Joint Air & Space Power Conference 2019

Shaping NATO for Multi-Domain Operations of the Future

Conference Read Ahead

The Executive Director’s Closing Remarks

Lieutenant General Klaus Habersetzer, DEU, Air Force

Lieutenant General Habersetzer is the Commander, German Air Operations Command, Commander, Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, and Executive Director, Joint Air Power Competence Centre.


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 a multi-domain operation 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 some of the topics presented by our authors.

The first two articles will help to explore a working definition of what a Multi-Domain Operations actually is and should be taken as a starting point for the discussions in our first panel. This is especially important as there is no commonly agreed definition of MDO in NATO or its Nations right now, although it has become a buzzword in recent years and new domains such as cyber and space have emerged.

We may argue that multi-domain is merely a more modern way of describing jointness, whereas jointness encompassed the traditional domains of air, land and sea. Simply adding the new cyber and space domains to the list and label it MDO is however not sufficient. The seamless integration of five domains is likely to add a lot more complexity to Command and Control procedures, which have to ensure the coordinated and synchronized execution of actions and delivery of effects from all the different domains. This is also highlighted by the next two articles and I want to quote from General S. Townsend’s article that ‘this change is not cosmetic – it is about growing an idea to its greatest potential in order to change the way we fight today …’

The integration of cyber and space-based effects opens a completely new ‘toolbox’ for the Joint Force Commander to pick suitable military actions from, ranging from pre-emptive to reactive and from non-lethal to lethal. In this regard, we may also argue if NATO’s Joint Force Command structure is still suitable for an MDO.

Fully integrating five domains into our existing ‘three-domain‘ architecture likely requires significant improvements and upgrades of NATO’s current C2 infrastructure and will be a major enterprise comparable to the integration of our 5th Generation jets into NATO’s fleet of legacy aircraft. This ‘next generation’ C2 infrastructure will be even more reliant on the electromagnetic spectrum, space and cyberspace as information gathering, sharing and communications will be essential for Multi-Domain Operations.

Therefore, the initial phase of a potential future conflict against a peer adversary will probably be shaped by the fight for superiority in the electromagnetic spectrum, space and cyberspace. Air Power will have to contribute to each of these objectives while at the same time operating in and dealing with a heavily defended and contested airspace.

I am really looking forward to discuss the role of Air Power in an MDO and the challenges it will present to us with you and our distinguished speakers and panellists.

In closing, I hope you have enjoyed reading the articles and that they have piqued your interest in this year’s topic of Shaping NATO for Multi-Domain Operations of the Future. 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.

Klaus Habersetzer
Lieutenant General, DEU AF
Executive Director, JAPCC

The conference was sponsored by