On the way to its 70th anniversary in 2019, NATO is in one of the most challenging periods of its existence. The international security situation that NATO faces has changed dramatically over the last couple of years. NATO is confronted with a variety of security threats. The areas from which these destabilizing threats emerge are multidirectional, but predominantly originate from both the east and the south. The threats range, amongst others, from the rise of autocratic States with the intent to expand their power base and influence; the flow of refugees to Europe; internal strife in different countries; to social and ethnic-religious contradictions that lead to civil unrest and civil wars. Based on polar ice receding, it also includes the threat of new military and civilian activities in establishing global lines of communication and supply routes in the high north.
In the last few years several European cities suffered terrorist attacks. Countless victims were regrettable and, for some parts, fear has started to determine the life for many ordinary citizens. Besides these organized terrorist attacks inside Europe, we are faced with Islamic extremism organizations, like Al-Qaeda, which operate network based and we are faced with the fight against the Salafi jihadist proto-state called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known under its Arabic acronym Daesh. NATO supports the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL by providing NATO AWACS to improve situational awareness. NATO is also creating a new regional Hub for the South, based at NATO’s Joint Force Command (JFC) in Naples. It will be a focal point for increasing both the Alliance’s understanding of the challenges stemming from the region, and its ability to respond to them.
The most pressing example of a country that shows a revival of traditional power is Russia. This is not a new Russia, but a country that is ruled now by an autocrat basing his presidency on assertive national policy and an even more aggressive international posture, thereby reviving nationalism among the Russians. The President of Russia has claimed that ‘a unipolar world is unacceptable and that Russia will play an increasingly active role in establishing a reasonable balance between the interests of all participants in the architecture of global security’ (Munich, 2007). Already a decade ago, Russia launched an extensive 10-year modernization programme of its armed forces, in particular the Air Defence and Air Forces, to meet Russia’s security and defence interests. The recent examples of Russia’s assertive power in a regional and global sense have put the relations with NATO under significant strain. Especially, Russia’s recent military actions in the eastern part of the Ukraine and in the Crimean Peninsula and her assertiveness in international security have shifted the military balance, or at least has changed the balance of the security paradigm for NATO.
NATO is not only confronted with security threats from outside Europe, but also from risks within. It faces the development of nationalism and populist thinking in some of its member countries that can have an impact on internal stability and, ultimately, on the cohesion of the Alliance as a whole. But, it is also about expectations of NATO countries. This concerns, in particular, the strategic discussion on the State of the Alliance and the trans-Atlantic relationship, specifically the United States’ desire for all member nations to contribute their share of the burden to NATO defence spending and capability and competency development.
NATO, faced with this diverse, unpredictable and demanding security environment, has recognized a paradigm shift and placed emphasis on measures for strengthening deterrence and collective defence. It has led to a range of steps by NATO to reinforce its collective defence, enhance its capabilities, and strengthen its resilience. NATO has committed to enhance the Alliance’s role in establishing stability to include a 360 degree approach. It has also committed to provide its armed forces with sufficient and sustained resources, thereby underlining its strategic intent, that ‘NATO’s essential mission is unchanged and that NATO will ensure that it has the full range of capabilities necessary to fulfill the whole range of Alliance missions, including to deter and defend against potential adversaries, and the full spectrum of threats that could confront the Alliance from any direction’. Part of this is NATO’s capability to undertake Crisis Management Operations, alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations. Currently, NATO is operating in Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Mediterranean.
It is clear that there is a need for NATO, European members in particular, to take on more responsibility for their own security and increase the amount of funding they spend on defence1. Although NATO countries boosted defence spending by more than $10 Billion last year, more needs to be done. Only five out of the twenty-eight NATO members are meeting the target of allocating 2 % of their Gross National Product to defence. But, the signs of change are positive. There are credible signs of increasing defence budgets in virtually all NATO countries. The changes and challenges in the international security situation are too large to disregard any longer. For too long the focus was on reductions and changes in the defence organizations. It has resulted in the genuine risk that NATO will lack the capabilities and competencies to meet its Level of Ambition (LoA).
