The Post-Vietnam War United States Air Force 1973-1991
In the cultural change, socio-political, and huge technological change era, it is complex, to predict the future with any level or certainty. To alleviate those uncertainties, military leadership and thinkers as well as defense experts, over the past few years, have focused on innovation, technology, and adaptation, specifically during a period of extensive power completion, but no direct conflict, to attain advantage in the future battles. Among the key, referenced wars by the American military is the post-Vietnam war in the 1970s and is utilized as a case study for present military professionals attempting to comprehend how military institutions organize for future battles. During that period, the American military struggled to understand ways of bridging not only regarded as technology gap, but as an intellectual gap against a noble competitor that seemingly appeared like it possessed all the advantages. The various successes in the war that America has attained from the past wars have offered lessons that are vital to prepare for future war.
A key contentious matter that arose during the post-Vietnam war was the American air force’s supposed absence of interest in the CAS or closed air support. The close air support was a debate that had much pressure on the air force that it decided to change. After the battle, the air force overcame that view by dedicating its whole training exercises to the closed air support and inviting the army and Marine Corps to participate. These debates were a blessing in disguise. They aided the air force make changes to their staffing and equipping its staff. The debate forced the then chief staff general to draft a letter to request support in enlightening the American air force. The debate made the air force leader ask for support in having the air force design and develop their aircraft based on the closed air support. The air force was not well equipped and they shared their equipment with the army. Additionally, part of their wing aircraft had been commissioned to the army an aspect that made the training and equipping the air force to have much stress. The stress from sharing the equipment and the aspect that the air force was with less equipment led the chief staff general to commence plans of building their aircraft based on the closed air support. However, the letter stated that if they build the aircraft then the army would contend to be assigned the aircraft.
The air force did not have many pilots and did not have many working as forces before the war. The training conducted and development of aircraft was not an aspect that was well followed before the Vietnam War. However, there were lessons learned after the post-Vietnam war. A lesson from the post-Vietnam war was that during the war one squadron was claimed monthly. A squadron depicts a unit in an air force. With a squadron being claimed monthly, the rate at which the air force was declining was high. That was what led the air force to have a proposal for air-to-air fighters. Additionally, the air force realized that its equipment was never advanced and that the fighter pilots were not adequate. That was what made the American air force commence plans to innovate and develop their equipment that favored and met their demands and requirements. Since the air force was underequipped and understaffed, the debates surrounding them made them embrace research and innovation to build aircraft that suited the air force. Since their aircraft could not in the beginning out power the Vietnam army, the American air force realized that it was better to build an aircraft whose key purpose was air superiority. That has been the driving force of the American air force till today. The air force realized that the capability to outperform all other aircraft was the key thing rather than the capability to detect them first. However, despite them realizing that air superiority was key, the American air force held to the secret that equipment alone was not sufficient. That was what drove them to extra and more training of its staff. Despite it building aircraft that surpassed other nations at that time, they understood that the pilot’s capability to outperform the enemy was significant. That is an aspect that even today America keeps refining. They have been building state-of-the-art machinery and aircraft but ensuring they have a competent team to operate their machinery better than the enemy remains a vision they hold.
The more aircraft they designed, the more American air forces learned various lessons. The lesson that they have been holding currently is improving their machinery and aircraft with time to be stealth. That has made American air forces develop aircraft that will outdo the enemies. The American air force comprehends that future wars will have nations win through stealth. That is something that was learned during the post-Vietnam war. Stealth in future war will be the in-thing. America has not only been developing machinery with stealth, but they have focused on machinery that surpasses its enemies. Additionally, it has increased its intake in air force staff and military to ensure it has sufficient staff to operate its machinery. Additionally, it updates its training programs annually to ensure that its staff attains up-to-date training to ensure they are more than capable to operate the machinery. The air force also occasionally engaged in long-term, broader planning and that was illustrated by the project forecast. The project forecast was what shaped the air force in indirect and direct ways. The project forecast regarded guiding the air forces’ development and research and procurement plans for the future. Additionally, the forecast also shaped the American air force more greatly as an institution. With the current increase and advancement in technology, the American air force has different training times. That was an aspect that was common after the post-Vietnam war, where training would be conducted at night as the soviet satellites flew during the day.
Introducing change in military institutions is both complex and potentially very significant. It is vital because it offered the war nature, military institutions must adjust to remain operative in a dynamic environment. That environment comprises four key sources of change. They are social, political, technological developments and economic and military institutions must adjust to remain effective. The post-Vietnam war has valuable lessons for the current American air force in matters regarding future war preparations and strategic decisions making. A key lesson learned by the American air force is how to allocate and justify its resources. That means that the strategic decisions to be made should focus on the technologies the air force chooses to procure and develop. Additionally, another lesson learned from the post-Vietnam war is the air force structure. Any decision to be made should focus on the air forces’ structure. Another lesson that the post-Vietnam war offers the American air force is that it is required to have its strategic corporals. That implies that it must have staff that is capable of making timely decisions with an array of authorities like identification and engagement authority. In regards to future wars, more nations are expanding the universal reach and power forecast and that will impact how America will require to respond in novel locations and more probable threats. Peer opponents continue to advance their technology as well as their techniques, tactics, and procedures they implement. America normally relies on its partners and allies for collective defense and security and future wars will most probably not solely comprise two parties. That is an aspect that the American air force should understand regarding future wars. Additionally, in regards to future wars, American air forces should ensure they incorporate artificial intelligence into their decision-making processes. They should understand that future wars will be more of artificial intelligence and in their decision-making, artificial intelligence should be assimilated.
