This is a discussion on Air Power 101 for New Members within the Air Force & Aviation forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; No. 4 of 4 air power roles — ISTAR is the process of integrating the intelligence process with surveillance, target ...
No. 4 of 4 air power roles — ISTAR is the process of integrating the intelligence process with surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance tasks in order to improve a commander’s battle-space awareness and consequently their decision making. Air forces or naval air usually prefer to use the term ISR, rather than the term ISTAR (which is more army centric in its origins). ISR is not just about air forces operating unmanned aerial systems. Many air forces will retain an ISR capability on manned combat aircraft and it is a key component of joint ISR capability. In particular, manned fast jets provide a capability to penetrate contested battle-space. A pervasive ISR capability also requires sensors that can perform throughout the electromagnetic spectrum across the physical domains and defeat adversary counter detection techniques. Therefore, ISR or ISTAR can be defined as:-
"An activity that synchronises and integrates the planning and operation of sensors, assets, and processing, exploitation, analysis and dissemination systems in direct support of current and future operations."
Ongoing technical innovations will shape the continued evolution of PGMs to overcome limitations on precision weapon use imposed by inclement weather conditions. Further, the employment of military force has traditionally been conceived in terms of the functions find, fix, strike and exploit. This approach was formalized later as the F3EAD concept: find, fix, finish, exploit, analyze, and disseminate.
ISR Lessons Learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan (2004 to 2007):-
These lessons emerged from trial and error tempered by 6 years of constant contact with an enemy whose nature demanded new approaches. Today’s enemy is a low-contrast foe easily camouflaged among civilian clutter, unlike high-contrast targets such as airfields and warships. The insurgent’s primary strength has always been to hide in complex terrain such as mountainous or urban environments. The global communications revolution has given this insurgent a new complex terrain — an “electronic sanctuary” — in which actions can be hidden among the innumerable civilian signals that constitute daily cell phone and Internet traffic.
It is from this new sanctuary that the enemy coordinates activities from dispersed networks in order to self-synchronize, pass information, and transfer funds. In this way, the insurgent has become “networked coalitions of the willing” that come together temporarily and are thus difficult to destroy. Drawing support from their networks, they remain low contrast until time to strike and then quickly blend back into the population...
...Airborne ISR’s effectiveness grows exponentially when it is cued to and driven by other sources of intelligence rather than operating alone. Without a robust, collaborative intelligence network to guide it, sensors are often used in reactive modes that negate their true power and tend to minimize their full potential. These intelligence disciplines provide a start point into the enemy network that can be exploited through persistent and patient observation. With this type of start point, one can mass ISR with confidence that assets are not being wasted...
Inherent in massing is rejecting the commonly held practice of “fair-sharing” ISR among multiple units. Massing implies focus and priority. Selected parts of the enemy’s network receive focus, which should be unwavering for a specified time. This is counterintuitive to those who feel the need to fair-share assets as a way to cover more space and service more priorities. The problem with a low-contrast and fleeting foe, however, is that enemy actions are not easily predictable. Without prediction, the next best things are redundancy and saturation. Piecemeal employment of ISR assets over a large geographic area theoretically allows for efficient targeting but often at the expense of effectiveness...
...The Unblinking Eye provides an opportunity to learn about the network in action and how it operates. It is long dwell, persistent surveillance directed against known and suspected terrorist sites or individuals. The purpose of this long dwell airborne stakeout is to apply multi-sensor observation 24/7 to achieve a greater understanding of how the enemy’s network operates by building a pattern of life analysis...
...Nodal analysis is spatially connecting relationships between places and people by tracking their patterns of life. While the enemy moves from point to point, airborne ISR tracks and notes every location and person visited. Connections between those sites and persons to the target are built, and nodes in the enemy’s low-contrast network emerge. Nodal analysis has the effect of taking a shadowy foe and revealing his physical infrastructure for things such as funding, meetings, headquarters, media outlets, and weapons supply points. As a result, the network becomes more visible and vulnerable, thus negating the enemy’s asymmetric advantage of denying a target...
...Vehicle follow is tracking vehicle movements from the air. These are important in illustrating the network and generating fix-finish operations. A recent Office of the Secretary of Defense study over a multi-month period found that vehicle follows were important to building pattern of life and nodal analysis. Vehicle follows were surprisingly central to understanding how a network functions. They are also among the most difficult airborne ISR operations to conduct and often require massing of assets to ensure adequate tracking...
...Use of three CAPs is generally the best practice for massing on a target set during the fix and finish phase of the operation. This allows mass not only in space but also in time, which equates to persistence. It is not enough to have several eyes on a target — several eyes are needed on a target for a long period. Three CAPs permit persistent surveillance of a target while simultaneously developing the network’s pattern of life through nodal analysis and vehicle follows. It gives the finishing force commander more options than merely killing or letting an observed enemy go; with sufficient ISR, a ground force commander can demonstrate much greater operational patience, thus allowing a larger insurgent network to emerge...
Conduct Forward PED
A critical enabler in employing ISR was having forward processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED) integrated into the Tactical Operations Center (TOC). The Air Force has excelled at building state-of-the-art reach-back PED nodes. But the speed and intuition required to cross-cue, target, plan, and react amidst multiple streams of intelligence and operations in a highly fluid battle-space require a forward PED presence able to interact in that environment. The reach-back nodes simply do not have the situational awareness one gains by physically being forward with supported operations and other intelligence personnel...
Exploit and Analyze
F3EA differs from other targeting models because of its emphasis on exploit-analyze as the main effort. This recognizes the importance of intelligence in fighting the low-contrast foe and aggressively supplying multi-source start points for new ISR collection. More than the other phases, this feeds the intelligence operations cycle in which intelligence leads to operations that yield more intelligence leading to more operations...
*The above is an extract of pages 56 to 61 in issue 50, 3rd quarter 2008, JFQ by Brigadier General Michael T. Flynn, US Army, J2 at CENTCOM, Colonel Rich Juergens, US Army, is Commander JTF – Bravo in Honduras, and Major Thomas L. Cantrell, USAF, is a student at the Joint Advanced Warfighting School: "Employing ISR: SOF Best Practices."
In the past decade, numerous tertiary air forces have increased their investment in ISR aircraft many-fold. In the case of the USAF, its general force structure declined 11 percent (i.e. fighters, bombers, tankers, and transport aircraft), but ISR assets increased by nearly 300 percent, demonstrating the growing importance of ISR to air forces. To simplify the discussion, we provide some examples to illustrate the four components of ISTAR, as set out below:
(1) Intelligence — Intelligence is the product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, analysis, evaluation and interpretation of available information.
(a) Thanks to spy movies, the collection of imagery intelligence (IMINT) via satellites, UAVs, maritime patrol aircraft and other reconnaissance aircraft, as a basis for kinetic attack, is well understood by many laymen; but IMINT is only a small subset of the intelligence collection function for air forces. These technical intelligence collection efforts include:
(a-i) measurement and signature intelligence;
(a-ii) electronic intelligence (ELINT) or analysis of the incoming signals to provide immediate warning of threat radars, including surveillance, fire control, targeting and missile guidance systems;
(a-iii) communications intelligence (COMINT) or interception and analysis of hostile transmissions, to assess the movements and intentions of the opposing forces; and
(a-iv) signals intelligence (SIGINT) or the combination of ELINT and COMINT.
(b) The successful gathering of SIGINT enables air planers to make recommendations for kinetic and electronic attack.
• An example of SIGINT in action occured on 18 April 1943, when 16 US P-38 Lightning fighters intercepted and shot down two Japanese bombers over Bougainville. Onboard one of them was the intended target of the operation, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto — the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Combined Fleet. The mission had targeted Yamamoto with such precision because accurate and reliable intelligence had been collected by the US through breaking the codes that protected Japanese radio communications.
(c) Good intelligence provides accurate, relevant, timely and predictive analysis to support operations. The business of intelligence collection at peace time carries risk and can be a contentious affair.
• More recently, on 1 April 2001, in what became known as the Hainan Island incident, a Chinese interceptor collided with a US Navy EP-3 Orion on a SIGINT mission. The crew of the larger US aircraft made an emergency landing. The aircraft and crew were later released by the Chinese authorities.
(d) This includes using air assets to develop an understanding of the enemy's composition, disposition, and strength, so as to enable intelligence analysts to understand the enemy's capabilities and limitations and thereafter, determine the enemy's options, including its most likely course of action. Intelligence gathered can be shared between countries to enable each partner to use in foreign internal defence or even law enforcement.
• For example, the Malacca Strait Patrols which is comprised of coordinated naval and air patrols by the four littoral states - Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand - have dramatically reduced piracy incidents in the Straits of Malacca.
(e) Aerial surveillance assets can be deployed at the request of another country to gather actionable intelligence to use in foreign internal defence or even law enforcement.
