Issue 2 - 11th March, 2011



Our Art, Your Heritage: 90th Anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force

25 March - 28 May, 2011
Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance Visitor Centre

On 31 March 2011, the RAAF celebrates the 90th anniversary of its creation. Working with the Office of Air Force History, Canberra, and the RAAF Museum, Point Cook, the Shrine presents a display of works of art that have won RAAF Heritage Awards over the past 20 years.




Pathfinder 149
The Resurgence of the Airship

Pathfinder 150
Operation Trikora – Indonesia’s Takeover of West New Guinea


Recommended Reading

Reality Check: Close-Air Support Detractors are Clinging to Outdated Concepts
Maj. Aaron W. Clark and LtCol. J. Brad Reeves
Armed Forces Journal, Feb 2011

Despite being a critical capability, the ability of air power to conduct close air support and cooperate with ground forces has come into question in recent years. In this article, two USAF Officers with recent CAS and Air-Land Integration (ALI) experience provide a strong response to a critique of USAF CAS capability presented in the November issue of Armed Forces Journal, by LTCOL Paul Darling and LT Justin Lawlor, entitled Updating close-air support: New doctrine and aircraft are needed for COIN warfare. The authors provide a direct, accurate and effective counter argument to suggestions that air forces have not adapted to the complexity of CAS. In particular, they illustrate how increased CAS training, the enforcement of more restrictive rules of engagement and the use of low collateral damage weapons since General McChrystal's 2009 Tactical Directive have resulted in a quantifiable reduction in civilian casualties. Likewise, they discuss how the USAF is revamping its Air Support Operations Centre, Tactical Air Control Party, Air Liaison Officer and Joint Terminal Attack Controller mechanisms to enhance ALI. In sum, this short but convincing article effectively rebuts recent criticisms of CAS, while concurrently offering much to the 'High End / Low End' debate.


Meet the F-35 Lightning II – Canada’s Next Fighter
By Lieutenant-General André Deschamps
Canadian Military Journal, Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 2010

On 16 July 2010, the Canadian government announced that it was exercising its option under the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program Memorandum of Understanding to acquire the F-35 Lightning II as Canada's next generation fighter. This announcement sparked a significant amount of debate and criticism from opposition parties, the media and the public in Canada regarding this aircraft’s capability, its necessity and the selection process. In this article, LTGEN Deschamps, the current Canadian Air Force Chief of Air Staff (CAS), addresses many of these questions directly, effectively substantiating why he thinks “this is the right fighter aircraft for Canada”. As the Australian Government, the ADF and the RAAF are also facing similar scrutiny regarding their selection of the F-35, this brief article is a useful reference for those wishing to explain the unique capability this aircraft brings to its nation and defence force.


Prevention is better than Cure: What is the Utility of Air Power in Conflict Prevention?
By Group Captain Clive Blount
Air Power Review, Autumn/Winter 2010

The aim of this article is to show how air power can be used to support conflict prevention, containment or de-escalation efforts. Using historical examples, the author demonstrates that air power provides decision makers with strategic choices unavailable from the deployment of other force types. He stresses that air power’s inherent characteristics of speed, reach, flexibility, agility, and precision, and the ease with which its effects can be scaled and varied on a mission by mission basis, gives the use of air power “wide ranging utility across the whole spectrum of conflict.” This article is topical as UN Security Council resolutions for potential “No-Fly Zone” enforcement operations aimed at containing or de-escalating the ongoing rebellion in Libya are currently being considered.


Clearing the Air: Airpower Theory and Contemporary Airpower
By Colonel Raymond P. O'Mara
Air Force Journal of Logistics, Vol XXXIV, Numbers 1 and 2, Annual Edition.

O’Mara discusses the rise of military air power and argues that no other technological advance has altered the nature of warfare like aircraft. Referencing and comparing air power theory espoused by Douhet, Sherman, Mitchell, Boyd and Warden, he strives to “…examine air power theories in their most basic form and assess their current value by examining the record of their application in warfare." O'Mara suggests that by identifying what portions of established air power theories have stood the test of time, we can develop a more complete understanding of air power, particularly in terms of what makes it unique, and then determine how best to use it in the current context and beyond. O’Mara’s examination reaffirms the requirement for independent air forces and centralised control of air power by airmen who truly understand the strengths and limitations of this distinct form of military power. This is a valuable read for those interested in understanding the origins and evolution of air power theory.



Air Power Quote

“It is no longer a matter of the soldier making his plan for battle on the ground and then turning to see how the air can help him. Land and air operations must be deliberately planned to get the best out of each other.”

J.C. Slessor, Air Power and Armies, 1936.

Slessor, a former RAF Air Chief Marshal, was one of the few air power theorists to appreciate the importance of the air-land relationship between World War 1 and World War 2. The air-land relationship is an enduring aspect of air power. Yet, the CAS debate evidenced in this month’s article entitled "Reality Check" illustrates the extent to which the air-land relationship remains a challenging interface. In this respect, Slessor's statement highlights that many of the air-land lessons air forces and armies are re-learning in current operations have been previously identified.


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.

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