Asymmetric Advantage: Air Advising in a Time of Strategic Competition - Disjointed Enterprise of USAF Air Force Foreign Military Air Advisor Units, Studies of Philippines, Iraq, and Afghanistan
The United States Air Force (USAF) does not adequately organize, train, and equip for building partnerships with foreign militaries, despite this activity's stated importance in national strategy, joint doctrine, and official USAF guidance. The USAF does boast an array of air advisor units—some permanent, and some ad hoc. The different units are stove-piped within different major commands. More
This USAF LeMay paper, issued in August 2019, has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. The United States Air Force (USAF) does not adequately organize, train, and equip for building partnerships with foreign militaries, despite this activity's stated importance in national strategy, joint doctrine, and official USAF guidance. The USAF does boast an array of air advisor units—some permanent, and some ad hoc. The different units are stove-piped within different major commands, each with different priorities, resources, and authorities. In short, USAF air advising is an active but disjointed enterprise. This project aims to determine how the USAF should organize and present forces for air advising. The project uses a comparative case study approach, analyzing the 6th Special Operations Squadron in the Philippines, expeditionary air advisors in Iraq, and the 81st Fighter Squadron (i.e., Afghan A-29 training). The author finds that more cohesive and sustainable air advisor unit constructs achieve better operational results, and therefore constitute the best cornerstones for a more unified, effective air advising enterprise going forward. On the other hand, ad hoc methods of selecting, training, and deploying air advisors have yielded few operational gains. The author offers several recommendations intended to help the USAF organize and employ air advisors in a more cohesive and sustainable manner.
This compilation includes a reproduction of the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
When planned, executed, and sustained prudently, security cooperation advances U.S. strategic objectives, hones U.S. military prowess, and bolsters the U.S. industrial base, while enhancing our partners’ capacity to defend themselves and to operate in U.S.-led coalitions—an alluring array of benefits. Examples include the work of AFSOC combat aviation advisors (CAA)—often referred to as combat air advisors—in Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines (OEF-P), and AETC’s A-29 attack aircraft instructor pilots (IP) and advisors. Conversely, when organized in an ad hoc manner, SC can squander American military lethality while doing little to advance U.S. or allied goals. Examples include the expeditionary air advisor construct used throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom. A significant body of evidence suggests that some USAF SC efforts to date have been imprudent. Despite improvement initiatives at the service level, a critical need remains for greater strategic planning and sustainable capability in USAF SC. This holds particularly true with regard to the forward elements of the enterprise—air advisors and aviation foreign internal defense (AvFID) specialists. This paper will introduce the subject and problem by examining relevant academic theory, as well as U.S. and USAF strategy, doctrine, and operational guidance (introduction and chapter 2). A broad overview of USAF SC follows (chapter 3). The paper will then introduce a standardized framework (chapter 4) to examine current USAF units performing the most forward, expeditionary subsets of USAF SC—air advisor operations and AvFID (chapters 5–7). Each case will examine the organization, manning, and practices of the participating USAF unit(s) and the results of each effort in furthering U.S. interests. The studies also consider contextual factors, such as partner government legitimacy and military absorptive capacity for military aviation training and capabilities. Chapter 8 will provide recommendations, implications, and avenues for further research. The goal of this analysis is to determine how the USAF should organize and present forces for air advising and AvFID.
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