Eight Miles High and Falling Fast

The Air Force is losing its edge and has to warn the nation against being too sanguine about the threat, service acquisition chief William LaPlante said March 17. “Don’t assume benign conditions,” LaPlante said. “We have to innovate and experiment … we’ve got to catch up and get our margin back … We are losing our margin.” USAF, he said, is “not just going around saying the threat is 10 feet tall. Even if you say the threat is eight feet tall—when the intel says it’s 10 feet tall—we’re still losing our margin.” If a competitor has certain preliminary capabilities, but those are discussed with comments that “they haven’t fought [with] it yet, or trained with it … Maybe. But we’re losing our margin. Okay? Every year, the briefings get worse,” LaPlante said. When the US looks at its adversaries, they are doing what the US should be, he said: “They’re doing shaping and deterring. Make no mistake, they’ve watched us very carefully over the last 25 years—they’ve watched us fight—and they’ve learned from it. So we really need to get on with” the third o?ffset of technology overmatch.