Three Air Power Considerations within a Comprehensive Approach
By Lieutenant General Dieter Naskrent, DEU AF, Executive Director, JAPCC
Last year’s JAPCC conference looked reflectively at NATO at sixty years of age and futuristically at some challenges for Air and Space power. One of the common threads which emerged was the Comprehensive Approach. One might argue that, even before this term was coined, NATO conducted much of its business in accordance with its underlying principles. Nowadays the term has entered our common lexicon, even though the debate on how best to implement it rages on. For military airmen and airwomen the landscape has changed and it is no longer sufficient to look at military air power in isolation, rather, we must adopt a far broader perspective and seek greater understanding of the civil dimension. The three papers contained within, highlight three different but complimentary issues surrounding air and the Comprehensive Approach.
The first paper takes a fresh look at how militaries should plan their air basing strategy for expeditionary operations. History is littered with examples of little or no thought being given to this subject. All too often the short-term imperatives have resulted in decisions which have done nothing to support the future requirements of the Host Nation. There are many different factors which must be considered by politicians, strategists, planners and operators and the importance of getting this right within a Comprehensive Approach cannot be over-stated.
In the second paper the author examines the different governance models for NATO common air (and space) assets. Weak governance, in whichever field it is present, fundamentally undermines performance and imposes barriers to the efficient and effective employment of capability. In politics, weak governments are unlikely to survive and if they do they are likely to create problems for the future. The same is true in military circles and many of the models currently employed by NATO have inherent weaknesses which should be addressed.
The final paper takes the concept of a favourable air situation, familiar to all who understand control of the air, and expands it to areas beyond the narrow confines of major combat operations which has previously dominated thinking in this area. It reflects the very different dynamics of contemporary operations and draws on lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. The areas of air policing, missile defence and force protection are examined, revealing the need for swift and decisive action to resolve current problems. The paper also looks in detail at Airspace Management and the need to integrate all users, it exposes a myriad of legal considerations and touches on the moral and ethical issues surrounding UAS operation.
It is essential that we all develop a deeper understanding of the air aspects of the Comprehensive Approach and although these papers only look at three issues in particular, I commend them to you as an opening salvo in a debate which will continue for some time. The JAPCC encourages wide engagement on all subjects related to Air and Space Power, thus we would welcome your comments and opinions on these papers or any other issues.