WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Air Force officially released the Strategic Master Plan on May 21, which is the latest in a series of strategic documents designed to guide the organizing, training and equipping of the force over the coming decades.
The SMP builds on the strategic imperatives and vectors described in the capstone document, America’s Air Force: A Call to the Future, released last summer. From this guidance, the SMP articulates 12 strategic goals for the institution, with supporting objectives and tasks laid out for each goal.
Primarily written for Air Force planners, this document bridges the gap between broader ideas and activities required to realize the strategic vision. The Air Force chief of staff lauded the document as the first of its kind in its comprehensiveness and relevance.
“One of the most important things the Strategic Master Plan accomplishes is tightening the alignment of our planning activities across the Air Force toward a common set of goals,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “The outcome of this integrated planning activity will be options for concepts, capabilities and policies that will deliver the force we need for the fast-paced future within a resource-constrained plan. If we can’t afford it, it doesn’t go in the plan.”
In addition to the core document, there are four distinct annexes that provide more in-depth and specific planning guidance: Human Capital Annex, Strategic Posture Annex, Capabilities Annex, and Science & Technology Annex.
The Human Capital Annex addresses recruiting, retaining and developing Airmen, as well as talent management — all with an eye toward the future that will demand increased diversity and inclusiveness to achieve collective innovative potential. In addition, it continues the emphasis on integrating all elements of the Air Force total force in an effective manner.
The secretary of the Air Force said she appreciates the utility of such a document, and recognizes an opportunity to affect real change for the future.
“The Human Capital Annex captures our efforts to think strategically about our Airmen and posture them for success in a dynamic, uncertain future,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “The ideas in the annex will not only serve our Airmen but we foresee the opportunity to integrate our efforts with (Defense) Secretary Carter’s ‘Force of the Future’ initiative that is just getting off the ground.”
The Strategic Posture Annex describes how the Air Force will enhance its ability to present forces, project power, increase resiliency in its installations and strengthen international partnerships — all necessary to succeed in the future environment.
The classified Capabilities Annex identifies the enterprise-wide capability gaps, prioritized and sequenced over time, that drive Air Force-wide planning activities. The annex also reinvigorates development planning — a process by which concepts that span several functional areas can be explored and war-gamed; and robust experimentation, modeling and simulation, rapid prototyping and demonstrations will deliver evidence-based, fully vetted capability options for senior leaders to consider for investment.
This process is currently underway, with an Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team investigating air superiority options for 2030 and beyond.
The Science &Technology Annex is also classified, and describes the major efforts underway, as well as their linkage to capability gaps and potential “game-changing” concepts for the future.
The release of the SMP is the culmination of nine months of development and collaboration across the Air Force. The process was overseen by the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Requirements (A5/8). The plan will be updated every two years to reflect appropriate changes and/or progress toward the Air Force strategic goals.
The Air Force describes the process as at least as important as the product.
“This first version of the Strategic Master Plan is by no means perfect, but it provides the foundation upon which we can build a powerful process,” said Maj. Gen. David Allvin, the director of strategy, concepts and assessments. “We’ll learn as we go, and every revision will be better than the previous one.
“The result — if we stick with it — will be a plan that evolves with the strategic environment into a logical, defensible, consistent path to develop an agile, inclusive force to deliver Global Vigilance-Global Reach-Global Power — now and well into the future.”