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Air Force undergoing major overhaul

970 cadets salute during the Class of 2022 Graduation Ceremony at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 25, 2022. (Trevor Cokley/U.S. Air Force)
June 13, 2024

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall has announced that the Air Force is initiating a broad restructuring of ranks and training, with the goal of remaining a competitive force against China.

After decades of absence, warrant officers will return to the service, while weapons and readiness development are to be consolidated into a new Integrated Capabilities Command. This new division will be led by a three-star general and will directly report to the chief and secretary of the Air Force.

Kendall addressed the restructuring during the keynote discussion “Reoptimizing for the Great Power Competition” in Aurora, Colorado earlier this year. According to a press release by the U.S. Air Force, a total of two dozen changes are to be made throughout the force structure.

“Today, we are announcing 24 key decisions that are going to address the current force and our ability to stay competitive,” Kendall said. “We need these changes now; we are out of time to reoptimize our forces to meet the strategic challenges in a time of Great Power Competition.”

The changes included in the plan are organized into four categories: develop people, generate readiness, project power and develop capabilities. An infographic entitled “Reoptimizing for Great Power Competition,” which was published by the Air Force, provides key details on these changes.

READ MORE: Air Force reducing size by 8,000 troops

Under the new structure, airman development is to be expanded, with tracks to officer and warrant officer established in information technology and cyber fields. Additionally, Air Force Operational Wings are to be restructured into three “units of action” categories: Deployable Combat Wings, In-Place Combat Wings, and Combat Generation Wings. Each category will be formatted as individual units, with a focus on maintaining combat readiness in each division.

Sixteenth Air Force, AFCYBER, located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lockland, is to be restructured into a stand-alone Service Component Command. Currently, AFCYBER maintains 11 units across Texas, Florida, Virginia, North Dakota, Nebraska, California, and Maryland.

According to, Kendall was clear that these measures were being taken to prepare the Air Force for potential combat with China.

“We are out of time,” Kendall said. “Why do I say that? It’s not that I enjoy sounding like a broken record. It’s because, for at least two decades, China has been building a military that is designed, purpose-built, to deter and defeat the United States if we intervene in the western Pacific.”

Kendall added, “[People’s Republic of China President] Xi Jinping has told his military to be ready to take Taiwan by force by 2027, even if the U.S. intervenes.”