Building On Builder: The Persistent Icarus Syndrome at Twenty Years
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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The greatest challenge the USAF has faced since 1947 has come from one place--itself. The USAF was born out of the vision to find another way of waging war, focused on uniquely strategic ideas of economically meeting the ends of national security policy. The USAF existed to command the air, while also contributing to the command of other domains in meeting the ends of policy. The development and inclusion of nuclear weapons in the arsenal changed everything. This began a shift in strategic thinking to experts other than airmen and professional military members. Deterrence became diplomacy and quality discourse between civilian and military actors atrophied. The net result was that airmen could no longer effectively connect and communicate the concepts of airpower theory the anvil to the technological tools the fast moving hammer. The focus of airpower slowly shifted from the ends to the means. The USAF had not forgotten why it existed, but confused it with how it did business. The misguided focus that largely rejected the ends of airpower had committed the USAF to a means-centric focus. This myopic focus consequently proved costly when the USAF engaged in intellectual debate on roles and missions. The USAF voice fell silent on debates that focused on meeting the ends of policy, and grew louder on those emphasizing the traditional means, the airplane. The USAF began, and continues, to struggle communicating the connections between the anvil and hammer to answer HOW and WHY the USAF provides what is taken for granted. Thus, the debate is ultimately about focus--requiring conceptualization of the high ground--above the means to make the connections.
- Humanities and History
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics