Reality Before Rhetoric: Toward An Air Force Narrative For The Early Mid 21st Century
AIR UNIVERSITY,SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE United States
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Narratives are powerful. In some ways narratives matter more than facts. That is because narratives tell stories, and stories are more powerful than any sterile compilation of facts, figures, and data. As a story, a narrative connects disparate information, ties the past to the present, and helps people anticipate the future. Strategic narratives go a step further by imbuing the audience with purpose. American Airmen have, over the decades, embraced several such strategic narratives. Some of those narratives have been more effective than others. This thesis attempts to discover the current Air Force narrative and suggest a narrative for the early-mid-21st century. Thus, the intent is not to craft something revolutionary, but to give voice to what already exists. The work to do so progresses through several steps. First, it establishes a theoretical basis for the argument using analyses from organizational culture and strategic communication. Next, it evaluates other scholars analyses of Air Force culture and narratives. It then evaluates the United States Air Force narratives since the Gulf War by examining what Air Force leaders said about the institution in light of what defense analysts observed in Air Force actions. It judges those narratives using four criteria coherence, validity, cohesion, and anticipation. In so doing, this thesis reveals strengths and weaknesses of the contemporary Air Force narratives.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics