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Modifying Intratheater Airlift for Irregular Warfare

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Research paper

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The U.S. Air Force USAF plays a vital role in irregular warfare IW and must change its focus to maximize its contributions. The USAFs greatest contributions in IW include the following kinetic effects from a variety of aircraft intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance ISR and airlift. Airlift provides a significant asymmetric advantage, enabling commanders to rapidly deploy, sustain, redeploy, and evacuate land forces. The primary form of airlift for these operations is intratheater airlift, the air movement of personnel and materiel within a geographic combatant commanders area of responsibility. This paper will focus on redefining the requirements for intratheater airlift to support the Joint Force Commanders requirement to conduct theater specific irregular warfare campaigns. The force that is changing the most to meet airlift requirements for IW has been Air Force Special Operations Command AFSOC, as they have expanded airlift aircraft and personnel to meet the diverse requirements of IW. While this is important, it does not bring the General Purpose Forces GPFs into a better position to support IW airlift requirements. The USAF needs to have aircraft that can meet the varied needs of IW. This requires an intratheater fleet including C-17s, C-130s, helicopters, and short takeoff and landing STOL fixed-wing aircraft. These aircraft must be possessed by both the USAF GPFs and Special Operations Forces SOFs. Finally, U.S. forces must assist the host nation air force by developing their capabilities and capacity to conduct airlift operations in support of their ground forces conducting future counterinsurgency operations. This concept, known as Building Partner Capacity BPC, is a critical component of IW.

Subject Categories:

  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
  • Unconventional Warfare

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