SecAF reading list: Understanding our pacing challenge

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs on June 18, 2023

Airmen and Guardians,

As we enter a new era of great power competition, it is crucial that we improve our understanding of our pacing challenge — the People's Republic of China (PRC). To that end, I am publishing a reading list to provide suggested works intended to enhance our knowledge of China’s history, culture, society, strategy, and military modernization program — and their implications for the Air Force and Space Force.

From my own experience serving as an Army officer and member of the Senior Executive Service during the Cold War, I learned firsthand the importance of deepening one’s understanding of potential competitors. By closely studying the Soviet Union, we were able to better appreciate motivations, strategic intent, operational methods, and tactics. This, in turn, helped us better prepare for and prevent conflict. Our ability to anticipate and counter Soviet actions helped us to deter effectively and ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Today, we face a similar and, in some ways, greater challenge with China. The PRC's rapid modernization of its military and increasingly assertive behavior in the Indo-Pacific region poses a significant challenge to U.S. national interests, the security of the homeland, and regional stability. There is no time to lose in responding to this challenge. Studying and better understanding China is a prerequisite to making sound decisions about how to best deter, and, if necessary, defeat our pacing challenge.

I strongly encourage all airmen and guardians to invest time in reading from among the books on this list. By doing so, you can enhance your understanding of the challenges we face and become a stronger member of our One Team.

Thank you for your unwavering commitment to our nation. One Team, One Fight! 

Frank Kendall

Secretary of the Air Force

Check out the full reading list here: