Printer Friendly

Redefining Air, Space, and Cyber Power.

THE MEANING OF the term airpower is expanding in ways that will affect tomorrow's US Air Force. In 1925 Gen Billy Mitchell defined it simply as "the ability to do something in the air," but the term now encompasses activities in additional operating domains. (1) Gen T Michael Moseley, former Air Force chief of staff, said that "21st Century airpower is not merely the sum but the product of air, space and cyberspace superiority" and that we must "redefine the Air Force for the 21st Century" (emphasis in original). (2)

General Moseley's definition reflects the Air Force's mission "to fly and fight in Air, Space, and Cyberspace," a multidomain view that has emerged over time. When the US Air Force was established in 1947, one could partition the battlespace into air, land, and sea domains. These domains clearly interacted, yet it was still possible to conceive of semi-independent operations in each of them. Back then, the Air Force could focus on air operations while the Army and Navy concentrated on their respective domains. As long as each service's contributions fit together harmoniously, summing their results might yield overall success.

However, the mere summation of results achieved in separate domains is no longer adequate because today's battle space features additional domains that interact in ways difficult to comprehend. Space power emerged about 50 years ago, and the Air Force's understanding of the linkage between air and space has fluctuated periodically since then. We have alternately perceived air and space either as separate mediums or as a single aerospace continuum. More recently, cyberspace has emerged as another important military domain. If grasping the linkage between air and space power has proved challenging, then incorporating cyber power into the mix is even more difficult. The five military operational domains may not be equally important, and their relative importance may vary. The Air Force sees cyberspace as fundamental not only to air and space operations but also to those on land and at sea. Although the details of these "cross-domain" interrelationships remain unclear, the Air Force is actively rethinking its role in national defense. (3) General Moseley's redefinition of both airpower and the Air Force seeks to capture synergies among air, space, and cyber power in a more comprehensive manner than previous efforts to blend air and space power.

Time will tell whether our former chief's new definitions prove more convincing than previous attempts to link activities in different domains. At a minimum, his conception integrates rather than divides military activities in various domains; therefore, it may promote better cooperation both within the Air Force and among all the services. If history is any guide, our views about how air, space, and cyber power interrelate will continue to evolve. Air and Space Power Journal, the professional journal of the Air Force, dedicates this issue to promoting dialogue about this vital topic.


(1.) William Mitchell, Winged Defense: The Development and Possibilities of Modern Air Power--Economic and Military (1925; repr., New York: Dover Publications, 1988), xii.

(2.) Gen T. Michael Moseley, The Nations Guardians: Americas 21st Century Air Force, CSAF White Paper (Washington, DC: Department of the Air Force, Office of the Chief of Staff, 29 December 2007), 3, 2, .mil/shared/media/document/AFD-080207-048.pdf.

(3.) Ibid., 2.

COPYRIGHT 2008 U.S. Air Force
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Focus Area
Author:Berg, Paul D.
Publication:Air & Space Power Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2008
Previous Article:Introducing the Chinese ASPJ.
Next Article:Reply to "A New Form of Air Warfare".

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |