September 1, 2007  

In this issue

It’s especially fitting in this Air Force 60th anniversary issue to include a commentary from retired Brig. Gen. Bill Shields, whose own military career spanned the Air Force’s transformation from an Army unit to an independent force. Bill joined the services as an Army private in 1946, achieving his own "independence" a year later when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the newly formed Air Force. He retired 35 years later as deputy chief of staff, space surveillance and missile warning systems. Here, he expresses concern that the Chinese ASAT demonstration portends a grave threat to our network-centric, space-dependent way of fighting wars.

Mike Isherwood brings his perspective to our cover package as a senior air analyst at Northrop Grumman, putting the tanker issue into historic context. Mike, a former Air Force colonel, shows the evolution of Air Force thinking on this hot-ticket subject and also what the potential payoff could be to an airlift-tanker combo.

Loren Thompson, the chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, has long warned that Pentagon and Washington policymakers have neglected air power and taken for granted America’s global air dominance. He traces the roots of that neglect and sets out what could be the Air Force’s largest struggle: rejuvenating its fleet.

Christopher Griffin, a regular contributor to AFJ and a keen tracker of Air Force policies and technologies, examines the Air Force’s split-personality dilemma as it juggles the two roles of counterinsurgency support force and air superiority fighter force.

From blue to green: Lt. Col. Gian Gentile commanded 8-10 Cavalry for three years, including a deployment last year in western Baghdad. Now at West Point, he reflects on the paradoxes of the Army’s new counterinsurgency manual. While "eating soup with a knife" has become a popular Army metaphor for thinking differently about COIN operations and using nontraditional tools, Gian argues that all wars, including COIN, are still wars. When it comes to the soup of war, a spoon is better.

Cmdr. John Patch completes our feature package with a critique of whether the "transformational" Littoral Combat Ship is ultimately too good to be true: a jack-of-all-trades, master of none?