Distinguished Guests_ Ladies and Gentlemen_

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					President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am of course delighted to be able to speak to you this evening. It
has been a particular honour for me to have been invited to become a
Fellow of this distinguished society, and it has been a great pleasure
to have been able to accept. In speaking to you this evening, I hope
to achieve two aims. Firstly, to honour the memory and recognize the
huge contribution that Sir Sydney Camm made to British aircraft
design and, therefore, support to airpower. Secondly, to talk to you
about the context in which the Royal Air Force delivers airpower in an
uncertain world, and how we respond to those challenges today and
plan to do so for the future.

I approach this subject having taken the helm as CinC Air Command
almost 3 months ago, but I bring to it my experience as Deputy
Commander JFC Brunssum for the past two years. It was a rare
privilege to have sat as part of NATO’s operational level command
and control for the ISAF mission in Afghanistan – a conflict which
some are characterizing as a, so called, ‘hybrid war’, and to which I
shall return later. The Mission is certainly the greatest professional
challenge I have been faced with to-date.

I return back to the UK to interesting times: operationally; financially;
and, politically. Operationally, I am part of a generation that has seen

continual operations since the first Gulf War, some 19 years ago. As
we draw down the flag in Iraq this year, having completed our mission
there, we turn our focus more and more to support a successful
outcome in Afghanistan; but there are other challenges in the world
that lurk near the surface in the realm of conflict. The UK and US
experience in Iraq and Afghanistan brings discussion about the future
nature of conflict, and so to a degree there is a battle of ideas that is
occurring on both sides of the Atlantic. Financially, we all read daily
about the state of the UK as well as the global economy; it is not
difficult to conclude that the MOD faces an enormously challenging
period to not only gain control of the costs of the equipment program,
but also to live within more stringent means in the coming few years.
And finally, with an election mandated within the coming year, the
party returning to government is widely expected to conduct a
defence review, and so these two themes of the nature of future
warfare, and size of the defence vote, are shaping the debate for
such a Defence Review.

This evening, I would like to expand further on the global context for
Defence, and explore what this might tell us about the evolving nature
of warfare. I would like to use the lens of our operations in
Afghanistan to highlight the role that British airpower plays in
contemporary operations, before daring to crystal ball gaze to the
future. I would stress that my aim tonight is to inform this learned
audience; it is not to strike further controversy in this media-fuelled


To start by saying that we live in an uncertain world is something of
an understatement. We can look back 20 years this November to the
end of the Cold War. Before the events in Berlin that brought down
the wall, the security of the world was defined in terms of two
monolithic powers: the United States and her allies; and, the Soviet
Union and hers. In a somewhat perverse way this gave the world a
degree of certainty. It provided a political impetus to contain the
possibility of small wars least they escalate, through miscalculation,
to a nuclear Armageddon. It reinforced the Westphalian model of
states, that assumed that sovereignty was to a degree sacrosanct,
and therefore that only an act of war triggered a military response. It
was also an era of industrial age warfare. Absolute numbers
mattered; military objects were relatively discrete and usually
armoured or hardened. Un-guided weapons of that era had only
small probabilities of achieving their desired effect, and only a very
small percentage could be considered to be a precision weapon.

Few would argue, therefore, that the end of the Cold War has
reduced the risk of total war. It has, however, lifted the lid on the
wider spread on conflict, resulting in smaller and more complex
conflicts. This complexity is driven inevitably by politics and
resources. The political related drivers are religious (from those
adopting extremist beliefs), ethnic, and still to a degree ideological (as

in the case of North Korea). The resource related drivers we see are
the potential mass movements of people seeking to sustain access to
food production, water, etc in the faces of shifting global environment
effects. Allied to this is competition for energy and mineral wealth to
sustain growing economies, and the expectations of their people.
Here one only has to think about the competition to monopolise
European access to gas supplies, or the race to secure national
rights to energy and mineral exploration and exploitation of the Arctic

