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Change — in international relations, in technology, and in society as a whole — has become the idiom of our age. One example of these changes has been an increasing recognition of the value of air and space assets for handling nearly every contingency from disaster relief to war and, consequently, increasing demand for such assets. These developments have created both challenges and opportunities for the U.S. Air Force. This, the fourth volume in the Strategic Appraisal series, draws on the expertise of researchers from across RAND to explore both the challenges and opportunities that the U.S. Air Force faces as it strives to support the nation's interests in a challenging technological and security environment.Contributors examine the changing roles of air and space forces in U.S.national security strategy, the implications of new systems and technologies for military operations, and the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security strategy. Contributors also discuss the status of major modernization efforts within the Air Force, and the bill of health of the Air Force, as measured by its readiness to undertake its missions both today and in the future.

Table of Contents

  • Preface

  • Figures

  • Tables

  • Acknowledgements


  • Abbreviations

  • Chapter One

    Introduction: The Price of Success

    Jeremy Shapiro

  • Part I

    The Geopolitical Context for Aerospace Power

  • Chapter Two

    Forces for What? Geopolitical Context and Air Force Capabilities

    Zalmay Khalilzad, David Ochmanek, and Jeremy Shapiro

  • Chapter Three

    The Future of U.S. Coercive Airpower

    Daniel L. Byman, Matthew C. Waxman, and Jeremy Shapiro

  • Part II

    Where Does the USAF Need to Go?

  • Chapter Four

    Modernizing the Combat Forces: Near-Term Options

    Donald Stevens, John Gibson, and David Ochmanek

  • Chapter Five

    Space Challenges

    Bob Preston and John Baker

  • Chapter Six

    U.S. Military Opportunities: Information-Warfare Concepts of Operation

    Brian Nichiporuk

  • Chapter Seven

    Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security Strategy for a New Century

    Glenn Buchan

  • Chapter Eight

    Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction and Ballistic Missiles

    Richard F. Mesic

  • Part III

    Supporting Future Forces

  • Chapter Nine

    Providing Adequate Access for Expeditionary Aerospace Forces

    David Shlapak

  • Chapter Ten

    A Vision for an Evolving Agile Combat Support System

    Robert Tripp, C. Robert Roll, Jr., Lionel Galway, Timothy Ramey, John Drew, Mayhar Amouzegar, and Clifford Grammich

  • Chapter Eleven

    Strategic Sourcing in the Air Force

    Frank Camm

  • Chapter Twelve

    Ready for War but Not for Peace: The Apparent Paradox of Military Preparedness

    Carl Dahlman and David Thaler

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's Project AIR FORCE.

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