Since it was established in 2005, The Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC), NATO’s first Centre of Excellence (CoE), was empowered to advance improvements and the transformation process of Joint Air and Space Power (A&SP) by delivering effective solutions through independent thought and analysis. Today with a history of successful products and growing partnerships with industry, academia and the military community, the JAPCC continues to build upon its hard-earned reputation as NATO’s pre-eminent advocate for the development and enhancement of A&S Power.
This article is a compilation of reflections written by former JAPCC Directors, Executive Directors and Assistant Directors that captures the essence of the incredible vision, leadership persistence, and teamwork that led to the centre’s many successful contributions to A&SP.
General (ret.) Robert H. Foglesong, USAF, Director, 2005
‘It was a clear recognition of the impact of airpower on the security of NATO members when the JAPCC was formally approved. Airmen in every contributing nation recognized the JAPCC as an opportunity to optimize the use of the combined air assets of NATO and to capitalize on the innovative nature of those same airmen to shape the effective and efficient use of airpower in NATO. With a cadre of extraordinarily talented airmen, our biggest challenge was to bring the community together and take the next steps to excellence in air operations. A hardy “well done” to those dedicated airmen who worked diligently to stand up the JAPCC and lay the ground work for the successes to come.’
General (ret.) William T. Hobbins, USAF, Director, 2005 – 2007
‘As a former JAPCC Senior leader and Director, our team’s most significant contribution to A&SP was the research, coordination, publication and creation of the NATO Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Flight Plan. This product was the result of careful research; a compilation of each Nation’s UAS assets, capabilities and frequency plans that helped to ensure the community could communicate and survive within NATO’s restricted airspace planning processes. By publishing this report, each Nations’ UAS capabilities and flight requirements were presented in a manner that facilitated their development and integration within the Alliance. For our accomplishments, the JAPCC was awarded the Frost & Sullivan Award.’
General (ret.) Roger A. Brady, USAF, Director, 2008 – 2010
‘My time as the JAPCC director, USAFE Commander and Commander of the Air Component Ramstein (2008 – 2010) was one of change. Despite being fully engaged in supporting combat operations in Southwest Asia, the need to address the future still remained. The JAPCC was obviously the best instrument for the task and proposed doctrine regarding what were relatively new mission areas for most Alliance members; space, cyber and remotely piloted vehicles. The centre did a superb job of presenting ideas to the nations of the Alliance, stimulating thought and discussion regarding the way ahead. From my perspective, the biggest challenge we had was not being physically co-located with the centre, and not having a single air component commander to focus the effort. Fortunately, after many years, we have moved to a single air component. This construct will serve to unify the message on air and space matters within the Alliance and add emphasis to the Centre’s work. Today, the JAPCC remains critical to shaped thinking on all aspects of Air and Space Power application.’
General Breedlove, USAF, Director, 2012–2013, Supreme Allied Commander Europe
‘Our primary challenge was transforming into an organization that was more aware and responsive to meet the changing needs of NATO and the Alliance. Despite significant leadership turnover in more than 75 % of our key positions, we managed to deliver eight major projects and participate in more than 70 NATO committees, panels and working groups. Through intense teamwork, the JAPCC delivered on its key mission priority – to inform and enable decision-makers with joint air and space expertise.’
Lieutenant General (ret.) Hans-Joachim Schubert, GAF, Executive Director, 2004 – 2007
‘Within a period of 12 months, the residual personnel from the legacy Reaction Force Air Staff facilitated the flawless and speedy genesis of the Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC). The NATO Air Chiefs tasked the JAPCC to take a holistic approach to evaluating not only current air power theory, but also combat and combat support capabilities and methods. To this end a comprehensive vision, corresponding matrix organization and balanced multinational table of organization, supported by a sufficient budget and suitable infrastructure were required. In all respects, it was truly a remarkable accomplishment to satisfy the ambitious requirements of Supreme Allied Command, Transformation (SACT). Many thanks to my teammates who helped in the establishing of one of NATO’s finest Centres of Excellence and my warmest compliments to all JAPCC staff members on a job well done over the last decade.’
Lieutenant General (ret.) Friedrich W. Ploeger, GAF, Executive Director, 2007 – 2010
‘During this period, the JAPCC consolidated its position as the recognized champion of Air and Space Power. As NATO’s first CoE, it successfully mastered re-certification; it effectively supported ongoing Alliance operations in Afghanistan, contributed to enhancing air-land integration, and continued to play a leading role in the development of concepts for UAS, C4ISR, and Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defence. One outstanding key product was the NATO Space assessment, which remains relevant to this day. In short: The JAPCC’s ideas mattered – thanks to the most qualified work of its highly motivated team.’
