First released on 9 March 2013 (last general update: 10 July 2014 F-35 price update on 25 June 2019) Air Power 101: 1. Filing A Flight Plan (1) A country's approach to defence is shaped by both its the unique circumstances and the enduring geostrategic limitations it has to face. Air power can be used by any nation that invests in it as a tool to: (a) provide a nation with the ability to project soft (in stability missions or in humanitarian and disaster relief missions) or hard power (in coercive missions, like enforcing no fly zones or performing any of the four roles of air power in war) over long distances through the compression of time and space, by the use of technology; and (b) expand geostrategic depth by enabling the nation to use its air power to build up a network of bilateral and multilateral defence relationships within a country's vicinity and around the world. Countries like the United States of America (US) and New Zealand are geo-strategically advantaged, by virtue of the fact that they do not have any neighbouring countries that are a military threat in their immediate vicinity. Conversely, small countries like Brunei, Cambodia, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Oman, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) lack geo-strategic depth, and they also live in interesting neighbourhoods, where regional conflicts may occur. The sad fact is that small countries have been bullied, bargained over, invaded and even dismembered through history. (2) Air power, especially air power exercised by a tertiary air force, has the potential to maintain constant pressure on an enemy from a safe distance, increased kills per sortie, through selective targeting and reduced unintended damage. It also substantially reduced reaction time, and, can result in the complete shutdown of an enemy’s ability to control his forces. Air force or naval air are less constrained by time and space because the platforms it operates are high-speed, have much greater reach, and are inherently responsive than ground forces or navy ships. (3) However, air power is also more constrained by time and space as its platforms lack permanence. It must rely on technology to fly and it is the service arm that most relies on technology to complete its assigned missions. The ability to project air power in a hostile air defense environment and to sustain control of the air to achieve policy goals requires resources to fund its force structure and the logistics to support that force structure. Ultimately, logistics determine capacity and capability. (4) Air warfare is a sub-set of war and therefore governed by the ten principles of war, namely:- (i) selection and maintenance of the aim – every military operation must have a defined, decisive, and attainable aim or objective. At the operational and tactical levels, maintenance of the aim means ensuring all actions contribute to the goals of the higher headquarters. The principle of the aim drives all military activity. When undertaking any mission, commanders should have a clear understanding of the expected outcome and its impact. At the strategic level, this means having a clear vision of the theater end state. Commanders need to appreciate political ends and understand how the military conditions they achieve contribute to them; (ii) maintenance of morale – morale is a positive state of mind derived from effective military leadership. This includes building a shared sense of purpose and values, caring for well-being of the soldiers and building group cohesion at the unit and higher levels; (iii) offensive action – in other words, to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Offensive action is key to achieving decisive results. It is the essence of successful operations. Offensive actions are those taken to dictate the nature, scope, and tempo of an operation. They force the enemy to react. Commanders use offensive actions to impose their will on an enemy, adversary, or situation. Offensive operations are essential to maintain the freedom of action necessary for success, exploit vulnerabilities, and react to rapidly changing situations and unexpected developments; (iv) security – never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. Security protects and preserves combat power. It does not involve excessive caution. Calculated risk is inherent to conflict. Security results from measures taken by a command to protect itself from surprise, interference, sabotage, annoyance, and threat ISR. Military deception greatly enhances security. The threat of asymmetric action requires emphasis on security, even in low-threat environments; (v) surprise – in other words, to strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared. Surprise is the opposite of security. Surprise results from taking actions for which an enemy or adversary is unprepared. It is a powerful but temporary combat multiplier. It is not essential to take the adversary or enemy completely unaware; it is only necessary that he become aware too late to react effectively. Factors contributing to surprise include speed, information superiority, and asymmetry; (vi) concentration of force – in other words, to concentrate the effects of combat power at the decisive place and time. Commanders mass the effects of combat power to overwhelm enemies or gain control of the situation. They mass combat power in time and space to achieve both destructive and constructive results. Massing in time applies the elements of combat power against multiple targets simultaneously. Massing in space concentrates the effects of different elements of combat power against a single target; (vii) economy of effort – in other words, to allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. Economy of effort is the opposite of concentration of force. It requires accepting prudent risk in selected areas to achieve superiority — overwhelming effects — in the decisive operation. Economy of effort involves the discriminating employment and distribution of forces. Commanders never leave any element without a purpose. When it comes time to execute, all elements should have tasks to perform; (viii) flexibility – in other words, to develop the ability of a fighting unit to change to meet new circumstances in a timely and responsive manner. This involves mental acuity and adaptability in the mindsets of military leaders and the fighting men assigned with an attainable aim or objective; (ix) cooperation – in other words, to ensure that military units are able to fight at a combined arms level, where the supported and supporting units share in the dangers, burdens, and risks faced; and (x) sustainability – in other words, to generate the means by which a military unit's fighting power and freedom of action are maintained. (5) Air power theorists like Giulio Douhet believed that the airplane, with "complete freedom of action and direction", had revolutionised warfare and that airplanes would win wars quickly and decisively without first defeating enemy surface forces. Douhet said: “To have command of the air is to have victory.” This statement was false when it was first made in 1921, and it is no less false today. Correctly understood, control of the air is only a pre-condition for joint-force victory on the ground or at sea. Politicians should disabuse themselves of the notion that the achievement of control of the air, by itself and in of itself, is sufficient for victory, without observing the 10 principles of war. Achieving and maintaining air superiority is only a part of the air power story, with the other three roles of air power being just as important.