• On a bilateral basis, the TNI and SAF also worked together in hostage rescue operations in West Papua in 1996. The RSAF deployed a remotely piloted vehicle detachment to suport Indonesian special forces in Timika in West Papua. This deployment provided surveillance which proved crucial in facilitating the successful rescue of Indonesian and foreign hostages (from the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany) taken by the Organisasi Papua Merdeka (see this indirect reference of that hostage rescue in a 2010 speech).
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
Last edited by OPSSG; April 29th, 2013 at 01:28 PM.
(2) Surveillance — Surveillance is the continuing and systematic observation of air, space, surface or subsurface areas, places, persons or things, by visual, aural, electronic, photographic or other means.
(a) During the Cold War, space and airborne surveillance assets were used to exploit elevation to detect opponents’ activities at range and behind obstacles.
• The use of IMINT via Corona satellites (with photographic resolutions of 0.6 - 1.2 m) and U-2 surveillance overflights enabled the US provide photographic evidence in the UN of Soviet deployment of R-12 intermediate-range nuclear ballistic missiles in Cuba that resulted in the 13-day Cuban missile crisis in 1962.
(b) Navies have also used a wide range of airborne surveillance assets (ranging from maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and UAVs) to maintain maritime domain awareness, so that these naval task forces can more effectively allocate scare naval resources in their counter piracy mission. The big three naval task forces in counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, namely, EU NAVFOR, NATO Operation Ocean Shield (TF-508) and CTF-151, are proficient and prolific users of air assets (maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters) for surveillance and maritime domain awareness.
(c) In the quest for surveillance assets organic to the ship, the American, Dutch and Singaporean navies have deployed ScanEagle UAVs in the Gulf of Aden.
• Notably, in April 2009, the US Navy used a ScanEagle UAV to conduct surveillance on a lifeboat controlled by pirates holding Capt. Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama after a failed hijack attempt.
(d) Numerous navies have used embarked helicopters for surveillance, to sink pirate skiffs and to free hijacked merchant vessels and their crew.
• For example, on 5 April 2010, HNLMS Tromp rescued the container ship MV Taipan by rappelling 6 Marines from its Lynx helicopter (under covering fire from the helicopter and the Tromp) to the deck of the MV Taipan, resulting in the capture of 10 pirates, with the 13 crew (2 German, 3 Russian, 8 Sri Lankan) unharmed (see here for details).
(3) Targeting — Targeting consists of six steps: detection, location, identification, decision, execution and assessment. CIA is a prolific user of armed Predator and Reaper UAVs to conduct technical intelligence efforts to target/kill Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
(a) Beyond AfPak threatre of operations, this PRISM article, by Lambert, Lewis and Sewall titled: "Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines: Civilian Harm and the Indirect Approach," provides some background on network-based targeting in the context of U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) in operations. This campaign using ISTAR assets successfully targeted high-value individuals and also diminished conditions that gave rise to terrorism and insurgency. Having intelligence and operations working together on a sustained basis produced several benefits:
(a-i) persistent surveillance;
(a-ii) improved discrimination; and
(a-iii) better decision making.
(b) JSOTF-P used the fusion of improved all-source intelligence (intelligence support from P-3s, UAVs, helicopters, small boats, and human intelligence from off-shore vessels provided by the US Navy, USNS vessels or such other contracted vessels) with an operational capability on land and in the maritime irregular warfare domain.
• Since 2002, JSOTF-P has partnered with Philippine forces to conduct counterterrorism operations. JSOTF-P using the collaborative warfare model (applied and adapted based on the lessons learnt from Iraq), employed some new tactics and some new technologies (including using Paverway guided munitions from OV-10s at high value targets, charts, outboard motors and other tools to enable the Philippine Marines to operate in the maritime domain and increase the ability of the PAF and the Philippine Army to conduct heli-borne night operations thanks to night vision equipment and training supplied by JSOTF-P), but neither the tactics nor the technologies could have been used to good effect without the two new organizational innovations (of network-based targeting and interagency fusion).
(c) With the advances in sensor technology and the concept of operations related to targeting, navies and air forces are able to use combat aviation to detect much more targets than these aircraft on patrol can handle with its own firepower despite the advances in guided munitions. The joint combination of air power for target detection and indirect fires appears to be the way forward for the air-land battle in both conventional wars and in counterinsurgency warfare.
(4) Reconnaissance — Air forces commonly to use reconnaissance pods mounted on fighter aircraft to conduct pre-strike reconnaissance, air interdiction and post-strike battle damage assessment as part of their ISTAR efforts.
(a) Aerial reconnaissance first made an impact on military operations during the World War I. Airborne observers provided tactical intelligence, and IMINT provided information about the enemy’s strength, logistics and capabilities. But, back then, the intelligence value of aerial reconnaissance was considered secondary to the role airborne artillery spotting.
(b) In the modern battlefield, aerial reconnaissance may also provide data concerning the meteorological, hydrographical or geographic characteristics of a particular area. Aerial surveillance complements ground reconnaissance by using visual observation, or other detection methods, to obtain specific information about the activities and resources of an enemy or potential enemy.
• In January 2013, the French have released some of their reconnaissance video footage from their Harfang UAV (IAI Heron derivative) when the legionnaires of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment jumped north of Timbuktu. It is now common place for air forces to use UAVs to conduct reconnaissance in support troop insertion via helicopters or via parachutes.
ISTAR Concept Check for Readers:-
Q: What is the difference between surveillance and reconnaissance?
Ans: Surveillance is the systematic observation of aerospace, surface or subsurface areas, places, persons or things by visual, aural, electronic, photographic or other means. Whereas reconnaissance, is a mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy or adversary, or to secure data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic or geographic characteristics of a particular area.
(c) ISTAR operations play a prominent role in four of these steps:-
(c-i) detection: ISTAR assets detect potential new targets or significant changes to existing targets;
(c-ii) location: allows a target to be positioned accurately within a designated reference system;
(c-iii) identification: the recognition and classification of targets in sufficient detail to allow decision-making; and
(c-iv) assessment: allowing commanders to analyse progress against the campaign plan.
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
Last edited by OPSSG; April 21st, 2013 at 06:32 AM.
(1) Failure to develop accurate intelligence in the course of an air campaign has been shown as a cause of failure of the air campaign. The often used example of the Battle of Britain deserves closer examination as a case study on air power. It is a study of not just what the British achieved; but also a study of what Germans failed to accomplish, despite numerical superiority, that is equally important. The impact and theory of reserves in an air campaign like the Battle of Britain is not easy to grasp, as it is a form of operational deception. The reserves deployed in the Battle of Britain were invaluable because their appearance shocked and misled German air commanders.
(a) The Chain Home early warning radar system had the effect of robbing the Luftwaffe of one of its previous keys to success - surprise. The system's ability to assemble, sort, and distinguish perishable radar plots and then disseminate this intelligence to fighters was the key to RAF Fighter Command’s success. In other words, the second order effect of the early warning radar, was that it had penetrated the fog of war. The third order effect was that the accurate information supplied by the early system proved to be an incalculable force multiplier (and giving the appearance to the Luftwaffe that RAF had more aircraft).
(b) Despite the numerical superiority of the Germans during the Battle of Britain, the British commander, Air Marshal Dowding, kept about a third of his fighter forces away from the battle zone, where they were not subject to attack. Neither could they participate in the war. The British maintained a reserve even during what Churchill called Britain's darkest hour. When the Germans finally decided that the time was right for the final blow, the British through Ultra intercepts, knew that the Germans plans and through the British use of reserves (and mass), the Germans suffered such heavy losses that they concluded the RAF was so far from being beaten.
(c) In contrast, the Luftwaffe Study in Blue (intelligence report) issued on 16 July 1940, failed to inform the Luftwaffe leaders on RAF Fighter Command’s strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is accurate to say that the Luftwaffe's intelligence failure preceded its subsequent failure to seize control of the air.
Deception maxims below are provided to aid understanding of the deception tools available:
• Magruder's principles - the exploitation of perceptions: It is easier to maintain an existing belief than to change it or create a new one.
• Limitations of human information processing: The law of small numbers (once you see something twice it is taken as a maxim), and susceptibility to conditioning (the cumulative effect of small changes).
• Cry-Wolf: This is a variant on susceptibility to conditioning in that, after a seeming threat appears again and again to be innocuous, it tends to be ignored and can be used to cover real threats.
• Jones' Dilemma: Deception is harder when there are more information channels available to the target. On the other hand, the greater the number of 'controlled channels', the better it is for the deception.
• A sequencing rule: Sequence deceptions so that the deception story is portrayed as real for as long as possible. The most clear indicators of deception should be held till the last possible moment. Similarly, riskier elements of a deception (in terms of the potential for harm if the deception is discovered) should be done later rather than earlier so that they may be called off if the deception is found to be a failure.
• The importance of feedback: A scheme to ensure accurate feedback increases the chance of success in deception.
