Air University Press will no longer publish Wild Blue Yonder. Those interested in submitting articles similar to what we have published here should instead submit their work to Air & Space Power Journal, the Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, Strategic Studies Quarterly, or the Journal of the Americas.

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

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  • Hansai or the Cleansing Fire: How the Interplay of Fog, Friction, and Faith Resulted in the Unintended Atomic Annihilation of Nagasaki’s Christian Community

    This article tells the story of the lesser-known second of the two atomic missions in the final days of World War II, which delivered a uniquely powerful and complex explosive device known as “Fat Man”—the first plutonium-implosion device ever deployed in war. It was detonated above the predominantly Christian Urakami valley, just up the river and across a range of mountains from the Nagasaki waterfront and well over two miles from the intended ground zero for the blast. Examined here is this tragic, unprecedented, and fateful collision of members of the Christian communities of two nations at war, America and Japan.
  • Moving the “Big Rock”: Inculcating Critical Thinking in the Air Force’s Project Warrior

    When Gen David L. Goldfein became the chief of staff of the Air Force (CSAF) in 2016, he sought to revitalize the Air Force. He also narrowed in on the squadron as the “core fighting unit” by which Airmen most strongly identified with the service’s “culture and traditions.” At this point, it is difficult to assess General Goldfein’s success in imparting lasting cultural change, but it is hoped that new CSAF Gen Charles Q. Brown will consider for one of his “big rocks” how to achieve the “intellectual overmatch” that the Joint Chiefs of Staff enjoin by attacking the Air Force’s reputation for anti-intellectualism in some corners. It is worth taking note of the successes and failures of a similar movement that occurred at the beginning of the 1980s—Project Warrior—that has received virtually no scholarly attention.
  • Chasing the Chimera of the Indigenous Jet Fighter: China’s Stealth Fighters and the Lessons of Recent Aviation History

    China has demonstrated an apparent capability to develop stealth fighters. While Chinese aviation technology should not be underestimated, this essay strikes a cautionary note. Using historical examples from Argentina, Egypt, and India, the author contends that Chinese stealth fighters are being unveiled in part to highlight China’s arrival as a global power; however, future Chinese jet fighter development will be hindered by technical challenges such as the development of indigenous engines—not to mention advanced weapons and sensors.
  • Unilateralism and Competitive Multilateralism in Gray-zone Conflict: A Comparison of Russia and the United States

    This article argues that today’s alliances constitute a form of competitive multilateralism that puts allies in a difficult position, assessing US gray-zone campaigns against adversaries and allies in the Middle East and Europe and Russia’s engagements in Ukraine and Georgia and their impact on relations with Belarus and Kazakhstan. By providing strategic-level considerations of great-power behavior this article sets the foundation for an operational-level discussion among military professionals regarding their engagement with both adversaries and allies.
  • An Expanded View of Cost Imposition: Application to Personnel and Nondefense Policies

    This article finds that the US’s defensive position in personnel costs is relatively strong due to the country's large population and economic power. The article suggests several policy changes to improve America's defensive posture even more by reducing US military personnel costs, including a partner-focused approach to building personnel capacity. Additionally, it proposes an offensive cost imposing strategy: an information campaign to pressure competitors to improve health care for their veterans to bring lifetime troop costs closer to the US’s costs.

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Cadet Perspectives

  • Economic Prospects for the Arctic: What Does It Mean for the United States?

    The United States needs the Arctic to be free of conflicts and defense overspending, enabling the country to scale back its global strategy and focus on the Indo-Pacific region. This is unlikely, given Chinese and Russia interests and tendencies. Consequently, the United States is preparing for a more adversarial environment in the Arctic.
  • Pilot Shortage

    One of the major problems that the aviation community is facing right now is a pilot shortage. In recent years, the number of pilots has slowly been declining, and now we have a major, global pilot shortage. Many people know about the shortage and are not doing anything about it. Many think it is not a big deal. However, it is actually a devastating problem.
  • Flexibility: The Key to Airpower

    In our country’s current state, due to COVID-19, the Air Force tenet of flexibility is one of the most important assets we possess as Airmen and future Airmen.

