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The Search for Space Doctrine's War-Fighting Icon

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Journal article

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The reason for the US Air Force s existence is rather straightforward nothing more or less than to protect and defend the nation. It does so by holding adversaries at risk, unhampered by the tyranny of distance and time. How it goes about accomplishing this task is complex and occurs across all domains. The Air Force, as do the other services, looks to doctrine to provide a foundation and guidance regarding how to operate within each separate domain and collectively in the joint environment. Those who operate on the land, at sea, and in the air have lead theorists to whom they point as seminal to their doctrine development. Carl von Clausewitz, Alfred Thayer Mahan, and Giulio Douhet serve as foundational figures in the path toward war-fighting doctrine. For decades space professionals have asked, Who is our foundational theorist or Where is the space Mahan Who is space s doctrinal icon, and if one does not exist, why not Doctrine that revolutionized warfare involved forces which independently shaped the battlefield. Clausewitz, Mahan, and Douhet observed the world around them and chronicled what they saw as the keys to victory. What separated these men from others was their ability to see beyond existing convention or the current state of technological development. They could envision future potential by which armies, navies, and air forces should best deploy forces to defeat their enemies. Independently of other services, each man reflected upon how victory could be achieved within and through a specific domain. Land and sea doctrine evolved over centuries. War-fighting air doctrine came about less than 30 years after the first powered flight. In each case, observation was the key element to developing effective theories and strategies that would lead to war-fighting doctrine. Given America s more than 50 years of experience in space, some people might expect war-fighting space doctrine to have fully matured. This article explores why this is not the case.

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  • Space Warfare

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