In view of the recent changes in the security environment, the NATO Summits in Wales (2014) and, in particular, in Warsaw (2016) were pivotal in formulating and promoting the necessary processes of change in NATO. At the 2016 Warsaw Summit, the Heads of State and Government (HOS / G) of NATO emphasized the need to address shortfalls in essential capabilities and competencies. Beside these initiatives, it must be noted that NATO has been actively pursuing initiatives to improve its operational capabilities and competencies for more than fifteen years.
In the last few decades, Joint Air Power in NATO-led operations played a crucial role, providing NATO and national leaders with a tool of unmatched responsiveness and flexibility and forming a sine qua non for the integral and effective execution of the operations. Joint Air Power is, therefore, an essential part of the capabilities and competencies required for effective implementation of NATO’s Essential Core Tasks: Collective Defence, Crisis Management and Cooperative Security2. Paradoxically, NATO nations have drastically reduced their air power capabilities in the last two decades to the extent that, if the current situation remains unchanged, it will leave NATO and, in particular, NATO European nations with less than the required Joint Air Power capabilities and competencies. Consequently, it will degrade NATO’s ability to effectively plan, task and execute Joint Air Power operations throughout the entire spectrum of Alliance Operations and Missions.
These concerns, in conjunction with the changing security environment along the periphery of NATO, have led to a heightened awareness in the Alliance of the requirement to solve existing capability and competency shortfalls in the field of Joint Air Power. In 2013, the JAPCC started the Future Vector Project to identify viable options and realistic solutions to chart the path forward to guarantee that Joint Air Power and assured access to relevant space based data and information continuous to contribute to the success of NATO and its Member States. Through a series of essays, a team of acknowledged experts in the field of security and defence policy provided an extensive and balanced perspective including a broad range of recommendations.
The 2014 Wales Summit Declaration (ref. A) was clear about the direction that NATO should take: ‘NATO needs, now more than ever, modern, robust, and capable forces at high readiness, in the air, on land and at sea, in order to meet current and future challenges. We are committed to further enhancing our capabilities. To this end, today we have agreed a Defence Planning Package with a number of priorities, such as enhancing and reinforcing training and exercises; Command and Control (C2), including for demanding air operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and NATO’s Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) capability.’ … ‘We have agreed this Package in order to inform our defence investments and to improve the capabilities that Allies have in national inventories. In this context, NATO joint air power capabilities require longer-term consideration.’
This clear guidance led to a task for the Strategic Commanders, with ACT in the lead, to answer three questions. First, to determine whether Joint Air Power has a future. Second, if so, to provide recommendations for a long term approach that will inform the future development of Joint Air Power while also identifying the medium to long term Joint Air Power capability requirements. Third, to consider how to improve and instigate coherence and cooperation in employing all aspects of Joint Air Power. The outcome of this capability requirements-based gap analysis was presented in a Bilateral Strategic Command (BI-SC) Report on Joint Air Capabilities, dated December 2015 (ref. B). The Report provided NATO with a well prepared, wide-ranging set of recommendations for the medium- and long-term Joint Air Power capability requirements. As a follow-on step in the process of longer-term consideration of NATO Joint Air Power, the Strategic Commanders recommended the development of a NATO Joint Air Power Strategy. Having noted the military advice, the Council tasked the NATO Military Authority (NMA) to develop a Joint Air Power Strategy for the Alliance. Accordingly, the Strategic Commanders, with ACT in the lead, were tasked to deliver the Joint Air Power Strategy, following the Ends – Ways – Means construct, through a two-step approach. First, the Conceptual Basis for the Joint Air Power Strategy, which was approved by the Military Committee and noted in the North Atlantic Council (NAC). And second, to complete the Strategy by addressing the development of future NATO Joint Air Power Capabilities (JAPC) (i.e. the Means), not later than 16 November 2017.3
The 2016 Warsaw Summit Communiqué (ref. C) is the most current expression by the HOS / G of key contemporary security concerns and focus areas. They stressed that ‘NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our territory and populations against attack and that renewed emphasis has been placed on deterrence and collective defence’. They also expressed their intent ‘to ensure that NATO have the full range of capabilities necessary to deter and defend against potential adversaries and the full spectrum of threats that could confront the Alliance from any direction’. These clear statements re-emphasize the need for the Alliance and its member states to address shortfalls in essential capabilities and competencies.