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  • Your Stance against Child Sex Trafficking Is Threatening the National Security of the United States

    The authors describe “narrative warfare” and just how difficult it can be to combat. While the concept of creating, influencing, or spreading narratives with specific objectives is not new, interest in the practice has grown substantially with the rise of social media and online communication.
  • Book Review: Space Warfare in the 21st Century: Arming the Heavens

    Author: Joan Johnson-Freese Reviewer: Forrest L. Marion, PhD --- In Space Warfare in the 21st Century, Joan Johnson-Freese seeks to persuade the incoming Trump administration to change the nation’s space policy that, in her view, has been mostly on the wrong track especially since 2006. The author is a highly respected national security affairs and space scholar who has served on the Naval War College faculty for nearly two decades
  • Conflict and Controversy in the Space Domain: Legalities, Lethalities, and Celestial Security

    This article assumes the inevitability of space exploration—including celestial body resource exploitation, weapon research and developments, and the human colonization of Mars—in an attempt to answer the question of how important the role is for American leadership of human expansion into space. The author explores the technologies available in today's space race environment, including potential future energy resources available in space, weapon systems designed for space warfare, the legal implications of each, and some potential consequences of different nations gaining the upper hand in the heavens. Part 1 outlines recent space-relevant technological developments. Part 2 examines lunar exploitation and resources, particularly Helium-3, and the potential for future fusion energy developments. Part 3 explores the potential benefits of exploring, exploiting, and colonizing Mars. Part 4 underscores the severity of the potential and actuality of space weaponization, including an overview of existing and theoretical weaponry and legal implications. Finally, Part 5 concludes with an analysis of the potential implications of recent developments and control over space and celestial bodies with regard to global economic stability and space superiority, emphasizing the absolute need of American leadership as humans expand into the space domain.
  • Miniature Menace: The Threat of Weaponized Drone Use by Violent Non-state Actors

    Currently, there are no practical solutions to countering the threat of weaponized drones. While various companies are working on new technology to counter their uses, none have entered full-scale production or are capable of efficiently stopping the attacks. The current strategy to stop terrorists from using weaponized drones is to bomb where they make their drones to stop them before they can use them. This plan has many cracks and flaws. Understanding this threat and where it comes from is critical to effectively stopping attacks on multiple levels. While no group has successfully carried out an attack against civilians or politicians in the West, as the technology continues to evolve and become increasingly available, more terrorists will inevitably try to carry out attacks. If they are not stopped, it will not be long before we see an attack carried out against urban population centers killing hundreds, shutting down the power grid, or blowing up a nuclear power plant.

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Sci-Fi and Strategy

  • You Will Be Annihilated

    This article from the Air Command and Staff College elective Sci-fi as Strategy presents a story of intergalactic war, delving into matters of artificial intelligence, groupthink, coalition building, and host of other relevant issues.
  • Doomie

    This sci-fi short story, written for an Air University elective, explores a number of important issues, including space exploration, space debris tracking and remediation, international science and military cooperation, superpower and multipolar political dynamics, and more.
  • Island Hopping—Feet Dry!: Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Indications and Warning in Austere Environments

    To increase technology’s capabilities and how it can be used requires innovation. Identifying how to fit emerging technology into the mission construct can be viewed as limiting; however, there has to be a starting point. The fictional vignette illustrates how such innovation might play out in our future.

