Thursday, May 03, 2018

Air Power Enhances Rather Than Replaces Ground Power

The idea that better NATO air power can deter Russian aggression is nonsense when you remember that Russian ground forces could be in the Estonian and Latvian capitals in three days or less.

NATO has a Joint Air Power Strategy. Oh?

Negating any possible Russian perception that such a window of advantage exists hinges very largely on the deterrence value of NATO air power, and the belief back in the Kremlin that there is a credible, agreed willingness amongst the member states to use it. In practical terms, that surely must mean that the strategy will address the readiness of fighter aircraft and their crews, the availability of munitions and the capacity of airfields to conduct and sustain high-tempo, multi-sortie operations. In addition, the rules of engagement will need to be clear and unambiguous, and communication systems and ground infrastructure hardened against the kind of cyber attack that now seems to form the initial phase of any Russian action.

Having NATO air power that can overcome Russian anti-access/area denial weapons that keep NATO reinforcements from reaching the eastern front and which can strike Russian troops, air defenses, and supply lines is a good thing. Don't get me wrong.

But unless NATO can mass enough ground power, no air bases will survive the Russian advance.

NATO has to survive a Russian attack, mobilize ground forces, and counterattack. Air power alone won't do the trick.

I fear that this new strategy is a response to the weaknesses that NATO European air power displayed in the 2011 Libya War, rather than a reaction to the Russian ground threat.

Oh, and while this isn't unique to this article, this really annoys me:

The current growing Russian assertiveness in the Baltic and probing of the Greenland, Iceland, United Kingdom (G-I-UK) gap, coupled with the Kremlin’s earlier outright aggression in Ukraine and Crimea speak to an increasing willingness to pursue political goals by forceful means. [emphasis added]

Ukraine and Crimea? As if they are two different things?

Crimea is part of Ukraine and not a separate Russian aggression that we can ignore in pursuit of peace in "Ukraine" that somehow doesn't include Crimea anymore despite multiple Russian admissions that Crimea has been part of Ukraine.