May 18, 2012
By Lt. Col. Peter Garretson
To win the contest for influence in the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. military must move beyond boots on the ground. Smart use of the Air Force is a cost effect tool that could fit the bill.
The United States has refocused its strategic priorities in an oft-talked about “Pivot to Asia” and has made a deliberate decision in new defense strategic guidance not to size the military for large scale counter-insurgency operations, but instead to posture to deter conflict in Asia where there is a clear anti-access, area-denial threat. Such a shift has implications and raises questions about the appropriateness of retaining force structure and concepts developed for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan across all the military services.
Since fiscal reality dictates that the United States must downsize its military and focus on a more limited set of priorities, is it appropriate for the United States Air Force to create and sustain an institutional irregular warfare capability?
If the key strategic pre-occupation of the United States in the forthcoming decades is maintaining a force posture credible to defeating aggression on the high-end of the spectrum in Asia, what is the place of irregular warfare?