Abandoning the Battleship: The Asymmetric Ground Defense of Air Power
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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The pre-World War II Navy was centered upon the independent battleship. Much like the modern air base, the battleship was a lethal, heavily armed, and potent symbol of global power projection. The battleship was characterized by its self-sufficiency on the open seas. Nothing could challenge its dominance.1 Unfortunately, the modern air base often times operates as if it too were alone on the open seas with no discernable threat able to encroach on its security zone undetected. Air base security posture frequently ignores the immense capabilities in the civilian community that can be incorporated into base security planning. Just as the U.S. Navy abandoned the battleship, it8223s time the Air Force abandon its battleship mentality of force protection. In an age of asymmetric warfare and terrorism it is important to know thy enemy. In particular, the focus is primarily upon Al Qaeda and those who identify with its ideology AQAM. We have already historically seen Al Qaeda maintain focus on one target set until it achieves its objectives. The first and second attacks on the World Trade Center exemplify this focus. Through open source reporting we have seen AQAM attempt to attack CONUS installations in New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania2. Provided AQ, or its believers, have not radically changed their method of operation, we should expect that they will continue to target CONUS military installations. An attack on an air base would have immense strategic value. AQAM has shown that is has the intent to attack US-based installations - the question for us is how we can prevent them from obtaining the opportunity and capability to do so.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics