Image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Samuel King Jr.

January 10, 2022

Spiking the Problem: Developing a Resilient Posture in the Indo-Pacific With Passive Defenses

By Stacie Pettyjohn

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.

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