• The Monkey's Paw: Deceptions may create subtle and undesirable side effects. Planners should be sensitive to such possibilities and, where prudent, take steps to minimize these effects.
• Care in the designed and planned placement of deceptive material: Great care should be used in deceptions that leak notional information to targets. Apparent windfalls are subjected to close scrutiny and often disbelieved. Genuine leaks often occur under circumstances thought improbable.
(2) Every time intelligence is collected and analysed, the intelligence analyst must be aware of the possibility that the data being collected is part of the enemy's deception plans. The British, however, had a long tradition of conducting such operations and considerable experience in their successful “Double Cross” operations against Nazi Germany. A practitioner of deception utilizes the victim's intelligence sources, surveillance sensors and targeting assets as a principal means for conveying or transmitting a deceptive signature of desired impression. It is widely accepted that all deception takes place in the mind of the perceiver. Therefore it is not the act itself but the acceptance that counts! The aim of any deception is to assist the mission on either offense or defense.
Planning for Deception
A typical deception is carried out by the creation of a deception plan. Such a plan is normally based on some set of reasonably attainable goals and time frames, some understanding of target characteristics, and some set of resources which are made available for use. It is the deception planner's objective to attain the goals with the provided resources within the proper time frames.
• Policy: Deception is never an end in itself. It must support a mission.
• Objective: A specific, realistic, defined objective is necessary and all deception actions must contribute to the accomplishment of that objective.
• Planning: Deception should be addressed in the commander's initial guidance to staff and the staff should be engaged in integrated deception and operations planning.
• Coordination: The deception plan must be in close coordination with the operations plan.
• Timing: Sufficient time must be allowed to:
(i) complete the deception plan in an orderly manner;
(ii) effect necessary coordination;
(iii) promulgate tasks to involved units;
(iv) present the deception to the enemy decision-maker through their intelligence system; and
(v) permit the enemy decision maker to react in the desired manner, including the time required to pursue the desired course of action.
• Security: Stringent security for deception operations is mandatory.
• Realism: The planned deception must look realistic.
• Flexibility: The ability to react rapidly to changes in the situation and to modify any deceptive action is mandatory.
• Intelligence: Deception must be based on the best estimates of enemy intelligence collection and decision-making processes and likely intentions and reactions.
• Enemy Capabilities: The enemy commander must be able to execute the desired action.
• Friendly Force Capabilities: Capabilities of friendly forces in the deception must match enemy estimates of capabilities and the deception must be carried out without unacceptable degradation in friendly capabilities.
• Forces and Personnel: Real forces and personnel required to implement the deception plan must be provided. Notional forces must be realistically portrayed.
• Means: Deception must be portrayed through all feasible and available means.
• Supervision: Planning and execution must be continuously supervised by the deception leader. Actions must be coordinated with the objective and implemented at the proper time.
• Liaison: Constant liaison must be maintained with other affected elements to assure that maximum effect is attained.
• Feedback: A reliable method of feedback must exist to gage enemy reaction.
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
Last edited by OPSSG; April 20th, 2013 at 12:25 PM.
(3) Deception is a set of acts that seek to increase the chances that a set of targets will behave in a desired fashion when they would be less likely to behave in that fashion if they knew of those acts. Deception is often not an end unto itself and used in coordination with other methods to create windows of opportunity that make the enemy vulnerable. Deception is frequently employed to effect surprise (a precious commodity in any armed conflict). Large deception efforts are commonly built up from smaller ones. What is particularly interesting about common deception sequences is that it works reliably. Deception is an ancient art of war and continues to be used because all military commanders must operate under conditions of uncertainty or without complete knowledge.
• In 212 BC, Hannibal gained entrance to and seized the city of Tarentum from the Romans in a deception-produced surprise attack. Hannibal exploited the presence of a dissident Greek resident, Cononeus, to create a nightly ritual: Cononeus departed the city in a large hunting party, ostensibly to gather supplies, and returned in the wee hours, his men laden with game. The Tarentine guards became used to the sight (and grateful for the provender), and greatly relaxed their vigilance. When Hannibal introduced some of his best soldiers into the party, disguised as hunters, the guards barely took notice. Hannibal’s men overcame the guards and opened the gates for the body of Hannibal’s host, which promptly captured the city with few casualties.
(4) The intelligence analyst must also be aware of the possibility of counterintelligence efforts and take steps to mitigate against counterintelligence efforts. Counterintelligence occur at two levels, as set out below:
(aa) offensive counterintelligence may include using kinetic and electronic attack to disable enemy IMINT, SIGINT and other intelligence tools. For example, a number of Hermes 450 UAVs operated by the Georgians were shot down by Russian fighters over Abkhazia in the prelude to the 2008 Russia–Georgia August War over the separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia; and
(bb) defensive counterintelligence starts by looking for places in one's own organization that could easily be exploited, which may include the use of encryption tools and secure communications, preserving operational security by not releasing certain details, or to hide or stop activities while enemy aircraft, UAVs or satellites are overhead.
(5) It has been said that the duty of a commander is to "mystify, mislead, and surprise"; and this applies as much to the air commander as to the ground commander. It is also not uncommon for IADS to employ deception as a tool to protect its assets. Deception has both offensive and defensive applications in this case. This includes the use decoys to absorb air strikes, simulations of damage where none exists, camouflage and concealment of radar and weapons sites. Further, the effectiveness of deception is not a function of technology. Low-tech deception techniques from a strategically placed bloody and tattered dolls to loudspeaker broadcasts of tank engines can be extremely effective.
• In Operation Allied Force, Serb deception efforts enhanced the survival of their forces against NATO air attacks, which included constructing false bridges along the Drina River, placing fake artillery pieces made of long telephone poles painted black with old truck wheels, antiaircraft missile launchers constructed of old milk cartons, and wooden mockups of MIG-29 aircraft. The Serbs manipulated the media extensively in an effort to discredit NATO success. Lack of NATO ground forces in Kosovo made deception operations viable, in addition, NATO over-reliance on IMINT for battle damage assessment coupled with the over-tasking of imagery analysts made the analytical effort vulnerable to deception. Finally, the terrain gave the Serbs an additional advantage in employing its denial and deception operations against NATO aircraft.
(6) Since the demise of Pablo Escobar and Medellín cocaine cartel through human and technical intelligence collection (particularly though the use of cell phone intercepts by the CIA and DEA), there is widespread awareness by the Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives on the need to exercise communications discipline, to avoid being caught through technical intelligence efforts (a second order effect of the reporting on prior American success in using technical intelligence). Beyond Centra Spike, in May 2013, US Southern Command told Congress that ISR support provided led to more than “32 high-value narco-terrorists killed in action.” It is believed that the high-value narco-terrorists killed are from FARC in Colombia; and since 2007, the Colombian government has a strategy for taking out these high value targets. The ancient story of the Trojan horse should serve as a reminder that there is no simple way to mitigate this vulnerability.
In 1989, two small U.S. planes took off in Colombia’s expansive Aburra Valley, the first flights of a surveillance operation that would ultimately reshape the American way of war.
Taking up orbit over Medellin, the Beechcraft planes, part of a secret operation called Centra Spike, began sucking in phone calls and radio signals. Technicians aboard processed the data with state-of-the-art analysis techniques, seeking clues to the whereabouts of Medellin cartel boss Pablo Escobar. The Centra Spike operation, it is believed, played a key role in the events that led to Escobar being killed in 1992.
More than a dozen years later, the ISR techniques born in Latin America came of age in Afghanistan, where U.S. special forces tracked down countless Taliban leaders by their electromagnetic emissions...
...There were a lot of targets for aerial surveillance during the Colombian drug missions of the 1990s: drug cartels, cocaine labs, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), the paramilitaries. But it was Escobar’s killing that seemed to crystallize the technology’s potential, according to interviews with contract ISR operators.
“No one before that had seen it like that. No one thought you could go after one guy,” recalled a veteran of Colombian operations...
(1) During World War II, there was the clear positive military objective of the destruction of the Axis powers. Therefore, there was little or no Allied Power restraint to inflict damage on the enemy. As a result, air power unleashed its maximum destructive capabilities, which included the examples of the fire bombing of Dresden and Tokyo. This use of air power culminated with the detonations of two atomic bombs over Japan in 1945. Since then, the application of air power have been used in the context of limited wars that include examples from the Korean War, Vietnam War and the 1991 Gulf War.
(2) In the initial phase of the Korean War, the focus of US air power was almost purely tactical. Available air forces were dedicated solely to slowing the North Korean advance and supporting the meager forces remaining at Pusan. However, in 1953, the Eisenhower administration threatened to use nuclear weapons to end the war, and this, combined with attacks against North Korean dams that raised the possibility of agricultural devastation, finally brought the Communists to the negotiating table. Helping to remove restraints on air power that year was the death of Josef Stalin and the power struggle in the Kremlin that followed; these had the effect of removing the Soviets from the picture in Korea at this critical juncture.
