On the tactical level, the US, British, and French air forces integrate very well, but intelligence sharing, and command and control must be improved to ensure success in more demanding future air campaigns, said senior representatives from each air arm. “In Libya we got away with it, we made do,” said Royal Air Force Air Marshal A.D. Puller during the Sept. 19 panel on allied cooperation at AFA’s Air and Space Conference in National Harbor, Md. “Two of the greatest [difficulties] to any coalition in a truly integrated manner are integrated command and control, and the sharing of information,” added Gen. Gilles Lemoine, head of the French air force’s strategic studies center. Since the beginning of coalition operations in Afghanistan in 2003, “we have seen an explosion in the number of aircraft that can provide intel, surveillance, and reconnaissance,” highlighted Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, the Air Force’s assistant vice chief of staff. As a result, “we’re going to have to work our way through each of the capabilities . . . and develop systems that allow for machine-to-machine transfer of data so that data are developed and processed” quickly enough to keep pace, he added.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.