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Asia, the Pacific and the US Air Force's Contribution to the Future of US National Security

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On 17 November 2011, President Obama announced before the Australian parliament that the Asia-Pacific region is a top priority of U.S. security policy. Shortly after those remarks, USAF chief of staff, Gen Norton A. Schwartz, directed the Air Force Research Institute AFRI to undertake a year-long study focused on the role airpower will play in achieving national objectives in the Pacific region through the year 2020. In this context, airpower is inclusive in that it is not entirely service-specific and it encompasses air, space, and cyber. The AFRI team began its research by considering the ideas of Michele Flournoy and Shawn Brimley on strategic planning and national security. In proposing a structured approach to develop a comprehensive national strategy, Flournoy and Brimley called for a new Solarium Project, inspired by Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhowers discussions in the White House solarium that produced the Cold War containment policy used against the Soviet Union. Since the United States has embarked on a major policy shift -- as it had in 1952 -- AFRI considered the Eisenhower-era process proposed by Flournoy and Brimley appropriate to ensure the greatest likelihood of success. They initiated the study using a three-case approach, much like the Solarium Project in 1953 best case, worst case, and most likely case. Further, the research team used the DIME construct as the framework for exploring potential solution sets. Unlike 1953 when the United States faced an openly hostile adversary, the Asia-Pacific states do not pose this immediate threat. Time exists to develop viable mechanisms to resolve potential conflict. AFRI suggests that the United States pursue a strategy of Transitional Engagement. The Air Force has a unique opportunity to support President Obamas vision for engaging with the Asia-Pacific region. However, it will involve a combination of traditional roles and missions as well as newer ones both sets will play a decisive role.

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  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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