This complexity is enabled by technology, which in turn has enabled
globilisation. The advent of micro electronics and the accessibility to
industrial chemicals, coupled with knowledge disseminated through
the internet, has enabled individuals, or groups of individuals, to
achieve military effects and behave in a manner that was once the
preserve of states and their armed forces. The level of warfare has
come down a level from the state to the individual (as Admiral Art
Cebrowski pointed out through his work on military transformation).
Home made explosives, coupled with detonators fashioned from
consumer products, such as mobile phones or intrusion detectors,
can have potentially devastating consequences (as the Heathrow
bombers in 2006 tried to prove). The use of civil airliners in the 9/11
attacks remind us of the potency of abused technology. Worse still
would be the employment of weapons of mass effects like a
chemical, biological or dirty nuclear attack. The cyber world of the
internet connects individuals with ideas and information, and, through
the global dependency it has created, it exposes vulnerabilities in our

security, energy and financial stability. It can of course be equally
argued that a collective dependency on global markets has driven
increased stability through a collective self-interest, only bucked by a
couple of rogue states. Thomas Friedman illustrates this multi-polar
world in his excellent book ‘The World is Flat’.

Through technology the complexity of a conflict is amplified by the
media, through mechanisms which we witness daily. All the
foregoing can operate to sustain terrorism on a global scale, and act
as an accelerant to criminality. In weak states especially, these non-
state actors can begin to flourish in un-governed spaces; on land,
such as in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan; at sea, for example the
piracy off the coast of Somalia; and indeed in cyberspace. These
groups or individuals are often sponsored by states for their own
purposes, like Hezbollah, and can act in state-like ways with political
as well as military factions.

So if the foregoing characterizes the contemporary security
environment, what is future nature of warfare?

There is no doubt that the United States possesses a clear superiority
in conventional military capability. Although re-emergent, Russia still
only spends a fraction on defence compared to that of the US.
Having said that, there is also no doubt that the US is severely
stretched by her involvement in two major theatres of operation,
especially her land forces. With a strong nuclear arsenal, and the
collective abilities of her allies, there is only a very low probability of a

major conventional conflict between major states. Indeed, it is
considered that the risk of territorial attack on the UK to be equally
very low for the foreseeable future. So if the risk of major
conventional ‘war’ is very low, what is the most likely type of conflict
we could face in the next two decades, say?

Well here the debate begins. Will conflict in the future be all about
irregular wars, that is so called wars amongst the people, where there
is a violent struggle amongst state and non-state actors for legitimacy
over the relevant population? Chechnya, Darfur, Sri Lanka and the
FATA area of Pakistan may be good examples of irregular war, along
with the recent conflict in Lebanon and in Gaza. Insurgencies, like
the current challenge we face in Afghanistan, are seen as sub-set of
irregular warfare. Here it is recognized that political, rather than
military, solutions are required, and this puts a premium on the
comprehensive approach, and, it is argued, ‘boots on the ground’.

Given my comments on the increasing complexity of conflict, will all
future conflicts be so called Hybrid Wars? It is argued that future
conflict is likely to be characterized by an increased blurring across
the range of adversaries we will face, and the methods they will
employ, especially to counter our perceived symmetrical strengths.
States may respond in the ways of non–state actors (ie more
asymmetrical using cyberspace for example); and non-state actors
will behave more like states, with state like technologies (such as
UAVs) and alternative government capacities (such as hospitals and
welfare care). Hard and soft levers of power will converge so there

will be a strong emphasis on information operations and exploitation
of cyberspace for example. The more moderate protagonists of
Hybrid War theory do not argue that state-on-state war is dead, but
that deployed forces need to be as capable at fighting an insurgency,
as conducting conventional high-end warfare. (We need to be
cautious here about following ‘fashion labels’ in warfare theory, of
which there are many, and all wars could be argued as hybrid, but the
complexity and convergence of levels of warfare is accepted).

