Airmen to dedicate entire careers to their functional specialties at the expense of cross-functional experience and collaboration. As a result, the Air Force today appears to be more of an aggregate of airpower capabilities than a single, unified service with a common self-awareness centered on airpower.The good news is that there is a common, albeit complex, Air Force culture. The very existence of the Air Force as a separate service resulted from a group of men who self-identified themselves as innovators. They were professionals who sought to find more effective and more efficient ways and means to meet their countrys defense requirements. They were Airmen who recognized the war-fighting potential that existed in the third dimension and embraced new technologies to increase the power of their nation. They were innovators with an air-mindedness that they applied to executing war from above. Today, the Air Force is still a service of air-minded warriors.However, the pursuit of technical competence tends to deny Airmen the space required to ensure that every Airmen understands airpower in its broadest sense. The pursuit of competence in highly complex functional areas combined with the do more with less attitudes that accompany resource constrained environments robs them of the professional space to learn and collaborate across functional areas. They become pilots, space officers, or intelligence specialists first and Airmen second.