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Air Power in the New Counterinsurgency Era: The Strategic Importance of USAF Advisory and Assistance Missions

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With insurgency growing in importance as a national security problem, it is receiving new interest across the services, in the Department of Defense DoD, and elsewhere in the U.S. Government. Although ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq give particular immediacy to the problem, the challenge of insurgency extends well beyond these specific conflicts. It is important, therefore, that the U.S. Air Force USAF consider how to meet the growing demand for air power in joint, combined, and interagency counterinsurgency operations and that other services and DoD-wide reassessments of the subject take the potential roles of air power in counterinsurgency fully into account. In particular, airmen should take the lead in exploring how air power might work in combination with other military and civil instruments to help avert the development of an insurgency or perhaps to check a growing insurgency long enough to allow political and social initiatives the heart of any successful counterinsurgency strategy to take hold. To address these and related policy challenges, RAND Project AIR FORCE conducted a fiscal year 2005 study entitled The USAFs Role in Countering Insurgencies. This study addressed four major policy questions 1 What threat do modern insurgencies pose to U.S. interests 2 What strategy should the United States pursue to counter insurgent threats 3 What role does military power play in defeating insurgencies and 4 What steps should the USAF take to most effectively contribute to counterinsurgency The monograph seeks to be a short primer on the problem of insurgency, counterinsurgency principles, and the role of air power in countering insurgencies. It is hoped that the analysis on the potential demand for advisory assistance, as well as the data collection and analysis of recent 6th Special Operations Squadron 6 SOS missions, will offer new insights to counterinsurgency practitioners in the USAF.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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