So what of state-on-state conflict? Looking back on some of the
complexities driving the global security context, there are sufficient
factors that still draw states into potential conflict with each other.
Residual territorial disputes loom large, such as Taiwan, the Falkland
Islands and the influence of Russia over former Soviet countries,
such as Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic States. Competition for
energy, and access to raw materials, drives the potential for
miscalculation and challenges our free-access to markets. North
Korea, Iran and a failing Pakistan, with or without an India dimension,
can all create a compelling narrative for conventional capability, all of
which could have a nuclear aspect.

Is there indeed any evidence to suggest that one type of conflict will
be more prevalent in the coming decades? Operational analysis of
conflict over the past 60 years finds: ‘that randomness dominates and
that extrapolation of recent behaviours is a poor guide to the future’.
There is also a danger here in a ‘one doctrine’ approach, either to
define our area of operations, the time we require, or the enemies we

will face! Before the first Gulf War it was famously stated that no
British tanks would ever be required to operate outside of Europe;
that a recent president stated that US troops would not be used for
nation building; or that we would always be first in and first out! (Who
would have predicted after WW2 that UK troops would face North
Koreans, Argentineans or Egyptians in conflict – but we have!)

We try and define how we will respond to these challenges in a
declared and non-declared defence policy. However, what should
the central aim of our defence policy be? Well, I can find no better
aim of defence policy than the words of Lord Tedder, when
addressing the House of Lords in 1953, during the Defence White
Paper debate.

I repeat our object is to secure peace, not by winning another war,
but by preventing another war… In the first place I suggest the
military forces must be such as to constitute an effective deterrent,
that is our primary objective, but, they must also be such as to be
able to fight a successful war if that [the] deterrent fails. One must
therefore try and foresee what would be the nature of another war….
I believe we would be making a fatal mistake – and I mean fatal – if
we were to shape our forces on the basis that a war in the future
would be on the same old lines as those of the last war (and I might
add, or the current).

So if the supreme aim of defence policy is to prevent war or crisis
building to the point of threatening our national interests, how do we

then decide on force structure? One fundamental constraint is
obviously money. This is nothing new. As Denis Healy stated in
1967; ‘The main purpose of a Defence Review was to bring defence
expenditure into line with the nation’s resources’. Indeed, read any
defence review over the past 60 years and the bottom line is what the
country is willing to pay for the insurance that defence provides. And
so the question is ultimately about choice: player or neutral, defensive
or expeditionary, isolationist or multi-lateralist, leader or follower,
global or regional, and so forth.

What might be drawn from the foregoing? Firstly, I would have to
begin by recognizing fully that we do not have a clean sheet. In some
significant areas we have already made commitments, in policy and
in expenditure; these will need to be honoured, or indeed exploited.
We will/must stay engaged in a bloody and resilient insurgency; we
cannot afford to see the strategic failure of our efforts in Afghanistan,
and so for the short term this endeavour requires our fullest efforts. I
would subscribe, however, to a view that we cannot afford to be
fighting in Afghanistan in the same manner in 5 years from now that
we are engaged today. The mission will of course likely remain for a
decade or more, but our role by then should be predominately in
support of indigenous forces. Like the US, if our land forces are
largely committed over this period, it will fall to air and naval forces to
deter and, if necessary, strike other threats that emerge to threaten
our interests.

In a post Iraq/Afghanistan era, I believe our focus should return to the
question of deterring war and conflict which is against our national
interest. Should this prevention fail, it is likely that the crisis will
involve some proportion of irregular warfare, but state-on-state
conflict is still very possible. Prevention will require security and
confidence building activities in partnership with OGD in key regions
of the world. It will require a deterrence posture encompassing
nuclear and conventional capability to deter and, if necessary, coerce
potential adversarial actors. This will require judgment so that we are
not over-insured for the premium we can afford. And it will require
deployable forces, able to operate across the full spectrum of conflict,
probably at simultaneous levels, if we accept the notions of hybrid
concepts like Krulak’s ‘3 block war’. Such forces, operating by
necessity in partnership with Alliance or coalition nations, will be
required for their deterrent value, as well as their ability to operate in
complex battlespace if deployed. With clear financial constraint, we
will have to decide where we want to buy influence, and what scale
we can afford. In doing so, we will balance our political ends and
financial means, with military ways.


