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The AU Research Topics List is comprised of questions given to Air University by organizations with the USAF and other DoD organizations. Any organization is welcome to submit topics at any time. Please direct any questions about Air University Research to AUResearch@au.af.edu.

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AU RESEARCH TOPICS LIST (RTL)

  • Adversary Approaches to Political Warfare and Information Warfare

    How do the approaches by Russia and China to modern political warfare, in particular the exploitation of the information environment to manipulate, coerce, and control, potentially provide a model for the U.S. to understand the nature of modern political warfare by our adversaries and counter it? (JSOU)

  • Air Mobility in a kinetic/contested environment with China

    What will be the impact of a kinetic/contested environment with China on Air Mobility? How can Air Mobility plan to operate in this environment?  (AMC/CC)

  • Arctic, the Antarctic, and the Indo-Pacific

    What is the importance of the Arctic and Antarctic to the Indo-Pacific theater? (PACAF)

  • Battlefield Airman for Duty in the Pacific AOR

    Better Trained and Equipped Battlefield Airman (TACP, CCT, etc.) for Duty in the Pacific AOR (PACAF/A9L)

  • China vs. India at the Line of Actual Control: Implications for the Indo-Pacific

    A study on the geostrategic, political, and military implications of the continued standoff between China and India, including lessons learned of the PRC’s handling of the situation through military actions, media communications, and world politics. (PACAF)

  • China's critical cyber vulnerabilities

    What are the critical cyber vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the CCP/PLA? What are critical weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Chinese military networks? (US Cyber Command)

  • China's global expansion

    How does China's global expansion impact the aerospace domain?  (CASI)

  • China's Soft Power/Economic Power Approaches

    Analysis of China's use of soft power, particularly its use of economic power. (CASI)

  • China's TTPs for cyber incidents

    What are CCP/PLA tactics, techniques, procedures, and standard operating procedures for military and civilian government responses to cyber incidents? How do CCP/PLA cyber teams cooperate with each other? (US Cyber Command) 

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Air Defense

    How has changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Conventional Precision Strike

    How has changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - EW and Network Operations

    How has changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Non War military activities

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity?

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Nuclear Missions

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)



     

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Space Operations

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Support to Ground or Maritime Operations

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Policies

    What are China's national-level policies that are directly related or partially overlap with the aerospace industry or domain? (CASI)

  • Chinese civil-military relations

    What is the balance of civil-military relations in Chinese strategy? (OSD)

  • Chinese commercial support of cyber operations

    How does China leverage commercial entities to support its cyberspace operations? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese Economic Ties to India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    How is China imposing costs on India, South Korea, Japan & Australia? How could their economic ties to China limit their economic choices? (HAF A5SM)

  • Chinese leadership tasking cyber-actors

    How does CCP/PLA senior leadership task the various cyber-actors: government and proxies? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese Naval Capabilities

    Analysis of PRC's naval capabilities. (CASI)

  • Chinese Propaganda

    What is the Communist Party / Peoples' Liberation Army (CCP/PLA's) propaganda apparatus structure, strategy, and capabilities? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese use of resistance groups

    What foreign irregular armed groups have the PRC supported in the past or continue to support? What nonviolent civil resistance movements have the PRC supported in the past? (JSOU)

  • Chinese Views of specific US systems

    What are the PRC views of specific US military systems, what threat they pose, and discussions of countering these systems? (CASI)

  • Chinese Views of US operations

    What are the PRC views of US military operations and what lessons can be learned from those operations? (CASI)

  • Chinese Views of US presence in region

    How does the PRC and PLA view U.S. military forces in the Indo-Pacific region? (CASI)

  • Cost Imposition in Strategic Competition

    What role, if any, did USAF programs, postures, or concepts play in the changes to the PRC’s Strategic Guideline (zhanlue fangzhen)? (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Directed Energy Weapons Impact on Taiwan Straits Conflict

    Does the Chinese Communist Party's directed energy weapons advancements compromise US, allies, and partner nations’ advanced weapons systems capabilities in a potential Taiwan Strait conflict?  (AFTAC)

  • Effectively Assessing OAI Impacts to PRC behavior

    PACAF requires analysis to help develop methodologies to accurately, succinctly, and effectively capture the cumulative impacts of Operations, Activities, and Investments (OAI) over time on PRC perceptions and behaviors and PACAF desired objectives. (PACAF/A303)

     

  • Foreign Operating Concepts in Air Warfare

    How are nation-state and non-nation-state objectives and their associated operating concepts influencing the changing dynamics of air warfare? (HAF A5SM)

  • Gender Equality in support of the Pacific Strategy

    How do the US, as well as closest allies and partners, use our strategic and cultural advantage in pursuing gender equality to our benefit? (PACAF/A8XR)

  • Historic PRC–Taiwan Provocation Cycle

    Provide a historic analysis of PRC military provocation toward Taiwan through the lens of politics (US administration, PRC leadership, TWN leadership), PRC military capabilities, US regional posture, economic context, and information environments. (PACAF)

  • Historical Lessons for Operations in the Pacific

    For example, how does General George Kenney’s approach in the South Pacific compare to what will be required in a future conflict with China? (AMC/CC)

  • Human Rights as a Weapons System

    How could the DoD utilize human rights as a weapon system against strategic competitors? (JSOU) 

  • Impact of Dynamic Force Employment on Indo-Pacific Bomber Deterrence

    How can the U.S. optimize deterrence and assurance within the Bomber Task Force (BTF)/Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) construct? Shifting from Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), how can the U.S. increase its deterrence advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia? (AF/A10P & AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Implementation and Absorption Capacity for New Capabilities and Concepts

    Using unitary analysis or comparative analysis, examine either or both of the USAF/Joint Force and PLA’s capacity to absorb new capabilities and concepts into demonstrated operational utility, identifying recommendations for accelerating change and innovation at scale within the USAF and DoD. (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Integrated air and missile defense mission in INDOPACOM AOR

    How do we as a coalition of the willing in the INDOPACOM AOR gain parity and subsequently surpass regional actors in IAMD architecture to a level that will deter China from military action and if not, leave the coalition in a position to effectively execute combat operations in the region without being overwhelmed by emerging threats? (PACAF/PIC)

  • Nuclear Issues in Strategic Competition

    The rise of strategic competition as the defining feature of the contemporary strategic environment has renewed the discussion of the threats posed by nuclear states. China, Russia, and North Korea are all nuclear powers, and Iran has aspirations in this area. Yet each of these states poses different nuclear weapons risks. Within its counterweapons of mass destruction mandate, how can SOF best understand and prepare against the most likely and most dangerous threats emanating from these disparate states? What could appropriate responses look like against a wide variety of nuclear threats?

  • Personnel within the PLA

    Analysis of the PLA's personnel. (CASI)

  • PLA C2 and Decision Making

    What are the command authorities and decision making processes within the PLA? (CASI)

  • PLA Meteorological Challenges and Dependencies

    What are the meteorological challenges and dependencies that a PLA combined arms assault on Taiwan would face? (557 WW) 

  • PLA Morale

    What is the overall state of morale within the PLA? (CASI)

  • PLA organization and command culture

    How does the organization of the PLA and its command culture affect how the PLA makes decisions and fights? (CASI)

  • PLA Political work

    How does the PLA conduct political work? How does the PLA perceive political work contributing to force effectiveness? (CASI)

  • PLA's acquisition system

    How effectively can the PLA's acquisition system translate requirements into delivered systems? (CASI)

  • PRC aerospace industry

    What is the ability of the PRC's aerospace industry to emulate, innovate, develop, prototype, refine, and finalize aerospace systems? (CASI)

  • PRC industry actors

    How are they connected to the state and military? To what extent can they support military requirements? (CASI)

  • PRC's "Military Civil Fusion" strategy

    Analysis of PRC's "Military Civil Fusion" strategy. How does the MCF support PLA operations in aerospace domains? (CASI)

  • Prioritizing US Investments in Asia-Pacific Region

    What capabilities and potential investments should the US consider to offset the effects of the US-China strategic competition in the region? In particular, what opportunities are there in the development of defense, technology, and infrastructure? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • Sino-Russian Security Cooperation & Competition

    What are the opportunities and challenges surrounding Sino-Russian cooperation? How are Russia & China competing? How does this affect their military alignment, particularly in the Arctic and with Central Asian states? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Special Operations Command Africa

    Operations in this AOR often face challenges with economy-offorce missions across a large continent. How can SOF best work with other USG agencies, as well as allies and partners, to fulfill their missions? In what ways can SOF help extend legitimate government control into areas where governance is contested? How can SOF maintain a U.S. presence across Africa, especially in countries where adversaries seek to gain power and influence? What is SOF’s role in resistance and resilience in Africa, and what challenges specific to the continent does it face? How can SOF best respond to climatological changes that drive economic, social, demographic, and cultural crises? 

  • Special Operations Command North

    How can SOF best prepare for future operations in the Arctic? What does the enlargement of NATO to include Finland and Sweden mean for the region? What are the interoperability requirements between SOF and conventional forces operating in the region, such as Coast Guard icebreakers and Navy submarines? Are there new capabilities or technologies that are required for operations in this environment? What can U.S. SOF learn from allies and partners that routinely operate in the Arctic? How might SOF best work with the USG interagency, as well as allies and partners, to understand and partner with Arctic peoples? 

  • Special Operations Command Pacific and Special Operations Command Korea

    Rising sea levels will, over the next decades, be the source of a variety of economic and social issues across the Indo-Pacific Command, which may drive conflicts in the region. These issues include natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage agriculture and trade, affect refugee flows, create challenges to port infrastructure, and impact changes to navigable waterways and sea routes. How can SOF better understand and adapt to this potentially destabilizing environment, and how can they best support allied and partner nations facing these issues?

  • Sustainment for Dispersed Forces in the Pacific

    Sustainment solutions for fuel and munitions in the Pacific theater. (PACAF/A4DX) 

     

  • US Approach to Strategic Partnerships

    What are strategies that can be used to enhance the Department's approach to strategic security, economic, and technology partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region? (HAF A5SM)

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • Options for AFGSC in Response to the Next Potential "Cuban Missile Crisis" in Space

    The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars signatories from placing "in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction." In recent months, reports have been made public that the United States believes Russia is developing a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon. The detonation of a nuclear weapon in space has the potential to disrupt not only military capabilities, but also commercial services all over the world. What actions should AFGSC be prepared for in the case that Russia rescinds themselves from the 1967 treaty and deploys these weapons in space? What can AFGSC do to proactively deter Russia from doing this? In the event that deterrence fails, are there any new assurances to allies that AFGSC is uniquely positioned to provide? Potential options might include fielding new capabilities, the declassification of current programs, and force posture adjustments. 

  • Should NATO/US Reposition or Add Nuclear Weapons to Poland to Improve Deterrence Position?

    Poland has signalled that they are willing to host nuclear weapons if requested to do so by NATO, but is there any advantage to be gained by doing so? What military/political tactical/strategic implications would there be to having nuclear weapons closer to Belarus/Kaliningrad/Russia?

  • Political Limitations on Operations

    The war in Ukraine has highlighted the continued relevance of strategic deep attacks by SOF such as the attempts to degrade and/ or destroy the Kerch bridge. However, both Ukraine and its partners have been under severe political pressure to minimize these attacks for fear of provoking a Russian response. These political restraints limit the options for SOF planners, but similar constraints will likely be present in the future both in Europe and elsewhere. How can SOF incorporate and mitigate political considerations in planning deep area operations? How can the United States and its allies and partners increase the political restraints facing adversaries when they consider carrying out deep area operations? 

    Another example of the utilization of political limitations is the use of narratives—true, false, or a mixture of both—to discredit ongoing military operations. In each combatant command AOR, adversaries are using U.S. actions since the end of the Cold War (e.g., NATO enlargement, civil wars in the Balkans, Arab Spring, Color Revolutions, Afghanistan and Iraq, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela) to portray the United States as a destabilizing, imperialist, and militarily aggressive power that cannot be trusted and must be opposed. States that believe these narratives are likely to push back diplomatically against U.S. foreign policy and military initiatives in their country. In this way, narratives shape political limitations, which then, in turn, may have effects down to the tactical level (such as discontinuing joint combined exchange training or other small-scale SOF engagements). How can these narratives be countered, and how can counternarratives be attuned to address historical memories and cultural expectations of specific states? 

  • Nuclear Issues in Strategic Competition

    The rise of strategic competition as the defining feature of the contemporary strategic environment has renewed the discussion of the threats posed by nuclear states. China, Russia, and North Korea are all nuclear powers, and Iran has aspirations in this area. Yet each of these states poses different nuclear weapons risks. Within its counterweapons of mass destruction mandate, how can SOF best understand and prepare against the most likely and most dangerous threats emanating from these disparate states? What could appropriate responses look like against a wide variety of nuclear threats?

  • Special Operations Command Europe

    The conflict in Ukraine will end at some point, and when it does, changes to the Ukrainian military are likely to result. Are there lessons that can be drawn from history about what the transition from wartime to peacetime SOF looks like, especially in a smaller state that may need to dramatically reduce the size of its military? What capabilities are most critical to maintain? Should there be a larger role for reserve forces? How does Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO affect the role(s) that Ukrainian SOF will play? In what ways can U.S. SOF, in conjunction with allies and partners, support Ukrainian SOF through organizational and individual transitions to peacetime? 

  • Special Operations Command North

    How can SOF best prepare for future operations in the Arctic? What does the enlargement of NATO to include Finland and Sweden mean for the region? What are the interoperability requirements between SOF and conventional forces operating in the region, such as Coast Guard icebreakers and Navy submarines? Are there new capabilities or technologies that are required for operations in this environment? What can U.S. SOF learn from allies and partners that routinely operate in the Arctic? How might SOF best work with the USG interagency, as well as allies and partners, to understand and partner with Arctic peoples? 

  • Impact of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine on Nuclear Deterrence

    Do losses in conventional weaponry during the invasion of Ukraine push Russia to be more likely to use nuclear weapons in the future? (8 AF)

  • Iran-Russia Relations

    What is Russia's relationship with Iran? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with this relationship? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russo-Turkish Relations

    What is Russia's relationship with Turkey? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with this relationship? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with Indo-Pacific States

    What are Russia's relationships with Indo-Pacific states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with South American States

    What are Russia's relationships with South American states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with Balkan States

    What are Russia's relationships with the Balkan states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Military Leadership

    What is the decision-making process of senior Russian military leaders? What is the Russian system of command and control? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

     

  • Russian Cyber & Influence Activities

    What cyber and influence activities have the Russians undertaken? What was their impact? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Unconventional & Counter-Unconventional Warfare

    What are the Russian approaches and capabilities regarding unconventional and counter-unconventional warfare? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Military Morale

    What is the morale of the Russian military? What is the role of Russian military leadership? What impacts its will to fight? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Military as an Operational/Strategic Learning Organization

    How does the Russian military function as an operational/strategic Learning Organization? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

     

  • Reconstitution of Russian Military

    How will the Russian military reconstitute itself in the future? What future threats does it pose? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russia & the Arctic

    What is Russia's long-term Arctic strategy? How do they plan to project power into the Arctic? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Sino-Russian Security Cooperation & Competition

    What are the opportunities and challenges surrounding Sino-Russian cooperation? How are Russia & China competing? How does this affect their military alignment, particularly in the Arctic and with Central Asian states? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with former Soviet States

    What is the Russian relationship with former Soviet states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships?  (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Domestic Stability's Impact on National Security Decision Making

    What impact does Russia's domestic security have on its national security decision-making? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Impact of the loss of Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements

    What have been the effects of the loss of various Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Critical Vulnerabilities

    What are the systemic weaknesses of the Russian state? What are the critical vulnerabilities within its military's operations and systems, as well as logistics and sustainment? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Use of Private Military Companies

    Analyze Russia's use of private military companies. (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Defense Industry

    What are the domestic and export capacities of Russia's defense industry? What effects have sanctions had on it? What is the evolving role of the wartime economy on the Russian defense industry? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Foreign Operating Concepts in Air Warfare

    How are nation-state and non-nation-state objectives and their associated operating concepts influencing the changing dynamics of air warfare? (HAF A5SM)

  • Russian Views on Deterrence, Escalation Management & Conflict Termination

    What are the Russian views and theories of deterrence, escalation management, and conflict termination? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Human Rights as a Weapons System

    How could the DoD utilize human rights as a weapon system against strategic competitors? (JSOU) 

  • Adversary Approaches to Political Warfare and Information Warfare

    How do the approaches by Russia and China to modern political warfare, in particular the exploitation of the information environment to manipulate, coerce, and control, potentially provide a model for the U.S. to understand the nature of modern political warfare by our adversaries and counter it? (JSOU)

  • Hacktivists

    How might the emergence of hacktivists impact state dynamics in cyberspace during a conflict?  (US Cyber Command) 

  • Russian reliance on foreign cyber technologies

    How reliant is Russia on foreign technologies for development and procurement of cyberspace capabilities? (US Cyber Command)

  • Russian views on cyber operations

    What are Russia's policy, strategy, and mission objectives for conducting cyberspace operations? (US Cyber Command) 

  • Russian commercial support of cyber operations

    How does Russia use commercial entities to enable cyber operations? (US Cyber Command)

  • Russia's Cyber TTPs

    What are Russia's security services cyber tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs)? What are the trends in Russian cyber actor TTPs? (US Cyber Command)

  • Impact of Dynamic Force Employment on Indo-Pacific Bomber Deterrence

    How can the U.S. optimize deterrence and assurance within the Bomber Task Force (BTF)/Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) construct? Shifting from Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), how can the U.S. increase its deterrence advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia? (AF/A10P & AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Russian Expeditionary Operations

    How and why does Russia execute expeditionary operations? Analyze Russian expeditionary operations. (Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • How are Russia's military and security forces postured?

    Analyze the posture of Russia's military and security forces. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Supply Chain Operations against the US/NATO

    How does Russia conduct supply chain operations against the US/NATO? Analyze Russia conduct supply chain operations against the US/NATO. (Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • What Russian defense industry initiatives leads to competitive advantage?

    Analyze Russian defense industry initiatives. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • What is Russia's Theory of Competition?

    Analyze Russia's Theory of Competition. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM)) 

  • What is the Russian concept of use for space and counter-space operations?

    Analyze the Russian concept of use for space and counter-space operations. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • How does Russia conduct information warfare?

    Analyze Russia information warfare. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian War Plans

    What are Russian war plans? Within Russian war plans, what is the level of kinetic/non-kinetic forces? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • What is the Russian way of War?

    Analyze the Russian way of war. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • What is the Russian concept of domains?

    Analyze the Russian concept of domains. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian policy goals

    What are Russia's goals regarding NATO? The EU? (Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Cooperation with the West

    What are areas of Russian cooperation with the West? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russia-Belarus Cooperation

    What are the opportunities and challenges surrounding Russia-Belarus cooperation? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Interventions

    What might prompt new or expanded interventions by Russia? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • What is the Russian concept for use of nuclear forces?

    What is the Russian concept for the use of nuclear forces? (Strategic and tactical) (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM)) 

  • Russian Businessmen

    What is the level of influence of prominent businessmen in Russia? How do they serve Putin's interests? Russia's interests? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Powerbrokers

    Who are the powerbrokers in Russia (how is power allocated)? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM)

  • Russia's Security Council

    What role does the Security Council play and how important is that process and their decrees? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Evolution of Russian Strategy and Doctrine

    How are Russian strategy and doctrine changing? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM)) 

  • Putin's Future

    What will Putin's role be after 2024? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Long-term Strategy

    Does Moscow have a long-term strategy? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM)) 

  • Russian Regime Stability

    How does Putin protect the regime? How will Putin manage domestic threats to regime stability? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Putin's Decision-making Process

    How does Putin make decisions? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Adversary Approaches to Political Warfare and Information Warfare

    How do the approaches by Russia and China to modern political warfare, in particular the exploitation of the information environment to manipulate, coerce, and control, potentially provide a model for the U.S. to understand the nature of modern political warfare by our adversaries and counter it? (JSOU)

  • Are Nukes Still the Answer?

    Why should we still invest and employ nuclear weapons? No other country has shown the tangible will to utilize nuclear weapons. We all stay postured due to other countries Can we disarm to win? What would be the effect if the U.S. would be the first country to disarm?

  • Battlefield Airman for Duty in the Pacific AOR

    Better Trained and Equipped Battlefield Airman (TACP, CCT, etc.) for Duty in the Pacific AOR (PACAF/A9L)

  • Challenges of Global Climate Change

    Changes in global climate is transforming the context in which the Department operates. What challenges does this present? How can the DoD adapt to the challenges it presents? (2022 National Defense Strategy)

  • China vs. India at the Line of Actual Control: Implications for the Indo-Pacific

    A study on the geostrategic, political, and military implications of the continued standoff between China and India, including lessons learned of the PRC’s handling of the situation through military actions, media communications, and world politics. (PACAF)

  • China's Soft Power/Economic Power Approaches

    Analysis of China's use of soft power, particularly its use of economic power. (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Nuclear Missions

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)



     

  • Chinese Economic Ties to India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    How is China imposing costs on India, South Korea, Japan & Australia? How could their economic ties to China limit their economic choices? (HAF A5SM)

  • Chinese Propaganda

    What is the Communist Party / Peoples' Liberation Army (CCP/PLA's) propaganda apparatus structure, strategy, and capabilities? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese use of resistance groups

    What foreign irregular armed groups have the PRC supported in the past or continue to support? What nonviolent civil resistance movements have the PRC supported in the past? (JSOU)

  • Chinese Views of US operations

    What are the PRC views of US military operations and what lessons can be learned from those operations? (CASI)

  • Chinese Views of US presence in region

    How does the PRC and PLA view U.S. military forces in the Indo-Pacific region? (CASI)

  • Civil Resistance in the Future Operating Environment

    How can the U.S. Government influence dissident population groups engaged in civil resistance in foreign countries? (JSOU)

  • Coalition Partners in Space

    How can partner nations contribute to and participate in US-led developmental and operational efforts in the space domain? (SPOC/DOO & USSF/S36TG & HQ USSF/SEK) 

  • Conflict Dynamics in Proliferated Environments

    How have the dynamics of conflict changed in regions where nuclear proliferation has already occurred? (HAF A5SM)

  • Cost Imposition in Strategic Competition

    What role, if any, did USAF programs, postures, or concepts play in the changes to the PRC’s Strategic Guideline (zhanlue fangzhen)? (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts

    How can the AF gain strategic, operational, and tactical advantages over peer and near-peer competitors in future conflicts leveraging Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts to effectively identify, characterize, defend against, and respond to cyber-threats and attacks across all AFIN enclaves, coupled with advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing? (ACC/A6O)

  • Cyber's Impact on Risk Mitigation and Integrated Deterrence

    How might offensive and defensive cyber capabilities be implemented into existing or new risk mitigation frameworks (e.g. arms control treaties and agreements) in order to manage strategic stability? (AF/A10)

  • Data Convergence/Information Warfare

    Can Army notions of data convergence in the tactical realm be extrapolated and applied in the information warfare environment to achieve automation of data sharing across functions and domains? (16 AF)

  • Decision Timelines

    With the advent of modern strategic weapons, does current planning and decision timelines still hold true, or do the US Strategic Forces need to rethink, and adapt to the newest strategic threats? (8 AF)

  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) cyber capabilities

    What is DPRK's process for developing cyber tools?  (US Cyber Command)

  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) cyber policy

    What is the DPRK policy and doctrine for cyberspace operations? What are DPRK's cyber red lines? What cyber actions by other nation-states might cause the DPRK to escalate to the use of military force? (US Cyber Command) 

  • Dependence of United States Air Force on its allies and partners

    In what ways is the United States Air Force dependent on its allies and partners for operational effectiveness? (AF Futures)

  • Deterrence in Era of Nuclear Proliferation

    How has increased nuclear proliferation affected the deterrence strategies and postures of the US and regional powers? (HAF A5SM)

  • Deterrence in Post-Missile Age

    In a hypothetical scenario that Sentinel would be the country's last ICBM, what would US strategic deterrence look like in a post-ICBM age? (20 AF)

  • Directed Energy Weapons Impact on Taiwan Straits Conflict

    Does the Chinese Communist Party's directed energy weapons advancements compromise US, allies, and partner nations’ advanced weapons systems capabilities in a potential Taiwan Strait conflict?  (AFTAC)

  • Disruptive Strategic Influence of Global Health Engagements (GHE) with Allied Partners

    The DoD through GHE builds partnerships with other nations to strengthen security cooperation and partner capacity through health-related activities and exchanges. (AMC/87 HCOS)

  • DLOs on converging capabilities

    In what ways from both a conceptual and modeling/simulation standpoint can we start to include DLOs that exercise converging capabilities to effectively compete with our adversaries in the information environment? (16 AF)

  • Due Regard and Changing Borders

    Documented and public cases of Russian aggression against MQ-9s in the Black Sea, CCP actions with lasers against Philippine vessels, and other unprofessional and unsafe actions against U.S. reconnaissance assets create a paradigm where aggressive and damaging actions are seemingly tolerated as acceptable behaviors by adversaries in competition, crisis, and regionalized conflict short of war. (AFTAC)

  • Effectively Assessing OAI Impacts to PRC behavior

    PACAF requires analysis to help develop methodologies to accurately, succinctly, and effectively capture the cumulative impacts of Operations, Activities, and Investments (OAI) over time on PRC perceptions and behaviors and PACAF desired objectives. (PACAF/A303)

     

  • Effectiveness of Extended Deterrence

    Is extended deterrence provided by tactical nuclear weapons worth the cost? (AF/A10)

  • Emerging Cyber Powers

    What states are investing in military cyber capabilities and may emerge in the next 5-10 years as new advanced threats to the U.S. and our allies? (US Cyber Command)

  • Foreign Adversary Threats to Election Security

    What are the strategic and operational goals and desired end states that key foreign adversaries seek to realize through election influence and/or interference?   (US Cyber Command)

  • Foreign Operating Concepts in Air Warfare

    How are nation-state and non-nation-state objectives and their associated operating concepts influencing the changing dynamics of air warfare? (HAF A5SM)

  • Gender Equality in support of the Pacific Strategy

    How do the US, as well as closest allies and partners, use our strategic and cultural advantage in pursuing gender equality to our benefit? (PACAF/A8XR)

  • Global impacts of militarization and economic development of the Arctic

    The arctic is increasingly contest and congested. Although many countries are developing strategies and capabilities for use in the Arctic they often fail to assess the global impacts of militarization of the Arctic. (AFRL)

  • Great Power Competition in Africa

    Explain the advantages and disadvantages Great Powers have garnered from their involvement in Africa in the past and how their actions compare to Russian and Chinese involvement today. (J2) 

  • Historic Case Studies of US Allies Neglecting Treaty Obligations

    What are the historical examples (case studies) of where U.S. allies have not lived up to treaty obligations (and why)? (AFWIC)

  • Historic PRC–Taiwan Provocation Cycle

    Provide a historic analysis of PRC military provocation toward Taiwan through the lens of politics (US administration, PRC leadership, TWN leadership), PRC military capabilities, US regional posture, economic context, and information environments. (PACAF)

  • Historical Forms of Strategic Risk Management

    Should U.S. negotiators focus on developing politically binding agreements to increase confidence building and/or transparency measures, similar to those nascent arms control agreements between the US and USSR in the early days of the Cold War? (AF/A10)

  • Historical Lessons for Operations in the Pacific

    For example, how does General George Kenney’s approach in the South Pacific compare to what will be required in a future conflict with China? (AMC/CC)

  • Historical Review of Successful USAF Military Transformations

    When has the USAF successfully executed a military transformation in response to significant strategic shifts or revolutions in military affairs? What lessons do past examples provide that could assist USAF leadership today? (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Historical Uses of Information in War

    What are the long-term trends in the role and value of information in warfare? How has it shaped conflicts historically? (HAF A5SM)

  • How does Russia conduct information warfare?

    Analyze Russia information warfare. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Human Rights as a Weapons System

    How could the DoD utilize human rights as a weapon system against strategic competitors? (JSOU) 

  • Hypersonic Messaging

    As the U.S. develops and fields hypersonic weapons, how should the U.S. message adversaries and allies about this new capability? (AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Autonomous Systems on Multinational Air Operations

    How will the rise of autonomous systems affect multinational air operations? (AFWIC)

  • Impact of Dynamic Force Employment on Indo-Pacific Bomber Deterrence

    How can the U.S. optimize deterrence and assurance within the Bomber Task Force (BTF)/Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) construct? Shifting from Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), how can the U.S. increase its deterrence advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia? (AF/A10P & AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Lawfare on Warfare

    How are legal strategies reshaping the traditional paradigms of warfare? (HAF A5SM)

  • Impact of Private Cellular Networks for Unmanned Systems C2

    How does the industry shift of utilizing high-density consumer and private cellular bands for control and communications affect military counter-drone technology and capabilities? (20 AF)

  • Impact of the loss of Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements

    What have been the effects of the loss of various Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Implementation and Absorption Capacity for New Capabilities and Concepts

    Using unitary analysis or comparative analysis, examine either or both of the USAF/Joint Force and PLA’s capacity to absorb new capabilities and concepts into demonstrated operational utility, identifying recommendations for accelerating change and innovation at scale within the USAF and DoD. (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Improving Conventional and Nuclear Integration (CNI) in Wargaming

    Main Idea: 
    CNI is the ability of the join/combined force to recognize and survive the use of nuclear weapons, reconstitute critical capabilities, and plan and execute integrated multi domain conventional and nuclear combat operations in, around, and through a nuclear environment. This includes ensuring protection and resilience of nuclear command, control, and communication (NC3), through multi-domain operations.  CNI enables the U.S. to continue conventional combat operations in a nuclear effects environment.
    Full Abstract/Description:
    The Joint Force, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and especially Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) must develop concepts of operations tailored to its forces to successfully operate in a nuclear environment. Wargaming provides the opportunity to consider how to prosecute a future conflict with a peer adversary at the conventional level while preparing for the risk of nuclear escalation and prosecuting conventional and nuclear operations simultaneously in a threat environment. It also helps to address gaps and seams in existing doctrine, guidance, tactics, techniques, and procedures.  
    Research Questions:
    How can the Joint Force, USAF, and AFGSC use wargaming to address the following shortfalls in knowledge and capability development to support CNI operations? 
    What are the operational seams/gaps between simultaneous conventional/nuclear execution?
    What are the implications to a nuclear force generation in a stressed environment?
    Are there limiting factors and mitigating strategies for mobile support team (MST) requirements and other stressors on available resources (operations, maintenance, security) during the execution of CNI operations?
    What potential C2 and NC3 issues would exist within a stressed conventional and nuclear environment and how can they be mitigated or overcome?
    Will there be access to key enabling forces during execution of near-simultaneous nuclear and conventional missions in the same geographical area such as tankers, ISR, airlift, etc?
    Justification:
    Various wargames (Futures Game, Global Engagement, etc) have been conducted at the conventional level that have nuclear excursions; however, they have usually been tasked only at investigating strategic decisions and have not been an all-encompassing study that provides actionable data on CNI that can drive programmatic and mission planning. A wargame that is exclusively focused on CNI and its implications in a peer conventional conflict would be applicable for future planning for modernization for both private industry and government.
    Study Will Inform: 
    This study will inform USSTRATCOM, A5/8/10, DTRA, RAND, AFGSC, AFSTRAT, HAF A5/8/10, AETC, ACC, AMC , or any other DOD or US Government agency that could potentially support CNI. The outcomes will advance AFGSC/CC vision, develop nuclear leaders, and further AFGSC strategy and potential force structure with lessons learned that feed AFGSC strategic studies. It will also support deterrence/assurance by demonstrating willingness to study nuclear issues. Participation in wargaming community leads to inclusion of deterrence/assurance objectives in other wargames and acts as a catalyst to mature nuclear analytical models/studies.

  • Improving integrations with US allies and partners

    Why should/shouldn’t the United States Air Force devote effort and resources to improving integrations with its allies and partners? (AF Futures)

  • India's "Necklace of Diamonds" Strategy

    What cooperation should occur through other domains through the apparent naval-centric lens of India's "Necklace of Diamonds" Strategy?  (PACAF/A5I) 

     

  • Industrial Base of India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    Why are the capacity and projectability of the industrial bases of India, South Korea, Japan & Australia, including trends in their economic and industrial growth? How these might influence the US-China strategic competition? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Industrial Preparedness for Competition

    How might the United States seek to transform a relatively consolidated defense industry to meet new military challenges that are emerging under conditions very different from the Cold War and the Global War on Terror?(HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Influence of conventional arms on nuclear deterrence

    How do advanced, long-range conventional weapons fit into the nuclear spectrum and what influence do they have on an adversary's willingness to escalate a conflict? (AFGSC/A2)

  • Integration & Building Multi-Capable Airmen in the Nuclear Enterprise for Great Power Competition

    Current CONOPs for Sentinel Integrated Command Centers (ICC) and Integrated Training Facilities (ITF) for the Missile Wings are being devised without integrating one of the key critical nuclear AFSCs, our 1C3s.  This is happening as our CSAF is calling for establishing an NC3 Wing, establishing an Integrated Capabilities Command to "develop competitive operational concepts" and "integrated requirements" to "align with force design" and for structuring our operational wings to execute the mission with assigned airmen and units.  Our previous CSAF called for "multi-capable" airmen.  Each Missile wing is assigned ~15 1C3s.  Are we adequately integrating them into the next era of nuclear deterrence or are we neglecting an opportunity to leverage this substantial manpower to further integrate all assigned airmen into the AFGSC nuclear mission?           Ideally, CP Controllers would be nested in the ICC with the other controllers/operators (MMOC/MSC/Ops) to enable better/quicker C2 to ensure timeliness and accuracy. Picture 1C3 and 13N professionals operating side-by-side in a Wing ICC EA Cell much like they do in our strategic command centers, capitalizing on the different skill sets and assigned/available manning to support the OPLAN.  Not to mention optimizing our human capital development through increased crosstalk and shared responsibility.             Finally, who else is missing from true integration?  Where are the helos?  To paraphrase Col Hundley (90 MW/CD) during a recent 90 MW Sentinel Working Group Meeting, if we are missing [insert Helos, CP, other], are we really integrated?                                            

  • Integration with Allied and Partners' Industrial Base

    How does the United States integrate the allied and partners' industrial base to generate and sustain mass in a future conflict? (AF Futures)

  • Intelligence in Strategic Competition

    Since the Office of Strategic Services in WWII, intelligence and SOF have had a closely linked history. How have the last two decades shaped the way the SOF intelligence practitioner thinks about intelligence? Within strategic competition, are there new intelligence challenges that SOF is unaccustomed to? If so, how should SOF prepare for those new challenges? Who is the SOF intelligence practitioner needed for strategic competition? How do you cultivate strategic foresight in the SOF practitioner to have the acuity, awareness, and intuition to provide strategic intelligence? How do you distinguish between business-focused and national security-focused adversarial intelligence collection? With the rise of strategic competition, do SOF need to be more counterintelligence focused? Alternatively, does the culture of secrecy surrounding intelligence and SOF hamper SOF practitioners in providing strategic intelligence estimates? 

  • International Space Law/Responsible Behavior in Space

    Analyze various elements of international space law. (HQ USSF/SEK & USSF/S5I & SPOC, 3 SES/MAF)

  • Interoperability, Interdependence, and Integration in Combined Operations with Allies and Partners

    What is the relationship between interoperability, interdependence, and integration in combined operations with allies and partners? Analyze the relationship between interoperability, interdependence, and integration in combined operations with allies and partners. (AF Futures)

  • Iran's Cyber Policy

    What are Iran's policy, strategy and mission objectives for conducting cyberspace operations? What does Iran perceive as U.S. or partner red lines regarding cyberspace operations? What geopolitical events and/or actions would drive an Iranian retaliatory cyberspace attack against the U.S. or our allies and partners? (US Cyber Command)

  • Irregular and Unconventional Warfare Campaigning

    The SOE has renewed its focus on irregular and unconventional warfare. How can SOF better understand, articulate, and operationalize irregular and unconventional warfare campaigns? What is the relationship between irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, security force assistance, and security cooperation? How can SOF and conventional forces best work together in these areas? Are there gaps in our knowledge of how to carry out irregular and unconventional warfare campaigning? Does current SOF training and education about these types of warfare need to be updated? Have new technologies like satellite and internet communication and inexpensive, highly capable weapons, such as remotely piloted vehicles, caused changes in the ways in which irregular and unconventional warfare can be carried out, or do operational and strategic concepts remain the same? Can SOF’s recent experiences with counter-violent extremist organizations (CVEO) operations provide ideas for how to disrupt adversarial actors? 

    Within irregular warfare, what is a ‘win’? Is ‘win’ the right framing term? What conditions will aid/impede winning? Is it possible to win without fighting? What is the SOF role within irregular warfare? How does that role vary based on geography, adversary, level of conflict, and other variables? Within an environment of strategic competition, how can SOF identify, train, and coordinate networks to deny, degrade, and influence adversary irregular warfare efforts? Historically, when has unconventional warfare been effective in coercing, disrupting, and overthrowing regimes? How does unconventional warfare campaigning interact, or conflict, with concepts of strategic competition and strategic patience? Does the time required for a successful unconventional warfare campaign hinder its ability to be coordinated with conventional warfare campaigns? If so, how can this be mitigated? 

    Security cooperation, to include security assistance and foreign internal defense, has a role to play within both irregular and unconventional warfare. What is SOF’s role in security cooperation, and how can SOF best integrate or coordinate with conventional forces engaged in security cooperation in the same theater? Are there changes required to security cooperation authorities and practices for SOF? What are ways in which adversaries have, or might seek to, hinder security cooperation efforts? 


     

  • Measuring Foreign Influence in Hegemonic Powers

    What variables measure decreasing and/or diminishing foreign influence in a hegemonic power? (AFWIC)

  • Medical Return to Duty in Conflict

    In peer conflict with large-scale combat operations, how does the medical service shift to maintaining patients in the AOR and close to the front lines for assessment and treatment in order to expedite an Airman's return to duty? (Surgeon General)

  • Metrics of Industrial Base Capacity

    What are the key economic, political, technological, and demographic indicators that define the capacity of an industrial base? How do these metrics interact with each other and impact the overall industrial capacity of a country? (HAF A5SM) 

  • National ROE in Mosaic Warfighting Concept

    How will a mosaic warfighting concept account for national ROE in a near-peer conflict? (AFWIC)

  • No First Use Policy

     What impact would a US policy of "No First Use" have on our allies and our extended deterrence commitments?  Would such a policy cause a change in force structure? (8 AF)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on Foreign Militaries

    How has greater nuclear proliferation impacted third actors' military programs, particularly their nuclear initiatives? (HAF A5SM)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on US Military Capabilities

    What are the potential effects of increased nuclear proliferation on the US military's ability to accomplish its missions? (HAF A5SM)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's impact on US National Security Policy

    How has increased nuclear proliferation impacted the execution of US national security policy? (HAF A5SM)

  • Operational Energy Technological Advantages over Peer Adversaries

    How important is advanced airframe and engine technology development in the near-peer fight? (SAF/IEN)

  • Operationalizing Strategic Influence and Information

    The term ‘strategic influence’ is utilized to describe how SOF can project soft power around the globe. How can we measure strategic influence? Who are we seeking to influence? What are we seeking to achieve with influence? Influence to do what, and for what ends? What does strategic influence imply in terms of military strategy? How do measures of strategic influence inform operational design? What does success in achieving a strategic influence end state look like, and how can it be measured? How can SOF set objectives for influence, and how can SOF’s objectives be nested within larger USG strategic influence initiatives?

    Information has a critical role to play within strategic competition. Words are powerful, and our messages affect both our friends and our adversaries. What is the relationship between information and influence? If information is a form of power, what does that imply for the strategic pursuit of influence? How can SOF achieve information advantage throughout the competition continuum? How can SOF better understand, apply, and integrate information across operations to achieve strategic influence objectives? How can information strategies be tailored to address mission-specific needs? What is the balance between attributable and nonattributable operations, and which would provide the highest probability of success while minimizing political and operational risk? How can SOF address risk aversion to information activities? 

    What are the best methods/practices to assess the effects of operations in the information environment? How do we measure and assess results from information operations and campaigns, and how do we communicate these results to stakeholders/authorities? What types of organizational structures and resourcing would best set the conditions to integrate information and influence efforts across SOF; the Services; and joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational, and commercial (JIIM-C) partners? Are there capability gaps across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) that need to be addressed? How can SOF work with centers such as the Global Engagement Center, Joint Military Information Support Operations Web Operations Center, and the NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence to enhance strategic influence operations? 

    A component of strategic influence is credibility. How can SOF build and maintain persistent and meaningful relationships with relevant partners and allies? How can USSOCOM minimize the disconnect between rhetoric and reality? What are the implications of a words and deeds mismatch? How can SOF contribute to building USG credibility? How do you achieve balance between accountability and ‘speed of need’ when seeking influence? In addition to efforts to build strategic influence, how can SOF counter adversarial strategic influence efforts?


     

  • Operations in Space

    Analyze various elements concerning the conduct of space operations. (SPOC/2SWS/DOC & 1 SOPS & USSF/45MSG) 

  • Options for AFGSC in Response to the Next Potential "Cuban Missile Crisis" in Space

    The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars signatories from placing "in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction." In recent months, reports have been made public that the United States believes Russia is developing a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon. The detonation of a nuclear weapon in space has the potential to disrupt not only military capabilities, but also commercial services all over the world. What actions should AFGSC be prepared for in the case that Russia rescinds themselves from the 1967 treaty and deploys these weapons in space? What can AFGSC do to proactively deter Russia from doing this? In the event that deterrence fails, are there any new assurances to allies that AFGSC is uniquely positioned to provide? Potential options might include fielding new capabilities, the declassification of current programs, and force posture adjustments. 

  • Political Limitations on Operations

    The war in Ukraine has highlighted the continued relevance of strategic deep attacks by SOF such as the attempts to degrade and/ or destroy the Kerch bridge. However, both Ukraine and its partners have been under severe political pressure to minimize these attacks for fear of provoking a Russian response. These political restraints limit the options for SOF planners, but similar constraints will likely be present in the future both in Europe and elsewhere. How can SOF incorporate and mitigate political considerations in planning deep area operations? How can the United States and its allies and partners increase the political restraints facing adversaries when they consider carrying out deep area operations? 

    Another example of the utilization of political limitations is the use of narratives—true, false, or a mixture of both—to discredit ongoing military operations. In each combatant command AOR, adversaries are using U.S. actions since the end of the Cold War (e.g., NATO enlargement, civil wars in the Balkans, Arab Spring, Color Revolutions, Afghanistan and Iraq, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela) to portray the United States as a destabilizing, imperialist, and militarily aggressive power that cannot be trusted and must be opposed. States that believe these narratives are likely to push back diplomatically against U.S. foreign policy and military initiatives in their country. In this way, narratives shape political limitations, which then, in turn, may have effects down to the tactical level (such as discontinuing joint combined exchange training or other small-scale SOF engagements). How can these narratives be countered, and how can counternarratives be attuned to address historical memories and cultural expectations of specific states? 

  • Post 9/11 Transformations in Warfare

    How has warfare evolved over in the post 9/11 world? (HAF A5SM)

  • Prioritizing US Investments in Asia-Pacific Region

    What capabilities and potential investments should the US consider to offset the effects of the US-China strategic competition in the region? In particular, what opportunities are there in the development of defense, technology, and infrastructure? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Reconstitution of Russian Military

    How will the Russian military reconstitute itself in the future? What future threats does it pose? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Reflections in the Information Environment

    How do we accurately and meaningfully measure Effectiveness and Performance (MOEs and MOPs) in the Information Environment? How can we best measure the 'influence' of Information Warfare on an adversary actor? (616 OC) 

  • Risks to the Strategic Domain of Space From An Ablation Cascade

    Nuclear Deterrence capabilities rely upon the domain of outer space, which is particularly vulnerable to an ablation cascade, also known as Kessler Syndrome, where an increasing series of collisions between objects can render the environment unsafe for further use. While space-faring nations have a vested interest to avoid such a scenario, non-space faring adversaries may find it useful for denying the United States strategic capabilities which operate in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). What are the risks of an adversary initiating an ablation cascade on the use of strategic assets in the domain of outer space? Are there any protective or mitigating measures that can be undertaken? Could a revision of the Outer Space Treaty include weapons or other devices to combat debris that are not technically armaments but pose an equivalent risk to satellites, the strategic use of space, and other human activities?

  • Russia & the Arctic

    What is Russia's long-term Arctic strategy? How do they plan to project power into the Arctic? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Cooperation with the West

    What are areas of Russian cooperation with the West? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Cyber & Influence Activities

    What cyber and influence activities have the Russians undertaken? What was their impact? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Defense Industry

    What are the domestic and export capacities of Russia's defense industry? What effects have sanctions had on it? What is the evolving role of the wartime economy on the Russian defense industry? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Domestic Stability's Impact on National Security Decision Making

    What impact does Russia's domestic security have on its national security decision-making? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Expeditionary Operations

    How and why does Russia execute expeditionary operations? Analyze Russian expeditionary operations. (Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Interventions

    What might prompt new or expanded interventions by Russia? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian policy goals

    What are Russia's goals regarding NATO? The EU? (Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with Balkan States

    What are Russia's relationships with the Balkan states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with former Soviet States

    What is the Russian relationship with former Soviet states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships?  (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with Indo-Pacific States

    What are Russia's relationships with Indo-Pacific states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with South American States

    What are Russia's relationships with South American states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian reliance on foreign cyber technologies

    How reliant is Russia on foreign technologies for development and procurement of cyberspace capabilities? (US Cyber Command)

  • Russian Use of Private Military Companies

    Analyze Russia's use of private military companies. (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian views on cyber operations

    What are Russia's policy, strategy, and mission objectives for conducting cyberspace operations? (US Cyber Command) 

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • Shaping the Information Environment

    What are proven effective ways to shape the information environment during Phase 0/Phase I operations, specifically regarding, near-peer competitors? Do TTPs exist that PACAF/PA should be aware of to dial up and down the amount of deterrence/pressure messaging for effective deterrence and to avoid escalation? (PACAF/PA)

     

  • Sino-Russian Security Cooperation & Competition

    What are the opportunities and challenges surrounding Sino-Russian cooperation? How are Russia & China competing? How does this affect their military alignment, particularly in the Arctic and with Central Asian states? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Size of Future Nuclear Force

    What does the nuclear force of the future need to look like in order to ensure deterrence holds in the current strategic environment? (AF/A10) 

  • SOCOM Operations with Partners

    What lessons from SOCOM operations with partners can be applied to the integration of multinational air power? (AFWIC)

  • SOF Components and Joint Special Operations Command

    How might the SOF service components (Air Force Special Operations Command, Marine Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Naval Special Warfare Command) and Joint Special Operations Command best optimize themselves for strategic competition and integrated deterrence mission sets? Is there a need for new Joint Force training and exercises to determine or develop best practices for the integration of SOF and SOF enablers across services to best support mission requirements? What are the mission-critical capabilities for strategic competition and integrated deterrence within each SOF service component? Given each SOF service component’s unique capabilities, how might they best utilize new technologies? Do any of these capabilities require adjustments for optimal effectiveness in the current strategic environment? Are there requirements for new SOF capabilities that do not currently exist? If so, which SOF service component is best suited to meet each new requirement, and why?  

