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An Analysis of the Chief of Staff of the United States' Air Force Speech to the 2010 RAF Air Power Conference, 18 June 2010

I E Shields, Cambridge University

The United Kingdom Government's Strategic Defence and Security review ("SDSR") is nearly upon us, and although rightly the Review will be mostly inward-looking, we no longer operate in isolation but in coalitions, primarily with the United States. What might this most important ally be looking for from us? In terms of the RAF we might have some clues. At this year's RAF Air Power Conference, held in London on 17 – 18 June 2010 under the overall heading "Meeting the Challenge", General "Norty" Schwartz, the present Chief of Staff of the United States' Air Force (CSAF), gave the keynote address under the title "Adaptable Air and Space Power for the 21st Century" . A review of his speech, looking for pointers as to what the USAF might be looking for from the RAF in the future is instructive.

The General's speech contained, in my analysis, three core themes: the character of the present conflict; the need for coalitions; and the roles of Air and Space Power. Before considering each in turn and what it might mean for the RAF, it is worth examining his opening comments. He started by drawing a distinction between what is effectively the nature of Air Power, that which is unchanging ("speed, range, flexibility and versatility") and its present employment, which is subject to the vagaries of the nature of the conflict and the technology of the day ("tailorable, timely and precise effects"). This, Schwartz suggests, requires military strategists to always be attuned to current realities and trends. Herein lies, I suggest, a hint that the view presented of the conflict in Afghanistan will set the template for some time; if that is indeed his intent then this has marked implications for the USAF and (potentially) hence for the RAF. The CSAF then highlighted the present fiscal constraint and suggests that all air forces face a particular challenge at present due to the confluence of complexity, uncertainty and austerity – an analysis with which few would disagree.

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By The UK MOD's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre

Download for free via or purchase from DSDA Forms and Publication (01869 256139).

Reviewed by Ian Shields

The UK MOD's think-tank, the Development Concepts and Doctrine centre (DCDC) have already published some good work, including their paper on the Future Character of Conflict and their 2009 Future Air and Space Operational Concept (both available from the web-site listed above). Having identified a need for a textbook on space, given the ever-increasing reliance on space for contemporary military undertakings (one thinks of surveillance, satellite communications, weather forecasting, GPS for navigation and weapon guidance, and much more), the DCDC set about writing, from first principles, their UK Military Space Primer some two years ago, and have now completed the task. There is much to praise, not just about the product, but about the vision and initiative that led to this publication, but let me start with a few criticisms. First, for understandable reasons it is titled the Military Space Primer and, indeed, has a military bias. But the vast majority of the text is as applicable to the civilian sector as to the military. Second, what a shame that, again for understandable reasons, this could not have been published commercially as it is the best and most complete explanation of Space and its uses that virtually anyone would require, and deserves a wider audience. Certainly, any A-Level student with an interest in Space would benefit greatly from reading this, and it would not be out of place in any school – or, indeed, University – library.

Some 250 pages long, it takes the reader at a sensible pace, is well-written and copiously illustrated with photographs and excellent diagrams. Divided into four chapters, it starts with an explanation of what space is, an easily-digestible section on geometry and orbitology (no advanced mathematics – in fact, barely a formula in sight!), before translating the theory into the practical: which orbit for which capability and how to get there. The short second chapter covers Space and the Law at sufficient depth for the non-specialist (see the book review on Space Law: A Treatise in the June 2010 edition of Aerospace Professional for a truly in-depth book on Space Law), before the heart of the Primer, Chapter Three on the Military Uses of Space. Each use, be t surveillance or communications, is addressed in clear and concise language, that unravels the mysteries of the advantages and disadvantages of Space. Indeed, it is not even necessary to have read the explanatory Chapter One before dipping into Chapter Three. Again, although aimed at the military reader, for anyone with an interest in how pace can be used, if only where does your Sky Satellite Signal come from, will gain from this Chapter. The final Chapter looks more widely at Space and Society highlighting, for example, how dependent civil society is on Space – and if there is a justification for the non-military to read some of this Primer, it is in Chapter Four. A series of more in-depth annexes follow, and the publication ends with a good bibliography.

Extensively cross-referenced throughout, this Primer is not meant to be read at a single sitting, but dipped into for knowledge and education. Those in the wider Space industry will, I am sure, welcome this Primer and use it to educate those new to their business. Those with no knowledge but an interest, those with some knowledge and a wish for more detail, and even those with a deep understanding will all find value in this timely and well-produced piece. Not a book in the conventional sense as normally reviewed on these pages, but nevertheless a significant and welcome addition to our understanding of Space.


A review by Per Andersson

"It was my ambition to write a book that would not be forgotten after two or three years, and that possibly might be picked up more than once by those who are interested in the subject"
Carl von Clausewitz (1818)

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By Justin Hamilton

NATO leaders and heads of state met in Lisbon this weekend for what can only be described as the most amicable summit in recent memory. For the spectator, amiability rarely makes for an interesting spectacle. However, amongst the expected statements concerning forces in Afghanistan and future relations with NATO's prior raison d'κtre, Russia, were a series of far less publicised announcements surrounding the future development of NATO's Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme.

Often ridiculed as a 'Star Wars' concept during the Regan administration, BMD could become a central pillar within NATO's new strategic concept, promising to provide a protective missile shield across all member states within the next decade. This is a development of particular reassurance to European countries feeling intimidated by the Shahab 3; Iran's most advanced Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile, capable of delivering a payload over distances of up to 3,000km.

In the current climate there can be little doubt that most of the dangers faced by NATO are of a less conventional kind, arguably none more so than the threat of rogue states wielding weapons of mass destruction. For a stated cost of $800 million over 14 years, the proposed Active Layered Theatre Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme would provide ballistic missile protection for active forces within NATO's area of operations. It is estimated an additional $200 million, spread over 10 years, could expand the programme to include European populations and territory as well.

