B-2 Refuelling over Norwegian Sea


A B-2 Spirit assigned to Whiteman AFB, MO., received fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to RAF Mildenhall over the Norwegian Sea, Sept. 5, 2019.

This was an extended duration flight that proved the B-2’s ability to operate in the Arctic Circle.



Video by Senior Airman James Merriman

1st Combat Camera Squadron

The Evolution of the Indo-Pacific Over the Next Five Years: Implications for Australian Defense


By Robbin Laird

Recently, I attended the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy’s Seapower conference being held in Sydney from October 8th through the 10th, 2019.

The conference provided insights into two major questions: What is the development trajectory of the Royal Australian Navy over the decade ahead? And what is the evolving strategic context within which those developments will have their meaning and impact?

The first question was addressed largely from the standpoint of the impact of “the continuous shipbuilding approach” on Australia seen as a nation, with infrastructure, and sustainment approaches widening the impact of the navy upon the Australian navy and society.

In my view, this recalled the importance of Vice Admiral Barrett’s book on the Navy and the Nation which was published when he was Chief of Navy. This clearly is more than a whole of government approach; this is a whole of economy and society approach.

For this to succeed, the nation will have to understand why this is being done.

A large part of that answer will come in the national debate about the direct defense of Australia in the changing strategic context.

As Australia engages in shaping its role in the changing global dynamics of the 2020’s, a key challenge is to determine how best to protect its sovereignty with the rise of the 21st century authoritarianism and how to deal with the end, at least in its current form, of the American generated and sustained order or what the Aussies call the “rules-based order.”

The 21st century authoritarian powers are clearly focused on changing the rules of the game let alone the rules-based order. Although the United States clearly is a key ally of Australia and the dominant liberal democratic military power, that relationship clearly is not enough to sort through how best to protect Australian sovereignty.

A key part of that change will be the centrality for Australia of their region, and reshaping Australia’s role within the Into-Pacific.

One panel at the conference was asked to address the question of what the Info-Pacific region would look like in five years and what might be the implications of that forecast for Australian defense and security.

I was quite struck by one analyst’s approach to answering the question.

Dr. Stephen Fruehling answered the question by taking us forward to 2024 and asking what questions would the Seapower conference in 2024 be focused upon.

Dr. Fruehling’s presentation follows along with the questions which he posed along this line.

We’re asked to look about 5 years out on strategic developments in the Indo-Pacific, and I’ll focus my remarks on what I think how Australian strategic policy could and should develop over that time, and what this might mean for Navy

I listened with particular interest to the presentations by the minister, the Chief of Navy and his fellow chiefs on Tuesday.

If one compares the debate today to that of just three or four years ago, just before the 2016 White Paper, it is easy to forget how much progress we have made:  The notion that a program of continuous shipbuilding is the basis for Australia’s ability to develop and grow its maritime power for the Indo-Pacific area in the 21st century has become almost uncontested within those short few years.

And the focus on Indo-Pacific Partnerships as a key element of Australia’s defence engagement and policy in general, and the major focus for Navy’s operational forward presence, gives some strong support to the notion that Defence is really becoming a strategy-led organization.

Because of the nature of what they do, it is almost inevitable that Navies respond most visibly and directly to such changes – Army and Air Forces change form Kamarians to Musorians and back again, but few will notice outside and even inside those services.   Navies are different, since the question of where to go once you leave port is kind of hard to avoid, and it is thus not surprising that developing ‘Partnerships’ in the Indo-pacific has become so central to the RAN today.

Moreover, naval platforms also tend to most visibly change, admittedly with a lag, to changes in strategy – the ‘500’ vs ‘600’ ship navy were as shorthand for US maritime strategy debates in the 1980s;  the almost totemic importance of carrier numbers for forward presence US defence debates of the 1990s; or the association of the ‘littoral combat ship’ with Donald Rumpsfeld’s ideas of ‘transformation’.  Even in Australia, the decision not to replace the carrier, and the definition of the original ANZAC capability for Southeast Asian, not Northern hemisphere requirements have little parallel in the other services.

