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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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@au.af.edu.

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  • 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.
  • Assessing India’s Preparedness: External Interference in Political Processes through Social Media

    This article examines the existing tools that India possesses, legislative and otherwise, to combat the threats posed by external actors who would use social media to manipulate Indian elections and enumerates possible solutions that could perhaps assist in dealing with these threats.
  • A Primer on US Civil–Military Relations for National Security Practitioners

    The objective of the primer is to enable national security professionals—military and civilian—to critically evaluate arguments relating to civil–military relations and to be aware of the implications of their own actions.
  • Force Posturing and the Contemporary Security Environment: Options for Industrially Dependent Countries

    This article discusses the anatomy of a country’s force posture and its major determinants as major drivers of the military buildup and force posturing of a nation. It then scans force postures of few powerful nations in the backdrop of prevailing security environment to draw some relevant conclusions before proposing possible options for the developing countries to address their force posturing challenges.

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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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  • 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.
  • The Case for Missile Defense and an Efficient Defense of the US Homeland

    In May 2019, the Pentagon first announced a pause on the years-long troubled efforts to redesign the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system’s interceptors. Since 2004, the GMD system’s mission is to defend the United States from ballistic missile threats. The EKV is a sensor-propulsion package that uses the kinetic energy from a direct collision with an enemy’s missile warhead to destroy its target. By August 2019, the Pentagon made the surprise decision to completely cancel the so-called Redesigned Kill Vehicle program of the GMD system. For many, the decision represented an inflection point for homeland missile defense in its entirety.
  • What Exactly is Venture Capital, and What Does It Have to Do with the Air Force?

    The initial cohort of AFVentures fellows recently finished their six-week immersion in Silicon Valley. This article outlines that experience and the lessons applicable to the Air Force writ large.
  • Reorganizing Missile Security at Malmstrom AFB: 341st Security Forces Group and the Missile Security Operating Concept

    From August 2017 through January 2019, the 341st Security Forces Group (341st SFG) planned and executed an internal reorganization of its missile security forces called the Missile Security Operating Concept (MSOC). By standing up the 841st Missile Security Forces Squadron (841st MSFS) and creating three identical squadrons out of the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron and the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron, each unit would deploy to the missile field under one commander’s control. This reorganization sought to make its defenders more effective and improve group morale. The 341 st SFG’s successful transition to MSOC required it to plan a 21-day schedule to provide its defenders a work/life balance, incorporate the Integrated Planning Cell into missile security operations to maximize missile field operational efficiency through long-range planning, and create a Troop Leading Procedures course to train its noncommissioned officers to lead their Airmen. At the squadron level, the 841 st MSFS faced some unique challenges. Given MSOC’s bottom-up planning, its commander had to operate without a clear legal authority to do so and build its Unit unit Manpower manpower Document document from scratch. While MSOC had a rocky start, both leaders and Airmen on-the-ground resolved those initial problems and believed it improved morale and made its defenders more lethal. In short, it worked. The lessons learned from this study provides a template for any group-level unit to plan and execute its own internal reorganization.

More Viewpoints

Sci-Fi and Strategy

  • 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.

More Sci-Fi and Strategy

Full Issues


  • 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.
  • On Early Air Combat in Southeast Asia: After Wingate’s Fortitude Eclipsed Mountbatten’s Folly

    Generals and admirals bring prior credibility to conferences. Insignia of rank demonstrate authority; rows of ribbons denote extensive service if not valor; and reputations for previous sound decisions (or lack thereof) may affect listeners. Some credibility, however, is enhanced by their speaking during those meetings. At Quadrant, British general Orde Wingate exemplified such impress.
  • Issues with the Integration of Space and Terrestrial Military Operations

    When was the last time the air war was in doubt for the United States? Maybe in the early days of World War II, almost 80 years ago. Since then we have produced many generations of military leaders who are far too accustomed to winning wars and doing things the good old way. Space is too new a conflict environment for lazy thinking about how to conduct decisive warfare.

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Designed for social media, this Independence Day video incorporates the wearing of face masks of civilian and military airmen during the COVID-19 crisis. The messaging is extracted from a holiday message by Col. Jon Eberlan, Commander, 75th Air Base Wing, Hill Air Force Base, UT. (U.S. Air Force video by David Perry)
General David Goldfein joined Senior Fellows Michael O’Hanlon and Frank Rose in a conversation on the state of the Air Force, the technological innovations it is spearheading to maintain an edge over great power rivals, and where the Air Force stands with investments in talent and recruitment. https://www.brookings.edu/events/assessing-the-state-of-the-air-force-a-conversation-with-general-david-goldfein/ (transcript available) Subscribe! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=BrookingsInstitution Follow Brookings on social media! Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/Brookings Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/BrookingsInst Instagram: http://www.Instagram.com/brookingsinst LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/com/company/the-brookings-institution
The United States Air Force Band, Washington Performing Arts, and National Harbor have partnered together with special guest artists Joshua Bell, Soloman Howard, and Larisa Martínez to present a special online event, streamed live at 4:00 p.m. on July 4th. Hosted by D.C.’s own Aaron Gilchrist, morning anchor at NBC Washington, “A Tribute to the American Spirit” will highlight the resilience of all Americans, honor our veterans, and celebrate Independence Day with some patriotic favorites.
Our future is about making history in space. We see exploration, courage, and new horizons for our country out there. https://www.airforce.com/spaceforce
#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.
“Today’s Air Force is the best in the world and the reason is obvious -- our people. Pure and simple. It’s no secret, a life of service can be hard and demanding – yet, our Airmen demonstrate an unrivaled dedication and inspiring willingness to serve. That’s why it’s important to recognize – publicly and often – the incredible work that is done every day, everywhere across the Air Force. Capturing that work, that attitude and the people behind it, is the focus of a new series of short films called “Because of You.” The first is about aviators, another looks at the lives and work of our maintainers, and there will be others to follow. Taken together, the films highlight the skill and professionalism our Airmen bring to the job each day. These are the Air Force’s defining characteristics, our core values, our ethos – and what drives the Air Force to impressive heights.” - Gen. David L. Goldfein, CSAF 21
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.
Memorial Day is a day for us to remember and honor the real-life superheroes who gave their lives in the fight for our freedom. Video: Airman 1st Class Kevin Long
United States Space Force Recruitment Video

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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