Defense Secretary Robert Gates said much the same thing in his October speech to the Association of the United States Army: “Arguably, the most important military component in the war on terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern their own countries.” But few would see the applicability to the Air Force secretary’s speech. After all, he was talking to the Army, wasn’t he?
Since my visit to OSD early last summer, the Air Force has displayed forward and broad thinking, at least beginning to come to grips with irregular warfare. The Air Force Doctrine Center in August published its Doctrine Document 2-3 on “Irregular Warfare.” Proactively, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) recommended to the Air Staff that the service should create a new irregular warfare wing. This wing would be made up of four squadrons of turboprop aircraft for manned ISR, light strike, medium airlift and heavy airlift, along with a fifth squadron flying helicopters. Additionally, out of the old Joint IED Defeat Office, the Air Staff has created an office for Irregular Warfare Requirements which will hold discussions on the needs of the Air Force to act effectively in the IW arena. It’s a beginning and it promises some lively discussions of the Air Force’s future.
We haven't actually gotten around to creating our COIN betting markets, but here's a possible line: The Air Force will fund and train the irregular warfare wing with the same gusto as the Army funds and trains military transition teams. Do you want the over or the under?