Having set the contemporary context , I would like to move on to look
at the relevance of airpower in fighting irregular warfare through the
lens of our operations in Afghanistan. I would argue that Afghanistan

does not fully represent a hybrid conflict as many elements of what
could be within the envelope of this definition are missing.
Nevertheless, I feel strongly that it best represents a challenging
environment in which to deliver airpower, and so I would like to
highlight to you how the Royal Air Force has been responding.

As I outlined when I spoke at the airpower conference earlier this
year, at the heart of the ISAF mission is a complex insurgency and, in
common with all insurgencies, it is a political struggle for power which
uses extreme violence to try and achieve its aims. We can only
consider it a success, therefore, when the political battle is won.

The wisdom remains that we apply counter-insurgency tactics and
procedures – or COIN – the doctrinal framework for which is the well
read FM 23-4. At the heart of the COIN doctrine is the need to win
the trust of the Afghan people, such that they believe that their long–
term personal security will be better served through their elected
government and appointed officials, supported by the international
community. The effort needs to be focused on the people we are
attempting to support; it is not focused on simply killing or capturing

This is a really important to point to stress. It requires that the Afghan
government is trusted by its people to provide for their welfare, and
offer a more just and prosperous future than that offered by the
insurgents. It requires the long-term support of the international
community, and particularly the support of neighbouring states to help

stem the flow of financial, material and human capital that energises
the insurgents. It requires political and public support for the actions
needed, with a commitment for the long haul, as required, if we are to
coerce the insurgents to believe that they cannot outlast us, and
convince ordinary Afghans that their lives will not be at stake for
years to come.

I deliberately point this out to be a complex business, because it is. It
is too simplified to see this as a military operation. To date that may
appear so, but the other lines of operation of governance as well as
reconstruction and development are equally important and must all
move forward together. All these aspects are recognized in our own
comprehensive approach and in the new US approach to Afghanistan
and the region; what clearly stands out is the need for a ‘political

Wrestling with this issue for the past two years has also made me
aware of the limitations of the military instrument in such situations.
COIN operations are, by their nature, often contradictory. We want to
attack the insurgents but not the people, an act that can be an
unintentional recruiting sergeant. Causing civilian casualties works
against us, and I shall return to this topic later. We talk of deploying
more forces, but also about transition and reconciliation, thereby
signaling a timetable for exit. More external forces can shift the
public’s perception over time to one of ‘occupying forces’ if our
behaviour does not match our rhetoric.

So the answer to such an irregular type conflict is not necessarily
more foreign boots on the ground, although this remains vital in areas
of very poor security. The more ground we clear, in a shape, clear,
hold, build (SCHB) strategy, the more ground we need to hold.
Clearing without holding takes us potentially backwards not forwards.
This is why, for the campaign to succeed, it is vital that effective
Afghan security forces are in the lead of operations and are,
ultimately, the holding force.

So what role does airpower have to play in all this? Well, it is too
easy to try and characterize all this as a land operation. From a joint
perspective, such operations are inherently air/land operations, or
even, if you prefer, land/air operations!

I could simply say that airpower has made an enormous contribution
and leave it at that – but that would miss the opportunity to portray
the richness of how deeply airpower is woven into the tapestry of the
ISAF mission – and indeed the part that Air Command has been

Air Contribution

Looking firstly then at Air Mobility; very obviously Afghanistan is land-
locked and mountainous, with limited overland access to feed the
logistic requirement. Whilst work is ongoing to expand the overland
options, there are still very few ports of entry to Afghanistan, and all
have risk and fragility; strategic air-bridges are vital day-to-day, and

would be the first resort in the face of disruption, particularly through
Pakistan. There has been much effort within the Command on
providing a more robust airbridge, and the opening of the second C-
17 based ALOC has provided increased capability in this area. The
timely delivery of FSTA is, as you can see, vital to this sustained

Perhaps above the operational level of typical UK thinking is the need
to promote the development of civil and military airpower in
Afghanistan. Developing airfields and civil air traffic control capacity
promotes economic development and self sustainability, and
promotes government credentials such as flights to Mecca for the
Hajj. An important part in the strategy in developing capacity in
indigenous forces must be the training and development of the
Afghan National Army Air Corps – a role so far that the UK has
limited contribution too – but essential if we are to pass the baton in
the medium term (Here I believe that the RAF can have an important
role in training and educating this fledgling air force).