  • SOF in a Technological World

    As technology expands in both sophistication and reach, the SOE must adapt to keep up with, and take advantage of, technologies. What are the risks and opportunities of these technologies, and what are the limitations or thresholds associated with new capabilities? How can the trustworthiness of such technologies be determined? Within personnel, will computer-to-brain interfaces enhance SOF performance? Will AI/ML and LLMs change USSOCOM processes and operations? What are the legal and ethical standards for the use of such technology? Will remotely piloted and/or autonomous systems change expeditionary logistics, maneuver, and disbursement of resources and sustainment in a contested environment? How might quantum computing affect offensive and defensive cyber operations? How can SOF exploit existing infrastructure to cover their electronic tracks, and how might adversaries use technology to track SOF? Does the spread of technology correspond with an increasing difficulty for covert or clandestine operations?

  • SOF Talent Management

    While talent management remains an enduring priority for SOF, the contemporary environment offers unique issues that the SOE must address. The end of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the rise of strategic competition mean that SOF may need to reprioritize its missions and capabilities. Are there operational and organizational paradigms that need to be reconsidered to better develop SOF for the challenges of the future operating environment? Who is the current SOF practitioner and how did that practitioner evolve? What are the key attributes of the future SOF professional, and do they differ from the key attributes from historical SOF professionals? If SOF must operate within an environment of strategic competition, how can they be encouraged to cultivate ‘strategic interest’ or ‘strategic empathy’ in the world early in their career progression? How does the DOD culture and system affect the individual and the individual’s ability to operate in the strategic environment? What enhancements in competency, cognition, performance, and total health could enable SOF to better navigate the changing human and technology landscapes within the current operational environment?

  • SOF's Integrative Role in Coalition Operations

    USSOCOM maintains ties to allied and partner SOF, but does that SOF partner network require transformation and adjustment for better effectiveness in strategic competition? What specific roles should SOF prioritize developing within the current strategic environment with respect to strategic competition and integrated deterrence? SOF have a unique capacity to build relationships with allies and partners. How can SOF best leverage those partnerships? What can SOF do to enable a coalition fight, and how can they communicate that with conventional forces? How can SOF better collaborate with the Joint Force in areas such as helping to build resistance and resilience in the host nation, preparing an environment for potential future conflict, and integrating a host nation into coalition operations? 

  • Space Operations Forces and SOF

    Should the SOE and U.S. Space Force explore options for employing a military force that can support diplomacy, information operations, and U.S. and allied partner economic interests on the moon and celestial bodies as a way to deter adversaries? If so, what would their core activities and mission sets be? Would such a force be ground-based, or would there be requirements to deploy into cislunar and lunar space? Does this future threat call for the development of SOF personnel who can operate in the austere and mentally taxing environment of space? Could SOF personnel from the different components be trained to perform core activities in the space domain? Could these SOF personnel form the beginnings of a U.S. Space Force SOF?

  • Special Operations Command Africa

    Operations in this AOR often face challenges with economy-offorce missions across a large continent. How can SOF best work with other USG agencies, as well as allies and partners, to fulfill their missions? In what ways can SOF help extend legitimate government control into areas where governance is contested? How can SOF maintain a U.S. presence across Africa, especially in countries where adversaries seek to gain power and influence? What is SOF’s role in resistance and resilience in Africa, and what challenges specific to the continent does it face? How can SOF best respond to climatological changes that drive economic, social, demographic, and cultural crises? 

  • Special Operations Command Central

    In what ways might the regional balance of power shift within this AOR? Diplomatically, are there ways to better understand the relationship between, and potential dynamics of, alliances and partnerships in the region between both states and non-state actors? How can SOF better understand what might cause shifts in the constellation of power? How might economic developments affect the fortunes, and potential for conflict, of regional actors? What might global shifts in energy generation towards renewable sources, and the rise and fall of ‘peak oil,’ lead to? How might petrostates respond to a sustained decrease in demand for oil and natural gas? Alternatively, as sea lanes open in the Arctic circle, what does this mean for current global shipping routes that pass through the Middle East? How might changes in shipping routes and follow-on economic effects affect the risk-reward calculus for violent extremist organizations? 

  • Special Operations Command Europe

    The conflict in Ukraine will end at some point, and when it does, changes to the Ukrainian military are likely to result. Are there lessons that can be drawn from history about what the transition from wartime to peacetime SOF looks like, especially in a smaller state that may need to dramatically reduce the size of its military? What capabilities are most critical to maintain? Should there be a larger role for reserve forces? How does Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO affect the role(s) that Ukrainian SOF will play? In what ways can U.S. SOF, in conjunction with allies and partners, support Ukrainian SOF through organizational and individual transitions to peacetime? 

  • Special Operations Command North

    How can SOF best prepare for future operations in the Arctic? What does the enlargement of NATO to include Finland and Sweden mean for the region? What are the interoperability requirements between SOF and conventional forces operating in the region, such as Coast Guard icebreakers and Navy submarines? Are there new capabilities or technologies that are required for operations in this environment? What can U.S. SOF learn from allies and partners that routinely operate in the Arctic? How might SOF best work with the USG interagency, as well as allies and partners, to understand and partner with Arctic peoples? 

  • Special Operations Command Pacific and Special Operations Command Korea

    Rising sea levels will, over the next decades, be the source of a variety of economic and social issues across the Indo-Pacific Command, which may drive conflicts in the region. These issues include natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage agriculture and trade, affect refugee flows, create challenges to port infrastructure, and impact changes to navigable waterways and sea routes. How can SOF better understand and adapt to this potentially destabilizing environment, and how can they best support allied and partner nations facing these issues?

  • Special Operations Command South

    Within a global strategic competition, how can SOF compete for influence in South and Central America?  How can this command best assess the quality and nature of allied and partner relationships in the region, and, in particular, what are indicators or warnings that US strategic influence might be challenged or losing ground to an adversary?  If we have lost ground, what are the best options for rebuilding influence?  How can we prevent or minimize adversarial entrenchment?  What are the biggest threats emanating from adversarial influence in the region?  Can SOF mitigate the effects of adversarial influence without directly competing against adversaries?

  • Strategic Blind Spots in Modern Conflict

    Are there useful methods of blind spot analysis that could be utilized to uncover obsolete, incomplete, or incorrect assumptions? What role do historical case studies play in overcoming blind spots? How can the study of lessons learned from recent operations provide valuable insights to help the DoD avoid these pitfalls? (JSOU)

  • Strategic Leadership

    What role do strategic leaders play in effectively managing changes in the character of war? How do leadership practices need to adapt to the changing character of war? (HAF A5SM)

  • Successful Resistance Movements

    What are the political-military parameters that lead to the success of resistance movements? What constraints (legal or otherwise) contribute to government failure in such conflicts? (JSOU) 

  • Technical Interoperability with Allies & Partners

    How does a focus on technical interoperability help or hinder operational integration with allies and partners? (AFWIC)

  • Technological Undermatch

    The ‘American way of war’ is typically used to describe the United States’ use of exquisite technology combined with limited numbers of highly trained personnel to fight its conflicts, rather than relying, as other countries sometimes do, on relatively low-technology capabilities wielded by large masses of personnel. Does this cultural bias lead SOF into over-relying on technology? What are the advantages and disadvantages of small-quantity, highly trained, and technologically sophisticated SOF? Does technology encourage and enable micromanagement? 

    As we move into an era of strategic competition, there is risk in assuming that SOF will always have the technological advantage vis-à-vis an adversary. How can SOF be effective in a conflict environment in which the adversary has the technological advantage? Do SOF have other competitive advantages that could make up for technological undermatch? How can SOF best manage the virtual and/or physical signature of personnel, platforms, organizations, operations, facilities, and data when facing an adversary with comparable or better technological capabilities? 

  • Temporal Orientation and Strategic Considerations

    In The Politics and Science of Prevision: Governing and Probing the Future, Wenger, Jasper, and Cavelty (2020) state that modern “shifts in global economics and politics are in line with asynchronous shifts in the temporal thinking in Western and in Chinese politics.” The quote specifically references Chinese temporal orientation as distinct to the West, yet differences in perceptions of temporality exist across the world, as time plays a factor in worldview, outlook, decision-making processes, and in other cultural aspects. Where differences exist, they may create tensions between actors and impact relationships. These impacts may affect strategic interactions, and thus require deeper understanding.

  • Testing Reliability of Allies and Partners

    How can the reliability of allies and partners be tested? (AFWIC)

  • The Strategic Impacts of Misinformation and Disinformation

    How can DoD leaders prevent the negative effects of misinformation and disinformation? (JSOU)

  • The Utility of SOF in Strategic Competition

    Within the realm of strategic competition, what are SOF activities that could support the overall joint force in the deterrence of large-scale armed conflict and/or escalation of crisis?  (JSOU)

  • U.S. High Yield Weapon Strategy

    Should the U.S. have a requirement for a high-yield nuclear weapon (1 Megaton or 5 Megatons, or higher) beyond physical target damage requirements? (AF/A10C)

  • US Alliance System and Multinational Air Operations

    How has the US alliance system shaped and influenced the conduct of multinational air operations, and how will this inform future multinational operations? (AFWIC)

  • US Approach to Strategic Partnerships

    What are strategies that can be used to enhance the Department's approach to strategic security, economic, and technology partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region? (HAF A5SM)

  • US Space Policy

    Analyze various elements of US Space Policy (HQ USSF/SEK & HQ USSF/SEF & SPOC/2SWS/DOC)

  • US support to Peacekeeping Operations

    Should the US contribute logistical enablers like air mobility (fixed wing and rotary wing), engineering, line and short-haul motor transportation, medical, and signals communication to support United Nations Peacekeeping Operations? (SOUTHCOM)

  • War Termination Processes and Prospects

    Dynamics of war termination have evolved over time, from the more limited aims of wars in the eighteenth century, through the more decisive objectives of many wars in the 19th and early 20th centuries, then back to the “limited wars” of the Cold War period. As such, there is an evolving need to understand the means by which contemporary conditions affect how leaders seek to terminate conflicts and the conditions under which they will be successful.

  • Wargaming

    How should the AF conceptualize wargaming going forward? (PACAF)

  • Wargaming for Competitive Statecraft

    The terms wargaming, simulations, and practica can all be used to describe similar operational exercises that are focused on providing decision support to various courses of action. Each term is used by a different audience: military (wargaming), interagency (simulation), and academe (practica). Should SOF reconsider their terminology and definition of this type of activity to more broadly encompass the OAIs involved in competitive statecraft? How can the SOE integrate their activities in this area with interagency, academe, and other partners who may not have the same culture of wargaming? 

  • What Russian defense industry initiatives leads to competitive advantage?

    Analyze Russian defense industry initiatives. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • World Economic Policies Impact on US Nuclear Deterrence

    What happens to US nuclear deterrence strategies if other countries abandon the US Dollar as their reserve currency? (AF/A10)

  • Alternative Fuels

    Explore emerging trends on alternate fuels (non-traditional, non-petroleum, more generally than CO2), and analyze the logistical impact from other countries as they move towards increased use of sustainable aviation fuels and how this may impact the ability for the Air Force to support operations, particularly in the Pacific and European theater. (SAF/IEN)

  • Artificial Intelligence analyzing forensic data and patterns of life

    Can AI be harnessed to analyze forensic data and patterns of life to assist the ISRD in building ISR packages? Can it analyze real-time data to assist re-tasking of existing assets in theater? (319 RW)

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning in Misinformation and Disinformation

    Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to include the widespread promulgation of easily accessible large language models (LLM), appear to be ushering in a new era of misinformation and disinformation. What impact will AI/ML have on the speed at which misinformation and disinformation can be created and spread? What AI/ML-enabled capabilities can promote resistance to disinformation? How can we counter adversarial messaging that utilizes LLM? 

    What are the training and education requirements for the use of AI/ML within SOF? How can SOF practitioners leverage AI/ ML and other new technology at the individual and small-unit levels? Does the rise of AI/ML affect the skillsets needed at both individual and organizational levels to conduct the Information joint function? Within the SOE and SOF, how do you develop resiliency to misinformation and disinformation? How can SOF capabilities such as psychological operations best utilize AI/ML and LLMs? How can we use commercial off-the-shelf technology to promote resiliency to misinformation and disinformation both with U.S. SOF and our partners and allies? 

  • Benchmarking Fuel Usage

    Develop better simulations of fuel usage that can inform mission planning tools or provide benchmarks for anomaly detection in real-time or post-mission analysis. (SAF/IEN)

  • Black Swan Capabilities

    Historically, technological innovations drive changes to the ways in which conflicts are fought. However, it is not always easy to see which technologies will drive such changes, or the ways that such technologies will be incorporated and deployed by militaries. New technologies in a variety of areas offer both promise and peril and demand our attention as they provide the potential for black swan (improbable, high-impact) or gray rhino (probable, high-impact, but neglected) events.7 How can the SOE best identify emerging technologies? Do SOF have strategic blind spots when it comes to emerging technologies—is it focused in certain areas but not in others? How can the SOE assess or forecast the impact of emerging technologies? How can SOF experiment and incorporate emerging disruptive technologies within current fiscal constraints? How can the SOE best share new knowledge of military applications of emerging technologies across its organizations? Is there a need for new statutory and other relevant authorities for public–private sector cooperation to provide SOF access to the latest innovations? How can SOF leverage and explore new technologies while limiting their exposure to the risks that accompany these technologies? What are the emerging technologies, such as AI/ML, neuromorphic and biotechnologies, and new power sources, which could affect SOF capabilities, both positively and negatively? Are there risks associated with reliance on and expectations of technology?

  • Bridging Gap from Innovation to Sustainment

    What processes and procedures can help bridge the gap between innovation, distribution, and sustainment? (AFCEC/CB)

  • Challenges associated with integrating manned and un-manned aircraft in the National Airspace System

    Describe, analyze, and provide recommendations to overcome challenges associated with integrating manned and unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System. (319th Operations Group)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - EW and Network Operations

    How has changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese commercial support of cyber operations

    How does China leverage commercial entities to support its cyberspace operations? (US Cyber Command)

  • Civil and Military collaboration in Space

    How can the US military best take advantage of the domestic space industry to enhance its capabilities (both technologically and in terms of infrastructure/economics)? (2 ROPS)

  • Converging Allies and Partner Data into the DAF Data Fabric

    How can data/information from our Allies and Partners be woven into the Department of the Air Force's data fabric? (16 AF)

  • Coronet Improvements

    Quantify fuel burn and flight time savings for fighters by increasing max range airspeed faster than the standard refueling speed. (SAF/IEN)

  • Counter Drone Operational Art and Practice

    What counter-drone strategies have been adopted to increase force protection, deny adversary surveillance, and attack through the employment of drones? (JSOU) 

  • Crowdsourcing

    How can the Air Force more effectively crowdsource solutions to capability and capacity gaps across the industrial-military complex while balancing security concerns? (PACAF/A8X)

  • Cyber Innovation Centers & Acquisitions

     How can cyber innovation centers blend into traditional requirement development and agile/traditional acquisition processes to produce short-term sustainable capability?  (ACC/A5K)

  • Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts

    How can the AF gain strategic, operational, and tactical advantages over peer and near-peer competitors in future conflicts leveraging Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts to effectively identify, characterize, defend against, and respond to cyber-threats and attacks across all AFIN enclaves, coupled with advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing? (ACC/A6O)

  • Data Convergence/Analytics

    How can data tools drive analytical collaboration at the tactical level, and create white space for decision makers to maintain a decision advantage across the conflict continuum? (480 ISRW)

  • Data Convergence/Information Warfare

    Can Army notions of data convergence in the tactical realm be extrapolated and applied in the information warfare environment to achieve automation of data sharing across functions and domains? (16 AF)

  • Directed Energy for De-escalating Conflicts

    How can directed energy be used for de-escalating conflict? What are some concepts of operations that meet demanding policy restrictions? (AFMC A9AQ)

  • Directed Energy Weapons Impact on Taiwan Straits Conflict

    Does the Chinese Communist Party's directed energy weapons advancements compromise US, allies, and partner nations’ advanced weapons systems capabilities in a potential Taiwan Strait conflict?  (AFTAC)

  • Directed Energy Weapons, the New Indiscriminate Threat?

    Should Directed Energy Weapons (DEW) be considered an emerging form of WMD? (AFTAC)

  • Disruptive Technology's Effect On Deterrence

    What effect does disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing have on deterrence? (AF/A10C)

  • Effect-based Metrics Posture

    Use modeling and simulation to provide heuristics or other shortcuts that can connect improvements in fuel efficiency to capabilities valued by operators. (SAF/IEN)

  • Efficiency of Cargo Operations

    What methods are there for positioning aircraft to increase overall cargo capacity utilization, specifically to reduce dead legs and shorten the timeline associated with cargo management? (SAF/IEN)

  • EiTaaS Tier 1 Maintenance Support

    How will 16 AF and the 688 CW conduct Cyber Security Service Provider (CSSP) Services for the Air Force Network-Unclassified (AFNET-U) when Tier 1 maintenance and operations for AFNET-U is contracted out to the private sector during the Enterprise to Infrastructure as a Service (EiTaaS)? (688 CW)

  • Emerging Technology's Threat to Nuclear Assets

    What capabilities and intent do adversaries possess to utilize advanced technologies to hold AFGSC assets at increased risk? (AFGSC/A2)

  • EMP Effects on Nuclear Arsenal

    What are the effects of EMP on nuclear weapons? What can be done to mitigate risk? (20 AF)

  • Establishing Flexible Logistics

    The CSAF is looking for “initiatives focused on more agile, resilient, and survivable energy logistics—from bulk strategic supplies to deliveries at the tactical edge.” 

  • Future Battle Networks

    Analyze potential developments in battle networks as integrated systems of sensors, analytics, and strike.  (HAF A5SM)

  • Future of the 2W2 Career-Field in an Evolving Air Force

    AFGSC continues to expand the number of bases that will require 2W2 (Nuclear Weapon Technicians) with the arrival of the B-21.   USAFE has added location(s) that require more 2W2 personnel.   The 2W2 profession is in great demand in more locations.   The expansion, addition of new locations, further stretches the small career field.  This stretching and the AFPC/TRANSCOM tightening of PCSing will reduce the number of personnel who "cycle" through Missile Wing bases.   The fewer personnel who cycle through, the less "depth" the career field gains in technical expertise.   This is at a critical time in the history of the 20th AF during the Sentinel Transition.  

    Problem Statement:  Due to a greater demand of 2W2 personnel at more Bomber and Fighter bases worldwide, should the Nuclear Enterprise seek contract maintenance personnel to conduct routine maintenance at Missile Wing bases that solely support ICMBs and reallocate the finite quantity of active duty nuclear weapons technicians to bases with a nuclear flying mission?

  • Historical Review of Successful USAF Military Transformations

    When has the USAF successfully executed a military transformation in response to significant strategic shifts or revolutions in military affairs? What lessons do past examples provide that could assist USAF leadership today? (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Human/Technology Interface

    The human/technology interface encompasses the ways in which humans engage with and utilize technology to enhance their capabilities, perform tasks more efficiently, and achieve desired outcomes. The interface can range from simple physical interactions, such as pressing buttons or using touch screens, to more complex interactions involving augmented reality, AI, and wearable devices. How can a human/technology interface enhance the span of control a person has over the technology they use? What role does trust play in the successful adoption and integration of technology into human activities? When should we trust AI, and when should we not? What potential risks or challenges are associated with increasing reliance on technology in human decision-making processes? Can we ensure people have appropriate control and autonomy in their interactions with technology to maintain trust and mitigate potential negative consequences? 

    What are the implications of ever more tightly interwoven connections between SOF operators and technology? Are humans always more important than hardware, or, at some point, does technology become more critical? Is it possible that the line between humans and technology becomes blurred via human/machine symbiosis, and if so, what are the potential effects on the development and utilization of SOF?

  • Hypersonic Messaging

    As the U.S. develops and fields hypersonic weapons, how should the U.S. message adversaries and allies about this new capability? (AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Private Cellular Networks for Unmanned Systems C2

    How does the industry shift of utilizing high-density consumer and private cellular bands for control and communications affect military counter-drone technology and capabilities? (20 AF)

  • Impact of Technological Advancements on Air Warfare

    How will current and future trends in military technology advancements impact air warfare? How will this evolution of air warfare impact the US's superiority in the air domain? (HAF A5SM)

  • Impact on Deterrence by Emerging Technology

    What impact would the emergence and global diffusion of technologies with the potential dual-military ability to deliver strategic effects (e.g., biotechnology) have on the United States deterrence posture? (AF/A10)

  • Implementation and Absorption Capacity for New Capabilities and Concepts

    Using unitary analysis or comparative analysis, examine either or both of the USAF/Joint Force and PLA’s capacity to absorb new capabilities and concepts into demonstrated operational utility, identifying recommendations for accelerating change and innovation at scale within the USAF and DoD. (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Implications of Militarily Relevant Commercial-Off-the-Shelf (COTS) Technologies

    How will the availability of militarily relevant COTS technologies affect future warfare? (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Improved Assessments of Landing Weight

    Looking for ways to develop improved assessments of landing weight. (SAF/IEN)

  • Industrial Base of India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    Why are the capacity and projectability of the industrial bases of India, South Korea, Japan & Australia, including trends in their economic and industrial growth? How these might influence the US-China strategic competition? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Industrial Preparedness for Competition

    How might the United States seek to transform a relatively consolidated defense industry to meet new military challenges that are emerging under conditions very different from the Cold War and the Global War on Terror?(HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Information Warfare capabilities

    How should the AF and DoD organize themselves to optimize the development of Information Warfare capabilities? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Integration with Allied and Partners' Industrial Base

    How does the United States integrate the allied and partners' industrial base to generate and sustain mass in a future conflict? (AF Futures)

  • Intelligence Production in Agile Combat Employment

    What LLM solutions can be used to develop methods, processes, applications, capabilities, etc. enabling rapid production at scale to meet future demands associated with the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept? (363 ISRW)

  • Interrelationship Between Intelligence and Technology

    Intelligence has a role to play in the identification of emerging technologies and assessment of how they may be used by adversaries. Within the SOE, how can collaboration be encouraged between the intelligence practitioners and the technological specialists? How can SOF best couple bottom-up-driven intelligence and technology solutions with top-down-driven research and acquisition programs? While the technologies are different, the problems of collaboration between two different communities during historical periods of technological disruption may offer ideas to inform current efforts in these areas. Can SOF use case studies of the past emergence of disruptive technologies to transform for the future? How can SOF intelligence exploit technology while maintaining a healthy skepticism of its promises?

  • Irregular and Unconventional Warfare Campaigning

    The SOE has renewed its focus on irregular and unconventional warfare. How can SOF better understand, articulate, and operationalize irregular and unconventional warfare campaigns? What is the relationship between irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, security force assistance, and security cooperation? How can SOF and conventional forces best work together in these areas? Are there gaps in our knowledge of how to carry out irregular and unconventional warfare campaigning? Does current SOF training and education about these types of warfare need to be updated? Have new technologies like satellite and internet communication and inexpensive, highly capable weapons, such as remotely piloted vehicles, caused changes in the ways in which irregular and unconventional warfare can be carried out, or do operational and strategic concepts remain the same? Can SOF’s recent experiences with counter-violent extremist organizations (CVEO) operations provide ideas for how to disrupt adversarial actors? 

    Within irregular warfare, what is a ‘win’? Is ‘win’ the right framing term? What conditions will aid/impede winning? Is it possible to win without fighting? What is the SOF role within irregular warfare? How does that role vary based on geography, adversary, level of conflict, and other variables? Within an environment of strategic competition, how can SOF identify, train, and coordinate networks to deny, degrade, and influence adversary irregular warfare efforts? Historically, when has unconventional warfare been effective in coercing, disrupting, and overthrowing regimes? How does unconventional warfare campaigning interact, or conflict, with concepts of strategic competition and strategic patience? Does the time required for a successful unconventional warfare campaign hinder its ability to be coordinated with conventional warfare campaigns? If so, how can this be mitigated? 

    Security cooperation, to include security assistance and foreign internal defense, has a role to play within both irregular and unconventional warfare. What is SOF’s role in security cooperation, and how can SOF best integrate or coordinate with conventional forces engaged in security cooperation in the same theater? Are there changes required to security cooperation authorities and practices for SOF? What are ways in which adversaries have, or might seek to, hinder security cooperation efforts? 


     

  • Learning Technology to Aid Information Warfare Training

    How can we leverage learning technologies such as game-based learning, AI tutors, hypermedia, etc. to train IW forces most effectively on the roles, assets, and capabilities needed to achieve full spectrum IW effects? (616 OC) 

  • Legal, Moral and Ethical Considerations of New Technologies

    What are the core legal, moral, and ethical principles that transcend technology? How can the SOF best prepare for the legal, moral, and ethical challenges inherent in new technologies? How can SOF develop personnel who understand the legal, moral, and ethical implications of new technologies? Legally, what authorities are needed to incorporate new technologies? What is the obligation to inform the SOF user of potential long-term impacts before use? Morally, are there any potential impacts of novel technologies on human rights, privacy, diversity, or environmental sustainability? What ethical dilemmas might be caused by a specific technology, and how can those dilemmas be resolved? How can a technology’s potential moral hazards and moral injuries be avoided or mitigated?

  • Metrics of Industrial Base Capacity

    What are the key economic, political, technological, and demographic indicators that define the capacity of an industrial base? How do these metrics interact with each other and impact the overall industrial capacity of a country? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Military utility and cost of cargo launched combat air vehicles

    How can large numbers of small, potentially long-range air vehicles from cargo aircraft be used across a wide range of roles to prevail in combat against both near-peer and regional competitors? (AFRL)

  • Nationality of an autonomous system

    What defines the nationality of an autonomous system? How does this affect their operational employment? (AF Futures)

  • Nuclear Deterrence Acquisition

    How does the future Air Force Integrated Capability Development Command develop and field platforms that are both conventional and nuclear (like bombers and DCA)? How do they prioritize requirements for dual capable platforms?

  • Operational Energy in Space

    How can we design and operate spacecraft that have fewer constraints and can sustain operations in space over longer time periods and with more effectiveness? (SAF/IEN)

  • Operational Energy Technological Advantages over Peer Adversaries

    How important is advanced airframe and engine technology development in the near-peer fight? (SAF/IEN)

  • Operationalizing the Drone Effect

    What are the effects, namely on fuel consumption, of substituting manned aircraft with RPAs? Which missions (e.g. ISR/Strike/EW/counter-UAS) in permissive/semi-contested environments can be accomplished with more fuel-efficient aircraft/RPAs? What are the additional benefits to various aircraft substitutions (e.g. increased fuel savings, enhanced mission capabilities, aircraft sustainment, etc.) (SAF/IEN)

  • Options for AFGSC in Response to the Next Potential "Cuban Missile Crisis" in Space

    The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars signatories from placing "in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction." In recent months, reports have been made public that the United States believes Russia is developing a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon. The detonation of a nuclear weapon in space has the potential to disrupt not only military capabilities, but also commercial services all over the world. What actions should AFGSC be prepared for in the case that Russia rescinds themselves from the 1967 treaty and deploys these weapons in space? What can AFGSC do to proactively deter Russia from doing this? In the event that deterrence fails, are there any new assurances to allies that AFGSC is uniquely positioned to provide? Potential options might include fielding new capabilities, the declassification of current programs, and force posture adjustments. 

  • Organic Software Development

    Can the USAF develop an organic capability to code within a squadron and then enable the infrastructure and processes that would allow that code to be deployed in a controlled environment with minimal overhead requirements to the squadron? (16 AF)

  • Parasocial Relationships, Social Media, and Radicalization

    Social media engagement has been shown to be a significant pathway to violence, terrorism, fanaticism and recruitment into cultish social formations (Montell 2021), defined as tight, insular groups that bear a resemblance to cults

  • Post 9/11 Transformations in Warfare

    How has warfare evolved over in the post 9/11 world? (HAF A5SM)

  • Potential for Integrated Deterrence

    Why have strategic nuclear forces failed to deter some aspects of conventional aggression in the recent past? Would integrated deterrence architectures involving other capabilities (e.g., space, cyber, hypersonics, AI) better address concerns around theater-level conventional aggression? What would need to be included in future integrated deterrence strategies to deter conventional aggression? (AF/A10)

  • PRC aerospace industry

    What is the ability of the PRC's aerospace industry to emulate, innovate, develop, prototype, refine, and finalize aerospace systems? (CASI)

  • PRC industry actors

    How are they connected to the state and military? To what extent can they support military requirements? (CASI)

  • Predictive Analytics

    The analysis of large datasets can provide new insights into relationships between variables and potentially enable better predictions of the likelihood of processes and events. Areas of interest to the SOE for these data-driven analytics could include selection, training, scenario development, and contingency planning. How can SOF use tools like predictive analytics and ML to capture important trends and prepare for the future? What new or emerging technology in the field of predictive analytics could help SOF better accomplish its missions in the future? What SOF OAIs are best suited for this type of data-driven analysis? How can SOF incorporate LLMs and user-interface friendly systems like ChatGPT into its operations? What are the risks and benefits of doing so? 

  • Prioritizing US Investments in Asia-Pacific Region

    What capabilities and potential investments should the US consider to offset the effects of the US-China strategic competition in the region? In particular, what opportunities are there in the development of defense, technology, and infrastructure? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Road-Mobile ICBM system

    Does the US need to develop a road-mobile ICBM system as part of its nuclear arsenal? (8 AF)

  • Russian Defense Industry

    What are the domestic and export capacities of Russia's defense industry? What effects have sanctions had on it? What is the evolving role of the wartime economy on the Russian defense industry? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • Social Impact of Technological Change

    Throughout history, technology had been influential in driving societal change. Most recently, this has included an evolving relationship with information, characterized by innovations that have transformed how information is transmitted, stored, and ultimately used.

  • Societal Cohesion in Crisis

    The ability of a group, or society more broadly, to hold together is central to social life. As the nature of the social unit varies cross-culturally and across political systems, this topic seeks to understand the nuances of shifting social and political cohesion in the face of diverse and evolving crisis situations.

  • Sociotechnical Adaptation to Climate, Food, and Water Stress

    Climate and environmental change are increasingly accepted as a major issue facing societies, and a defining global challenge with significant potential to reshape future security and stability.

  • SOF in a Technological World

    As technology expands in both sophistication and reach, the SOE must adapt to keep up with, and take advantage of, technologies. What are the risks and opportunities of these technologies, and what are the limitations or thresholds associated with new capabilities? How can the trustworthiness of such technologies be determined? Within personnel, will computer-to-brain interfaces enhance SOF performance? Will AI/ML and LLMs change USSOCOM processes and operations? What are the legal and ethical standards for the use of such technology? Will remotely piloted and/or autonomous systems change expeditionary logistics, maneuver, and disbursement of resources and sustainment in a contested environment? How might quantum computing affect offensive and defensive cyber operations? How can SOF exploit existing infrastructure to cover their electronic tracks, and how might adversaries use technology to track SOF? Does the spread of technology correspond with an increasing difficulty for covert or clandestine operations?

  • Space Acquisitions

    Examine various aspects of Space-related acquisitions. (USSF/S8ZX, 5 SLS-MSA, 7SWS/DO, SPOC/2SWS/DOC)

  • Space Debris

    Analyze various problems and potential solutions regarding the issue of space debris. (USSF/S8ZX & 50 SCS/CDCC)

  • Technical Interoperability with Allies & Partners

    How does a focus on technical interoperability help or hinder operational integration with allies and partners? (AFWIC)

  • Technological Impacts on Ethical Autonomy

    The integration of wearable, edible, or injectable technology for SOF can potentially raise concerns about the loss of autonomy in making ethical decisions. Wearable devices, such as smartwatches or fitness trackers, can collect vast amounts of personal data about our behaviors, activities, and health. The risk lies in the potential misuse or exploitation of this data, which could erode personal privacy and autonomy. Could external entities and malicious actors with access to such data manipulate individual choices or influence decision-making through targeted persuasive techniques? Edible technology refers to ingestible devices or substances, such as smart pills or edible sensors. While these technologies can provide valuable health monitoring or targeted drug delivery, there is a risk of overreliance and loss of agency. Can people become too dependent on such technologies for managing their health or decision-making processes? Could they inadvertently surrender their autonomy to technology or entities controlling it? Injectables include implanting devices or substances into the body, such as microchips or smart implants. These can offer benefits, such as enhanced cognitive capabilities or medical monitoring. Risks include potential unauthorized access to implanted devices, data breaches, or manipulation of bodily functions or behaviors. Such vulnerabilities may compromise personal autonomy and privacy. What are the potential risks or challenges the SOE should consider regarding the loss of SOF ethical autonomy when using wearable technology, edibles, or injectables? What measures can be taken to ensure individuals maintain their autonomy and ethical decision-making capabilities while using such technologies?

  • Technological Innovation & Integrated Deterrence

    How should the DOD and AF pursue and message technology innovation to support integrated deterrence in the NDS?  (AFNWC)

  • Technological Support to Resilience or Resistance

    Technology is already playing an increasing role in multiple aspects of the security environment and will undoubtedly continue to do so in our ability to identify the need for, assess the potential for, and support resilience and resistance. How might the innovative use of new and emerging technologies enable SOF efforts to support resilience and resistance in developed, underdeveloped, fragile, and/ or at-risk countries and regions? What might be some of the roles of AI/ML in assessing, building, enabling, and supporting SRR in deterrence, competition, or armed conflict? In contrast, does the integration of ‘low-tech’ solutions to SSR provide any advantage in the future operating environment, and if so, where, and how? How might an infusion of standard technologies across select allies and partners support global fusion in the application of SRR against global and transregional threats? How does the level of technological development, and technological saturation within a society, contribute to, detract from, or otherwise impact the potential and challenges to SRR? How might technologies enable the assessment of a group, population, or country’s will to resist? How might the democratization of technology within a society, and its potential adversary, enable SRR across the spectrum of subversion, coercion, and aggression? What does the role of the protection of technological advantage play in enabling SRR?

  • Technological Undermatch

    The ‘American way of war’ is typically used to describe the United States’ use of exquisite technology combined with limited numbers of highly trained personnel to fight its conflicts, rather than relying, as other countries sometimes do, on relatively low-technology capabilities wielded by large masses of personnel. Does this cultural bias lead SOF into over-relying on technology? What are the advantages and disadvantages of small-quantity, highly trained, and technologically sophisticated SOF? Does technology encourage and enable micromanagement? 

    As we move into an era of strategic competition, there is risk in assuming that SOF will always have the technological advantage vis-à-vis an adversary. How can SOF be effective in a conflict environment in which the adversary has the technological advantage? Do SOF have other competitive advantages that could make up for technological undermatch? How can SOF best manage the virtual and/or physical signature of personnel, platforms, organizations, operations, facilities, and data when facing an adversary with comparable or better technological capabilities? 

  • The Future of Information and Influence

    There are many ways in which current technologies shape the ways that people receive information. The ability to create realistic, believable information, events, documents, pictures, and video based on a computer prompt makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. The combination of virtual reality and augmented reality offers the ability to virtually see, ‘be with,’ and respond in real time to another person anywhere in the world. What are the second and third-order effects of such technologies on information operations and strategic influence campaigns? If distinguishing the truth becomes increasingly difficult, will there be a corresponding reaction in which groups or individuals care less about the ‘truth’ or simply distrust everything not seen to occur with their own eyes? What are the implications of such distrust? Will societies become less vulnerable to disinformation, but also less receptive to strategic messaging? How might virtual interactive experiences be utilized to develop strategic influence? Training and education with partners and allies can provide a form of relationship building that may lead to strategic influence. Does virtual training and education build the same relationships, and have the same strategic effects, as in-person interactions? 

  • The Limits of AI and Big Data Technology

    What assumptions currently pervade military culture about AI and Big Data that, from a social science perspective, are inaccurate and counterproductive? (JSOU)

  • Usage of AI in USAF Maintenance & Logistics

    How can emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, be integrated into the operational workflows of various Air Force units? What are the challenges in effectively transitioning to AI-driven decision-making processes within Air Force maintenance and logistics operations? (772 ESS)

  • Use of AI in Civilian Hiring Process

    Can AI be leveraged to improve the timeliness and accuracy of the civilian hiring process? (AFMISC/A1)

  • Utilizing Internet-Of-Things (IOT) sensors or similar physical sensing systems

    How can the AF leverage in-situ or fortuitously placed Internet-Of-Things (IOT) sensors or similar physical sensing systems coupled with cyber-surveillance to collect data and information to overcome barriers to physical proximity and access and coupled with cyber-reconnaissance to collect data and information associated with adversary personnel and systems in order to meet collection and observation needs, to capture essential elements of information, and to determine the state of key adversary indicators required to mitigate information and intelligence gaps? (ACC/A22C)

  • Wargaming

    How should the AF conceptualize wargaming going forward? (PACAF)

  • Weapon system vulnerabilities introduced by cloud environment

    Does the dependence on cloud environments (commercial or organic) introduce risk to cyber security? If so, what unique risks does this pose to the military and its weapon systems? (16 AF/A4)

  • What Comes after the B61-12?

    The B61-12 is a welcome and much needed upgrade for the theater nuclear mission in USEUCOM and for US dual-capable aircraft - but it is not the end.  The US and NATO must start developing the next iteration of theater nuclear weapons now. 

  • Worldwide Deployable Dual-Capable Aircraft in Extended Deterrence

    How would the capability to deploy DCA worldwide affect extended deterrence?  (AF/A10)

  • Cyber Force Structure

    How can the USAF optimize current Cyber Force Structure? (HAF A2/6)

  • Analytic Certification

    Does Analytic Certification provide a path toward Enhanced IC Analytic Effectiveness? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Artificial Intelligence analyzing forensic data and patterns of life

    Can AI be harnessed to analyze forensic data and patterns of life to assist the ISRD in building ISR packages? Can it analyze real-time data to assist re-tasking of existing assets in theater? (319 RW)

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning in Misinformation and Disinformation

    Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to include the widespread promulgation of easily accessible large language models (LLM), appear to be ushering in a new era of misinformation and disinformation. What impact will AI/ML have on the speed at which misinformation and disinformation can be created and spread? What AI/ML-enabled capabilities can promote resistance to disinformation? How can we counter adversarial messaging that utilizes LLM? 

    What are the training and education requirements for the use of AI/ML within SOF? How can SOF practitioners leverage AI/ ML and other new technology at the individual and small-unit levels? Does the rise of AI/ML affect the skillsets needed at both individual and organizational levels to conduct the Information joint function? Within the SOE and SOF, how do you develop resiliency to misinformation and disinformation? How can SOF capabilities such as psychological operations best utilize AI/ML and LLMs? How can we use commercial off-the-shelf technology to promote resiliency to misinformation and disinformation both with U.S. SOF and our partners and allies? 

  • Benchmarking Fuel Usage

    Develop better simulations of fuel usage that can inform mission planning tools or provide benchmarks for anomaly detection in real-time or post-mission analysis. (SAF/IEN)

  • Black Swan Capabilities

    Historically, technological innovations drive changes to the ways in which conflicts are fought. However, it is not always easy to see which technologies will drive such changes, or the ways that such technologies will be incorporated and deployed by militaries. New technologies in a variety of areas offer both promise and peril and demand our attention as they provide the potential for black swan (improbable, high-impact) or gray rhino (probable, high-impact, but neglected) events.7 How can the SOE best identify emerging technologies? Do SOF have strategic blind spots when it comes to emerging technologies—is it focused in certain areas but not in others? How can the SOE assess or forecast the impact of emerging technologies? How can SOF experiment and incorporate emerging disruptive technologies within current fiscal constraints? How can the SOE best share new knowledge of military applications of emerging technologies across its organizations? Is there a need for new statutory and other relevant authorities for public–private sector cooperation to provide SOF access to the latest innovations? How can SOF leverage and explore new technologies while limiting their exposure to the risks that accompany these technologies? What are the emerging technologies, such as AI/ML, neuromorphic and biotechnologies, and new power sources, which could affect SOF capabilities, both positively and negatively? Are there risks associated with reliance on and expectations of technology?

  • Contemporary Artificial Intelligence Capability

    What off-the-shelf Artificial Intelligence capability could be quickly incorporated into the AOC? (PACAF/CC)

  • Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts

    How can the AF gain strategic, operational, and tactical advantages over peer and near-peer competitors in future conflicts leveraging Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts to effectively identify, characterize, defend against, and respond to cyber-threats and attacks across all AFIN enclaves, coupled with advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing? (ACC/A6O)

  • Cyberspace Awareness/Operations Sensors

    Can we improve cyberspace awareness by improving the management of “operations” sensors and their ability to enhance the staff analytics supporting decision-making and execution? (CO-IPE (STRAT))

  • Data Convergence/Analytics

    How can data tools drive analytical collaboration at the tactical level, and create white space for decision makers to maintain a decision advantage across the conflict continuum? (480 ISRW)

  • Data Convergence/Information Warfare

    Can Army notions of data convergence in the tactical realm be extrapolated and applied in the information warfare environment to achieve automation of data sharing across functions and domains? (16 AF)

  • Disposition of Forces (DOF) Consolidation

    How do we optimize the dissemination, visualization, storage, and cataloging of battlespace characterization data and Disposition of Forces (DOF) production? (480 ISRG)

  • Efficient Fine Tuning of Large Language Models

    What are the most robust ways to incorporate new data sets into a large language model that do not truncate the breadth of data available while simultaneously allowing for complex answers and minimizing hallucinations? (16 AF/A5)

  • Ethical implications of increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning

    As advances in computing are implemented in JADO, what are the ethical implications of increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning?

  • Future Battle Networks

    Analyze potential developments in battle networks as integrated systems of sensors, analytics, and strike.  (HAF A5SM)

  • Generative Adversarial Networks

    What are some potential defensive measures for mitigating the threat of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs)? (AF-A8)

  • Human/Technology Interface

    The human/technology interface encompasses the ways in which humans engage with and utilize technology to enhance their capabilities, perform tasks more efficiently, and achieve desired outcomes. The interface can range from simple physical interactions, such as pressing buttons or using touch screens, to more complex interactions involving augmented reality, AI, and wearable devices. How can a human/technology interface enhance the span of control a person has over the technology they use? What role does trust play in the successful adoption and integration of technology into human activities? When should we trust AI, and when should we not? What potential risks or challenges are associated with increasing reliance on technology in human decision-making processes? Can we ensure people have appropriate control and autonomy in their interactions with technology to maintain trust and mitigate potential negative consequences? 

    What are the implications of ever more tightly interwoven connections between SOF operators and technology? Are humans always more important than hardware, or, at some point, does technology become more critical? Is it possible that the line between humans and technology becomes blurred via human/machine symbiosis, and if so, what are the potential effects on the development and utilization of SOF?

  • Implementing AI & ML for cyber-enabled information operations

    What AI-enabled suite of tools could enable the Information Warfare NAF to increase the pace and quality of Information Operations? What are the critical policy and technical limitations to harnessing AI and ML tools for the modernization of U.S. cyber-enabled information operations and what are the key requirements for solutions to overcome these limitations? (16 AF/A39)

  • Influence of Operational Tempo on Nuclear Deterrence

    AI, multi-domain C3BM, and non-kinetic weapons (especially effects at a distance) are allowing an increase in the tempo of decision making and operational tempo. How will the speed of conflict and decision making influence decisions to use nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence?  

     

  • Intelligence Production in Agile Combat Employment

    What LLM solutions can be used to develop methods, processes, applications, capabilities, etc. enabling rapid production at scale to meet future demands associated with the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept? (363 ISRW)

  • Nationality of an autonomous system

    What defines the nationality of an autonomous system? How does this affect their operational employment? (AF Futures)

  • Operational Assessment in the Information Environment

    Given the complexities of human behavior and decision-making, how should the joint force approach operational assessment in the information environment? How can the Air Force enable that approach through the application of new tradecraft, data science, behavioral analysis, and sensors? (16 AF)

  • Predictive Analytics

    The analysis of large datasets can provide new insights into relationships between variables and potentially enable better predictions of the likelihood of processes and events. Areas of interest to the SOE for these data-driven analytics could include selection, training, scenario development, and contingency planning. How can SOF use tools like predictive analytics and ML to capture important trends and prepare for the future? What new or emerging technology in the field of predictive analytics could help SOF better accomplish its missions in the future? What SOF OAIs are best suited for this type of data-driven analysis? How can SOF incorporate LLMs and user-interface friendly systems like ChatGPT into its operations? What are the risks and benefits of doing so? 

  • SOF in a Technological World

    As technology expands in both sophistication and reach, the SOE must adapt to keep up with, and take advantage of, technologies. What are the risks and opportunities of these technologies, and what are the limitations or thresholds associated with new capabilities? How can the trustworthiness of such technologies be determined? Within personnel, will computer-to-brain interfaces enhance SOF performance? Will AI/ML and LLMs change USSOCOM processes and operations? What are the legal and ethical standards for the use of such technology? Will remotely piloted and/or autonomous systems change expeditionary logistics, maneuver, and disbursement of resources and sustainment in a contested environment? How might quantum computing affect offensive and defensive cyber operations? How can SOF exploit existing infrastructure to cover their electronic tracks, and how might adversaries use technology to track SOF? Does the spread of technology correspond with an increasing difficulty for covert or clandestine operations?

  • Strategic Basing

    Develop a relatively high-fidelity simulation of an average year of training for a unit (ideally F-16 or F-35) to develop comparative metrics that can inform the basing process. (SAF/IEN)

  • Technological Impacts on Ethical Autonomy

    The integration of wearable, edible, or injectable technology for SOF can potentially raise concerns about the loss of autonomy in making ethical decisions. Wearable devices, such as smartwatches or fitness trackers, can collect vast amounts of personal data about our behaviors, activities, and health. The risk lies in the potential misuse or exploitation of this data, which could erode personal privacy and autonomy. Could external entities and malicious actors with access to such data manipulate individual choices or influence decision-making through targeted persuasive techniques? Edible technology refers to ingestible devices or substances, such as smart pills or edible sensors. While these technologies can provide valuable health monitoring or targeted drug delivery, there is a risk of overreliance and loss of agency. Can people become too dependent on such technologies for managing their health or decision-making processes? Could they inadvertently surrender their autonomy to technology or entities controlling it? Injectables include implanting devices or substances into the body, such as microchips or smart implants. These can offer benefits, such as enhanced cognitive capabilities or medical monitoring. Risks include potential unauthorized access to implanted devices, data breaches, or manipulation of bodily functions or behaviors. Such vulnerabilities may compromise personal autonomy and privacy. What are the potential risks or challenges the SOE should consider regarding the loss of SOF ethical autonomy when using wearable technology, edibles, or injectables? What measures can be taken to ensure individuals maintain their autonomy and ethical decision-making capabilities while using such technologies?

  • Technological Support to Resilience or Resistance

    Technology is already playing an increasing role in multiple aspects of the security environment and will undoubtedly continue to do so in our ability to identify the need for, assess the potential for, and support resilience and resistance. How might the innovative use of new and emerging technologies enable SOF efforts to support resilience and resistance in developed, underdeveloped, fragile, and/ or at-risk countries and regions? What might be some of the roles of AI/ML in assessing, building, enabling, and supporting SRR in deterrence, competition, or armed conflict? In contrast, does the integration of ‘low-tech’ solutions to SSR provide any advantage in the future operating environment, and if so, where, and how? How might an infusion of standard technologies across select allies and partners support global fusion in the application of SRR against global and transregional threats? How does the level of technological development, and technological saturation within a society, contribute to, detract from, or otherwise impact the potential and challenges to SRR? How might technologies enable the assessment of a group, population, or country’s will to resist? How might the democratization of technology within a society, and its potential adversary, enable SRR across the spectrum of subversion, coercion, and aggression? What does the role of the protection of technological advantage play in enabling SRR?