The Methodology of the Study
The Executive Director of the JAPCC acknowledged this key guidance and direction of the 2016 Warsaw Summit and decided to initiate a focused analysis that aligns with and supports work that is currently being conducted in the field of Joint Air Power capability and competency development. The Study is titled: ‘Joint Air Power following the 2016 Warsaw Summit – Urgent Priorities’, the results of which are the subject of this paper4. It provides urgent Joint Air Power priorities and recommendations within the context of the main areas of interest and concern as emphasized by the HOS / G in the Warsaw Summit Communiqué5. In the context of the Project, these main areas of interest and concerns are labeled: Strategic Focus Areas.
An analysis of the 2016 Warsaw Summit Communiqué reveals the following Strategic Focus Areas, which can be directly associated with NATO Joint Air Power:
- Deterrence (including forward presence);
- Collective Defence;
- Readiness, Deployability and Sustainability;
- NATO Air C2;
- Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR);
- Missile Defence;
- Hybrid Warfare and Resilience;
- Alliance and Partnership Cooperation;
- Defence Industry and Technology Cooperation;
- Cyber domain6;
The association between the Strategic Focus Areas and NATO Joint Air Power can be better understood by connecting these to NATO’s Essential Core Tasks. These are the Tasks which contribute to safeguarding Alliance members. The Strategic Focus Areas are main areas of interest and concern to NATO and include a range of activities to effectively give substance to each of the named areas. NATO’s Core Air Power roles are the main tasks that can be performed by Joint Air Power. The Core Air Power roles and their strategic effects make a fundamental contribution to the successful execution of NATO’s Essential Core Tasks and achieving the requirements for each of the Strategic Focus Areas. The matrix on page 25 illustrates the various links.
What stands out is that each Strategic Focus Area, with the exception of Collective Defence, has a relationship with two or more Essential Core Tasks. All Strategic Focus Areas, except Alliance and Partnership Cooperation, have a relationship with most Core Air Power Roles through their related strategic effects. Although the relationship between Alliance and Partnership Cooperation and the Air Power roles and strategic effects might not be directly apparent, experience from recent Joint Air Power operations attests that dedicated partner countries were engaged in one or more Core Air Power roles and in achieving strategic effects. The conclusion is that there is an obvious and strong bond between NATO’s Core Essential Tasks, the Strategic Focus Areas, the Core Air Power roles and the strategic effects that can be achieved with the implementation of these roles. Consequently, it reveals the significance and extent to which NATO Joint Air Power is linked to the list of main areas of interest and concern (Strategic Focus Areas), which was distilled from an analysis of the Warsaw Communiqué.
As stated before, this Study is titled: ‘Joint Air Power following the 2016 Warsaw Summit – Urgent Priorities’. It provides urgent Joint Air Power priorities and recommendations linked to the Strategic Focus Areas. The question, however, is what urgent means. So far, the focus of the intellectual work conducted by the JAPCC in its 2014 Future Vector Project and the 2015 BI-SC Final Report on JAPC was predominantly on recommendations for long term, future development of NATO Joint Air Power and medium- to long-term Joint Air Power capability requirements.
The short- to medium-term focus is important because recent developments in the security environment in and surrounding Europe show the imperative of high readiness and preparedness and the availability of the full range of essential Joint Air Power capabilities and competencies to deter and defend against potential adversaries throughout the entire threat spectrum. This focus is also important since most existing capability and competency development initiatives or processes, except NATO Forces 2020 (Connected Forces Initiative (CFI) and Strategy Division (SD)), focus predominantly on the medium- to long-term requirements. Finally, the emphasis on the short- to medium-term priorities is important because the options provided under NATO Forces 2020 have, so far, not adequately solved the full range of shortfalls in essential Joint Air Power capabilities and competencies, despite the fact that the goal of NATO Forces 2020, is to achieve ‘modern, tightly connected forces, equipped, trained, exercised and commanded so that they can operate jointly and with partners in any environment’.
NATO, however, not only needs modern, robust, and capable forces at high readiness in order to meet future challenges. It already needs these modern, robust and capable forces to meet current challenges. Therefore, a focused approach on urgent, essential, and so far unfulfilled short- to medium-term Joint Air Power capability requirements is needed today. This is the immediate focus, what matters most, to help achieving the goals set under NATO Forces 2020. In order to address shortfalls in essential Joint Air Power capabilities and competencies it is necessary to determine whether there are gaps in the Strategic Focus Areas and which must be addressed urgently i.e. which are most needed now or at least in the short- to medium-term and which, if unresolved, will prevent NATO from successfully planning, tasking and executing key air power roles and / or achieve desired effects7.
