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Joint Air & Space Power Conference 2017

Everything Old Is (Kind of) New Again …

By Lieutenant General Joachim Wundrak, DEU Air Force, Executive Director, JAPCC

The Executive Director’s Closing Remarks

I hope that you’ve found the series of essays provided in our Conference Read Ahead informative and enlightening. Our desire is that these essays will provoke thought and stimulate discussion about the role of joint air power in NATO deterrence in preparation for our upcoming conference. I wanted to take this opportunity to offer my perspective as the Executive Director of the Joint Air Power Competence Centre, highlighting many of the topics presented by our authors.

While it’s easy to say that we have returned to the Cold War, many things have changed in the world, and within NATO, which may complicate the Alliance’s ability to ‘win’ again. The consequences of twenty years of fighting outside the Alliance’s borders, combined with resurgent, highly adaptable foes, are forcing us to relook at some assumptions we had largely considered facts.

One of the most difficult tasks we must undertake is to identify exactly what NATO’s, and our partners’, security challenges are and what specific threats they entail. Some threats are quite clear. However, contrary to deterrence paradigms of the 1980s, we’re now facing entities that are adept at various forms of hybrid warfare and that are harnessing and directing the power of cyber and information warfare to levels previously unseen. Not only must the Alliance be concerned with conventional and nuclear forces, we must also be prepared to deter the use of ‘non-kinetic’ actions, as well. Adversaries, including non-state actors, are attempting to exploit the Alliance’s values of openness and freedom to their advantage. This is causing us to look not just externally, but internally, for threats and consider new ways of deterring them.

Another difficult question that we must face is that even if we can successfully identify the threats to the Alliance and whom we would like to deter, we must ask our ourselves if we are currently ‘fit for deterrence’, or not. Not only must we be aware of the increasingly complex political machinations that are required to successfully deter our adversaries, we have to ask the difficult questions of whether NATO’s military arm is currently fit to do so. If not, what are we do to do correct the perceived shortfalls?

Lastly, I believe that one of the largest tasks we have in front of us is to determine, specifically, how Air Power can contribute to deterrence and what our immediate priorities should be, especially in our fiscally constrained environments. Alliance Air Power capabilities are growing exponentially, especially with the introduction of the F-35. However, we as an Alliance must come to grips with decreasing numbers of aircraft, especially fighters, against antagonists who are ever trying to sway the balance of capability and mass. I wholeheartedly believe that Air Power can make an enormous difference in deterrence of our enemies; our task is to ensure that we do it well.

The ideas covered in these essays are not all inclusive, but provide a starting point for discussion with our conference panel members and audience. I invite you to visit our conference website to further explore details regarding panels, the topics and themes and the registration process for this year’s conference:

In closing, I hope you have enjoyed reading the articles and that they have piqued your interest in deterrence. I firmly believe that your expertise will be required to successfully navigate the coming years and I invite you to be a part of providing ideas and solutions for the continued success of the Alliance.

I sincerely hope to see you this fall in Essen.

Joachim Wundrak
Lieutenant General, DEU AF
Executive Director, JAPCC