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Asymmetric Advantage: Air Advising in a Time of Strategic Competition


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The United States Air Force (USAF) does not adequately organize, train, and equip for building partnerships with foreign militaries, despite this activitys stated importance in national strategy, joint doctrine, and official USAF guidance. The USAF does boast an array of air advisor unitssome permanent, and some ad hoc. The different units are stove-piped within different major commands, each with different priorities, resources, and authorities. In short, USAF air advising is an active but disjointed enterprise. This project aims to determine how the USAF should organize and present forces for air advising. The project uses a comparative case study approach, analyzing the 6th Special Operations Squadron in the Philippines, expeditionary air advisors in Iraq, and the 81st Fighter Squadron (i.e., Afghan A-29 training). The author finds that more cohesive and sustainable air advisor unit constructs achieve better operational results, and therefore constitute the best cornerstones for a more unified, effective air advising enterprise going forward. On the other hand, ad hoc methods of selecting, training, and deploying airadvisors have yielded few operational gains. The author offers several recommendations intended to help the USAF organize and employ air advisors in a more cohesive and sustainable manner.



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