(3) In the book, 'The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam', Mark Clodfelter examines the American bombing during the Vietnam War as a means of achieving specific American policy goals. Mark Clodfelter argued that for much of the Vietnam War, restraints, or negative objectives, outweighed the single overriding positive objective: a stable, independent, non-Communist South Vietnamese nation. The negative political objective of preventing Soviet or Chinese intervention in Vietnam severely limited options available to military planners during the Johnson administration. A key concern for the President became removing tactics that might be perceived as threatening the survival of North Vietnam as a political entity, which he feared might spark a third world war. These restraints, when combined with the small-scale, guerilla style tactics being employed by the Viet Cong, ensured that Johnson’s Rolling Thunder air campaign of 1965-1968 would achieve no significant military success. Planning, including the selection of individual targets, was determined not at an operational level, but rather by the President and his advisors in Washington, resulting in a limited numbers of sorties being flown against targets of increasingly marginal value. The goals of Rolling Thunder, interdiction of men and supplies moving into South Vietnam, destruction of the North’s capacity to wage war, and the elimination of the North’s industrial infrastructure went unachieved. Four years later, President Nixon was able to more successfully employ air power in Vietnam, to facilitate the withdrawal of American ground forces from Vietnam. By 1972, the Soviets and the Chinese had become hostile to each other, and both sought better relationships with the US as a buffer against the other. Nixon skillfully used diplomacy to achieve détente with both, and this effectively removed the major negative objective of Vietnam, provoking a broader war with the Communist world. For the air generals, the gloves had finally come off. In addition, the North Vietnamese had shifted their tactics on the ground. The Tet Offensive of 1968, wrecked the offensive capability of the indigenous Viet Cong guerillas; from this point on, the conventional North Vietnamese army would carry the burden in Vietnam. This change from guerilla to conventional tactics also greatly increased the dependence of communist ground forces on logistics, supply chains and heavy military hardware, all of which is susceptible to air attack. To a limited extent, it is possible to argue that the Linebacker I & Linebacker II air offensives aided in the achievement of a limited Nixon policy goal.
(4) In a more recent example, the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, marked a turning point in US air power doctrine. The prior political shackles on air power were largely removed. Except for limitations designed to minimize civilian casualties and mass civilian suffering, few political restrictions were placed on the release of weapons or tactics. Conventional Iraqi forces in the desert were exposed and vulnerable to identification and air attack. The early focus of air attack was strategic targets, in bombing campaign called Instant Thunder. The target of these attacks was strategic and political, and the aim was to destroy the enemy's will to fight. However, it should be noted that air power alone did not force Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait and the deployment of ground troops was necessary.
(5) During the Vietnam War, the US lost more than 2,200 aircraft to enemy fire, and while US airpower killed thousands of enemy combatants. During the Reagan buildup, however, the US Air Force dedicated focused on technology and recapitalized its fighter fleet in order to overcome enemy IADS, find targets and place bombs with precision. This technology heavy strategy was successful and the results in Operations Desert Shield and Storm were impressive. Losing less than 20 aircraft in operations, the US Air Force and US Navy (along with joint and coalitions forces) destroyed Iraq’s IADS and then attacked its dug-in ground forces, with pin point accuracy.
(6) In view of the three above examples, there are three points to note about the limits of air power.
One, if the enemy cannot be identified from the air, it is difficult to effectively to attack him from the air (eg. insurgent groups, whose goal is to hide within the population).
Two, if the enemy is prepared for an attack from the air, he can take effective measures to mitigate against air surveillance or the effects of air delivered weapons (i.e. a ground presence is needed).
Three, even if an enemy is physically vulnerable, he may not be politically vulnerable to air attack. Translating physical vulnerability into political vulnerability from the air, as a tool of coercive state-craft is not an easy task.
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
Last edited by OPSSG; September 10th, 2013 at 11:59 PM.
(1) After discussing the four roles of air power and the limits of air power, a brief introduction to capability management may provide insight on how a military organisation that employs air power works. Capability management is organized around a concept of operations (CONOPS), because the CONOPS describe how a specified course of action is to be executed. CONOPS can also be defined as the planned positioning and movement of forces to gain an advantage over an enemy.The ability to execute the specified course of action depends on the relationship between three key factors, as follows:
(a) combat readiness/availability;
(b) sustainable capability; and
(c) force structure.
For an air force to perform its four roles, we must also look at all three interdependent key factors and the four sub-elements of combat readiness/availability [which includes (a-i) equipment; (a-ii) people; (a-iii) units; and (a-iv) infrastructure]. This means that each factor or sub-element on its own, do not tell the whole story about an air force's capability. Each factor of total combat fleet size or readiness cannot tell us about sortie generation capability. If anyone is really interested in the topic of F-16 operating and support costs, kindly take a look at this June 2006 NPS MBA thesis/report (which relates to Poland's F-16 purchase): "Analysis and Forecasting of Operating and Support costs for F-16 C/D". This thesis/report is a useful starting point for a reader to acquaint himself on the basic support issues discussed in this post.
Concept Check on the Importance of Currency For Combat:-
9 April 2013 — Air Force officials will begin to stand down active-duty combat units starting April 9 to ensure the remaining units supporting worldwide operations can maintain sufficient readiness through the remainder of the fiscal year... Gen. Mike Hostage, the ACC commander said:
"We're entering uncharted territory in terms of how we've had to take this year's cuts and make adjustments to mitigate the most serious impacts," Hostage said. "Remaining as mission-ready as possible for combatant commanders is our priority, and we're prioritizing spending to ensure this imperative is met."
Units that are stood down will shift their emphasis to ground training. They will use flight simulators to the extent possible within existing contracts, and conduct academic training to maintain basic skills and knowledge of their aircraft. As funding allows, aircrews will also complete formal ground training courses, conduct non-flying exercises and improve local flying-related programs and guidance...
Although each weapon system is unique, on average aircrews lose currency to fly combat missions within 90 to 120 days of not flying. It generally takes 60 to 90 days to conduct the training needed to return aircrews to mission-ready status, and the time and cost associated with that retraining increases the longer that crews stay on the ground. Hostage said:
"This will have a significant and multi-year impact on our operational readiness... But right now, there is no other acceptable way to implement these cuts."
(2) Air power generation is the ability to raise, train and sustain aircraft generation to ensure continuous launch and recovery of aircraft (or sortie generate). For illustrative purposes, an air force's ability to conduct air power generation can be measured by using two interdependent key factors of force structure and combat readiness/availability [which includes the four sub-elements (a-i) to (a-iv) listed above].
Sortie Generation Concept Check:-
In this illustration, the total sorties generated (before attrition) can be calculated with reference to the formula below:
Total sorties = fleet size x combat readiness/availability* x No. of sorties flown per day**.
For example, the Vietnam Air Force (VAF) may have more fighters (estimated to be about 200 fighters for the VAF) than the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) (estimated to be about 120 fighters for the RSAF). However, a force structure comparison of fighters (i.e. using just one of the three interdependent key factors) is not accurate or meaningful if it is simply done by comparing fleet sizes on each side. It needs to factor in combat readiness/availability. Below is a sample calculation made with reference to the formula shown below:
VAF Sorties per day = 200 x 0.5* x 3**
............................................... = 300
VAF Sorties in 30 days = 300 x 30
............................................... = 9,000
RSAF Sorties per day = 120 x 0.8* x 4**
............................................... = 384
RSAF Sorties in 30 days = 384 x 30
............................................... = 11,520
The above example contains indicative calculations that are not representative of actual capabilities of both air forces. Conceptually, the above example shows that it is possible for a small air force with a smaller fleet of combat aircraft to out-sortie-generate a medium sized air force by 2,520 sorties over a 30-day campaign period.
Despite its small size, with 5 fighter squadrons (3x F-16C/D squadrons, 1x F-15SG squadron and 1x F-5S squadron - all 5 squadrons are BVR capable), the RSAF as a tertiary air force can generate more sorties (with much more capable aircraft) than larger air forces in South East Asia. In many war scenarios numbers do matter, but it is: (aa) the number of sorties generated by capable and modern platforms; (bb) how these sorties are gainfully employed; and (cc) how well an air force performs at a systems level, that matter in a battle for the control of the air.
(3) Taking a more holistic view on air power generation by looking at the three key factors and four sub-elements of combat readiness, would tell us more about an air force's capability to: (1 of 4) contest for control of the air; (2 of 4) attack an enemy; (3 of 4) conduct air mobility missions; or (4 of 4) complete its ISTAR mission (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance) in support of the air, land or sea campaign. Capability management means raising, training and sustaining in-service capabilities through the coordination of fundamental inputs to capability and it is:
(i) not just about the asset/platform alone;
(ii) much more than buying the 'best' or the 'right' equipment to support the asset/platform;
(iii) about training people and units to a certain level of combat readiness in order to execute a plan in accordance with a CONOPS;
(iv) about having the right organisational structure and base infrastructure to support the CONOPS;
(v) about sustainable capability and this includes retaining the technical ability gained by the organisation with the asset/platform acquired; and
(vi) about having the budget to sustain the assets/platforms and base infrastructure after acquisition on the basis of projected through-life costs of the assets/platforms acquired.
