Arlington, VA | July 20, 2021 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Speed is Life: Accelerating the Air Force’s Ability to Adapt and Win by Lt Gen (Ret.) David A. Deptula, Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and Heather Penney, Senior Resident Fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

Success in tomorrow’s conflicts will largely depend on how warfighters are able to harness and adapt software, data, and algorithms at the unit level. For the Air Force, this encompasses everything from mission systems on aircraft, sensor packages, networks, to decision aides. Even with efforts like Kessel Run, the Air Force currently updates and manages software in a centralized, bureaucratic, and highly proprietary fashion. This is a recipe for failure given tomorrow’s challenges. To put it bluntly—software shouldn’t governed by industrial age processes.

The future must be one in which airmen are empowered to evolve software in a highly dynamic, responsive fashion to meet near-term mission demands. This report will explore this vision and chart a pathway the Air Force and other services must adopt to succeed in an increasingly complex set of threats. The old adage, “Speed is life” is no longer just about flying—it’s about rapidly evolving mission tools to fight and win.

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series presenting new thinking and policy proposals to respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges of the 21st century. These papers are written for lawmakers and their staffs, policy professionals, business and industry, academics, journalists, and the informed public.