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Keyonda Garry — 4 Key Challenges Facing the United States Air Force

The United States Air Force has been in existence for over 100 years. Since its inception in 1907, the Air Force has played an integral role in the functioning of the Armed Forces as a whole. This aerial and space warfare branch currently comprises over 5,000 military aircraft, 170 satellites, and over 320,000 active airmen and women. At one point, Keyonda Garry was one such person. Keyonda Garry, residing in South Carolina, currently works in the logistics field. However, she previously served in the United States Air Force for roughly eight years. After spending almost a decade in the Air Force, she came away with a considerable understanding of its strengths and its weaknesses. Like in any branch of the Armed Forces, and in any industry for that matter, there are always challenges. For the Air Force, these challenges lie in their aging fleet, figuring out how best to fight against the Islamic State, how to navigate the space domain, and lastly, how to overcome an unpredictable budget.

Aging Fleet of Aircrafts

Having served in the United States Air Force for roughly eight years, Keyonda Garry has experienced firsthand the challenges posed by the force’s aging aircrafts. In a recent interview by General David L. Goldfein, the Air Force Chief of Staff, he claimed that the current Air Force fleet is the oldest it has ever been. There are still aircraft in circulation that were designed as far back as the 1950s and manufactured in the late 1960s, such as the B-52 Bomber. And this isn’t a one-off. Keyonda Garry claims that they are currently using F-15s, F-16s, and A-10s, all which date back to the 1970s, as well as C-17s from the 1980s. Therefore, modernizing the Air Force’s fleet is of the utmost importance. Specifically, Keyonda Garry believes the Air Force should be focused on acquiring F-35s - and quickly. For those that don’t know, the F-35 aircraft, otherwise known as The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, all-weather aircraft with multi-role combat and fifth generation capabilities. It is that last feature that is most important to both Garry and General Goldfein, as upgrading the United States Air Force’s fleet to include aircraft with superior technological features, such as artificial intelligence, is only going to become increasingly important as modern warfare continues to evolve technologically.

The Space Domain

According to Keyonda Garry, the space domain is a vital frontier when it comes to the Air Force. Space is connected to every part of the United States Armed Forces, but especially so to the Air Force who fly daily. In addition, from a technological point of view, the computers and GPS devices that Air Force members use all operate through Air Force satellites. Not only does space allow the Air Force to communicate with each other and the rest of the army, but it is how they are able to communicate with their allies and partners around the globe. Thus, Keyonda Garry urges the armed forces and public alike to stop thinking of space as a separate domain. Rather it should be considered just one more sphere in which the United States Air Force operates. As such, the same systems of operation used in the sea, on land, and in the air should be applied to space. Overall, how the United States Air Force and the United States Armed Forces as a whole handle the challenge that is the space domain in the years to come will be critical to maintaining their reputation as the most powerful military.

Fighting the Islamic State

Figuring out how best to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, more commonly referred to as ISIS, is one of the greatest challenges facing the United States Air Force today, shares Keyonda Garry. Although most people think of the United States Army fighting ISIS, the United States Air Force are just as involved. In fact, airmen and women are there fighting daily. During the campaign in Mosul, the United States Air Force was firing artillery nearly every eight minutes. Further, the Air Force has personally been responsible for the take down of hundreds of terrorists in Libya and has also been involved with campaigns in Yemen. The Air Force also plays an integral role in Afghanistan, where they work closely with the Afghan forces to provide support, such as supplies, via the air. Lastly, Keyonda Garry asserts that the United States Air Force is stationed all over the world, from South Korea to Germany, with the goal of strengthening their relationships with allies of the United States, in order to plan and execute military campaigns conjointly.

The United States Defense Budget

As in any industry, budget constraints can make change difficult. Keyonda Garry asserts that the annual changes which are made to the Air Force’s budget makes it quite difficult to plan for the future. In particular, the year-to-year budget makes it near impossible to invest in long-term solutions as Air Force leaders don’t know how much money they will have to spend the following year. Ultimately, if the challenges that currently face the United States Air Force are to be overcome, a stable budget needs to be introduced. According to Keyonda Garry, there are all sorts of programs, aircraft, and technology that would significantly improve Air Force operations, but their time-consuming nature means that leaders are very hesitant to implement them. For example, a fleet of F-35s should be purchased, as well as new tanker aircrafts. Further, there are any array of necessary programs, including nuclear modernization programs, space and cyberspace programs, and cyber defense programs, which should have already been implemented had the budget allowed for them. Overall, persuading the government to offer the United States Air Force a reliable budget that doesn’t change dramatically from year to year is paramount to the future success of armed forces.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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