The Posture Triangle

The Posture Triangle: A New Framework for U.S. Air Force Global Presence

Stacie L. Pettyjohn
Alan J. Vick
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: RAND Corporation
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  • Book Info
    The Posture Triangle
    Book Description:

    U.S. Air Force (USAF) global posture—its overseas forces, facilities, and arrangements with partner nations—faces a variety of fiscal, political, and military challenges. This report seeks to identify why the USAF needs a global posture, where it needs basing and access, the types of security partnerships that minimize peacetime access risk, and the amount of forward presence that the USAF requires.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-8170-4
    Subjects: Business, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xi-xx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  9. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    Americans take for granted the global network of U.S. military facilities and forces stationed in many countries. Indeed, only those born prior to World War II have experienced a world where the United States did not have hundreds of overseas facilities and hundreds of thousands of troops stationed abroad.¹ Although there have been some recent calls for a dramatic reduction in our overseas presence,² a majority of Americans still support a continued military presence abroad.³ This is unlikely to change anytime soon.

    What is changing, however, are attitudes regarding the scale of the U.S. overseas presence. The Cold War elite...

  10. 2. Why Does the USAF Need a Global Posture?
    (pp. 5-16)

    This chapter seeks to understand and identify the fundamental reasons for an overseas force posture. It begins with an exploration of the benefits and limitations provided by U.S. territory. It then presents a planning framework that illustrates how U.S. global posture addresses three core requirements.

    Any discussion of overseas posture ought to begin with an understanding of what can and cannot be accomplished from U.S. territory. As a continental power, the United States has great advantages. The lower 48 states offer unimpeded access to the waters and air of the Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico. Alaska and Hawaii also...

  11. 3. Where Does the USAF Need Basing and Access?
    (pp. 17-36)

    Current U.S. global posture is the product of both history and current demands. Many U.S. facilities have origins in conflicts dating back decades: to the 1990–1991 Gulf War, to the Korean War, and even to World War II. For example, Kadena AB in Japan originally (in 1945) supported U.S. occupation forces in the Ryuku Islands, then transitioned to support American and Japanese Cold War security needs. After the end of the Cold War, although the United States shed hundreds of facilities, it stayed at Kadena because the base continued (and continues) to serve a range of U.S. and Japanese...

  12. 4. What Types of Security Partnerships Minimize Peacetime Access Risk?
    (pp. 37-64)

    In September 2009, U.S. forces were expelled from Manta AB in Ecuador after President Rafael Correra refused to renew the lease because “sovereignty is not having foreign soldiers on the fatherland’s soil.”⁵⁹ Consequently, the United States found itself searching for an air base that its surveillance aircraft could use to monitor and interdict drug trafficking in Latin America for the second time in a decade.⁶⁰ Despite the relatively small U.S. military presence at Manta (which typically consisted of approximately 250 military personnel), the United States had to make more than $70 million in improvements so that the airfield could support...

  13. 5. How Much Forward Presence Does the USAF Require?
    (pp. 65-74)

    In 2012, the USAF had a relatively small overseas presence, with just over 30,000 airmen stationed in Europe at seven major air bases in Germany, the UK, Turkey, Italy, and the Azores. In East Asia, the USAF had approximately 25,000 airmen stationed at six bases in South Korea, Japan, and the U.S. territory of Guam. While the USAF’s post-Afghanistan presence in Central Asia has yet to be determined, it maintains a few thousand airmen at three major air bases in Qatar, the UAE, and Kuwait.¹⁷⁵ Yet it is unclear whether the USAF has the appropriate amount of peacetime presence overseas...

  14. 6. Findings and Recommendations
    (pp. 75-84)

    This study set out to answer fundamental questions about USAF force posture: Why does the USAF need a global posture? Where does it need access? What types of partners offer the most reliable peacetime access? How much forward presence does the USAF require? To answer these questions, we pursued several lines of research. First, we developed a logical framework, the posture triangle, to link U.S. national security requirements to specific types of posture. Second, we assessed the utility of dozens of airfields to meet mission demands for nine diverse scenarios. Third, we integrated our results with analysis conducted in previous...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 85-102)