Across the battlespace of Afghanistan, the RAF contributes to air/land
operations to support ISAF’s mission. Not all this effort is focused on
UK forces, but this is vital operational-level activity to achieve
campaign-level success across the country. Remaining with the
theme of mobility, RAF support helicopters and their crews are to be
praised for the professionalism and bravery, and our heavy and
medium lift helicopters provide a decisive advantage to ISAF forces.
One only has to witness the complexity and risk of ground convoy

operations in, say, Helmand to see the advantage offered. More SH
is needed across the AOR; the new US assets will help, and the
additional UK aircraft planned to deploy later this year will make an
important contribution.

With distances between centres of population measured in hundreds,
not tens, of miles in the AOR, tactical fixed wing transport have a
special premium. Their work extends to hub and spoke flights from
out of theatre when ‘trooping’ aircraft do not have the level of
defensive aids suites required, as well as the airdrop of supplies to
remote outposts, reducing response time for re-supply and further
reducing for need for riskier ground convoys. There is more I believe
that can be done here in the precision airdrop of supplies.

Control of the Air remains, I believe, just as valid a concept in COIN.
Whilst not perhaps challenged by traditional ideas of air-to-air
combat, the security of aircraft in-flight from SAFIRE or MANPADS,
and the need to protect vital ground around our airbases is just as
compelling a need. At Kandahar and soon at Bastion, RAF Regt field
squadrons conduct essential patrols to deter IDF attacks and sweep
vulnerable approach areas used by trooping aircraft. A successful
insurgent attack here, as CDS rightly identifies, can have strategic
consequences. The work of the RAF Regt is every bit as challenging
as elsewhere on the ground - and is very much a hearts and minds
campaign with local people.

Our contribution to Intelligence and Situational Awareness (or
Knowledge Development if you like) is a very exciting area of
airpower evolution in COIN. NIMROD and other air platforms with full
motion video (FMV) have been essential in theatre for sometime, and
maintaining such a capability on future platforms is vital. REAPER
has been a huge success story; and more in a while on that
impressive UAV capability. Fast jet based ISR too has an important
role. The Harrier GR9s SNIPER targeting pod has not only provided
an NTISR capability, but more importantly its ability to down-link to
ROVER terminals with land forces has given meaning to NEC in
air/land operations. With Tornado GR4 now in theatre, the Lightening
III pods will maintain this capability. Tornado also comes with the
RAPTOR ISR pod; many of this audience will be familiar with
RAPTOR’s capabilities, which will add an important surveillance tool
for intelligence led operations.

One of the most promising ISR capabilities at this time is the ASTOR
system. The Sentinel aircraft, with its highly capable synthetic
aperture radar, has deployed to theatre as a so called operational
rehearsal. Numbers limit a sustained deployment for the time being,
but the system provides wide area surveillance, and has proved a hit
with ground commanders as it cues attention to pattern of life activity
in advance of, and during, tactical patrols. It is proven in providing
tactical GMTI in the counter ambush role, and there remain many
new ways to exploit its capabilities including the real potential to
contribute to the CIED fight, and in the locating of IDF devices.

