Wild Blue Yonder (ISSN 2689-6478) is a new online journal and forum focused on airpower thought and dialogue. The journal seeks to foster discussion and debate among air, space, and cyberspace practitioners. We want to hear your ideas on how to reshape the way we think about air, space, and cyberspace. Our articles bridge the gap between academic thought and practical operational experience.

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Published by the Air University Press, Wild Blue Yonder (WBY) is a digital-only, professional journal of the US Air Force and a forum for dialogue regarding airpower, space, multidomain operations, regional affairs, military history, and a host of other topics. The journal fosters intellectual and professional development for service members and the creation of meaningful interaction among academicians, operators, students, and policy makers.

Articles submitted to the journal must be unclassified, nonsensitive, and releasable to the public. The length and depth of articles can vary significantly, and we strive for a good balance between pieces of scholarly rigor and operational perspective. Submit all manuscripts to WildBlueYonder@hqau.af.edu.

The views and opinions expressed or implied in WBY are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government or international equivalents.

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You can reach our editorial staff at WildBlueYonder@hqau.af.edu

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  • Examining and Enhancing Deterrence Education for Future Leaders

    This article examines educational gaps instructing the Joint Force on deterrence, proposes combatant commander recommendations, and suggests changes for services, increasing student learning. Without integrated and updated education, future leaders may miscalculate situations, leaving the US inconsequential in world events. Our nation’s future leaders must be prepared for increasingly complex threats and worldwide challenges. Education provides the key strengthening preparedness. The article first observes the lack of a comprehensive definition for strategic deterrence and the need to reconceptualize deterrence in the classroom. The next segment reviews military leadership, strategic deterrence experts, and Joint education and doctrine staff perspectives. The third focus investigates public law and government studies highlighting the need to modernize and integrate education and experiences. The fourth topic reveals current deterrence topics at Joint and Service Professional Military Education schools, service academies, and US Strategic Command Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance institutes. Finally, the article proposes approaches to bolster deterrence awareness for military and civilian future leaders.
  • Making a Moral Case for Nonconflict in Space: Expanding Strategic Norm to Taboo

    To construct a moral case against kinetic space conflict in particular, one needs to demonstrate how and why it should be considered uniquely dangerous and reckless. Using space warfare’s similarity to nuclear conflict, this article proposes a moral case against conflict in space based on the amount of environmental destruction it might cause. In doing so, The author highlights the absence of a significant factor that has contributed to the development of other taboos: societal pressure. In the absence of such bottom-up pressure, further institutionalization of a space taboo will be severely limited. Policy makers and other interested actors wishing to limit conflict in space must therefore make a concerted effort to frame the dangers of space conflict in such a way as to highlight its grave consequences.
  • Whatever Happens, Happens: Deterring Russia’s Threat of Nuclear Weapons through Non-Nuclear Means

    Deterring nuclear adversaries such as Russia will continue to provide challenges to the United States during the remainder of the twenty-first century. While the United States and Russia (formerly the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet Union) signed multiple arms control and reduction treaties limiting the number and type of nuclear munitions, the danger posed by these weapons remains the same. The United States’ February 2019 withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty due to Russia’s decision to develop new nuclear weapons complicates relations between the two nations. Because of these events, the United States needs to explore methods for countering this threat without appearing belligerent to the international community. Rather than invest in new Intermediate-Range weapons, the United States may develop a strategic advantage by investing in emerging technologies such as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, Hypersonic Ground-based Interceptor and Space-based Interceptor systems. This research product will employ the problem/solution framework to analyze how these emerging forms of deterrence can counter the threat of nuclear weapons.
  • Intelligence-Based Urban Operations: Intelligence Preparation of Battlefield Methodology in Urban Settings

    Urban warfare is intelligence and surveillance-intensive. Thorough knowledge of buildings, alleyways, tunnels, and rooftops may have to be acquired, through intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) sources and human intelligence (HUMINT), to operate in cities.8 After reviewing US Army Field Manual (FM)-2 (Intelligence) from a maneuver officer’s perspective, Schrick opines that: “the manual lacks details on employment of military assets in support of tactical operations in urban terrain.” He furthers that the most critical ISR assets in an urban environment are HUMINT. In his view, FM 2-22.3 (Human Intelligence Collector Operation) educates the maneuver officers on the organization and structure, support requirements, and employment considerations of HUMINT assets in an urban environment. However, the explanation of capabilities, limitations, and employment considerations of the remaining military intelligence disciplines are vague.9 Schrick also highlights that the maneuver doctrine FM 3-90.6 (The Brigade Combat Team) elaborates on the need for actionable intelligence in an urban environment. This step requires a maneuver officer to understand how intelligence operations support the ISR process.
  • Future Technology and Nuclear Deterrence

    The following discussion is speculative in nature given the future orientation of the topic. In many respects it is policy-prescriptive in its focus. This is because there is little possibility of a future in which nuclear deterrence will diminish in importance to international security. On the other hand, nuclear weapons will compete for influence among a menu of capabilities that include smaller, lighter, smarter, and more versatile weapons and platforms, together with more agile command, control, and communication systems—some of which must be incorporated into the NC3 architecture. This will all occur in a strategic environment that is more opaque, as the Russian invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine has demonstrated. Within this context, the following discussion first considers some of these technologies in more detail. Second, it assesses the continuing significance of nuclear weapons and NC3 in a post-post-Cold War world. Third, it offers some conclusions about the potential for peaceful coexistence between nuclear deterrence and the new strategies that are driven by technological change.