Aim of the Study
The aim of this Study is to provide a coherent set of urgent priorities in the field of Joint Air Power capabilities and competencies linked to the Warsaw Strategic Focus Areas, as derived from the 2016 Warsaw Summit Communiqué, with the intention of:
- ‘Strategically informing, in a timely manner, the discussion of needed capabilities and competencies as part of the NATO Joint Air Power Strategy currently being drafted under the leadership of ACT and to support the achievement of the goals of NATO Forces 2020, set in the 2012 Chicago Summit.’
- ‘To provide a timely input for the February 2018 Defence Ministerial meeting, where the Ministers are expected to agree on the finalized NATO Joint Air Power Strategy.’
In seven independent articles, the Study presents the urgent Joint Air Power priorities linked to each Strategic Focus Area, thereby fulfilling the aim of this Project. Furthermore, Annex B contains a list of likely trends for the development of future JAPC.
In a series of articles, covering all the Strategic Focus Areas, the Study presents a broad range of priorities of Joint Air Power capability and competency requirements. Each article will provide an overview of requirements and contains a matrix showing the relationship between these demands and the key attributes in determining the overall priority (i.e. impact and cost), which leads to the priority indication.
In the context of this Study, impact, cost and priority are defined as follows:
Impact can be defined as low, medium and high. Low means a low effect on the improvement of the capabilities and increasing knowledge and skills. Medium implies not a great effect, but still significant. High means a great effect on the capabilities and increasing knowledge and skills.
Cost associated with the proposed option or opportunity can be low, medium or high. Low means less than 1M €. Medium: means between 1–10M €. High means that the costs associated amounts more than 10M €. Within the context of this paper low and medium cost are defined as affordable. The affordability of medium cost assumes a high impact.
The priority of the options and recommendations ranges from 1 to 4. Prio 1 includes the following combinations of impact and cost: high impact – low cost and high impact – medium cost. The rationale is that medium cost is affordable. Prio 2 includes: medium impact – low cost and medium impact – medium cost. The rationale is that a medium impact still leads to a significant effect. Prio 3 includes: medium impact – high cost and high impact – high cost. Prio 4 includes: low impact – high cost.
Apart from impact and cost, the principle is that the proposed options also comply with the following criteria. First, have strategic implication, which is related to a high and medium impact on the improvement of JAPC and increasing knowledge and skills. Second, they must be politically and militarily attractive. Third, preferably, they are joint / combined in nature. Fourth, they should be actionable.
An overview of these prioritization matrices is given in Annex C.
Starting Points and Assumptions
The following starting points and / or assumptions apply to the Project:
- NATO’s Strategic Concept 2010 forms the basis for this study. In this respect, NATO will continue to effectively fulfill its three Core Tasks: Collective Defence, Crisis Management and Cooperative Security, in accordance with international laws and the interests of the member states.
- NATO Joint Air Power must possess the full range of capabilities and competencies to deter and defend against potential adversaries and the full spectrum of threats that could confront the Alliance from any direction.
- Joint Air power will be dealt with from a joint / combined perspective. Central to the Project will be the urgent requirement to address essential Joint Air Power capabilities and competency gaps that contribute to the effective planning, tasking and execution of the Core Air Power roles.
- Space capabilities serve as critical enablers to all domains, especially those capabilities that operate in the air domain. Cyber warfare and information networks are dimensions of the battlespace. Due to current restraints of different nations a combination of Air, Space and Cyber into one operational domain is not acceptable at this time.
- Contradiction, overlap or duplication of the comprehensive work in the realm of Joint Air Power capability and competency development must be prevented. The work of this Project should align with and support the existing efforts in the field of Joint Air Power capability and competency developments8.
