During the Cold War, Air Force heavy bombers were the principal U.S. nuclear deterrent to Soviet machinations. But this strategic mission died with the Evil Empire—here, rows of B-52s rest in the desert. It is time for the Air Force to abandon its go-it-alone vision of air power and join the team.
In the summer of 1991, a Cold War of more than 40 years came to an end with the collapse of the 74-year- old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In early December that year, three Slavic republics—Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus—proclaimed membership in a new Commonwealth of Independent States. Before the end of the month, 11 of the 12 remaining republics of what had been the U.S.S.R. joined them. President Ronald Reagan’s Evil Empire was officially dead, as were the de facto strategic missions of large segments of the U.S. armed forces. Prominent among these was the strategic mission of the U.S. Air Force.