Combat Air

Combat Air (CA) is the heart of Joint Air Power. NATO’s ability to deter and defend relies on the freedom of manoeuvre throughout all domains. CA contributes to that freedom by providing Air Superiority, Suppression of Enemy Air Defences, Air Interdiction, Electromagnetic Operations, Close Air Support, Integrated Air and Missile Defence, NATO Ballistic Missile Defence, and Personnel Recovery. This Branch incorporates manned and unmanned platforms, with fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, and draws from all components within Alliance air and space forces.

Branch Head

Joint Air Power Competence Centre

Colonel Niebuhr entered the Air Force in 2001 when he graduated from Weber State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Physics. He earned his commission as a distinguished graduate from the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. After his commission, Col Niebuhr attended Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard Air Force Base, TX, and completed the F-16 Basic Operational Training Course as a distinguished graduate in 2004. Since then, Colonel Niebuhr has worked in various flying assignments across four MAJCOMs, serving at the squadron, group and wing levels. His operational experience includes Operations NOBLE EAGLE, ODESSEY DAWN, ENDURING FREEDOM, RESOLUTE SUPPORT and FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, with two six-month deployments to Bagram AB, Afghanistan.

Colonel Niebuhr commanded the 24th Tactical Air Support Squadron (TASS) at Nellis AFB, Nevada. The 24th TASS focused primarily on live Close Air Support training for JTACs, US F-16 FAC(A) production, and FAC(A) TTP development. Additionally, they provided integrated CAS training support for Green Flag, USAF Weapon School, and Special Operations Forces. He was also one of the founding cadre members for the CAS Integration Group established at Nellis AFB, Nevada, USA. Colonel Niebuhr’s educational background includes a Master of Human Relations and Master of Arts International Relations from the University of Oklahoma, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB (by correspondence), and a Master of Strategic Studies, with an emphasis in Joint Planning, from Air War College, Maxwell AFB.

Colonel Niebuhr is a Forward Air Controller (Airborne) Instructor and Command Pilot with over 3,300 flight hours, including over 190 combat sorties and more than 760 combat hours in the F-16.

Information provided is current as of September 2022

Featured Publications

It’s a Question of Gender!

Unmanned is now Uncrewed
‘Gender-inclusive language is about writing and speaking in a way that does not discriminate or marginalize on the basis of gender and does not promote or perpetuate gender stereotypes. Therefore, using gender-inclusive language proactively and [...]

A View from Above

Air Domain Focused Observations on the Ukraine Conflict
Although the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is still ongoing, with no prospect for termination of the hostilities in the foreseeable future, some initial observations can be made with respect to the air domain. These [...]

Defining the Swarm

Challenges in Developing NATO-Agreed Terminology Across All Domains
In recent years, the terms ‘swarm’ and ‘swarming’ have been among the most prevalent buzzwords in the uncrewed This article aims to outline the challenges and provides food for thought when discussing a future definition [...]

Subject Matter Experts

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