Deterrence in United States Air Force Professional Military Education Curriculum



Harrison, Richard

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A key interest of the United States and objective of its military is deterrence of actions counter to U.S. national interests by other nations or non-state actors. Given its importance to military activities, having military members who are educated on deterrence and how to best plan actions for its accomplishment is a necessity. This thesis seeks to answer three questions: What information is presented to students in professional military educational course material about deterrence? What theories are invoked when discussing deterrence, if any? Are there potential areas to expand deterrence education that would better prepare military planners to plan successful missions? Research for the thesis consisted of a content analysis on curriculum provided to students at three US Air Force education programs. Data collection issues prevented the thesis from answering it's key questions, however some noteworthy findings did come from the limited data and anecdotal information gathered while collecting data. Deterrence was found to be within the curriculum at least to some degree and it was often closely associated to the nuclear enterprise. Finally, there were indications that while deterrence was covered, its theoretical backing was not as extensively covered in the material.



Deterrence theory, Curriculum review, Content analysis, United States Military, Rational choice theory