Project Warrior

Aug. 1, 1982
For a couple of decades, Air Force people (and the institution) edged away from warfighting as a state of mind, and toward an eight-to-five, business, managerial mindset. Today’s Air Force leaders are determined to reverse that trend, and create a professional mission-oriented force. Project Warrior is the means of change.

Among the many achievements of the Air Force he led during his tenure as its Chief of Staff, Gen. Lew Allen, Jr., may in the long run have had the most profound effects through Project Warrior. It is a new program whose goal is to create and maintain and environment for Air Force people to think and plan in warfighting terms.

General Allen told Air Force Magazine just before he retired that Project Warrior “is an informal, voluntary program that units can tailor to their own organization and their own interests.” He went on to say, “In general, we are trying to inspire in our people a desire to understand more and to explain better how airpower really contributes to modern warfare.”


The objectives of Project Warrior are simply stated:

• Identify ways to improve the warfighting spirit and perspective of Air Force people, and

• Encourage an improved understanding of the theory and practice of war, with particular emphasis on the contribution of airpower to help plan better for the future.

In announcing the program to Air Force major commands and separate operating agencies, General Allen said that for Project Warrior to be effective, “it must provide maximum latitude for each organization to tailor their program to meet their special needs.” He especially emphasized that it is not to be a “square-filling” exercise.

The focal point for Project Warrior on the Air Staff is Plans and Operations (AF/XO). Gen. Jerome F. O’Malley, now the Vice Chief of Staff, was AF/XO when Project Warrior was conceived and announced. He says the program “relates more to spirit than it does to a paper exercise.” He notes that it has been almost a decade since our forces left Vietnam. Thus, the level of familiarity with warfighting and the use of airpower in war is dwindling. Without another war, therefore, Air Force people are going to have to gain that familiarity—and learn the lessons—from study and research.

General O’Malley stresses the importance of Air Force people looking at their service as a profession, and to avoid the eight-to-five “occupational” syndrome. He says it’s important for Air Force people to develop a frame of mind that contemplates the role and the functions of airpower.


Guidelines sent to the field from the Air Staff note that Project Warrior is to be implemented “through leadership and education.” Under the “leadership” heading, examples include establishing a local focal point for the program and promoting an “Air Force Heritage Week” using the heritages of local units and bases, and relating them to current missions. At the Pentagon, a warfighting conference will be held this fall for Air Force Board Structure assignees. An orientation program for new general officers is also being planned by Air University.

Under “education,” the Air Force is establishing a professional studies support program. It is composed of selected readings, discussion guides, wargaming resources, and other media to develop individual understanding of military strategy, tactics, and logistics, as well as a better appreciation of the role of airpower in the nation’s deterrent and defense policy.

Maximum Flexibility

General O’Malley says, “Each command has full leeway to get the program off the ground the way the commander and the staff deem best.” He says, “That applies right down to the squadron level.” He also notes that the commands are encouraged to send their suggestions to AF/XO for spreading the word to others.

Target date for total program implementation is September 1.