The aim of this week’s seminar is to evaluate, ‘what is an air campaign?’ There is an argument that there is no such thing. The term is a modern one: it was a strategic air offensive against Germany, not an offensive air campaign. But our aim is to try and discern what actually is involved in mounting an air campaign. Clearly it is a lot more than highly trained young people operating very expensive pieces of equipment.
The task for this week is different to the other seminars as it is not a set of questions.
You are sitting in your office and your superior drops in. You are informed that a non-military group is visiting your workplace to gain a better understanding of the military. Your boss recalls nominating you for the Advanced Air Power Course and tasks you to contribute by providing a brief on air power.
Your boss directs you to prepare a paper on what you believe to be the elements of an air campaign, the planning factors involved and why you think that these considerations are important. Your boss does not want a detailed written brief. A short, dot point brief will suffice.
More correctly, perhaps, the air component of the joint campaign…? There is less planning for an air campaign per se than there are air-specific aspect of planning for the campaign – but these sit a fair way down the planning food chain…thus the key elements of an air campaign are largely those for a campaign…so what might those elements be…?
My boss says I’m not allowed to play with bullets but here goes…
· Why are we here? What does the Government want from our involvement? There is often a big difference between that which is publicly stated and the effects actually desired.
· How are we going to do that? This leads to developing various courses of action to achieve the desired effects.
· What will define our point of exit, i.e. measures of success or otherwise? To quote Princess Leia from the original Star Wars “When you broke in here, did you have a plan for getting out?”
· Are we leaders or led?Are we sending a self-sufficient force or discrete capabilities to support others?
· What/who will we use to do it? This is a natural product of developing the ‘how’ above.
· Who will we be working with and what issues arise from that, and more so in ad hoc coalitions? Is there a lead nation? Do we subscribe to their (or compatible) doctrine? Who arbitrates the differences?
· How will we meet our sustainment leads? Always a good topic to consider prior to departure and to burst any assumption bubbles?
· When do we have to be there?
· Are we ready for this? Or do we need a build-up period to achieve an operational level of capability for this campaign?
The answers to these questions provide the framework which is fleshed out and developed by the layers of detail questions that follow…leading to a campaign plan Within the campaign plan will be specific lines of operation dedicated to achieving specific effects and this is where specifc environmental (air, land, sea, SF, etc) roles and tasks are developed. The detailed planning of specific air tasks lies under the heading of ‘Conducting Air Operations”….