Issue 6 - 6th October, 2010



Chief of Air Force Essay Competition - Reminder

This is a reminder that APDC is continuing to accept submissions for the 2010 Chief of Air Force Essay Competition (CAFEC). CAFEC is aimed at encouraging military members and the wider Australian community to think and write about air power.

Submissions will be accepted as follows:

Wrigley Prize submissions close on 1 November 2010.
Middleton Prize submissions close on 10 January 2011.

See the CAFEC webpage on the APDC website for further details regarding award prizes, approved essay topics and submission requirements.



Seminar: The Private Air Marshal - A Biography of Air Marshal Sir George Jones, KBE, CB, DFC

Friday 8 October, 2010
Speaker: Dr Peter Helson
Venue: R1 Theatre
Time: 10.00 – 11.00

After leading the RAAF through the last three years of World War II, Air Vice-Marshal George Jones served until 1952 to complete a record continuous term as Air Force chief. The career of Air Marshal Sir George Jones, as he became, has been examined by Canberra historian Peter Helson to provide an insight into the kind of man Jones was at a personal level, and what made him tick.

Helson’s study traces Jones’ life from an impoverished start, to his service in Gallipoli and as a decorated Australian Flying Corps ‘ace’ on the Western Front in World War I. It tracks him through a tumultuous tussle for command of the RAAF during in the Pacific War, and onwards until his death in 1992 at the age of 95. This study provides a fascinating counterpoint to Jones’ own autobiography, From Private to Air Marshal, published in 1988.

The seminar will highlight the author’s many discoveries about Jones’ past, and will include a formal launch of the book by the current Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin.




Pathfinder 141
The RAAF in the Burma Campaign

Pathfinder 142
Air Power in the Siege of Khe Sanh


Recommended Reading

A Short History of “Decisiveness”
By Phillip S. Meilinger
AIR FORCE Magazine, September 2010

In this short article, Meilinger provides a concise history of the decisiveness of air power.  Squarely aimed at those who do not believe that air power can create decisive effects in the battlespace, Meilinger examines conflicts from World War I to the present, looking at their political and military objectives and then determining air power’s role in achieving them.  While the author’s conclusion holds no surprises, it does highlight that “those who claim airpower is not decisive simply haven’t been paying attention”. 


USAF's Indispensable "Failures"
By Peter Grier
AIR FORCE Magazine, August 2010

In this short article, the author illustrates how aircraft like the F-15, E-3 AWACs and the C-17 Globemaster III, which have proven to be indispensable air capabilities, got their start as highly scrutinised, much maligned acquisition and development project “failures”. Grier adds the historical perspective to criticisms of contemporary aircraft programs, stating: “Weapons systems today still receive the same media wire-brush attention afforded past development efforts.” This article resonates with Australia’s own experience with the F-111 and Wedgetail acquisition programs.


Harmonious Ocean: Chinese Aircraft Carriers and the Australian-US Alliance
By Brigadier John Frewen
Joint Forces Quarterly, issue 59, 4th quarter 2010

This topical and thought provoking article, written by Brigadier Frewen of the Australian Army while at the US Army War College, won the 2010 Secretary of Defense National Security Essay. The article examines the impact of China’s pursuit of aircraft carriers on Australia’s long standing relationship with the US. The article is topical in that it follows Hugh White’s recent suggestions that “China’s growing power is the phenomenon of our age” and while it will “not threaten Australia, it will change our world because it undermines the international order in Asia that has kept Australia safe and prosperous for a long time.”  Frewen’s perspective likewise flags a two-fold conundrum for Australia – “how to avoid U.S. policy drawing China into conflict and how to accommodate Chinese interests without undermining the US Alliance.”  Frewen persuasively notes the potential impact on Australia’s long-standing alliance with the US and suggests that “China’s rise is making the US more relevant, not less, and there is little risk of US influence waning in the region.” 
[Hugh White’s article is available for purchase at ].


AirSea Battle - A new operational concept looks to prepare the US and its allies to deter or defeat Chinese power
By Richard Halloran
AIR FORCE Magazine, August 2010

In this article, the author describes how USAF and USN planners are developing a joint concept known as “AirSea Battle” in order to better coordinate US and allied air and naval operations to deter or defeat emerging military powers in US Pacific Command’s area of responsibility. Potential Australian contributions to this concept of operations are specifically mentioned.  This article and the AirSea Battle concept should help inform the continuing debate regarding the shape of future Australian – American alliance and military cooperation, as the US continues to show interest in developing concepts related to combined/joint military operations in the Pacific. (For additional information on this topic, see the CSBA report Why AirSea Battle? at


Controlling Cyberspace: Parallels with Controlling the Air
By Dr. Gary Waters
The Williams Foundation

The author of this article states that “Mastery of cyberspace … is essential to Australia’s national security” and that there is a critical requirement for the ADF to evolve its current warfighting methodologies to include an integrated government/military cyber warfare capability.  Dr. Waters notes that protecting the use of friendly cyberspace and attacking or denying the adversary’s use of the cyber domain is analogous to the way air power is used to control the air and deny its use to the enemy. He discusses the 2009 Defence White Paper mandate for a Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC), outlines some of the functions the CSOC should fulfil, and identifies some legal and C2 obstacles that must be addressed to enable both offensive and defensive cyber warfare operations in the current CSOC construct. This article provides a good look at Australian national/military requirements for cyber capabilities at the strategic/operational levels, and sets the scene nicely for an air force [USAF] focused look at cyber warfare at the operational/tactical levels in the Trias/Bell article below.


Cyber this, cyber that … so what?
MAJ Trias, CAPT Bell
Air and Space Power Journal

Trias and Bell use this article to describe how cyber warfare aligns with and supports the USAF’s doctrinal operational air functions.  They stress that, with the exception of the possible addition of a new air function called countercyberspace, the fundamental functions of the Air Force have not changed.  This article examines the 17+1 operational air functions and provides examples of how cyber warfare can enhance or support the achievement of typical objectives in these functional areas. The authors conclude by stating “Having limited operational experiences in cyberspace, the Air Force must use its experience in other war-fighting domains in order to develop sound doctrine. After all, cyberspace operations support the same functions as air and space operations.”   While the RAAF needs to define its own approach to exploiting the cyber domain, this article provides valuable doctrinal perspectives on how cyber can support air power and thus outlines what activities the RAAF could embrace in developing or contributing to a cyber capability.


Book Review

Fire in the Sky: The Australian Flying Corps in the First World War
Michael Molkentin
Allen and Unwin, 2010

It has been a long time since the last study of the Australian Flying Corps. As noted by Air Marshal Binskin in the book’s Foreword “the story of these men has received scant attention [and] with Fire in the Sky, Michael Molkentin addresses this oversight.” The book is a comprehensive record of the AFC throughout the war but also describes the beginnings of military aviation at Point Cook.  The inclusion of some wonderful first hand remarks from primary sources illustrates Molkentin’s extensive research and provides a human dimension to the historical analysis.  Lastly, a section on sources provides a valuable summary for further reading. Overall, the book is a valuable and much needed addition to the history of Australian military aviation making it a necessary consideration for the 2011 CAF Reading List and is thus strongly recommended reading. 



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