Reach Matters

An issue lost in the discussion of long-range strike is the breadth of strategic alternatives that the Air Force presents to the national leadership when the nation faces scenarios requiring attack against targets at great distances, said retired Lt. Gen. Bob Elder, former 8th Air Force commander. “What is different” compared to the other services is that the Air Force is “able to conduct global operations,” Elder told attendees at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles during a long-range strike panel discussion. That’s one of the reasons why the Air Force operates as an independent service, he said. Elder noted that the Navy is very skilled at articulating its role in regional operations, particularly through it’s maritime strategy. As a result, the Air Force’s regional role has not been as visible, although USAF has excelled and succeeded at conducting regional operations, such as in the Balkans, in Iraq during the no-fly zones, and in the early days of Operation Enduring Freedom, said Elder. The Air Force has also become exceedingly skilled at operating as a tactical force, as evidenced by its activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, he noted during the Nov. 18 panel.