Cost Imposition in Strategic Competition Published Aug. 8, 2022 By HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments TOPIC SPONSOR: HAF/A5SM Strategic Assessments As part of the broader geopolitical rivalry, the Department of the Air Force (DAF) is in a long-term, strategic competition with great powers, especially China. As a competitor, the DAF’s investments—in programs, postures, and concepts—must consider PRC counter-investments. To gain advantage over time, the DAF should invest in ways that create sustainable positions of relative advantage, while seeking investments that could impose relative hardship or dilemmas upon the PRC. This approach of cost imposition could serve as a guiding principle in allocating DAF resources throughout its competition. What role, if any, did USAF programs, postures, or concepts play in the changes to the PRC’s Strategic Guideline (zhanlue fangzhen)? To what extent did USAF investments in the Cold War impose costs on the PRC? What enduring sensitivities or proclivities shape the PRC’s military investments? As the PRC’s nuclear force structure changes, what opportunities exist to improve the security, reliability, and surety of the PRC’s nuclear command, control, and communications and what steps can the DAF take to support such improvements or reduce vulnerabilities? What other opportunities exist for imposing costs via the nuclear enterprise?