The above three core airpower roles are easy to grasp in COIN ops
and there is no doubt that demand outstrips supply in all these areas;
for example, less than 10% of ISAF’s GMTI demand (as proved by
ASTOR type radar) is fulfilled. Similarly, only about 50% of fixed wing
AT, or ITAS, is met, and a similar percentage of FMV, as provided by
REAPER and the other UAVs. But our FJ aircraft also make an
essential contribution to ISAF operations. Whilst there are insufficient
CAS aircraft to fulfill all ISAF preplanned air support requests, there is
excellent co-ordination to respond to immediate CAS requests for
Troops In Contact situations, or TICs. Average response times are
now very quick indeed.

Harrier GR9s from JFH have done fantastic work for the past 5 yrs –
they, and their families, are ready for a well deserved break. (If I
could reflect for a moment, I am sure that Sydney Camm would be
proud and amazed to discover that, almost 50 years after his
involvement in the P1127, the fundamentals of the Harrier design
have stood the test of time, and has delivered a winning capability in
numerous operations). Now some people may believe that other
nations could provide British land forces with CAS, but such an idea
is myopic, because, as part of an alliance we need to contribute in a
balanced way, and we certainly benefit a great deal. Moreover, we
cannot just fight at the tactical level. RAF fast jets are equipped to
respond 24/7 and in almost all weather. We have developed our
targeting pods and precision weapons to give the highest assurance
of success. The non-kinetic effect of our aircraft on targets has been
well documented. The key message is that kinetic and non-kinetic

airpower effects allow us to maintain a significant asymmetric
advantage in the close battle. Our crews are trained during pre-
deployment training (PDT) to exemplary standards, in partnership
with UK and allied joint tactical air controllers (or JTACs) on the
ground. Their adherence to tactical directives to minimise CIVCAS is
reported widely. Quite simply put, we have developed an outstanding
reputation for discrimination and care. This all adds up to a level of
assured support that UK troops expect, and deserve. As a nation, we
must not make short cuts in delivering the required capabilities.


So far I have focused on the breadth of airpower’s contribution to
COIN operations. Whilst it would be tempting to stop the discussion
on a positive note, it would be wrong of course to not highlight some
of the challenges. I would like to cover three which I feel are very

The first is the issue of civilian casualties. As I have stated already, if
we are to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, then we
must focus more on their security than we appear to focus on our
own. An act which creates an unacceptable level of civilian
casualties clearly works against this goal. It is now well accepted that
by far the greatest number of civilian casualties are created by
insurgent action. The loss of any civilian life is a cause of deep
regret, and hurts the campaign’s progress. Some commentators are
still too quick, however, to try and apportion the blame for civilian

casualties on the inappropriate use of airpower, often citing a lack of
boots on the ground. ISAF has taken this matter very seriously,
especially given the disproportionate and largely negative coverage
than comments on this issue create. The detailed analysis over the
last year has further corroborated the statements I have made in the
past. The greatest proportions of civilian casualties attributed to ISAF
are caused by direct fire incidents, and escalations in the use of force
at check points and the like. Enlighted commanders understand this,
and appropriate emphasis is now given to ROE application and clear
communication of commander’s intent (through COMISAF’s Tactical
Directive), and improved interaction with local people. Airman have
also, of course, played their part in the drive to minimize the risk of
causing civilian casualties; advanced targeting pods, data links with
ground forces, enhanced JTAC guidance and validation, along with
lower collateral damage weapons such as PAVEWAY IV and Laser
Brimstone, all have had an effect. I will leave this point by
congratulating JFH for the sensitive way in which they have applied
ROE during their time in theatre – another reason why assured
support from UK fast jets is an essential component of any irregular
war force construct.