  • The Future of Information and Influence

    There are many ways in which current technologies shape the ways that people receive information. The ability to create realistic, believable information, events, documents, pictures, and video based on a computer prompt makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. The combination of virtual reality and augmented reality offers the ability to virtually see, ‘be with,’ and respond in real time to another person anywhere in the world. What are the second and third-order effects of such technologies on information operations and strategic influence campaigns? If distinguishing the truth becomes increasingly difficult, will there be a corresponding reaction in which groups or individuals care less about the ‘truth’ or simply distrust everything not seen to occur with their own eyes? What are the implications of such distrust? Will societies become less vulnerable to disinformation, but also less receptive to strategic messaging? How might virtual interactive experiences be utilized to develop strategic influence? Training and education with partners and allies can provide a form of relationship building that may lead to strategic influence. Does virtual training and education build the same relationships, and have the same strategic effects, as in-person interactions? 

  • The Limits of AI and Big Data Technology

    What assumptions currently pervade military culture about AI and Big Data that, from a social science perspective, are inaccurate and counterproductive? (JSOU)

  • Trust in non-US autonomous systems

    How do we ensure sufficient trust in non-US autonomous systems to support multinational human-machine teaming? (AF Futures)

  • Usage of AI in USAF Installation & Mission Support Operations

    How can emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, be integrated into the operational workflows of various Air Force units? What are the challenges in effectively transitioning to AI-driven decision-making processes within Air Force installation and mission support operations? (772 ESS)

  • Usage of AI in USAF Maintenance & Logistics

    How can emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, be integrated into the operational workflows of various Air Force units? What are the challenges in effectively transitioning to AI-driven decision-making processes within Air Force maintenance and logistics operations? (772 ESS)

  • Use of AI in Civilian Hiring Process

    Can AI be leveraged to improve the timeliness and accuracy of the civilian hiring process? (AFMISC/A1)

  • Utilizing Internet-Of-Things (IOT) sensors or similar physical sensing systems

    How can the AF leverage in-situ or fortuitously placed Internet-Of-Things (IOT) sensors or similar physical sensing systems coupled with cyber-surveillance to collect data and information to overcome barriers to physical proximity and access and coupled with cyber-reconnaissance to collect data and information associated with adversary personnel and systems in order to meet collection and observation needs, to capture essential elements of information, and to determine the state of key adversary indicators required to mitigate information and intelligence gaps? (ACC/A22C)

  • "Cyber threat-based mission assurance” as a service

    End-to-end cyber surety from penetration testing, fixing discovered vulnerabilities, and optimizing defensive cyber operations as one integrated entity and unit of action. What authorities, responsibilities, and resources would need to be realigned and where would that realignment best be suited? (ACC/A6O)

  • Air Mobility in a kinetic/contested environment with China

    What will be the impact of a kinetic/contested environment with China on Air Mobility? How can Air Mobility plan to operate in this environment?  (AMC/CC)

  • Artificial Intelligence in Warplans

    What is the impact of artificial intelligence or intelligent automation in the development of real-time generated war plans? (HQ USSF/S59/ACT)

  • Ballistic Missile Defense/Air Defense & Nuclear Proliferation

    What is the evolving role of Ballistic Missile Defense/Air Defense systems in a nuclear-proliferated environment? (HAF A5SM)

  • C2 in Space

    Is the Air Operations Center the proper command and control structure for space superiority? (SPOC/2SWS/DOC) What is the proper structure and organizational architecture to command and control space forces to provide the NCA, USSPACECOM, and the other COCOMs the space capabilities and effects they desire to achieve their objectives and end states? (USSPACECOM) Is it possible to unify military and civilian C2 networks to gain resiliency and efficiency and be ready to engage in a space conflict? If so, how? (22 SOPS)

  • Challenges associated with integrating manned and un-manned aircraft in the National Airspace System

    Describe, analyze, and provide recommendations to overcome challenges associated with integrating manned and unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System. (319th Operations Group)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Space Operations

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Civil and Military collaboration in Space

    How can the US military best take advantage of the domestic space industry to enhance its capabilities (both technologically and in terms of infrastructure/economics)? (2 ROPS)

  • CNI--How to Integrate Conventional and Nuclear Munition on American Bomber and Fighter Aircraft

    Current US policy restricts the military from loading conventional and nuclear weapons on the same aircraft.  This old cold war practice does not fit into the modern warfare paradigm. 

  • Coalition Partners in Space

    How can partner nations contribute to and participate in US-led developmental and operational efforts in the space domain? (SPOC/DOO & USSF/S36TG & HQ USSF/SEK) 

  • Creation of Space Force

    How does the Air Force transfer people, mission sets, R&D, and equipment to the Space Force?

  • Cyber Threats Against Air Mobility Operations and Forces

    What are the cyber threats (and countermeasures) that are specific to AMC operations? (423 MTS)

  • Deterrence in Space

    What potential uses of the latest space technologies can serve as deterrence? (50 OSS)

  • Education of Space Professionals

    Analyze various methods and systems for educating space professionals. (319 CTS & HQ USSF S36RL & 50 OSS) 

  • Effect-based Metrics Posture

    Use modeling and simulation to provide heuristics or other shortcuts that can connect improvements in fuel efficiency to capabilities valued by operators. (SAF/IEN)

  • Efficiency of Cargo Operations

    What methods are there for positioning aircraft to increase overall cargo capacity utilization, specifically to reduce dead legs and shorten the timeline associated with cargo management? (SAF/IEN)

  • Emerging threats & TTPs of UAV/UAS against military installations

    What are examples of emerging threats of UAVs/UASs and TTPs of those groups that employ them? (423 MTS)

  • EMS/EW Awareness

    How does the Air Force re-instill a culture of EMS/EW awareness throughout the force? (ACC/A3/2/6K)

  • Formation of the Space Force

    Analyze various elements of the formation of the Space Force. (HQ USSF/SEF & Museum Staff & 50 OSS)

  • Future of Air Mobility

    The future of Air Mobility with respect to Bypass Theory and the evolution of the Critical Path for Air Mobility. (AMC/CC)

  • Future of the 2W2 Career-Field in an Evolving Air Force

    AFGSC continues to expand the number of bases that will require 2W2 (Nuclear Weapon Technicians) with the arrival of the B-21.   USAFE has added location(s) that require more 2W2 personnel.   The 2W2 profession is in great demand in more locations.   The expansion, addition of new locations, further stretches the small career field.  This stretching and the AFPC/TRANSCOM tightening of PCSing will reduce the number of personnel who "cycle" through Missile Wing bases.   The fewer personnel who cycle through, the less "depth" the career field gains in technical expertise.   This is at a critical time in the history of the 20th AF during the Sentinel Transition.  

    Problem Statement:  Due to a greater demand of 2W2 personnel at more Bomber and Fighter bases worldwide, should the Nuclear Enterprise seek contract maintenance personnel to conduct routine maintenance at Missile Wing bases that solely support ICMBs and reallocate the finite quantity of active duty nuclear weapons technicians to bases with a nuclear flying mission?

  • Historical Studies for Space

    Analyze historical examples of space operations for potential use to contemporary operations.  (45 SW/MU & SPOC/2SWS/DOC)

  • Impact of Private Cellular Networks for Unmanned Systems C2

    How does the industry shift of utilizing high-density consumer and private cellular bands for control and communications affect military counter-drone technology and capabilities? (20 AF)

  • Impact of Technological Advancements on Air Warfare

    How will current and future trends in military technology advancements impact air warfare? How will this evolution of air warfare impact the US's superiority in the air domain? (HAF A5SM)

  • Improving Conventional and Nuclear Integration (CNI) in Wargaming

    Main Idea: 
    CNI is the ability of the join/combined force to recognize and survive the use of nuclear weapons, reconstitute critical capabilities, and plan and execute integrated multi domain conventional and nuclear combat operations in, around, and through a nuclear environment. This includes ensuring protection and resilience of nuclear command, control, and communication (NC3), through multi-domain operations.  CNI enables the U.S. to continue conventional combat operations in a nuclear effects environment.
    Full Abstract/Description:
    The Joint Force, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and especially Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) must develop concepts of operations tailored to its forces to successfully operate in a nuclear environment. Wargaming provides the opportunity to consider how to prosecute a future conflict with a peer adversary at the conventional level while preparing for the risk of nuclear escalation and prosecuting conventional and nuclear operations simultaneously in a threat environment. It also helps to address gaps and seams in existing doctrine, guidance, tactics, techniques, and procedures.  
    Research Questions:
    How can the Joint Force, USAF, and AFGSC use wargaming to address the following shortfalls in knowledge and capability development to support CNI operations? 
    What are the operational seams/gaps between simultaneous conventional/nuclear execution?
    What are the implications to a nuclear force generation in a stressed environment?
    Are there limiting factors and mitigating strategies for mobile support team (MST) requirements and other stressors on available resources (operations, maintenance, security) during the execution of CNI operations?
    What potential C2 and NC3 issues would exist within a stressed conventional and nuclear environment and how can they be mitigated or overcome?
    Will there be access to key enabling forces during execution of near-simultaneous nuclear and conventional missions in the same geographical area such as tankers, ISR, airlift, etc?
    Justification:
    Various wargames (Futures Game, Global Engagement, etc) have been conducted at the conventional level that have nuclear excursions; however, they have usually been tasked only at investigating strategic decisions and have not been an all-encompassing study that provides actionable data on CNI that can drive programmatic and mission planning. A wargame that is exclusively focused on CNI and its implications in a peer conventional conflict would be applicable for future planning for modernization for both private industry and government.
    Study Will Inform: 
    This study will inform USSTRATCOM, A5/8/10, DTRA, RAND, AFGSC, AFSTRAT, HAF A5/8/10, AETC, ACC, AMC , or any other DOD or US Government agency that could potentially support CNI. The outcomes will advance AFGSC/CC vision, develop nuclear leaders, and further AFGSC strategy and potential force structure with lessons learned that feed AFGSC strategic studies. It will also support deterrence/assurance by demonstrating willingness to study nuclear issues. Participation in wargaming community leads to inclusion of deterrence/assurance objectives in other wargames and acts as a catalyst to mature nuclear analytical models/studies.

  • Influence of Operational Tempo on Nuclear Deterrence

    AI, multi-domain C3BM, and non-kinetic weapons (especially effects at a distance) are allowing an increase in the tempo of decision making and operational tempo. How will the speed of conflict and decision making influence decisions to use nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence?  

     

  • In-Space Logistics

    Analysis of in-space logistics. (HQ USSF S36RL)

  • Integrated air and missile defense mission in INDOPACOM AOR

    How do we as a coalition of the willing in the INDOPACOM AOR gain parity and subsequently surpass regional actors in IAMD architecture to a level that will deter China from military action and if not, leave the coalition in a position to effectively execute combat operations in the region without being overwhelmed by emerging threats? (PACAF/PIC)

  • International Space Law/Responsible Behavior in Space

    Analyze various elements of international space law. (HQ USSF/SEK & USSF/S5I & SPOC, 3 SES/MAF)

  • JADO - Space Force

    How do we integrate the Space Force into JADO?

  • Language Analysts in Cyber and Space Intelligence

    Can we develop analytic tradecraft and accesses for language analysts supporting cyber and space intelligence units, and develop specialized formal training courses for language analysis operating in the space and cyberspace domains? (480 ISRW)

  • Missions for the USSF

    What roles or responsibilities should the USSF have in asteroid detection and defense? (SPOC, 3 SES/MAF)

  • Novel Operating Environments

    Based on trends in the geostrategic environment, advances in technologies that allow SOF greater maneuver and capabilities in extreme environments, and the evolving role of the DOD as part of national security, what might SOF’s new roles and missions be, as part of the Joint Force, in novel operational environments? Such environments could include: the polar regions and approaches; areas of extreme heat and humidity too severe for normal human tolerance; the open ocean, to include all layers of the pelagic zone, the seabed, and resource exploitation platforms; and outer space, to include cislunar and lunar orbits. What might operations in these extreme environments look like? And what capabilities would be needed to sustain operations there? 

  • Nuclear Deterrence Acquisition

    How does the future Air Force Integrated Capability Development Command develop and field platforms that are both conventional and nuclear (like bombers and DCA)? How do they prioritize requirements for dual capable platforms?

  • Nuclear Deterrence Prioritization

    From security to survivability, which should  the Air Force prioritize first, nuclear weapons or nuclear delivery platforms? 

  • Operational Energy in Space

    How can we design and operate spacecraft that have fewer constraints and can sustain operations in space over longer time periods and with more effectiveness? (SAF/IEN)

  • Operationalizing the Drone Effect

    What are the effects, namely on fuel consumption, of substituting manned aircraft with RPAs? Which missions (e.g. ISR/Strike/EW/counter-UAS) in permissive/semi-contested environments can be accomplished with more fuel-efficient aircraft/RPAs? What are the additional benefits to various aircraft substitutions (e.g. increased fuel savings, enhanced mission capabilities, aircraft sustainment, etc.) (SAF/IEN)

  • Operations in Space

    Analyze various elements concerning the conduct of space operations. (SPOC/2SWS/DOC & 1 SOPS & USSF/45MSG) 

  • Options for AFGSC in Response to the Next Potential "Cuban Missile Crisis" in Space

    The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars signatories from placing "in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction." In recent months, reports have been made public that the United States believes Russia is developing a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon. The detonation of a nuclear weapon in space has the potential to disrupt not only military capabilities, but also commercial services all over the world. What actions should AFGSC be prepared for in the case that Russia rescinds themselves from the 1967 treaty and deploys these weapons in space? What can AFGSC do to proactively deter Russia from doing this? In the event that deterrence fails, are there any new assurances to allies that AFGSC is uniquely positioned to provide? Potential options might include fielding new capabilities, the declassification of current programs, and force posture adjustments. 

  • Organizational Structure of Space Force

    What are the optimum organizational structures for the US Space Force and US Space Command? (USSF) How can Space Organizational Constructs evolve to facilitate enterprise responsiveness and standardization? (HQ USSF S36RL)

  • Organizing & Training for Counter Small UAS Operations

    How should the AF organize and train appropriate operators and leaders (kinetic engagement authorities) to operate more complex C-sUAS/SHORAD-like capabilities in the future? (AFSFC/S3A)


  • Personnel in USSF

     (51 OSS & 50 OSS) 

     

  • Risks to the Strategic Domain of Space From An Ablation Cascade

    Nuclear Deterrence capabilities rely upon the domain of outer space, which is particularly vulnerable to an ablation cascade, also known as Kessler Syndrome, where an increasing series of collisions between objects can render the environment unsafe for further use. While space-faring nations have a vested interest to avoid such a scenario, non-space faring adversaries may find it useful for denying the United States strategic capabilities which operate in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). What are the risks of an adversary initiating an ablation cascade on the use of strategic assets in the domain of outer space? Are there any protective or mitigating measures that can be undertaken? Could a revision of the Outer Space Treaty include weapons or other devices to combat debris that are not technically armaments but pose an equivalent risk to satellites, the strategic use of space, and other human activities?

  • Role of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in JADO

    How can RPAs support JADO in the future? (319 Reconnaissance Wing)

     

  • Roles & Functions of USAF

    What are the future strategic opportunities and vulnerabilities that could impact the role and function of the USAF? How can they be addressed? What are new or expanded roles for the USAF? (HAF A5SM)

  • Safeguarding AFCYBER's Critical Infrastructure

    Analyze NIST-evaluated PQC algorithms in an AFCYBER operational context, with an emphasis on critical digital infrastructure. (688 CW)

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • SecAF's Operational Imperatives and CSAF's Future Operating Concept

    What is the impact of the new capabilities introduced in the OI's and new way of fighting in the Future Operating Concept? How will the USAF organizational structure adapt to support them? (HAF A5SM)

  • SOF’s Relationship with Space and Cyber

    What is the role of special operations in the cyber and space domains, to include the electromagnetic spectrum? How can SOF best work with space and cyber forces and capabilities within the DOD? What cyber and space capabilities are best suited for collaboration with SOF? What would supported and supporting relationships look like? Within SOF, is there a need to redefine what an ‘operator’ is in terms of space or cyber talent? How might SOF build relationships with patriotic civilian talent? 

    How can the SOE determine the degree of vulnerability of deployed SOF elements to adversary electromagnetic spectrum, space, and cyberspace threats? How can adversary electromagnetic spectrum, space, and cyberspace threat activity against deployed SOF be best illuminated? 

  • Space Acquisitions

    Examine various aspects of Space-related acquisitions. (USSF/S8ZX, 5 SLS-MSA, 7SWS/DO, SPOC/2SWS/DOC)

  • Space Debris

    Analyze various problems and potential solutions regarding the issue of space debris. (USSF/S8ZX & 50 SCS/CDCC)

  • Space Force & the "Warfighting" mindset

    How does the Space Force develop a "warfighting" mindset? Does the Space Force need a "warfighting" mindset?

  • Space Force Basing

    Analyze various aspects of the future of Space Force basing. (50 OSS)

  • Space Force Culture

    With the separation from the Air Force, the Space Force needs to establish its own identity and culture as a separate service branch. (ROPS, Museum Staff, 50 OSS & HQ USSF/SED) 

  • Space Operations Forces and SOF

    Should the SOE and U.S. Space Force explore options for employing a military force that can support diplomacy, information operations, and U.S. and allied partner economic interests on the moon and celestial bodies as a way to deter adversaries? If so, what would their core activities and mission sets be? Would such a force be ground-based, or would there be requirements to deploy into cislunar and lunar space? Does this future threat call for the development of SOF personnel who can operate in the austere and mentally taxing environment of space? Could SOF personnel from the different components be trained to perform core activities in the space domain? Could these SOF personnel form the beginnings of a U.S. Space Force SOF?

  • Space Professional/Safe or Responsible Behaviors

    What Space Professional/Safe or Responsible Behaviors are acceptable to FVEY+2? In what/which existing or “new” forum(s) these “norms” should be drafted and agreed upon? What form the behaviors will be codified by the participating nations (MOU, Treaty)? (USSF/S5I)

  • Space Situational Awareness

    Analyze the future of space situational awareness, especially in the light of new technological advances. (SPOC/DOO & SPCO/2SWS/DOC)

  • Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Space

    What existing/potential tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) validation methodologies are there in the intelligence community/commercial industry for Space? (50 SW Wing Weapons & Tactics)

  • Training of Space Professionals

    Development of space professionals from the Space Race to current times. (50 OSS)

  • US Space Policy

    Analyze various elements of US Space Policy (HQ USSF/SEK & HQ USSF/SEF & SPOC/2SWS/DOC)

  • US Statutory Constructs in Space/Space Guard

    How should the USSF leverage the total force construct in manning and executing its Title 10 mission? (USSF/NGB & JAO)

  • USAF Organizational Changes

    How should the USAF changes its organization to effectively adapt to the changing character of war? (HAF A5SM)

     

     

  • What Comes after the B61-12?

    The B61-12 is a welcome and much needed upgrade for the theater nuclear mission in USEUCOM and for US dual-capable aircraft - but it is not the end.  The US and NATO must start developing the next iteration of theater nuclear weapons now. 

  • What is the Russian concept of use for space and counter-space operations?

    Analyze the Russian concept of use for space and counter-space operations. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Are Nukes Still the Answer?

    Why should we still invest and employ nuclear weapons? No other country has shown the tangible will to utilize nuclear weapons. We all stay postured due to other countries Can we disarm to win? What would be the effect if the U.S. would be the first country to disarm?

  • Ballistic Missile Defense/Air Defense & Nuclear Proliferation

    What is the evolving role of Ballistic Missile Defense/Air Defense systems in a nuclear-proliferated environment? (HAF A5SM)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Nuclear Missions

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)



     

  • CNI--How to Integrate Conventional and Nuclear Munition on American Bomber and Fighter Aircraft

    Current US policy restricts the military from loading conventional and nuclear weapons on the same aircraft.  This old cold war practice does not fit into the modern warfare paradigm. 

  • Conflict Dynamics in Proliferated Environments

    How have the dynamics of conflict changed in regions where nuclear proliferation has already occurred? (HAF A5SM)

  • Consolidating X1/X2/X3 into single career field

    Should X1/X2/X3 be consolidated into a single career field in order to gain efficiencies and generalization for missile maintenance technicians? (20 AF)

  • Conventional Conflict's Impact On The Air Leg Of The Triad

    What are the effects of prolonged conventional conflict on the nuclear air leg capabilities? How credible will that deterrent be after engaging in a prolonged conventional conflict? (AF/A10C)

  • Conventional-Nuclear Integration Capabilities of US Allies

    With US allies operating alongside of US forces, what is the CNI proficiency and capabilities of U.S. allies? How would cooperation on CNI with allies impact deterrence? (AF/A10)

     

  • Cyber's Impact on Risk Mitigation and Integrated Deterrence

    How might offensive and defensive cyber capabilities be implemented into existing or new risk mitigation frameworks (e.g. arms control treaties and agreements) in order to manage strategic stability? (AF/A10)

  • Deterrence in Era of Nuclear Proliferation

    How has increased nuclear proliferation affected the deterrence strategies and postures of the US and regional powers? (HAF A5SM)

  • Deterrence in Post-Missile Age

    In a hypothetical scenario that Sentinel would be the country's last ICBM, what would US strategic deterrence look like in a post-ICBM age? (20 AF)

  • Deterrence in Space

    What potential uses of the latest space technologies can serve as deterrence? (50 OSS)

  • Disruptive Technology's Effect On Deterrence

    What effect does disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing have on deterrence? (AF/A10C)

  • Effectiveness of Extended Deterrence

    Is extended deterrence provided by tactical nuclear weapons worth the cost? (AF/A10)

  • Emerging Technology's Threat to Nuclear Assets

    What capabilities and intent do adversaries possess to utilize advanced technologies to hold AFGSC assets at increased risk? (AFGSC/A2)

  • EMP Effects on Nuclear Arsenal

    What are the effects of EMP on nuclear weapons? What can be done to mitigate risk? (20 AF)

  • Evolving Contexts of Deterrence

    Deterrence exists across multiple levels of society, and indeed is part of what regulates various aspects of social behavior. Within the national security context, the concept of deterrence has historically helped inform strategic decisions related to planning, investment, and policy.

  • Future of the 2W2 Career-Field in an Evolving Air Force

    AFGSC continues to expand the number of bases that will require 2W2 (Nuclear Weapon Technicians) with the arrival of the B-21.   USAFE has added location(s) that require more 2W2 personnel.   The 2W2 profession is in great demand in more locations.   The expansion, addition of new locations, further stretches the small career field.  This stretching and the AFPC/TRANSCOM tightening of PCSing will reduce the number of personnel who "cycle" through Missile Wing bases.   The fewer personnel who cycle through, the less "depth" the career field gains in technical expertise.   This is at a critical time in the history of the 20th AF during the Sentinel Transition.  

    Problem Statement:  Due to a greater demand of 2W2 personnel at more Bomber and Fighter bases worldwide, should the Nuclear Enterprise seek contract maintenance personnel to conduct routine maintenance at Missile Wing bases that solely support ICMBs and reallocate the finite quantity of active duty nuclear weapons technicians to bases with a nuclear flying mission?

  • Historical Forms of Strategic Risk Management

    Should U.S. negotiators focus on developing politically binding agreements to increase confidence building and/or transparency measures, similar to those nascent arms control agreements between the US and USSR in the early days of the Cold War? (AF/A10)

  • Hypersonic Messaging

    As the U.S. develops and fields hypersonic weapons, how should the U.S. message adversaries and allies about this new capability? (AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Dynamic Force Employment on Indo-Pacific Bomber Deterrence

    How can the U.S. optimize deterrence and assurance within the Bomber Task Force (BTF)/Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) construct? Shifting from Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), how can the U.S. increase its deterrence advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia? (AF/A10P & AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine on Nuclear Deterrence

    Do losses in conventional weaponry during the invasion of Ukraine push Russia to be more likely to use nuclear weapons in the future? (8 AF)

  • Impact of the loss of Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements

    What have been the effects of the loss of various Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Impact on Deterrence by Emerging Technology

    What impact would the emergence and global diffusion of technologies with the potential dual-military ability to deliver strategic effects (e.g., biotechnology) have on the United States deterrence posture? (AF/A10)

  • Improving Conventional and Nuclear Integration (CNI) in Wargaming

    Main Idea: 
    CNI is the ability of the join/combined force to recognize and survive the use of nuclear weapons, reconstitute critical capabilities, and plan and execute integrated multi domain conventional and nuclear combat operations in, around, and through a nuclear environment. This includes ensuring protection and resilience of nuclear command, control, and communication (NC3), through multi-domain operations.  CNI enables the U.S. to continue conventional combat operations in a nuclear effects environment.
    Full Abstract/Description:
    The Joint Force, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and especially Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) must develop concepts of operations tailored to its forces to successfully operate in a nuclear environment. Wargaming provides the opportunity to consider how to prosecute a future conflict with a peer adversary at the conventional level while preparing for the risk of nuclear escalation and prosecuting conventional and nuclear operations simultaneously in a threat environment. It also helps to address gaps and seams in existing doctrine, guidance, tactics, techniques, and procedures.  
    Research Questions:
    How can the Joint Force, USAF, and AFGSC use wargaming to address the following shortfalls in knowledge and capability development to support CNI operations? 
    What are the operational seams/gaps between simultaneous conventional/nuclear execution?
    What are the implications to a nuclear force generation in a stressed environment?
    Are there limiting factors and mitigating strategies for mobile support team (MST) requirements and other stressors on available resources (operations, maintenance, security) during the execution of CNI operations?
    What potential C2 and NC3 issues would exist within a stressed conventional and nuclear environment and how can they be mitigated or overcome?
    Will there be access to key enabling forces during execution of near-simultaneous nuclear and conventional missions in the same geographical area such as tankers, ISR, airlift, etc?
    Justification:
    Various wargames (Futures Game, Global Engagement, etc) have been conducted at the conventional level that have nuclear excursions; however, they have usually been tasked only at investigating strategic decisions and have not been an all-encompassing study that provides actionable data on CNI that can drive programmatic and mission planning. A wargame that is exclusively focused on CNI and its implications in a peer conventional conflict would be applicable for future planning for modernization for both private industry and government.
    Study Will Inform: 
    This study will inform USSTRATCOM, A5/8/10, DTRA, RAND, AFGSC, AFSTRAT, HAF A5/8/10, AETC, ACC, AMC , or any other DOD or US Government agency that could potentially support CNI. The outcomes will advance AFGSC/CC vision, develop nuclear leaders, and further AFGSC strategy and potential force structure with lessons learned that feed AFGSC strategic studies. It will also support deterrence/assurance by demonstrating willingness to study nuclear issues. Participation in wargaming community leads to inclusion of deterrence/assurance objectives in other wargames and acts as a catalyst to mature nuclear analytical models/studies.

  • Influence of conventional arms on nuclear deterrence

    How do advanced, long-range conventional weapons fit into the nuclear spectrum and what influence do they have on an adversary's willingness to escalate a conflict? (AFGSC/A2)

  • Influence of Operational Tempo on Nuclear Deterrence

    AI, multi-domain C3BM, and non-kinetic weapons (especially effects at a distance) are allowing an increase in the tempo of decision making and operational tempo. How will the speed of conflict and decision making influence decisions to use nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence?  

     

  • Integrated Deterrence

    Integrated deterrence is the alignment of the DOD’s “policies, investments, and activities to sustain and strengthen deterrence— tailored to specific competitors and coordinated to maximum effect inside and outside the Department,” in order to address competitors’ “holistic strategies that employ varied forms of coercion, malign behavior, and aggression to achieve their objectives and weaken the foundation of a stable and open international system.”5 Are there operational, fiscal, and legal authorities and permissions which need to be changed or created in order for SOF to be effective in integrated deterrence?

    Within the DOD, what is SOF’s role for global and theater integrated deterrence, campaigning, and engagement? How can SOF best contribute to whole-of-government integrated deterrence efforts? How can integrated deterrence operations be tailored to different states and regions? Are there specific allies and partners in each region that should be the focus of integrated deterrence efforts? How can SOF prioritize which states to focus on within a regional integrated deterrence campaign? Might long-term irregular warfare campaigning contribute to integrated deterrence and optimize allied and partner participation as part of global collective security?

    Where does nuclear deterrence fit into integrated deterrence, and what is SOF’s role in nuclear deterrence? How do SOF communicate U.S. counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) policy, and how can the CWMD mission fit into SOF’s overall strategy with partners, allies, and neutrals? 

  • Integration & Building Multi-Capable Airmen in the Nuclear Enterprise for Great Power Competition

    Current CONOPs for Sentinel Integrated Command Centers (ICC) and Integrated Training Facilities (ITF) for the Missile Wings are being devised without integrating one of the key critical nuclear AFSCs, our 1C3s.  This is happening as our CSAF is calling for establishing an NC3 Wing, establishing an Integrated Capabilities Command to "develop competitive operational concepts" and "integrated requirements" to "align with force design" and for structuring our operational wings to execute the mission with assigned airmen and units.  Our previous CSAF called for "multi-capable" airmen.  Each Missile wing is assigned ~15 1C3s.  Are we adequately integrating them into the next era of nuclear deterrence or are we neglecting an opportunity to leverage this substantial manpower to further integrate all assigned airmen into the AFGSC nuclear mission?           Ideally, CP Controllers would be nested in the ICC with the other controllers/operators (MMOC/MSC/Ops) to enable better/quicker C2 to ensure timeliness and accuracy. Picture 1C3 and 13N professionals operating side-by-side in a Wing ICC EA Cell much like they do in our strategic command centers, capitalizing on the different skill sets and assigned/available manning to support the OPLAN.  Not to mention optimizing our human capital development through increased crosstalk and shared responsibility.             Finally, who else is missing from true integration?  Where are the helos?  To paraphrase Col Hundley (90 MW/CD) during a recent 90 MW Sentinel Working Group Meeting, if we are missing [insert Helos, CP, other], are we really integrated?                                            

  • International Atomic Energy Agency & Nuclear Proliferation

    How has the International Atomic Energy Agency's focus and charter changed over the last 60 years? (AFTAC)

  • Logistic and Resupply Operations in a Chemical or Radiological Environment

    Is the Air Force prepared to continue critical logistics and re-supply operations despite the presence of a chemical or radiological hazard? What logistics strategies and guidance will enable the U.S. to achieve success in even the most austere environments available? (AF/A10S)

  • Next-Generation Missile Operators

    Given the potential changes in the future strategic environment, what impact would this have on the development of missileers? Should current developmental programs remain the same for Sentinel operators? (20 AF)

  • No First Use Policy

     What impact would a US policy of "No First Use" have on our allies and our extended deterrence commitments?  Would such a policy cause a change in force structure? (8 AF)

  • Nuclear Deterrence Acquisition

    How does the future Air Force Integrated Capability Development Command develop and field platforms that are both conventional and nuclear (like bombers and DCA)? How do they prioritize requirements for dual capable platforms?

  • Nuclear Deterrence Education

    How do we better educate the Defense Enterprise, at all levels, on the nuclear requirements process, from AFI 63-125 certification requirements to USSTRATCOM OPLAN requirements and required platform capability? How should the Air Force and DoD educate Air Force General Officers on the Nuclear Enterprise, from OPLAN requirements, to mission sets, stockpile management, and generation activities?

  • Nuclear Deterrence Prioritization

    From security to survivability, which should  the Air Force prioritize first, nuclear weapons or nuclear delivery platforms? 

  • Nuclear Issues in Strategic Competition

    The rise of strategic competition as the defining feature of the contemporary strategic environment has renewed the discussion of the threats posed by nuclear states. China, Russia, and North Korea are all nuclear powers, and Iran has aspirations in this area. Yet each of these states poses different nuclear weapons risks. Within its counterweapons of mass destruction mandate, how can SOF best understand and prepare against the most likely and most dangerous threats emanating from these disparate states? What could appropriate responses look like against a wide variety of nuclear threats?

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on Foreign Militaries

    How has greater nuclear proliferation impacted third actors' military programs, particularly their nuclear initiatives? (HAF A5SM)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on US Military Capabilities

    What are the potential effects of increased nuclear proliferation on the US military's ability to accomplish its missions? (HAF A5SM)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's impact on US National Security Policy

    How has increased nuclear proliferation impacted the execution of US national security policy? (HAF A5SM)

  • Options for AFGSC in Response to the Next Potential "Cuban Missile Crisis" in Space

    The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars signatories from placing "in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction." In recent months, reports have been made public that the United States believes Russia is developing a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon. The detonation of a nuclear weapon in space has the potential to disrupt not only military capabilities, but also commercial services all over the world. What actions should AFGSC be prepared for in the case that Russia rescinds themselves from the 1967 treaty and deploys these weapons in space? What can AFGSC do to proactively deter Russia from doing this? In the event that deterrence fails, are there any new assurances to allies that AFGSC is uniquely positioned to provide? Potential options might include fielding new capabilities, the declassification of current programs, and force posture adjustments. 

  • P5 Arms Control

    Could Washington leverage the P5 forum to open the aperture for strategic stability dialogues with Russia and China? (AF/A10)

  • Potential for Integrated Deterrence

    Why have strategic nuclear forces failed to deter some aspects of conventional aggression in the recent past? Would integrated deterrence architectures involving other capabilities (e.g., space, cyber, hypersonics, AI) better address concerns around theater-level conventional aggression? What would need to be included in future integrated deterrence strategies to deter conventional aggression? (AF/A10)

  • Prioritization of Requirements for Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI)

    With limited resources, what Air Force actions should be prioritized to ensure compliance with Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) while maintaining operational proficiency? (AF/A10P)

  • Priority of Hard and Deeply Buried Target Defeat

    What priority should a Hard and Deeply Buried Target (HDBT) defeat capability take within U.S. nuclear strategy? How important is it that U.S. nuclear forces continue to be able to deny adversary sanctuary and hold critical protected targets at risk for each of these countries? Is there any potential adversary that finds this capability either critically influential or irrelevant in their decision calculus? What role should an HDBT defeat capability play, if any, in U.S. employment strategy? (AF/A10C)

  • Reestablishing Nuclear Surety Culture at Previous Nuclear Installations

    Installations responsible for the initial beddown of the B-21 will face immense cultural challenges in the transition from a purely conventional outlook to one that embraces the unnegotiable tenets of nuclear surety, in conjunction with conventional taskings. The requisite expertise does not currently exist organically in the affected wings, particularly in areas of training, education, personnel, and most importantly, leadership. AFGSC and the nuclear enterprise writ large much reframe their approach to addressing these shortcomings in a comprehensive, deliberate manner to ensure a robust cultural foundation of nuclear surety to guarantee the continued credibility of sixth-generation nuclear weapons systems like the B-21.

  • Risks to the Strategic Domain of Space From An Ablation Cascade

    Nuclear Deterrence capabilities rely upon the domain of outer space, which is particularly vulnerable to an ablation cascade, also known as Kessler Syndrome, where an increasing series of collisions between objects can render the environment unsafe for further use. While space-faring nations have a vested interest to avoid such a scenario, non-space faring adversaries may find it useful for denying the United States strategic capabilities which operate in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). What are the risks of an adversary initiating an ablation cascade on the use of strategic assets in the domain of outer space? Are there any protective or mitigating measures that can be undertaken? Could a revision of the Outer Space Treaty include weapons or other devices to combat debris that are not technically armaments but pose an equivalent risk to satellites, the strategic use of space, and other human activities?

  • Road-Mobile ICBM system

    Does the US need to develop a road-mobile ICBM system as part of its nuclear arsenal? (8 AF)

  • Russian Views on Deterrence, Escalation Management & Conflict Termination

    What are the Russian views and theories of deterrence, escalation management, and conflict termination? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • Should NATO/US Reposition or Add Nuclear Weapons to Poland to Improve Deterrence Position?

    Poland has signalled that they are willing to host nuclear weapons if requested to do so by NATO, but is there any advantage to be gained by doing so? What military/political tactical/strategic implications would there be to having nuclear weapons closer to Belarus/Kaliningrad/Russia?

  • Size of Future Nuclear Force

    What does the nuclear force of the future need to look like in order to ensure deterrence holds in the current strategic environment? (AF/A10) 

  • Technological Innovation & Integrated Deterrence

    How should the DOD and AF pursue and message technology innovation to support integrated deterrence in the NDS?  (AFNWC)

  • Trilateral Nuclear Arms

    What are the key elements of a possible trilateral nuclear arms control treaty that will maximize the value of the U.S. nuclear deterrent and enhance U.S. national security?

  • U.S. High Yield Weapon Strategy

    Should the U.S. have a requirement for a high-yield nuclear weapon (1 Megaton or 5 Megatons, or higher) beyond physical target damage requirements? (AF/A10C)

  • U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Posture and Effectiveness Without Nuclear Arms Control

    How might a U.S. withdrawal and renegotiation of nuclear-based treaties impact U.S. deterrence strategy and force posture against nuclear adversaries? How might this impact the U.S. extended deterrence strategy and force posture in support of allies? (AF/A10P)

  • What Comes after the B61-12?

    The B61-12 is a welcome and much needed upgrade for the theater nuclear mission in USEUCOM and for US dual-capable aircraft - but it is not the end.  The US and NATO must start developing the next iteration of theater nuclear weapons now. 

  • What is the Russian concept for use of nuclear forces?

    What is the Russian concept for the use of nuclear forces? (Strategic and tactical) (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM)) 

  • World Economic Policies Impact on US Nuclear Deterrence

    What happens to US nuclear deterrence strategies if other countries abandon the US Dollar as their reserve currency? (AF/A10)

  • Worldwide Deployable Dual-Capable Aircraft in Extended Deterrence

    How would the capability to deploy DCA worldwide affect extended deterrence?  (AF/A10)

  • "Cyber threat-based mission assurance” as a service

    End-to-end cyber surety from penetration testing, fixing discovered vulnerabilities, and optimizing defensive cyber operations as one integrated entity and unit of action. What authorities, responsibilities, and resources would need to be realigned and where would that realignment best be suited? (ACC/A6O)

  • ‘Integration’ in combined force

    What does ‘integration’ mean for a combined force? (AF Futures)

  • AFCENT MICAP Velocity

    As transportation priority and supply priority are not always the same for MICAPs, is there a possibility to connect the two into one overall priority? (87 LRS)

  • Allied and Partner assumptions in Concept Development

    How are allied and partner assumptions considered and managed in USAF and Joint concept development and experimentation? (AFWIC)

  • Artificial Intelligence analyzing forensic data and patterns of life

    Can AI be harnessed to analyze forensic data and patterns of life to assist the ISRD in building ISR packages? Can it analyze real-time data to assist re-tasking of existing assets in theater? (319 RW)

  • Artificial Intelligence in Warplans

    What is the impact of artificial intelligence or intelligent automation in the development of real-time generated war plans? (HQ USSF/S59/ACT)

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning in Misinformation and Disinformation

    Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to include the widespread promulgation of easily accessible large language models (LLM), appear to be ushering in a new era of misinformation and disinformation. What impact will AI/ML have on the speed at which misinformation and disinformation can be created and spread? What AI/ML-enabled capabilities can promote resistance to disinformation? How can we counter adversarial messaging that utilizes LLM? 

    What are the training and education requirements for the use of AI/ML within SOF? How can SOF practitioners leverage AI/ ML and other new technology at the individual and small-unit levels? Does the rise of AI/ML affect the skillsets needed at both individual and organizational levels to conduct the Information joint function? Within the SOE and SOF, how do you develop resiliency to misinformation and disinformation? How can SOF capabilities such as psychological operations best utilize AI/ML and LLMs? How can we use commercial off-the-shelf technology to promote resiliency to misinformation and disinformation both with U.S. SOF and our partners and allies? 

  • Battlefield Airman for Duty in the Pacific AOR

    Better Trained and Equipped Battlefield Airman (TACP, CCT, etc.) for Duty in the Pacific AOR (PACAF/A9L)

  • C2 in Space

    Is the Air Operations Center the proper command and control structure for space superiority? (SPOC/2SWS/DOC) What is the proper structure and organizational architecture to command and control space forces to provide the NCA, USSPACECOM, and the other COCOMs the space capabilities and effects they desire to achieve their objectives and end states? (USSPACECOM) Is it possible to unify military and civilian C2 networks to gain resiliency and efficiency and be ready to engage in a space conflict? If so, how? (22 SOPS)

  • CNI--How to Integrate Conventional and Nuclear Munition on American Bomber and Fighter Aircraft

    Current US policy restricts the military from loading conventional and nuclear weapons on the same aircraft.  This old cold war practice does not fit into the modern warfare paradigm. 

  • Command Relationships in JADO

    What are the command relationship implications of JADO?

  • Converging Allies and Partner Data into the DAF Data Fabric

    How can data/information from our Allies and Partners be woven into the Department of the Air Force's data fabric? (16 AF)

  • Coordination and Collaboration

    The genesis of the great power competition has created an operational environment that demands a greater collaboration/ synthesis between SOF and the interagency (including the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID], allies, and partners) to enable future SRR. Should the current SOF Liaison Network include specific training for SRR activities? How can the SOF Liaison Network to the interagency be more integrated and responsive to the collective threat across geographic commands and Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs)? Is the current global SOF network optimal and organized to support future SRR? What is the most appropriate global SOF network configuration to support SRR from an allied/U.S. Department of State perspective? What lessons can be drawn from the global war on terror about allied approaches that can be repurposed for SRR? Should the relationship with allies and partners be coordinated or institutionally integrated?

  • Counter Drone Operational Art and Practice

    What counter-drone strategies have been adopted to increase force protection, deny adversary surveillance, and attack through the employment of drones? (JSOU) 

  • Cyber Survivability of Air Force Weapon Systems

    How can we prioritize and streamline cyber survivability efforts for the Air Force and ultimately mitigate these threats as mandated by Congress through the Joint Staff and executed by Program Management Offices? (70 ISRW)

  • Cyber Threats Against Air Mobility Operations and Forces

    What are the cyber threats (and countermeasures) that are specific to AMC operations? (423 MTS)

  • Cyber-Awareness Training model for ISR Collection Managers (CMs)

    Develop a cyber-awareness training model for ISR Collection Managers (CMs) that provides foundational training but builds upon existing knowledge in a meaningful way and can demonstrate greater cyber awareness. (ACC/A22C)

  • Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts

    How can the AF gain strategic, operational, and tactical advantages over peer and near-peer competitors in future conflicts leveraging Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts to effectively identify, characterize, defend against, and respond to cyber-threats and attacks across all AFIN enclaves, coupled with advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing? (ACC/A6O)

  • Cyber's Impact on Risk Mitigation and Integrated Deterrence

    How might offensive and defensive cyber capabilities be implemented into existing or new risk mitigation frameworks (e.g. arms control treaties and agreements) in order to manage strategic stability? (AF/A10)

  • Cyberspace Awareness/Operations Sensors

    Can we improve cyberspace awareness by improving the management of “operations” sensors and their ability to enhance the staff analytics supporting decision-making and execution? (CO-IPE (STRAT))

  • Data Convergence/Analytics

    How can data tools drive analytical collaboration at the tactical level, and create white space for decision makers to maintain a decision advantage across the conflict continuum? (480 ISRW)

  • Developing Cyberspace Infrastructure Terrain Subject Matter Expertise

    As the AF looks to defend static, adaptive, and expeditionary bases, does the USAF need in terms of developing cyberspace infrastructure terrain (POL, power, etc) subject matter expertise?  (ACC/A2)

  • Disposition of Forces (DOF) Consolidation

    How do we optimize the dissemination, visualization, storage, and cataloging of battlespace characterization data and Disposition of Forces (DOF) production? (480 ISRG)

  • Effectively Assessing OAI Impacts to PRC behavior

    PACAF requires analysis to help develop methodologies to accurately, succinctly, and effectively capture the cumulative impacts of Operations, Activities, and Investments (OAI) over time on PRC perceptions and behaviors and PACAF desired objectives. (PACAF/A303)

     

  • Establishing Flexible Logistics

    The CSAF is looking for “initiatives focused on more agile, resilient, and survivable energy logistics—from bulk strategic supplies to deliveries at the tactical edge.” 

  • Future Battle Networks

    Analyze potential developments in battle networks as integrated systems of sensors, analytics, and strike.  (HAF A5SM)

  • Future of the 2W2 Career-Field in an Evolving Air Force

    AFGSC continues to expand the number of bases that will require 2W2 (Nuclear Weapon Technicians) with the arrival of the B-21.   USAFE has added location(s) that require more 2W2 personnel.   The 2W2 profession is in great demand in more locations.   The expansion, addition of new locations, further stretches the small career field.  This stretching and the AFPC/TRANSCOM tightening of PCSing will reduce the number of personnel who "cycle" through Missile Wing bases.   The fewer personnel who cycle through, the less "depth" the career field gains in technical expertise.   This is at a critical time in the history of the 20th AF during the Sentinel Transition.  

    Problem Statement:  Due to a greater demand of 2W2 personnel at more Bomber and Fighter bases worldwide, should the Nuclear Enterprise seek contract maintenance personnel to conduct routine maintenance at Missile Wing bases that solely support ICMBs and reallocate the finite quantity of active duty nuclear weapons technicians to bases with a nuclear flying mission?

  • Government-Wide Data Sharing

    What are the current effective methods of data sharing across the various government agencies and how can these methods be improved? (AFTAC)

  • Historical Battle Networks

    Analyze battle networks as integrated systems of sensors, analytics, and strike, including their evolution, effectiveness in previous conflicts. (HAF A5SM)

  • Historical C2 lessons for JADC2

    What historical C2 lessons are relevant for the JADC2 construct?

  • Impact of Autonomous Systems on Multinational Air Operations

    How will the rise of autonomous systems affect multinational air operations? (AFWIC)

  • Impact of Private Cellular Networks for Unmanned Systems C2

    How does the industry shift of utilizing high-density consumer and private cellular bands for control and communications affect military counter-drone technology and capabilities? (20 AF)

  • Improving Conventional and Nuclear Integration (CNI) in Wargaming

    Main Idea: 
    CNI is the ability of the join/combined force to recognize and survive the use of nuclear weapons, reconstitute critical capabilities, and plan and execute integrated multi domain conventional and nuclear combat operations in, around, and through a nuclear environment. This includes ensuring protection and resilience of nuclear command, control, and communication (NC3), through multi-domain operations.  CNI enables the U.S. to continue conventional combat operations in a nuclear effects environment.
    Full Abstract/Description:
    The Joint Force, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and especially Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) must develop concepts of operations tailored to its forces to successfully operate in a nuclear environment. Wargaming provides the opportunity to consider how to prosecute a future conflict with a peer adversary at the conventional level while preparing for the risk of nuclear escalation and prosecuting conventional and nuclear operations simultaneously in a threat environment. It also helps to address gaps and seams in existing doctrine, guidance, tactics, techniques, and procedures.  
    Research Questions:
    How can the Joint Force, USAF, and AFGSC use wargaming to address the following shortfalls in knowledge and capability development to support CNI operations? 
    What are the operational seams/gaps between simultaneous conventional/nuclear execution?
    What are the implications to a nuclear force generation in a stressed environment?
    Are there limiting factors and mitigating strategies for mobile support team (MST) requirements and other stressors on available resources (operations, maintenance, security) during the execution of CNI operations?
    What potential C2 and NC3 issues would exist within a stressed conventional and nuclear environment and how can they be mitigated or overcome?
    Will there be access to key enabling forces during execution of near-simultaneous nuclear and conventional missions in the same geographical area such as tankers, ISR, airlift, etc?
    Justification:
    Various wargames (Futures Game, Global Engagement, etc) have been conducted at the conventional level that have nuclear excursions; however, they have usually been tasked only at investigating strategic decisions and have not been an all-encompassing study that provides actionable data on CNI that can drive programmatic and mission planning. A wargame that is exclusively focused on CNI and its implications in a peer conventional conflict would be applicable for future planning for modernization for both private industry and government.
    Study Will Inform: 
    This study will inform USSTRATCOM, A5/8/10, DTRA, RAND, AFGSC, AFSTRAT, HAF A5/8/10, AETC, ACC, AMC , or any other DOD or US Government agency that could potentially support CNI. The outcomes will advance AFGSC/CC vision, develop nuclear leaders, and further AFGSC strategy and potential force structure with lessons learned that feed AFGSC strategic studies. It will also support deterrence/assurance by demonstrating willingness to study nuclear issues. Participation in wargaming community leads to inclusion of deterrence/assurance objectives in other wargames and acts as a catalyst to mature nuclear analytical models/studies.

