Download

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 4.6 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Purchase

Purchase Print Copy

 FormatList Price Price
Add to Cart Paperback159 pages $43.00 $34.40 20% Web Discount

Research Questions

  1. What are the current service roles and responsibilities for defense of air bases against air and missile threats?
  2. How were these roles and responsibilities established, and how well have they worked in the decades since?
  3. What courses of action are open to the Air Force to improve air base defense, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?

The growing cruise and ballistic missile threat to U.S. Air Force bases in Europe has led Headquarters U.S. Air Forces Europe to reassess defensive options, including active ground-based systems that are currently assigned to the Army. The gap between the cruise missile threat and the U.S. joint force's capacity and capability to counter the threat is particularly worrisome. Constraints on resources and Army prioritization of mobile short-range air defenses for forward forces suggest that shortfalls in air base air defenses are likely to continue unless U.S. Department of Defense force planning and posture decisions give higher priority to these point defenses. This report presents a broad assessment of the threats, defense options, and constraints. The authors offer alternative courses of action for Air Force leadership and assess strengths and weaknesses of each. Although the U.S. Army has been assigned the mission, that mission is not a priority for the Army, as reflected by the lack of dedicated forces. The Air Force is increasingly interested in acquiring its own ground-based air defense but does not believe it has the authority to do so.

Key Findings

  • Air base defense has been an enduring area of disagreement and frustration for the Army and Air Force.
  • Although many factors are at play, the misalignment of service responsibilities and priorities for air base defense is hindering the correction of enduring shortfalls.
  • The limitations of joint force development processes, Army resource constraints, and Air Force ambivalence have also contributed to an air base defense roles and functions roadblock.
  • The Air Force may be able to bypass this roadblock through innovation and the use of advanced technologies, such as directed energy.
  • The most robust strategy to improve air base defenses would pursue parallel lines of effort.

Recommendations

  • Demonstrate institutional commitment to air base defense by funding and advocating for substantial enhancements in capability areas already assigned to the Air Force, such as security forces and passive defense programs.
  • Use the Air Force culture of innovation to break down barriers related to roles and functions.
  • Propose a new memorandum of understanding with the Army to establish ground-based air defense of air bases as an Air Force responsibility.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Threats to Air Bases

  • Chapter Three

    Air Base Defense Options

  • Chapter Four

    Roles and Missions: Key West to the Vietnam War

  • Chapter Five

    Roles and Missions: Cold War Europe to Today

  • Chapter Six

    Organizational Strategies to Improve U.S. Air Force Air Base Defense Capabilities

  • Chapter Seven

    Findings and Recommendations

Research conducted by

This research was commissioned by then–Brig Gen Charles Corcoran, Director of Operations, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration, Headquarters USAFE and Air Forces Africa, and conducted by the Strategy and Doctrine Program within RAND Project AIR FORCE.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.