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The Posture Triangle: A New Framework for U.S. Air Force Global Presence

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U.S. Air Force USAF global posture its overseas forces, facilities, and arrangements with partner nations is a study in contrasts. On the one hand, there are those major bases where combat forces have been permanently deployed since the end of World War II. These bases are characterized by superb infrastructure, a large USAF presence typically including dependents, and a substantial force element typically a wing headquarters and associated units. There were dozens of these bases at the height of the Cold War, but relatively few exist today. For example, as of October 2013 there are only seven fighter bases abroad Royal Air Force RAF Station Lakenheath in the United Kingdom Spangdahlem Air Base AB in Germany Aviano AB in Italy Osan and Kunsan ABs in South Korea and Misawa and Kadena ABs in Japan. In contrast to the relatively small number of major bases concentrated in a few countries, the USAF has dozens of smaller facilities hosting other activities. For example, there are early warning radars, space tracking, and communication facilities, such as Thule AB, Greenland forward operating locations FOLs, such as Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan en route airfields for transportation aircraft, such as Yokota AB, Japan and small USAF training detachments rotating through airfields, such as in Lask, Poland. This global posture faces a variety of political, fiscal, and military challenges. Within the United States, the Cold War consensus in support of a large overseas presence has eroded, while a clear alternative vision has yet to emerge. Fiscal pressures led Department of Defense DoD leadership to propose another round of domestic base closings in 2012, but members of Congress made clear that reductions would have to occur abroad before they would support base closings at home.

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  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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