(4) It is also important not to get certain key terms, like strategy, tactics, battle and CONOPS confused. A reference to strategy, for example, could mean the use of military power to achieve political and/or military ends.
Some Key Terms Defined for Readers
(1) Strategy - The overall concept of using military power to achieve political and/or military ends
(2) Tactics* - The art of winning battles and engagements (and this idea is always tied to a specific area of operations, usually at a lower level of command and against a specific enemy)
(3) Battle - A violent collision of forces at a specific time and place
(4) CONOPS - The planned positioning and movement of forces to gain an advantage over the enemy
------------------------------------------------------------ Note: *The following definition of tactics may also be used:
(ii) It includes the ordered arrangement and maneuver of units in relation to each other, the terrain and the enemy to translate potential combat power into victorious battles and engagements. (FM 3-0 & FM 3-90).
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
Last edited by OPSSG; April 21st, 2013 at 06:11 AM.
(1) A nation that is able to build a diverse network of defence relationships and actively contributes to regional and international security is able to foster improved understanding, engage in confidence building measures, and facilitate practical cooperation between air forces and naval air to tackle common security challenges. Some readers would assume that the air power tool kit described in this paragraph is only available and applicable to:
(i) the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UN_SC-P5), namely, US, China, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom (with data extracted from Flight International's: World Air Forces 2013), who are nuclear powers with world leading defence budgets, possessing sophisticated air forces with tertiary capabilities and having substantial naval air to support their blue water navies;
Originally Posted by UN_SC-P5
The United States of America (US)
2012 defence spending • US$682 billion (4.4% of GDP)
USAF • A-10A/C (351) • AC-130H (37) • B-1B (66) • B-2 (19) • B-52H (78) • F-15C (218) • F-15E (219) • F-16C (855) • F-22 (186) • F-35A (12) •
The United Kingdom
2012 defence spending • US$60.8 billion (2.5% of GDP)
RAF • Typhoon (73) • F-35B (2) • Tornado GR4 (104) •
The French Republic
2012 defence spending • US$58.9 billion (2.3% of GDP)
ALA • Mirage 2000C/D/N (37/61/34) • Mirage 2000-5 (27) • Mirage F1CR (13) • Rafale B/C (71) •
*Information on 2012 defence spending extracted from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Military Expenditure Database.
(ii) the major regional powers, namely, Germany (defense spending of US$45.8 billion in 2012), Japan (defense spending of US$59.3 billion in 2012), India (defense spending of US$46.1 billion in 2012), and Saudi Arabia (defense spending of US$56.7 billion in 2012) with very large defence budgets of US$35 billion and above, many of whom have very capable air forces with tertiary capabilities. With the exception of Saudi Arabia (which does not have a blue water navy), these major regional powers have significant naval air capabilities to support their blue water navies;
(iii) middle powers, like Australia (defense spending of US$26.2 billion in 2012), Brazil (defense spending of US$33.1 billion in 2012), Canada (defense spending of US$22.5 billion in 2012), Italy (defense spending of US$34 billion in 2012), and South Korea (defense spending of US$31.7 billion in 2012) with large defence budgets between US$20 billion to US$34.9 billion that fund capable air forces with tertiary capabilities, with naval air capabilities to support their capable navies that can project power abroad;
(iv) aspiring middle powers, like Colombia (defense spending of US$12.1 billion in 2012), Israel (defense spending of US$14.6 billion in 2012), Spain (defense spending of US$11.5 billion in 2012), Turkey (defense spending of US$18.2 billion in 2012) and UAE (defense spending of US$19.1 billion in 2011) with significant defence budgets between US$11 billion to US$19.9 billion that fund capable air forces with tertiary capabilities, with naval air capabilities to support their green water navies that may have means to project power abroad; or
(v) rising powers, like Netherlands (defense spending of US$9.8 billion in 2012), Poland (defense spending of US$9.3 billion in 2012), Singapore (defense spending of US$9.7 billion in 2012), and Taiwan (defense spending of US$10.7 billion in 2012) with mid-sized defence budgets between US$9 billion to US$10.9 billion that fund capable air forces, with some naval air capabilities may be able to project power in the near abroad.
(2) The air power tool kit described above is not just applicable to the UN_SC-P5, major regional powers, middle powers, aspiring middle powers or rising powers. The air power tool kit is available and used by local powers and even by nations with small/tiny air forces. Local powers is a fluid concept used to denote a group of countries with defence budgets of US$8.9 billion or less with some interesting military capabilities that are less than middle and rising powers but more than most other countries. Other local powers include, Argentina, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, and Vietnam. With few exceptions, local powers have air forces with a mixed bag of capabilities (i.e. most are not full spectrum air forces and some have tiny/small air forces), have green water navies, with limited naval air, that enable these countries project limited power within and from their immediate region.
(3) The capabilities of modern small to medium sized air forces will be increasingly interdependent on coalition and partner inter-operability, for the spectrum of air operations ranging from humanitarian relief, peace keeping to war.
• For example between 2003 to 2008, RSAF K-135Rs were deployed 5 times to Iraq in Operation Blue Orchid (in support of coalition efforts in Operation Iraqi Freedom). Singaporean KC-135Rs refueled over 1,400 coalition aircraft (downloading 14 million pounds of fuel) in over 300 air missions in Operation Blue Orchid. The 300 air refueling missions had a second order effect of improving the time on station for coalition aircraft and had a third order effect of increasing the duration and responsiveness of each of the 1,400 strike and other sorties launched by coalition members.
(4) The presence of natural boundaries (the Pacific and Atlantic oceans), with Canada to the north and Mexico to the south, means that continental US is geo-strategically advantaged (i.e. no neighbouring countries that are a military threat). However, having air power and being geo-strategically advantaged does not make a country immune to attacks from the air.
• For example, on 7 December 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked from the air by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Doolittle Raid on 18 April 1942 boosted US morale. In the face of a series of stunning reversal of fortunes for the Imperial Japanese Navy, and by late 1944, they were forced to form the Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (or Special Attack Unit) to conduct Kamikaze attacks on US and allied forces advancing towards Japan through island hopping. Thereafter, US air power delivered the first nuclear bomb on 6 August 1945 at Hiroshima; and the second nuclear bomb on 9 August 1945 at Nagasaki. Nuclear power delivered by air was instrumental in bringing the Empire of Japan to its knees (Japan surrendered on 2 September 1945).
All states, including the US is vulnerable to asymmetric threats; if what we mean by vulnerability is merely that someone can successfully carry out a terrorist act. A successful terrorist act does not mean that a state will yield to the adversary's political/strategic intent. Terror acts are no longer waged on a local scale with limited goals, but by global networks of cells with grander grotesque agendas. After 9-11 the US Government understood that global terrorism is no longer ad hoc but strategic in its "global media spectacular" objectives. While US air power did not stop air attacks on US soil, the US Government conducted combat air patrols over US cities under Operation Noble Eagle. Beyond Operation Noble Eagle, the US was also able to use air power in Operation Enduring Freedom to stop further 9-11 suicide attacks by attacking al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. While the US administration under President George Bush II understood that it cannot just yield to the political/strategic intent of the al-Qaeda leadership, it is not certain that the US understands the strategic thinking behind al-Qaeda's actions in broadening the battlefield, to weaken the US.
• Using hijacked airliners, on 11 September 2001, the US was subject to four coordinated suicide attacks from the air, in New York City and in Washington. Until 9-11 the usual concept of a hijacking was that a group (or individual) takes over a plane, holds the passengers as hostages, and issues demands. The hijackings on 9-11 introduced an entirely new concept: the use of planes as missiles to crash into tall buildings. On 7 October 2001, US Special Forces supported by US air power helped the Northern Alliance over throw Mullah Muhammad Omar and the then Taliban Government (who hosted and aided al-Qaeda). After years of air strikes and continued war in the AfPak region directed at al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban, the Lashkar-eTayyiba, the Tehreek-e-Taliban, and the Haqqani Network, just to name a few of the militant groups (to address al-Qaeda's strategy of leveraging on local militant networks in the AfPak region); US air power inserted their SEALs into Abbottabad, Pakistan, where they killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, on 2 May 2011.
