Air Force Operations Overseas in Peacetime: OPTEMPO and Force Structure Implications

by David E. Thaler, Daniel M. Norton

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Since the end of the Cold War, the size and character of U.S. military forces largely have been determined by the need to fight and win two nearly simultaneous major theater wars. But in the past few years, deployments abroad short of war have consumed an increasing amount of the military's time, energy, and resources. In the past, the size and shape of the USAF force structure have primarily been predicated on defeating major aggression. However, the USAF may be approaching a point where commitments abroad short of war, and not major regional aggression, constitute the more demanding determinant of the size of its force structure. The demands associated with overseas operations short of war now should be a primary test of adequacy for USAF force structure. This briefing takes a look at current contingency demands on the Air Force and its ability to meet them.

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