Air Force Noncombat Operations

Lessons From the Past, Thoughts for the Future

by Robert J. Lempert, Donald E. Lewis, Barry Wolf, Richard Bitzinger

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In the years ahead, noncombat operations ranging from disaster relief to "AWACs diplomacy" are likely to form a growing portion of Air Force activities. This note examines the Air Force's experience with such operations over the last fifty years. The U.S. has called on the Air Force and other military services for these operations in the past because they are trained and equipped for hazardous duty, they provide a political or strategic benefit when used in humanitarian endeavors, and they can provide organizational structures where ordinary civil institutions are not functioning. To better support future noncombat operations, the Air Force may need to make special provisions for training, specialized equipment, infrastructure, and institutional arrangements. For example, it will need to be able to operate in areas with primitive airfields and inadequate local facilities. It may also need to carry out massive civil airlifts, such as supplying Russian cities during long winters.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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