Not since the Cold War with the USSR has the United States faced the specter of high-end conflict with a peer competitor. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that our nation’s defense sits at a strategic inflection point based on the advancing military threats presented by China and Russia. Today, the global strategic environment is categorized by the reemergence of strategic competition—with now two near-peer competitors—who can operate across all domains of warfare and simultaneously employ all aspects of their national power. Like our other military branches, the Air Force faces these emerging challenges while fielding a force only half the size, following force reductions in the decades since the Cold War. America’s ability to globally defend the nation and its allies is grounded in its ability to project combat power anywhere on the planet. In the past, this meant maintaining a robust global posture; however, fiscal constraints resulting in reduced force structure, coupled with advances in threat capabilities, present an increased vulnerability to U.S. overseas military assets. Furthermore, our adversaries have studied our force deployment and invested heavily in pervasive intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and all-domain long-range offensive capabilities that put our global footprint at risk.
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