Joint Air & Space Power Conference 2023 Read Ahead

Moderator’s Foreword

 September 2023

Esteemed Colleagues,

I am honoured to serve as your Moderator for the JAPCC Conference once again. For the second year in a row, we will convene amidst a major war being fought on the European mainland, right on NATO’s borders.

Two years ago – a few months before Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine – the then JAPCC Director, General Harrigian, spoke about how such an act should be a ‘forcing function’ for our governments and for NATO itself. The actions taken so far to support Ukraine and defend NATO nations have had significant effect and, after some initial hesitancy from some NATO members, have shown commendable unity and solidarity.

One great danger is that, as the war continues deep into its second year, a form of ‘compassion fatigue’ may affect public opinion and, in turn, the resolve of some NATO nations. The resolve of the Ukrainian people is unshakeable and as strong as ever. However, they continue to suffer losses of both their combatants and non-combatants and the destruction of their towns, cities, and critical infrastructure. Whilst the Russian invaders have substantial human resources and show an apparent willingness (even carelessness) to expend them in ill-considered offensives, Ukraine cannot afford to lose its men, women and children in similar numbers.

As I write this in Spring 2023, one positive move to address this first danger is the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to issue arrest warrants for Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Ms Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova for the war crime of unlawful deportation of the population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation (under articles 8 (2) (a) (vii) and 8 (2) (b) (viii) of the Rome Statute). Whilst some might see the ICC’s move as merely symbolic, I believe this may have more far-reaching consequences. Those consequences include the reaction of actors and nations who still feel able to conduct ‘business as usual’ with Putin’s regime. Nor should we discount the impact of ‘mere symbolism’.

The second danger – that of the attrition of Ukraine and its people – can, at present, only be addressed by ensuring sure that Ukrainian forces have the equipment and training to fight smarter and have some degree of decisive overmatch against their aggressors. By so doing, NATO nations also enhance their own deterrence and defence. Nevertheless, make no mistake; a ‘long war’ serves Putin far more than it suits Ukraine and NATO. However, a recent article in The Economist (23 April) makes a far more subtle point:

‘The question is not so much whether Russia can endure an even longer war of attrition (it can), but whether it can support the sort of intensification of the conflict Russia will probably need to transform its prospects on the battlefield. That looks almost impossible.’

Western sanctions are having a noticeable effect. Modern tanks need sophisticated optics and bearing assemblies. A recent article explains this well and cites as an example:

‘A new T-72BM3 or T-90M tank requires modern optics, and those optics normally come from France. When Paris tightened its sanctions, it deprived Russian industry of the components it needs for the new tanks’ Sosna-U digital sights.’

Vladimir Putin has proved to be NATO’s greatest recruiting sergeant – as the recent accession of Finland and (pending accession of) Sweden shows. How ironic that the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine – said to be (in part) to stop the encroachment of NATO on Russia – has prompted two previously non-aligned countries to seek NATO membership and add another 800 miles of NATO bordering on Russia. I welcome NATO’s two newest members and acknowledge their contribution to NATO’s enhanced deterrence and defence.

Finally, I draw your attention to the carefully curated collection of articles in this Read Ahead. They set the scene for our conference and provide an excellent introduction to the panel discussions.

I look forward to meeting you all in October!

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Wing Commander (ret.)

Bruce Hargrave is an independent Air and Space Power Adviser based in Lincolnshire in the UK. He served for 28 years as a navigator in the RAF, principally in the ISTAR Maritime Patrol role, flying on the Nimrod MR2. He also served on exchange for a tour with the Royal Navy with 820 NAS, flying as observer (RN-speak for navigator/WSO) on the Sea King Mk6 helicopter.

Bruce’s penultimate tour with the RAF was in Germany with the JAPCC. He retired from the RAF in 2013 to take up the post of Postgraduate Military Programmes Leader at the University of Lincoln where (among other things) he introduced the successful MSc programme – Innovation in ISR.

Bruce left the university in 2020 to pursue his dream of becoming a professional photographer. He has his own commercial photography studio in Lincoln, but his first love is wildlife photography. He spent six weeks in South Africa in 2022 and time in the Maasai Mara in Kenya in 2023. Back in the UK he installed and maintains the cameras that stream live footage from the peregrine falcon nesting site on Lincoln cathedral. He also works there in his (increasingly rare) spare time as volunteer team leader for peregrine-related guided tours where the 338 stairs to the top of the central bell tower help to maintain his fitness levels.

Information provided is current as of August 2023

Essays in this Read Ahead

The Role of NATO Joint Air and Space Power in Enhancing Deterrence and Defence

NATO Deterrence and Defense: Military Priorities for the Vilnius Summit

What Happened at NATO’s Vilnius Summit?

Enhancing Readiness, Availability and Resilience for NATO Joint Air and Space Power Operations

The Relevance of Quantity in Modern Conflict

What Does Russia’s Approach in the Russo-Ukrainian War Reveal?

Achieving Sustainable Air and Space Readiness in the Light of the Ukrainian War

Imperatives from Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine – ‘The New Normal Readiness’

Enhancing Resilience in NATO’s Air and Space Power to Generate Deterrence and Defence in an Interdependent World

NATO Joint Air and Space Power Capabilities for Collective Defence

The Relevance of Superior Joint Air and Space Power Technology in NATO’s Defence

NATO Space Deterrence – Defence through the Lens of DIME

Ensuring the Availability of Capability

Sustaining NATO Joint Air and Space Power

Transparent Stakeholder and Multinational Collaboration

The Key to a Strong European Defence Industry

Organizing Logistics for Future Collective Defence

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