  • Improving integrations with US allies and partners

    Why should/shouldn’t the United States Air Force devote effort and resources to improving integrations with its allies and partners? (AF Futures)

  • Influence of Operational Tempo on Nuclear Deterrence

    AI, multi-domain C3BM, and non-kinetic weapons (especially effects at a distance) are allowing an increase in the tempo of decision making and operational tempo. How will the speed of conflict and decision making influence decisions to use nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence?  

     

  • Information - A Joint Function

    What are the Air Force implications for Information being designed as a joint function by the Chairman? Is the emerging service concept of information warfare distinct from information operations as defined by Joint Publication 1-2? If so, how? (ACC/A2)

  • In-Space Logistics

    Analysis of in-space logistics. (HQ USSF S36RL)

  • Integrated Deterrence

    Integrated deterrence is the alignment of the DOD’s “policies, investments, and activities to sustain and strengthen deterrence— tailored to specific competitors and coordinated to maximum effect inside and outside the Department,” in order to address competitors’ “holistic strategies that employ varied forms of coercion, malign behavior, and aggression to achieve their objectives and weaken the foundation of a stable and open international system.”5 Are there operational, fiscal, and legal authorities and permissions which need to be changed or created in order for SOF to be effective in integrated deterrence?

    Within the DOD, what is SOF’s role for global and theater integrated deterrence, campaigning, and engagement? How can SOF best contribute to whole-of-government integrated deterrence efforts? How can integrated deterrence operations be tailored to different states and regions? Are there specific allies and partners in each region that should be the focus of integrated deterrence efforts? How can SOF prioritize which states to focus on within a regional integrated deterrence campaign? Might long-term irregular warfare campaigning contribute to integrated deterrence and optimize allied and partner participation as part of global collective security?

    Where does nuclear deterrence fit into integrated deterrence, and what is SOF’s role in nuclear deterrence? How do SOF communicate U.S. counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) policy, and how can the CWMD mission fit into SOF’s overall strategy with partners, allies, and neutrals? 

  • Integration & Building Multi-Capable Airmen in the Nuclear Enterprise for Great Power Competition

    Current CONOPs for Sentinel Integrated Command Centers (ICC) and Integrated Training Facilities (ITF) for the Missile Wings are being devised without integrating one of the key critical nuclear AFSCs, our 1C3s.  This is happening as our CSAF is calling for establishing an NC3 Wing, establishing an Integrated Capabilities Command to "develop competitive operational concepts" and "integrated requirements" to "align with force design" and for structuring our operational wings to execute the mission with assigned airmen and units.  Our previous CSAF called for "multi-capable" airmen.  Each Missile wing is assigned ~15 1C3s.  Are we adequately integrating them into the next era of nuclear deterrence or are we neglecting an opportunity to leverage this substantial manpower to further integrate all assigned airmen into the AFGSC nuclear mission?           Ideally, CP Controllers would be nested in the ICC with the other controllers/operators (MMOC/MSC/Ops) to enable better/quicker C2 to ensure timeliness and accuracy. Picture 1C3 and 13N professionals operating side-by-side in a Wing ICC EA Cell much like they do in our strategic command centers, capitalizing on the different skill sets and assigned/available manning to support the OPLAN.  Not to mention optimizing our human capital development through increased crosstalk and shared responsibility.             Finally, who else is missing from true integration?  Where are the helos?  To paraphrase Col Hundley (90 MW/CD) during a recent 90 MW Sentinel Working Group Meeting, if we are missing [insert Helos, CP, other], are we really integrated?                                            

  • Intel Fusion

    Can we develop a repeatable process for developing cross-functional Analysis and Exploitation Teams that are capable of producing high-quality reports that meet Theater Joint Force Air Component Commander requirements within three months of initial team establishment? (480 ISRW)

  • Intelligence in Strategic Competition

    Since the Office of Strategic Services in WWII, intelligence and SOF have had a closely linked history. How have the last two decades shaped the way the SOF intelligence practitioner thinks about intelligence? Within strategic competition, are there new intelligence challenges that SOF is unaccustomed to? If so, how should SOF prepare for those new challenges? Who is the SOF intelligence practitioner needed for strategic competition? How do you cultivate strategic foresight in the SOF practitioner to have the acuity, awareness, and intuition to provide strategic intelligence? How do you distinguish between business-focused and national security-focused adversarial intelligence collection? With the rise of strategic competition, do SOF need to be more counterintelligence focused? Alternatively, does the culture of secrecy surrounding intelligence and SOF hamper SOF practitioners in providing strategic intelligence estimates? 

  • Intelligence Production in Agile Combat Employment

    What LLM solutions can be used to develop methods, processes, applications, capabilities, etc. enabling rapid production at scale to meet future demands associated with the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept? (363 ISRW)

  • Irregular and Unconventional Warfare Campaigning

    The SOE has renewed its focus on irregular and unconventional warfare. How can SOF better understand, articulate, and operationalize irregular and unconventional warfare campaigns? What is the relationship between irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, security force assistance, and security cooperation? How can SOF and conventional forces best work together in these areas? Are there gaps in our knowledge of how to carry out irregular and unconventional warfare campaigning? Does current SOF training and education about these types of warfare need to be updated? Have new technologies like satellite and internet communication and inexpensive, highly capable weapons, such as remotely piloted vehicles, caused changes in the ways in which irregular and unconventional warfare can be carried out, or do operational and strategic concepts remain the same? Can SOF’s recent experiences with counter-violent extremist organizations (CVEO) operations provide ideas for how to disrupt adversarial actors? 

    Within irregular warfare, what is a ‘win’? Is ‘win’ the right framing term? What conditions will aid/impede winning? Is it possible to win without fighting? What is the SOF role within irregular warfare? How does that role vary based on geography, adversary, level of conflict, and other variables? Within an environment of strategic competition, how can SOF identify, train, and coordinate networks to deny, degrade, and influence adversary irregular warfare efforts? Historically, when has unconventional warfare been effective in coercing, disrupting, and overthrowing regimes? How does unconventional warfare campaigning interact, or conflict, with concepts of strategic competition and strategic patience? Does the time required for a successful unconventional warfare campaign hinder its ability to be coordinated with conventional warfare campaigns? If so, how can this be mitigated? 

    Security cooperation, to include security assistance and foreign internal defense, has a role to play within both irregular and unconventional warfare. What is SOF’s role in security cooperation, and how can SOF best integrate or coordinate with conventional forces engaged in security cooperation in the same theater? Are there changes required to security cooperation authorities and practices for SOF? What are ways in which adversaries have, or might seek to, hinder security cooperation efforts? 


     

  • JADC2 - Coalition & Interagency Partners

    What does JADC2 mean for coalition and interagency partners? How can the Joint Force address the classification challenges of operations across domains with interagency partners and coalition partners?

  • JADC2 Headquarters

    Should it be a centralized or decentralized headquarters? Should the CAOC be forward-deployed or CONUS-based? Should component headquarters be co-located? How can we disperse the functions and personnel but keep the high-end C2 available to execute Airpower doctrinally (centralized controlled and decentralized execution)? (PACAF/CC)

  • JADC2 Training/Education

    Should JADC2 become a career field in its own right, with specialized training and qualifications?

  • JADO - Centralization vs Decentralization

    What impact will JADO have for decentralized execution/tactical initiative? How does the USAF move from centralized command and decentralized execution? How can we go about pushing down authority and responsibility to the lowest level? (PACAF/CC)

  • JADO - Essential Information Requirements

    What are the essential information requirements for JADO? How does JADC2 overcome the problem of multiple incompatible networks that are used in contemporary C2?

  • JADO - Space Force

    How do we integrate the Space Force into JADO?

  • JADO Mission Orders

    What do mission-type orders look like in JADO?

  • Joint Cyber Command and Control (JCC2) integration into Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2)

    What is the best strategy for Joint Cyber Command and Control (JCC2) integration into Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2)? Explore and expound upon risk to mission/ forces, redundancy vs resiliency, and tools required. Determine resourcing requirements as a function of scale. (ACC/A5K)

  • Language proficiency for Cryptologic Language Analysts

    Can full-time Distance Learning (DL) be an effective foreign language acquisition training medium for Cryptologic Language Analysts (CLA) who have already demonstrated a strong record of proficiency in at least one DoD-trained foreign language? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Leadership in JADO

    For successful to JADO, how and when should a joint culture be inculcated into military leaders?

  • Logistic and Resupply Operations in a Chemical or Radiological Environment

    Is the Air Force prepared to continue critical logistics and re-supply operations despite the presence of a chemical or radiological hazard? What logistics strategies and guidance will enable the U.S. to achieve success in even the most austere environments available? (AF/A10S)

  • Manage, training and equipping for JADO

    How does the USAF manage, train and equip for JADO?

  • Mission Risk Reduction for Security Mitigation Efforts

    What is a model that clearly depicts mission risk reduction in relation to resources expended (cost, time, man-hours) for security mitigation efforts (STIG/patches/configurations/etc) allowing the mission owner and Authorizing Officials the ability to defend decisions to monitor but not mitigate risks that may have no demonstrated activities or clearly do not provide impact to the overall mission security if implemented? (ACC/A6O)

  • National ROE in Mosaic Warfighting Concept

    How will a mosaic warfighting concept account for national ROE in a near-peer conflict? (AFWIC)

  • Novel Operating Environments

    Based on trends in the geostrategic environment, advances in technologies that allow SOF greater maneuver and capabilities in extreme environments, and the evolving role of the DOD as part of national security, what might SOF’s new roles and missions be, as part of the Joint Force, in novel operational environments? Such environments could include: the polar regions and approaches; areas of extreme heat and humidity too severe for normal human tolerance; the open ocean, to include all layers of the pelagic zone, the seabed, and resource exploitation platforms; and outer space, to include cislunar and lunar orbits. What might operations in these extreme environments look like? And what capabilities would be needed to sustain operations there? 

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on US Military Capabilities

    What are the potential effects of increased nuclear proliferation on the US military's ability to accomplish its missions? (HAF A5SM)

  • Operational Assessment in the Information Environment

    Given the complexities of human behavior and decision-making, how should the joint force approach operational assessment in the information environment? How can the Air Force enable that approach through the application of new tradecraft, data science, behavioral analysis, and sensors? (16 AF)

  • Operationalizing Strategic Influence and Information

    The term ‘strategic influence’ is utilized to describe how SOF can project soft power around the globe. How can we measure strategic influence? Who are we seeking to influence? What are we seeking to achieve with influence? Influence to do what, and for what ends? What does strategic influence imply in terms of military strategy? How do measures of strategic influence inform operational design? What does success in achieving a strategic influence end state look like, and how can it be measured? How can SOF set objectives for influence, and how can SOF’s objectives be nested within larger USG strategic influence initiatives?

    Information has a critical role to play within strategic competition. Words are powerful, and our messages affect both our friends and our adversaries. What is the relationship between information and influence? If information is a form of power, what does that imply for the strategic pursuit of influence? How can SOF achieve information advantage throughout the competition continuum? How can SOF better understand, apply, and integrate information across operations to achieve strategic influence objectives? How can information strategies be tailored to address mission-specific needs? What is the balance between attributable and nonattributable operations, and which would provide the highest probability of success while minimizing political and operational risk? How can SOF address risk aversion to information activities? 

    What are the best methods/practices to assess the effects of operations in the information environment? How do we measure and assess results from information operations and campaigns, and how do we communicate these results to stakeholders/authorities? What types of organizational structures and resourcing would best set the conditions to integrate information and influence efforts across SOF; the Services; and joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational, and commercial (JIIM-C) partners? Are there capability gaps across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) that need to be addressed? How can SOF work with centers such as the Global Engagement Center, Joint Military Information Support Operations Web Operations Center, and the NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence to enhance strategic influence operations? 

    A component of strategic influence is credibility. How can SOF build and maintain persistent and meaningful relationships with relevant partners and allies? How can USSOCOM minimize the disconnect between rhetoric and reality? What are the implications of a words and deeds mismatch? How can SOF contribute to building USG credibility? How do you achieve balance between accountability and ‘speed of need’ when seeking influence? In addition to efforts to build strategic influence, how can SOF counter adversarial strategic influence efforts?


     

  • Operationalizing the Drone Effect

    What are the effects, namely on fuel consumption, of substituting manned aircraft with RPAs? Which missions (e.g. ISR/Strike/EW/counter-UAS) in permissive/semi-contested environments can be accomplished with more fuel-efficient aircraft/RPAs? What are the additional benefits to various aircraft substitutions (e.g. increased fuel savings, enhanced mission capabilities, aircraft sustainment, etc.) (SAF/IEN)

  • Organizing for Irregular Warfare

    Does the SOE require organizational changes to better carry out irregular warfare campaigns and operations? Are purpose-built SOF organizations and capabilities needed to successfully wage irregular warfare campaigns against adversaries? If most irregular warfare problems have at least some transregional element, and TSOCs have a regional focus, should the structure and focus of TSOCs be examined? Is there a need for additional TSOCs under U.S. Space Command or U.S. Cyber Command? Would it be helpful to create a transregionally focused irregular warfare headquarters? What would be the advantages and disadvantages to any restructuring of USSOCOM organizations? How do allies, partners, and adversaries conceptualize and organize for irregular warfare, and are there elements from other operations that USSOCOM could incorporate to be more effective?

     

  • Political Limitations on Operations

    The war in Ukraine has highlighted the continued relevance of strategic deep attacks by SOF such as the attempts to degrade and/ or destroy the Kerch bridge. However, both Ukraine and its partners have been under severe political pressure to minimize these attacks for fear of provoking a Russian response. These political restraints limit the options for SOF planners, but similar constraints will likely be present in the future both in Europe and elsewhere. How can SOF incorporate and mitigate political considerations in planning deep area operations? How can the United States and its allies and partners increase the political restraints facing adversaries when they consider carrying out deep area operations? 

    Another example of the utilization of political limitations is the use of narratives—true, false, or a mixture of both—to discredit ongoing military operations. In each combatant command AOR, adversaries are using U.S. actions since the end of the Cold War (e.g., NATO enlargement, civil wars in the Balkans, Arab Spring, Color Revolutions, Afghanistan and Iraq, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela) to portray the United States as a destabilizing, imperialist, and militarily aggressive power that cannot be trusted and must be opposed. States that believe these narratives are likely to push back diplomatically against U.S. foreign policy and military initiatives in their country. In this way, narratives shape political limitations, which then, in turn, may have effects down to the tactical level (such as discontinuing joint combined exchange training or other small-scale SOF engagements). How can these narratives be countered, and how can counternarratives be attuned to address historical memories and cultural expectations of specific states? 

  • Preparation for Theater Special Operation Command Assignments

    The TSOCs are a critical part of the SOE, yet personnel assigned to TSOC staff may have little SOF and/or joint staff experience. What training and education would do the most to prepare newly assigned personnel to succeed in each TSOC? What is the priority of this training in relation to all other requirements for SOF? Who should provide that education and training (e.g., services, JSOU, combatant commands), and what combination of virtual and in-residence education and training would be most effective? How can that training and education flex to respond to different levels of prior SOF and TSOC experience?

  • Recruitment, Training and Education for Supporting/Advising Resistance

    While resistance and resilience tend to be discussed in terms of the people resisting, or the state or population within which resilience is being built, this topic calls for a shift in focus toward the forces offering support for resistance and/or resilience. Those forces might be U.S. conventional/traditional, SOF, or partner forces. It is widely understood that a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds and experience are relevant to the area of resistance and resilience. How can the United States government (USG) ensure those diverse perspectives are captured in recruitment, training, and education efforts? What impact might a resilience and resistance focus have on recruiting efforts? How can the DOD ensure that those recruited to the Joint Force understand the nature of activities associated with resistance and resilience and the differences with more kinetic-oriented, conventional military activities? What is the existing state of education and training efforts on resistance and resilience, and where are there gaps or untapped potential? How do we instill a counterintelligence mindset in a populace to deny foreign intelligence entity collection and exploitation, especially since intelligence operations can either advance or undermine resistance and resilience?

    Within the USG, to what degree is there a common understanding of the nature of support to resistance and resilience, and what education and training might be necessary internally to develop or augment that understanding across not just the services, but the wider interagency? How can we mesh training and education in this area to optimize outcomes? Which organizations should take the lead facilitating that training and education, and why? Is there value in a special-skill identifier for resilience and resistance expertise? Are there generalizable principles, or best practices, in education for resilience and resistance which partners can agree upon? What doctrinal efforts can build upon the Resistance Operating Concept for common practices? What is SOF’s role in a civil defense campaign?

  • Role of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in JADO

    How can RPAs support JADO in the future? (319 Reconnaissance Wing)

     

  • Safeguarding AFCYBER's Critical Infrastructure

    Analyze NIST-evaluated PQC algorithms in an AFCYBER operational context, with an emphasis on critical digital infrastructure. (688 CW)

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • SOCOM Operations with Partners

    What lessons from SOCOM operations with partners can be applied to the integration of multinational air power? (AFWIC)

  • SOF Components and Joint Special Operations Command

    How might the SOF service components (Air Force Special Operations Command, Marine Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Naval Special Warfare Command) and Joint Special Operations Command best optimize themselves for strategic competition and integrated deterrence mission sets? Is there a need for new Joint Force training and exercises to determine or develop best practices for the integration of SOF and SOF enablers across services to best support mission requirements? What are the mission-critical capabilities for strategic competition and integrated deterrence within each SOF service component? Given each SOF service component’s unique capabilities, how might they best utilize new technologies? Do any of these capabilities require adjustments for optimal effectiveness in the current strategic environment? Are there requirements for new SOF capabilities that do not currently exist? If so, which SOF service component is best suited to meet each new requirement, and why?  

  • SOF Repetitive Assignments

    While the service personnel commands may view repetitive assignments in the same combatant command area of responsibility (AOR) negatively as they are not broadening, geographic combatant commands and TSOCs may view such repetitive assignments in the same combatant command AOR as beneficial due to increased experience within the operational environment. How can these opposing views be reconciled to achieve the objectives of the services, the combatant commands, and the personal goals of service members? What changes to the personnel system of each service would do the most to improve SOF relations with partners in each combatant command AOR?

  • SOF Specialties

    Within SOE personnel, there are a multitude of diverse sociocultural and geographic backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. Individuals with these perspectives can provide the SOE with insights into specific regions, cultures, and social groups. How can USSOCOM better track and manage SOF professionals’ talent to fully harness specific specialties—to include unique cultural experience, technical knowledge, language capability, and cross-cultural understanding—for cross-enterprise use in taskings, assignment selection, and career progress/mentorship? Additionally, how can the SOE best incorporate other perspectives it has access to, such as other U.S. uniformed services, USG agencies, allies and partners, and non-governmental organizations? 

    Once these perspectives are captured, they should then be implemented within operations to make the SOE and SOF more effective in carrying out their missions. By utilizing these perspectives, how can SOF better work to understand, assess, and build relationships with marginalized groups? How can the SOE utilize such marginalized groups to help inform irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, and other SOF functions and operations? 

     

  • SOF’s Relationship with Space and Cyber

    What is the role of special operations in the cyber and space domains, to include the electromagnetic spectrum? How can SOF best work with space and cyber forces and capabilities within the DOD? What cyber and space capabilities are best suited for collaboration with SOF? What would supported and supporting relationships look like? Within SOF, is there a need to redefine what an ‘operator’ is in terms of space or cyber talent? How might SOF build relationships with patriotic civilian talent? 

    How can the SOE determine the degree of vulnerability of deployed SOF elements to adversary electromagnetic spectrum, space, and cyberspace threats? How can adversary electromagnetic spectrum, space, and cyberspace threat activity against deployed SOF be best illuminated? 

  • SOF's Integrative Role in Coalition Operations

    USSOCOM maintains ties to allied and partner SOF, but does that SOF partner network require transformation and adjustment for better effectiveness in strategic competition? What specific roles should SOF prioritize developing within the current strategic environment with respect to strategic competition and integrated deterrence? SOF have a unique capacity to build relationships with allies and partners. How can SOF best leverage those partnerships? What can SOF do to enable a coalition fight, and how can they communicate that with conventional forces? How can SOF better collaborate with the Joint Force in areas such as helping to build resistance and resilience in the host nation, preparing an environment for potential future conflict, and integrating a host nation into coalition operations? 

  • Space Force & the "Warfighting" mindset

    How does the Space Force develop a "warfighting" mindset? Does the Space Force need a "warfighting" mindset?

  • Strategic Basing

    Develop a relatively high-fidelity simulation of an average year of training for a unit (ideally F-16 or F-35) to develop comparative metrics that can inform the basing process. (SAF/IEN)

  • Strategic Patience and Campaigning

    SRR poses particular challenges in the context of metrics of ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ in strategic competition. How do you win an ongoing competition? Winning might look like sustaining the status quo or gaining amorphous, incremental ‘wins’ in terms of resilience, influence, or trust, but the desirability of clearly identifiable quick wins and avoiding any perceived loss are powerful motivators for short-term thinking. How can SOF inculcate a culture that recognizes incremental progress and encourages consideration of metrics of success beyond one operation cycle or stint in a leadership role? 

    Are strategic competition and SRR necessarily a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers? What role can and should ‘strategic patience’ play in SRR? Are there historical examples that might help our understanding of competition and SRR over the longer term? Would a campaigning perspective on resistance and resilience aid in longer-term thinking? How can SOF ensure that realistic timelines for success are shared with partners and allies? Are there examples of benchmarks for resistance and resilience that might serve to increase understanding of SRR? How might those benchmarks be developed and reassessed over time via a campaign? The Russian war in Ukraine has shown external support takes time. 

    How did Ukraine build that support and sustain it over time? What lessons for winning and losing (in the context of SRR) might be derived from the Ukrainian experience for the United States, its allies, partners, and adversaries?

  • Support to Resistance and Resilience Approaches to Preventing or Deterring Aggression

    SRR approaches typically rely on human networks and organizations to afford an asymmetric advantage against opponents. Understanding the human terrain comprises the essential component in understanding operational environments in which SRR takes place. The ability to understand and shape the environment in times of competition and deterrence short of armed conflict reduces risk to force, allows for efficient use of scarce resources, and facilitates both influence and information advantage. Can human-centric strategies (like the Resistance Operating Concept or ‘total defense’) effectively deter or prevent aggression? How do we assess SRR within steady-state environments? What metrics can be applied to SRR to achieve strategic-operational effects and prevent or deter aggression? How can SOF measure resilience? Should we focus on a resilient state, a resilient population, or a resilient infrastructure? How can we build resilience to/for compound security issues?

    How can we best carry out assessment, analysis, and planning to support national resilience and resistance? What lessons can SOF draw from the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to better understand how non-state actors can both participate in, and counter, resistance, and resilience campaigns? How can we better understand the civil-military interconnections, legal issues, and overt/covert operational balances? When should SOF take the lead in SRR, and when should it provide support to other government agencies? Should social network analysis include a component of SRR approaches? How can exercises and trainings help with preparation of the environment for SRR efforts? 

  • Sustainability of the Force

    During the past two decades, SOF have conducted innumerable counterterrorism and direct-action activities around the world in places like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The taxing operational tempo and unforgiving dwell time of operational units resulted in former USSOCOM Commander Admiral William McRaven standing up the Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF) initiative to ensure readiness, longevity, and performance of SOF and to strengthen family readiness. How effectively has POTFF addressed the needs of special operations personnel during the long wars? Has the new challenge of strategic competition changed how USSOCOM should approach sustainability of the force? What are the greatest challenges today for retention of quality people and the approach required to maintain their efforts? Does support to resilience and resistance undertakings pose unique challenges for sustaining special operations personnel both today and tomorrow? What is the optimal balance for dwell time in support to SRR? Does SRR pose distinctive ethical dilemmas for personnel that need to be addressed? How does the SOE secure its own resilience against external forces and factors?

    What is the long-term impact of the current defense drawdowns on the future SRR force structure? Are conventional forces prepared and integrated into organizational design for SRR? Should SRR comprise a U.S. Army Special Operations approach, or should it include the other special operations service components? What does the SRR organizational structure look like at the tactical, operational, and strategic level? Which metrics should be utilized to analyze SRR force structure?

  • Sustainment for Dispersed Forces in the Pacific

    Sustainment solutions for fuel and munitions in the Pacific theater. (PACAF/A4DX) 

     

  • Technical Interoperability with Allies & Partners

    How does a focus on technical interoperability help or hinder operational integration with allies and partners? (AFWIC)

  • Technological Support to Resilience or Resistance

    Technology is already playing an increasing role in multiple aspects of the security environment and will undoubtedly continue to do so in our ability to identify the need for, assess the potential for, and support resilience and resistance. How might the innovative use of new and emerging technologies enable SOF efforts to support resilience and resistance in developed, underdeveloped, fragile, and/ or at-risk countries and regions? What might be some of the roles of AI/ML in assessing, building, enabling, and supporting SRR in deterrence, competition, or armed conflict? In contrast, does the integration of ‘low-tech’ solutions to SSR provide any advantage in the future operating environment, and if so, where, and how? How might an infusion of standard technologies across select allies and partners support global fusion in the application of SRR against global and transregional threats? How does the level of technological development, and technological saturation within a society, contribute to, detract from, or otherwise impact the potential and challenges to SRR? How might technologies enable the assessment of a group, population, or country’s will to resist? How might the democratization of technology within a society, and its potential adversary, enable SRR across the spectrum of subversion, coercion, and aggression? What does the role of the protection of technological advantage play in enabling SRR?

  • Trust in non-US autonomous systems

    How do we ensure sufficient trust in non-US autonomous systems to support multinational human-machine teaming? (AF Futures)

  • US Alliance System and Multinational Air Operations

    How has the US alliance system shaped and influenced the conduct of multinational air operations, and how will this inform future multinational operations? (AFWIC)

  • War Termination Processes and Prospects

    Dynamics of war termination have evolved over time, from the more limited aims of wars in the eighteenth century, through the more decisive objectives of many wars in the 19th and early 20th centuries, then back to the “limited wars” of the Cold War period. As such, there is an evolving need to understand the means by which contemporary conditions affect how leaders seek to terminate conflicts and the conditions under which they will be successful.

  • Warfighting domains in JADO

    What are the critical inter-dependencies that must be defended and exploited between the domains?

  • Wargaming for Competitive Statecraft

    The terms wargaming, simulations, and practica can all be used to describe similar operational exercises that are focused on providing decision support to various courses of action. Each term is used by a different audience: military (wargaming), interagency (simulation), and academe (practica). Should SOF reconsider their terminology and definition of this type of activity to more broadly encompass the OAIs involved in competitive statecraft? How can the SOE integrate their activities in this area with interagency, academe, and other partners who may not have the same culture of wargaming? 

  • What Comes after the B61-12?

    The B61-12 is a welcome and much needed upgrade for the theater nuclear mission in USEUCOM and for US dual-capable aircraft - but it is not the end.  The US and NATO must start developing the next iteration of theater nuclear weapons now. 

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning in Misinformation and Disinformation

    Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to include the widespread promulgation of easily accessible large language models (LLM), appear to be ushering in a new era of misinformation and disinformation. What impact will AI/ML have on the speed at which misinformation and disinformation can be created and spread? What AI/ML-enabled capabilities can promote resistance to disinformation? How can we counter adversarial messaging that utilizes LLM? 

    What are the training and education requirements for the use of AI/ML within SOF? How can SOF practitioners leverage AI/ ML and other new technology at the individual and small-unit levels? Does the rise of AI/ML affect the skillsets needed at both individual and organizational levels to conduct the Information joint function? Within the SOE and SOF, how do you develop resiliency to misinformation and disinformation? How can SOF capabilities such as psychological operations best utilize AI/ML and LLMs? How can we use commercial off-the-shelf technology to promote resiliency to misinformation and disinformation both with U.S. SOF and our partners and allies? 

  • Assessing Civilian Vulnerabilities in Conflict

    How can SOF prepare for conflicts where the objectives may include hostile actions intended to disrupt civilian supplies of food and energy locally, regionally, and globally? How should the protection of resources and their associated infrastructure be assessed and prioritized? What can SOF do to prevent or mitigate the weaponization of refugees? Can the provision of energy, food, and water resources to denied areas provide a useful means of developing influence or resilience within a population? How can SOF, in conjunction with conventional forces, mitigate their own requirements to ensure that they are not a further drain on resources in deployed area? 

  • Black Swan Capabilities

    Historically, technological innovations drive changes to the ways in which conflicts are fought. However, it is not always easy to see which technologies will drive such changes, or the ways that such technologies will be incorporated and deployed by militaries. New technologies in a variety of areas offer both promise and peril and demand our attention as they provide the potential for black swan (improbable, high-impact) or gray rhino (probable, high-impact, but neglected) events.7 How can the SOE best identify emerging technologies? Do SOF have strategic blind spots when it comes to emerging technologies—is it focused in certain areas but not in others? How can the SOE assess or forecast the impact of emerging technologies? How can SOF experiment and incorporate emerging disruptive technologies within current fiscal constraints? How can the SOE best share new knowledge of military applications of emerging technologies across its organizations? Is there a need for new statutory and other relevant authorities for public–private sector cooperation to provide SOF access to the latest innovations? How can SOF leverage and explore new technologies while limiting their exposure to the risks that accompany these technologies? What are the emerging technologies, such as AI/ML, neuromorphic and biotechnologies, and new power sources, which could affect SOF capabilities, both positively and negatively? Are there risks associated with reliance on and expectations of technology?

  • Challenges associated with integrating manned and un-manned aircraft in the National Airspace System

    Describe, analyze, and provide recommendations to overcome challenges associated with integrating manned and unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System. (319th Operations Group)

  • Challenges of Global Climate Change

    Changes in global climate is transforming the context in which the Department operates. What challenges does this present? How can the DoD adapt to the challenges it presents? (2022 National Defense Strategy)

  • Chinese commercial support of cyber operations

    How does China leverage commercial entities to support its cyberspace operations? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese leadership tasking cyber-actors

    How does CCP/PLA senior leadership task the various cyber-actors: government and proxies? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese Propaganda

    What is the Communist Party / Peoples' Liberation Army (CCP/PLA's) propaganda apparatus structure, strategy, and capabilities? (US Cyber Command)

  • Civil and Military collaboration in Space

    How can the US military best take advantage of the domestic space industry to enhance its capabilities (both technologically and in terms of infrastructure/economics)? (2 ROPS)

  • Civil Resistance in the Future Operating Environment

    How can the U.S. Government influence dissident population groups engaged in civil resistance in foreign countries? (JSOU)

  • CNI--How to Integrate Conventional and Nuclear Munition on American Bomber and Fighter Aircraft

    Current US policy restricts the military from loading conventional and nuclear weapons on the same aircraft.  This old cold war practice does not fit into the modern warfare paradigm. 

  • Considering Societal Resilience at Multiple Scales

    Resilience as a concept has existed for centuries. It has received increasing attention during the world’s COVID pandemic experience, as societies had to adjust not only to a life-threatening disease, but also the effects that it imposed that had social, cultural, economic, and political consequences with unequal impact, an impact of increasing complexity when considered in conjunction with the opportunities and challenges of globalized societies, such as fragile global supply chains.

  • Coordination and Collaboration

    The genesis of the great power competition has created an operational environment that demands a greater collaboration/ synthesis between SOF and the interagency (including the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID], allies, and partners) to enable future SRR. Should the current SOF Liaison Network include specific training for SRR activities? How can the SOF Liaison Network to the interagency be more integrated and responsive to the collective threat across geographic commands and Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs)? Is the current global SOF network optimal and organized to support future SRR? What is the most appropriate global SOF network configuration to support SRR from an allied/U.S. Department of State perspective? What lessons can be drawn from the global war on terror about allied approaches that can be repurposed for SRR? Should the relationship with allies and partners be coordinated or institutionally integrated?

  • Cultural Understanding in Deterrence and Compellence

    A prerequisite to deterrence and compellence is crafting your message so that it will be understood by your target audience. This requires effective cross-cultural communication and a deep understanding of the target audience’s sociocultural worldview. How can the SOE develop the level of knowledge and proficiency necessary to understand sociocultural worldviews in depth? How do we ensure we have the cultural expertise for strategic influence? How do we understand target population motivations? How can you best measure SOF’s cross-cultural understanding engagement abilities? What motivations of the adversary can best be targeted for deterrence and/or compellence? How can SOF bring in allies and partners to better understand a target audience? How can the SOE better integrate with others to develop a clear vision for the desired ends of deterrence and compellence? 

    How do SOF achieve proficiency in both language and cultural awareness, and which is more important? How can USSOCOM better educate SOF commanders, staff, and operators to utilize social media to influence targeted populations? 

  • Cyber & Foreign Terrorist Organizations

    What are foreign terrorist organization (FTO) cyber tactics, techniques, and procedures? What are the trends in FTO cyber operations? How do FTOs use commercial entities to enable cyber operations? What are the trends in FTO use of technology and social media platforms? (US Cyber Command)

  • Cybercrime

    What is the relationship between cybercriminal groups and state actors? Is there a command and control or tasking relationship? When do cybercrime and/or ransomware operations reach a threshold that constitutes a national security risk, not just a law enforcement matter? (US Cyber Command)

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  • Developing and Modeling Strategic Patience

    It is sometimes more prudent to exercise patience and pursue a long-term strategy instead of rushing into immediate action or resorting to aggressive measures. Strategic patience can also involve a willingness to wait for favorable circumstances or changes in the geopolitical landscape before taking decisive action. The underlying idea is that a country can achieve better outcomes by exercising patience, avoiding unnecessary risks, and creating conditions that favor long-term stability and progress. How can ongoing SOF training and development programs reinforce an understanding and application of strategic patience? Are there case studies where the application of strategic patience by SOF has yielded significant results or helped to achieve broader national outcomes? Can these case studies provide insight into how strategic patience was successfully implemented by SOF? What historical or cultural factors have influenced the understanding of strategic patience across countries, and how does this shape each country’s approach to the use of SOF? 

  • Disruptive Strategic Influence of Global Health Engagements (GHE) with Allied Partners

    The DoD through GHE builds partnerships with other nations to strengthen security cooperation and partner capacity through health-related activities and exchanges. (AMC/87 HCOS)

  • DLOs on converging capabilities

    In what ways from both a conceptual and modeling/simulation standpoint can we start to include DLOs that exercise converging capabilities to effectively compete with our adversaries in the information environment? (16 AF)

  • Education of Space Professionals

    Analyze various methods and systems for educating space professionals. (319 CTS & HQ USSF S36RL & 50 OSS) 

  • EiTaaS Tier 1 Maintenance Support

    How will 16 AF and the 688 CW conduct Cyber Security Service Provider (CSSP) Services for the Air Force Network-Unclassified (AFNET-U) when Tier 1 maintenance and operations for AFNET-U is contracted out to the private sector during the Enterprise to Infrastructure as a Service (EiTaaS)? (688 CW)

  • Evolving Contexts of Deterrence

    Deterrence exists across multiple levels of society, and indeed is part of what regulates various aspects of social behavior. Within the national security context, the concept of deterrence has historically helped inform strategic decisions related to planning, investment, and policy.

  • Forecasting Unintended Consequences

    Given the current focus on strategic competition and competitive statecraft, SOF’s operations around the globe have an important role to play. However, activities in one country or on one continent may have far-reaching effects in neighboring countries or across the globe. The scale of potential effects provides both opportunities and risks. How can SOF better understand the unintended consequences of its activities around the globe? What are the risks for escalation? Can cross-regional planning be used to help mitigate risks? How can the SOE better communicate with policymakers to address issues of strategic risk and risk aversion? How can risk be characterized in terms of probability, assessment, measurement, identification, and mitigation? 

  • Foreign Adversary Threats to Election Security

    What are the strategic and operational goals and desired end states that key foreign adversaries seek to realize through election influence and/or interference?   (US Cyber Command)

  • Generational Differences

    Distinct characteristics, values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors are often associated with individuals from different generations. These differences arise from societal, cultural, technological, and economic factors that shape people’s experiences as they grow and develop. Generational differences may impact how SOF lead, follow, recruit, retain, and train. How do different generations approach leadership roles within organizations? What are the preferred leadership styles among different generations? How do different generations perceive and respond to authority figures? How do different generations approach following instructions and adhering to guidelines? What are the preferred methods of recruitment among different generations? How do different generations prioritize and evaluate job opportunities during the recruitment process? How do different generations approach training and professional development within their careers? What are the preferred learning methods for different generations when it comes to training? How do different generations perceive mentorship and seek mentorship opportunities? What are the attitudes of different generations toward cross-generational collaboration and knowledge sharing?

  • Government-Wide Data Sharing

    What are the current effective methods of data sharing across the various government agencies and how can these methods be improved? (AFTAC)

  • Hacktivists

    How might the emergence of hacktivists impact state dynamics in cyberspace during a conflict?  (US Cyber Command) 

  • How does Russia conduct information warfare?

    Analyze Russia information warfare. (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Human Rights as a Weapons System

    How could the DoD utilize human rights as a weapon system against strategic competitors? (JSOU) 

  • Impact of Lawfare on Warfare

    How are legal strategies reshaping the traditional paradigms of warfare? (HAF A5SM)

  • Industrial Preparedness for Competition

    How might the United States seek to transform a relatively consolidated defense industry to meet new military challenges that are emerging under conditions very different from the Cold War and the Global War on Terror?(HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Information Warfare capabilities

    How should the AF and DoD organize themselves to optimize the development of Information Warfare capabilities? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Integrated Deterrence

    Integrated deterrence is the alignment of the DOD’s “policies, investments, and activities to sustain and strengthen deterrence— tailored to specific competitors and coordinated to maximum effect inside and outside the Department,” in order to address competitors’ “holistic strategies that employ varied forms of coercion, malign behavior, and aggression to achieve their objectives and weaken the foundation of a stable and open international system.”5 Are there operational, fiscal, and legal authorities and permissions which need to be changed or created in order for SOF to be effective in integrated deterrence?

    Within the DOD, what is SOF’s role for global and theater integrated deterrence, campaigning, and engagement? How can SOF best contribute to whole-of-government integrated deterrence efforts? How can integrated deterrence operations be tailored to different states and regions? Are there specific allies and partners in each region that should be the focus of integrated deterrence efforts? How can SOF prioritize which states to focus on within a regional integrated deterrence campaign? Might long-term irregular warfare campaigning contribute to integrated deterrence and optimize allied and partner participation as part of global collective security?

    Where does nuclear deterrence fit into integrated deterrence, and what is SOF’s role in nuclear deterrence? How do SOF communicate U.S. counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) policy, and how can the CWMD mission fit into SOF’s overall strategy with partners, allies, and neutrals? 

  • Integration with Allied and Partners' Industrial Base

    How does the United States integrate the allied and partners' industrial base to generate and sustain mass in a future conflict? (AF Futures)

  • Irregular and Unconventional Warfare Campaigning

    The SOE has renewed its focus on irregular and unconventional warfare. How can SOF better understand, articulate, and operationalize irregular and unconventional warfare campaigns? What is the relationship between irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, security force assistance, and security cooperation? How can SOF and conventional forces best work together in these areas? Are there gaps in our knowledge of how to carry out irregular and unconventional warfare campaigning? Does current SOF training and education about these types of warfare need to be updated? Have new technologies like satellite and internet communication and inexpensive, highly capable weapons, such as remotely piloted vehicles, caused changes in the ways in which irregular and unconventional warfare can be carried out, or do operational and strategic concepts remain the same? Can SOF’s recent experiences with counter-violent extremist organizations (CVEO) operations provide ideas for how to disrupt adversarial actors? 

    Within irregular warfare, what is a ‘win’? Is ‘win’ the right framing term? What conditions will aid/impede winning? Is it possible to win without fighting? What is the SOF role within irregular warfare? How does that role vary based on geography, adversary, level of conflict, and other variables? Within an environment of strategic competition, how can SOF identify, train, and coordinate networks to deny, degrade, and influence adversary irregular warfare efforts? Historically, when has unconventional warfare been effective in coercing, disrupting, and overthrowing regimes? How does unconventional warfare campaigning interact, or conflict, with concepts of strategic competition and strategic patience? Does the time required for a successful unconventional warfare campaign hinder its ability to be coordinated with conventional warfare campaigns? If so, how can this be mitigated? 

    Security cooperation, to include security assistance and foreign internal defense, has a role to play within both irregular and unconventional warfare. What is SOF’s role in security cooperation, and how can SOF best integrate or coordinate with conventional forces engaged in security cooperation in the same theater? Are there changes required to security cooperation authorities and practices for SOF? What are ways in which adversaries have, or might seek to, hinder security cooperation efforts? 


     

  • Measuring Resilience and Resistance

    Resilience and resistance comprise psychological, physical, human, and material approaches to competition, deterrence, and irregular warfare. Such methods can include the transformation of infrastructure to support irregular activities, the hardening of or redundancy of institutions, and preparation of populations for conflict. For military planners struggling for numerical data to evaluate, the quantifiable effectiveness of asymmetric approaches to conflict can prove challenging. What are the measures of effectiveness and measures of performance for SRR in an irregular or conventional threat? One method of evaluating a region or country is through analyses of political, military, economic, social, information, infrastructure, physical environment, and time (PMESII-PT) metrics. Can PMESII-PT or other doctrinal analytical tools usefully measure the capabilities of a resistance movement or the resilience of a nation state? Are there lessons from the application of these analytical tools to counterinsurgency that could be applied to SRR? 

  • Metrics of Industrial Base Capacity

    What are the key economic, political, technological, and demographic indicators that define the capacity of an industrial base? How do these metrics interact with each other and impact the overall industrial capacity of a country? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Nuclear Deterrence Education

    How do we better educate the Defense Enterprise, at all levels, on the nuclear requirements process, from AFI 63-125 certification requirements to USSTRATCOM OPLAN requirements and required platform capability? How should the Air Force and DoD educate Air Force General Officers on the Nuclear Enterprise, from OPLAN requirements, to mission sets, stockpile management, and generation activities?

  • Operationalizing Strategic Influence and Information

    The term ‘strategic influence’ is utilized to describe how SOF can project soft power around the globe. How can we measure strategic influence? Who are we seeking to influence? What are we seeking to achieve with influence? Influence to do what, and for what ends? What does strategic influence imply in terms of military strategy? How do measures of strategic influence inform operational design? What does success in achieving a strategic influence end state look like, and how can it be measured? How can SOF set objectives for influence, and how can SOF’s objectives be nested within larger USG strategic influence initiatives?

    Information has a critical role to play within strategic competition. Words are powerful, and our messages affect both our friends and our adversaries. What is the relationship between information and influence? If information is a form of power, what does that imply for the strategic pursuit of influence? How can SOF achieve information advantage throughout the competition continuum? How can SOF better understand, apply, and integrate information across operations to achieve strategic influence objectives? How can information strategies be tailored to address mission-specific needs? What is the balance between attributable and nonattributable operations, and which would provide the highest probability of success while minimizing political and operational risk? How can SOF address risk aversion to information activities? 

    What are the best methods/practices to assess the effects of operations in the information environment? How do we measure and assess results from information operations and campaigns, and how do we communicate these results to stakeholders/authorities? What types of organizational structures and resourcing would best set the conditions to integrate information and influence efforts across SOF; the Services; and joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational, and commercial (JIIM-C) partners? Are there capability gaps across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) that need to be addressed? How can SOF work with centers such as the Global Engagement Center, Joint Military Information Support Operations Web Operations Center, and the NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence to enhance strategic influence operations? 

    A component of strategic influence is credibility. How can SOF build and maintain persistent and meaningful relationships with relevant partners and allies? How can USSOCOM minimize the disconnect between rhetoric and reality? What are the implications of a words and deeds mismatch? How can SOF contribute to building USG credibility? How do you achieve balance between accountability and ‘speed of need’ when seeking influence? In addition to efforts to build strategic influence, how can SOF counter adversarial strategic influence efforts?


     

  • Parasocial Relationships, Social Media, and Radicalization

    Social media engagement has been shown to be a significant pathway to violence, terrorism, fanaticism and recruitment into cultish social formations (Montell 2021), defined as tight, insular groups that bear a resemblance to cults

  • Political Limitations on Operations

    The war in Ukraine has highlighted the continued relevance of strategic deep attacks by SOF such as the attempts to degrade and/ or destroy the Kerch bridge. However, both Ukraine and its partners have been under severe political pressure to minimize these attacks for fear of provoking a Russian response. These political restraints limit the options for SOF planners, but similar constraints will likely be present in the future both in Europe and elsewhere. How can SOF incorporate and mitigate political considerations in planning deep area operations? How can the United States and its allies and partners increase the political restraints facing adversaries when they consider carrying out deep area operations? 

    Another example of the utilization of political limitations is the use of narratives—true, false, or a mixture of both—to discredit ongoing military operations. In each combatant command AOR, adversaries are using U.S. actions since the end of the Cold War (e.g., NATO enlargement, civil wars in the Balkans, Arab Spring, Color Revolutions, Afghanistan and Iraq, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela) to portray the United States as a destabilizing, imperialist, and militarily aggressive power that cannot be trusted and must be opposed. States that believe these narratives are likely to push back diplomatically against U.S. foreign policy and military initiatives in their country. In this way, narratives shape political limitations, which then, in turn, may have effects down to the tactical level (such as discontinuing joint combined exchange training or other small-scale SOF engagements). How can these narratives be countered, and how can counternarratives be attuned to address historical memories and cultural expectations of specific states? 

  • PRC aerospace industry

    What is the ability of the PRC's aerospace industry to emulate, innovate, develop, prototype, refine, and finalize aerospace systems? (CASI)

  • PRC industry actors

    How are they connected to the state and military? To what extent can they support military requirements? (CASI)

  • Recruitment, Training and Education for Supporting/Advising Resistance

    While resistance and resilience tend to be discussed in terms of the people resisting, or the state or population within which resilience is being built, this topic calls for a shift in focus toward the forces offering support for resistance and/or resilience. Those forces might be U.S. conventional/traditional, SOF, or partner forces. It is widely understood that a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds and experience are relevant to the area of resistance and resilience. How can the United States government (USG) ensure those diverse perspectives are captured in recruitment, training, and education efforts? What impact might a resilience and resistance focus have on recruiting efforts? How can the DOD ensure that those recruited to the Joint Force understand the nature of activities associated with resistance and resilience and the differences with more kinetic-oriented, conventional military activities? What is the existing state of education and training efforts on resistance and resilience, and where are there gaps or untapped potential? How do we instill a counterintelligence mindset in a populace to deny foreign intelligence entity collection and exploitation, especially since intelligence operations can either advance or undermine resistance and resilience?

