AIR AND SPACE SUPERIORITY FREEDOM FROM ATTACK AND THE FREEDOM TO ATTACK
From the Pacific island-hopping campaign of World War II to the success of coalition forces in Operations ODYSSEY DAWN and UNIFIED PROTECTOR (Libya) in 2011 and through today, air superiority has been and remains an essential precondition to successful military operations. It ensures that the advantages of the other Air Force core missions, as well as the formidable capabilities of our sister Services, are broadly available to combatant commanders. It includes the ability to control the air so that our military forces do not have to worry about being attacked from the air, while ensuring that joint forces have the freedom to attack in the air, on the ground, and at sea.
Air superiority has provided our Nation with a decades-long asymmetric advantage. Joint force and coalition commanders have come to expect the mission-essential air superiority that over 115,000 of America’s Airmen deliver daily. The Air Force has given them ample reason—not since April 15, 1953, has an enemy combat aircraft killed a servicemember in the American ground forces. This revolutionary degree of control has not only allowed Airmen to accomplish their missions, but has allowed all American forces the freedom of action to operate without the threat of attack from enemy aircraft. Whether friendly naval forces are helping to secure vital sea lines of communication and transit, amphibious forces are conducting over-the-beach landings, special operations forces are executing counterterrorism missions, or ground forces are engaged in maneuvers, these operations depend upon our Airmen to provide mission-essential air superiority. Without it, our Nation’s military would have to radically change the way it fights, which would likely occur at the price of more lives lost.
America’s freedom to operate effectively across the spectrum of conflict rests
not only on the Air Force’s ability to dominate in the air, but also on its ability
to exploit space. Every day, over 15,000 Airmen play a role in ensuring space
superiority. As the Nation’s space force, the Air Force provides critical capabilities
that enhance the military’s
ability to navigate accurately,
see clearly, communicate securely, and strike precisely.
Joint, interagency, and
coalition forces depend on
Air Force space operations to
perform their missions every
day, on every continent, in
the air, on the land, and at sea.
In a dangerous and uncertain
future, the ability to access
and exploit space, even when
others try to deny us, will be
vital to our Nation’s security.
Although air and space superiority underwrite the freedom of action required for all joint military operations, there is no
guarantee of it in the future. In coming years, our Nation’s ability to gain and maintain superiority in all operating domains—
air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace—will become progressively more difficult as sophisticated technologies continue to
proliferate. In contested environments, our air superiority future depends on modern technology and fifth-generation fighter
capability. Another key to maintaining air and space superiority is ready and trained Airmen who are properly equipped
for their mission. When called upon, these Airmen must possess a well-honed combat edge so that they are ready to prevail
even against the most advanced opponents. Therefore, we will couple emerging technologies with smart Airmen to devise
new and effective combinations to preserve our first look, first shot, first kill capability. We must also look for opportunities
in air, space, and cyber to collaborate with industry and our international partners as a way to maintain the edge our Nation
requires of us as an air force and as a part of the joint warfighting team.
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