As the Air Force embarks on a new30-year operational plan, which covered the technological leaps that the branch of the military hopes to make in the coming decades
, one word appeared consistently as an area of focus: agility.
Some version of the word appears 37 times throughout the Air Force’s 30-year outlook. It’s the core theme of the Air Force long-term plan. Here’s how they plan on emphasising flexibility and responsiveness in coming decades — efforts that look towards a more streamlined, more high-tech, but perhaps less institutionally rigid military.
Development and Education
The Air Force acknowledges their current career-path model, in which a career airman spends 20 years in one service within the branch isn’t conductive to creating a more “agile” force.
This lack of career mobility is something that employees often do not encounter in the private sector. And the Air Force is concerned with their ability to keep their best people, who often have the option of continuing their careers outside the military.
“We may find ourselves out of step and face more difficulty retaining the creativity and innovation in leadership we will require at all levels,” the report stated.
The Air Force believes they must create a career model that will offer those in specialised fields increased incentive to stay.
“To maintain superior agility in the future, the education and training of our Airmen must be relevant and responsive,” according to the report. “The Air Force must embrace the concept of life-long learning, which draws meaningful connections between the discrete educational experiences throughout a career.”
“We must begin designing agility into capability development now,” the report stated.
In other words, the Air Force believes it has to place an increased emphasis on science and technology by modifying current programs when cost-effective strategies are presented, as well as abandoning a program when it proves to be fruitless. This is an especially significant point of emphasis, in light of the high-profile troubles the nearly half-trillion dollar F
-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet has encountered during its development.
Operational Training and Employment
Simulated training has advanced to the point where virtual realities can be constructed to “provide realistic training against existing threats as well as those that exist in the future,” the report states.
As technology and training methods improve simulation-based pilot development should see an increased emphasis over field training.
“When we are functioning as one Air Force, the structure across Active, Guard, Reserve and civilian elements of the Air Force provides increased agility,” according to the report. The Air Force wants to maintain the concept of the “total force” — the idea that all elements of the branch’s personnel can be seamlessly organised and coordinated regardless of whether they’re deployed or on active duty.
To that end, the Air Force also hopes to remove legal and policy barriers related to the use of its sizable reserve contingent.
Partnerships Across the Rest of the National Security World
“The return on purposed, strategic partnering is a growing, more capable team of air forces better empowered to provide for their own security, and agile enough to integrate into an effective fighting force,” the report stated.
There are a few areas that the Air Force has targeted either new or strengthened partnerships, such as Congress, think tanks, academia, the private-sector aerospace industry, and other branches of the military.
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