Joint Air & Space Power Conference 2020

Leveraging Emerging Technologies in Support of NATO Air & Space Power

Conference Read Ahead

The Executive Director’s Closing Remarks

Lt Gen Klaus Habersetzer, DEU Air Force, Executive Director, Joint Air Power Competence Centre


It is my hope that the essays provided in our Conference Read Ahead have been informative and enlightening. Our goal is for these essays to inspire and provoke discussion during our upcoming conference concerning the role of Joint Air and Space Power in NATO deterrence and defence. As the Executive Director of the Joint Air Power Competence Centre, I wanted to take this opportunity to offer my perspective and highlight some elements of the theme of this year’s conference on Leveraging Emerging Technology.

In the fall of 2019, when we first selected the theme for the 2020 Conference, we didn’t realize how quickly we would be leveraging new technologies in the conduct of our daily activities. The challenges associated with COVID-19 Pandemic have pushed the use of various communications technologies to the forefront, as we adapted to new ways to execute missions on behalf of the Alliance while practicing social distancing in the hopes of slowing the spread of the corona-virus.

And NATO’s Mission has expanded. The recognition of Space as NATO’s newest operational domain late last year, coupled with the establishment of Space Commands in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, has catalyzed a focus and excitement related to Space not seen in decades. As other Alliance Nations determine their national way ahead with regards to Space, NATO is determining the ways in which it will implement Space within the command structure. Space Experts assigned to the JAPCC continue to provide independent thought and analysis in support of decision-makers, and one of the Conference Panels will focus on Space. Not only on how NATO can leverage emerging Space-related technologies, but also on policy, doctrinal, and operational considerations.

At the same time that NATO’s role in Space has been increasing, certain terrestrial missions remain front and centre. Nations dealing with the recent pandemic also saw a continuing need for NATO’s Air Policing Activities, intercepting non-NATO aligned aircraft sometimes operating near NATO military forces. The activities were taking place at the same time as an increase in disinformation campaigns associated with the global pandemic, in an attempt to sow confusion, create discord, and undermine the Alliance. These types of activities are part of a larger Information Competition involving the manipulation of information and disruption of the electronic pathways which our information travels across. Fortunately, our Conference will include a Panel which addresses the gray zone associated with the Information Environment, including the competition and technologies utilized therein.

Our ability to successfully compete in the information environment directly affects NATO’s ability to manage the Battlespace. Not only must NATO be able to command and control its forces during military operations, but it must look to safeguard and expand its capability. By utilizing artificial intelligence NATO can seek ways to rapidly process data and assess information to improve its current ability to control the Joint All-Domain Battlespace. Moreover, the Alliance can explore new options for defending the systems and networks it relies on for command and control with deep learning algorithms. The Conference Panel focused on Battlespace Management will explore these technological horizons, and more.

Our final Conference Panel will look at Future Developments, those technologies which might have an impact to military operations not in the next few years, in but 5–10 years and beyond. What will the future hold, professionally and operationally, when the military sees a significantly increased number of systems operated remotely? Moreover, what will be the impact on military operations once 5G infrastructures are firmly rooted across the nations and continents? Identifying these nascent technological developments and forecasting their arrivals can help inform key NATO Defence Planning Process elements including the Strategic Foresight Analysis and NATO Warfighting Capstone Concept. These in turn will guide the development of capability requirements and force structure targets to ensure the Alliance is prepared to receive and implement new technologies and to continue to accomplish its three Core Tasks in the decades to come.

The themes covered in these essays are certainly not all-inclusive, but they represent the most inclusive and comprehensive JAPCC Conference Read Ahead ever published. The collected essays are from military and civilian service members, academic and civilian think thanks, and our industry partners from around the globe. I invite you to visit our conference website to further explore details regarding the panels, the topics and themes and the registration for this year’s conference:

In closing, I hope you will enjoy the reading and that this has piqued your interest to do so. We hope that through exposing a cross-section of ideas and opinions we will spark a debate that ultimately will help to shape the future of NATO Air and Space Power. There is much work to be done to ensure NATO can leverage the myriad emerging technologies to conduct Air and Space Operations more capably. Your thoughts, insights and perspectives on these topics will be a welcome and important part of our discussion.

I sincerely hope to see you this fall in Essen!

Klaus Habersetzer
Lieutenant General, DEU AF
Executive Director, JAPCC

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