5th September, 2011
Jointness, Airpower, and the Emerging Security Environment
by LTGEN Dave Deptula, USAF, Retired
Second Line of Defense (SLD) website
As the title implies, LTGEN Deptula touches on a number of noteworthy topics in this article. He asserts that effective jointness requires the integration and combination of unique service capabilities under a joint command structure, not the replication of capabilities in each service. He stresses that power projection enabled by air and sea control is a fundamental tenet of US National Security Strategy, and air power has a major strategic role in this. Finally, in fiscally austere times, identifying strategic air force priorities, appreciating the unique contributions air forces make, and clearly articulating the goals and desired outcomes that best serve the nation’s security interests are what count. The types of challenges identified in this article that the USAF are currently facing regarding jointness, air power and emerging fiscal and security environments are the same as those faced by air forces like the RAAF.
The False Death of Airpower
By Adam J. Hebert
AIR FORCE Magazine, August 2011
Adam Hebert, the Editor in Chief of AIR FORCE Magazine, provides this editorial that rebuts some of the ideas and commentary presented in Martin van Creveld’s recent book The Age of Airpower. Hebert provides counter-arguments to van Creveld’s claims that air power has been in decline for the last six decades, modern aircraft are no more operationally effective than military aircraft of the past, space and unmanned aerial systems are making manned aircraft obsolete, and air power is not decisive in war. As air forces like the RAAF are continually engaged in advocating for, acquiring and employing advanced air power systems, it is important to appreciate both van Creveld’s and competing arguments related to the utility of air power.
The No-Fly Zone
By Alan Stephens
In this short article, the author cites a number of significant historical examples that debunk the “usual assertions” that no-fly zones do not work, they cost too much and they produce excessive casualties on both sides. By contrasting the costs and effectiveness of air blockade strategies versus counterinsurgency strategies that involve the occupation of territory by land forces, Alan Stephens contends that air power can be substituted for land forces in some situations to contain or support uprisings and contribute to the achievement of political objectives at a comparatively low cost. Written shortly after the commencement of the no-fly zone/civilian protection air operation in Libya, the author astutely stated that: “As long as NATO’s political will remains resolute, air operations exploiting the no-fly zone will ensure that at the least, Gaddafi cannot win, and civilian lives will be saved."
The Libya Mission
By Amy McCullough
AIR FORCE Magazine, August 2011
This article chronicles the beginnings of Operation Odyssey Dawn, the UN sanctioned Libya no-fly zone/civilian protection mission from the perspective of US Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA), while also providing some insight into US perceptions of NATO and the varied contribution of its members. The author describes how AFAFRICA’s Air and Space Operations Center quickly transformed from a humanitarian relief mission focussed AOC to a full spectrum kinetic AOC. Within this article also sits a short article titled “US Domination of NATO Comes at a Cost”. This insert describes how the USAF must fund the expected $1B cost of its air operations in Libya from its existing budget and former Secretary Gates’ concerns regarding the capabilities and contributions of NATO member states. Overall, this article provides useful information on the broad types of air capabilities required for operations like Odyssey Dawn, and insights into what former US Secretary of Defense Gates thought was acceptable and unacceptable levels of alliance contributions to such operations.
Air Power Quote
"We should stop swatting flies and go after the manure pile."
-Gen Curtis E. LeMay, former US Air Force Chief of Staff (from the book: The Wrong War: Why We Lost in Vietnam, by Jeffery Record, June 1998).
General LeMay’s comment was an effort to urge the US to press the attack on North Vietnam. LeMay thought the US should employ air power directly against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to interdict the huge build up of forces and supplies there, before they could be ferried south. His frustration with the constraints imposed on strategic air power during the early stages of the Vietnam War is evident in this statement he made to a State Department official in late 1963.
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.