As the 20th century ended, the one-enemy, one-conflict focus of the Cold War era had given way to a period that many characterize as "boiling peace." Today, the U.S. military services confront an unstable global security environment and an undefined threat. Defense budgets are smaller, and so is force size. However, the demands on the military are large and growing.
For the Air Force — both in its combat role and as a frequent participant in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations — the high operating tempo is taking a toll. Stress on personnel and their families is causing a retention and recruitment problem. The aircraft fleet is aging, not just as a function of the calendar but because of accelerated usage.
Maintaining combat readiness, recruiting and retaining a capable force, and modernizing weapons and equipment all have costs. What options and levers does the Air Force have to achieve these goals within the limits of its budget? Project AIR FORCE (PAF) is intensely engaged in research to help the Air Force respond to this overarching question.