The Ukrainian crisis created by Russia’s aggressive adventurism has sparked much soul-searching among NATO’s commanders, western lawmakers and policymakers and the western defense world’s thinkerati. Should we bolster missile defenses in central Europe? What about the permanent US military presence in Europe? Has it gotten too small? Do we need to bolster America’s nuclear forces,… Keep reading →

Heritage Flight Conference

Budget cuts won’t make the Air Force give up any of its current missions, the service’s Chief of Staff promised today. But, Gen. Mark Welsh acknowledged, the cuts will force it to do those missions with different and perhaps not optimal aircraft. Yes, the famous A-10 “Warthog” is “the best at close air support” –… Keep reading →


It’s difficult enough for one ship to find and sink another ship. It may not be quite as hard for planes flying from an aircraft carrier to find enemy ships and sink them, but it’s not easy. The hardest task for a plane — especially a land-based plane — may be to find a small… Keep reading →

Gen. Mark Welsh, chief of staff of the Air Force, addresses the faithful wearing a Captain America mask.

National Harbor, MD: The Air Force will protect and defend the budgets of the KC-46 airborne tanker, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the nascent Long Range Strike Bomber, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told a standing room audience of more than 1,200 here. Oh, and Welsh made clear his view of… Keep reading →

An artist's depiction of a Lockheed Martin LRASM (Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile) hurtling towards its target.

NATIONAL HARBOR: We all know that, since the end of the Cold War, the US military has vastly expanded its ability to precisely strike targets on the land. The dirty secret is that we’ve unilaterally disarmed our capability to strike ships at sea. The military calls this a “capability gap,” but it’s more like a… Keep reading →


WASHINGTON: The second comprehensive report to Congress on the Pentagon’s aviation fleet paints a pretty robust picture of the fleet in most respects all the way out to 2043. But there’s a rub: like the Obama Administration’s budget request, the report doesn’t take sequestration into effect. (You can read the report below.) DoD Aircraft Report… Keep reading →

The Air Force general responsible for most of the nation’s military nuclear force is worried that the Continuing Resolution and the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration will wipe out 20 percent of the money he needs to keep his force combat ready.

“You can’t take those kinds of reductions we’ll be looking at without some kind of degradation.” said Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and America’s nuclear-capable bombers and the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that represent two-thirds of the total nuclear deterrence force. Keep reading →

The start of a new year and of a new administration is a good time to think about the future. A key challenge facing the new Obama administration and the Congress is to ensure that US military capabilities continue to innovate and evolve in challenging times.

Paul Bracken has underscored that we are in a Second Nuclear Age, and in this age deterrence is different, but remains as significant as the first. Bracken is concerned that we are ignoring the rebirth of nuclear weapons within the global dynamic at our peril. Keep reading →

Michael Donley is the Secretary of the Air Force. This is the conclusion of a series of four op-eds Sec. Donley wrote exclusively for Breaking Defense on the future of the Air Force. Today’s piece makes the case that investments in new technology cannot be deferred — a modernization challenge that Army aviators are facing as well.

Among the most difficult challenges facing the Air Force is the need to modernize. In the sine waves of defense spending since World War II, most resources during defense buildups have supported wartime operations in Korea, Vietnam, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan. The early-1980s build-up was the only one to focus on modernization without the burden of large combat operations, and to a significant degree we have been living off the investments from that era or even earlier. Keep reading →

Michael Donley, Air Force Secretary, wrote this second of four op-eds on the future of the Air Force exclusively for Breaking Defense. Today’s piece grapples with just how small the Air Force’s force structure can get while the service can still accomplish its missions.We will run an op-ed early each morning through Friday. The Editor.

Like all of our military services, the US Air Force has been through an extraordinary decade of change. Airmen have moved unprecedented amounts of personnel and equipment to remote theaters of operation; built global command, control, and intelligence operations; provided 24/7 close air support to ground forces; and introduced new technologies, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft [RPAs, aka UAVs]. Keep reading →

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