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US Air Force urgently ‘reoptimizing’ to compete with China

The US Department of the Air Force (DAF) plans a sweeping reorganization of the Air Force and Space Force for “great power competition” with China, a “reoptimizing” drive of at least 24 organizational changes to be implemented over the next year, senior US officials said.

The service’s budget request for fiscal years 2024 and 2025 does not include any funds for the re-optimization and budget reprogramming authorities will allocate funds as required, US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall was quoted as saying in a Breaking Defense report.

The bulk of the reorganization will target the US Air Force, with 15 significant changes ranging from a different approach to nuclear weapons management to new warrant officer programs.

Considerable changes will involve how the Air Force deploys its airmen by adjusting how its wings are structured while others will target education and training, with plans to expand the Air Education Training Command and rename it Airman Development Command.

Moreover, the Breaking Defense report says that the US Air Force is looking to embark on more large-scale exercises to simulate the conditions of a fight with a peer adversary such as China.

Under the reorganization, the US Air Force’s secretariat civilian leadership will set up three new offices: an Integrated Capabilities Office, an Office of Competitive Activities and an Office for Program Analysis and Evaluation.

Chief of Space Operations General Chance Saltzman, meanwhile, elaborated on the Space Force’s planned changes including a revamp of service readiness standards to reflect that space is now a contested domain rather than a “benign environment.”

In its current form, the US Air Force may not be up to great power competition with near-peer