    Within the USG, to what degree is there a common understanding of the nature of support to resistance and resilience, and what education and training might be necessary internally to develop or augment that understanding across not just the services, but the wider interagency? How can we mesh training and education in this area to optimize outcomes? Which organizations should take the lead facilitating that training and education, and why? Is there value in a special-skill identifier for resilience and resistance expertise? Are there generalizable principles, or best practices, in education for resilience and resistance which partners can agree upon? What doctrinal efforts can build upon the Resistance Operating Concept for common practices? What is SOF’s role in a civil defense campaign?

  • Reestablishing Nuclear Surety Culture at Previous Nuclear Installations

    Installations responsible for the initial beddown of the B-21 will face immense cultural challenges in the transition from a purely conventional outlook to one that embraces the unnegotiable tenets of nuclear surety, in conjunction with conventional taskings. The requisite expertise does not currently exist organically in the affected wings, particularly in areas of training, education, personnel, and most importantly, leadership. AFGSC and the nuclear enterprise writ large much reframe their approach to addressing these shortcomings in a comprehensive, deliberate manner to ensure a robust cultural foundation of nuclear surety to guarantee the continued credibility of sixth-generation nuclear weapons systems like the B-21.

  • Reflections in the Information Environment

    How do we accurately and meaningfully measure Effectiveness and Performance (MOEs and MOPs) in the Information Environment? How can we best measure the 'influence' of Information Warfare on an adversary actor? (616 OC) 

  • Resilience

    How can the AF (and other services) develop resilience and support 21st Century Airmen and their dependents? (HAF/A1Z)

     

  • Resiliency Approaches Through Women, Peace and Security (WPS)

    The role of women in both resilience and resistance is a neglected area of study that is rich in potential for transforming understanding of the human role in SRR. The UN’s Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) initiative focuses on including the role of gender in conflict prevention, management, and resolution, and specifically emphasizes the value of women’s contributions to conflict transformation. WPS has neglected the role women can and do play in resistance and resilience, however, with Ukraine offering an immediate contemporary example. While women tend to be assumed to play a role in conflict resolution, focusing on that aspect diminishes the role women have played in fostering societal resilience and violent and non-violent resistance movements. Historically, what role have women played in SRR in diverse geographic cases? In what ways, if any, do women play a distinct role from men in SRR? From a resilience perspective, what role have women played across the competition continuum in building resilience? How could SOF include women, peace, and security insights into its planning and operational efforts for SRR?

  • Risks to the Strategic Domain of Space From An Ablation Cascade

    Nuclear Deterrence capabilities rely upon the domain of outer space, which is particularly vulnerable to an ablation cascade, also known as Kessler Syndrome, where an increasing series of collisions between objects can render the environment unsafe for further use. While space-faring nations have a vested interest to avoid such a scenario, non-space faring adversaries may find it useful for denying the United States strategic capabilities which operate in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). What are the risks of an adversary initiating an ablation cascade on the use of strategic assets in the domain of outer space? Are there any protective or mitigating measures that can be undertaken? Could a revision of the Outer Space Treaty include weapons or other devices to combat debris that are not technically armaments but pose an equivalent risk to satellites, the strategic use of space, and other human activities?

  • Role of Military Education in Adapting to Change

    How does Professional Military Education (PME) handle changes in the character of warfare? What are the current USAF educational strategies? How can these programs evolve to prepare for future emerging challenges?  (HAF A5SM)

  • Russian commercial support of cyber operations

    How does Russia use commercial entities to enable cyber operations? (US Cyber Command)

  • Russian Cyber & Influence Activities

    What cyber and influence activities have the Russians undertaken? What was their impact? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Defense Industry

    What are the domestic and export capacities of Russia's defense industry? What effects have sanctions had on it? What is the evolving role of the wartime economy on the Russian defense industry? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian reliance on foreign cyber technologies

    How reliant is Russia on foreign technologies for development and procurement of cyberspace capabilities? (US Cyber Command)

  • Social Impact of Technological Change

    Throughout history, technology had been influential in driving societal change. Most recently, this has included an evolving relationship with information, characterized by innovations that have transformed how information is transmitted, stored, and ultimately used.

  • Societal Cohesion in Crisis

    The ability of a group, or society more broadly, to hold together is central to social life. As the nature of the social unit varies cross-culturally and across political systems, this topic seeks to understand the nuances of shifting social and political cohesion in the face of diverse and evolving crisis situations.

  • Sociotechnical Adaptation to Climate, Food, and Water Stress

    Climate and environmental change are increasingly accepted as a major issue facing societies, and a defining global challenge with significant potential to reshape future security and stability.

  • SOF Specialties

    Within SOE personnel, there are a multitude of diverse sociocultural and geographic backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. Individuals with these perspectives can provide the SOE with insights into specific regions, cultures, and social groups. How can USSOCOM better track and manage SOF professionals’ talent to fully harness specific specialties—to include unique cultural experience, technical knowledge, language capability, and cross-cultural understanding—for cross-enterprise use in taskings, assignment selection, and career progress/mentorship? Additionally, how can the SOE best incorporate other perspectives it has access to, such as other U.S. uniformed services, USG agencies, allies and partners, and non-governmental organizations? 

    Once these perspectives are captured, they should then be implemented within operations to make the SOE and SOF more effective in carrying out their missions. By utilizing these perspectives, how can SOF better work to understand, assess, and build relationships with marginalized groups? How can the SOE utilize such marginalized groups to help inform irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, and other SOF functions and operations? 

     

  • SOF’s Relationship with Space and Cyber

    What is the role of special operations in the cyber and space domains, to include the electromagnetic spectrum? How can SOF best work with space and cyber forces and capabilities within the DOD? What cyber and space capabilities are best suited for collaboration with SOF? What would supported and supporting relationships look like? Within SOF, is there a need to redefine what an ‘operator’ is in terms of space or cyber talent? How might SOF build relationships with patriotic civilian talent? 

    How can the SOE determine the degree of vulnerability of deployed SOF elements to adversary electromagnetic spectrum, space, and cyberspace threats? How can adversary electromagnetic spectrum, space, and cyberspace threat activity against deployed SOF be best illuminated? 

  • SOF's Integrative Role in Coalition Operations

    USSOCOM maintains ties to allied and partner SOF, but does that SOF partner network require transformation and adjustment for better effectiveness in strategic competition? What specific roles should SOF prioritize developing within the current strategic environment with respect to strategic competition and integrated deterrence? SOF have a unique capacity to build relationships with allies and partners. How can SOF best leverage those partnerships? What can SOF do to enable a coalition fight, and how can they communicate that with conventional forces? How can SOF better collaborate with the Joint Force in areas such as helping to build resistance and resilience in the host nation, preparing an environment for potential future conflict, and integrating a host nation into coalition operations? 

  • Space Acquisitions

    Examine various aspects of Space-related acquisitions. (USSF/S8ZX, 5 SLS-MSA, 7SWS/DO, SPOC/2SWS/DOC)

  • Space Operations Forces and SOF

    Should the SOE and U.S. Space Force explore options for employing a military force that can support diplomacy, information operations, and U.S. and allied partner economic interests on the moon and celestial bodies as a way to deter adversaries? If so, what would their core activities and mission sets be? Would such a force be ground-based, or would there be requirements to deploy into cislunar and lunar space? Does this future threat call for the development of SOF personnel who can operate in the austere and mentally taxing environment of space? Could SOF personnel from the different components be trained to perform core activities in the space domain? Could these SOF personnel form the beginnings of a U.S. Space Force SOF?

  • Special Operations Command Africa

    Operations in this AOR often face challenges with economy-offorce missions across a large continent. How can SOF best work with other USG agencies, as well as allies and partners, to fulfill their missions? In what ways can SOF help extend legitimate government control into areas where governance is contested? How can SOF maintain a U.S. presence across Africa, especially in countries where adversaries seek to gain power and influence? What is SOF’s role in resistance and resilience in Africa, and what challenges specific to the continent does it face? How can SOF best respond to climatological changes that drive economic, social, demographic, and cultural crises? 

  • Special Operations Command Central

    In what ways might the regional balance of power shift within this AOR? Diplomatically, are there ways to better understand the relationship between, and potential dynamics of, alliances and partnerships in the region between both states and non-state actors? How can SOF better understand what might cause shifts in the constellation of power? How might economic developments affect the fortunes, and potential for conflict, of regional actors? What might global shifts in energy generation towards renewable sources, and the rise and fall of ‘peak oil,’ lead to? How might petrostates respond to a sustained decrease in demand for oil and natural gas? Alternatively, as sea lanes open in the Arctic circle, what does this mean for current global shipping routes that pass through the Middle East? How might changes in shipping routes and follow-on economic effects affect the risk-reward calculus for violent extremist organizations? 

  • Special Operations Command Europe

    The conflict in Ukraine will end at some point, and when it does, changes to the Ukrainian military are likely to result. Are there lessons that can be drawn from history about what the transition from wartime to peacetime SOF looks like, especially in a smaller state that may need to dramatically reduce the size of its military? What capabilities are most critical to maintain? Should there be a larger role for reserve forces? How does Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO affect the role(s) that Ukrainian SOF will play? In what ways can U.S. SOF, in conjunction with allies and partners, support Ukrainian SOF through organizational and individual transitions to peacetime? 

  • Special Operations Command North

    How can SOF best prepare for future operations in the Arctic? What does the enlargement of NATO to include Finland and Sweden mean for the region? What are the interoperability requirements between SOF and conventional forces operating in the region, such as Coast Guard icebreakers and Navy submarines? Are there new capabilities or technologies that are required for operations in this environment? What can U.S. SOF learn from allies and partners that routinely operate in the Arctic? How might SOF best work with the USG interagency, as well as allies and partners, to understand and partner with Arctic peoples? 

  • Special Operations Command Pacific and Special Operations Command Korea

    Rising sea levels will, over the next decades, be the source of a variety of economic and social issues across the Indo-Pacific Command, which may drive conflicts in the region. These issues include natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage agriculture and trade, affect refugee flows, create challenges to port infrastructure, and impact changes to navigable waterways and sea routes. How can SOF better understand and adapt to this potentially destabilizing environment, and how can they best support allied and partner nations facing these issues?

  • Special Operations Command South

    Within a global strategic competition, how can SOF compete for influence in South and Central America?  How can this command best assess the quality and nature of allied and partner relationships in the region, and, in particular, what are indicators or warnings that US strategic influence might be challenged or losing ground to an adversary?  If we have lost ground, what are the best options for rebuilding influence?  How can we prevent or minimize adversarial entrenchment?  What are the biggest threats emanating from adversarial influence in the region?  Can SOF mitigate the effects of adversarial influence without directly competing against adversaries?

  • Strategic Empathy in Intel analysis

    How should we develop strategic empathy, the ability to identify with a competitor or adversary, to optimize analysis capability? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Strategic Patience and Campaigning

    SRR poses particular challenges in the context of metrics of ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ in strategic competition. How do you win an ongoing competition? Winning might look like sustaining the status quo or gaining amorphous, incremental ‘wins’ in terms of resilience, influence, or trust, but the desirability of clearly identifiable quick wins and avoiding any perceived loss are powerful motivators for short-term thinking. How can SOF inculcate a culture that recognizes incremental progress and encourages consideration of metrics of success beyond one operation cycle or stint in a leadership role? 

    Are strategic competition and SRR necessarily a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers? What role can and should ‘strategic patience’ play in SRR? Are there historical examples that might help our understanding of competition and SRR over the longer term? Would a campaigning perspective on resistance and resilience aid in longer-term thinking? How can SOF ensure that realistic timelines for success are shared with partners and allies? Are there examples of benchmarks for resistance and resilience that might serve to increase understanding of SRR? How might those benchmarks be developed and reassessed over time via a campaign? The Russian war in Ukraine has shown external support takes time. 

    How did Ukraine build that support and sustain it over time? What lessons for winning and losing (in the context of SRR) might be derived from the Ukrainian experience for the United States, its allies, partners, and adversaries?

  • Support to Resistance and Resilience Approaches to Preventing or Deterring Aggression

    SRR approaches typically rely on human networks and organizations to afford an asymmetric advantage against opponents. Understanding the human terrain comprises the essential component in understanding operational environments in which SRR takes place. The ability to understand and shape the environment in times of competition and deterrence short of armed conflict reduces risk to force, allows for efficient use of scarce resources, and facilitates both influence and information advantage. Can human-centric strategies (like the Resistance Operating Concept or ‘total defense’) effectively deter or prevent aggression? How do we assess SRR within steady-state environments? What metrics can be applied to SRR to achieve strategic-operational effects and prevent or deter aggression? How can SOF measure resilience? Should we focus on a resilient state, a resilient population, or a resilient infrastructure? How can we build resilience to/for compound security issues?

    How can we best carry out assessment, analysis, and planning to support national resilience and resistance? What lessons can SOF draw from the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to better understand how non-state actors can both participate in, and counter, resistance, and resilience campaigns? How can we better understand the civil-military interconnections, legal issues, and overt/covert operational balances? When should SOF take the lead in SRR, and when should it provide support to other government agencies? Should social network analysis include a component of SRR approaches? How can exercises and trainings help with preparation of the environment for SRR efforts? 

  • Sustainability of the Force

    During the past two decades, SOF have conducted innumerable counterterrorism and direct-action activities around the world in places like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The taxing operational tempo and unforgiving dwell time of operational units resulted in former USSOCOM Commander Admiral William McRaven standing up the Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF) initiative to ensure readiness, longevity, and performance of SOF and to strengthen family readiness. How effectively has POTFF addressed the needs of special operations personnel during the long wars? Has the new challenge of strategic competition changed how USSOCOM should approach sustainability of the force? What are the greatest challenges today for retention of quality people and the approach required to maintain their efforts? Does support to resilience and resistance undertakings pose unique challenges for sustaining special operations personnel both today and tomorrow? What is the optimal balance for dwell time in support to SRR? Does SRR pose distinctive ethical dilemmas for personnel that need to be addressed? How does the SOE secure its own resilience against external forces and factors?

    What is the long-term impact of the current defense drawdowns on the future SRR force structure? Are conventional forces prepared and integrated into organizational design for SRR? Should SRR comprise a U.S. Army Special Operations approach, or should it include the other special operations service components? What does the SRR organizational structure look like at the tactical, operational, and strategic level? Which metrics should be utilized to analyze SRR force structure?

  • Technological Support to Resilience or Resistance

    Technology is already playing an increasing role in multiple aspects of the security environment and will undoubtedly continue to do so in our ability to identify the need for, assess the potential for, and support resilience and resistance. How might the innovative use of new and emerging technologies enable SOF efforts to support resilience and resistance in developed, underdeveloped, fragile, and/ or at-risk countries and regions? What might be some of the roles of AI/ML in assessing, building, enabling, and supporting SRR in deterrence, competition, or armed conflict? In contrast, does the integration of ‘low-tech’ solutions to SSR provide any advantage in the future operating environment, and if so, where, and how? How might an infusion of standard technologies across select allies and partners support global fusion in the application of SRR against global and transregional threats? How does the level of technological development, and technological saturation within a society, contribute to, detract from, or otherwise impact the potential and challenges to SRR? How might technologies enable the assessment of a group, population, or country’s will to resist? How might the democratization of technology within a society, and its potential adversary, enable SRR across the spectrum of subversion, coercion, and aggression? What does the role of the protection of technological advantage play in enabling SRR?

  • Temporal Orientation and Strategic Considerations

    In The Politics and Science of Prevision: Governing and Probing the Future, Wenger, Jasper, and Cavelty (2020) state that modern “shifts in global economics and politics are in line with asynchronous shifts in the temporal thinking in Western and in Chinese politics.” The quote specifically references Chinese temporal orientation as distinct to the West, yet differences in perceptions of temporality exist across the world, as time plays a factor in worldview, outlook, decision-making processes, and in other cultural aspects. Where differences exist, they may create tensions between actors and impact relationships. These impacts may affect strategic interactions, and thus require deeper understanding.

  • The Future of Information and Influence

    There are many ways in which current technologies shape the ways that people receive information. The ability to create realistic, believable information, events, documents, pictures, and video based on a computer prompt makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. The combination of virtual reality and augmented reality offers the ability to virtually see, ‘be with,’ and respond in real time to another person anywhere in the world. What are the second and third-order effects of such technologies on information operations and strategic influence campaigns? If distinguishing the truth becomes increasingly difficult, will there be a corresponding reaction in which groups or individuals care less about the ‘truth’ or simply distrust everything not seen to occur with their own eyes? What are the implications of such distrust? Will societies become less vulnerable to disinformation, but also less receptive to strategic messaging? How might virtual interactive experiences be utilized to develop strategic influence? Training and education with partners and allies can provide a form of relationship building that may lead to strategic influence. Does virtual training and education build the same relationships, and have the same strategic effects, as in-person interactions? 

  • Understanding the Will to Resist

    Support to Resistance and Resilience (SRR) is focused on people— both for the populations who are building resilience and resistance skills, and on the SOF professionals who advise and assist those populations. Understanding, defining, and measuring the will to resist is a complex topic. What is the relationship between the people and their will to resist? What is SOF’s role in shaping the will to resist? Is there a difference between will to win and will to fight? Should capturing a willingness to resist be focused on the group or individual level? How can you measure a given group or individual’s will to resist, especially when that will is likely to vary over time? If we can better measure will to resist, might that inform where the next resistance movement will be likely to occur? 

  • US Approach to Strategic Partnerships

    What are strategies that can be used to enhance the Department's approach to strategic security, economic, and technology partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region? (HAF A5SM)

  • US support to Peacekeeping Operations

    Should the US contribute logistical enablers like air mobility (fixed wing and rotary wing), engineering, line and short-haul motor transportation, medical, and signals communication to support United Nations Peacekeeping Operations? (SOUTHCOM)

  • Utilizing Internet-Of-Things (IOT) sensors or similar physical sensing systems

    How can the AF leverage in-situ or fortuitously placed Internet-Of-Things (IOT) sensors or similar physical sensing systems coupled with cyber-surveillance to collect data and information to overcome barriers to physical proximity and access and coupled with cyber-reconnaissance to collect data and information associated with adversary personnel and systems in order to meet collection and observation needs, to capture essential elements of information, and to determine the state of key adversary indicators required to mitigate information and intelligence gaps? (ACC/A22C)

  • War Termination Processes and Prospects

    Dynamics of war termination have evolved over time, from the more limited aims of wars in the eighteenth century, through the more decisive objectives of many wars in the 19th and early 20th centuries, then back to the “limited wars” of the Cold War period. As such, there is an evolving need to understand the means by which contemporary conditions affect how leaders seek to terminate conflicts and the conditions under which they will be successful.

  • Winning with Partner Nations

    SOF are often in the role of being the primary U.S. face to partner nations. Professional ethics matter in the effort to build trust with these nations. How do ethical conduct and adherence to high moral standards contribute to the credibility and trustworthiness of SOF missions in unconventional warfare, irregular warfare, and asymmetric fights? What lessons can SOF leverage from elements within the community to develop stronger relationships with allies, partners, and populations? How can empathy and cultural awareness enhance the effectiveness of SOF leaders in engaging with local populations and partner forces? What best practices have emerged that SOF can document and teach? What strategies and practices can SOF leaders employ to build and maintain high-performing teams in challenging environments? 

    How can SOF identify and prioritize areas where U.S. strategic goals align with those of other nations, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships? How can SOF maintain these relationships over time, particularly when budget constraints exist? What are the potential benefits, challenges, and strategies involved in aligning U.S. goals with the strategic goals of other nations in specific regions or issue areas?

     

  • World Economic Policies Impact on US Nuclear Deterrence

    What happens to US nuclear deterrence strategies if other countries abandon the US Dollar as their reserve currency? (AF/A10)

  • Allied and Partner assumptions in Concept Development

    How are allied and partner assumptions considered and managed in USAF and Joint concept development and experimentation? (AFWIC)

  • Assessing Civilian Vulnerabilities in Conflict

    How can SOF prepare for conflicts where the objectives may include hostile actions intended to disrupt civilian supplies of food and energy locally, regionally, and globally? How should the protection of resources and their associated infrastructure be assessed and prioritized? What can SOF do to prevent or mitigate the weaponization of refugees? Can the provision of energy, food, and water resources to denied areas provide a useful means of developing influence or resilience within a population? How can SOF, in conjunction with conventional forces, mitigate their own requirements to ensure that they are not a further drain on resources in deployed area? 

  • China vs. India at the Line of Actual Control: Implications for the Indo-Pacific

    A study on the geostrategic, political, and military implications of the continued standoff between China and India, including lessons learned of the PRC’s handling of the situation through military actions, media communications, and world politics. (PACAF)

  • Chinese Economic Ties to India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    How is China imposing costs on India, South Korea, Japan & Australia? How could their economic ties to China limit their economic choices? (HAF A5SM)

  • Coalition Partners in Space

    How can partner nations contribute to and participate in US-led developmental and operational efforts in the space domain? (SPOC/DOO & USSF/S36TG & HQ USSF/SEK) 

  • Conflict Dynamics in Proliferated Environments

    How have the dynamics of conflict changed in regions where nuclear proliferation has already occurred? (HAF A5SM)

  • Considering Societal Resilience at Multiple Scales

    Resilience as a concept has existed for centuries. It has received increasing attention during the world’s COVID pandemic experience, as societies had to adjust not only to a life-threatening disease, but also the effects that it imposed that had social, cultural, economic, and political consequences with unequal impact, an impact of increasing complexity when considered in conjunction with the opportunities and challenges of globalized societies, such as fragile global supply chains.

  • Conventional-Nuclear Integration Capabilities of US Allies

    With US allies operating alongside of US forces, what is the CNI proficiency and capabilities of U.S. allies? How would cooperation on CNI with allies impact deterrence? (AF/A10)

     

  • Converging Allies and Partner Data into the DAF Data Fabric

    How can data/information from our Allies and Partners be woven into the Department of the Air Force's data fabric? (16 AF)

  • Coordination and Collaboration

    The genesis of the great power competition has created an operational environment that demands a greater collaboration/ synthesis between SOF and the interagency (including the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID], allies, and partners) to enable future SRR. Should the current SOF Liaison Network include specific training for SRR activities? How can the SOF Liaison Network to the interagency be more integrated and responsive to the collective threat across geographic commands and Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs)? Is the current global SOF network optimal and organized to support future SRR? What is the most appropriate global SOF network configuration to support SRR from an allied/U.S. Department of State perspective? What lessons can be drawn from the global war on terror about allied approaches that can be repurposed for SRR? Should the relationship with allies and partners be coordinated or institutionally integrated?

  • Cultural Understanding in Deterrence and Compellence

    A prerequisite to deterrence and compellence is crafting your message so that it will be understood by your target audience. This requires effective cross-cultural communication and a deep understanding of the target audience’s sociocultural worldview. How can the SOE develop the level of knowledge and proficiency necessary to understand sociocultural worldviews in depth? How do we ensure we have the cultural expertise for strategic influence? How do we understand target population motivations? How can you best measure SOF’s cross-cultural understanding engagement abilities? What motivations of the adversary can best be targeted for deterrence and/or compellence? How can SOF bring in allies and partners to better understand a target audience? How can the SOE better integrate with others to develop a clear vision for the desired ends of deterrence and compellence? 

    How do SOF achieve proficiency in both language and cultural awareness, and which is more important? How can USSOCOM better educate SOF commanders, staff, and operators to utilize social media to influence targeted populations? 

  • Cyber & Foreign Terrorist Organizations

    What are foreign terrorist organization (FTO) cyber tactics, techniques, and procedures? What are the trends in FTO cyber operations? How do FTOs use commercial entities to enable cyber operations? What are the trends in FTO use of technology and social media platforms? (US Cyber Command)

  • Cyber's Impact on Risk Mitigation and Integrated Deterrence

    How might offensive and defensive cyber capabilities be implemented into existing or new risk mitigation frameworks (e.g. arms control treaties and agreements) in order to manage strategic stability? (AF/A10)

  • Dependence of United States Air Force on its allies and partners

    In what ways is the United States Air Force dependent on its allies and partners for operational effectiveness? (AF Futures)

  • Deterrence in Post-Missile Age

    In a hypothetical scenario that Sentinel would be the country's last ICBM, what would US strategic deterrence look like in a post-ICBM age? (20 AF)

  • Developing and Modeling Strategic Patience

    It is sometimes more prudent to exercise patience and pursue a long-term strategy instead of rushing into immediate action or resorting to aggressive measures. Strategic patience can also involve a willingness to wait for favorable circumstances or changes in the geopolitical landscape before taking decisive action. The underlying idea is that a country can achieve better outcomes by exercising patience, avoiding unnecessary risks, and creating conditions that favor long-term stability and progress. How can ongoing SOF training and development programs reinforce an understanding and application of strategic patience? Are there case studies where the application of strategic patience by SOF has yielded significant results or helped to achieve broader national outcomes? Can these case studies provide insight into how strategic patience was successfully implemented by SOF? What historical or cultural factors have influenced the understanding of strategic patience across countries, and how does this shape each country’s approach to the use of SOF? 

  • Disruptive Strategic Influence of Global Health Engagements (GHE) with Allied Partners

    The DoD through GHE builds partnerships with other nations to strengthen security cooperation and partner capacity through health-related activities and exchanges. (AMC/87 HCOS)

  • Due Regard and Changing Borders

    Documented and public cases of Russian aggression against MQ-9s in the Black Sea, CCP actions with lasers against Philippine vessels, and other unprofessional and unsafe actions against U.S. reconnaissance assets create a paradigm where aggressive and damaging actions are seemingly tolerated as acceptable behaviors by adversaries in competition, crisis, and regionalized conflict short of war. (AFTAC)

  • Emerging Cyber Powers

    What states are investing in military cyber capabilities and may emerge in the next 5-10 years as new advanced threats to the U.S. and our allies? (US Cyber Command)

  • Evolving Contexts of Deterrence

    Deterrence exists across multiple levels of society, and indeed is part of what regulates various aspects of social behavior. Within the national security context, the concept of deterrence has historically helped inform strategic decisions related to planning, investment, and policy.

  • Forecasting Unintended Consequences

    Given the current focus on strategic competition and competitive statecraft, SOF’s operations around the globe have an important role to play. However, activities in one country or on one continent may have far-reaching effects in neighboring countries or across the globe. The scale of potential effects provides both opportunities and risks. How can SOF better understand the unintended consequences of its activities around the globe? What are the risks for escalation? Can cross-regional planning be used to help mitigate risks? How can the SOE better communicate with policymakers to address issues of strategic risk and risk aversion? How can risk be characterized in terms of probability, assessment, measurement, identification, and mitigation? 

  • Gender Equality in support of the Pacific Strategy

    How do the US, as well as closest allies and partners, use our strategic and cultural advantage in pursuing gender equality to our benefit? (PACAF/A8XR)

  • Historic Case Studies of US Allies Neglecting Treaty Obligations

    What are the historical examples (case studies) of where U.S. allies have not lived up to treaty obligations (and why)? (AFWIC)

  • Historical Forms of Strategic Risk Management

    Should U.S. negotiators focus on developing politically binding agreements to increase confidence building and/or transparency measures, similar to those nascent arms control agreements between the US and USSR in the early days of the Cold War? (AF/A10)

  • Human Rights as a Weapons System

    How could the DoD utilize human rights as a weapon system against strategic competitors? (JSOU) 

  • Hypersonic Messaging

    As the U.S. develops and fields hypersonic weapons, how should the U.S. message adversaries and allies about this new capability? (AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Dynamic Force Employment on Indo-Pacific Bomber Deterrence

    How can the U.S. optimize deterrence and assurance within the Bomber Task Force (BTF)/Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) construct? Shifting from Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), how can the U.S. increase its deterrence advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia? (AF/A10P & AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of the loss of Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements

    What have been the effects of the loss of various Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Improving integrations with US allies and partners

    Why should/shouldn’t the United States Air Force devote effort and resources to improving integrations with its allies and partners? (AF Futures)

  • India's "Necklace of Diamonds" Strategy

    What cooperation should occur through other domains through the apparent naval-centric lens of India's "Necklace of Diamonds" Strategy?  (PACAF/A5I) 

     

  • Industrial Base of India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    Why are the capacity and projectability of the industrial bases of India, South Korea, Japan & Australia, including trends in their economic and industrial growth? How these might influence the US-China strategic competition? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Integrated Deterrence

    Integrated deterrence is the alignment of the DOD’s “policies, investments, and activities to sustain and strengthen deterrence— tailored to specific competitors and coordinated to maximum effect inside and outside the Department,” in order to address competitors’ “holistic strategies that employ varied forms of coercion, malign behavior, and aggression to achieve their objectives and weaken the foundation of a stable and open international system.”5 Are there operational, fiscal, and legal authorities and permissions which need to be changed or created in order for SOF to be effective in integrated deterrence?

    Within the DOD, what is SOF’s role for global and theater integrated deterrence, campaigning, and engagement? How can SOF best contribute to whole-of-government integrated deterrence efforts? How can integrated deterrence operations be tailored to different states and regions? Are there specific allies and partners in each region that should be the focus of integrated deterrence efforts? How can SOF prioritize which states to focus on within a regional integrated deterrence campaign? Might long-term irregular warfare campaigning contribute to integrated deterrence and optimize allied and partner participation as part of global collective security?

    Where does nuclear deterrence fit into integrated deterrence, and what is SOF’s role in nuclear deterrence? How do SOF communicate U.S. counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) policy, and how can the CWMD mission fit into SOF’s overall strategy with partners, allies, and neutrals? 

  • Integrated air and missile defense mission in INDOPACOM AOR

    How do we as a coalition of the willing in the INDOPACOM AOR gain parity and subsequently surpass regional actors in IAMD architecture to a level that will deter China from military action and if not, leave the coalition in a position to effectively execute combat operations in the region without being overwhelmed by emerging threats? (PACAF/PIC)

  • Integration with Allied and Partners' Industrial Base

    How does the United States integrate the allied and partners' industrial base to generate and sustain mass in a future conflict? (AF Futures)

  • International Atomic Energy Agency & Nuclear Proliferation

    How has the International Atomic Energy Agency's focus and charter changed over the last 60 years? (AFTAC)

  • International Space Law/Responsible Behavior in Space

    Analyze various elements of international space law. (HQ USSF/SEK & USSF/S5I & SPOC, 3 SES/MAF)

  • Iran-Russia Relations

    What is Russia's relationship with Iran? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with this relationship? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Irregular and Unconventional Warfare Campaigning

    The SOE has renewed its focus on irregular and unconventional warfare. How can SOF better understand, articulate, and operationalize irregular and unconventional warfare campaigns? What is the relationship between irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, security force assistance, and security cooperation? How can SOF and conventional forces best work together in these areas? Are there gaps in our knowledge of how to carry out irregular and unconventional warfare campaigning? Does current SOF training and education about these types of warfare need to be updated? Have new technologies like satellite and internet communication and inexpensive, highly capable weapons, such as remotely piloted vehicles, caused changes in the ways in which irregular and unconventional warfare can be carried out, or do operational and strategic concepts remain the same? Can SOF’s recent experiences with counter-violent extremist organizations (CVEO) operations provide ideas for how to disrupt adversarial actors? 

    Within irregular warfare, what is a ‘win’? Is ‘win’ the right framing term? What conditions will aid/impede winning? Is it possible to win without fighting? What is the SOF role within irregular warfare? How does that role vary based on geography, adversary, level of conflict, and other variables? Within an environment of strategic competition, how can SOF identify, train, and coordinate networks to deny, degrade, and influence adversary irregular warfare efforts? Historically, when has unconventional warfare been effective in coercing, disrupting, and overthrowing regimes? How does unconventional warfare campaigning interact, or conflict, with concepts of strategic competition and strategic patience? Does the time required for a successful unconventional warfare campaign hinder its ability to be coordinated with conventional warfare campaigns? If so, how can this be mitigated? 

    Security cooperation, to include security assistance and foreign internal defense, has a role to play within both irregular and unconventional warfare. What is SOF’s role in security cooperation, and how can SOF best integrate or coordinate with conventional forces engaged in security cooperation in the same theater? Are there changes required to security cooperation authorities and practices for SOF? What are ways in which adversaries have, or might seek to, hinder security cooperation efforts? 


     

  • JADC2 - Coalition & Interagency Partners

    What does JADC2 mean for coalition and interagency partners? How can the Joint Force address the classification challenges of operations across domains with interagency partners and coalition partners?

  • Low-Probability, High-Consequence Events

    Typical U.S. military methodologies for quantifying and categorizing risk are not well-suited for some outlier risks. For example, the very low probability, but very high consequence, of a deliberate nuclear attack is a different type of risk compared to a violent extremist organization’s attack. Other examples of low-probability, high-consequence events include the assassination of a world leader or the destruction of a physical item with great cultural significance, such as an irreplaceable religious artefact. How might risk methodologies, decision-making, and resource allocation be characterized to best plan for low-probability, high-consequence events? In addition to characterizing such events, how can the SOE and SOF prepare for the follow-on effects of such an event? What does a campaign of de-escalation look like following an event that could be considered an existential threat? 

  • Measuring Foreign Influence in Hegemonic Powers

    What variables measure decreasing and/or diminishing foreign influence in a hegemonic power? (AFWIC)

  • No First Use Policy

     What impact would a US policy of "No First Use" have on our allies and our extended deterrence commitments?  Would such a policy cause a change in force structure? (8 AF)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on Foreign Militaries

    How has greater nuclear proliferation impacted third actors' military programs, particularly their nuclear initiatives? (HAF A5SM)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's impact on US National Security Policy

    How has increased nuclear proliferation impacted the execution of US national security policy? (HAF A5SM)

  • Operationalizing Strategic Influence and Information

    The term ‘strategic influence’ is utilized to describe how SOF can project soft power around the globe. How can we measure strategic influence? Who are we seeking to influence? What are we seeking to achieve with influence? Influence to do what, and for what ends? What does strategic influence imply in terms of military strategy? How do measures of strategic influence inform operational design? What does success in achieving a strategic influence end state look like, and how can it be measured? How can SOF set objectives for influence, and how can SOF’s objectives be nested within larger USG strategic influence initiatives?

    Information has a critical role to play within strategic competition. Words are powerful, and our messages affect both our friends and our adversaries. What is the relationship between information and influence? If information is a form of power, what does that imply for the strategic pursuit of influence? How can SOF achieve information advantage throughout the competition continuum? How can SOF better understand, apply, and integrate information across operations to achieve strategic influence objectives? How can information strategies be tailored to address mission-specific needs? What is the balance between attributable and nonattributable operations, and which would provide the highest probability of success while minimizing political and operational risk? How can SOF address risk aversion to information activities? 

    What are the best methods/practices to assess the effects of operations in the information environment? How do we measure and assess results from information operations and campaigns, and how do we communicate these results to stakeholders/authorities? What types of organizational structures and resourcing would best set the conditions to integrate information and influence efforts across SOF; the Services; and joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational, and commercial (JIIM-C) partners? Are there capability gaps across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) that need to be addressed? How can SOF work with centers such as the Global Engagement Center, Joint Military Information Support Operations Web Operations Center, and the NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence to enhance strategic influence operations? 

    A component of strategic influence is credibility. How can SOF build and maintain persistent and meaningful relationships with relevant partners and allies? How can USSOCOM minimize the disconnect between rhetoric and reality? What are the implications of a words and deeds mismatch? How can SOF contribute to building USG credibility? How do you achieve balance between accountability and ‘speed of need’ when seeking influence? In addition to efforts to build strategic influence, how can SOF counter adversarial strategic influence efforts?


     

  • P5 Arms Control

    Could Washington leverage the P5 forum to open the aperture for strategic stability dialogues with Russia and China? (AF/A10)

  • Parasocial Relationships, Social Media, and Radicalization

    Social media engagement has been shown to be a significant pathway to violence, terrorism, fanaticism and recruitment into cultish social formations (Montell 2021), defined as tight, insular groups that bear a resemblance to cults

  • Political Limitations on Operations

    The war in Ukraine has highlighted the continued relevance of strategic deep attacks by SOF such as the attempts to degrade and/ or destroy the Kerch bridge. However, both Ukraine and its partners have been under severe political pressure to minimize these attacks for fear of provoking a Russian response. These political restraints limit the options for SOF planners, but similar constraints will likely be present in the future both in Europe and elsewhere. How can SOF incorporate and mitigate political considerations in planning deep area operations? How can the United States and its allies and partners increase the political restraints facing adversaries when they consider carrying out deep area operations? 

    Another example of the utilization of political limitations is the use of narratives—true, false, or a mixture of both—to discredit ongoing military operations. In each combatant command AOR, adversaries are using U.S. actions since the end of the Cold War (e.g., NATO enlargement, civil wars in the Balkans, Arab Spring, Color Revolutions, Afghanistan and Iraq, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela) to portray the United States as a destabilizing, imperialist, and militarily aggressive power that cannot be trusted and must be opposed. States that believe these narratives are likely to push back diplomatically against U.S. foreign policy and military initiatives in their country. In this way, narratives shape political limitations, which then, in turn, may have effects down to the tactical level (such as discontinuing joint combined exchange training or other small-scale SOF engagements). How can these narratives be countered, and how can counternarratives be attuned to address historical memories and cultural expectations of specific states? 

  • Prioritizing US Investments in Asia-Pacific Region

    What capabilities and potential investments should the US consider to offset the effects of the US-China strategic competition in the region? In particular, what opportunities are there in the development of defense, technology, and infrastructure? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Recruitment, Training and Education for Supporting/Advising Resistance

    While resistance and resilience tend to be discussed in terms of the people resisting, or the state or population within which resilience is being built, this topic calls for a shift in focus toward the forces offering support for resistance and/or resilience. Those forces might be U.S. conventional/traditional, SOF, or partner forces. It is widely understood that a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds and experience are relevant to the area of resistance and resilience. How can the United States government (USG) ensure those diverse perspectives are captured in recruitment, training, and education efforts? What impact might a resilience and resistance focus have on recruiting efforts? How can the DOD ensure that those recruited to the Joint Force understand the nature of activities associated with resistance and resilience and the differences with more kinetic-oriented, conventional military activities? What is the existing state of education and training efforts on resistance and resilience, and where are there gaps or untapped potential? How do we instill a counterintelligence mindset in a populace to deny foreign intelligence entity collection and exploitation, especially since intelligence operations can either advance or undermine resistance and resilience?

    Within the USG, to what degree is there a common understanding of the nature of support to resistance and resilience, and what education and training might be necessary internally to develop or augment that understanding across not just the services, but the wider interagency? How can we mesh training and education in this area to optimize outcomes? Which organizations should take the lead facilitating that training and education, and why? Is there value in a special-skill identifier for resilience and resistance expertise? Are there generalizable principles, or best practices, in education for resilience and resistance which partners can agree upon? What doctrinal efforts can build upon the Resistance Operating Concept for common practices? What is SOF’s role in a civil defense campaign?

  • Resiliency Approaches Through Women, Peace and Security (WPS)

    The role of women in both resilience and resistance is a neglected area of study that is rich in potential for transforming understanding of the human role in SRR. The UN’s Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) initiative focuses on including the role of gender in conflict prevention, management, and resolution, and specifically emphasizes the value of women’s contributions to conflict transformation. WPS has neglected the role women can and do play in resistance and resilience, however, with Ukraine offering an immediate contemporary example. While women tend to be assumed to play a role in conflict resolution, focusing on that aspect diminishes the role women have played in fostering societal resilience and violent and non-violent resistance movements. Historically, what role have women played in SRR in diverse geographic cases? In what ways, if any, do women play a distinct role from men in SRR? From a resilience perspective, what role have women played across the competition continuum in building resilience? How could SOF include women, peace, and security insights into its planning and operational efforts for SRR?

  • Risks to the Strategic Domain of Space From An Ablation Cascade

    Nuclear Deterrence capabilities rely upon the domain of outer space, which is particularly vulnerable to an ablation cascade, also known as Kessler Syndrome, where an increasing series of collisions between objects can render the environment unsafe for further use. While space-faring nations have a vested interest to avoid such a scenario, non-space faring adversaries may find it useful for denying the United States strategic capabilities which operate in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). What are the risks of an adversary initiating an ablation cascade on the use of strategic assets in the domain of outer space? Are there any protective or mitigating measures that can be undertaken? Could a revision of the Outer Space Treaty include weapons or other devices to combat debris that are not technically armaments but pose an equivalent risk to satellites, the strategic use of space, and other human activities?

  • Russia-Belarus Cooperation

    What are the opportunities and challenges surrounding Russia-Belarus cooperation? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Cooperation with the West

    What are areas of Russian cooperation with the West? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Relationships with Balkan States

    What are Russia's relationships with the Balkan states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with former Soviet States

    What is the Russian relationship with former Soviet states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships?  (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with Indo-Pacific States

    What are Russia's relationships with Indo-Pacific states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with South American States

    What are Russia's relationships with South American states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Use of Private Military Companies

    Analyze Russia's use of private military companies. (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russo-Turkish Relations

    What is Russia's relationship with Turkey? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with this relationship? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Shaping the Information Environment

    What are proven effective ways to shape the information environment during Phase 0/Phase I operations, specifically regarding, near-peer competitors? Do TTPs exist that PACAF/PA should be aware of to dial up and down the amount of deterrence/pressure messaging for effective deterrence and to avoid escalation? (PACAF/PA)

     

  • Should NATO/US Reposition or Add Nuclear Weapons to Poland to Improve Deterrence Position?

    Poland has signalled that they are willing to host nuclear weapons if requested to do so by NATO, but is there any advantage to be gained by doing so? What military/political tactical/strategic implications would there be to having nuclear weapons closer to Belarus/Kaliningrad/Russia?

  • Social Impact of Technological Change

    Throughout history, technology had been influential in driving societal change. Most recently, this has included an evolving relationship with information, characterized by innovations that have transformed how information is transmitted, stored, and ultimately used.

  • Societal Cohesion in Crisis

    The ability of a group, or society more broadly, to hold together is central to social life. As the nature of the social unit varies cross-culturally and across political systems, this topic seeks to understand the nuances of shifting social and political cohesion in the face of diverse and evolving crisis situations.

  • Sociotechnical Adaptation to Climate, Food, and Water Stress

    Climate and environmental change are increasingly accepted as a major issue facing societies, and a defining global challenge with significant potential to reshape future security and stability.

  • SOCOM Operations with Partners

    What lessons from SOCOM operations with partners can be applied to the integration of multinational air power? (AFWIC)

  • SOF Specialties

    Within SOE personnel, there are a multitude of diverse sociocultural and geographic backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. Individuals with these perspectives can provide the SOE with insights into specific regions, cultures, and social groups. How can USSOCOM better track and manage SOF professionals’ talent to fully harness specific specialties—to include unique cultural experience, technical knowledge, language capability, and cross-cultural understanding—for cross-enterprise use in taskings, assignment selection, and career progress/mentorship? Additionally, how can the SOE best incorporate other perspectives it has access to, such as other U.S. uniformed services, USG agencies, allies and partners, and non-governmental organizations? 

    Once these perspectives are captured, they should then be implemented within operations to make the SOE and SOF more effective in carrying out their missions. By utilizing these perspectives, how can SOF better work to understand, assess, and build relationships with marginalized groups? How can the SOE utilize such marginalized groups to help inform irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, and other SOF functions and operations? 

     

  • SOF's Integrative Role in Coalition Operations

    USSOCOM maintains ties to allied and partner SOF, but does that SOF partner network require transformation and adjustment for better effectiveness in strategic competition? What specific roles should SOF prioritize developing within the current strategic environment with respect to strategic competition and integrated deterrence? SOF have a unique capacity to build relationships with allies and partners. How can SOF best leverage those partnerships? What can SOF do to enable a coalition fight, and how can they communicate that with conventional forces? How can SOF better collaborate with the Joint Force in areas such as helping to build resistance and resilience in the host nation, preparing an environment for potential future conflict, and integrating a host nation into coalition operations? 

  • Space Operations Forces and SOF

    Should the SOE and U.S. Space Force explore options for employing a military force that can support diplomacy, information operations, and U.S. and allied partner economic interests on the moon and celestial bodies as a way to deter adversaries? If so, what would their core activities and mission sets be? Would such a force be ground-based, or would there be requirements to deploy into cislunar and lunar space? Does this future threat call for the development of SOF personnel who can operate in the austere and mentally taxing environment of space? Could SOF personnel from the different components be trained to perform core activities in the space domain? Could these SOF personnel form the beginnings of a U.S. Space Force SOF?

  • Space Professional/Safe or Responsible Behaviors

    What Space Professional/Safe or Responsible Behaviors are acceptable to FVEY+2? In what/which existing or “new” forum(s) these “norms” should be drafted and agreed upon? What form the behaviors will be codified by the participating nations (MOU, Treaty)? (USSF/S5I)

  • Special Operations Command Africa

    Operations in this AOR often face challenges with economy-offorce missions across a large continent. How can SOF best work with other USG agencies, as well as allies and partners, to fulfill their missions? In what ways can SOF help extend legitimate government control into areas where governance is contested? How can SOF maintain a U.S. presence across Africa, especially in countries where adversaries seek to gain power and influence? What is SOF’s role in resistance and resilience in Africa, and what challenges specific to the continent does it face? How can SOF best respond to climatological changes that drive economic, social, demographic, and cultural crises? 

  • Special Operations Command Central

    In what ways might the regional balance of power shift within this AOR? Diplomatically, are there ways to better understand the relationship between, and potential dynamics of, alliances and partnerships in the region between both states and non-state actors? How can SOF better understand what might cause shifts in the constellation of power? How might economic developments affect the fortunes, and potential for conflict, of regional actors? What might global shifts in energy generation towards renewable sources, and the rise and fall of ‘peak oil,’ lead to? How might petrostates respond to a sustained decrease in demand for oil and natural gas? Alternatively, as sea lanes open in the Arctic circle, what does this mean for current global shipping routes that pass through the Middle East? How might changes in shipping routes and follow-on economic effects affect the risk-reward calculus for violent extremist organizations? 

  • Special Operations Command Europe

    The conflict in Ukraine will end at some point, and when it does, changes to the Ukrainian military are likely to result. Are there lessons that can be drawn from history about what the transition from wartime to peacetime SOF looks like, especially in a smaller state that may need to dramatically reduce the size of its military? What capabilities are most critical to maintain? Should there be a larger role for reserve forces? How does Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO affect the role(s) that Ukrainian SOF will play? In what ways can U.S. SOF, in conjunction with allies and partners, support Ukrainian SOF through organizational and individual transitions to peacetime? 

  • Special Operations Command North

    How can SOF best prepare for future operations in the Arctic? What does the enlargement of NATO to include Finland and Sweden mean for the region? What are the interoperability requirements between SOF and conventional forces operating in the region, such as Coast Guard icebreakers and Navy submarines? Are there new capabilities or technologies that are required for operations in this environment? What can U.S. SOF learn from allies and partners that routinely operate in the Arctic? How might SOF best work with the USG interagency, as well as allies and partners, to understand and partner with Arctic peoples? 