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Full Issues


  • Airpower in the Twenty-first Century: Swing- and Multi-role versus Single-role Specialist

    A hundred years after classics like the Vickers Virginia I, the Super Zeppelin L70, or the Etrich Taube, military air assets can be stealth-capable, accelerate far above the velocity of sound, and bear weapons systems reaching over the horizon. Among these technological developments are single-, multi-, and swing-role air assets. Which of these might be outdated, and which among these represents a trend or a “one-hit-wonder?”
  • The Future of China’s Belt and Road Initiative

    The global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the export of China’s worst characteristics, while prompting delays and disruptions to BRI construction and investment plans. These delays risk years of planning and hundreds of billions of dollars in PRC economic diplomacy. Quarantine measures are keeping PRC workers from foreign building sites. PRC and target-country firms supplying BRI projects face acute labor shortages, and fears are growing that Chinese workers will inadvertently spread the virus to new locales. The outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan and its rapid global spread present China with a series of dilemmas in advancing the BRI.
  • Strike Back!: India–China Border Skirmish

    What factors, as the Germans say, were the Anlass (trigger) and the Ursache (underlying reason) for the breakdown of decades-long relative peace along the 3,488 km India–China LAC in the Himalayas? How should India react? And what does the Himalayan clash mean for US strategy?
  • Why Did Beijing Decide to Apply the Security Law to Hong Kong Now?

    The passage of the new Hong Kong national security law probably is the most significant political change that has taken place since Britain transferred Hong Kong to China. Therefore, it is hard to ignore the timing in which China chose to declare the new law—a time when the entire world is confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic that began in China at the end of 2019. It is also a time at which China is involved in border struggles with India, Bhutan, Russia, and others and, above all, engaged in a seemingly ever-growing struggle or impending war with the United States for global hegemony. What led China to make this dramatic move at this time?
  • Understanding and Challenging “The Digital Air Force” USAF White Paper

    This short article is an examination, constructive critique, and epilogue to “The Digital Air Force” USAF White Paper. The article characterizes the white paper in terms of where it falls in a traditional stratification of guidance documents, categorizes the white paper in terms of international relations theory and philosophy, identifies and challenges four key assumptions, and concludes by suggesting that the paper’s most important contribution is in its implied meaning for global warning intelligence.

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Today’s look Around the Air Force highlights the change of command of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force as General Charles Brown assumes command.
On 14 Aug 2020, CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright retires from active duty and passes on the duty of Chief Master Sgt. of The Air Force to CMSgt JoAnne S. Bass, at a transition ceremony held at Joint Base Andrews, MD.
Do you know the #legacy of the new United States Space Force logo? #sempersupra #SpaceStartsHere
Language Enabled Airman Program (LEAP) interview with Capt Evgenia Peduzzi's, discussing her experiences as a member of the LEAP program and the skillsets and opportunities LEAP members provide in assisting the DoD mission.
#NIICEEvents | The Future of American Power SPEAKER: Dr. Amit Gupta, Associate Professor, USAF Air War College, Alabama Amit Gupta is an Associate Professor in the USAF Air War College, Alabama. His writings have focused on arms production and weapons proliferation, South Asian and Australian security policies, Diaspora politics, popular culture and politics and, more recently, on the US-China rivalry and the impact of demography on US foreign policy. His articles have appeared in Orbis, Asian Survey, Security Dialogue, The Round Table, and Mediterranean Quarterly. He is also the author or editor of seven books the most recent of which are: Air Power: The Next Generation, Amit Gupta Ed., Howgate Publishing, 2019 and Maritime Heritage and Challenges in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific, Howard M. Hensel and Amit Gupta (Eds.) Routledge, 2018.
Capt. Julian Gluck took his passion for the Japanese culture and language and elevated it by participating in the Language Enabled Airman Program. Exercise Cope North 2018 provided him yet another opportunity to put his passion to use when Lt. Gen. Hiroaki Maehara visited Andersen Air Force Base and saw the B-52 up-close and personal.
Dr. Namrata Goswami is an independent analyst and author on space policy, great power politics, and ethnic conflicts. She is a subject matter expert in international affairs with the Futures Laboratory, Alabama, USA and guest lecturer, India Today Class, Emory University.
Our future is about making history in space. We see exploration, courage, and new horizons for our country out there.

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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