After 26 years of continuous combat deployments, major combat operations, and surges, the United States Air Force’s level of readiness is below the hollow force levels of the late 1970s. The effect has been to reduce an Air Force once capable of two simultaneous major regional conflicts to one that could effectively muster a win in one region at the cost of its remaining global combat capability. High-end, fourth-generation fighters, coupled with healthy sortie rates, flying time, and realistic training scenarios, made the latter half of the 1980s a model for readiness. An assessment of today’s Air Force in each of those three areas reveals a marked decline in capability. Senior Air Force leaders need to convey the real level of readiness to Congress and the Trump Administration in a way that will get this service the funding and support that it needs to regain absolute air dominance.
Link to article here
Download report here
Dr Robbin Laird has released the final report from the Williams Foundation seminar on Force Integration held on 11 April 2017.
Designing the Integrated Force: The Australian Defense Force Repositions for the Next Phase of 21st Century Force Structure Development
04/27/2017 – If you do not set of the objective of trying to optimize combat capability and consider that shaping the joint effect as a key means to doing so, then the challenge is clear.
How do you get a strategic handle on where your force is moving to and how do you ensure that it is as effective, lethal and sustainable as possible?
Integrated Air and Missile Defence Study: The Challenge of Integrated Force Design
The Williams Foundation conducted an Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) study
between Sep16 and Feb17 to explore the challenges of building Australia’s IAMD capability
and the implications for the Department of Defence’s integrated force design function. The
study was focussed at the Program level of capability.
The study incorporated a visit to the US for a month to explore the IAMD challenge with
United States Defense Forces and Agencies, think tanks and Industry. The initial study
findings were then explored in Australia in three Defence and Industry workshops on 31 Jan
17 and 1 Feb 17, using a Chatham House model of unaNributed discussions. Many of the
statements made in this report are not referenced as they are derived from these Chatham
House discussions and associated meetngs.
IAMD is a highly complex issue; comments made in this report should not be construed in
any way as being critical of the IAMD approach of the Department of Defence. This report
cannot account for the full complexity of the integrated force design process that is being
addressed within Defence; however, it may offer some value in providing suggestions based
on the study findings.
This study would not have been possible without the support and assistance of several areas
within the Australian Department of Defence, the US Defense Department, Industry and
think tanks. The Williams Founda=on deeply appreciates the support of the IAMD Study
major sponsors, Lockheed Mar=n and Northrop Grumman. Thanks are also due to Jacobs in
funding the services of Dr Gary Waters who provided valuable support in the research for
the study and in the production of the workshop notes.
This report represents the views of AVM Blackburn (Retd), the IAMD Study lead. This study
report is intentionally high level and brief; in the author’s experience, long and detailed
reports are rarely read by senior decision makers.
Minutes of the 2016 AGM held on the 25 October can be downloaded here.
More information on the AGM can be found here.
In accordance with the Constitution, Air Marshal Errol McCormack (Retd) was required to step down as the Chair of the Foundation at the AGM held 25 Oct 16. Air Marshal Geoff Brown (Retd) was elected to replace him. Air Marshal McCormack was elected to fill the position of Deputy Chair.
The following were also elected to the Board at the AGM.
Rear Admiral Mark Campbell RAN (Retd)
Mr John Conway
Mr Ken Moore
Ms Nicole Quinn
Air Vice-Marshal Brian Weston (Retd)
The 2016 Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday 25 October. Members can register to attend here.
Please download the documents for the 2016 meeting from the links below.
2016 Notice to Members
2016 Board Nomination Form
2016 Proxy Voting Form
In this report, the major presentations and discussions at the Williams Foundation seminar on new approaches to air-sea integration held on August 10, 2016 in Canberra, Australia are highlighted along with interviews conducted before, during and after the seminar as well.
Interviews with the Army, Navy, and Air Force have been woven into the evolving narrative of joint integration, as well as inputs from the two major foreign guests to the seminar, Rear Admiral Manazir, the Deputy Chief of US Naval Operations for Warfare Systems, and Captain Nick Walker of the Royal Navy.
Beginning in March 2014, the Williams Foundation began a series of seminars and workshops to examine both conceptually and practically ways to build a 21st century combat force, which can prevail in the extended battlespace.
This can be looked at as a force operating in what the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations as kill webs or what an Australian Army General called building an Australian anti-access anti-denial strategy.
What is unique about what Williams has done is to shape a public discussion of the opportunities and challenges to shaping such a force.
And through the seminars, the conversation has evolved and generated more joint force involvement as well.
The seminar and interviews provide insight into the way ahead to shape an integrated Australian Defence Force. As Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Barrett put it: “We are not building an interoperable navy; we are building an integrated force for the Australian Defence Force.”
He drove home the point that ADF integration was crucial in order for the ADF to support government objectives in the region and beyond and to provide for a force capable of decisive lethality.
By so doing, Australia would have a force equally useful in coalition operations in which distributed lethality was the operational objective.
The Australian military is shaping a transformed military force, one built around new platforms but ones that operate in a joint manner in an extended battlespace. The goal is to extend the defense perimeter of Australia and create, in effect, their own version of an Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) strategy.
They also recognize a key reality of 21st century military evolution in terms of shaping an integrated information-based operating force. Interactive modernization of the force is built around decision-making superiority and that will come with an effective information dominant force.
That makes the Aussies a key partner to the US and other allies in discussing openly a path for force transformation along lines where cutting edge thinking is occurring in the US and allied forces. Put bluntly, they are driving a public discussion of transformation in a way we have not seen in the United States for a long time.
The goal was put clearly in an interview by Craig Heap, commander of the Surveillance and Response Group in the Royal Australian Air Force in an interview.
“We are small but we want to be capable of being a little Tasmanian Devil that you don’t want to play with because if you come at us, were going to give you a seriously hard time that will probably not be worth the effort; deterrence in its purest form.”
The report can be directly downloaded here:
We need to be able to achieve large effects with a leveraged force. Our army wants the air force to be the best small air force in the world, and we want our navy to be the best small navy in the world. Because if they’re not, the army’s not going be able to get to where it needs to get to and be sustained in the fight to achieve the desired effect.
A number of practical suggestions emerged from the panel discussion and the industrial presentations at the Williams Foundation seminar on air-sea integration held on August 10, 2016.
A key issue is that of information sharing among national or coalition forces.
Here Air Marshal (Retired) Geoff Brown asked Rear Admiral Manazir if we were making progress in this area.
Rear Admiral Manazir highlighted that in the evolving machine-to-machine relationships, technology was providing a way ahead. For example, targets could be identified and shared without disclosing the source of that information or the classification level.
The practical problem is to move classified data around the battlespace to empower the war fighters without compromising classification methods.
According to Rear Admiral Manazir:
“Machines talking at multi-level and multi-channel encrypted security levels can exchange data without compromising the sources and methods whereby the data has been generated.
“Thereby an F-35 with US markings and an F-35 with Australian markings can share data effectively in the combat space.”
In effect, the broad problem is one of parsing information and solving the problem posed by Air Vice Marshal Gavin Turnbull at the last Williams Foundation Seminar:
“How do we get the right information to the right people at the right time?”
Putting the new carriers in play completely integrated with the F-35 will provide the foundation for shaping the way ahead for the UK power projection forces.
Put bluntly, shaping the way ahead will be defined by the operational experiences entailed in operating and deploying the new carrier strike force and leveraging that capability will be crucial in thinking through future procurement decisions as well.
The Williams Foundation, PO Box 5266, KINGSTON ACT 2604