  • Special Operations Command Pacific and Special Operations Command Korea

    Rising sea levels will, over the next decades, be the source of a variety of economic and social issues across the Indo-Pacific Command, which may drive conflicts in the region. These issues include natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage agriculture and trade, affect refugee flows, create challenges to port infrastructure, and impact changes to navigable waterways and sea routes. How can SOF better understand and adapt to this potentially destabilizing environment, and how can they best support allied and partner nations facing these issues?

  • Special Operations Command South

    Within a global strategic competition, how can SOF compete for influence in South and Central America?  How can this command best assess the quality and nature of allied and partner relationships in the region, and, in particular, what are indicators or warnings that US strategic influence might be challenged or losing ground to an adversary?  If we have lost ground, what are the best options for rebuilding influence?  How can we prevent or minimize adversarial entrenchment?  What are the biggest threats emanating from adversarial influence in the region?  Can SOF mitigate the effects of adversarial influence without directly competing against adversaries?

  • Strategic Empathy in Intel analysis

    How should we develop strategic empathy, the ability to identify with a competitor or adversary, to optimize analysis capability? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Strategic Patience and Campaigning

    SRR poses particular challenges in the context of metrics of ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ in strategic competition. How do you win an ongoing competition? Winning might look like sustaining the status quo or gaining amorphous, incremental ‘wins’ in terms of resilience, influence, or trust, but the desirability of clearly identifiable quick wins and avoiding any perceived loss are powerful motivators for short-term thinking. How can SOF inculcate a culture that recognizes incremental progress and encourages consideration of metrics of success beyond one operation cycle or stint in a leadership role? 

    Are strategic competition and SRR necessarily a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers? What role can and should ‘strategic patience’ play in SRR? Are there historical examples that might help our understanding of competition and SRR over the longer term? Would a campaigning perspective on resistance and resilience aid in longer-term thinking? How can SOF ensure that realistic timelines for success are shared with partners and allies? Are there examples of benchmarks for resistance and resilience that might serve to increase understanding of SRR? How might those benchmarks be developed and reassessed over time via a campaign? The Russian war in Ukraine has shown external support takes time. 

    How did Ukraine build that support and sustain it over time? What lessons for winning and losing (in the context of SRR) might be derived from the Ukrainian experience for the United States, its allies, partners, and adversaries?

  • Support to Resistance and Resilience Approaches to Preventing or Deterring Aggression

    SRR approaches typically rely on human networks and organizations to afford an asymmetric advantage against opponents. Understanding the human terrain comprises the essential component in understanding operational environments in which SRR takes place. The ability to understand and shape the environment in times of competition and deterrence short of armed conflict reduces risk to force, allows for efficient use of scarce resources, and facilitates both influence and information advantage. Can human-centric strategies (like the Resistance Operating Concept or ‘total defense’) effectively deter or prevent aggression? How do we assess SRR within steady-state environments? What metrics can be applied to SRR to achieve strategic-operational effects and prevent or deter aggression? How can SOF measure resilience? Should we focus on a resilient state, a resilient population, or a resilient infrastructure? How can we build resilience to/for compound security issues?

    How can we best carry out assessment, analysis, and planning to support national resilience and resistance? What lessons can SOF draw from the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to better understand how non-state actors can both participate in, and counter, resistance, and resilience campaigns? How can we better understand the civil-military interconnections, legal issues, and overt/covert operational balances? When should SOF take the lead in SRR, and when should it provide support to other government agencies? Should social network analysis include a component of SRR approaches? How can exercises and trainings help with preparation of the environment for SRR efforts? 

  • Technical Interoperability with Allies & Partners

    How does a focus on technical interoperability help or hinder operational integration with allies and partners? (AFWIC)

  • Technological Undermatch

    The ‘American way of war’ is typically used to describe the United States’ use of exquisite technology combined with limited numbers of highly trained personnel to fight its conflicts, rather than relying, as other countries sometimes do, on relatively low-technology capabilities wielded by large masses of personnel. Does this cultural bias lead SOF into over-relying on technology? What are the advantages and disadvantages of small-quantity, highly trained, and technologically sophisticated SOF? Does technology encourage and enable micromanagement? 

    As we move into an era of strategic competition, there is risk in assuming that SOF will always have the technological advantage vis-à-vis an adversary. How can SOF be effective in a conflict environment in which the adversary has the technological advantage? Do SOF have other competitive advantages that could make up for technological undermatch? How can SOF best manage the virtual and/or physical signature of personnel, platforms, organizations, operations, facilities, and data when facing an adversary with comparable or better technological capabilities? 

  • Testing Reliability of Allies and Partners

    How can the reliability of allies and partners be tested? (AFWIC)

  • The Future of Information and Influence

    There are many ways in which current technologies shape the ways that people receive information. The ability to create realistic, believable information, events, documents, pictures, and video based on a computer prompt makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. The combination of virtual reality and augmented reality offers the ability to virtually see, ‘be with,’ and respond in real time to another person anywhere in the world. What are the second and third-order effects of such technologies on information operations and strategic influence campaigns? If distinguishing the truth becomes increasingly difficult, will there be a corresponding reaction in which groups or individuals care less about the ‘truth’ or simply distrust everything not seen to occur with their own eyes? What are the implications of such distrust? Will societies become less vulnerable to disinformation, but also less receptive to strategic messaging? How might virtual interactive experiences be utilized to develop strategic influence? Training and education with partners and allies can provide a form of relationship building that may lead to strategic influence. Does virtual training and education build the same relationships, and have the same strategic effects, as in-person interactions? 

  • The Strategic Impacts of Misinformation and Disinformation

    How can DoD leaders prevent the negative effects of misinformation and disinformation? (JSOU)

  • Trust in non-US autonomous systems

    How do we ensure sufficient trust in non-US autonomous systems to support multinational human-machine teaming? (AF Futures)

  • U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Posture and Effectiveness Without Nuclear Arms Control

    How might a U.S. withdrawal and renegotiation of nuclear-based treaties impact U.S. deterrence strategy and force posture against nuclear adversaries? How might this impact the U.S. extended deterrence strategy and force posture in support of allies? (AF/A10P)

  • Understanding the Will to Resist

    Support to Resistance and Resilience (SRR) is focused on people— both for the populations who are building resilience and resistance skills, and on the SOF professionals who advise and assist those populations. Understanding, defining, and measuring the will to resist is a complex topic. What is the relationship between the people and their will to resist? What is SOF’s role in shaping the will to resist? Is there a difference between will to win and will to fight? Should capturing a willingness to resist be focused on the group or individual level? How can you measure a given group or individual’s will to resist, especially when that will is likely to vary over time? If we can better measure will to resist, might that inform where the next resistance movement will be likely to occur? 

  • US Alliance System and Multinational Air Operations

    How has the US alliance system shaped and influenced the conduct of multinational air operations, and how will this inform future multinational operations? (AFWIC)

  • US Approach to Strategic Partnerships

    What are strategies that can be used to enhance the Department's approach to strategic security, economic, and technology partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region? (HAF A5SM)

  • US support to Peacekeeping Operations

    Should the US contribute logistical enablers like air mobility (fixed wing and rotary wing), engineering, line and short-haul motor transportation, medical, and signals communication to support United Nations Peacekeeping Operations? (SOUTHCOM)

  • War Termination Processes and Prospects

    Dynamics of war termination have evolved over time, from the more limited aims of wars in the eighteenth century, through the more decisive objectives of many wars in the 19th and early 20th centuries, then back to the “limited wars” of the Cold War period. As such, there is an evolving need to understand the means by which contemporary conditions affect how leaders seek to terminate conflicts and the conditions under which they will be successful.

  • What Comes after the B61-12?

    The B61-12 is a welcome and much needed upgrade for the theater nuclear mission in USEUCOM and for US dual-capable aircraft - but it is not the end.  The US and NATO must start developing the next iteration of theater nuclear weapons now. 

  • Winning with Partner Nations

    SOF are often in the role of being the primary U.S. face to partner nations. Professional ethics matter in the effort to build trust with these nations. How do ethical conduct and adherence to high moral standards contribute to the credibility and trustworthiness of SOF missions in unconventional warfare, irregular warfare, and asymmetric fights? What lessons can SOF leverage from elements within the community to develop stronger relationships with allies, partners, and populations? How can empathy and cultural awareness enhance the effectiveness of SOF leaders in engaging with local populations and partner forces? What best practices have emerged that SOF can document and teach? What strategies and practices can SOF leaders employ to build and maintain high-performing teams in challenging environments? 

    How can SOF identify and prioritize areas where U.S. strategic goals align with those of other nations, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships? How can SOF maintain these relationships over time, particularly when budget constraints exist? What are the potential benefits, challenges, and strategies involved in aligning U.S. goals with the strategic goals of other nations in specific regions or issue areas?

     

  • Worldwide Deployable Dual-Capable Aircraft in Extended Deterrence

    How would the capability to deploy DCA worldwide affect extended deterrence?  (AF/A10)

  • Cyber Force Structure

    How can the USAF optimize current Cyber Force Structure? (HAF A2/6)

  • Battlefield Airman for Duty in the Pacific AOR

    Better Trained and Equipped Battlefield Airman (TACP, CCT, etc.) for Duty in the Pacific AOR (PACAF/A9L)

  • Civilian Cyber Auxiliary - Civil Cyber Patrol?

    In light of the national shortage of cyber talent, how might the Air Force develop and utilize a Civil Cyber Patrol and/or a Civil Information Warfare Patrol to best protect U.S. national interests? What legal, operational, and technical challenges must ACC address to make a civilian cyber auxiliary a reality? (ACC/A3/2/6K)

  • Consolidating X1/X2/X3 into single career field

    Should X1/X2/X3 be consolidated into a single career field in order to gain efficiencies and generalization for missile maintenance technicians? (20 AF)

  • Cyber Personnel Retention

    What the USAF could do better to entice, develop, and maintain long-term careers in cyber to better ensure hard-earned experience and talent is passed onto future generations of cyberwarfare Airmen?  (ACC/A3/2/6KO)

  • Cyber-awareness Training Model

    Develop a cyber-awareness training model for AFNET users that provides foundational training but builds upon existing knowledge in a meaningful way and can demonstrate greater cyber awareness and positively impact the overall effectiveness of the current annual cyber-awareness training model.  (ACC/A6O)

  • Cyber-Awareness Training model for ISR Collection Managers (CMs)

    Develop a cyber-awareness training model for ISR Collection Managers (CMs) that provides foundational training but builds upon existing knowledge in a meaningful way and can demonstrate greater cyber awareness. (ACC/A22C)

  • Developing Cyberspace Infrastructure Terrain Subject Matter Expertise

    As the AF looks to defend static, adaptive, and expeditionary bases, does the USAF need in terms of developing cyberspace infrastructure terrain (POL, power, etc) subject matter expertise?  (ACC/A2)

  • Educating the Cyber Enterprise

    How do we leverage resources to educate Cyber Enterprise (e.g. the College of Information of Cyberspace)? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Implementation and Absorption Capacity for New Capabilities and Concepts

    Using unitary analysis or comparative analysis, examine either or both of the USAF/Joint Force and PLA’s capacity to absorb new capabilities and concepts into demonstrated operational utility, identifying recommendations for accelerating change and innovation at scale within the USAF and DoD. (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Language Analysts in Cyber and Space Intelligence

    Can we develop analytic tradecraft and accesses for language analysts supporting cyber and space intelligence units, and develop specialized formal training courses for language analysis operating in the space and cyberspace domains? (480 ISRW)

  • Language proficiency for Cryptologic Language Analysts

    Can full-time Distance Learning (DL) be an effective foreign language acquisition training medium for Cryptologic Language Analysts (CLA) who have already demonstrated a strong record of proficiency in at least one DoD-trained foreign language? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Leadership in Combat Wings

    How can USAF officers be developed to lead in the new Combat Wing formation? (AFMISC/A3) 

  • Leadership in JADO

    For successful to JADO, how and when should a joint culture be inculcated into military leaders?

  • Learning Technology to Aid Information Warfare Training

    How can we leverage learning technologies such as game-based learning, AI tutors, hypermedia, etc. to train IW forces most effectively on the roles, assets, and capabilities needed to achieve full spectrum IW effects? (616 OC) 

  • Manage, training and equipping for JADO

    How does the USAF manage, train and equip for JADO?

  • Medical Return to Duty in Conflict

    In peer conflict with large-scale combat operations, how does the medical service shift to maintaining patients in the AOR and close to the front lines for assessment and treatment in order to expedite an Airman's return to duty? (Surgeon General)

  • Organic Software Development

    Can the USAF develop an organic capability to code within a squadron and then enable the infrastructure and processes that would allow that code to be deployed in a controlled environment with minimal overhead requirements to the squadron? (16 AF)

  • Organizing & Training for Counter Small UAS Operations

    How should the AF organize and train appropriate operators and leaders (kinetic engagement authorities) to operate more complex C-sUAS/SHORAD-like capabilities in the future? (AFSFC/S3A)


  • P3 Airmen

    How do we determine the optimal organizational construct to be most effective for a squadron leadership team? Is a squadron construct even the best organizational construct for P3 Airmen? (480 ISRW & 693ISRG) 

  • Personnel in USSF

     (51 OSS & 50 OSS) 

     

  • Planning for the unexpected

    How might we more effectively plan for unexpected, or “black swan” events, that might negatively affect critical military operations? (480 ISRW)

  • Resilience

    How can the AF (and other services) develop resilience and support 21st Century Airmen and their dependents? (HAF/A1Z)

     

  • Role of Military Education in Adapting to Change

    How does Professional Military Education (PME) handle changes in the character of warfare? What are the current USAF educational strategies? How can these programs evolve to prepare for future emerging challenges?  (HAF A5SM)

  • Signals Intelligence for Cyber and Space

    How can we better develop analytic tradecraft and accesses for signals analysts supporting cyber and space intelligence units, and develop specialized formal training courses for signals analysis operating in the space and cyberspace domains? (480 ISRW)

  • Space Force & the "Warfighting" mindset

    How does the Space Force develop a "warfighting" mindset? Does the Space Force need a "warfighting" mindset?

  • Space Force Culture

    With the separation from the Air Force, the Space Force needs to establish its own identity and culture as a separate service branch. (ROPS, Museum Staff, 50 OSS & HQ USSF/SED) 

  • Strategic Blind Spots in Modern Conflict

    Are there useful methods of blind spot analysis that could be utilized to uncover obsolete, incomplete, or incorrect assumptions? What role do historical case studies play in overcoming blind spots? How can the study of lessons learned from recent operations provide valuable insights to help the DoD avoid these pitfalls? (JSOU)

  • Strategic Empathy in Intel analysis

    How should we develop strategic empathy, the ability to identify with a competitor or adversary, to optimize analysis capability? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Strategic Leadership

    What role do strategic leaders play in effectively managing changes in the character of war? How do leadership practices need to adapt to the changing character of war? (HAF A5SM)

  • Talent management for Cyber

    What does a framework for effective Talent Management look like for the Cyber Enterprise? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Training of Mission Ready Airman

    Could the Air Force create an AFSC for dedicated MRAs for ACE who are consistently trained in a wide variety of skills from the beginning of their careers?  (AFIMSC/A38)

  • Training of Space Professionals

    Development of space professionals from the Space Race to current times. (50 OSS)

  • US Statutory Constructs in Space/Space Guard

    How should the USSF leverage the total force construct in manning and executing its Title 10 mission? (USSF/NGB & JAO)

  • USAF Organizational Changes

    How should the USAF changes its organization to effectively adapt to the changing character of war? (HAF A5SM)

     

     

  • Civilian Cyber Auxiliary - Civil Cyber Patrol?

    In light of the national shortage of cyber talent, how might the Air Force develop and utilize a Civil Cyber Patrol and/or a Civil Information Warfare Patrol to best protect U.S. national interests? What legal, operational, and technical challenges must ACC address to make a civilian cyber auxiliary a reality? (ACC/A3/2/6K)

  • Command Relationships in JADO

    What are the command relationship implications of JADO?

  • Considering Societal Resilience at Multiple Scales

    Resilience as a concept has existed for centuries. It has received increasing attention during the world’s COVID pandemic experience, as societies had to adjust not only to a life-threatening disease, but also the effects that it imposed that had social, cultural, economic, and political consequences with unequal impact, an impact of increasing complexity when considered in conjunction with the opportunities and challenges of globalized societies, such as fragile global supply chains.

  • Continuity in Warfare

    What are the valuable insights from the timeless principles of warfare? How do they continue to inform contemporary practices? (HAF A5SM)

  • Cultural Understanding in Deterrence and Compellence

    A prerequisite to deterrence and compellence is crafting your message so that it will be understood by your target audience. This requires effective cross-cultural communication and a deep understanding of the target audience’s sociocultural worldview. How can the SOE develop the level of knowledge and proficiency necessary to understand sociocultural worldviews in depth? How do we ensure we have the cultural expertise for strategic influence? How do we understand target population motivations? How can you best measure SOF’s cross-cultural understanding engagement abilities? What motivations of the adversary can best be targeted for deterrence and/or compellence? How can SOF bring in allies and partners to better understand a target audience? How can the SOE better integrate with others to develop a clear vision for the desired ends of deterrence and compellence? 

    How do SOF achieve proficiency in both language and cultural awareness, and which is more important? How can USSOCOM better educate SOF commanders, staff, and operators to utilize social media to influence targeted populations? 

  • Cyber Personnel Retention

    What the USAF could do better to entice, develop, and maintain long-term careers in cyber to better ensure hard-earned experience and talent is passed onto future generations of cyberwarfare Airmen?  (ACC/A3/2/6KO)

  • Dependence of United States Air Force on its allies and partners

    In what ways is the United States Air Force dependent on its allies and partners for operational effectiveness? (AF Futures)

  • Developing and Modeling Strategic Patience

    It is sometimes more prudent to exercise patience and pursue a long-term strategy instead of rushing into immediate action or resorting to aggressive measures. Strategic patience can also involve a willingness to wait for favorable circumstances or changes in the geopolitical landscape before taking decisive action. The underlying idea is that a country can achieve better outcomes by exercising patience, avoiding unnecessary risks, and creating conditions that favor long-term stability and progress. How can ongoing SOF training and development programs reinforce an understanding and application of strategic patience? Are there case studies where the application of strategic patience by SOF has yielded significant results or helped to achieve broader national outcomes? Can these case studies provide insight into how strategic patience was successfully implemented by SOF? What historical or cultural factors have influenced the understanding of strategic patience across countries, and how does this shape each country’s approach to the use of SOF? 

  • Ethical Performance and Moral Injury

    The SOE and SOF hold themselves to a high standard of ethical performance. This is important not only to preserve the trust of the nation, but also to protect the force from moral injuries. How can SOF leadership best identify, address, and learn from ethical lapses? Are there metrics that can be collected to measure ethical performance? In what ways can ethical behavior be inculcated within the SOE and SOF? Are there ethical concepts that are not adequately taught to SOF? What is the relationship between ethics training, ethical performance, and the mitigation of moral injury? How can SOF ethics education be used to mitigate post-combat trauma?

  • Evolving Contexts of Deterrence

    Deterrence exists across multiple levels of society, and indeed is part of what regulates various aspects of social behavior. Within the national security context, the concept of deterrence has historically helped inform strategic decisions related to planning, investment, and policy.

  • Forecasting Unintended Consequences

    Given the current focus on strategic competition and competitive statecraft, SOF’s operations around the globe have an important role to play. However, activities in one country or on one continent may have far-reaching effects in neighboring countries or across the globe. The scale of potential effects provides both opportunities and risks. How can SOF better understand the unintended consequences of its activities around the globe? What are the risks for escalation? Can cross-regional planning be used to help mitigate risks? How can the SOE better communicate with policymakers to address issues of strategic risk and risk aversion? How can risk be characterized in terms of probability, assessment, measurement, identification, and mitigation? 

  • Generational Differences

    Distinct characteristics, values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors are often associated with individuals from different generations. These differences arise from societal, cultural, technological, and economic factors that shape people’s experiences as they grow and develop. Generational differences may impact how SOF lead, follow, recruit, retain, and train. How do different generations approach leadership roles within organizations? What are the preferred leadership styles among different generations? How do different generations perceive and respond to authority figures? How do different generations approach following instructions and adhering to guidelines? What are the preferred methods of recruitment among different generations? How do different generations prioritize and evaluate job opportunities during the recruitment process? How do different generations approach training and professional development within their careers? What are the preferred learning methods for different generations when it comes to training? How do different generations perceive mentorship and seek mentorship opportunities? What are the attitudes of different generations toward cross-generational collaboration and knowledge sharing?

  • Historical Battle Networks

    Analyze battle networks as integrated systems of sensors, analytics, and strike, including their evolution, effectiveness in previous conflicts. (HAF A5SM)

  • Historical C2 lessons for JADC2

    What historical C2 lessons are relevant for the JADC2 construct?

  • Historical Forms of Strategic Risk Management

    Should U.S. negotiators focus on developing politically binding agreements to increase confidence building and/or transparency measures, similar to those nascent arms control agreements between the US and USSR in the early days of the Cold War? (AF/A10)

  • Historical Lessons for Operations in the Pacific

    For example, how does General George Kenney’s approach in the South Pacific compare to what will be required in a future conflict with China? (AMC/CC)

  • Historical Review of Successful USAF Military Transformations

    When has the USAF successfully executed a military transformation in response to significant strategic shifts or revolutions in military affairs? What lessons do past examples provide that could assist USAF leadership today? (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Historical Uses of Information in War

    What are the long-term trends in the role and value of information in warfare? How has it shaped conflicts historically? (HAF A5SM)

  • Human/Technology Interface

    The human/technology interface encompasses the ways in which humans engage with and utilize technology to enhance their capabilities, perform tasks more efficiently, and achieve desired outcomes. The interface can range from simple physical interactions, such as pressing buttons or using touch screens, to more complex interactions involving augmented reality, AI, and wearable devices. How can a human/technology interface enhance the span of control a person has over the technology they use? What role does trust play in the successful adoption and integration of technology into human activities? When should we trust AI, and when should we not? What potential risks or challenges are associated with increasing reliance on technology in human decision-making processes? Can we ensure people have appropriate control and autonomy in their interactions with technology to maintain trust and mitigate potential negative consequences? 

    What are the implications of ever more tightly interwoven connections between SOF operators and technology? Are humans always more important than hardware, or, at some point, does technology become more critical? Is it possible that the line between humans and technology becomes blurred via human/machine symbiosis, and if so, what are the potential effects on the development and utilization of SOF?

  • Implementation and Absorption Capacity for New Capabilities and Concepts

    Using unitary analysis or comparative analysis, examine either or both of the USAF/Joint Force and PLA’s capacity to absorb new capabilities and concepts into demonstrated operational utility, identifying recommendations for accelerating change and innovation at scale within the USAF and DoD. (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Improving Conventional and Nuclear Integration (CNI) in Wargaming

    Main Idea: 
    CNI is the ability of the join/combined force to recognize and survive the use of nuclear weapons, reconstitute critical capabilities, and plan and execute integrated multi domain conventional and nuclear combat operations in, around, and through a nuclear environment. This includes ensuring protection and resilience of nuclear command, control, and communication (NC3), through multi-domain operations.  CNI enables the U.S. to continue conventional combat operations in a nuclear effects environment.
    Full Abstract/Description:
    The Joint Force, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and especially Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) must develop concepts of operations tailored to its forces to successfully operate in a nuclear environment. Wargaming provides the opportunity to consider how to prosecute a future conflict with a peer adversary at the conventional level while preparing for the risk of nuclear escalation and prosecuting conventional and nuclear operations simultaneously in a threat environment. It also helps to address gaps and seams in existing doctrine, guidance, tactics, techniques, and procedures.  
    Research Questions:
    How can the Joint Force, USAF, and AFGSC use wargaming to address the following shortfalls in knowledge and capability development to support CNI operations? 
    What are the operational seams/gaps between simultaneous conventional/nuclear execution?
    What are the implications to a nuclear force generation in a stressed environment?
    Are there limiting factors and mitigating strategies for mobile support team (MST) requirements and other stressors on available resources (operations, maintenance, security) during the execution of CNI operations?
    What potential C2 and NC3 issues would exist within a stressed conventional and nuclear environment and how can they be mitigated or overcome?
    Will there be access to key enabling forces during execution of near-simultaneous nuclear and conventional missions in the same geographical area such as tankers, ISR, airlift, etc?
    Justification:
    Various wargames (Futures Game, Global Engagement, etc) have been conducted at the conventional level that have nuclear excursions; however, they have usually been tasked only at investigating strategic decisions and have not been an all-encompassing study that provides actionable data on CNI that can drive programmatic and mission planning. A wargame that is exclusively focused on CNI and its implications in a peer conventional conflict would be applicable for future planning for modernization for both private industry and government.
    Study Will Inform: 
    This study will inform USSTRATCOM, A5/8/10, DTRA, RAND, AFGSC, AFSTRAT, HAF A5/8/10, AETC, ACC, AMC , or any other DOD or US Government agency that could potentially support CNI. The outcomes will advance AFGSC/CC vision, develop nuclear leaders, and further AFGSC strategy and potential force structure with lessons learned that feed AFGSC strategic studies. It will also support deterrence/assurance by demonstrating willingness to study nuclear issues. Participation in wargaming community leads to inclusion of deterrence/assurance objectives in other wargames and acts as a catalyst to mature nuclear analytical models/studies.

  • Influence of Operational Tempo on Nuclear Deterrence

    AI, multi-domain C3BM, and non-kinetic weapons (especially effects at a distance) are allowing an increase in the tempo of decision making and operational tempo. How will the speed of conflict and decision making influence decisions to use nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence?  

     

  • Information - A Joint Function

    What are the Air Force implications for Information being designed as a joint function by the Chairman? Is the emerging service concept of information warfare distinct from information operations as defined by Joint Publication 1-2? If so, how? (ACC/A2)

  • Integration & Building Multi-Capable Airmen in the Nuclear Enterprise for Great Power Competition

    Current CONOPs for Sentinel Integrated Command Centers (ICC) and Integrated Training Facilities (ITF) for the Missile Wings are being devised without integrating one of the key critical nuclear AFSCs, our 1C3s.  This is happening as our CSAF is calling for establishing an NC3 Wing, establishing an Integrated Capabilities Command to "develop competitive operational concepts" and "integrated requirements" to "align with force design" and for structuring our operational wings to execute the mission with assigned airmen and units.  Our previous CSAF called for "multi-capable" airmen.  Each Missile wing is assigned ~15 1C3s.  Are we adequately integrating them into the next era of nuclear deterrence or are we neglecting an opportunity to leverage this substantial manpower to further integrate all assigned airmen into the AFGSC nuclear mission?           Ideally, CP Controllers would be nested in the ICC with the other controllers/operators (MMOC/MSC/Ops) to enable better/quicker C2 to ensure timeliness and accuracy. Picture 1C3 and 13N professionals operating side-by-side in a Wing ICC EA Cell much like they do in our strategic command centers, capitalizing on the different skill sets and assigned/available manning to support the OPLAN.  Not to mention optimizing our human capital development through increased crosstalk and shared responsibility.             Finally, who else is missing from true integration?  Where are the helos?  To paraphrase Col Hundley (90 MW/CD) during a recent 90 MW Sentinel Working Group Meeting, if we are missing [insert Helos, CP, other], are we really integrated?                                            

  • Intelligence in Strategic Competition

    Since the Office of Strategic Services in WWII, intelligence and SOF have had a closely linked history. How have the last two decades shaped the way the SOF intelligence practitioner thinks about intelligence? Within strategic competition, are there new intelligence challenges that SOF is unaccustomed to? If so, how should SOF prepare for those new challenges? Who is the SOF intelligence practitioner needed for strategic competition? How do you cultivate strategic foresight in the SOF practitioner to have the acuity, awareness, and intuition to provide strategic intelligence? How do you distinguish between business-focused and national security-focused adversarial intelligence collection? With the rise of strategic competition, do SOF need to be more counterintelligence focused? Alternatively, does the culture of secrecy surrounding intelligence and SOF hamper SOF practitioners in providing strategic intelligence estimates? 

  • Interoperability, Interdependence, and Integration in Combined Operations with Allies and Partners

    What is the relationship between interoperability, interdependence, and integration in combined operations with allies and partners? Analyze the relationship between interoperability, interdependence, and integration in combined operations with allies and partners. (AF Futures)

  • Interrelationship Between Intelligence and Technology

    Intelligence has a role to play in the identification of emerging technologies and assessment of how they may be used by adversaries. Within the SOE, how can collaboration be encouraged between the intelligence practitioners and the technological specialists? How can SOF best couple bottom-up-driven intelligence and technology solutions with top-down-driven research and acquisition programs? While the technologies are different, the problems of collaboration between two different communities during historical periods of technological disruption may offer ideas to inform current efforts in these areas. Can SOF use case studies of the past emergence of disruptive technologies to transform for the future? How can SOF intelligence exploit technology while maintaining a healthy skepticism of its promises?

  • Irregular and Unconventional Warfare Campaigning

    The SOE has renewed its focus on irregular and unconventional warfare. How can SOF better understand, articulate, and operationalize irregular and unconventional warfare campaigns? What is the relationship between irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, security force assistance, and security cooperation? How can SOF and conventional forces best work together in these areas? Are there gaps in our knowledge of how to carry out irregular and unconventional warfare campaigning? Does current SOF training and education about these types of warfare need to be updated? Have new technologies like satellite and internet communication and inexpensive, highly capable weapons, such as remotely piloted vehicles, caused changes in the ways in which irregular and unconventional warfare can be carried out, or do operational and strategic concepts remain the same? Can SOF’s recent experiences with counter-violent extremist organizations (CVEO) operations provide ideas for how to disrupt adversarial actors? 

    Within irregular warfare, what is a ‘win’? Is ‘win’ the right framing term? What conditions will aid/impede winning? Is it possible to win without fighting? What is the SOF role within irregular warfare? How does that role vary based on geography, adversary, level of conflict, and other variables? Within an environment of strategic competition, how can SOF identify, train, and coordinate networks to deny, degrade, and influence adversary irregular warfare efforts? Historically, when has unconventional warfare been effective in coercing, disrupting, and overthrowing regimes? How does unconventional warfare campaigning interact, or conflict, with concepts of strategic competition and strategic patience? Does the time required for a successful unconventional warfare campaign hinder its ability to be coordinated with conventional warfare campaigns? If so, how can this be mitigated? 

    Security cooperation, to include security assistance and foreign internal defense, has a role to play within both irregular and unconventional warfare. What is SOF’s role in security cooperation, and how can SOF best integrate or coordinate with conventional forces engaged in security cooperation in the same theater? Are there changes required to security cooperation authorities and practices for SOF? What are ways in which adversaries have, or might seek to, hinder security cooperation efforts? 


     

  • Leadership in Combat Wings

    How can USAF officers be developed to lead in the new Combat Wing formation? (AFMISC/A3) 

  • Leadership in JADO

    For successful to JADO, how and when should a joint culture be inculcated into military leaders?

  • Legal, Moral and Ethical Considerations of New Technologies

    What are the core legal, moral, and ethical principles that transcend technology? How can the SOF best prepare for the legal, moral, and ethical challenges inherent in new technologies? How can SOF develop personnel who understand the legal, moral, and ethical implications of new technologies? Legally, what authorities are needed to incorporate new technologies? What is the obligation to inform the SOF user of potential long-term impacts before use? Morally, are there any potential impacts of novel technologies on human rights, privacy, diversity, or environmental sustainability? What ethical dilemmas might be caused by a specific technology, and how can those dilemmas be resolved? How can a technology’s potential moral hazards and moral injuries be avoided or mitigated?

  • Low-Probability, High-Consequence Events

    Typical U.S. military methodologies for quantifying and categorizing risk are not well-suited for some outlier risks. For example, the very low probability, but very high consequence, of a deliberate nuclear attack is a different type of risk compared to a violent extremist organization’s attack. Other examples of low-probability, high-consequence events include the assassination of a world leader or the destruction of a physical item with great cultural significance, such as an irreplaceable religious artefact. How might risk methodologies, decision-making, and resource allocation be characterized to best plan for low-probability, high-consequence events? In addition to characterizing such events, how can the SOE and SOF prepare for the follow-on effects of such an event? What does a campaign of de-escalation look like following an event that could be considered an existential threat? 

  • Measuring Resilience and Resistance

    Resilience and resistance comprise psychological, physical, human, and material approaches to competition, deterrence, and irregular warfare. Such methods can include the transformation of infrastructure to support irregular activities, the hardening of or redundancy of institutions, and preparation of populations for conflict. For military planners struggling for numerical data to evaluate, the quantifiable effectiveness of asymmetric approaches to conflict can prove challenging. What are the measures of effectiveness and measures of performance for SRR in an irregular or conventional threat? One method of evaluating a region or country is through analyses of political, military, economic, social, information, infrastructure, physical environment, and time (PMESII-PT) metrics. Can PMESII-PT or other doctrinal analytical tools usefully measure the capabilities of a resistance movement or the resilience of a nation state? Are there lessons from the application of these analytical tools to counterinsurgency that could be applied to SRR? 

  • Nuclear Deterrence Education

    How do we better educate the Defense Enterprise, at all levels, on the nuclear requirements process, from AFI 63-125 certification requirements to USSTRATCOM OPLAN requirements and required platform capability? How should the Air Force and DoD educate Air Force General Officers on the Nuclear Enterprise, from OPLAN requirements, to mission sets, stockpile management, and generation activities?

  • Organizing for Irregular Warfare

    Does the SOE require organizational changes to better carry out irregular warfare campaigns and operations? Are purpose-built SOF organizations and capabilities needed to successfully wage irregular warfare campaigns against adversaries? If most irregular warfare problems have at least some transregional element, and TSOCs have a regional focus, should the structure and focus of TSOCs be examined? Is there a need for additional TSOCs under U.S. Space Command or U.S. Cyber Command? Would it be helpful to create a transregionally focused irregular warfare headquarters? What would be the advantages and disadvantages to any restructuring of USSOCOM organizations? How do allies, partners, and adversaries conceptualize and organize for irregular warfare, and are there elements from other operations that USSOCOM could incorporate to be more effective?

     

  • P3 Airmen

    How do we determine the optimal organizational construct to be most effective for a squadron leadership team? Is a squadron construct even the best organizational construct for P3 Airmen? (480 ISRW & 693ISRG) 

  • Parasocial Relationships, Social Media, and Radicalization

    Social media engagement has been shown to be a significant pathway to violence, terrorism, fanaticism and recruitment into cultish social formations (Montell 2021), defined as tight, insular groups that bear a resemblance to cults

  • Planning for the unexpected

    How might we more effectively plan for unexpected, or “black swan” events, that might negatively affect critical military operations? (480 ISRW)

  • Post 9/11 Transformations in Warfare

    How has warfare evolved over in the post 9/11 world? (HAF A5SM)

  • Predictive Analytics

    The analysis of large datasets can provide new insights into relationships between variables and potentially enable better predictions of the likelihood of processes and events. Areas of interest to the SOE for these data-driven analytics could include selection, training, scenario development, and contingency planning. How can SOF use tools like predictive analytics and ML to capture important trends and prepare for the future? What new or emerging technology in the field of predictive analytics could help SOF better accomplish its missions in the future? What SOF OAIs are best suited for this type of data-driven analysis? How can SOF incorporate LLMs and user-interface friendly systems like ChatGPT into its operations? What are the risks and benefits of doing so? 

  • Recruitment, Training and Education for Supporting/Advising Resistance

    While resistance and resilience tend to be discussed in terms of the people resisting, or the state or population within which resilience is being built, this topic calls for a shift in focus toward the forces offering support for resistance and/or resilience. Those forces might be U.S. conventional/traditional, SOF, or partner forces. It is widely understood that a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds and experience are relevant to the area of resistance and resilience. How can the United States government (USG) ensure those diverse perspectives are captured in recruitment, training, and education efforts? What impact might a resilience and resistance focus have on recruiting efforts? How can the DOD ensure that those recruited to the Joint Force understand the nature of activities associated with resistance and resilience and the differences with more kinetic-oriented, conventional military activities? What is the existing state of education and training efforts on resistance and resilience, and where are there gaps or untapped potential? How do we instill a counterintelligence mindset in a populace to deny foreign intelligence entity collection and exploitation, especially since intelligence operations can either advance or undermine resistance and resilience?

    Within the USG, to what degree is there a common understanding of the nature of support to resistance and resilience, and what education and training might be necessary internally to develop or augment that understanding across not just the services, but the wider interagency? How can we mesh training and education in this area to optimize outcomes? Which organizations should take the lead facilitating that training and education, and why? Is there value in a special-skill identifier for resilience and resistance expertise? Are there generalizable principles, or best practices, in education for resilience and resistance which partners can agree upon? What doctrinal efforts can build upon the Resistance Operating Concept for common practices? What is SOF’s role in a civil defense campaign?

  • Reestablishing Nuclear Surety Culture at Previous Nuclear Installations

    Installations responsible for the initial beddown of the B-21 will face immense cultural challenges in the transition from a purely conventional outlook to one that embraces the unnegotiable tenets of nuclear surety, in conjunction with conventional taskings. The requisite expertise does not currently exist organically in the affected wings, particularly in areas of training, education, personnel, and most importantly, leadership. AFGSC and the nuclear enterprise writ large much reframe their approach to addressing these shortcomings in a comprehensive, deliberate manner to ensure a robust cultural foundation of nuclear surety to guarantee the continued credibility of sixth-generation nuclear weapons systems like the B-21.

  • Resilience

    How can the AF (and other services) develop resilience and support 21st Century Airmen and their dependents? (HAF/A1Z)

     

  • Role of Military Education in Adapting to Change

    How does Professional Military Education (PME) handle changes in the character of warfare? What are the current USAF educational strategies? How can these programs evolve to prepare for future emerging challenges?  (HAF A5SM)

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • Social Impact of Technological Change

    Throughout history, technology had been influential in driving societal change. Most recently, this has included an evolving relationship with information, characterized by innovations that have transformed how information is transmitted, stored, and ultimately used.

  • Societal Cohesion in Crisis

    The ability of a group, or society more broadly, to hold together is central to social life. As the nature of the social unit varies cross-culturally and across political systems, this topic seeks to understand the nuances of shifting social and political cohesion in the face of diverse and evolving crisis situations.

  • SOF Cognition

    Cognition is “the states and processes involved in knowing, which in their completeness include perception and judgment. Cognition includes all conscious and unconscious processes by which knowledge is accumulated, such as perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, and reasoning.” How can the SOE and SOF identify and address aspects of cognition that affect both their personnel and their organization? 

    At the individual level, how can we measure and build SOF resilience? Can we better understand the mental processes that lead to posttraumatic stress and suicidality as well as post-traumatic growth? Might research into cognition provide insights for POTFF programs? At the organizational level, how do we support cognitive decisionmaking on teams and across the SOE? What role does cognition play in terms of the assessment of risk? How can the SOE work to encourage and incorporate divergent and creative thinking within SOF? What might the benefits be of incorporating creative problemsolving? What are the risks of such encouragement, and how can those risks be mitigated?

  • SOF Educational Foci

    Formal education programs for SOF practitioners are available at several different military educational institutions. There are service-specific schools as well as joint educational opportunities. Is current education and training adequate to prepare for strategic competition? Is the content, type, and timing of education appropriate to meet the requirements of SOF? What does ‘SOFpeculiar education’ encompass? Should there be a SOF intake course before component training? What are the critical skills for a joint SOF officer? How do the educational touchpoints for SOF officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) support or affect their careers? How can the SOE best develop and nurture creative thinkers within a hierarchical/rules-based organization? How do we educate SOF professionals about evolving national strategies, policies, and mandates and the impacts these changes have on SOF operations?

    JSOU is unique among military educational institutions, as it is the only one that reports directly to USSOCOM. Where should JSOU’s focus be? Should JSOU be educating SOF practitioners and SOE personnel, nurturing critical and creative thinking, or developing SOF advocates? Should JSOU become a service-like school?

  • SOF Repetitive Assignments

    While the service personnel commands may view repetitive assignments in the same combatant command area of responsibility (AOR) negatively as they are not broadening, geographic combatant commands and TSOCs may view such repetitive assignments in the same combatant command AOR as beneficial due to increased experience within the operational environment. How can these opposing views be reconciled to achieve the objectives of the services, the combatant commands, and the personal goals of service members? What changes to the personnel system of each service would do the most to improve SOF relations with partners in each combatant command AOR?

  • SOF Specialties

    Within SOE personnel, there are a multitude of diverse sociocultural and geographic backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. Individuals with these perspectives can provide the SOE with insights into specific regions, cultures, and social groups. How can USSOCOM better track and manage SOF professionals’ talent to fully harness specific specialties—to include unique cultural experience, technical knowledge, language capability, and cross-cultural understanding—for cross-enterprise use in taskings, assignment selection, and career progress/mentorship? Additionally, how can the SOE best incorporate other perspectives it has access to, such as other U.S. uniformed services, USG agencies, allies and partners, and non-governmental organizations? 

    Once these perspectives are captured, they should then be implemented within operations to make the SOE and SOF more effective in carrying out their missions. By utilizing these perspectives, how can SOF better work to understand, assess, and build relationships with marginalized groups? How can the SOE utilize such marginalized groups to help inform irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, and other SOF functions and operations? 

     

  • SOF Talent Management

    While talent management remains an enduring priority for SOF, the contemporary environment offers unique issues that the SOE must address. The end of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the rise of strategic competition mean that SOF may need to reprioritize its missions and capabilities. Are there operational and organizational paradigms that need to be reconsidered to better develop SOF for the challenges of the future operating environment? Who is the current SOF practitioner and how did that practitioner evolve? What are the key attributes of the future SOF professional, and do they differ from the key attributes from historical SOF professionals? If SOF must operate within an environment of strategic competition, how can they be encouraged to cultivate ‘strategic interest’ or ‘strategic empathy’ in the world early in their career progression? How does the DOD culture and system affect the individual and the individual’s ability to operate in the strategic environment? What enhancements in competency, cognition, performance, and total health could enable SOF to better navigate the changing human and technology landscapes within the current operational environment?

  • SOF's Integrative Role in Coalition Operations

    USSOCOM maintains ties to allied and partner SOF, but does that SOF partner network require transformation and adjustment for better effectiveness in strategic competition? What specific roles should SOF prioritize developing within the current strategic environment with respect to strategic competition and integrated deterrence? SOF have a unique capacity to build relationships with allies and partners. How can SOF best leverage those partnerships? What can SOF do to enable a coalition fight, and how can they communicate that with conventional forces? How can SOF better collaborate with the Joint Force in areas such as helping to build resistance and resilience in the host nation, preparing an environment for potential future conflict, and integrating a host nation into coalition operations? 

  • Space Force & the "Warfighting" mindset

    How does the Space Force develop a "warfighting" mindset? Does the Space Force need a "warfighting" mindset?

  • Space Force Culture

    With the separation from the Air Force, the Space Force needs to establish its own identity and culture as a separate service branch. (ROPS, Museum Staff, 50 OSS & HQ USSF/SED) 

  • Strategic Blind Spots in Modern Conflict

    Are there useful methods of blind spot analysis that could be utilized to uncover obsolete, incomplete, or incorrect assumptions? What role do historical case studies play in overcoming blind spots? How can the study of lessons learned from recent operations provide valuable insights to help the DoD avoid these pitfalls? (JSOU)

  • Strategic Leadership

    What role do strategic leaders play in effectively managing changes in the character of war? How do leadership practices need to adapt to the changing character of war? (HAF A5SM)

  • Strategic Patience and Campaigning

    SRR poses particular challenges in the context of metrics of ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ in strategic competition. How do you win an ongoing competition? Winning might look like sustaining the status quo or gaining amorphous, incremental ‘wins’ in terms of resilience, influence, or trust, but the desirability of clearly identifiable quick wins and avoiding any perceived loss are powerful motivators for short-term thinking. How can SOF inculcate a culture that recognizes incremental progress and encourages consideration of metrics of success beyond one operation cycle or stint in a leadership role? 

    Are strategic competition and SRR necessarily a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers? What role can and should ‘strategic patience’ play in SRR? Are there historical examples that might help our understanding of competition and SRR over the longer term? Would a campaigning perspective on resistance and resilience aid in longer-term thinking? How can SOF ensure that realistic timelines for success are shared with partners and allies? Are there examples of benchmarks for resistance and resilience that might serve to increase understanding of SRR? How might those benchmarks be developed and reassessed over time via a campaign? The Russian war in Ukraine has shown external support takes time. 

    How did Ukraine build that support and sustain it over time? What lessons for winning and losing (in the context of SRR) might be derived from the Ukrainian experience for the United States, its allies, partners, and adversaries?

  • Sustainability of the Force

    During the past two decades, SOF have conducted innumerable counterterrorism and direct-action activities around the world in places like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The taxing operational tempo and unforgiving dwell time of operational units resulted in former USSOCOM Commander Admiral William McRaven standing up the Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF) initiative to ensure readiness, longevity, and performance of SOF and to strengthen family readiness. How effectively has POTFF addressed the needs of special operations personnel during the long wars? Has the new challenge of strategic competition changed how USSOCOM should approach sustainability of the force? What are the greatest challenges today for retention of quality people and the approach required to maintain their efforts? Does support to resilience and resistance undertakings pose unique challenges for sustaining special operations personnel both today and tomorrow? What is the optimal balance for dwell time in support to SRR? Does SRR pose distinctive ethical dilemmas for personnel that need to be addressed? How does the SOE secure its own resilience against external forces and factors?

    What is the long-term impact of the current defense drawdowns on the future SRR force structure? Are conventional forces prepared and integrated into organizational design for SRR? Should SRR comprise a U.S. Army Special Operations approach, or should it include the other special operations service components? What does the SRR organizational structure look like at the tactical, operational, and strategic level? Which metrics should be utilized to analyze SRR force structure?

  • Temporal Orientation and Strategic Considerations

    In The Politics and Science of Prevision: Governing and Probing the Future, Wenger, Jasper, and Cavelty (2020) state that modern “shifts in global economics and politics are in line with asynchronous shifts in the temporal thinking in Western and in Chinese politics.” The quote specifically references Chinese temporal orientation as distinct to the West, yet differences in perceptions of temporality exist across the world, as time plays a factor in worldview, outlook, decision-making processes, and in other cultural aspects. Where differences exist, they may create tensions between actors and impact relationships. These impacts may affect strategic interactions, and thus require deeper understanding.

  • Understanding the Will to Resist

    Support to Resistance and Resilience (SRR) is focused on people— both for the populations who are building resilience and resistance skills, and on the SOF professionals who advise and assist those populations. Understanding, defining, and measuring the will to resist is a complex topic. What is the relationship between the people and their will to resist? What is SOF’s role in shaping the will to resist? Is there a difference between will to win and will to fight? Should capturing a willingness to resist be focused on the group or individual level? How can you measure a given group or individual’s will to resist, especially when that will is likely to vary over time? If we can better measure will to resist, might that inform where the next resistance movement will be likely to occur? 

  • USAF Organizational Changes

    How should the USAF changes its organization to effectively adapt to the changing character of war? (HAF A5SM)

     

     

  • War Termination Processes and Prospects

    Dynamics of war termination have evolved over time, from the more limited aims of wars in the eighteenth century, through the more decisive objectives of many wars in the 19th and early 20th centuries, then back to the “limited wars” of the Cold War period. As such, there is an evolving need to understand the means by which contemporary conditions affect how leaders seek to terminate conflicts and the conditions under which they will be successful.

