This article originally appeared in War on the Rocks.
In the late 1960s, U.S. Air Force Gen. Glenn Kent found a unique but effective way to overcome persistent resistance from Defense Department colleagues to building base defenses in Europe. During heated budget battles, Air Force officers habitually prioritized new aircraft and missiles over purely defensive measures. Gen. William “Spike” Wallace Momyer, commander of U.S. Tactical Air Forces, had written on a piece of paper that his top priority was to build hardened aircraft shelters to protect American fighter aircraft based in Europe from Soviet attack. Kent then obtained the Air Force chief of staff’s concurrence, which was captured by his signature under the phrase “I’m with Spike.” Kent or a colonel attended every meeting as the Air Force built its budget and each time eliminating funding for the shelters was proposed, he pulled out that piece of paper and said, “I’m with Spike.”
America’s military posture, which is comprised of forces, bases, and agreements, is a critical issue that needs a senior champion
This level of senior leader guidance and continuous engagement was needed to ensure that short-range American airpower — a key U.S. advantage — could have been effectively employed to stop a Soviet invasion, thereby strengthening deterrence.
Today, America’s military posture, which is comprised of forces, bases, and agreements, is a critical issue that needs a senior champion. China has a formidable arsenal of conventionally armed long-range missiles that are significantly more accurate than the ones that the Soviet Union had during the Cold War and plans to fire them in a first strike to destroy U.S. forces on the land and at sea. The Defense Department should ensure that American forces in the Indo-Pacific can survive this blow and generate combat power while under attack, which requires taking steps to increase the resiliency of U.S. military posture.
Read the full article from War on the Rocks.
More from CNAS
PodcastDefense One Radio, Ep. 106: Decoding China’s Taiwan saber-rattling + RIMPAC 2022
Becca Wasser, fellow for the Defense Program and lead of the Gaming Lab at the Center for a New American Security think tank in Washington, D.C, joins the the Defense One podc...
By Becca Wasser
CommentaryNuclear Risks: Russia’s Ukraine War Could End in Disaster
The likelihood of nuclear use in Ukraine may be low, but it is not zero....
By Rachel Tecott & Giles David Arceneaux
CommentaryStrange Debacle: Misadventures In Assessing Russian Military Power
Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine has befuddled most defense analysts and Russia experts....
By Chris Dougherty
ReportsDangerous Straits: Wargaming a Future Conflict over Taiwan
Download the full PDF Executive Summary Until recently, U.S. policymakers and subject matter experts have viewed the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) forcible unification ...
By Stacie Pettyjohn, Becca Wasser & Chris Dougherty