(5) While air power has enabled the US to kill members of the al-Qaeda leadership, they are less successful against the Taliban. Mullah Muhammad Omar, resides well outside the area where the Predator/Reaper strikes are occurring. Taliban’s inner shura, is also located in Baluchistan and most of them have sent their children to Pakistani schools there. In Afghanistan, the US signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Afgahn Government that committed a complete drawdown of US troops by the end of 2014. As of December 2012, a total of 2,043 U.S. troops died and so-called insider attacks by members of the Afghan military against ISAF increased exponentially. As the above US example shows, a country's approach to defence is shaped by both its the unique circumstances and the enduring geostrategic limitations it has to face, especially since the US (and US allies with troops in Afghanistan) prefer not to risk war with a nuclear armed Pakistan over transnational insurgents and terrorists, in an area with porous borders. At the recent March 2013 CSIS organised, Ground Forces Dialogue, Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster said that throughout US history (see the CSIS video of the event):
"Our tendency is to decide what we would like to do [and] then assume that's going to be relevant to the problem.... We make these projections into the future that are unrealistic and, as a result, we create vulnerabilities that our enemies exploit."
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
(1) Defence spending is set to fall in North America and Europe, but it would rise for Asia and the Middle East, where geo-strategic concerns, regional and extra regional rivalry complicate defence planning ensuring that the potential for armed conflict remains high.
(2) Looking at the above 2013 Iranian fighter numbers, from a homeland defence perspective for the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), at least two of these countries (namely, Saudi Arabia spending US$56.7 billion a year on defence and UAE spending US$19.1 billion a year on defence), would be more capable of taking on the Iranians in any air battle over their own air space. Beyond Saudi Arabia and UAE, even the other members of the GCC (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar) have air forces that are tiny/small; but these four air forces are not technologically over-matched by Iran (which suffers from an American arms embargo for their American made fighters). Fortunately for the six GCC countries, they do not share a common land border with Iran; and from a control of the air perspective against Iranian fighters, at least two GCC countries have significant control of the air capabilities. But unfortunately, that is not the issue. Iran has built long-range rocket forces not to wage war against other land forces but to conduct coercive missile campaigns against neighboring GCC countries and to contest access to nearby seas or what the US military terms as anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) systems. The issue for GCC countries: What if, Iran acts against GCC interests again?
Originally Posted by ISS
Extract from the Military Balance 2010 (from page 238 to 239)
...Iran has already fielded a Shahab-3 missile with the one-tonne payload capacity and 1.2m airframe diameter necessary to carry a nuclear warhead. Its 1,300km range encompasses Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The Shahab-3 also formed the first stage of the twostage rocket Iran used to launch its first satellite into low-earth orbit in February 2009. Perhaps more worrying was the November 2008 test firing of a new medium- range ballistic missile, the solid-fuelled Sajjil. Though its range and payload are similar to the Shahab, the faster launch time of a solid-fuelled rocket of this type reduces vulnerability to pre-emptive strikes. Iran also reported successful firings of Shahab and Sajjil missiles at the end of the Great Prophet IV exercise conducted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in September 2009. But Tehran must also contend with home-grown security threats: six commanders of the IRGC (including the deputy commander of the IRGC ground forces) were killed in an 18 October attack in Sistan-Baluchistan Province, which killed 43 in total.
The Jundullah terrorist group, which has promoted a brand of Sunni radicalism in the tribal region through abductions and executions of police and military officers, claimed responsibility. Earlier in the year, the Basij paramilitary force, which is effectively under IRGC control, was heavily employed against demonstrators during protests over the announced victory, in the presidential election, of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...
From page 251 onwards
ACTIVE 523,000 (Army 350,000 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps 125,000 Navy 18,000 Air 30,000) Paramilitary 40,000
Army 130,000; 220,000 conscript (total 350,000)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Naval Forces 20,000+ (incl 5,000 Marines)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Air Force
Controls Iran’s strategic missile force.
Air Force 30,000 (incl 12,000 Air Defence)
The issue at hand is really, escalation options for the GCC, as the Arab Spring turns to winter of discontent for the locals. In that respect, their force structures have important gaps in capabilities that restrict their escalation options viz-viz Iran, especially if, the escalation plan does not have full American participation, after the full American withdrawal of military forces from Iraq in December 2011 (ending a nine-year mission that killed 4,487 US soldiers and wounded more than 30,000, as well as cost the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqis). Both Iran and the GCC the lack good options for escalation. According to SIPRI, military spending in the Middle East rose by 8.4 per cent rise in 2012. The largest percentage increase worldwide in 2012 was by Oman (a 51 per cent rise). Saudi Arabia also increased spending by 12 per cent. Spending by Iran, Qatar, Syria and the UAE is unknown. Therefore, for many of the air forces in the Middle East (beyond the GCC), they remain well funded by their respective governments and are seeking to improve their capabilities by acquiring new platforms and capabilities.
(3) Looking at the list of armed conflicts below*, with a number of countries in Asia increasing their arms spending, we can never be absolutely certain that Asia will never be at war again. Both North-East and South Asia are the next most dangerous areas in the world after the Middle East.
*Select List of Armed Conflicts in Asia Post-World War II
1. Indo-Pakistan War of 1947
2. The Korean War (1950–1953)
3. The Vietnam War (1955 to 1975) - the 2nd Indochina War
4. Sino-Indian War of 1962
5. The Konfrontasi (1963 to 1966)
6. Indo-Pakistan War of 1965
7. The Cambodian Civil War (1967–1975)
8. Indo-Pakistan War of 1971
9. Cambodian–Vietnamese War (May 1975 to December 1989)
10. Indonesia invaded East Timor in Dec 1975 following the Carnation Revolution
11. Sino-Vietnamese War (February-March 1979) - the 3rd Indochina War
12. Indo-Pakistani War of 1999
(4) In contrast, according to the October 2012 CSIS report on "Asian Defense Spending, 2000–2011", the North East Asian powers of China (defence spending of US$89.9 billion in 2011), Japan (defence spending of US$58.2 billion in 2011), South Korea (defence spending of US$28.6 billion in 2011) and Taiwan (defence spending of US$10.1 billion in 2011) have funded the air combat capability of their respective air forces at a tertiary level to:
(a) strengthen stability and deter aggression;
(b) retain the capability to repel aggression and thereafter to compel retreat or surrender should an act of aggression occur
(c) resist attempts by an adversary to engage in protracted warfare so that that adversary can avoid defeat;
(d) defeat weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means (by destroying aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles in flight); and
(e) achieve national objectives quickly and decisively, while reducing the risk of heavy casualties or collateral damage.
(5) Likewise in South Asia (see this April 2013 CSIS report on "Trends in Militancy across South Asia" for details), India (defence spending of US$44.3 billion in 2011) and Pakistan (defence spending of US$5.7 billion in 2011) continue to invest and modernise their air forces, as they strive to acquire first generation tertiary capabilities. It is clear that the North East Asian nations and some South Asian nations have taken a wider view and preparing for a range of contingencies. Border disputes and flashpoints are sources of tension, and sometimes threats can mutate and arise from an unexpected direction. These threats in Asia include:
(i) the Mumbai terrorist attack (from 26 to 29 November 2008) by members of Lashkar-eTayyiba, that killed 164 people and wounded at least 308 others;
(ii) the sinking of the Republic of Korea Navy, corvette Cheonan on 26 March 2010, in the Yellow Sea just south of the disputed Northern Limit Line, killing 46 South Korean seamen;
(iii) the killing of 76 Indian para-military policemen and the wounding 50 others, in Chattisgarh's Dantewada district in India on 6 April 2010, by the Naxalites (a Maoist terrorist movement located in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha);
(iv) the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island on 23 November 2010, where, a North Korean artillery attack killed four South Koreans and injured 19 others;
(v) the Thai-Cambodian conflict at the Preah Vihear temple re-ignited in February 2011 and April to May 2011; that saw a number killed, and the evacuation of thousands of residents on both sides of the border to safe-zones (because of artillery shelling and skirmishes);
(vi) the February/March 2011 non-combatant evacuation of Chinese citizens from Libya involving the dispatch of a Jiangkai-II class frigate and the deployment of four PLA Air Force Il-76 transport aircraft to the south of Libya (via Khartoum as a stopover on both the inbound and outbound legs of the trip) to extract Chinese citizens was unprecedented;
(vii) the January 2013 India–Pakistan border incidents, where a series of armed skirmishes occurred along the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir area, that resulted in a number of deaths on both sides; and
(viii) the invasion of Lahad Datu, Sabah by over a hundred armed Filipino gunmen (from the Tausug community) on 12 February 2013. The killing of Malaysian police by these gunmen resulted in the Malaysian Armed Forces having to conduct clearing operations with armour supported by artillery and close air support that continued till April 2013.
Use of Air Power by FTOs
Since 1998, Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) and known users of suicide attack squads, such as, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), have used aircraft (micro-light and light aircraft, UAVs and even helicopters) as a tool in their arsenal to attack their enemy. Initially, the LTTE used aircraft for their propaganda efforts. On 26 March 2007, attacks launched by LTTE's light aircraft succeed in killing and wounding military personnel and after a few trial raids, LTTE had the audacity to launch a pre-dawn combined arms assault on 22 October 2007, again killing and wounding military personnel. Since November 2004, Hizballah have also launched UAVs (including UAVs capable of carrying explosives) into Israel and it is now standard procedure for Israeli forces to shoot down these Hizballah UAVs. It is clear that FTOs (or non-state actors) have evolved their use of air assets over the years.
