Consider Airpower Ends, Not Just Means

Allied air forces leaders are placing too much emphasis on technology and hardware and not enough on doctrine and effects, Royal Norwegian Air Force Col. John Andreas Olsen said at ASC15 on Monday. “We invest in fifth generation aircraft, but we are stuck in first generation thinking,” he said. The current ideas about air combat are linear, too often derived from land warfare, and badly outdated, Olsen noted. “It’s important that we talk about strategy and that we talk about concepts. … We have to stop thinking about airpower as an extension of the two-dimensional world—it’s a completely different way of going about it,” he stressed. “It doesn’t help to just see it as an extension of ground warfare. … We need to better connect airpower to statecraft, airpower to national policy. We need to connect the way we use airpower to a strategic effect, because that’s ultimately what we want to achieve,” Olsen also. The profession of airpower needs to be “revitalized,” so Olsen suggested bringing NATO’s “best and brightest” airmen together to study air combat history and to think about how to “move beyond” the old, Army-enabler mindset to develop outcome-based ideas.