Leveraging Allied Strengths

The Trilateral Strategic Initiative between the US Air Force, Royal Air Force, and the French Air Force has opened up new avenues for cooperation and building interoperability, according to a Sept. 15 panel at ASC15. USAF Maj. Gen. John Newell, the Air Staff’s director of strategy, concepts, and assessments, said the TSI began in 2010 as an effort to see how the three allies would reset and adapt their air forces after more than a decade of operating in Iraq and Afghanistan and to institutionalize information sharing, joint training, and interoperability improvements. Gen. Pascal Delerce, deputy chief of staff for operations at the French air defense and air operations command, said the initiatives are critical to building trust, advocacy, and interoperability between the services and to refine capability gaps between the three in areas such as command and control, tools, and processes. Air Vice Marshal Gavin Parker, commander of the RAF’s No. 2 Group, noted all three services are cutting back core capabilities. However, they are increasingly called to operate in coalition environments and to conduct humanitarian relief missions. Ensuring there are well practiced and established procedures before these operations come together will aid the sustainability of future efforts, he noted. Exercises birthed from the TSI, such as the trilateral Tonnere Lighting event, help the three allies rehearse just how secure communications and tasking would work in a real-world scenario.