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Gates: Air Force Must Prepare For 21st-Century Threats

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today told Air Force cadets that their service branch has to change to face the foes and challenges of the 21st century.

“As future Air Force leaders, you will be the ones tackling the challenges of the 21st century head-on, and those challenges will be significant,” Gates said in remarks at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The secretary has pushed the services to fight the current wars while simultaneously investing in and preparing for a range of threats that include global terrorism, ethic conflicts, and rogue nations or rising powers with sophisticated capabilities.

The Air Force has been a victim of its own success for decades, the secretary said, noting the the Air Force has not lost a plane in air combat in almost 40 years, or an American soldier attacked by an enemy aircraft since the Korean War.

“American ownership of the skies has been so effortless, it is taken for granted,” Gates said. “Air supremacy in this century, however, will almost certainly mean different things and require different systems, personnel policies and thinking than was the case for most of the Cold War.”

 

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