A Concise History of the U.S. Air Force/The Future

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The Future

With the end of the Cold War, the Air Force adopted a new doctrine―Global Reach-Global Power. Released in June 1990, it prompted the first major Air Force reorganization since March 1946. Under Chief of Staff General Merrill McPeak, Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command were deactivated on June 1, 1992. Many of their assets were incorporated into Air Combat Command, headquartered at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. The new organization represents the "global power" portion of the new Air Force, controlling ICBMs; command, control, communication, and intelligence functions; reconnaissance; tactical airlift and tankers; fighters; and bombers. Air Mobility Command and its in-flight refueling assets headquartered at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, replaced Military Airlift Command as the "global reach" portion of the Air Force, controlling strategic airlift and tanker forces.

Global Reach-Global Power and a new doctrinal manual issued in March 1992, AFM 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force, represent an Air Force committed to matching aerial forces with changing circumstances, drawing on nearly 100 years of experience. The Gulf War, like previous wars, demonstrated that the technology, leadership, training, strategy, and tactics employed for a specific set of conditions and circumstances in one war will not necessarily guarantee success in the next. An innovator behind fighter tactics in the Vietnam War, Colonel Robin Olds, concluded from his own experience that "no one knows exactly what air fighting will be like in the future." The U.S. Air Force proved decisive to victory in World War II and in the Gulf War and to separation from the limited conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Future conflicts will bring new challenges for air power in the service of the nation.