Some countries are now in a general state of Low Intensity Conflict (LIC) and cannot let their guard down. LIC denotes a condition of irregular and interminable warfare waged across a broad front; from physical/cyber attacks and economic sabotage to social disruption and psychological dislocation. And it can persist for long periods from troubled peace to hot war. It follows then that, full-spectrum response to a LIC scenario means that the operational readiness posture of security agencies must fit a "pulse-and- plateau" profile, rather than the "ramp-and-spike" profile of conventional threat scenarios. LIC can have disproportionately devastating effects through the sheer cunning of asymmetry and suicidal surprise.
Beyond LIC, the homegrown terror threat is also a source of concern. According to the August 2007 report from the New York Police Department's Intelligence Division - Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat by Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt, the radicalization process has four steps:
1. Pre-Radicalization. Pre-Radicalization is the point of origin for individuals before they begin this progression. It is their life situation before they were exposed to and adopted jihadi-Salafi Islam as their own ideology.
2. Self-Identification. Self-Identification is the phase where individuals, influenced by both internal and external factors, begin to explore Salafi Islam, gradually gravitate away from their old identity and begin to associate themselves with like-minded individuals and adopt this ideology as their own. The catalyst for this "religious seeking" is a cognitive opening, or crisis, which shakes one's certitude in previously held beliefs and opens an individual to be receptive to new worldviews.
3. Indoctrination. Indoctrination is the phase in which an individual progressively intensifies his beliefs, wholly adopts jihadi-Salafi ideology and concludes, without question, that the conditions and circumstances exist where action is required to support and further the cause. That action is militant jihad. This phase is typically facilitated and driven by a "spiritual sanctioner".
4. Jihadization. Jihadization is the phase in which members of the cluster accept their individual duty to participate in jihad and self-designate themselves as holy warriors or mujahedeen. Ultimately, the group will begin operational planning for the jihad or a terrorist attack. These "acts in furtherance" will include planning, preparation and execution.
These new range of threats now require a greater degree of intelligence and operational integration, that is able to sustain a level of higher alertness and operational responsiveness in moments of peace.
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
Last edited by OPSSG; September 11th, 2013 at 12:05 AM.
(1) Beijing is wary of Washington’s alliances with Japan and South Korea and sees them, as being part of a containment strategy against China. On the other hand, from US perspective, there is a long history of bilateral defense industrial cooperation between the US, its Asian allies and partners. Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand fly F-16 aircraft; Australia and Malaysia have bought F/A-18s; Singapore, Japan, and South Korea the F-15. However, these sales have been ad hoc purchases of aircraft originally designed for American services. These earlier aircraft sales did not reflect intentional policy or strategy of the US. Whereas, the sale and intended sale of the F-35 to US allies and partners is a deliberate US strategy, to draw them closer to the US geo-political orbit. Beyond hard power, access to markets play an important role in fostering ties. In that regard, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) took step forward when Canada assented to Japan’s participation in April 2013 (Japan has a population of 127 million and the world’s third largest economy). Begun in 2010, the American-led TPP now encompasses a dozen countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The TPP's twelve countries (including Japan) has a population of 790 million and a combined GDP of US$27.5 trillion.
(2) This article by Bonnie S. Glaser, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, namely, "Armed Clash in the South China Sea: Contingency Planning Memorandum No. 14", provides more details on the options and concerns relating to the US position on disputes in the South China Sea. Make no mistake, China's military capabilities are growing each year but there are limits to Chinese power projection capabilities and its military-industrial base for certain key industries. The extract of an article from the Economist quoted below, serve to illustrate this point.
First, unlike the former Soviet Union, China has a vital national interest in the stability of the global economic system. Its military leaders constantly stress that the development of what is still only a middle-income country with a lot of very poor people takes precedence over military ambition. The increase in military spending reflects the growth of the economy, rather than an expanding share of national income. For many years China has spent the same proportion of GDP on defence (a bit over 2%, whereas America spends about 4.7%). The real test of China’s willingness to keep military spending constant will come when China’s headlong economic growth starts to slow further. But on past form, China’s leaders will continue to worry more about internal threats to their control than external ones. Last year spending on internal security outstripped military spending for the first time. With a rapidly ageing population, it is also a good bet that meeting the demand for better health care will become a higher priority than maintaining military spending. Like all the other great powers, China faces a choice of guns or walking sticks.
Second, as some pragmatic American policymakers concede, it is not a matter for surprise or shock that a country of China’s importance and history should have a sense of its place in the world and want armed forces which reflect that. Indeed, the West is occasionally contradictory about Chinese power, both fretting about it and asking China to accept greater responsibility for global order. As General Yao Yunzhu of the Academy of Military Science says: “We are criticised if we do more and criticised if we do less. The West should decide what it wants. The international military order is US-led—NATO and Asian bilateral alliances—there is nothing like the WTO for China to get into.”
Third, the PLA may not be quite as formidable as it seems on paper. China’s military technology has suffered from the Western arms embargo imposed after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. It struggles to produce high-performance jet engines, for example. Western defence firms believe that is why they are often on the receiving end of cyber-attacks that appear to come from China. China’s defence industry may be improving but it remains scattered, inefficient and over-dependent on high-tech imports from Russia, which is happy to sell the same stuff to China’s local rivals, India and Vietnam. The PLA also has little recent combat experience. The last time it fought a real enemy was in the war against Vietnam in 1979, when it got a bloody nose. In contrast, a decade of conflict has honed American forces to a new pitch of professionalism. There must be some doubt that the PLA could put into practice the complex joint operations it is being increasingly called upon to perform...
(3) Below is an extract of an article from the South China Morning Post which illustrate the point that there are limits to China military-industrial base for certain key industries. In a world where great power conflict is unlikely, the fact remains that the capabilities great powers matters has shaped other conflicts. International norms and legitimacy are still largely the product of a concert of powerful states, the big issues between China, Japan, South Korea, India and the US still matter.
General says weak foundation in sosphicated machinery is among the obstacles facing the PLA in its efforts to upgrade its home-made fighters
A weak foundation in building sophisticated machinery and a lack of innovation are major obstacles for the People's Liberation Army in upgrading its latest domestically produced jet fighters, military experts say.
Major General Zhu Heping - vice-president of the Air Force Command Academy and the grandson of the father of the Red Army, Zhu De - talked about the constraints facing the PLA in an interview with the South China Morning Post. He said one key hindrance was the state of the country's machinery industry, even though the PLA had been upgrading to a more hi-tech force for a decade. Another problem was the lack of innovation in the industry sector.
Zhu said those 10 years, under the rule of former president Hu Jintao and former premier Wen Jiabao, had seen crucial gains made in military modernisation. "Taking the air force as an example, we managed to take a huge step forward by replacing second-generation jet fighters with third-generation ones as the main force," he said. Zhu said big strides had been made in developing anti-aircraft weapons and giving information technology a bigger role. "More importantly, we saw an enormous improvement in the quality of our pilots," he said... However, Zhu said, Chinese industry had not progressed quite so rapidly... Zhu cited as an example the fact that the air force had to buy foreign engines for home-made fighter jets.
Before President Xi Jinping went to Russia last month on his maiden overseas visit as a head of state, Beijing and Moscow signed an agreement that will see China buy 24 Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets from Russia - with analysts estimating the deal to cost around US$1.56 billion. China can make most of the parts for fourth-generation fighter jets, but falls down when it comes to the likes of the Su-35's sophisticated 117S engines...
..."Beijing could spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the aircraft, dissect them and pore over the advanced engines inside and out before trying to copy their design," he said. "But they are doomed to fail to overcome the predicament presented by the lack of the materials and techniques required to make them." He said it would be hard to make significant progress in machinery production capabilities in a decade or two...
Veteran Macau-based PLA watcher Antony Wong Dong said innovative ideas could play a key role in technological advancement but he was not optimistic. "Independent thinking is the last thing the current education system under the [Communist] party's leadership intends to encourage or highlight," Wong said...
(4) While most of China's land boundary disputes have been settled on terms favourable to China's neighbours, except for its continuing disputes with India and Bhutan, its maritime boundaries in the East China and South China Seas are contested. In early 2013, the dispute between Japan and China over small islands (known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China) in the East China Sea escalated, with incidents of Chinese frigates of locking its weapons-tracking radar on a Japanese destroyers. In a related string of incidents over the last year, where Chinese maritime surveillance aircraft also flew into the airspace around the Japanese-controlled islands and Tokyo scrambled F-15 fighters to meet them and on occasion, China then sent fighters too. This led to Japan considering the use of a civil airfield at Shimojijima Island to base F-15s, because those based on Okinawa are too far away. As these disputes go through cycles of escalation and de-escalation, Japan and ASEAN members will be watching how China deals with its neighbours and lessons will be drawn on the impact for them of a rising China. However, the rise of both China and India, is occurring against a geopolitical environment that lacks a formal security architecture (for arms control regimes or for structured conﬂict-resolution).
