Strategic Agility: Using the Expeditionary Aerospace Force as a Framework for Assuring Strategic Relevancy in the USAF
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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As Operation ENDURING FREEDOM draws to a close, the USAF faces an uncertain future. Sequestration, sexual assault, uneasiness in the nuclear enterprise, a former Secretary of Defense questioning USAF contributions to the Global War on Terror, a force structure that is the oldest and smallest in the history of the USAF, a rising China, and a blustery Russia are just some of the many exogenous forces that continue to cloud the strategic narrative of what the USAF does for the nation. Often, issues like these detract from an iterative organizational process that ponders how the USAF should organize itself to maximize combat power. This study attempts to reinvigorate a discussion on the topic and draws from a historical examination of expeditionary air power in the USAF as a framework for analysis. Starting with the Composite Air Strike Force of the 1950s and concluding with General Welshs modern AEF Teaming construct, this study uses the historical record, two cases studies, and interviews from four retired General Officers to discern if the USAFs history of expeditionary air power can offer any guidance as to how the USAF should present forces in the future. This study aims to synthesize the historical record with the thoughts of retired USAF General Officers who were instrumental in the development and execution of the EAF concept. The author developed questions to support a qualitative research interview process. Using this methodology, the study then analyzes what strategic themes sprouted from the EAF concept and if those themes should endure as transformational models that influence how the USAF should present forces. Insight gained from this examination may aid the USAF in the development of a coherent force structure articulation strategy that uses a strategy-to-task approach to explain how the efficiency of combat air power can be used to further U.S. strategic interests.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics