Thomas Erhard's AF acquisitions strategy: "An Air Force Strategy for the Long Haul" (2009)

3 primary threats to the US:
1) violent, radical Islam

2) China and the potential posed by authoritarian capitalist states

3) Increasing # of nuclear-armed regional powers

2 challenges posed to the USAF:
1) the urgency of recapitalization and modernization despite fiscal constraints, and

2) a crisis of institutional confidence that has affected the Service's internal dynamics and influence

3 Main prescriptions:

1) reinvigorating and reestablishing the AF in the defense policy debate,

2) changing the force structure/platforms, and

3) adapting the basing plan

4 strong mission candidates for innovation:
1) high-end, asymmetric warfare,

2) irregular warfare,

3) counter-proliferation, and

4) homeland defense


High-low strategy (F-22/unmanned bomber/satellites-light attack aircraft = good; a lot of F-35s = bad)

Drawdown European bases and plus up Asian base access


(p. 31) "The fundamental problem with the legacy force approach is that it emphasizes capabilities that represent overkill for irregular warfare, yet also lack key attributes required to deter and prevail against sophisticated high-end threats. Legacy "middle-weight" or "general purpose" forces increasingly exist in a no-man's land, with limited abilty to address emerging high or low-intensity challenges effectively and few if any plausible scenarios in which they would add utility compared to other investments."

(p. 41) "Strategic reach constitutes a major weakness in the current Air Force plan, which over-emphasizes short-range, multi-role fighters like the F-35 over platforms with longer effective range."

(p. 43) "Deterrence will be enhanced if the Air Force remains the global leader in three areas: surveillance/warning, nuclear strike, and science/technology."

(p. 49) "while the Air Force still spends an enormous amount on [science and technology], much of it may be spent unwisely--at great opportunity cost--due to lack of leadership, priorities, and connection to operational needs and emerging threats."

(p. 56) "the Air Force today finds itself lacking adequate means of articulating its force structure in a bureaucratically useful, operationslly-relevant, aggregated way."

(p. 57) "A biographical review of the three- and four-star Air Force officers reveals very few hold advance degrees in science and engineering, business administration, or international relations--all keys to integrating the major strategic aspects of air and space power. Most importnant, none hold degrees from tier-one educational institutions. The Air Force should provide greater opportunities for in-depth officer education concerning the major processes and institutions of national security, starting by concentrating on their own history, structure, functions, and culture, as well as those of the other three Services."

(p. 60) "Until the Air Force develops a dedicated UAV officer constituency, UAVs will most likely continue to suffer from sporadic Air Force interest."

Class Notes:

There is a difference between readiness (what's on the ramp) and preparedness (willingness to mentally commit).

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