U.S. Air Force: A Return to Full Spectrum Readiness

By Lieutenant General (Ret.) David Deptula

Lieutenant General (Ret.) David A. Deptula was the principal attack planner for the Operation Desert Storm air campaign; commander of no-fly-zone operations over Iraq in the late 1990s; director of the air campaign over Afghanistan in 2001; joint task force commander (twice); and air commander for the 2005 South Asia tsunami relief.  He is a fighter pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours - 400 in combat - including multiple command assignments in the F-15. During his last assignment as the Air Force's first deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), he oversaw the transformation of America's military ISR and drone enterprises. Deptula retired from the Air Force in 2010, and currently serves as Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies, and holds the Risner/Perot Chair as a Senior Military Scholar at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

The core missions of the U.S. Air Force demand that it always be prepared to defend the United States while also being prepared to carry out operations anywhere in the world. Perhaps more than any other service branch, this requires maintaining a technological edge over adversaries. In The Cipher Brief’s review coverage, we look at how the USAF manages the dual challenges of maintaining readiness for the present and the future.

The Cipher Brief: What is the state of Air Force readiness right now, and what are the key challenges, such as bureaucratic, technical, structural, standing in the way of improving readiness?

“The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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