Change in the world around us requires change in the Air Force.
The end of the Cold War swept away national security requirements that had appeared to be fixtures of the global security landscape. The Air Force anticipated the change and produced a vision for dealing with the post-Cold War world in the ground-breaking document, Global Reach - Global Power. This vision has guided the restructuring and modernization of the Air Force for the past six years. Because the change and uncertainty of the immediate post-Cold War era will endure, the Air Force must forge a new vision that will guide it into the 21st Century.
To enable the Air Force to meet the challenges of change, the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force initiated a rigorous, systematic, multi-faceted examination of future demands on the Air Force as a member of America’s joint military force. This revolutionary effort has had the deep involvement of Air Force leaders. It was guided by a Board of Directors consisting of senior military and civilian leaders, and chaired by the Air Force Vice Chief of Staff.
After extensive study and discussion, the Air Force senior leadership began to build this Air Force vision for the 21st Century. It was shaped by Joint Vision 2010, the new guidance published by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Air Force leaders understood that their new strategic vision must meet the national security needs of the nation, and a national military strategy that has as its focus an increasingly U.S.-based contingency force. The Air Force also recognizes the emerging reality that in the 21st Century it will be possible to find, fix or track and target anything that moves on the surface of the earth.
Global Engagement: A Vision for the 21st Century Air Force is based on a new understanding of what air and space power mean to the nation - the ability to hit an adversary’s strategic centers of gravity directly as well as prevail at the operational and tactical levels of warfare. Global situational awareness, the ability to orchestrate military operations throughout a theater of operations and the ability to bring intense firepower to bear over global distances within hours to days, by its very existence, gives national leaders unprecedented leverage, and therefore advantages.
This strategic vision addresses the entire Air Force - people, capabilities and infrastructure - and charts the course of the Air Force into the first quarter of the 21st Century. The vision is the first step in the Air Force’s back-to-the-present approach to long-range planning. Although this strategic vision document establishes overall direction, the Air Force will develop a Long-Range Plan to make the vision come true. Formulating a coherent, shared strategic vision is a critical step, but the real challenge is to make the vision actionable and implementable.