Issue 8 - 7th December, 2010



Holiday Season Message from the Director of the Air Power Development Centre

On behalf of the APDC, I would like to wish all readers of Aimpoint a happy and safe festive season. We are pleased to publish this edition of Aimpoint, the eighth and final issue for this calendar year. In this issue we have included a few extra 'recommended reading' articles that will hopefully stoke your air power enthusiasm until our first issue in the new year. Expect it on 7 February, 2011. Once again, all the best from the APDC and Happy Holidays!





Pathfinder 145
The Australian Air Corps

Pathfinder 146
The Issue of Space Debris


Recommended Reading

The Numbers Game
By Williams Foundation

In response to the recent article by former Chief of Army, LTGEN Peter Leahy (RETD), which stated that a fleet of 'about 50' advanced strike/fighters would be sufficient to meet Australia’s future defence needs, the Williams Foundation published this article supporting the Defence White Paper’s identified 'number' of 100.  The author states that the ADF’s core defence of Australia mission involves the requirement to know what is happening in Australia’s strategic area of interest, control of Australia’s maritime and air approaches and the ability to reach out and strike those threatening Australia or her national interests; missions that advanced strike/fighter aircraft are designed to perform.  The article cites analysis done by the Kokoda Foundation, to reiterate that 100 advanced strike/fighter aircraft could effectively fulfil these missions and goes on to state that the number itself represents 'the lower end of a credible force structure'.  (For more information on this topic, see the Kokoda Foundation’s analysis of Australia’s strike/fighter requirements (Kokoda Papers, No. 2, Oct 2005) at


Air Diplomacy: Protecting American National Interests
By Adam Lowther
Strategic Studies Quarterly, Fall 2010

Leveraging the inherent versatility, flexibility, reach, and relatively low footprint of air power, and recognising the Obama Administration’s desire to move away from dependence on hard power, Lowther suggests that American national interests would be served well through the use of the USAF in an air diplomacy role.  He states, 'Air diplomacy is a proactive approach to preventing conflict by employing air power in non-kinetic operations as an instrument of national power.' This article describes how air power can be used to conduct air diplomacy, why air diplomacy is becoming increasingly important, where it fits into the broader diplomatic spectrum, and provides an air diplomacy strategy.  The concept of air diplomacy is clearly relevant to nations like Australia that have the ability to project air power and deliver a broad range of kinetic and non-kinetic effects in the nation’s interest.


The Current and Future Utility of Air & Space Power
By Professor Philip Sabin
Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies (RAF CAPS Discussion Paper #1)

This paper shows how difficult predicting the future is, and then uses this to examine the question of how much we should use recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as a template for future planning. Then it discusses the key characteristics of air and space power relative to land and naval power and assesses the implications for air and space contribution to joint campaigns. It also examines the trade-off between the flexibility of air and space capabilities and the costs such flexibility would normally incur. Finally, it analyses the human dimension of air and space power, by assessing how advances in simulation, UAV technology and computer networking are changing the role of human operators, and what this means for the future of air and space power as a distinctive specialisation within military power as a whole.  In this forward thinking article, Professor Sabin concludes that air and space power will play an increasingly important and integrated role in future conflict.  He suggests that, in the age of unprecedented defence budgetary constraints, now is the time for the different services to develop a truly joint view of their mutual defence interests.


Military Planning Systems and Stability Operations
By William J. Gregor
Prism, Vol 1, No 3, June 2010

A year after the US CDR Joint Forces Command, General James N. Mattis, prohibited the use of the term effects based operations (EBO) in his command, Gregor re-appraises the value of effects based planning systems particularly in light of the irregular nature of recent conflicts. Gregor argues that EBO critics have undermined military planning and operations by restricting the development of methods to analyse the effects of military action in complex contingencies and the collection of information required to support such methods. In particular, he suggests that "if the U.S. military attended to developing measures of performance and effectiveness for counterinsurgencies and stability operations, it might now be possible to extend the experiences in the villages and provinces in Iraq and Afghanistan to formulate courses of action with a good probability of success."  Further, he stresses that "greater attention must be paid to the political, social, economic, and cultural context of the operation because those conditions have a serious impact on how military actions work and how those actions are perceived."  This article is of immense value to the ADF, because, while the effects based approach (EBA) remains an integral part of RAAF doctrine, the validity of it has been challenged by some in the wider defence community. Although written from a predominantly pro-EBO position, this article is extremely useful as it informs both sides of the EBO/EBA debate.


Reenabling Air Force Command and Control for Twenty-first-Century Partnerships
By Lt Gen Philip Breedlove and Maj Brian Tyler, USAF
Air and Space Power Journal, Volume XXIV, No. 3, Fall 2010

Despite the recent release of the latest version of Joint [US] Publication 3-30, Command and Control for Joint Air Operations, the authors of this article urge the air power community to 'renew the conversation on how best to command and control air, space, and cyberspace forces for tomorrow’s joint fight.'  The key question  for consideration is: how can current air C2 structures and processes be modified to improve joint trust, operational flexibility, and the coordination of cyber capabilities and effects?  The article’s point, that the publishing of new doctrine, while representing the culmination of current ideas and experience, also signals the start of a new period of concept development and doctrinal evolution, is noteworthy.


ISR Revolution
By Michael C. Sirak
AIR FORCE Magazine, June 2010

Michael Sirak provides an excellent snapshot of the progress the USAF has made in operationalising the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) and in altering its organisational structure to improve the provision of ISR products and support to the warfighter.  The article begins with an example of effective remote intelligence overwatch support to tactical land operations in Afghanistan provided by a proactive intelligence operator located in a DCGS node at Beale AFB, California.  Sirak also describes the stand-up of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Agency (AFISRA) to oversee and provide centralised control of the numerous USAF ISR centres, wings, groups and squadrons.  The new structure “allows for DCGS to be operated as a regionally focused, but globally controlled weapon system out of Langley (AFB)” strengthening the overall USAF ISR enterprise. This article clearly shows that sophisticated technologies like DCGS, networked ISR sensors and full motion video receivers on the battlefield require changes to organisational structures, new processes and specialist personnel to realise the full potential of these capabilities.


Air Power Quote

“Not to have an adequate air force in the present state of the world is to compromise the foundations of national freedom and independence.”

Winston Churchill, House of Commons, 14 March 1933.

Slightly more than seven years later, in 1940, the Royal Air Force successfully defended the island nation of Great Britain from German aerial attack, preventing the Luftwaffe from setting the conditions necessary for an invasion.  What nations do in times of peace largely determine what will happen in times of war. Churchill’s statement made seventy years ago has enduring relevance and remains as pertinent today as it did then.


The views expressed in this newsletter and the linked articles are entirely those of the authors and not necessarily those of the Royal Australian Air Force.

Air Force Logo