Lieutenant General Dieter Naskrent, GAF, Executive Director, 2010 – 2012, Vice Chief of Staff German Air Forces
‘Congratulations to the JAPPC on its 10th Anniversary. As a former Executive Director, I’m very proud of having had the opportunity to contribute, together with all those highly motivated and well experienced men and women of the JAPCC, to the centre’s mission. JAPCC personnel filled Chairmen, co-chairman, and penal position on numerous NATO steering bodies, provided custodianship to a number of key NATO doctrine documents, supported ongoing operations in Afghanistan, and worked on strategic issues concerning Air and Space domains. In order to build upon our hard-earned reputation and to remain relevant to NATO and the Nations, we started an improvement campaign to transform the JAPCC into an organization that is aware, responsive and capable of adapting to the ever-changing needs of NATO and its Sponsoring Nations. Thank you to the men and women of this unique Centre of Excellence for their outstanding work.’
Air Commodore (ret.) Ian Dugmore, RAF, Assistant Director Transformation, 2006 – 2007
‘A major project was to examine the role of the NATO Air Defence Committee. Much of the work fell on the shoulders of Colonel Renee Arns of the RNLAF, whose experience as an aviator and ability to approach issues with an open mind made him invaluable to the project’s success. As a result, it was determined that the NATO Air Defence Committee continued to have a vital role, but its terms of reference should be expanded to make it an advocate of all aspects of air power, including the relatively new field of unmanned air systems.’
Air Commodore (ret.) Garfield Porter, RAF Assistant Director Transformation, 2007 – 2010
‘My time at the then emerging centre was focused on building a coherent body of work whilst striving to establish the JAPCC brand across NATO and beyond. The former included challenging the Alliance over its attitudes towards Space and Air & Space Future C2, especially as networking and our reliance on it increased. This work, in turn, provided a framework for promoting our environment in the round and, through the JAPCC Journal and Conference, taking the brand to an ever growing international audience.’
Air Commodore Paddy Teakle, RAF, Assistant Director Transformation, 2010 – 2011, Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force Command
‘While most CoEs concentrate their activity on discreet areas of military capability, uniquely, the JAPCC looks at an entire operational environment. This presents an enormous challenge. We cannot understand our own environment unless we understand how others view it. Therefore, during my time at JAPCC, I emphasized the need to educate others of the joint nature of Air and Space Power. I was also acutely aware that the vast majority of the centre’s work looked out to distant horizons and I was determined to harness our intellectual capacity to tackle the operational problems of the day: problems that largely existed in the remote operational theatres of Afghanistan and Libya. There were notable successes in the areas of Force Protection and Counter-IED and this work has set firm foundations for future NATO operations. The key to these accomplishments was to focus our intellectual excellence under three themes; organizational reputation; procedural rigour and relevant output.’
Air Commodore (ret.) Jan van Hoof, RNLAF, Assistant Director Capabilities, 2008 – 2011
‘Not only dreaming up great ideas but also bringing those ideas to the attention of the NATO Air Forces and other NATO bodies was a tremendous challenge. I truly believe that our collective efforts established our hard-earned reputation as NATO’s pre-eminent advocate for the development and enhancement of Joint Air & Space Power. For example, the Space Operations Assessment for NATO garnered general support by highlighting the need to move forward in Space policy and doctrine development. Other successes include the Air-to-Air Refuelling Flight Plan, Personnel Recovery, NATO Counter-IED Operations and the Follow on UAV Flight Plan.’
Major General (ret.) Alessio Cecchetti, ITAF, Assistant Director Capabilities, 2011 – 2014
‘From the time of my arrival at the JAPCC, I had the feeling of being in a unique military organization. A true Centre of Excellence, though not very well known to those outside the community, there was tremendous untapped potential hidden in within the organization. To solve this issue we started with an engagement program of visits to the contributing nations and other NATO Military Entities of interest in a campaign designed to show what the centre had to offer.
We also reviewed and streamlined the organization structure, optimizing the leadership structure to be based on a single Assistant Director, supported by a Chief of Staff and four specialized branches.’
Air Commodore (ret.) Antonie A. H. de Bok MA, RNLAF, Assistant Director Transformation, 2012 – 2014, Assistant Director, 22 March–22 August 2014
‘When I arrived at the JAPCC, the organization was the subject of close scrutiny regarding its relevance. After a brief analysis, it became clear that the JAPCC desperately needed an overhaul to become more outward looking and agile in its response to the needs of its primary customers: NATO and the Sponsoring Nations (SN). We worked to bring vitality back into our efforts by focusing on teambuilding that improved effectiveness and drafting a Capstone Document to provide a clear and common understanding of purpose. The organization was streamlined by reducing 40 % in overhead, 65 % Admin / CIS support and reorganized from six into four Branches with new Terms of Reference. Moreover, a Planning & Control and Communication cycle was developed to guarantee timely output on topics of relevance for NATO and the SN, within budget constraints. In November 2013, the SN endorsed the renewed JAPCC, resulting in such recent lighthouse successes as “Air and Space Power in NATO – Future Vector”.’
From the current Assistant Director
My sincere thanks to each former leader of the JAPCC who took the time to remind us of what happened during their tenure. Their efforts to support NATO’s Joint Air Power truly built the foundation upon which we build today!
The JAPCC’s SMEs are actively engaged across the spectrum of Joint Air and Space Power. To read more about the last six months in the JAPCC, please see page 71.