Additionally, in regards to decision-making, is that higher-order skills like decision-making that is founded on experience and intuition will wither faster compared to physical skills implying that training should be steadier to ensure capabilities. Additionally, American forces should understand that trainees also require to regularly be in an ambiguous atmosphere where there is partial time availability for decision making. American forces should understand that the partial time availability in decision-making is vital as it forces staff to utilize intuition to create actions as there lacks time space available and it never permits COA assessment and development. Regularly happening naturalistic decision-making training offers trainees the limitations and frequency required to improve experience and intuition. Another aspect associated with strategic decision-making is strategy development. That is a key aspect of the American air force. Despite ideas emanating from anywhere and the policy environment knowledge could be informed by congressional and public relations staff, strategy in decision-making regarding the direction of the air force and the future of wars should emanate from the top. Those in the American air force should understand that a strategy should emanate from the top and be assimilated by the entire force. Additionally, in regards to strategic decision-making, the American air force should understand that whoever dominates the air generally dominates the surface. Decisions regarding future wars and the development of machinery should be focused on controlling the air.
The top management in the American air force should strive to make decisions that are focused on controlling the surface. However, in these decisions, air force spending should be a point of focus. Those in the American air force leadership should ensure that they have their forces well-funded for their research and development. The American air force leadership should also ensure that funding decisions are delivered on time to ensure funding is timely for development and training. Additionally, funding the funding decision is vital as it ensures that the force has enough funds for training too. However, despite funding being vital in the American air force’s strategic decisions, the leadership should ensure it gives sensible spending. The air force should not be underfunded as it will be unable to develop machinery that will ensure it controls the air. As a lesson learned from the post-Vietnam war, budget cuts should be well calculated and deliberated. That is because they could lead to a neglect of the conventional capabilities. That could see the American air force lag behind in development plans and also fail to have state-of-the-art machinery for future war.
The other strategic decision that the air force should focus on is recalling its personnel once it gets caught up to ensure restructuring. Additionally, the American air force leadership should ensure that it standardizes and develop the utilization of capability collaboration teams as a way of facilitating development planning. Additionally, the American air force should be under the leadership of the secretary of the air force and the air force chief of staff. These two offices should work closely to make decisions regarding the machinery to make, training as well as the future of wars. They should be in unison concerning matters air forces. They should offer top-level leadership and guidance to the entire air-force organizations accountable for undertaking development planning. That leadership ought to facilitate and encourage interactions among those institutions. Another aspect that the American air force should regard as a lesson from the post-Vietnam war for strategic decision-making and the future of wars is job attitudes. The air force should ensure that it offers more job motivation, job satisfaction, and prestige to ensure the air force staff works undividedly. Another key decision-making strategy that the American air force should make is ensuring that its operations are not in the spotlight by media houses. Media houses expose the methods and machinery that the air force is developing and working on and could be assimilated by enemy nations to develop more sophisticated machinery. The air force should ensure the media keeps off its affair for the future of war and strategic decision-making.
As illustrated above, wars are detrimental to any nation as it ruins and devastates the people. However, there are vital lessons learned that make a nation prepare for future war. The post-Vietnam war as outlined aided the American air force development and growth. It helped the air force understand the significance of working in stealth and developing stealth machinery. The war advanced the American air forces’ skills of machinery development. Additionally, the war taught the air forces the significance of strategy development. The American air force realized the significance of having its strategy emanate from the top. Additionally, the war taught the American air force the significance of funding towards development and research. The post-Vietnam war can be attributed as an eye-opener for the American air force. Many lessons were learned by the American air forces and that has shaped the force to be what it is today.
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Murray, Williamson. “2 Thoughts on Lessons Learned in the Past.” In Learning the Lessons of Modern War, pp. 24-48. Stanford University Press, 2020.
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Worden, Michael. Rise of the Fighter Generals. The Problem of Air Force Leadership 1945-1982. AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL, 1998.
 Laslie, Brian D. The Air Force way of war: US tactics and training after Vietnam. University Press of Kentucky, 2015.
 Slife, James C. Creech Blue: Gen Bill Creech and the Reformation of the Tactical Air Forces, 1978-1984. Air University Press in collaboration with CADRE, 2004.
 Herzog, Tobey C. Vietnam war stories: Innocence lost. Routledge, 2017.
 Grant, Rebecca. “The quiet pioneers.” Air Force Magazine 85, no. 12 (2002): 34-41.
 Worden, Michael. Rise of the Fighter Generals. The Problem of Air Force Leadership 1945-1982. AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL, 1998.
 Campbell, Kenneth J., and Richard A. Falk. Tale of Two Quagmires: Iraq, Vietnam, and the Hard Lessons of War. Routledge, 2015.
 Cooper, Matthew. Forgetting the Lessons of Vietnam: Army Force Structure Changes as a Result of Reduced Budgets. Air War College, Air University Maxwell Air Force Base United States, 2016.
 Lambeth, Benjamin S., and Benjamin S. Lambeth. The transformation of American air power. Cornell University Press, 2018.
 Murray, Williamson. “2 Thoughts on Lessons Learned in the Past.” In Learning the Lessons of Modern War, pp. 24-48. Stanford University Press, 2020.
 Nielsen, Suzanne C. An Army Transformed: The US Army’s Post-Vietnam Recovery and the Dynamics of Change in Military Organizations. No. 43. Strategic Studies Institute, 2010.