No Longer Peerless

The US military doesn’t face “near-peer” threats anymore; they’re even, said Air Force acquisition chief William LaPlante. The Air Force is having real trouble staying ahead of potential adversaries, he said March 19 in testimony before the Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee. “It’s not even the peer adversary of the future” to be worried about anymore, LaPLante said. “It’s the peer adversary of today.” Enemies have studied the US for 25 years, looking for the “seams” in its capabilities and developing asymmetric ways to defeat US systems in electronic warfare, cyber, and space especially, LaPLante warned. “It’s happening right before our eyes,” he asserted, and the “shaping and deterring” called for in Phase Zero of the US strategic plan now “goes both ways.” To stay ahead, USAF will make all new systems “adaptable” to fighting in “ways we can’t predict” by insisting they have open architectures, be modular, and able to take on new technologies and weapons. He asked for Congress’ support in making sure new research and development and acquisition programs go forward with a “predictable” funding stream in order to keep USAF “the world’s greatest Air Force.” (LaPlante prepared testimony)