My second challenge is that the nature of COIN operations begins to
challenge the traditional airpower maxim of centralized control,
decentralized execution. COIN operations are often planned at quite
low tactical levels, sometimes down at company level, but more
usually at battle-group. If we are to influence tactical commanders
thinking we must, therefore, have our air planners and liaison officers

well forward, mentoring land planners and advising fire support teams
on air power effects, and build trust in the employment of airpower
through the professionalism of our JTAC’s and aircrews, and through
the responsiveness of the air support net. We must not endanger
lives by waiting for organic assets, when airpower is often on hand as
a first responder. At the operational level, ‘air thinking’ is embraced in
COMISAF’s theatre level plans. ‘Air action’ is less intuitive at
operational level joint HQs, like ISAF, and so our air experts need to
break out of the comfort of the CAOC and move forward to fill joint
appointments in HQs like RC(South), HQ ISAF and even further
back. I have witnessed over the past two years that airman’s skills in
planning and targeting are in great demand in the joint environment,
and I believe that we are more effective in embedding airpower
effects when we work closely with key joint and land commanders,
building trust and offering solutions to their problems. This puts a
premium on our need to be warfighters first.

My final challenge is how airpower can play a greater role in helping
to counter the threat posed by IEDs. Insurgents have realized that
they cannot challenge ISAF and the Afghan National Army by using
conventional force-on-force tactics. They have shifted to a more
asymmetric approach through the use of suicide bombers, but
especially in the employment of IEDs. IED’s continue to account for
over 75% of ISAF casualties. Pre-deployment Training, and good
TTPs in theatre, goes a long way to counter this type of threat, and
better protected mobility plays its part. It is becoming accepted that
we must also engage IED networks by more offensive action, ‘to the

left of the bomb’ so to speak. Armed UAVs have had some notable
successes in this area. It does require a joint and multi-disciplined
approach. Wide area surveillance (WAS), as offered by ASTOR, is
part of the solution, along with SIGINT and HUMIT to focus and cue
other assets, such as SF or UAVs. Change detection technology,
command wire detectors, and the like all hold some potential. I am
convinced that there is more that airpower can do in this area, and I
am already encouraging Air Command staff to apply their minds to
this critical contemporary issue.


Let me now begin to wrap up by saying a few words on three
particular success stories; Air Land Integration (ALI), REAPER and
the EAG/W concept.

Within the framework of Project Coningham-Keyes, many of you will
be aware that the Joint Air Land Organisation was stood up. Over
the past five years or so it has steadily worked to develop
understanding, TTPs and where necessary sponsor new equipment
to ensure that air can support land operations as seamlessly as
possible, and that land formations understand, and use, the full
capabilities of the air component. This is vital if we are to save lives
and achieve operational success. Airpower effects need to be
planned into an operation at the outset, and not as an afterthought.
As I have mentioned earlier, ‘air effects’ are planned into COMISAF
operational level plan; integration of air at ISAF HQ has matured to

the point that the DCOS Joint Ops (a pivotal post) is now a 2* Airman,
and the ASOC is embedded in the J3 area. At RC(South) level,
Deployed Air Integration Teams (or DAITs) support the planning
effort, and we have increased the capability of the air support
organization. Our efforts have not stopped in theatre. We fully
support PDT; indeed Ex Mountain Dragon is now essential training
for land Fires Support Teams and is conducted in the state of the art
ABTC facility at RAF Waddington. This fully networked synthetic
environment allows FSTs and Fires Planning Cells to develop
common TTPs and conduct the tasking cycle by interacting with
aircrew and air battle managers in a virtual Helmand. It is building
this level of trust and confidence, not to mention the assurance and
effectiveness generated by this team approach, which convinces me
why nationally provided assured support is so necessary.

Another significant success has been the introduction of the REAPER
armed UAV. Procured and deployed with commendable speed, the
REAPER provides a high endurance platform with formidable ISR
capability and firepower. We will shortly be able to provide a full 24/7
orbit, and we have aspirations to expand this to 3 full orbits. On a
recent visit I made to Kandahar, members of Special Forces waxed
lyrical to me in front of 2nd PUS on the huge impact REAPER has had
on their efforts, and with little prompting from me demanded more!

Finally, I would point to the success of the EAG/W structure that we
have deployed to the Op Herrick and Telic theatres. For too long we
have simply defined airpower capability as a bucket of airframes: 6

Tornados, 8 Chinook. This construct failed to articulate the command
and control and logistic elements that are essential for air operations.
In the cold war this was all taken for granted, in the fixed
infrastructure that NATO provided. As our fore-fathers in the Western
Desert knew only too well, for deployed operations, the conceptual
and moral component of air power needed to be addressed. At
Kandahar, Bastion, Al Udied and elsewhere the EAG/Ws play an
essential part in commanding, planning and executing operations, as
well as undertaking essential liaison.