  • Wargaming for Competitive Statecraft

    The terms wargaming, simulations, and practica can all be used to describe similar operational exercises that are focused on providing decision support to various courses of action. Each term is used by a different audience: military (wargaming), interagency (simulation), and academe (practica). Should SOF reconsider their terminology and definition of this type of activity to more broadly encompass the OAIs involved in competitive statecraft? How can the SOE integrate their activities in this area with interagency, academe, and other partners who may not have the same culture of wargaming? 

CSAF Priorities

  • Iran's cyber capabilities

    What are Iranian cyber tactics, techniques, and procedures? What are the trends in Iranian cyber operations? (US Cyber Command)

Arctic

    There does not appear to be any research for this topic.

Cyber

  • Cyber Force Structure

    How can the USAF optimize current Cyber Force Structure? (HAF A2/6)

  • Analytic Certification

    Does Analytic Certification provide a path toward Enhanced IC Analytic Effectiveness? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Artificial Intelligence analyzing forensic data and patterns of life

    Can AI be harnessed to analyze forensic data and patterns of life to assist the ISRD in building ISR packages? Can it analyze real-time data to assist re-tasking of existing assets in theater? (319 RW)

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning in Misinformation and Disinformation

    Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), to include the widespread promulgation of easily accessible large language models (LLM), appear to be ushering in a new era of misinformation and disinformation. What impact will AI/ML have on the speed at which misinformation and disinformation can be created and spread? What AI/ML-enabled capabilities can promote resistance to disinformation? How can we counter adversarial messaging that utilizes LLM? 

    What are the training and education requirements for the use of AI/ML within SOF? How can SOF practitioners leverage AI/ ML and other new technology at the individual and small-unit levels? Does the rise of AI/ML affect the skillsets needed at both individual and organizational levels to conduct the Information joint function? Within the SOE and SOF, how do you develop resiliency to misinformation and disinformation? How can SOF capabilities such as psychological operations best utilize AI/ML and LLMs? How can we use commercial off-the-shelf technology to promote resiliency to misinformation and disinformation both with U.S. SOF and our partners and allies? 

  • Benchmarking Fuel Usage

    Develop better simulations of fuel usage that can inform mission planning tools or provide benchmarks for anomaly detection in real-time or post-mission analysis. (SAF/IEN)

  • Black Swan Capabilities

    Historically, technological innovations drive changes to the ways in which conflicts are fought. However, it is not always easy to see which technologies will drive such changes, or the ways that such technologies will be incorporated and deployed by militaries. New technologies in a variety of areas offer both promise and peril and demand our attention as they provide the potential for black swan (improbable, high-impact) or gray rhino (probable, high-impact, but neglected) events.7 How can the SOE best identify emerging technologies? Do SOF have strategic blind spots when it comes to emerging technologies—is it focused in certain areas but not in others? How can the SOE assess or forecast the impact of emerging technologies? How can SOF experiment and incorporate emerging disruptive technologies within current fiscal constraints? How can the SOE best share new knowledge of military applications of emerging technologies across its organizations? Is there a need for new statutory and other relevant authorities for public–private sector cooperation to provide SOF access to the latest innovations? How can SOF leverage and explore new technologies while limiting their exposure to the risks that accompany these technologies? What are the emerging technologies, such as AI/ML, neuromorphic and biotechnologies, and new power sources, which could affect SOF capabilities, both positively and negatively? Are there risks associated with reliance on and expectations of technology?

  • Contemporary Artificial Intelligence Capability

    What off-the-shelf Artificial Intelligence capability could be quickly incorporated into the AOC? (PACAF/CC)

  • Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts

    How can the AF gain strategic, operational, and tactical advantages over peer and near-peer competitors in future conflicts leveraging Cyber-Physical System (CPS) concepts to effectively identify, characterize, defend against, and respond to cyber-threats and attacks across all AFIN enclaves, coupled with advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing? (ACC/A6O)

  • Cyberspace Awareness/Operations Sensors

    Can we improve cyberspace awareness by improving the management of “operations” sensors and their ability to enhance the staff analytics supporting decision-making and execution? (CO-IPE (STRAT))

  • Data Convergence/Analytics

    How can data tools drive analytical collaboration at the tactical level, and create white space for decision makers to maintain a decision advantage across the conflict continuum? (480 ISRW)

  • Data Convergence/Information Warfare

    Can Army notions of data convergence in the tactical realm be extrapolated and applied in the information warfare environment to achieve automation of data sharing across functions and domains? (16 AF)

  • Disposition of Forces (DOF) Consolidation

    How do we optimize the dissemination, visualization, storage, and cataloging of battlespace characterization data and Disposition of Forces (DOF) production? (480 ISRG)

  • Efficient Fine Tuning of Large Language Models

    What are the most robust ways to incorporate new data sets into a large language model that do not truncate the breadth of data available while simultaneously allowing for complex answers and minimizing hallucinations? (16 AF/A5)

  • Ethical implications of increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning

    As advances in computing are implemented in JADO, what are the ethical implications of increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning?

  • Future Battle Networks

    Analyze potential developments in battle networks as integrated systems of sensors, analytics, and strike.  (HAF A5SM)

  • Generative Adversarial Networks

    What are some potential defensive measures for mitigating the threat of Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs)? (AF-A8)

  • Human/Technology Interface

    The human/technology interface encompasses the ways in which humans engage with and utilize technology to enhance their capabilities, perform tasks more efficiently, and achieve desired outcomes. The interface can range from simple physical interactions, such as pressing buttons or using touch screens, to more complex interactions involving augmented reality, AI, and wearable devices. How can a human/technology interface enhance the span of control a person has over the technology they use? What role does trust play in the successful adoption and integration of technology into human activities? When should we trust AI, and when should we not? What potential risks or challenges are associated with increasing reliance on technology in human decision-making processes? Can we ensure people have appropriate control and autonomy in their interactions with technology to maintain trust and mitigate potential negative consequences? 

    What are the implications of ever more tightly interwoven connections between SOF operators and technology? Are humans always more important than hardware, or, at some point, does technology become more critical? Is it possible that the line between humans and technology becomes blurred via human/machine symbiosis, and if so, what are the potential effects on the development and utilization of SOF?

  • Implementing AI & ML for cyber-enabled information operations

    What AI-enabled suite of tools could enable the Information Warfare NAF to increase the pace and quality of Information Operations? What are the critical policy and technical limitations to harnessing AI and ML tools for the modernization of U.S. cyber-enabled information operations and what are the key requirements for solutions to overcome these limitations? (16 AF/A39)

  • Influence of Operational Tempo on Nuclear Deterrence

    AI, multi-domain C3BM, and non-kinetic weapons (especially effects at a distance) are allowing an increase in the tempo of decision making and operational tempo. How will the speed of conflict and decision making influence decisions to use nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence?  

     

  • Intelligence Production in Agile Combat Employment

    What LLM solutions can be used to develop methods, processes, applications, capabilities, etc. enabling rapid production at scale to meet future demands associated with the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept? (363 ISRW)

  • Nationality of an autonomous system

    What defines the nationality of an autonomous system? How does this affect their operational employment? (AF Futures)

  • Operational Assessment in the Information Environment

    Given the complexities of human behavior and decision-making, how should the joint force approach operational assessment in the information environment? How can the Air Force enable that approach through the application of new tradecraft, data science, behavioral analysis, and sensors? (16 AF)

  • Predictive Analytics

    The analysis of large datasets can provide new insights into relationships between variables and potentially enable better predictions of the likelihood of processes and events. Areas of interest to the SOE for these data-driven analytics could include selection, training, scenario development, and contingency planning. How can SOF use tools like predictive analytics and ML to capture important trends and prepare for the future? What new or emerging technology in the field of predictive analytics could help SOF better accomplish its missions in the future? What SOF OAIs are best suited for this type of data-driven analysis? How can SOF incorporate LLMs and user-interface friendly systems like ChatGPT into its operations? What are the risks and benefits of doing so? 

  • SOF in a Technological World

    As technology expands in both sophistication and reach, the SOE must adapt to keep up with, and take advantage of, technologies. What are the risks and opportunities of these technologies, and what are the limitations or thresholds associated with new capabilities? How can the trustworthiness of such technologies be determined? Within personnel, will computer-to-brain interfaces enhance SOF performance? Will AI/ML and LLMs change USSOCOM processes and operations? What are the legal and ethical standards for the use of such technology? Will remotely piloted and/or autonomous systems change expeditionary logistics, maneuver, and disbursement of resources and sustainment in a contested environment? How might quantum computing affect offensive and defensive cyber operations? How can SOF exploit existing infrastructure to cover their electronic tracks, and how might adversaries use technology to track SOF? Does the spread of technology correspond with an increasing difficulty for covert or clandestine operations?

  • Strategic Basing

    Develop a relatively high-fidelity simulation of an average year of training for a unit (ideally F-16 or F-35) to develop comparative metrics that can inform the basing process. (SAF/IEN)

  • Technological Impacts on Ethical Autonomy

    The integration of wearable, edible, or injectable technology for SOF can potentially raise concerns about the loss of autonomy in making ethical decisions. Wearable devices, such as smartwatches or fitness trackers, can collect vast amounts of personal data about our behaviors, activities, and health. The risk lies in the potential misuse or exploitation of this data, which could erode personal privacy and autonomy. Could external entities and malicious actors with access to such data manipulate individual choices or influence decision-making through targeted persuasive techniques? Edible technology refers to ingestible devices or substances, such as smart pills or edible sensors. While these technologies can provide valuable health monitoring or targeted drug delivery, there is a risk of overreliance and loss of agency. Can people become too dependent on such technologies for managing their health or decision-making processes? Could they inadvertently surrender their autonomy to technology or entities controlling it? Injectables include implanting devices or substances into the body, such as microchips or smart implants. These can offer benefits, such as enhanced cognitive capabilities or medical monitoring. Risks include potential unauthorized access to implanted devices, data breaches, or manipulation of bodily functions or behaviors. Such vulnerabilities may compromise personal autonomy and privacy. What are the potential risks or challenges the SOE should consider regarding the loss of SOF ethical autonomy when using wearable technology, edibles, or injectables? What measures can be taken to ensure individuals maintain their autonomy and ethical decision-making capabilities while using such technologies?

  • Technological Support to Resilience or Resistance

    Technology is already playing an increasing role in multiple aspects of the security environment and will undoubtedly continue to do so in our ability to identify the need for, assess the potential for, and support resilience and resistance. How might the innovative use of new and emerging technologies enable SOF efforts to support resilience and resistance in developed, underdeveloped, fragile, and/ or at-risk countries and regions? What might be some of the roles of AI/ML in assessing, building, enabling, and supporting SRR in deterrence, competition, or armed conflict? In contrast, does the integration of ‘low-tech’ solutions to SSR provide any advantage in the future operating environment, and if so, where, and how? How might an infusion of standard technologies across select allies and partners support global fusion in the application of SRR against global and transregional threats? How does the level of technological development, and technological saturation within a society, contribute to, detract from, or otherwise impact the potential and challenges to SRR? How might technologies enable the assessment of a group, population, or country’s will to resist? How might the democratization of technology within a society, and its potential adversary, enable SRR across the spectrum of subversion, coercion, and aggression? What does the role of the protection of technological advantage play in enabling SRR?

  • The Future of Information and Influence

    There are many ways in which current technologies shape the ways that people receive information. The ability to create realistic, believable information, events, documents, pictures, and video based on a computer prompt makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. The combination of virtual reality and augmented reality offers the ability to virtually see, ‘be with,’ and respond in real time to another person anywhere in the world. What are the second and third-order effects of such technologies on information operations and strategic influence campaigns? If distinguishing the truth becomes increasingly difficult, will there be a corresponding reaction in which groups or individuals care less about the ‘truth’ or simply distrust everything not seen to occur with their own eyes? What are the implications of such distrust? Will societies become less vulnerable to disinformation, but also less receptive to strategic messaging? How might virtual interactive experiences be utilized to develop strategic influence? Training and education with partners and allies can provide a form of relationship building that may lead to strategic influence. Does virtual training and education build the same relationships, and have the same strategic effects, as in-person interactions? 

  • The Limits of AI and Big Data Technology

    What assumptions currently pervade military culture about AI and Big Data that, from a social science perspective, are inaccurate and counterproductive? (JSOU)

  • Trust in non-US autonomous systems

    How do we ensure sufficient trust in non-US autonomous systems to support multinational human-machine teaming? (AF Futures)

  • Usage of AI in USAF Installation & Mission Support Operations

    How can emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, be integrated into the operational workflows of various Air Force units? What are the challenges in effectively transitioning to AI-driven decision-making processes within Air Force installation and mission support operations? (772 ESS)

  • Usage of AI in USAF Maintenance & Logistics

    How can emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, be integrated into the operational workflows of various Air Force units? What are the challenges in effectively transitioning to AI-driven decision-making processes within Air Force maintenance and logistics operations? (772 ESS)

  • Use of AI in Civilian Hiring Process

    Can AI be leveraged to improve the timeliness and accuracy of the civilian hiring process? (AFMISC/A1)

  • Utilizing Internet-Of-Things (IOT) sensors or similar physical sensing systems

    How can the AF leverage in-situ or fortuitously placed Internet-Of-Things (IOT) sensors or similar physical sensing systems coupled with cyber-surveillance to collect data and information to overcome barriers to physical proximity and access and coupled with cyber-reconnaissance to collect data and information associated with adversary personnel and systems in order to meet collection and observation needs, to capture essential elements of information, and to determine the state of key adversary indicators required to mitigate information and intelligence gaps? (ACC/A22C)

China

  • Adversary Approaches to Political Warfare and Information Warfare

    How do the approaches by Russia and China to modern political warfare, in particular the exploitation of the information environment to manipulate, coerce, and control, potentially provide a model for the U.S. to understand the nature of modern political warfare by our adversaries and counter it? (JSOU)

  • Air Mobility in a kinetic/contested environment with China

    What will be the impact of a kinetic/contested environment with China on Air Mobility? How can Air Mobility plan to operate in this environment?  (AMC/CC)

  • Arctic, the Antarctic, and the Indo-Pacific

    What is the importance of the Arctic and Antarctic to the Indo-Pacific theater? (PACAF)

  • Battlefield Airman for Duty in the Pacific AOR

    Better Trained and Equipped Battlefield Airman (TACP, CCT, etc.) for Duty in the Pacific AOR (PACAF/A9L)

  • China vs. India at the Line of Actual Control: Implications for the Indo-Pacific

    A study on the geostrategic, political, and military implications of the continued standoff between China and India, including lessons learned of the PRC’s handling of the situation through military actions, media communications, and world politics. (PACAF)

  • China's critical cyber vulnerabilities

    What are the critical cyber vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the CCP/PLA? What are critical weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Chinese military networks? (US Cyber Command)

  • China's global expansion

    How does China's global expansion impact the aerospace domain?  (CASI)

  • China's Soft Power/Economic Power Approaches

    Analysis of China's use of soft power, particularly its use of economic power. (CASI)

  • China's TTPs for cyber incidents

    What are CCP/PLA tactics, techniques, procedures, and standard operating procedures for military and civilian government responses to cyber incidents? How do CCP/PLA cyber teams cooperate with each other? (US Cyber Command) 

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Air Defense

    How has changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Conventional Precision Strike

    How has changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - EW and Network Operations

    How has changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Non War military activities

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity?

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Nuclear Missions

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)



     

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Space Operations

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Support to Ground or Maritime Operations

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Chinese Aerospace Policies

    What are China's national-level policies that are directly related or partially overlap with the aerospace industry or domain? (CASI)

  • Chinese civil-military relations

    What is the balance of civil-military relations in Chinese strategy? (OSD)

  • Chinese commercial support of cyber operations

    How does China leverage commercial entities to support its cyberspace operations? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese Economic Ties to India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    How is China imposing costs on India, South Korea, Japan & Australia? How could their economic ties to China limit their economic choices? (HAF A5SM)

  • Chinese leadership tasking cyber-actors

    How does CCP/PLA senior leadership task the various cyber-actors: government and proxies? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese Naval Capabilities

    Analysis of PRC's naval capabilities. (CASI)

  • Chinese Propaganda

    What is the Communist Party / Peoples' Liberation Army (CCP/PLA's) propaganda apparatus structure, strategy, and capabilities? (US Cyber Command)

  • Chinese use of resistance groups

    What foreign irregular armed groups have the PRC supported in the past or continue to support? What nonviolent civil resistance movements have the PRC supported in the past? (JSOU)

  • Chinese Views of specific US systems

    What are the PRC views of specific US military systems, what threat they pose, and discussions of countering these systems? (CASI)

  • Chinese Views of US operations

    What are the PRC views of US military operations and what lessons can be learned from those operations? (CASI)

  • Chinese Views of US presence in region

    How does the PRC and PLA view U.S. military forces in the Indo-Pacific region? (CASI)

  • Cost Imposition in Strategic Competition

    What role, if any, did USAF programs, postures, or concepts play in the changes to the PRC’s Strategic Guideline (zhanlue fangzhen)? (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Directed Energy Weapons Impact on Taiwan Straits Conflict

    Does the Chinese Communist Party's directed energy weapons advancements compromise US, allies, and partner nations’ advanced weapons systems capabilities in a potential Taiwan Strait conflict?  (AFTAC)

  • Effectively Assessing OAI Impacts to PRC behavior

    PACAF requires analysis to help develop methodologies to accurately, succinctly, and effectively capture the cumulative impacts of Operations, Activities, and Investments (OAI) over time on PRC perceptions and behaviors and PACAF desired objectives. (PACAF/A303)

     

  • Foreign Operating Concepts in Air Warfare

    How are nation-state and non-nation-state objectives and their associated operating concepts influencing the changing dynamics of air warfare? (HAF A5SM)

  • Gender Equality in support of the Pacific Strategy

    How do the US, as well as closest allies and partners, use our strategic and cultural advantage in pursuing gender equality to our benefit? (PACAF/A8XR)

  • Historic PRC–Taiwan Provocation Cycle

    Provide a historic analysis of PRC military provocation toward Taiwan through the lens of politics (US administration, PRC leadership, TWN leadership), PRC military capabilities, US regional posture, economic context, and information environments. (PACAF)

  • Historical Lessons for Operations in the Pacific

    For example, how does General George Kenney’s approach in the South Pacific compare to what will be required in a future conflict with China? (AMC/CC)

  • Human Rights as a Weapons System

    How could the DoD utilize human rights as a weapon system against strategic competitors? (JSOU) 

  • Impact of Dynamic Force Employment on Indo-Pacific Bomber Deterrence

    How can the U.S. optimize deterrence and assurance within the Bomber Task Force (BTF)/Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) construct? Shifting from Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), how can the U.S. increase its deterrence advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia? (AF/A10P & AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Implementation and Absorption Capacity for New Capabilities and Concepts

    Using unitary analysis or comparative analysis, examine either or both of the USAF/Joint Force and PLA’s capacity to absorb new capabilities and concepts into demonstrated operational utility, identifying recommendations for accelerating change and innovation at scale within the USAF and DoD. (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Integrated air and missile defense mission in INDOPACOM AOR

    How do we as a coalition of the willing in the INDOPACOM AOR gain parity and subsequently surpass regional actors in IAMD architecture to a level that will deter China from military action and if not, leave the coalition in a position to effectively execute combat operations in the region without being overwhelmed by emerging threats? (PACAF/PIC)

  • Nuclear Issues in Strategic Competition

    The rise of strategic competition as the defining feature of the contemporary strategic environment has renewed the discussion of the threats posed by nuclear states. China, Russia, and North Korea are all nuclear powers, and Iran has aspirations in this area. Yet each of these states poses different nuclear weapons risks. Within its counterweapons of mass destruction mandate, how can SOF best understand and prepare against the most likely and most dangerous threats emanating from these disparate states? What could appropriate responses look like against a wide variety of nuclear threats?

  • Personnel within the PLA

    Analysis of the PLA's personnel. (CASI)

  • PLA C2 and Decision Making

    What are the command authorities and decision making processes within the PLA? (CASI)

  • PLA Meteorological Challenges and Dependencies

    What are the meteorological challenges and dependencies that a PLA combined arms assault on Taiwan would face? (557 WW) 

  • PLA Morale

    What is the overall state of morale within the PLA? (CASI)

  • PLA organization and command culture

    How does the organization of the PLA and its command culture affect how the PLA makes decisions and fights? (CASI)

  • PLA Political work

    How does the PLA conduct political work? How does the PLA perceive political work contributing to force effectiveness? (CASI)

  • PLA's acquisition system

    How effectively can the PLA's acquisition system translate requirements into delivered systems? (CASI)

  • PRC aerospace industry

    What is the ability of the PRC's aerospace industry to emulate, innovate, develop, prototype, refine, and finalize aerospace systems? (CASI)

  • PRC industry actors

    How are they connected to the state and military? To what extent can they support military requirements? (CASI)

  • PRC's "Military Civil Fusion" strategy

    Analysis of PRC's "Military Civil Fusion" strategy. How does the MCF support PLA operations in aerospace domains? (CASI)

  • Prioritizing US Investments in Asia-Pacific Region

    What capabilities and potential investments should the US consider to offset the effects of the US-China strategic competition in the region? In particular, what opportunities are there in the development of defense, technology, and infrastructure? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • Sino-Russian Security Cooperation & Competition

    What are the opportunities and challenges surrounding Sino-Russian cooperation? How are Russia & China competing? How does this affect their military alignment, particularly in the Arctic and with Central Asian states? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Special Operations Command Africa

    Operations in this AOR often face challenges with economy-offorce missions across a large continent. How can SOF best work with other USG agencies, as well as allies and partners, to fulfill their missions? In what ways can SOF help extend legitimate government control into areas where governance is contested? How can SOF maintain a U.S. presence across Africa, especially in countries where adversaries seek to gain power and influence? What is SOF’s role in resistance and resilience in Africa, and what challenges specific to the continent does it face? How can SOF best respond to climatological changes that drive economic, social, demographic, and cultural crises? 

  • Special Operations Command North

    How can SOF best prepare for future operations in the Arctic? What does the enlargement of NATO to include Finland and Sweden mean for the region? What are the interoperability requirements between SOF and conventional forces operating in the region, such as Coast Guard icebreakers and Navy submarines? Are there new capabilities or technologies that are required for operations in this environment? What can U.S. SOF learn from allies and partners that routinely operate in the Arctic? How might SOF best work with the USG interagency, as well as allies and partners, to understand and partner with Arctic peoples? 

  • Special Operations Command Pacific and Special Operations Command Korea

    Rising sea levels will, over the next decades, be the source of a variety of economic and social issues across the Indo-Pacific Command, which may drive conflicts in the region. These issues include natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage agriculture and trade, affect refugee flows, create challenges to port infrastructure, and impact changes to navigable waterways and sea routes. How can SOF better understand and adapt to this potentially destabilizing environment, and how can they best support allied and partner nations facing these issues?

  • Sustainment for Dispersed Forces in the Pacific

    Sustainment solutions for fuel and munitions in the Pacific theater. (PACAF/A4DX) 

     

  • US Approach to Strategic Partnerships

    What are strategies that can be used to enhance the Department's approach to strategic security, economic, and technology partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region? (HAF A5SM)

Logistics

Deterrence

  • Are Nukes Still the Answer?

    Why should we still invest and employ nuclear weapons? No other country has shown the tangible will to utilize nuclear weapons. We all stay postured due to other countries Can we disarm to win? What would be the effect if the U.S. would be the first country to disarm?

  • Ballistic Missile Defense/Air Defense & Nuclear Proliferation

    What is the evolving role of Ballistic Missile Defense/Air Defense systems in a nuclear-proliferated environment? (HAF A5SM)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Nuclear Missions

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)



     

  • CNI--How to Integrate Conventional and Nuclear Munition on American Bomber and Fighter Aircraft

    Current US policy restricts the military from loading conventional and nuclear weapons on the same aircraft.  This old cold war practice does not fit into the modern warfare paradigm. 

  • Conflict Dynamics in Proliferated Environments

    How have the dynamics of conflict changed in regions where nuclear proliferation has already occurred? (HAF A5SM)

  • Consolidating X1/X2/X3 into single career field

    Should X1/X2/X3 be consolidated into a single career field in order to gain efficiencies and generalization for missile maintenance technicians? (20 AF)

  • Conventional Conflict's Impact On The Air Leg Of The Triad

    What are the effects of prolonged conventional conflict on the nuclear air leg capabilities? How credible will that deterrent be after engaging in a prolonged conventional conflict? (AF/A10C)

  • Conventional-Nuclear Integration Capabilities of US Allies

    With US allies operating alongside of US forces, what is the CNI proficiency and capabilities of U.S. allies? How would cooperation on CNI with allies impact deterrence? (AF/A10)

     

  • Cyber's Impact on Risk Mitigation and Integrated Deterrence

    How might offensive and defensive cyber capabilities be implemented into existing or new risk mitigation frameworks (e.g. arms control treaties and agreements) in order to manage strategic stability? (AF/A10)

  • Deterrence in Era of Nuclear Proliferation

    How has increased nuclear proliferation affected the deterrence strategies and postures of the US and regional powers? (HAF A5SM)

  • Deterrence in Post-Missile Age

    In a hypothetical scenario that Sentinel would be the country's last ICBM, what would US strategic deterrence look like in a post-ICBM age? (20 AF)

  • Deterrence in Space

    What potential uses of the latest space technologies can serve as deterrence? (50 OSS)

  • Disruptive Technology's Effect On Deterrence

    What effect does disruptive technology such as artificial intelligence and quantum computing have on deterrence? (AF/A10C)

  • Effectiveness of Extended Deterrence

    Is extended deterrence provided by tactical nuclear weapons worth the cost? (AF/A10)

  • Emerging Technology's Threat to Nuclear Assets

    What capabilities and intent do adversaries possess to utilize advanced technologies to hold AFGSC assets at increased risk? (AFGSC/A2)

  • EMP Effects on Nuclear Arsenal

    What are the effects of EMP on nuclear weapons? What can be done to mitigate risk? (20 AF)

  • Evolving Contexts of Deterrence

    Deterrence exists across multiple levels of society, and indeed is part of what regulates various aspects of social behavior. Within the national security context, the concept of deterrence has historically helped inform strategic decisions related to planning, investment, and policy.

  • Future of the 2W2 Career-Field in an Evolving Air Force

    AFGSC continues to expand the number of bases that will require 2W2 (Nuclear Weapon Technicians) with the arrival of the B-21.   USAFE has added location(s) that require more 2W2 personnel.   The 2W2 profession is in great demand in more locations.   The expansion, addition of new locations, further stretches the small career field.  This stretching and the AFPC/TRANSCOM tightening of PCSing will reduce the number of personnel who "cycle" through Missile Wing bases.   The fewer personnel who cycle through, the less "depth" the career field gains in technical expertise.   This is at a critical time in the history of the 20th AF during the Sentinel Transition.  

    Problem Statement:  Due to a greater demand of 2W2 personnel at more Bomber and Fighter bases worldwide, should the Nuclear Enterprise seek contract maintenance personnel to conduct routine maintenance at Missile Wing bases that solely support ICMBs and reallocate the finite quantity of active duty nuclear weapons technicians to bases with a nuclear flying mission?

  • Historical Forms of Strategic Risk Management

    Should U.S. negotiators focus on developing politically binding agreements to increase confidence building and/or transparency measures, similar to those nascent arms control agreements between the US and USSR in the early days of the Cold War? (AF/A10)

  • Hypersonic Messaging

    As the U.S. develops and fields hypersonic weapons, how should the U.S. message adversaries and allies about this new capability? (AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Dynamic Force Employment on Indo-Pacific Bomber Deterrence

    How can the U.S. optimize deterrence and assurance within the Bomber Task Force (BTF)/Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) construct? Shifting from Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), how can the U.S. increase its deterrence advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia? (AF/A10P & AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine on Nuclear Deterrence

    Do losses in conventional weaponry during the invasion of Ukraine push Russia to be more likely to use nuclear weapons in the future? (8 AF)

  • Impact of the loss of Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements

    What have been the effects of the loss of various Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Impact on Deterrence by Emerging Technology

    What impact would the emergence and global diffusion of technologies with the potential dual-military ability to deliver strategic effects (e.g., biotechnology) have on the United States deterrence posture? (AF/A10)

  • Improving Conventional and Nuclear Integration (CNI) in Wargaming

    Main Idea: 
    CNI is the ability of the join/combined force to recognize and survive the use of nuclear weapons, reconstitute critical capabilities, and plan and execute integrated multi domain conventional and nuclear combat operations in, around, and through a nuclear environment. This includes ensuring protection and resilience of nuclear command, control, and communication (NC3), through multi-domain operations.  CNI enables the U.S. to continue conventional combat operations in a nuclear effects environment.
    Full Abstract/Description:
    The Joint Force, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and especially Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) must develop concepts of operations tailored to its forces to successfully operate in a nuclear environment. Wargaming provides the opportunity to consider how to prosecute a future conflict with a peer adversary at the conventional level while preparing for the risk of nuclear escalation and prosecuting conventional and nuclear operations simultaneously in a threat environment. It also helps to address gaps and seams in existing doctrine, guidance, tactics, techniques, and procedures.  
    Research Questions:
    How can the Joint Force, USAF, and AFGSC use wargaming to address the following shortfalls in knowledge and capability development to support CNI operations? 
    What are the operational seams/gaps between simultaneous conventional/nuclear execution?
    What are the implications to a nuclear force generation in a stressed environment?
    Are there limiting factors and mitigating strategies for mobile support team (MST) requirements and other stressors on available resources (operations, maintenance, security) during the execution of CNI operations?
    What potential C2 and NC3 issues would exist within a stressed conventional and nuclear environment and how can they be mitigated or overcome?
    Will there be access to key enabling forces during execution of near-simultaneous nuclear and conventional missions in the same geographical area such as tankers, ISR, airlift, etc?
    Justification:
    Various wargames (Futures Game, Global Engagement, etc) have been conducted at the conventional level that have nuclear excursions; however, they have usually been tasked only at investigating strategic decisions and have not been an all-encompassing study that provides actionable data on CNI that can drive programmatic and mission planning. A wargame that is exclusively focused on CNI and its implications in a peer conventional conflict would be applicable for future planning for modernization for both private industry and government.
    Study Will Inform: 
    This study will inform USSTRATCOM, A5/8/10, DTRA, RAND, AFGSC, AFSTRAT, HAF A5/8/10, AETC, ACC, AMC , or any other DOD or US Government agency that could potentially support CNI. The outcomes will advance AFGSC/CC vision, develop nuclear leaders, and further AFGSC strategy and potential force structure with lessons learned that feed AFGSC strategic studies. It will also support deterrence/assurance by demonstrating willingness to study nuclear issues. Participation in wargaming community leads to inclusion of deterrence/assurance objectives in other wargames and acts as a catalyst to mature nuclear analytical models/studies.

  • Influence of conventional arms on nuclear deterrence

    How do advanced, long-range conventional weapons fit into the nuclear spectrum and what influence do they have on an adversary's willingness to escalate a conflict? (AFGSC/A2)

  • Influence of Operational Tempo on Nuclear Deterrence

    AI, multi-domain C3BM, and non-kinetic weapons (especially effects at a distance) are allowing an increase in the tempo of decision making and operational tempo. How will the speed of conflict and decision making influence decisions to use nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence?  

     

  • Integrated Deterrence

    Integrated deterrence is the alignment of the DOD’s “policies, investments, and activities to sustain and strengthen deterrence— tailored to specific competitors and coordinated to maximum effect inside and outside the Department,” in order to address competitors’ “holistic strategies that employ varied forms of coercion, malign behavior, and aggression to achieve their objectives and weaken the foundation of a stable and open international system.”5 Are there operational, fiscal, and legal authorities and permissions which need to be changed or created in order for SOF to be effective in integrated deterrence?

    Within the DOD, what is SOF’s role for global and theater integrated deterrence, campaigning, and engagement? How can SOF best contribute to whole-of-government integrated deterrence efforts? How can integrated deterrence operations be tailored to different states and regions? Are there specific allies and partners in each region that should be the focus of integrated deterrence efforts? How can SOF prioritize which states to focus on within a regional integrated deterrence campaign? Might long-term irregular warfare campaigning contribute to integrated deterrence and optimize allied and partner participation as part of global collective security?

    Where does nuclear deterrence fit into integrated deterrence, and what is SOF’s role in nuclear deterrence? How do SOF communicate U.S. counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) policy, and how can the CWMD mission fit into SOF’s overall strategy with partners, allies, and neutrals? 

  • Integration & Building Multi-Capable Airmen in the Nuclear Enterprise for Great Power Competition

    Current CONOPs for Sentinel Integrated Command Centers (ICC) and Integrated Training Facilities (ITF) for the Missile Wings are being devised without integrating one of the key critical nuclear AFSCs, our 1C3s.  This is happening as our CSAF is calling for establishing an NC3 Wing, establishing an Integrated Capabilities Command to "develop competitive operational concepts" and "integrated requirements" to "align with force design" and for structuring our operational wings to execute the mission with assigned airmen and units.  Our previous CSAF called for "multi-capable" airmen.  Each Missile wing is assigned ~15 1C3s.  Are we adequately integrating them into the next era of nuclear deterrence or are we neglecting an opportunity to leverage this substantial manpower to further integrate all assigned airmen into the AFGSC nuclear mission?           Ideally, CP Controllers would be nested in the ICC with the other controllers/operators (MMOC/MSC/Ops) to enable better/quicker C2 to ensure timeliness and accuracy. Picture 1C3 and 13N professionals operating side-by-side in a Wing ICC EA Cell much like they do in our strategic command centers, capitalizing on the different skill sets and assigned/available manning to support the OPLAN.  Not to mention optimizing our human capital development through increased crosstalk and shared responsibility.             Finally, who else is missing from true integration?  Where are the helos?  To paraphrase Col Hundley (90 MW/CD) during a recent 90 MW Sentinel Working Group Meeting, if we are missing [insert Helos, CP, other], are we really integrated?                                            

  • International Atomic Energy Agency & Nuclear Proliferation

    How has the International Atomic Energy Agency's focus and charter changed over the last 60 years? (AFTAC)

  • Logistic and Resupply Operations in a Chemical or Radiological Environment

    Is the Air Force prepared to continue critical logistics and re-supply operations despite the presence of a chemical or radiological hazard? What logistics strategies and guidance will enable the U.S. to achieve success in even the most austere environments available? (AF/A10S)

  • Next-Generation Missile Operators

    Given the potential changes in the future strategic environment, what impact would this have on the development of missileers? Should current developmental programs remain the same for Sentinel operators? (20 AF)

  • No First Use Policy

     What impact would a US policy of "No First Use" have on our allies and our extended deterrence commitments?  Would such a policy cause a change in force structure? (8 AF)

  • Nuclear Deterrence Acquisition

    How does the future Air Force Integrated Capability Development Command develop and field platforms that are both conventional and nuclear (like bombers and DCA)? How do they prioritize requirements for dual capable platforms?

  • Nuclear Deterrence Education

    How do we better educate the Defense Enterprise, at all levels, on the nuclear requirements process, from AFI 63-125 certification requirements to USSTRATCOM OPLAN requirements and required platform capability? How should the Air Force and DoD educate Air Force General Officers on the Nuclear Enterprise, from OPLAN requirements, to mission sets, stockpile management, and generation activities?

  • Nuclear Deterrence Prioritization

    From security to survivability, which should  the Air Force prioritize first, nuclear weapons or nuclear delivery platforms? 

  • Nuclear Issues in Strategic Competition

    The rise of strategic competition as the defining feature of the contemporary strategic environment has renewed the discussion of the threats posed by nuclear states. China, Russia, and North Korea are all nuclear powers, and Iran has aspirations in this area. Yet each of these states poses different nuclear weapons risks. Within its counterweapons of mass destruction mandate, how can SOF best understand and prepare against the most likely and most dangerous threats emanating from these disparate states? What could appropriate responses look like against a wide variety of nuclear threats?

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on Foreign Militaries

    How has greater nuclear proliferation impacted third actors' military programs, particularly their nuclear initiatives? (HAF A5SM)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on US Military Capabilities

    What are the potential effects of increased nuclear proliferation on the US military's ability to accomplish its missions? (HAF A5SM)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's impact on US National Security Policy

    How has increased nuclear proliferation impacted the execution of US national security policy? (HAF A5SM)

  • Options for AFGSC in Response to the Next Potential "Cuban Missile Crisis" in Space

    The 1967 Outer Space Treaty bars signatories from placing "in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction." In recent months, reports have been made public that the United States believes Russia is developing a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon. The detonation of a nuclear weapon in space has the potential to disrupt not only military capabilities, but also commercial services all over the world. What actions should AFGSC be prepared for in the case that Russia rescinds themselves from the 1967 treaty and deploys these weapons in space? What can AFGSC do to proactively deter Russia from doing this? In the event that deterrence fails, are there any new assurances to allies that AFGSC is uniquely positioned to provide? Potential options might include fielding new capabilities, the declassification of current programs, and force posture adjustments. 

  • P5 Arms Control

    Could Washington leverage the P5 forum to open the aperture for strategic stability dialogues with Russia and China? (AF/A10)

  • Potential for Integrated Deterrence

    Why have strategic nuclear forces failed to deter some aspects of conventional aggression in the recent past? Would integrated deterrence architectures involving other capabilities (e.g., space, cyber, hypersonics, AI) better address concerns around theater-level conventional aggression? What would need to be included in future integrated deterrence strategies to deter conventional aggression? (AF/A10)

  • Prioritization of Requirements for Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI)

    With limited resources, what Air Force actions should be prioritized to ensure compliance with Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) while maintaining operational proficiency? (AF/A10P)

  • Priority of Hard and Deeply Buried Target Defeat

    What priority should a Hard and Deeply Buried Target (HDBT) defeat capability take within U.S. nuclear strategy? How important is it that U.S. nuclear forces continue to be able to deny adversary sanctuary and hold critical protected targets at risk for each of these countries? Is there any potential adversary that finds this capability either critically influential or irrelevant in their decision calculus? What role should an HDBT defeat capability play, if any, in U.S. employment strategy? (AF/A10C)

  • Reestablishing Nuclear Surety Culture at Previous Nuclear Installations

    Installations responsible for the initial beddown of the B-21 will face immense cultural challenges in the transition from a purely conventional outlook to one that embraces the unnegotiable tenets of nuclear surety, in conjunction with conventional taskings. The requisite expertise does not currently exist organically in the affected wings, particularly in areas of training, education, personnel, and most importantly, leadership. AFGSC and the nuclear enterprise writ large much reframe their approach to addressing these shortcomings in a comprehensive, deliberate manner to ensure a robust cultural foundation of nuclear surety to guarantee the continued credibility of sixth-generation nuclear weapons systems like the B-21.

  • Risks to the Strategic Domain of Space From An Ablation Cascade

    Nuclear Deterrence capabilities rely upon the domain of outer space, which is particularly vulnerable to an ablation cascade, also known as Kessler Syndrome, where an increasing series of collisions between objects can render the environment unsafe for further use. While space-faring nations have a vested interest to avoid such a scenario, non-space faring adversaries may find it useful for denying the United States strategic capabilities which operate in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). What are the risks of an adversary initiating an ablation cascade on the use of strategic assets in the domain of outer space? Are there any protective or mitigating measures that can be undertaken? Could a revision of the Outer Space Treaty include weapons or other devices to combat debris that are not technically armaments but pose an equivalent risk to satellites, the strategic use of space, and other human activities?

  • Road-Mobile ICBM system

    Does the US need to develop a road-mobile ICBM system as part of its nuclear arsenal? (8 AF)

  • Russian Views on Deterrence, Escalation Management & Conflict Termination

    What are the Russian views and theories of deterrence, escalation management, and conflict termination? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Scientific and Technical Implications of DOTMLPF-P Challenges for Conventional-Nuclear Integration

    A key element of the current national military priorities is to be prepared for a fight against China and Russia, which are nuclear-capable powers.  This pacing threat highlights the importance for the Department of the Air Force (DAF) to have the ability to integrate nuclear and non-nuclear planning and operations, both for deterrence and to support combatant command operations should deterrence fail.  Since the end of the Cold War and the Goldwater Nichols Act, nuclear and conventional planning and operations have been stovepiped.  For integrated conventional-nuclear operations, a great deal of coordination and collaboration is needed between the two communities, and the force needs to be able to operate in a nuclear environment.  This project will examine the most salient challenges in Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, Facilities, along with Policy (DOTMLPF-P) relevant to Conventional-Nuclear Integration (CNI) in the DAF.  This examination will focus on areas in which research and development of scientific and technical capabilities can enhance CNI.  The work would look at DOTMLPF-P elements across the warfighting phases of planning, operations, command and control, sensors for situational awareness, and survivability.   The goal of the project is to find the most promising areas for research to advance CNI in the DAF.

  • Should NATO/US Reposition or Add Nuclear Weapons to Poland to Improve Deterrence Position?

    Poland has signalled that they are willing to host nuclear weapons if requested to do so by NATO, but is there any advantage to be gained by doing so? What military/political tactical/strategic implications would there be to having nuclear weapons closer to Belarus/Kaliningrad/Russia?

  • Size of Future Nuclear Force

    What does the nuclear force of the future need to look like in order to ensure deterrence holds in the current strategic environment? (AF/A10) 

  • Technological Innovation & Integrated Deterrence

    How should the DOD and AF pursue and message technology innovation to support integrated deterrence in the NDS?  (AFNWC)

  • Trilateral Nuclear Arms

    What are the key elements of a possible trilateral nuclear arms control treaty that will maximize the value of the U.S. nuclear deterrent and enhance U.S. national security?

  • U.S. High Yield Weapon Strategy

    Should the U.S. have a requirement for a high-yield nuclear weapon (1 Megaton or 5 Megatons, or higher) beyond physical target damage requirements? (AF/A10C)

  • U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Posture and Effectiveness Without Nuclear Arms Control

    How might a U.S. withdrawal and renegotiation of nuclear-based treaties impact U.S. deterrence strategy and force posture against nuclear adversaries? How might this impact the U.S. extended deterrence strategy and force posture in support of allies? (AF/A10P)

  • What Comes after the B61-12?

    The B61-12 is a welcome and much needed upgrade for the theater nuclear mission in USEUCOM and for US dual-capable aircraft - but it is not the end.  The US and NATO must start developing the next iteration of theater nuclear weapons now. 

  • What is the Russian concept for use of nuclear forces?

    What is the Russian concept for the use of nuclear forces? (Strategic and tactical) (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM)) 

  • World Economic Policies Impact on US Nuclear Deterrence

    What happens to US nuclear deterrence strategies if other countries abandon the US Dollar as their reserve currency? (AF/A10)

  • Worldwide Deployable Dual-Capable Aircraft in Extended Deterrence

    How would the capability to deploy DCA worldwide affect extended deterrence?  (AF/A10)

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Cyber Force Structure

    How can the USAF optimize current Cyber Force Structure? (HAF A2/6)

  • Battlefield Airman for Duty in the Pacific AOR

    Better Trained and Equipped Battlefield Airman (TACP, CCT, etc.) for Duty in the Pacific AOR (PACAF/A9L)

  • Civilian Cyber Auxiliary - Civil Cyber Patrol?

    In light of the national shortage of cyber talent, how might the Air Force develop and utilize a Civil Cyber Patrol and/or a Civil Information Warfare Patrol to best protect U.S. national interests? What legal, operational, and technical challenges must ACC address to make a civilian cyber auxiliary a reality? (ACC/A3/2/6K)

  • Consolidating X1/X2/X3 into single career field

    Should X1/X2/X3 be consolidated into a single career field in order to gain efficiencies and generalization for missile maintenance technicians? (20 AF)

  • Cyber Personnel Retention

    What the USAF could do better to entice, develop, and maintain long-term careers in cyber to better ensure hard-earned experience and talent is passed onto future generations of cyberwarfare Airmen?  (ACC/A3/2/6KO)

  • Cyber-awareness Training Model

    Develop a cyber-awareness training model for AFNET users that provides foundational training but builds upon existing knowledge in a meaningful way and can demonstrate greater cyber awareness and positively impact the overall effectiveness of the current annual cyber-awareness training model.  (ACC/A6O)

  • Cyber-Awareness Training model for ISR Collection Managers (CMs)

    Develop a cyber-awareness training model for ISR Collection Managers (CMs) that provides foundational training but builds upon existing knowledge in a meaningful way and can demonstrate greater cyber awareness. (ACC/A22C)

  • Developing Cyberspace Infrastructure Terrain Subject Matter Expertise

    As the AF looks to defend static, adaptive, and expeditionary bases, does the USAF need in terms of developing cyberspace infrastructure terrain (POL, power, etc) subject matter expertise?  (ACC/A2)

  • Educating the Cyber Enterprise

    How do we leverage resources to educate Cyber Enterprise (e.g. the College of Information of Cyberspace)? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Implementation and Absorption Capacity for New Capabilities and Concepts

    Using unitary analysis or comparative analysis, examine either or both of the USAF/Joint Force and PLA’s capacity to absorb new capabilities and concepts into demonstrated operational utility, identifying recommendations for accelerating change and innovation at scale within the USAF and DoD. (HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments)

  • Language Analysts in Cyber and Space Intelligence

    Can we develop analytic tradecraft and accesses for language analysts supporting cyber and space intelligence units, and develop specialized formal training courses for language analysis operating in the space and cyberspace domains? (480 ISRW)

  • Language proficiency for Cryptologic Language Analysts

    Can full-time Distance Learning (DL) be an effective foreign language acquisition training medium for Cryptologic Language Analysts (CLA) who have already demonstrated a strong record of proficiency in at least one DoD-trained foreign language? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Leadership in Combat Wings

    How can USAF officers be developed to lead in the new Combat Wing formation? (AFMISC/A3) 

  • Leadership in JADO

    For successful to JADO, how and when should a joint culture be inculcated into military leaders?

  • Learning Technology to Aid Information Warfare Training

    How can we leverage learning technologies such as game-based learning, AI tutors, hypermedia, etc. to train IW forces most effectively on the roles, assets, and capabilities needed to achieve full spectrum IW effects? (616 OC) 

  • Manage, training and equipping for JADO

    How does the USAF manage, train and equip for JADO?

  • Medical Return to Duty in Conflict

    In peer conflict with large-scale combat operations, how does the medical service shift to maintaining patients in the AOR and close to the front lines for assessment and treatment in order to expedite an Airman's return to duty? (Surgeon General)

  • Organic Software Development

    Can the USAF develop an organic capability to code within a squadron and then enable the infrastructure and processes that would allow that code to be deployed in a controlled environment with minimal overhead requirements to the squadron? (16 AF)

  • Organizing & Training for Counter Small UAS Operations

    How should the AF organize and train appropriate operators and leaders (kinetic engagement authorities) to operate more complex C-sUAS/SHORAD-like capabilities in the future? (AFSFC/S3A)


  • P3 Airmen

    How do we determine the optimal organizational construct to be most effective for a squadron leadership team? Is a squadron construct even the best organizational construct for P3 Airmen? (480 ISRW & 693ISRG) 

  • Personnel in USSF

     (51 OSS & 50 OSS) 

     

  • Planning for the unexpected

    How might we more effectively plan for unexpected, or “black swan” events, that might negatively affect critical military operations? (480 ISRW)

  • Resilience

    How can the AF (and other services) develop resilience and support 21st Century Airmen and their dependents? (HAF/A1Z)

     

  • Role of Military Education in Adapting to Change

    How does Professional Military Education (PME) handle changes in the character of warfare? What are the current USAF educational strategies? How can these programs evolve to prepare for future emerging challenges?  (HAF A5SM)

  • Signals Intelligence for Cyber and Space

    How can we better develop analytic tradecraft and accesses for signals analysts supporting cyber and space intelligence units, and develop specialized formal training courses for signals analysis operating in the space and cyberspace domains? (480 ISRW)

  • Space Force & the "Warfighting" mindset

    How does the Space Force develop a "warfighting" mindset? Does the Space Force need a "warfighting" mindset?

