January 20–21, 2010

The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, D.C.

38th IFPA-Fletcher Conference
On National Security Strategy & Policy

January 20-21, 2010

pdf icon Download final conference report

This was the latest in a series of high-level IFPA-Fletcher Conferences on national security strategy and policy. Each conference has been organized with the cosponsorship of a U.S. military service or combatant command. This conference had the sponsorship of the Air Force Chief of Staff's Strategic Studies Group with the support of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Speakers and participants included USAF senior leadership and their civilian counterparts, key members of the other services as part of the Joint Team, members of Congress and their staffs, overseas airpower alliance/coalition partners, thinktank and academic specialists, and industry representatives.

The conference addressed such defining issues as the Air Force role in the twenty-first-century security environment as well as the planning, operational, and investment challenges facing the U.S. Air Force in the years ahead,  including: balancing legacy missions with irregular warfare demands; determining where the USAF can take risks in platform modernization and how best to assign acquisition priorities in a constrained budget environment; identifying and promoting new mission areas and Service competencies; and articulating an up-to-date strategy for enabling and supporting twenty-first-century security planning that facilitates Combatant Commander security cooperation and joint and Allied/coalition operations, and contributing as well to broader Interagency requirements.

Interrelated questions were also addressed: How should the force be modernized to meet changing operational demands? What USAF air and space capabilities are needed to support the Combatant Commands (COCOMs)? How should sustainment, acquisition, and infrastructure be streamlined to control costs? What are USAF mobility requirements to assure strategic access? How will the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) affect Air Force program decisions and resource allocations, given that the 2006 review, unlike previous QDRs, issued numerous programmatic/weapon system actions to implement recommended U.S. national strategy priorities and adjustments?

Among the other principal conference themes were mobility air force requirements; future contributions that air power can bring to the irregular warfare battlefield; balancing Special Operations Forces and conventional force requirements; the twenty-first-century nuclear and conventional deterrence landscape and what weapons systems will be required to sustain deterrence; the impact of the unmanned platform revolution on Air Force strategy and acquisition programs; and the challenges of devising an acquisition strategy for the future.

With these assumptions, questions, and issues in mind, the conference aimed to help generate innovative thinking about airpower focused on Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz’s stated need for the Air Force to be able to “see anything; range it; observe or hold it at risk; protect, supply, rescue, support, or destroy it; assess the effects; and exercise global command and control of all these activities – across the domains of air, space, and cyberspace.”

The agenda describes more fully the scope of the conference and the principal issues and topics that were addressed. The final conference report is available for download.