I believe that part of the strength of the military alliance between
the United States and Japan results from an understanding of, and appreciation
for, the similarities and differences between our military cultures, doctrines,
strategies and procedures. To this end, I thought it might be useful to
talk tonight about the current thinking in the U.S. Air Force with respect
to the current environment and how we are working to position ourselves
for the future. Time will only permit me to present the general outlines
of our thinking, but I would be happy to go into more depth on any issues
that might be of interest to you during the question and answer period.
There are four words that best capture what I will discuss this evening:
ends, means, ways and risk.In short, ends are the missions our Nation has
asked the United States Air Force to perform as a Service.Means are the
resources and capabilities we field to help us accomplish those missions.
The ways define how we employ the means, and risk is the gap between means,
ways and ends.
The essence of our strategy is to use required means in innovative ways to attain the desired ends with acceptable risk. We believe we will succeed in the 21st Century only if we close the gap between ends and means.
Let me begin by discussing what we must be able to accomplish as an Air
As we look to the future, we believe the strategic environment will be
shaped by 1) the interaction of globalization, economic disparities, and
competition for resources; 2) diffusion of technology and information networks
whose very nature allows unprecedented ability to harm and, potentially,
paralyze advanced nations; and 3) systemic upheavals impacting state and
non-state actors and, thereby, international institutions and the world
The following are some of the significant features of this increasingly
complex, dynamic, lethal and uncertain environment.
• Violent extremism and ethnic strife—this will be a global, generational,
• Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and empowering technologies
• Rising peer competitors
• Predatory and unpredictable regional actors
• Increasing lethality and risk of intrusion by terrorist and criminal
• Systemic instability in key regions (political, economic, social, ideological)
• Unprecedented velocity of technological change and military adaptation
• Availability of advanced weapons in a growing global marketplace
• Exponential growth in volume, exchange and access to information
• Surging globalization, interconnectivity and competition for scarce resources
• Dislocating climate, environmental and demographic trends
These features mean that we will likely operate in a future environment
that is much different than the one in which we operate today.And while
it is very difficult to predict the future, whatever that future environment
entails, we must be ready as a Service to operate in it with success.Ready
military forces in sufficient numbers are the prerequisite for National
security and the test of professionalism among Airmen is the readiness
of our forces, not just for today’s challenges, but for tomorrow’s as well.
The essence of the National Security Strategy of the United States is
to defend the homeland, assure our allies, and dissuade, deter and if necessary,
defeat those who choose to become our adversaries.Our emphasis on assurance,
deterrence, and dissuasion reflects the conviction that it is far better
to convince potential adversaries to refrain from the use military force
than to have to defeat them after they have initiated conflict. Our success
will be measured by conflicts averted as well as conflicts fought and won.
The mission of the United States Air Force in support of this national
strategy is to deliver sovereign options for the defense of the United
States of America and its global interests—to fly, fight, and win in Air,
Space, and Cyberspace.
Sovereign options refer to the spectrum of choices that air, space, and
cyberspace capabilities offer US policy makers for solving problems. In
peacetime, these options include, supporting our international partners,
counter-balancing and containing aggressive states; signaling opponents
of our commitment to protect our interests; and providing humanitarian
aid--to both our allies and potentially hostile populations--to assure
them of friendly US intentions.
The U.S. Air Force must be able to deliver these sovereign options across
the three domains — air, space, and cyberspace — through which we operate.
As the Nation’s premier global, multi-dimensional maneuver force, the
Air Force safeguards America by dominating the ultimate vantage of air,
space and cyberspace. We provide Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global
Power in and through these domains.
• Global Vigilance is the persistent, world-wide capability to keep an
unblinking eye on any entity — to provide warning on capabilities and intentions,
as well as identify needs and opportunities.
• Global Reach is the ability to move, supply, or position assets — with unrivaled velocity and precision — anywhere on the planet.
• Global Power is the ability to hold at risk or strike any target, anywhere
in the world, and project swift, decisive, precise effects.
Another way to describe this global vigilance, reach and power is that
we must be able to see anything that exists on the face of the earth, we
must be able to fix its location, we must be able to supply it, support
it, rescue it, deny it, delay it, disrupt it, destroy it; we must be able
to assess these effects and we must be able to command and control all
of these activities.
Military superiority and freedom of action cannot be taken for granted.
