The New Calculus

Analyzing Airpower’s Changing Role in Joint Theater Campaigns

by Christopher J. Bowie, Fred L. Frostic, Kevin N. Lewis, John Lund, David Ochmanek, Philip Propper

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Abstract

This report focuses on means of improving airpower's capabilities in the context of joint operations in future major regional conflicts. The authors examine future U.S. national military strategy and a range of potential military threats to U.S. interests. Using a number of scenarios, they simulated the deployment and use of a joint U.S./allied force to estimate the time required to achieve operational objectives. This allowed them to compare various operational strategies and modernization programs in terms of their impact on U.S. ability to achieve these objectives. They concluded that airpower's ability to contribute to the joint battle has increased. Not only can modern airpower arrive quickly where needed, it has become far more lethal in conventional operations. Equipped with advanced munitions either in service or about to become operational, and directed by modern C3I systems, airpower has the potential to destroy enemy ground forces either on the move or in defensive positions at a high rate, while concurrently destroying vital elements of the enemy's warfighting infrastructure. To exploit airpower's potential, the United States needs to focus on selective modernization. Among those items needed are advanced munitions, additional long-range fighters capable of carrying heavy payloads, and a rapidly deployable theater C3I system.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The Changing Strategic Environment

  • Chapter Three

    Theater Force Effectiveness

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusions

Research conducted by

The research contained in this report was sponsored by the Vice Chief of Staff, Headquarters, United States Air Force and was conducted under the auspices of Project AIR FORCE's Strategy and Doctrine Program.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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