Michael Donley is Secretary of the Air Force. This is the third of four op-eds Sec. Donley wrote exclusively for Breaking Defense on the future of the Air Force. Today’s piece deals with the difficult decisions the Air Force must make to preserve its readiness to respond to crises around the world. We are running one op-ed a day, Tuesday through Friday.

Over the past decade, the Air Force has fielded new and impressive warfighting capabilities in support of joint and coalition operations. Bolstered by combat experience, our military has never been stronger. Keep reading →

HEADQUARTERS, ALLIED COMMAND TRANSFORMATION, NORFOLK, VIRGINIA: A new era is dawning for NATO — though no one knows quite what it means. Now Allied Command Transformation, the only NATO organization headquartered on US soil, is driving an overhaul of how the alliance trains, strategizes, and shares the burden among its increasingly cash-strapped members in a post-Afghanistan, post-“Pacific pivot” world.

That’s a tough task when NATO must make do with what its 28 member nations choose to contribute, each on its own terms. In Afghanistan, some NATO contingents have fought hard — France has lost 86 troops, Canada 158, Britain 438 — but others have been largely kept out of combat by “caveats” imposed by their home countries. In Libya, a European-led operation helped oust Muammar Gaddafi but struggled with intelligence-sharing and shortages of smart bombs. And back in Europe, the alliance has struggled since 2003 to stand up a 13,000-strong crisis-response unit called the NATO Response Force, NRF. Keep reading →

WASHINGTON: Hey, you want Special Forces? The Army’s got your back. Want air defense Missile defense? Communications? Intelligence? Logistical support? Joint Task Force headquarters? Go Army!

Just — just please, don’t cut our budget any more, okay? Keep reading →

NATIONAL HARBOR: As the US shifts its focus from low-tech Taliban “cavemen” to an aggressively modernizing China, the Air Force has launched an urgent effort to find near-term countermeasures against a foe that can jam sensors, hack networks, disrupt communications, and shut down GPS.

“Mostly we’re looking at the next three to five years,” said Randall Walden, the director of information dominance programs under the service’s assistant secretary for acquisition. On that schedule, he said, “you’re not talking about a brand new system. You’re not even talking about cutting a hole in a current plane [to modify it]. You’re talking about pods and concepts.” Keep reading →