The Future Air University

Jan. 1, 1981
As we approach our thirty-fifth anniversary, Air University is taking a deep, introspective look toward the future. Although proud of our achievements, particularly the new Professional Military Education curriculum and the University organization (still unique among military educational institutions) for meeting the wide variety of professionals education requirements of the Air Force, there is a growing eagerness among the people of Air University to seek new horizons and to play a more significant and imaginative role in the exploitation of aerospace power. Among the staff, school commandants, and, most significantly, the teaching faculty, there is a ferment that is reminiscent of the early days of the Air Corps Tactical School.

In Air War College (which has been attracting increasing numbers of “blue suit” and civilian scholars to its faculty) there is talk and excitement about the proposed Combat Readiness Exercise System (CRES). This highly automated, futuristic system will provide a decision-making environment in which emerging air commanders and battle staffs can examine war-fighting processes to the execution of air forces’ weapon systems throughout a full range of applications from prehostilities force deployment through force employment in a theater of operations. It will enable our students to, first, think about war and, second, to examine the impact that various force management and employment decisions have on the performance of a war-fighting system.

In accordance with “Constant Readiness Tasking” of educational activities, CRES is aimed at enhancing readiness for war by developing a “think-war mindset” in USAF officers. Intensive classroom lessons on war-fighting will be reinforced by providing decision-making opportunities in a controlled environment. Additionally, the environment can be made flexible and allow students to test their own concepts of how best to employ current or proposed weapon systems to obtain military objectives in war.

Those of us responsible for Professional Military Education system have sensed the need for a closer association with the operational commands directly involved in the employment/deployment of air forces. The Air War College, in concert with the Air Command and Staff College, has begun to implement the charter of the newly established Air University Research Institute, whose mission calls for cooperative research on airpower relative to the attainment of national objectives.

The Air Staff and commanders of designated MAJCOMS, specified commands, and separate operating agencies will be invited to assign an officer from their respective organizations to pursue research related to command long-range planning. These research proposals will be approved by the sponsoring command. Thus, the ARI of the operational commands will be the focal point for combining the brainpower of the students and faculty with that of the operational commands in the formulation and evaluation of options and policy recommendations relating to the employment of airpower as an instrument of national policy.

These are just some of the interesting activities planned for the next several years at Air University. Their success, as indeed the success of any professional education institution, will depend in large measure upon the continued development of an imaginative, enthusiastic, and dynamic faculty. Those selected for faculty assignment to Air University’s Professional Military Education schools during the next few years will have an opportunity to be in the vanguard of advanced thinking on aerospace employment concepts—a situation analogous to the days of the old Air Corps Tactical School, but far more complex and challenging.

Too often in the past, officers sought active operational assignments as opposed to the intellectual challenge of school assignments. We hope, in the future, one will not have to choose between these two alternatives. Both can, in a sense, be had at Air University.