With an annual budget currently exceeding $3.3billion, $200million (or even a combined $1 billion) spread over more than a decade and between 28 member states would seem like good business. NATO's bullish Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, claims that BMD represents 'a lot of defence at an affordable price'. With Britain delaying the renewal of its Trident nuclear arsenal and the German Luftwaffe set to retire their nuclear delivery system, the Tornado strike aircraft, in 2015, BMD seems an increasingly attractive option. The programme offers not just a potential shield against ballistic missile attack, but a powerful weapon against the threat of hostage posed by a nuclear Iran. Although repeatedly denied by President Obama, some NATO insiders have even begun to see BMD as a viable alternative to nuclear deterrence.

In an age of fiscal austerity does it make financial sense to spend more than $1 billion on a questionable technology such as BMD, much less to consider it as a replacement to nuclear deterrence? The additional cost of $200 million has also been disputed by a number of news agencies, who place the current figure somewhere closer to $270 million. This is a relatively minor correction perhaps, but who knows how much it could increase between now and the projected completion date of 2020?

Far beyond the concern of increased costs however is the hidden reliance on US technology and ultimately, funding. In 2011 alone the US Department of Defence has budgeted more than $9.9 billion for BMD research and technology, much of which will be directly transferred to the NATO programme. In addition, BMD requires a symphony of support vehicles including unmanned aerial vehicles and low orbit satellites, each with affiliated support costs.

It is by no means unusual for a NATO programme to be dominated by US capabilities, even less so during a period of extreme fiscal austerity and power depreciation among the European powers. Nonetheless, the wisdom behind implementing a programme of such fundamental importance to Europe's potential future security framework that is almost wholly dependent on US technology must be questioned. Should the European nuclear powers seriously consider BMD as an alternative security measure to nuclear deterrence, it would represent an erosion of national sovereignty and more deeply entrench the global status quo.

Of course NATO leaders were quick to reinforce their unswerving commitment to mutual defence, enshrined under NATO's most sacrosanct clause, Article 5. Yet given the obvious move towards a more Eastern orientated foreign policy under the Obama administration one must question the future value of NATO as far as US defence policy is concerned. Outsourcing vital defence capabilities is always a dangerous option :One the European powers may wish to re-think before making any lasting decisions.


General Sir David Richards, Chief of the General Staff :

"This is a war that needs to be fought and can be won.....we haven't sold it very well and we need to do better."

"If the Afghan people asked us to go tomorrow, we would have to go. We are there under a United Nations mandate."

"If we give up Afghanistan tomorrow, I absolutely guarantee you that if you are an al Qaeda memeber or Taleban, they will pour back into southern Afghanistan and they will have the freedom to plan and train and conduct operations which now they don't have."

"General McChrystal talks about 2013 (for a pull out of troops). The Chief of the Defence Staff and I have said that's pretty challenging. Being cautious military men, we're talking about 2014."

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Stff :

Afghanistan must not be "the template for a future UK defence structure that can do nothing but more Afghanistans.....the range of threats to UK interests is greater than that."


By George Friedman

The United States has captured a group of Russian spies and exchanged them for four individuals held by the Russians on espionage charges. The way the media has reported on the issue falls into three groups:

That the Cold War is back, That, given that the Cold War is over, the point of such outmoded intelligence operations is questionable, And that the Russian spy ring was spending its time aimlessly nosing around in think tanks and open meetings in an archaic and incompetent effort.

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By David Hoghton-Carter, UK Defence Forum Research Associate

The UK's strategic deterrent, Trident, has come in for a lot of flak recently. With budgets tight, there are plenty of rumblings from political circles and the blogosphere alike that it should be first to face the axe. After all, Trident is undeniably a costly programme, and it's difficult to see what benefits we gain from it through the opaque lens of national security.

Here at the UK Defence Forum, we've long taken an interest in this debate, and there are plenty of basic questions to answer. It's right to take account of the views of those who are in principled opposition to Trident, but conventional anti-nuclear arguments can fail to take into account the wide variety of potential weapons that can utilise atomic technology. The prospect of replacing or renewing Trident is itself controversial, and has been discussed at length in the House of Commons. Nevertheless, I'd like to take a take a moment to refute some of the common arguments posed against maintaining the deterrent into the future.

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France vs. South Africa, Tuesday 13:30 [SAST]
At a June 14th press conference, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, standing next to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, played down the differences between the two countries in an attempt to show that Franco-German leadership of the European Union remains strong. In one sense, France and Germany remain on a co-equal basis – each lost World Cup matches this week. But that's where the balance ends. In recent weeks, Paris acquiesced to several German demands and agreed to drop a proposal for new eurozone institutions, enact unpopular budgetary cuts, and accept that tough penalties will be imposed on states skirting eurozone budgetary rules. In short, Paris is quickly becoming a follower in the German-French leadership duo of the EU.

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By Baker Spring

The White House plans to submit the April 8, 2010, the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (New START) between the Russian Federation and the United States of America to the Senate for ratification today. The Senate should focus less on the text of the Treaty, its Protocol and Annexes because these documents were made available to the Senate and the public earlier. Instead, the Senate should focus more on the two documents that will accompany today's submission and that have so far not been made public. The first is the section-by-section analysis of the Treaty. The second is the so-called Section 1251 report.

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By George Friedman

The European financial crisis is moving to a new level. The Germans have finally consented to lead a bailout effort for Greece. The effort has angered the German public, which has acceded with sullen reluctance. It does not accept the idea that it is Germans' responsibility to save Greeks from their own actions. The Greeks are enraged at the reluctance, having understood that membership in the European Union meant that Greece's problems were Europe's.

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