  • Space Force Culture

    With the separation from the Air Force, the Space Force needs to establish its own identity and culture as a separate service branch. (ROPS, Museum Staff, 50 OSS & HQ USSF/SED) 

  • Strategic Blind Spots in Modern Conflict

    Are there useful methods of blind spot analysis that could be utilized to uncover obsolete, incomplete, or incorrect assumptions? What role do historical case studies play in overcoming blind spots? How can the study of lessons learned from recent operations provide valuable insights to help the DoD avoid these pitfalls? (JSOU)

  • Strategic Empathy in Intel analysis

    How should we develop strategic empathy, the ability to identify with a competitor or adversary, to optimize analysis capability? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Strategic Leadership

    What role do strategic leaders play in effectively managing changes in the character of war? How do leadership practices need to adapt to the changing character of war? (HAF A5SM)

  • Talent management for Cyber

    What does a framework for effective Talent Management look like for the Cyber Enterprise? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Training of Mission Ready Airman

    Could the Air Force create an AFSC for dedicated MRAs for ACE who are consistently trained in a wide variety of skills from the beginning of their careers?  (AFIMSC/A38)

  • Training of Space Professionals

    Development of space professionals from the Space Race to current times. (50 OSS)

  • US Statutory Constructs in Space/Space Guard

    How should the USSF leverage the total force construct in manning and executing its Title 10 mission? (USSF/NGB & JAO)

  • USAF Organizational Changes

    How should the USAF changes its organization to effectively adapt to the changing character of war? (HAF A5SM)

     

     

Industrial

Diplomacy

  • Allied and Partner assumptions in Concept Development

    How are allied and partner assumptions considered and managed in USAF and Joint concept development and experimentation? (AFWIC)

  • Assessing Civilian Vulnerabilities in Conflict

    How can SOF prepare for conflicts where the objectives may include hostile actions intended to disrupt civilian supplies of food and energy locally, regionally, and globally? How should the protection of resources and their associated infrastructure be assessed and prioritized? What can SOF do to prevent or mitigate the weaponization of refugees? Can the provision of energy, food, and water resources to denied areas provide a useful means of developing influence or resilience within a population? How can SOF, in conjunction with conventional forces, mitigate their own requirements to ensure that they are not a further drain on resources in deployed area? 

  • China vs. India at the Line of Actual Control: Implications for the Indo-Pacific

    A study on the geostrategic, political, and military implications of the continued standoff between China and India, including lessons learned of the PRC’s handling of the situation through military actions, media communications, and world politics. (PACAF)

  • Chinese Economic Ties to India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    How is China imposing costs on India, South Korea, Japan & Australia? How could their economic ties to China limit their economic choices? (HAF A5SM)

  • Coalition Partners in Space

    How can partner nations contribute to and participate in US-led developmental and operational efforts in the space domain? (SPOC/DOO & USSF/S36TG & HQ USSF/SEK) 

  • Conflict Dynamics in Proliferated Environments

    How have the dynamics of conflict changed in regions where nuclear proliferation has already occurred? (HAF A5SM)

  • Considering Societal Resilience at Multiple Scales

    Resilience as a concept has existed for centuries. It has received increasing attention during the world’s COVID pandemic experience, as societies had to adjust not only to a life-threatening disease, but also the effects that it imposed that had social, cultural, economic, and political consequences with unequal impact, an impact of increasing complexity when considered in conjunction with the opportunities and challenges of globalized societies, such as fragile global supply chains.

  • Conventional-Nuclear Integration Capabilities of US Allies

    With US allies operating alongside of US forces, what is the CNI proficiency and capabilities of U.S. allies? How would cooperation on CNI with allies impact deterrence? (AF/A10)

     

  • Converging Allies and Partner Data into the DAF Data Fabric

    How can data/information from our Allies and Partners be woven into the Department of the Air Force's data fabric? (16 AF)

  • Coordination and Collaboration

    The genesis of the great power competition has created an operational environment that demands a greater collaboration/ synthesis between SOF and the interagency (including the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID], allies, and partners) to enable future SRR. Should the current SOF Liaison Network include specific training for SRR activities? How can the SOF Liaison Network to the interagency be more integrated and responsive to the collective threat across geographic commands and Theater Special Operations Commands (TSOCs)? Is the current global SOF network optimal and organized to support future SRR? What is the most appropriate global SOF network configuration to support SRR from an allied/U.S. Department of State perspective? What lessons can be drawn from the global war on terror about allied approaches that can be repurposed for SRR? Should the relationship with allies and partners be coordinated or institutionally integrated?

  • Cultural Understanding in Deterrence and Compellence

    A prerequisite to deterrence and compellence is crafting your message so that it will be understood by your target audience. This requires effective cross-cultural communication and a deep understanding of the target audience’s sociocultural worldview. How can the SOE develop the level of knowledge and proficiency necessary to understand sociocultural worldviews in depth? How do we ensure we have the cultural expertise for strategic influence? How do we understand target population motivations? How can you best measure SOF’s cross-cultural understanding engagement abilities? What motivations of the adversary can best be targeted for deterrence and/or compellence? How can SOF bring in allies and partners to better understand a target audience? How can the SOE better integrate with others to develop a clear vision for the desired ends of deterrence and compellence? 

    How do SOF achieve proficiency in both language and cultural awareness, and which is more important? How can USSOCOM better educate SOF commanders, staff, and operators to utilize social media to influence targeted populations? 

  • Cyber & Foreign Terrorist Organizations

    What are foreign terrorist organization (FTO) cyber tactics, techniques, and procedures? What are the trends in FTO cyber operations? How do FTOs use commercial entities to enable cyber operations? What are the trends in FTO use of technology and social media platforms? (US Cyber Command)

  • Cyber's Impact on Risk Mitigation and Integrated Deterrence

    How might offensive and defensive cyber capabilities be implemented into existing or new risk mitigation frameworks (e.g. arms control treaties and agreements) in order to manage strategic stability? (AF/A10)

  • Dependence of United States Air Force on its allies and partners

    In what ways is the United States Air Force dependent on its allies and partners for operational effectiveness? (AF Futures)

  • Deterrence in Post-Missile Age

    In a hypothetical scenario that Sentinel would be the country's last ICBM, what would US strategic deterrence look like in a post-ICBM age? (20 AF)

  • Developing and Modeling Strategic Patience

    It is sometimes more prudent to exercise patience and pursue a long-term strategy instead of rushing into immediate action or resorting to aggressive measures. Strategic patience can also involve a willingness to wait for favorable circumstances or changes in the geopolitical landscape before taking decisive action. The underlying idea is that a country can achieve better outcomes by exercising patience, avoiding unnecessary risks, and creating conditions that favor long-term stability and progress. How can ongoing SOF training and development programs reinforce an understanding and application of strategic patience? Are there case studies where the application of strategic patience by SOF has yielded significant results or helped to achieve broader national outcomes? Can these case studies provide insight into how strategic patience was successfully implemented by SOF? What historical or cultural factors have influenced the understanding of strategic patience across countries, and how does this shape each country’s approach to the use of SOF? 

  • Disruptive Strategic Influence of Global Health Engagements (GHE) with Allied Partners

    The DoD through GHE builds partnerships with other nations to strengthen security cooperation and partner capacity through health-related activities and exchanges. (AMC/87 HCOS)

  • Due Regard and Changing Borders

    Documented and public cases of Russian aggression against MQ-9s in the Black Sea, CCP actions with lasers against Philippine vessels, and other unprofessional and unsafe actions against U.S. reconnaissance assets create a paradigm where aggressive and damaging actions are seemingly tolerated as acceptable behaviors by adversaries in competition, crisis, and regionalized conflict short of war. (AFTAC)

  • Emerging Cyber Powers

    What states are investing in military cyber capabilities and may emerge in the next 5-10 years as new advanced threats to the U.S. and our allies? (US Cyber Command)

  • Evolving Contexts of Deterrence

    Deterrence exists across multiple levels of society, and indeed is part of what regulates various aspects of social behavior. Within the national security context, the concept of deterrence has historically helped inform strategic decisions related to planning, investment, and policy.

  • Forecasting Unintended Consequences

    Given the current focus on strategic competition and competitive statecraft, SOF’s operations around the globe have an important role to play. However, activities in one country or on one continent may have far-reaching effects in neighboring countries or across the globe. The scale of potential effects provides both opportunities and risks. How can SOF better understand the unintended consequences of its activities around the globe? What are the risks for escalation? Can cross-regional planning be used to help mitigate risks? How can the SOE better communicate with policymakers to address issues of strategic risk and risk aversion? How can risk be characterized in terms of probability, assessment, measurement, identification, and mitigation? 

  • Gender Equality in support of the Pacific Strategy

    How do the US, as well as closest allies and partners, use our strategic and cultural advantage in pursuing gender equality to our benefit? (PACAF/A8XR)

  • Historic Case Studies of US Allies Neglecting Treaty Obligations

    What are the historical examples (case studies) of where U.S. allies have not lived up to treaty obligations (and why)? (AFWIC)

  • Historical Forms of Strategic Risk Management

    Should U.S. negotiators focus on developing politically binding agreements to increase confidence building and/or transparency measures, similar to those nascent arms control agreements between the US and USSR in the early days of the Cold War? (AF/A10)

  • Human Rights as a Weapons System

    How could the DoD utilize human rights as a weapon system against strategic competitors? (JSOU) 

  • Hypersonic Messaging

    As the U.S. develops and fields hypersonic weapons, how should the U.S. message adversaries and allies about this new capability? (AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of Dynamic Force Employment on Indo-Pacific Bomber Deterrence

    How can the U.S. optimize deterrence and assurance within the Bomber Task Force (BTF)/Dynamic Force Employment (DFE) construct? Shifting from Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP), how can the U.S. increase its deterrence advantage vis-a-vis China and Russia? (AF/A10P & AF/A3K Checkmate)

  • Impact of the loss of Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements

    What have been the effects of the loss of various Russia-U.S. Arms Control Agreements? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Improving integrations with US allies and partners

    Why should/shouldn’t the United States Air Force devote effort and resources to improving integrations with its allies and partners? (AF Futures)

  • India's "Necklace of Diamonds" Strategy

    What cooperation should occur through other domains through the apparent naval-centric lens of India's "Necklace of Diamonds" Strategy?  (PACAF/A5I) 

     

  • Industrial Base of India, South Korea, Japan & Australia

    Why are the capacity and projectability of the industrial bases of India, South Korea, Japan & Australia, including trends in their economic and industrial growth? How these might influence the US-China strategic competition? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Integrated Deterrence

    Integrated deterrence is the alignment of the DOD’s “policies, investments, and activities to sustain and strengthen deterrence— tailored to specific competitors and coordinated to maximum effect inside and outside the Department,” in order to address competitors’ “holistic strategies that employ varied forms of coercion, malign behavior, and aggression to achieve their objectives and weaken the foundation of a stable and open international system.”5 Are there operational, fiscal, and legal authorities and permissions which need to be changed or created in order for SOF to be effective in integrated deterrence?

    Within the DOD, what is SOF’s role for global and theater integrated deterrence, campaigning, and engagement? How can SOF best contribute to whole-of-government integrated deterrence efforts? How can integrated deterrence operations be tailored to different states and regions? Are there specific allies and partners in each region that should be the focus of integrated deterrence efforts? How can SOF prioritize which states to focus on within a regional integrated deterrence campaign? Might long-term irregular warfare campaigning contribute to integrated deterrence and optimize allied and partner participation as part of global collective security?

    Where does nuclear deterrence fit into integrated deterrence, and what is SOF’s role in nuclear deterrence? How do SOF communicate U.S. counter weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) policy, and how can the CWMD mission fit into SOF’s overall strategy with partners, allies, and neutrals? 

  • Integrated air and missile defense mission in INDOPACOM AOR

    How do we as a coalition of the willing in the INDOPACOM AOR gain parity and subsequently surpass regional actors in IAMD architecture to a level that will deter China from military action and if not, leave the coalition in a position to effectively execute combat operations in the region without being overwhelmed by emerging threats? (PACAF/PIC)

  • Integration with Allied and Partners' Industrial Base

    How does the United States integrate the allied and partners' industrial base to generate and sustain mass in a future conflict? (AF Futures)

  • International Atomic Energy Agency & Nuclear Proliferation

    How has the International Atomic Energy Agency's focus and charter changed over the last 60 years? (AFTAC)

  • International Space Law/Responsible Behavior in Space

    Analyze various elements of international space law. (HQ USSF/SEK & USSF/S5I & SPOC, 3 SES/MAF)

  • Iran-Russia Relations

    What is Russia's relationship with Iran? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with this relationship? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Irregular and Unconventional Warfare Campaigning

    The SOE has renewed its focus on irregular and unconventional warfare. How can SOF better understand, articulate, and operationalize irregular and unconventional warfare campaigns? What is the relationship between irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, security force assistance, and security cooperation? How can SOF and conventional forces best work together in these areas? Are there gaps in our knowledge of how to carry out irregular and unconventional warfare campaigning? Does current SOF training and education about these types of warfare need to be updated? Have new technologies like satellite and internet communication and inexpensive, highly capable weapons, such as remotely piloted vehicles, caused changes in the ways in which irregular and unconventional warfare can be carried out, or do operational and strategic concepts remain the same? Can SOF’s recent experiences with counter-violent extremist organizations (CVEO) operations provide ideas for how to disrupt adversarial actors? 

    Within irregular warfare, what is a ‘win’? Is ‘win’ the right framing term? What conditions will aid/impede winning? Is it possible to win without fighting? What is the SOF role within irregular warfare? How does that role vary based on geography, adversary, level of conflict, and other variables? Within an environment of strategic competition, how can SOF identify, train, and coordinate networks to deny, degrade, and influence adversary irregular warfare efforts? Historically, when has unconventional warfare been effective in coercing, disrupting, and overthrowing regimes? How does unconventional warfare campaigning interact, or conflict, with concepts of strategic competition and strategic patience? Does the time required for a successful unconventional warfare campaign hinder its ability to be coordinated with conventional warfare campaigns? If so, how can this be mitigated? 

    Security cooperation, to include security assistance and foreign internal defense, has a role to play within both irregular and unconventional warfare. What is SOF’s role in security cooperation, and how can SOF best integrate or coordinate with conventional forces engaged in security cooperation in the same theater? Are there changes required to security cooperation authorities and practices for SOF? What are ways in which adversaries have, or might seek to, hinder security cooperation efforts? 


     

  • JADC2 - Coalition & Interagency Partners

    What does JADC2 mean for coalition and interagency partners? How can the Joint Force address the classification challenges of operations across domains with interagency partners and coalition partners?

  • Low-Probability, High-Consequence Events

    Typical U.S. military methodologies for quantifying and categorizing risk are not well-suited for some outlier risks. For example, the very low probability, but very high consequence, of a deliberate nuclear attack is a different type of risk compared to a violent extremist organization’s attack. Other examples of low-probability, high-consequence events include the assassination of a world leader or the destruction of a physical item with great cultural significance, such as an irreplaceable religious artefact. How might risk methodologies, decision-making, and resource allocation be characterized to best plan for low-probability, high-consequence events? In addition to characterizing such events, how can the SOE and SOF prepare for the follow-on effects of such an event? What does a campaign of de-escalation look like following an event that could be considered an existential threat? 

  • Measuring Foreign Influence in Hegemonic Powers

    What variables measure decreasing and/or diminishing foreign influence in a hegemonic power? (AFWIC)

  • No First Use Policy

     What impact would a US policy of "No First Use" have on our allies and our extended deterrence commitments?  Would such a policy cause a change in force structure? (8 AF)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's Impact on Foreign Militaries

    How has greater nuclear proliferation impacted third actors' military programs, particularly their nuclear initiatives? (HAF A5SM)

  • Nuclear Proliferation's impact on US National Security Policy

    How has increased nuclear proliferation impacted the execution of US national security policy? (HAF A5SM)

  • Operationalizing Strategic Influence and Information

    The term ‘strategic influence’ is utilized to describe how SOF can project soft power around the globe. How can we measure strategic influence? Who are we seeking to influence? What are we seeking to achieve with influence? Influence to do what, and for what ends? What does strategic influence imply in terms of military strategy? How do measures of strategic influence inform operational design? What does success in achieving a strategic influence end state look like, and how can it be measured? How can SOF set objectives for influence, and how can SOF’s objectives be nested within larger USG strategic influence initiatives?

    Information has a critical role to play within strategic competition. Words are powerful, and our messages affect both our friends and our adversaries. What is the relationship between information and influence? If information is a form of power, what does that imply for the strategic pursuit of influence? How can SOF achieve information advantage throughout the competition continuum? How can SOF better understand, apply, and integrate information across operations to achieve strategic influence objectives? How can information strategies be tailored to address mission-specific needs? What is the balance between attributable and nonattributable operations, and which would provide the highest probability of success while minimizing political and operational risk? How can SOF address risk aversion to information activities? 

    What are the best methods/practices to assess the effects of operations in the information environment? How do we measure and assess results from information operations and campaigns, and how do we communicate these results to stakeholders/authorities? What types of organizational structures and resourcing would best set the conditions to integrate information and influence efforts across SOF; the Services; and joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational, and commercial (JIIM-C) partners? Are there capability gaps across doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities, and policy (DOTMLPF-P) that need to be addressed? How can SOF work with centers such as the Global Engagement Center, Joint Military Information Support Operations Web Operations Center, and the NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence to enhance strategic influence operations? 

    A component of strategic influence is credibility. How can SOF build and maintain persistent and meaningful relationships with relevant partners and allies? How can USSOCOM minimize the disconnect between rhetoric and reality? What are the implications of a words and deeds mismatch? How can SOF contribute to building USG credibility? How do you achieve balance between accountability and ‘speed of need’ when seeking influence? In addition to efforts to build strategic influence, how can SOF counter adversarial strategic influence efforts?


     

  • P5 Arms Control

    Could Washington leverage the P5 forum to open the aperture for strategic stability dialogues with Russia and China? (AF/A10)

  • Parasocial Relationships, Social Media, and Radicalization

    Social media engagement has been shown to be a significant pathway to violence, terrorism, fanaticism and recruitment into cultish social formations (Montell 2021), defined as tight, insular groups that bear a resemblance to cults

  • Political Limitations on Operations

    The war in Ukraine has highlighted the continued relevance of strategic deep attacks by SOF such as the attempts to degrade and/ or destroy the Kerch bridge. However, both Ukraine and its partners have been under severe political pressure to minimize these attacks for fear of provoking a Russian response. These political restraints limit the options for SOF planners, but similar constraints will likely be present in the future both in Europe and elsewhere. How can SOF incorporate and mitigate political considerations in planning deep area operations? How can the United States and its allies and partners increase the political restraints facing adversaries when they consider carrying out deep area operations? 

    Another example of the utilization of political limitations is the use of narratives—true, false, or a mixture of both—to discredit ongoing military operations. In each combatant command AOR, adversaries are using U.S. actions since the end of the Cold War (e.g., NATO enlargement, civil wars in the Balkans, Arab Spring, Color Revolutions, Afghanistan and Iraq, sanctions on Iran and Venezuela) to portray the United States as a destabilizing, imperialist, and militarily aggressive power that cannot be trusted and must be opposed. States that believe these narratives are likely to push back diplomatically against U.S. foreign policy and military initiatives in their country. In this way, narratives shape political limitations, which then, in turn, may have effects down to the tactical level (such as discontinuing joint combined exchange training or other small-scale SOF engagements). How can these narratives be countered, and how can counternarratives be attuned to address historical memories and cultural expectations of specific states? 

  • Prioritizing US Investments in Asia-Pacific Region

    What capabilities and potential investments should the US consider to offset the effects of the US-China strategic competition in the region? In particular, what opportunities are there in the development of defense, technology, and infrastructure? (HAF A5SM) 

  • Recruitment, Training and Education for Supporting/Advising Resistance

    While resistance and resilience tend to be discussed in terms of the people resisting, or the state or population within which resilience is being built, this topic calls for a shift in focus toward the forces offering support for resistance and/or resilience. Those forces might be U.S. conventional/traditional, SOF, or partner forces. It is widely understood that a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds and experience are relevant to the area of resistance and resilience. How can the United States government (USG) ensure those diverse perspectives are captured in recruitment, training, and education efforts? What impact might a resilience and resistance focus have on recruiting efforts? How can the DOD ensure that those recruited to the Joint Force understand the nature of activities associated with resistance and resilience and the differences with more kinetic-oriented, conventional military activities? What is the existing state of education and training efforts on resistance and resilience, and where are there gaps or untapped potential? How do we instill a counterintelligence mindset in a populace to deny foreign intelligence entity collection and exploitation, especially since intelligence operations can either advance or undermine resistance and resilience?

    Within the USG, to what degree is there a common understanding of the nature of support to resistance and resilience, and what education and training might be necessary internally to develop or augment that understanding across not just the services, but the wider interagency? How can we mesh training and education in this area to optimize outcomes? Which organizations should take the lead facilitating that training and education, and why? Is there value in a special-skill identifier for resilience and resistance expertise? Are there generalizable principles, or best practices, in education for resilience and resistance which partners can agree upon? What doctrinal efforts can build upon the Resistance Operating Concept for common practices? What is SOF’s role in a civil defense campaign?

  • Resiliency Approaches Through Women, Peace and Security (WPS)

    The role of women in both resilience and resistance is a neglected area of study that is rich in potential for transforming understanding of the human role in SRR. The UN’s Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) initiative focuses on including the role of gender in conflict prevention, management, and resolution, and specifically emphasizes the value of women’s contributions to conflict transformation. WPS has neglected the role women can and do play in resistance and resilience, however, with Ukraine offering an immediate contemporary example. While women tend to be assumed to play a role in conflict resolution, focusing on that aspect diminishes the role women have played in fostering societal resilience and violent and non-violent resistance movements. Historically, what role have women played in SRR in diverse geographic cases? In what ways, if any, do women play a distinct role from men in SRR? From a resilience perspective, what role have women played across the competition continuum in building resilience? How could SOF include women, peace, and security insights into its planning and operational efforts for SRR?

  • Risks to the Strategic Domain of Space From An Ablation Cascade

    Nuclear Deterrence capabilities rely upon the domain of outer space, which is particularly vulnerable to an ablation cascade, also known as Kessler Syndrome, where an increasing series of collisions between objects can render the environment unsafe for further use. While space-faring nations have a vested interest to avoid such a scenario, non-space faring adversaries may find it useful for denying the United States strategic capabilities which operate in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). What are the risks of an adversary initiating an ablation cascade on the use of strategic assets in the domain of outer space? Are there any protective or mitigating measures that can be undertaken? Could a revision of the Outer Space Treaty include weapons or other devices to combat debris that are not technically armaments but pose an equivalent risk to satellites, the strategic use of space, and other human activities?

  • Russia-Belarus Cooperation

    What are the opportunities and challenges surrounding Russia-Belarus cooperation? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Cooperation with the West

    What are areas of Russian cooperation with the West? (Russia Strategic Initiative (EUCOM))

  • Russian Relationships with Balkan States

    What are Russia's relationships with the Balkan states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with former Soviet States

    What is the Russian relationship with former Soviet states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships?  (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with Indo-Pacific States

    What are Russia's relationships with Indo-Pacific states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Relationships with South American States

    What are Russia's relationships with South American states? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with these relationships? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russian Use of Private Military Companies

    Analyze Russia's use of private military companies. (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Russo-Turkish Relations

    What is Russia's relationship with Turkey? What does the Kremlin perceive as challenges or opportunities with this relationship? (EUCOM - Russia Strategic Initiative)

  • Shaping the Information Environment

    What are proven effective ways to shape the information environment during Phase 0/Phase I operations, specifically regarding, near-peer competitors? Do TTPs exist that PACAF/PA should be aware of to dial up and down the amount of deterrence/pressure messaging for effective deterrence and to avoid escalation? (PACAF/PA)

     

  • Should NATO/US Reposition or Add Nuclear Weapons to Poland to Improve Deterrence Position?

    Poland has signalled that they are willing to host nuclear weapons if requested to do so by NATO, but is there any advantage to be gained by doing so? What military/political tactical/strategic implications would there be to having nuclear weapons closer to Belarus/Kaliningrad/Russia?

  • Social Impact of Technological Change

    Throughout history, technology had been influential in driving societal change. Most recently, this has included an evolving relationship with information, characterized by innovations that have transformed how information is transmitted, stored, and ultimately used.

  • Societal Cohesion in Crisis

    The ability of a group, or society more broadly, to hold together is central to social life. As the nature of the social unit varies cross-culturally and across political systems, this topic seeks to understand the nuances of shifting social and political cohesion in the face of diverse and evolving crisis situations.

  • Sociotechnical Adaptation to Climate, Food, and Water Stress

    Climate and environmental change are increasingly accepted as a major issue facing societies, and a defining global challenge with significant potential to reshape future security and stability.

  • SOCOM Operations with Partners

    What lessons from SOCOM operations with partners can be applied to the integration of multinational air power? (AFWIC)

  • SOF Specialties

    Within SOE personnel, there are a multitude of diverse sociocultural and geographic backgrounds, experiences, and knowledge. Individuals with these perspectives can provide the SOE with insights into specific regions, cultures, and social groups. How can USSOCOM better track and manage SOF professionals’ talent to fully harness specific specialties—to include unique cultural experience, technical knowledge, language capability, and cross-cultural understanding—for cross-enterprise use in taskings, assignment selection, and career progress/mentorship? Additionally, how can the SOE best incorporate other perspectives it has access to, such as other U.S. uniformed services, USG agencies, allies and partners, and non-governmental organizations? 

    Once these perspectives are captured, they should then be implemented within operations to make the SOE and SOF more effective in carrying out their missions. By utilizing these perspectives, how can SOF better work to understand, assess, and build relationships with marginalized groups? How can the SOE utilize such marginalized groups to help inform irregular warfare, unconventional warfare, and other SOF functions and operations? 

     

  • SOF's Integrative Role in Coalition Operations

    USSOCOM maintains ties to allied and partner SOF, but does that SOF partner network require transformation and adjustment for better effectiveness in strategic competition? What specific roles should SOF prioritize developing within the current strategic environment with respect to strategic competition and integrated deterrence? SOF have a unique capacity to build relationships with allies and partners. How can SOF best leverage those partnerships? What can SOF do to enable a coalition fight, and how can they communicate that with conventional forces? How can SOF better collaborate with the Joint Force in areas such as helping to build resistance and resilience in the host nation, preparing an environment for potential future conflict, and integrating a host nation into coalition operations? 

  • Space Operations Forces and SOF

    Should the SOE and U.S. Space Force explore options for employing a military force that can support diplomacy, information operations, and U.S. and allied partner economic interests on the moon and celestial bodies as a way to deter adversaries? If so, what would their core activities and mission sets be? Would such a force be ground-based, or would there be requirements to deploy into cislunar and lunar space? Does this future threat call for the development of SOF personnel who can operate in the austere and mentally taxing environment of space? Could SOF personnel from the different components be trained to perform core activities in the space domain? Could these SOF personnel form the beginnings of a U.S. Space Force SOF?

  • Space Professional/Safe or Responsible Behaviors

    What Space Professional/Safe or Responsible Behaviors are acceptable to FVEY+2? In what/which existing or “new” forum(s) these “norms” should be drafted and agreed upon? What form the behaviors will be codified by the participating nations (MOU, Treaty)? (USSF/S5I)

  • Special Operations Command Africa

    Operations in this AOR often face challenges with economy-offorce missions across a large continent. How can SOF best work with other USG agencies, as well as allies and partners, to fulfill their missions? In what ways can SOF help extend legitimate government control into areas where governance is contested? How can SOF maintain a U.S. presence across Africa, especially in countries where adversaries seek to gain power and influence? What is SOF’s role in resistance and resilience in Africa, and what challenges specific to the continent does it face? How can SOF best respond to climatological changes that drive economic, social, demographic, and cultural crises? 

  • Special Operations Command Central

    In what ways might the regional balance of power shift within this AOR? Diplomatically, are there ways to better understand the relationship between, and potential dynamics of, alliances and partnerships in the region between both states and non-state actors? How can SOF better understand what might cause shifts in the constellation of power? How might economic developments affect the fortunes, and potential for conflict, of regional actors? What might global shifts in energy generation towards renewable sources, and the rise and fall of ‘peak oil,’ lead to? How might petrostates respond to a sustained decrease in demand for oil and natural gas? Alternatively, as sea lanes open in the Arctic circle, what does this mean for current global shipping routes that pass through the Middle East? How might changes in shipping routes and follow-on economic effects affect the risk-reward calculus for violent extremist organizations? 

  • Special Operations Command Europe

    The conflict in Ukraine will end at some point, and when it does, changes to the Ukrainian military are likely to result. Are there lessons that can be drawn from history about what the transition from wartime to peacetime SOF looks like, especially in a smaller state that may need to dramatically reduce the size of its military? What capabilities are most critical to maintain? Should there be a larger role for reserve forces? How does Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO affect the role(s) that Ukrainian SOF will play? In what ways can U.S. SOF, in conjunction with allies and partners, support Ukrainian SOF through organizational and individual transitions to peacetime? 

  • Special Operations Command North

    How can SOF best prepare for future operations in the Arctic? What does the enlargement of NATO to include Finland and Sweden mean for the region? What are the interoperability requirements between SOF and conventional forces operating in the region, such as Coast Guard icebreakers and Navy submarines? Are there new capabilities or technologies that are required for operations in this environment? What can U.S. SOF learn from allies and partners that routinely operate in the Arctic? How might SOF best work with the USG interagency, as well as allies and partners, to understand and partner with Arctic peoples? 

  • Special Operations Command Pacific and Special Operations Command Korea

    Rising sea levels will, over the next decades, be the source of a variety of economic and social issues across the Indo-Pacific Command, which may drive conflicts in the region. These issues include natural disasters and extreme weather events that damage agriculture and trade, affect refugee flows, create challenges to port infrastructure, and impact changes to navigable waterways and sea routes. How can SOF better understand and adapt to this potentially destabilizing environment, and how can they best support allied and partner nations facing these issues?

  • Special Operations Command South

    Within a global strategic competition, how can SOF compete for influence in South and Central America?  How can this command best assess the quality and nature of allied and partner relationships in the region, and, in particular, what are indicators or warnings that US strategic influence might be challenged or losing ground to an adversary?  If we have lost ground, what are the best options for rebuilding influence?  How can we prevent or minimize adversarial entrenchment?  What are the biggest threats emanating from adversarial influence in the region?  Can SOF mitigate the effects of adversarial influence without directly competing against adversaries?

  • Strategic Empathy in Intel analysis

    How should we develop strategic empathy, the ability to identify with a competitor or adversary, to optimize analysis capability? (HAF/A2/6)

  • Strategic Patience and Campaigning

    SRR poses particular challenges in the context of metrics of ‘winning’ or ‘losing’ in strategic competition. How do you win an ongoing competition? Winning might look like sustaining the status quo or gaining amorphous, incremental ‘wins’ in terms of resilience, influence, or trust, but the desirability of clearly identifiable quick wins and avoiding any perceived loss are powerful motivators for short-term thinking. How can SOF inculcate a culture that recognizes incremental progress and encourages consideration of metrics of success beyond one operation cycle or stint in a leadership role? 

    Are strategic competition and SRR necessarily a zero-sum game where there are winners and losers? What role can and should ‘strategic patience’ play in SRR? Are there historical examples that might help our understanding of competition and SRR over the longer term? Would a campaigning perspective on resistance and resilience aid in longer-term thinking? How can SOF ensure that realistic timelines for success are shared with partners and allies? Are there examples of benchmarks for resistance and resilience that might serve to increase understanding of SRR? How might those benchmarks be developed and reassessed over time via a campaign? The Russian war in Ukraine has shown external support takes time. 

    How did Ukraine build that support and sustain it over time? What lessons for winning and losing (in the context of SRR) might be derived from the Ukrainian experience for the United States, its allies, partners, and adversaries?

  • Support to Resistance and Resilience Approaches to Preventing or Deterring Aggression

    SRR approaches typically rely on human networks and organizations to afford an asymmetric advantage against opponents. Understanding the human terrain comprises the essential component in understanding operational environments in which SRR takes place. The ability to understand and shape the environment in times of competition and deterrence short of armed conflict reduces risk to force, allows for efficient use of scarce resources, and facilitates both influence and information advantage. Can human-centric strategies (like the Resistance Operating Concept or ‘total defense’) effectively deter or prevent aggression? How do we assess SRR within steady-state environments? What metrics can be applied to SRR to achieve strategic-operational effects and prevent or deter aggression? How can SOF measure resilience? Should we focus on a resilient state, a resilient population, or a resilient infrastructure? How can we build resilience to/for compound security issues?

    How can we best carry out assessment, analysis, and planning to support national resilience and resistance? What lessons can SOF draw from the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to better understand how non-state actors can both participate in, and counter, resistance, and resilience campaigns? How can we better understand the civil-military interconnections, legal issues, and overt/covert operational balances? When should SOF take the lead in SRR, and when should it provide support to other government agencies? Should social network analysis include a component of SRR approaches? How can exercises and trainings help with preparation of the environment for SRR efforts? 

  • Technical Interoperability with Allies & Partners

    How does a focus on technical interoperability help or hinder operational integration with allies and partners? (AFWIC)

  • Technological Undermatch

    The ‘American way of war’ is typically used to describe the United States’ use of exquisite technology combined with limited numbers of highly trained personnel to fight its conflicts, rather than relying, as other countries sometimes do, on relatively low-technology capabilities wielded by large masses of personnel. Does this cultural bias lead SOF into over-relying on technology? What are the advantages and disadvantages of small-quantity, highly trained, and technologically sophisticated SOF? Does technology encourage and enable micromanagement? 

    As we move into an era of strategic competition, there is risk in assuming that SOF will always have the technological advantage vis-à-vis an adversary. How can SOF be effective in a conflict environment in which the adversary has the technological advantage? Do SOF have other competitive advantages that could make up for technological undermatch? How can SOF best manage the virtual and/or physical signature of personnel, platforms, organizations, operations, facilities, and data when facing an adversary with comparable or better technological capabilities? 

  • Testing Reliability of Allies and Partners

    How can the reliability of allies and partners be tested? (AFWIC)

  • The Future of Information and Influence

    There are many ways in which current technologies shape the ways that people receive information. The ability to create realistic, believable information, events, documents, pictures, and video based on a computer prompt makes it increasingly difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction. The combination of virtual reality and augmented reality offers the ability to virtually see, ‘be with,’ and respond in real time to another person anywhere in the world. What are the second and third-order effects of such technologies on information operations and strategic influence campaigns? If distinguishing the truth becomes increasingly difficult, will there be a corresponding reaction in which groups or individuals care less about the ‘truth’ or simply distrust everything not seen to occur with their own eyes? What are the implications of such distrust? Will societies become less vulnerable to disinformation, but also less receptive to strategic messaging? How might virtual interactive experiences be utilized to develop strategic influence? Training and education with partners and allies can provide a form of relationship building that may lead to strategic influence. Does virtual training and education build the same relationships, and have the same strategic effects, as in-person interactions? 

  • The Strategic Impacts of Misinformation and Disinformation

    How can DoD leaders prevent the negative effects of misinformation and disinformation? (JSOU)

  • Trust in non-US autonomous systems

    How do we ensure sufficient trust in non-US autonomous systems to support multinational human-machine teaming? (AF Futures)

  • U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Posture and Effectiveness Without Nuclear Arms Control

    How might a U.S. withdrawal and renegotiation of nuclear-based treaties impact U.S. deterrence strategy and force posture against nuclear adversaries? How might this impact the U.S. extended deterrence strategy and force posture in support of allies? (AF/A10P)

  • Understanding the Will to Resist

    Support to Resistance and Resilience (SRR) is focused on people— both for the populations who are building resilience and resistance skills, and on the SOF professionals who advise and assist those populations. Understanding, defining, and measuring the will to resist is a complex topic. What is the relationship between the people and their will to resist? What is SOF’s role in shaping the will to resist? Is there a difference between will to win and will to fight? Should capturing a willingness to resist be focused on the group or individual level? How can you measure a given group or individual’s will to resist, especially when that will is likely to vary over time? If we can better measure will to resist, might that inform where the next resistance movement will be likely to occur? 

  • US Alliance System and Multinational Air Operations

    How has the US alliance system shaped and influenced the conduct of multinational air operations, and how will this inform future multinational operations? (AFWIC)

  • US Approach to Strategic Partnerships

    What are strategies that can be used to enhance the Department's approach to strategic security, economic, and technology partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region? (HAF A5SM)

  • US support to Peacekeeping Operations

    Should the US contribute logistical enablers like air mobility (fixed wing and rotary wing), engineering, line and short-haul motor transportation, medical, and signals communication to support United Nations Peacekeeping Operations? (SOUTHCOM)

  • War Termination Processes and Prospects

    Dynamics of war termination have evolved over time, from the more limited aims of wars in the eighteenth century, through the more decisive objectives of many wars in the 19th and early 20th centuries, then back to the “limited wars” of the Cold War period. As such, there is an evolving need to understand the means by which contemporary conditions affect how leaders seek to terminate conflicts and the conditions under which they will be successful.

  • What Comes after the B61-12?

    The B61-12 is a welcome and much needed upgrade for the theater nuclear mission in USEUCOM and for US dual-capable aircraft - but it is not the end.  The US and NATO must start developing the next iteration of theater nuclear weapons now. 

  • Winning with Partner Nations

    SOF are often in the role of being the primary U.S. face to partner nations. Professional ethics matter in the effort to build trust with these nations. How do ethical conduct and adherence to high moral standards contribute to the credibility and trustworthiness of SOF missions in unconventional warfare, irregular warfare, and asymmetric fights? What lessons can SOF leverage from elements within the community to develop stronger relationships with allies, partners, and populations? How can empathy and cultural awareness enhance the effectiveness of SOF leaders in engaging with local populations and partner forces? What best practices have emerged that SOF can document and teach? What strategies and practices can SOF leaders employ to build and maintain high-performing teams in challenging environments? 

    How can SOF identify and prioritize areas where U.S. strategic goals align with those of other nations, fostering mutually beneficial partnerships? How can SOF maintain these relationships over time, particularly when budget constraints exist? What are the potential benefits, challenges, and strategies involved in aligning U.S. goals with the strategic goals of other nations in specific regions or issue areas?

     

  • Worldwide Deployable Dual-Capable Aircraft in Extended Deterrence

    How would the capability to deploy DCA worldwide affect extended deterrence?  (AF/A10)

Space

  • "Cyber threat-based mission assurance” as a service

    End-to-end cyber surety from penetration testing, fixing discovered vulnerabilities, and optimizing defensive cyber operations as one integrated entity and unit of action. What authorities, responsibilities, and resources would need to be realigned and where would that realignment best be suited? (ACC/A6O)

  • Air Mobility in a kinetic/contested environment with China

    What will be the impact of a kinetic/contested environment with China on Air Mobility? How can Air Mobility plan to operate in this environment?  (AMC/CC)

  • Artificial Intelligence in Warplans

    What is the impact of artificial intelligence or intelligent automation in the development of real-time generated war plans? (HQ USSF/S59/ACT)

  • Ballistic Missile Defense/Air Defense & Nuclear Proliferation

    What is the evolving role of Ballistic Missile Defense/Air Defense systems in a nuclear-proliferated environment? (HAF A5SM)

  • C2 in Space

    Is the Air Operations Center the proper command and control structure for space superiority? (SPOC/2SWS/DOC) What is the proper structure and organizational architecture to command and control space forces to provide the NCA, USSPACECOM, and the other COCOMs the space capabilities and effects they desire to achieve their objectives and end states? (USSPACECOM) Is it possible to unify military and civilian C2 networks to gain resiliency and efficiency and be ready to engage in a space conflict? If so, how? (22 SOPS)

  • Challenges associated with integrating manned and un-manned aircraft in the National Airspace System

    Describe, analyze, and provide recommendations to overcome challenges associated with integrating manned and unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System. (319th Operations Group)

  • Chinese Aerospace Force Modernization - Space Operations

    How have changes within the PLA aerospace forces' DOTMLPFP contributed to their effectiveness in this mission/activity? (CASI)

  • Civil and Military collaboration in Space

    How can the US military best take advantage of the domestic space industry to enhance its capabilities (both technologically and in terms of infrastructure/economics)? (2 ROPS)

  • CNI--How to Integrate Conventional and Nuclear Munition on American Bomber and Fighter Aircraft

    Current US policy restricts the military from loading conventional and nuclear weapons on the same aircraft.  This old cold war practice does not fit into the modern warfare paradigm. 

  • Coalition Partners in Space

    How can partner nations contribute to and participate in US-led developmental and operational efforts in the space domain? (SPOC/DOO & USSF/S36TG & HQ USSF/SEK) 

  • Creation of Space Force

    How does the Air Force transfer people, mission sets, R&D, and equipment to the Space Force?

  • Cyber Threats Against Air Mobility Operations and Forces

    What are the cyber threats (and countermeasures) that are specific to AMC operations? (423 MTS)

  • Deterrence in Space

    What potential uses of the latest space technologies can serve as deterrence? (50 OSS)

  • Education of Space Professionals

    Analyze various methods and systems for educating space professionals. (319 CTS & HQ USSF S36RL & 50 OSS) 

  • Effect-based Metrics Posture

    Use modeling and simulation to provide heuristics or other shortcuts that can connect improvements in fuel efficiency to capabilities valued by operators. (SAF/IEN)

  • Efficiency of Cargo Operations

    What methods are there for positioning aircraft to increase overall cargo capacity utilization, specifically to reduce dead legs and shorten the timeline associated with cargo management? (SAF/IEN)

  • Emerging threats & TTPs of UAV/UAS against military installations

    What are examples of emerging threats of UAVs/UASs and TTPs of those groups that employ them? (423 MTS)

  • EMS/EW Awareness

    How does the Air Force re-instill a culture of EMS/EW awareness throughout the force? (ACC/A3/2/6K)

  • Formation of the Space Force

    Analyze various elements of the formation of the Space Force. (HQ USSF/SEF & Museum Staff & 50 OSS)

  • Future of Air Mobility

    The future of Air Mobility with respect to Bypass Theory and the evolution of the Critical Path for Air Mobility. (AMC/CC)

  • Future of the 2W2 Career-Field in an Evolving Air Force

    AFGSC continues to expand the number of bases that will require 2W2 (Nuclear Weapon Technicians) with the arrival of the B-21.   USAFE has added location(s) that require more 2W2 personnel.   The 2W2 profession is in great demand in more locations.   The expansion, addition of new locations, further stretches the small career field.  This stretching and the AFPC/TRANSCOM tightening of PCSing will reduce the number of personnel who "cycle" through Missile Wing bases.   The fewer personnel who cycle through, the less "depth" the career field gains in technical expertise.   This is at a critical time in the history of the 20th AF during the Sentinel Transition.  

    Problem Statement:  Due to a greater demand of 2W2 personnel at more Bomber and Fighter bases worldwide, should the Nuclear Enterprise seek contract maintenance personnel to conduct routine maintenance at Missile Wing bases that solely support ICMBs and reallocate the finite quantity of active duty nuclear weapons technicians to bases with a nuclear flying mission?

  • Historical Studies for Space

    Analyze historical examples of space operations for potential use to contemporary operations.  (45 SW/MU & SPOC/2SWS/DOC)

  • Impact of Private Cellular Networks for Unmanned Systems C2

    How does the industry shift of utilizing high-density consumer and private cellular bands for control and communications affect military counter-drone technology and capabilities? (20 AF)

  • Impact of Technological Advancements on Air Warfare

    How will current and future trends in military technology advancements impact air warfare? How will this evolution of air warfare impact the US's superiority in the air domain? (HAF A5SM)

  • Improving Conventional and Nuclear Integration (CNI) in Wargaming

    Main Idea: 
    CNI is the ability of the join/combined force to recognize and survive the use of nuclear weapons, reconstitute critical capabilities, and plan and execute integrated multi domain conventional and nuclear combat operations in, around, and through a nuclear environment. This includes ensuring protection and resilience of nuclear command, control, and communication (NC3), through multi-domain operations.  CNI enables the U.S. to continue conventional combat operations in a nuclear effects environment.
    Full Abstract/Description:
    The Joint Force, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and especially Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) must develop concepts of operations tailored to its forces to successfully operate in a nuclear environment. Wargaming provides the opportunity to consider how to prosecute a future conflict with a peer adversary at the conventional level while preparing for the risk of nuclear escalation and prosecuting conventional and nuclear operations simultaneously in a threat environment. It also helps to address gaps and seams in existing doctrine, guidance, tactics, techniques, and procedures.  
    Research Questions:
    How can the Joint Force, USAF, and AFGSC use wargaming to address the following shortfalls in knowledge and capability development to support CNI operations? 
    What are the operational seams/gaps between simultaneous conventional/nuclear execution?
    What are the implications to a nuclear force generation in a stressed environment?
    Are there limiting factors and mitigating strategies for mobile support team (MST) requirements and other stressors on available resources (operations, maintenance, security) during the execution of CNI operations?
    What potential C2 and NC3 issues would exist within a stressed conventional and nuclear environment and how can they be mitigated or overcome?
    Will there be access to key enabling forces during execution of near-simultaneous nuclear and conventional missions in the same geographical area such as tankers, ISR, airlift, etc?
    Justification:
    Various wargames (Futures Game, Global Engagement, etc) have been conducted at the conventional level that have nuclear excursions; however, they have usually been tasked only at investigating strategic decisions and have not been an all-encompassing study that provides actionable data on CNI that can drive programmatic and mission planning. A wargame that is exclusively focused on CNI and its implications in a peer conventional conflict would be applicable for future planning for modernization for both private industry and government.
    Study Will Inform: 
    This study will inform USSTRATCOM, A5/8/10, DTRA, RAND, AFGSC, AFSTRAT, HAF A5/8/10, AETC, ACC, AMC , or any other DOD or US Government agency that could potentially support CNI. The outcomes will advance AFGSC/CC vision, develop nuclear leaders, and further AFGSC strategy and potential force structure with lessons learned that feed AFGSC strategic studies. It will also support deterrence/assurance by demonstrating willingness to study nuclear issues. Participation in wargaming community leads to inclusion of deterrence/assurance objectives in other wargames and acts as a catalyst to mature nuclear analytical models/studies.

  • Influence of Operational Tempo on Nuclear Deterrence

    AI, multi-domain C3BM, and non-kinetic weapons (especially effects at a distance) are allowing an increase in the tempo of decision making and operational tempo. How will the speed of conflict and decision making influence decisions to use nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence?  

     

  • In-Space Logistics

    Analysis of in-space logistics. (HQ USSF S36RL)

  • Integrated air and missile defense mission in INDOPACOM AOR

    How do we as a coalition of the willing in the INDOPACOM AOR gain parity and subsequently surpass regional actors in IAMD architec