Airpower in Transition: Meeting 21st Century Strategic Challenges


2015-04-30  Dr. Robbin Laird was part of the last panel for the Copenhagen Airpower Symposium hosted by the Centre for Military Studies and the Williams Foundation on April 17, 2015.

In his summary presentation, he looked at a number of changes affecting the evolution of airpower.

One challenge facing airpower is that the decade ahead is that the context that it will face is neither repeat of the past decade nor of earlier ones.

The probing threats from Russia, China, and others, the establishment of new rules of the road for the second nuclear age, and the need to respond to pop-up states and threats requires the agility and lethality which airpower can deliver.

At the same time, naval, sea, and land-insertion power are being recrafted along modular, scalable lines to allow for even greater agility, flexibility, and lethality against growing capabilities from adversaries who are building larger numbers of air and naval platforms.

The democracies face a fundamental challenge: how to shape a concept of operations to protect the interests of the democracies in an uncertain and unsafe world.

It is not just a question of innovation by the military; the strategic and political elites need to recognize that they need to have decision making systems that are adapted to the new modular, scalable forces.

Having detailed Rules of Engagement for distributed military forces will make little sense.

Reworking what political leadership and accountability with the emergence of fifth-generation enabled warfare is a key challenge facing the democracies.