Whatever next?

Well I hope that over the past 35 minutes or so I have helped to
convey to you the decisive impact that airpower is having on current
operations, and that I have helped foster an improved understanding
of why airpower remains very relevant in COIN operations, and will
remain so in irregular wars of the future – ‘hybrid airpower’ if you like.

But you might well ask ‘whatever next’ for airpower, and for the Royal
Air Force in particular. Well you will have sensed by now my clear
belief that we need to fully put our shoulder behind the wheel in order
to succeed in Afghanistan; in the short term this will mean re-
adjusting our priorities and shifting resources to this main effort. It
also means grasping new roles and technology and innovating to
meet the emerging challenges of irregular warfare.

For the medium and longer term, however, I come back to the
discussion on what we want our armed forces to do in the broader
context of defence. We cannot predict the future with accuracy; so,
within the constraint of what our nation is willing to spend, or can
afford, we need to make policy choices and consider the scale of our
efforts. We need to deter as well as being able to fight, if required. In
the continuum of Prevention, Coercion, and if required Intervention,
we need to have the best balance of forces able to do all these
things. So we have to be agile and adaptable.

This adaptability needs to be physical and mental. We have a good
record in this regard but we must ensure that we continue this theme
in all our new platforms to demonstrate our wider utility, and this
applies to our fast-jets in particular. There are plenty of examples I
could use to illustrate this point but an excellent recent example is the
Tornado GR4. Nineteen years ago it found itself in an offensive
counter air role, dropping JP233 runway denial weapons, and striking
critical infrastructure in Iraq. Last week it conducted its first COIN
mission in Afghanistan, successfully strafing insurgents in contact
with UK forces.

Mobility and ISTAR are fundamental enablers across the spectrum of
conflict, and our planned investments in this area look about right.
For the future, we must continue to richen our ISTAR mixture as
understanding complexity and resolving the ambiguity of targets will
be more challenging than striking them with precision weapons.
Control of the Air is still a fundamental requirement for joint

manoeuvre, and, as I have discussed, has become more multi-
faceted. But there are questions to resolve. The balance between
operations and recuperation; the balance of platform numbers verses
capability (and here the future mix of UAVs is part of this debate); the
balance of live vs synthetic training; the balance of investment in
enabling capability such as NEC, which is the essential glue to
produce precise and synchonised effects. Recognising the
investment already agreed in our fast-jet attack platforms, we aim to
continue to drive down the cost of delivering this capability, building
on our recent excellent record of lean support. What is equally
important for the future is to continue to draw together previously
discrete capabilities. Typhoon is no longer an air defence fighter, but
an attack platform as well. This does not seem to be well
understood. Perhaps we need to explain ourselves better, or
perhaps others need to be willing to listen! Joint Combat Aircraft will
take this approach further with its inherent ISTAR capability, and
much reduced cost of ownership. Typhoon too has the potential here
to deliver a similar ISTAR capability with investment in an AESA
radar. This true multi-role approach gives utility as an excellent
deterrence force, as well as being able to respond to the uncertainty
of a regular or irregular crisis. Which ever way you look at this,
assured airpower delivered by the Royal Air Force is the right answer
to support our armed forces in pursuit of the Defence mission.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have covered a broad canvas quickly. I
have reflected on the formulation of our defence policy and the nature
of warfare. I have drawn on the 90 year experience of the Royal Air

Force in adapting to the unpredictable nature of conflict, and our
more recent experience of operations following our engagement in
the middle-east over the past 19 years. Agility, adaptability and
relevance remain core to our vision. Sydney Camm shaped aircraft
design for most of the last century. I hope he would be proud of how
we continue to shape airpower for this one.


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