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
Last edited by OPSSG; July 31st, 2013 at 02:51 AM.
(1) Acquiring hardware does not automatically mean better military capabilities. Qualitative factors — adequate numbers of well-trained, motivated personnel, efficient logistics, comprehensive doctrine, effective cooperation between branches of the armed forces, and high readiness levels — are critical in distinguishing those air forces which are developing real capabilities, from those which are merely on a shopping spree.
Concept Check on Military Readiness:-
What do: [A] the Battle of Savo Island; [B] Kasserine Pass; [C] Task Force Smith; and [D] Operation Eagle Claw have in common? They were all U.S. military disasters that were the result, broadly speaking, of inadequate readiness.
[A] In the first example, an allied naval force of some 22 surface warships was trounced by a Japanese flotilla one third its size in a night engagement that demonstrated the Imperial Navy’s superior training, coordination and weapons.
[B] Kasserine Pass witnessed the mauling of the green U.S. II Corps by a numerically inferior German force from General Erwin Rommel’s battle hardened Afrika Korps.
[C] Task Force Smith was a hastily-assembled, poorly equipped force from the U.S. 24th Division (which had been on garrison duty in Japan for more than five years) that was sent to South Korea in 1950 only to be overrun by a North Korean armored column.
[D] Finally, Operation Eagle Claw is better known as the failed Iranian hostage rescue attempt in 1979 during which eight American servicemen died as a result of poor planning, inadequate coordination and a lack of prior training.
You may remember the movie Top Gun which was loosely based on the training regime at the U.S. Navy’s Fighter Weapons School. The school was set up in 1969 in response to the inadequate performance of Navy fighters in the skies over North Vietnam. Navy analyses concluded that the core reason for the inability of U.S. fighters to dominate their adversary was inadequate training in air combat maneuvering skills. With proper training, the ratio of kills to losses against the North Vietnamese Air Force went from 3.7:1 to 13:1.
Many factors contribute to military readiness... Readiness, once lost, is not easily recovered. An aircraft squadron that is not allowed to practice its combat missions for three months may require six to regain its prior level of proficiency...
(2) All modern air forces fight as a system and other relevant factors to consider include:-
(a) budgeting and planning to raise, train and sustain a force (as a general rule of thumb:- personnel costs is about 20%, sustainment costs is about 33%, other operating costs like fuel is about 22% and finally the acquisition cost is typically less than 25% of the costs of an aviation centric platform);
(b) quality of people, and technical competence (no. of annual fight hours, aircrew proficiency, training syllabus, large force employment exercises, and so on);
(c) leadership, training, doctrine and tactics (which includes mission planning), force balance, type of platform, number of aircraft, logistics, mid-air refueling platforms, and enablers for sortie generation, communications, and weapons;
(d) presence of force multipliers like combat controllers and other enablers like UAVs, airborne radar early warning support, the capability to conduct suppression of enemy air defences, engage in electronic warfare, and gather signal intelligence; and
(e) the level of command and control systems integration with other services and partners/allies.
(3) Despite the improvements in sensors and PGMs, this thread is not just about air forces wanting to go out and defeat an enemy’s air force and then to continue deep to bomb his centre of gravity.
The Future of PGMs and Sensors:-
...It is not unreasonable to expect that, in the future, a core competency of an advanced air force will be the ability to provide precision strike, with accuracies less than two metres from an aim point, to any point on the globe... In many ways, the ‘calculus’ of modern warfare has already changed. One study, by the RAND Corporation, concluded that:
The results of our analysis do indicate that the calculus has changed and air power’s ability to contribute to the joint battle has increased. Not only can modern air power arrive quickly where needed, it has become far more lethal in conventional operations. Equipped with advanced munitions either in service or about to become operational and directed by modern C3I systems, air power has the potential to destroy enemy ground forces either on the move or in defensive positions at a high rate while concurrently destroying vital elements of the enemy’s war fighting infrastructure. In short, the mobility, lethality, and survivability of air power makes it well suited to the needs of rapidly developing regional conflicts.
As technology changes, the nature of the precision weapon will change as well... These include advanced cruise missiles to conduct electronic countermeasures attacks, autonomous miniature munitions to stop invading armies, hard-target munitions and robotic micro-munitions to attack deeply buried hard targets, hypersonic missile concepts (on the order of 5 km/sec) to strike rapidly and at long range... The dividing line between what is now considered a precision-guided munition and an unmanned vehicle will increasingly blur...
Intelligence, sensor development, and targeting have always been key issues in aerial warfare, but are now of even greater importance than at any previous time. Precision weapon employment requires intelligence of a sufficiently high order to enable a desired mean point of impact to be established on an individual target...
The profusion of advanced sensor and intelligence gathering and exploiting platforms — space-based assets, UAVs, manned airborne systems, for example — offer the hope that many of these problems will be overcome... Sensors fall in three broad physical categories:
(i) electro-magnetic (for example, electro-optical, radio frequency, and low frequency);
(ii) mechanical (acoustic, seismic, and inertial); and
(iii) chemical or biological.
Fusing passive and active sensors into working architectures involving space-based systems, standoff airborne systems (such as JSTARS), unmanned air vehicles, unattended ground sensors, ground and airborne command and control systems, and aircraft carrying precision weapons is a key requirement now and will obviously grow in importance in the future.
Rather, control of the air is an indispensable precondition for joint-force victory on the ground or at sea. It must also be able to perform the job faster or better to be the relevant force of choice in a joint service environment.
(4) The level of funding given to an air force by a government to support its national strategy boils down to political will and intent. However, it cannot be assumed that the average politician understands the four roles of air power, the importance of control of the air or the second and third order effects that come from a failure to be superior in the air; and relevant to the land or sea battle. Therefore, the defence establishment needs to engage the disinterested general public and politicians in power by explaining, providing details, and demonstrating what air power can or cannot do — or go down the path taken by New Zealand (NZ) and the Philippines (as the metaphorical grasshoppers of in Asia).
The Grasshopper(s) and The Ant(s) in Asia
NZ in 2001 (see the February 2001, Review of the Options for an Air Combat Capability) and Philippines in 2005 are countries each without an air combat arm. Politicians in these two countries decided to disband their respective air forces' air combat capability.
The key task of the NZDF is to respond to contingencies in the neighborhood, which are mostly humanitarian in nature, and to participate in UN-sanctioned peacekeeping missions. NZ's distant location and the presence of natural boundaries means that it faces no threat. Much of the NZDF is geared towards overseas operations supporting peace.
Historically, Philippines is a house divided with presence of internal insurgents (which includes numerous insurgent groups, like, the New People's Army, the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front). The southern Philippines lies along a strategic fault line, with its porous borders, weak rule of law, long-standing and unaddressed grievances of Muslim minorities, and high levels of poverty and corruption offering a fertile field for nurturing terrorist groups. Therefore, the key task of the Philippine military is address the threat faced by internal insurgents, and if possible, to participate in UN-sanctioned peacekeeping missions. Much of its force is geared towards internal security operations.
Each of these two governments made their own decision, that the opportunity cost of funding an air combat capability was too large for their respective air forces. An analogy relating to the issue of thinking by an informed electorate, when applied to the question of the need for an air combat arm for an air force, may be useful.
Q1: Is it impossible that a person will need the A&E department of the nearest hospital?
Q2: Or is it merely that it is unlikely that that person will need the A&E department of the nearest hospital?
What if, we pointed out that 90% to 95% of A&E department cases were not medical emergencies and that a 24 hour clinic could serve the same purpose. Would a politician advocate as a cost saving closing down the A&E department of the nearest hospital? The 'A&E department' and 'hospital' in the above analogy can be replaced with 'air combat force' and 'air base', respectively. Time will tell if these self inflicted political decisions, are wise, given the documented use of air power by non-state actors and that the rest of Asia are on Alert 5.
In other words, NZ and the Philippines have decided that they will never need to go to war with another state (as an instrument of state policy) and hence have disbanded their air combat arm of their respective tiny air forces by budget choice. The second order effect of their budget decision is to make their respective countries less relevant on the international stage, in an era where other powers, like the US, are looking for burden sharing partners/allies to manage issues relating to the global commons. The third order effect is the contraction of the geostrategic depth of these two nations in an era of a changing balance of power in Asia and the Pacific. The military skill sets lost when the Philippines decommissioned its aging F-5s in 2005 are not so easy to regain.
(5) The effective use of the technology of air power is not a natural phenomenon but a product of a deliberate national strategy to resource an air force to enable it to develop the capability to contest for control of the air and defend a country's national interest. Governments dictate the capacity and capability models by funding and ideology.
“Terrorism is the tactic of demanding the impossible, and demanding it at gunpoint.”
Last edited by OPSSG; April 30th, 2013 at 07:03 AM.