To promote and defend America’s interests, the Air Force must attain cross-domain
dominance—freedom to attack and freedom from attack in and through the
atmosphere, space and the electromagnetic spectrum. Cross-domain dominance
transforms operational concepts and integrates systems, capabilities and
operations to gain competitive advantage through rapid, simultaneous, lethal
and non-lethal effects. This, in turn, grants joint freedom of maneuver
in all warfighting domains: land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. Without
our ability to present this spectrum of capabilities to the joint team
in peace, crisis and war, national security would be at risk.
History is replete with examples of militaries that failed due to their
inability to transform organizations and culture, adopt new operational
concepts, or leverage breakthrough technologies. These failures were caused
by systemic problems that fall into three categories: failure to anticipate,
failure to learn and failure to adapt. In contrast, victory comes to those
who foresee, recognize and act on changes in the strategic environment.
To succeed—indeed, to avoid catastrophic failure—we must redefine the U.S.
Air Force for the 21st Century.
Today’s confluence of global trends already foreshadows significant challenges
to our organization, systems, concepts, and doctrine. We are at a strategic
turning point demanding a comprehensive revolution. The future will be
shaped by the interaction of globalization, economic disparities and competition
for resources; diffusion of technology and information networks whose very
nature allows unprecedented ability to harm and, potentially, paralyze
advanced nations; and systemic upheavals impacting state and non-state
These global dynamics are intertwined with the changing character of
21st Century warfare. Having experienced or witnessed the cost of challenging
the U.S. head-on, would-be adversaries are developing asymmetric approaches
to attack vital levers of U.S. power. Their strategies seek to circumvent
our core advantages, while undermining international support and domestic
resolve. Ascendant powers are seeking advanced technologies to contest
U.S. superiority in air, space and cyberspace. Even if we continue to successfully
dissuade and deter major competitors, their advanced equipment is proliferating
The Air Force has aggressively pursued air dominance through focused,
sizable investment in Airmen, aircraft, weapons, training and essential
support structure. These are the means that I discussed earlier. The investment
has paid off; no U.S. ground forces have been attacked from the air since
1953, and there are numerous examples in recent years of airpower being
decisive in U.S. military operations. However, the advantages that accrue
from air dominance can no longer be taken for granted. From this point
forward, the Air Force will be challenged not only in the air, but in and
through space and cyberspace as well.
Innovation, flexibility and integration are the hallmarks of all successful
strategies. Airmen must develop creative solutions—ways—to gain and maintain
superiority in air, space and cyberspace, exploiting the synergies of cross-domain
dominance to attain a quantum leap in mission effectiveness. We must focus
on the warfighting mission; implement advanced operational concepts to
fly, fight and win in all domains; leverage game-changing technologies;
and recapitalize our aging equipment.
Strategic risk can mount through the accumulation of shortfalls in recapitalization
and modernization, and stale operational concepts. Recapitalization is
about more than replacing aging aircraft; it is about ensuring the combat
effectiveness of all air, space and cyberspace forces. The success of the
Air Force and the joint team depends upon the ability of our people and
organizations to anticipate, learn and adapt.
Complacency breeds failure. The character, tempo and velocity of modern
warfare already severely test our ability to adapt. We must learn from
history; the Air Force’s legacy defines our role in the American way of
war—to risk the lives of Airmen to kick down the opponent’s door so thousands
need not die.
The Air Force is often first to the fight and last to leave. We give
unique options—prompt, persistent, decisive air, space and cyberspace effects—to
all Joint Force Commanders. Therefore, redefining the Air Force for the
21st Century is an urgent national security requirement—not a luxury we
can defer. The Air Force must safeguard our ability to provide Global Vigilance,
Reach and Power. In other words, to see anything on the face of the earth;
range it; observe or hold it at risk; supply, rescue, support or destroy
it; assess the effects; and exercise global command and control of all
Rising to the 21st Century challenge is not a choice, it is our responsibility;
a responsibility we must successfully fulfill.
As we continue our close association with the members of the Japan Air
Self Defense Force, you will see the results of our focus on revitalizing
our means and developing innovative ways to achieve the ends our Nation
has given us within acceptable risk.This will result in a stronger defense
of Japan, greater deterrence of potential adversaries and a more stable
global security environment.
I look forward to your questions about this, or any other topic you choose.
Lecture by Lt.Gen. Rice, USFsJ/CC