Mitchell Institute Releases New Policy Paper
The Force We Need: Key Factors for Shaping the Air Force for the Future

ARLINGTON, VA (March 6, 2019) —The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the newest installment in its Mitchell Institute Policy Papers series, The Force We Need: Key Factors for Shaping the Air Force for the Future, by Mitchell’s Dean, Lt Gen David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), and Executive Director Douglas A. Birkey.

Today, the United States Air Force is the smallest it has ever been since its founding as an independent military service in 1947. This dynamic now translates to fewer national security options presented to combatant commanders and decision makers, and the assumption of increased risk at a time when threats are on the rise around the world. Potential U.S. adversaries and competitors understand this vulnerability and have moved to take advantage of this opening.

Deptula and Birkey articulate why the Air Force needs a force-sizing method to clearly articulate aircraft requirements, highlight any gaps that may exist or emerge, and help guide modernization decisions. Nor is a force-sizing model alone enough. The latest Mitchell Institute Policy Paper explains that leaders need to ensure resources are available to adequately build the Air Force the United States requires. If tradeoffs are required, then available funds must focus on mission areas which yield the most effective, efficient set of options.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers series presents new thinking and proposals that respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges facing the U.S. and its allies in the 21st century. These papers are targeted at lawmakers, their staffs, policy professionals, industry representatives, academics, journalists, and the informed public. The series aims to provide in-depth insight and perspectives to help illuminate potential policy solutions, informed by studious research and the authors’ experience and expertise. For more information on the series, contact Mitchell’s Director of Publications Marc V. Schanz at or visit our website, at

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