Issue 3 - 05 July, 2010



Seminar: The RAAF in Long Tan

Wednesday 20 July, 2010
Speaker: Dr. Chris Clark
Venue: R1 Theatre
Time: 14.00 – 15.00

Iroquois helicopters of the RAAF’s No 9 Squadron played a small but critical role in the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966. The contribution of these aircraft to the battle - the most famous Australian action of the Vietnam War - has since become shrouded in myth and misrepresentation. This seminar explores what really transpired at Long Tan and exposes the fallacies of some claims regarding the RAAF’s involvement.




Pathfinder 135
Who are we Fighting? The Enemy in Irregular Warfare

Pathfinder 136
No 460 Squadron: Strikes and Returns


Working Paper 30
Commanding Air Power - Some Contemporary Thoughts
By WGCDR Mark Hinchcliffe, RAAF, June 2010.

This paper articulates the concept of airmindedness as the way in which airmen perceive warfare and their place within it. Additionally, the paper examines the important air power tenet of ‘centralised control and decentralised execution’ with a scholarly explanation and convincing analysis provided on why it is as current today in irregular warfare as it was during World War II when the tenet was first applied by Air Chief Marshal Tedder.


Recommended Reading

Building an Offensive and Decisive PLAAF: A Critical Review of Lt Gen Liu Yazhou’s The Centenary of the Air Force
By Guocheng Jiang
Air and Space Power Journal, Summer 2010

Jiang, the editor of the Chinese edition of Air and Space Power Journal, presents a rare doctrinal analysis of China’s evolving air power capability and strategy that provides a good introduction to Chinese air power thinking. This article distils the essence of General Liu’s monograph The Centenary of the Air Force and provides an insight into this highly regarded advocate of Chinese air power’s vision for the PLAAF. Jiang outlines how Liu sees immense value in embracing western concepts of air power – in particular American. This article is of interest to those seeking an understanding of evolving air power concepts in the Asia-Pacific region.


Operating the Distributed Common Ground System: A look at the Human Factor in Net-Centric Operations
By Lt Col Jason M. Brown, USAF
Air and Space Power Journal, Winter 2009

This article provides a useful description of how the USAF’s Distributed Common Ground System, or DCGS, is manned and operated. Following on from the last Aimpoint’s article titled ‘Global Distributed ISR Operations: The Changing Face of Warfare’, this article takes a slightly different approach. Instead of describing the DCGS enterprise, this article analyses some of the key issues in closing the gap between the traditionally separate domains of intelligence and operations and focuses on the people aspect. Because ISR is operations, the intelligence personnel within the DCGS require new skills to meet their operational role. These personnel are no longer only analysts and advisers; they are now operating a weapon system that is directly involved in the conduct of combat operations. As a result, new training and education mechanisms are being put in place and liaison officers are being deployed forward to work with the supported ground forces. The RAAF is only just starting to face these challenges and this article is a useful pointer to how they may be addressed.


The Sixth Generation Fighter
By John A. Tirpak, Executive Editor
Air Force Magazine, October 2009, Vol. 92, No. 10

Recent history has shown that it takes the US DOD and defence industry approximately 20 years to go from new fighter design concept to initial operational capability.  The author of this article believes that the US will have to move faster than this to produce generation 5.5 or 6 fighters if it is to retain its air dominance in the next decade. In this article, Tirpak describes the evolution and generations of fighter aircraft up to a postulated sixth generation, the proliferation of fifth generation competitors to the F-22 and F-35 that may diminish US air power dominance by the mid-2020s and what new capabilities a sixth generation fighter would most likely have.


Can the UK remain a First Division player in military operations without significant additional investment in space-based capability?
By Maj Stephen Jones, USAF
RAF Air Power Review, Volume 12, Number 2, Summer 2009

Due to the prohibitively high cost associated with military space based capabilities and the unique access the UK enjoys to US space products, the UK has been reluctant to get significantly involved in space and lags behind space faring nations of similar size. In this article Maj Jones makes a robust argument for the UK to shoulder more responsibility for the development of their own military space based capabilities rather than relying almost solely upon the peerless access provided by the US. Given the heavy reliance of all facets of modern military operations upon space based services this is a timely reminder of Australia’s reliance upon US access to space and American good will.


Tactical Generals: Leaders, Technology, and the Perils of Battlefield Micromanagement
By Dr. P. W. Singer
Air and Space Power Journal, Summer 2009

As noted in the article’s editorial abstract: “In 1999 Gen Charles Krulak coined the term ‘strategic corporal’ (i.e., a junior member trained and empowered to make time-critical decisions in response to the dynamic ground fight). In this article, the author examines a similar phenomenon occurring among senior officers, observing that modern technology allows generals to personally engage on the tactical level from remote locations. How the military manages this phenomenon will become a core leadership question in the years ahead.” This article takes a hard look at some of the unintended command and control side effects of network centric warfare and its associated situational awareness enhancing technologies. Dr. Singer concludes with the statement “… these technologies present a serious test for simultaneously managing an amazing array of possibilities and information while resisting the temptation to micromanage subordinates.”


Modern Air Power and the 1916 Arab Revolt: What Can the Modern Airman Do to Counter Lawrence of Arabia?
By Wg Cdr Clive Blount, RAF
Air and Space Power Journal, Fall 2009

In this article, Wg Cdr Blount discusses T.E. Lawrence’s thoughts on insurgency from the point of view of a modern airman. In doing so he turns around Lawrence’s exposition on irregular warfare in order to examine the possible roles of air power in countering an insurgency governed by the principles that Lawrence espoused. Blount argues that air power can and should play a greater role in irregular warfare through more innovative application, based on Lawrence’s ‘50 words’, and a better understanding of the context it is applied within.


Air Power Quote

“Command of air power. The inherent flexibility of air power, is its greatest asset. This flexibility makes it possible to employ the whole weight of the available air power against selected areas in turn; such concentrated use of the air striking force is a battle winning factor of the first importance. Control of available air power must be centralized and command must be exercised through the air force commander if this inherent flexibility and ability to deliver a decisive blow are to be fully exploited. Therefore, the command of air and ground forces in a theater of operations will be vested in the superior commander charged with the actual conduct of operations in the theater, who will exercise command of air forces through the air force commander and command of ground forces through the ground force commander. ....”

FM 100-20, Field Service Regulations, Command and Employment of Air Power,
United States Army Air Force, 1943

FM 100-20 was published in July 1943 formalising the air power employment lessons from the North African campaign in World War II. Despite being written almost seventy years ago, the concept of centralised control, decentralised execution, remains a critical key air power tenet for enabling air power.


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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