The development and emergence of this study was not possible without the involvement and support of a number of key officers and organizations. First and foremost, the Executive Director of the JAPCC, Lieutenant General (DEU AF) J. Wundrak, showed a sense of urgency to actively address the outcome of the 2016 Warsaw Summit and starting the discussions on the feasibility of the Study. Ongoing support for the Project was provided by the Director of the JAPPC, General (USA AF) T. D. Wolters. Without the support of ACT, and in particular from the Deputy Chief of Staff Capability Development, Lieutenant General (USA AF) J. G. Lofgren, the Study would not have been started. A sincere thanks, of course, goes to the Staff officers of the JAPCC and the Staff of ACT, who, because of their continued commitment, have shaped the progress of the Project. A specific word of thanks goes to Colonel E. Abma (NDL AF) and Lieutenant Colonel R. Korus (DEU AF). Special thanks goes to those who, in discussions and interviews, were willing to share their experiences and thoughts with the various authors of the articles or provided inputs to the Study in different ways.
All these people were instrumental in setting the conditions for successful completion of the Study. The actual content of the Study was provided by the members of the Expert Team. Their knowledge, substantive expertise and commitment led to a series of excellent articles, thereby meeting the objectives of the Study. The broad variety of urgent priorities they have presented will be important for further work in NATO and is aimed at reducing short- to medium-term Joint Air Power capability and competency shortfalls. Therefore, a sincere word of thanks to the members of this Expert Team.
This study provides the urgent strategic priorities in the field of Joint Air Power capabilities and competencies linked to the Strategic Focus Areas, as derived from the 2016 Warsaw Summit Communiqué. The outcome of this Study is important for: the future development of capabilities and competencies needed for successfully executing NATO’s Joint Air Power Strategy; optimizing the NATO Forces 2020 initiatives; and for mitigating the concerns expressed by the HOS / G during the 2016 Warsaw Summit. In particular, the outcome of this Study might be used as a timely input for the February 2018 Defence Ministerial meeting, where the Ministers are expected to agree to the finalized NATO Joint Air Power Strategy. Overall, this coherent package of urgent, short to medium term Joint Air Power priorities will support NATO in ensuring that it has ‘modern, tightly connected joint air forces, equipped, trained, exercised and commanded so that they can operate together and with partners in any environment and throughout the whole range of Alliance Operations and Missions’.
The Expert Team advises NATO to urgently address Joint Air Power priorities 1 and 2 listed in this study. By doing so, NATO will mitigate the critical short- to medium-term Joint Air Power shortfalls that might prevent NATO from successfully conducting their Essential Core Tasks. The Expert Team believes that many of the requirements are achievable in the short- to medium-term and are affordable. The Team is of the opinion that the improvements to the availability, quality and operational readiness of NATO Joint Air Power capabilities and competencies will be significant. Although many of the individual demands are assessed as affordable, the associated total costs will be considerable. However, the positive effects in Joint Air Power capability and competency development that can be achieved by addressing the priority 1 and 2 requirements are substantial. It will leave NATO less vulnerable. Most importantly, though, is that by delivering on the urgent Joint Air Power priorities the member states will contribute to ensuring that NATO continues to have the full range of necessary capabilities and competencies to deter and defend against potential adversaries and the full range of threats that could confront the Alliance from any direction. NATO as a whole, will continue make a credible contribution to achieving an effective deterrence and defence posture.
This Study addresses, in total, eleven Strategic Focus Areas from the Warsaw Summit Communiqué that have a direct association with Joint Air Power. As outlined in footnote 6, Cyber and Interoperability are not examined separately, but are assessed and addressed integrally if applicable for a Strategic Focus Area. The remaining nine Strategic Focus Areas are treated in seven independent articles. The topics of Deterrence (forward presence), Collective Defence, and Readiness, Deployability and Sustainability are analyzed and assessed from both a political- and military-strategic perspective. The political dimensions and priorities are dealt with by Dr. H. Binnendijk, while General (ret.) F. Gorenc (USA AF) focuses on the military aspects and priorities. Lieutenant General (ret.) F. Ploeger (DEU AF) analyses the urgent priorities of NATO Air C2 and ISR and also the Strategic Focus Area of Defence Industry and Technology Cooperation. Lieutenant General (ret.) F. H. Meulman (NLD AF) focuses on the Strategic Focus Areas of Missile Defence, Alliance and Partnership Cooperation and Hybrid Warfare and Resilience. Lieutenant General P. Preziosa (ITA AF) acted as co-author for the articles on Hybrid Warfare and resilience and Defence Industry and Technology Cooperation.