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Cadet Perspectives

  • He Said, Xi Said: The Difficulties of Strategic Communication between the United States and China

    Communication or signaling is a necessity in all strategic deterrence operations. The United States and the PRC have an extensive history of failing to effectively communicate or signal one another. The implications of communications breakdown between the United States and the PRC could lead to misunderstanding and unintended escalation between nuclear powers. This would certainly devastate both nations, in addition to the global community. Given the history of communication failures between the United States and China, the United States needs to develop a more effective communications strategy to effectively deter China and meet the objectives of the NSS and the NDS.

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US Space and Missile Systems Center Commander Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson talks about the importance of launching the AEHF-6 military communications satellite for the United States Space Force, even during a pandemic. -- US launches advanced satellite in 1st Space Force national security mission: https://www.space.com/space-force-launches-military-satellite-aehf-6.html Credit: ULA
Barbara Barrett, Secretary of The Air Force, delivers a message to the force on COVID-19 on 26 March, 2020.
Defense Health Agency recently released Q & A regarding COVID-19 testing, screening, quarantine, and isolation. Photos: Courtesy photos CDC, DHA, National Institute of Health.
A message from Lt Gen Timothy Haugh from Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) on the recent telework posture.
Introduction video for Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett's speech for the 2020 Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium at Orlando, Florida.
Joint remarks from Maj Gen B. Chance Saltzman, Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Maj Gen Kimberly A. Crider, Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, Air Force Space Command, Brig Gen David L. Kumashiro, Director, Joint Force Integration, Deputy Chief of Staff, Strategy, Integration and Requirements Col Lance Spencer, USAF (Ret.), AT&T.


  • The Strategy Web: A New Framework for Analyzing Military Strategy

    Warfare is a complex endeavor, and those tasked with planning and implementing military strategy must be equipped with a robust framework capable of incorporating theory, historical evidence, and truths. It is necessary to cultivate an entirely new framework for representing and analyzing strategy. Macroduction may be the foundation of this new framework. The term refers to the process of moving beyond linear links in causality or correlation and transitioning to a decision-making approach that incorporates ideas across the academic spectrum. The macroduction concept does not confine itself to explaining critical parts of a single theory. Instead, the model outlines many theories, the environment, the contributions of many individual and corporate decision-makers, the role of chance, and the threads of timeless truths naturally woven into a particular situation. The best method (or frame) for visualizing this model of military strategy is the well-known spider web. Thus, the strategy web can help organize the complex world of warfare and human behavior into something recognizable, usable, and valuable.
  • Multi-Domain Operations: Bridging the Gaps for Dominance

    This article will take a quick look at how warfare has evolved and why we have headed toward the multi-domain operations (MDO) doctrine. Additionally, the article provides a framework as a rudimentary way to understand basic MDO concepts that can be utilized to create offensive and defensive MDO objectives at the tactical and operational levels of war.
  • Biohazard: A Look at China’s Biological Capabilities and the Recent Coronavirus Outbreak

    Many have speculated that the coronavirus outbreak that begin in China in 2019 could have been an unintentional consequence of alleged bioweapon research in Wuhan. This article will look into the validity of such claims, the current coronavirus situation, China’s current alleged biowarfare capabilities, and the future of biowarfare.
  • Afghanistan Intelligence War

    A comparison between the way the pro-Soviet intelligence agencies carried out strategic interference against the political system in the past and the way the post-2001 pro-Western agencies are interfacing with the political process is important for understanding Afghan politics today. In some ways, there are remarkable similarities between the two periods, notably in the way that external and internal intelligence agencies continue to exercise considerable bearing on the political system in Afghanistan.

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  • Effective Team Building and Leadership at Al Dhafra, 2015–2016

    In 2019, as part of a study of air operations conducted by US Air Forces Central Command (USAFCENT) against the Islamic State (ISIS) (Operation Inherent Resolve), recent historical research revealed an exemplary case study of team building and leadership. Between June 2015 and June 2016 at Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the wing leadership team of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing (380AEW) consisted of Brig Gen Daniel Orcutt (CC), Col Johnny Barnes (CV), and CMSgt Charles Mills (CCC). These three leaders took advantage of favorable circumstances, employed creative techniques for team building and leading their team, and produced impressive outcomes.
  • How to Win the Next Space War: An Assessment

    The importance of space satellites and their supporting systems cannot be overstated. Their use in the civil and commercial world to provide communications, weather, navigation, timing, and Earth resources monitoring provides major advantages to those who employ the information generated by these systems. However, due to the global reach of these space systems, advantages are provided to both friendly and adversary militaries. Beginning with the use of space systems to support military operations during the Arab–Israeli conflicts, and in Operation Desert Storm, both major and minor players are considering how denial of space capabilities to their adversaries will be a force multiplier on terrestrial battlefields.

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The views and opinions expressed or implied in Wild Blue Yonder are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government or their international equivalents. ISSN 2689-6478