Issue 1 - 28 May, 2010
Welcome to the first issue of Aimpoint!
The intent of this newsletter is to provide members of the RAAF, the ADF and the public with a quick and easy means of remaining current with worldwide developments relating to air power and to stimulate discussion on Australian air power. These newsletters also provide an update on APDC activities such as air power conferences and seminars, links to APDC products such as air power doctrine, books and Pathfinders, and noteworthy air power articles from around the world.
Nominations sought for the Advanced Air Power Course
Each year the RAAF Air Power Development Centre conducts two online courses of 13 weeks duration designed to supplement knowledge of historical and contemporary air power issues. Based on flexible online delivery, the Advanced Air Power Course (AAPC) requires students to contribute to a weekly forum and write an essay.
Providing academic oversight to the advanced air power course is Professor John McCarthy and Group Captain Phil Edwards. Both members have been actively involved in the course since its inception in 2001. The course is available to all members of the Australian Defence Organisation and also to those serving in foreign military organisations. There is no cost to participants, including those from other military services.
If you are interested in developing your knowledge of air power then you should seriously consider becoming a participant on the course. RAAF members are strongly encouraged to apply given that understanding air power is part of your core business. Please look at the AAPC webpage where you will find information about the course content, nomination process, eligibility and contacts.
Counterinsurgency From Above
Phillip S. Meilinger
Air Force Magazine. July, 2008
Phillip Meilinger contributes to the ongoing debate over how to meet the challenge of irregular warfare (IW) by proposing an intelligence led, joint COIN strategy centred on air and space power, combined with SOF, indigenous ground forces, and overwhelming ISR. Meilinger suggests that: “If the US military could break the lock that the boots on the ground and the ‘occupation of territory’ mind-sets have on strategy and switch to a more air-centric joint strategy, the end result could very well be more success—at a lower cost in both casualties and dollars."
In his article, Meilinger identifies COIN truths, which include: avoidance of this type of war is advisable; intelligence operations are paramount; and the media is often much more successful at steering public perceptions of IW than the US government. He also attempts to dispel COIN “legends” like insurgencies are all about poverty and repression, and there is a need to win “hearts and minds” while promoting indigenous government legitimacy.
Preparing for Irregular Warfare: The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be
Col John D. Jogerst, USAF, Retired
Air & Space Power Journal - Winter 2009
This article references Meilinger's article above, but takes an appreciably different approach. Whereas Meilinger concentrates on breaking the “boots on the ground” COIN military mindset and strategy currently being employed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Col (ret'd) Jogerst focuses on building partner nation air power capability. Jogerst asks and answers the question: "Can our existing forces and organizations successfully meet irregular challenges?" Jogerst’s solution is the creation of a dedicated USAF IW Wing to provide the USA with a more effective and efficient air power contributor to the COIN/Foreign Internal Defense (FID) mission.
While most middle powers resist efforts to introduce highly specialised capabilities, preferring instead to use multi-purpose capabilities over a broad spectrum of mission types, Jogerst argues that only specialised/dedicated air capabilities, centred around building host nation indigenous air capability, can effectively contribute to COIN or FID.
His key point is: “Unless we intend to deploy forces indefinitely, we must build up partner-nation capabilities and legitimacy—which calls for a low-visibility effort that puts local forces in the lead as soon as possible.” He also adds that: “Keeping a fleet of B-1s, KC-10s, F-15s, TR-1s, and so forth, in the fight to drop a weapon occasionally in permissive airspace is a bit like hunting gnats with an elephant gun [an elephant gun that costs $18 billion a year to maintain]."
We, Robot: The Future of Unmanned Systems on the Battlefield
Peter W. Singer. Brookings Institution, May 19, 2010
This article summarises many of the same points Singer makes in his book, Wired For War – The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, which appears in the 2010 CAF’s reading list. Using the explosive increase in numbers and types of UAS used in modern warfare as an example and the lack of a US national or military strategy for the use of robots, Singer questions where the government and defence are headed with unmanned systems.
A sub-theme of this article is the legal implications of robot proliferation and Singer notes that “While technological advancement[s] accelerate at an exponential pace, our institutions are struggling to keep up.” He remarks that the laws of armed conflict were predominantly written when 78 rpm records were popular and he questions whether modern laws could effectively deal with robot-malfunction related harm or death.
This article is a good example of how strategy and regulatory control often lag behind the rapid introduction of new technology, technology often rushed into combat to meet an urgent operational need.
Australian Defence Force Journal. Issue No 181, 2010
The latest edition of the Australian Defence Force Journal (ADFJ), published April 2010, is focused on the theme of Joint Professional Military Education (JPME). A variety of authors have contributed articles from differing perspectives ensuring a challenging and thought provoking discussion on JPME. The theme is particularly topical for Air Force members given the recent PROJECT AFTER review and subsequent Professional Military Education and Training (PMET) 2009 initiative. WGCDR Mark Hinchcliffe, the CAF Fellow at ADFA, discusses the notion of professional mastery in the Air Force and its application to the joint environment. Overall, the notion of a themed ADFJ edition is a welcome initiative and should promote more constructive debate and discussion among the defence community
A History of Air Warfare
John Andreas Olsen (ed.). Potomac Books, 2010. Available through online bookshops for approx. $55 US rrp
This book provides a comprehensive (almost 500 pages) review of the development of air warfare since World War I. The authors of sixteen chapters are a respected who's who of air power history. While the book is largely western focused, there are chapters on the Arab-Israeli Wars (1967-73), the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and a general chapter looking at air power in small wars. While not providing any startling new analysis in air power history, the book provides the most comprehensive and best recent overview of air warfare development, and accordingly, will be considered for the 2011 Chief of Air Force Reading List.
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.