The problem though if we look to the Indo-Pacific for the next five years is what is that Australian strategy that the Navy is supporting and developed for?

Dr. Fruehling making his presentation at the Seapower Conference, 2019.

This is one of the key questions that Defence will need to confront in the current review, because the answer isn’t in the 2016 White Paper.

Back in the olden days of the 1950s and 1960s, Australia conceived of not one but three related strategies—for Cold War, we might call it competition these days; for limited war; and for global war.

Partnerships are important in all three regards, but the demands that they place on different elements of the Navy, the ADF as a whole, its national support infrastructure and its alliances are quite different.

Ultimately, to govern means to choose.  and in the past Australian governments at times prioritized capabilities for Cold War operations, sometimes for situations of limited war.  We are not alone in this: On Tuesday, Admiral Aquilino spoke of the need to strike a balance between preparing to fight and win, and operating forward to deter.  Admiral Prazuck also spoke of the need to constantly evaluate the balance between presence and intervention, heavy and light forces.  But how to do so is a question that our strategic policy still has to come to terms with.

What would I hope to see in the discussions at Seapower 2024, five years from now, to show that we have done so?

A greater understanding at the defence, industry and political level of how the national shipbuilding system and the RAN’s growing role as a parent Navy enable us to adjust our force structure more rapidly than might otherwise be the case to changing strategic needs in our own part of the Indo-Pacific would be a start; combined with a clearer articulation and discussion of the different roles that different parts of the Navy might play in competition, limited and global war, and the trade-offs between them.

If we prioritize capabilities for global rather than limited war, how can we use this shipbuilding enterprise for battle damage repair, and what parts of it and our wider naval infrastructure on shore do we need to defend against cruise missile and other attack?

If you slap a towed array onto an OPV and use it  as a helicopter lilipad, you may well have all you need to protect the Indian Ocean and Pacific SLOC that we would need for resupply with essential war stocks and fuels during global war.  Could they train to sufficient proficiency though if they’re busy surveying South Pacific EEZs?

How would we make use of industry, capacity building, and shore-based activities to step up partnerships in the maritime domain, if we were to spend more days at sea honing Navy for high-end warfighting—or there are simply not enough ships around for what we think we need to achieve?

Hence, besides greater engagement with the necessary trade-offs, the question of what is the strategic role of forward-presence is a second, major question for the next five years.  Partnerships can help build capacity for a small force, as the Vice Chief said on Tuesday, but that just begs the question of capacity for what?  Where we can use partnerships to help regional countries fulfil their own objectives in the maritime domain they may help us be successful in strategic competition.

In regards to limited war, though, how would we use them to signal political commitment, to deter and reassure when we’ve never really thought about our forward presence in those terms, let alone how we might need to operate forward operationally and in a pol-mil sense as we transition from competition to crisis to conflict and war?

If you go to the European context, for example NATO allies have Standing Naval Forces that can be used for signalling and demonstrating resolve in a crisis, in a way that we and our US allies have never developed in the Indo-Pacific.  This is not to say we need a standing arrangement, but nor can we expect to make up solutions to the political-military challenges of successful signalling as a crisis unfolds.  Euan Graham’s discussion of the new marine corps guidance though highlights, forward presence for actual operations would look very different again from that we might maintain in steady-state competition.

But if we decide that the strategic purpose of our forward presence is to reassure our regional partners that we have their back, does that mean we have to be comfortable with that presence staying there throughout a crisis and into conflict, and perhaps not coming back?

If the discussions at Seapower in five years time will reflect answers to these questions in the way that this years’ discussions have responded to the 2016 White Paper direction, Defence, Navy and Australia as a whole will be well on our way to manage the challenges the region throws at us.

See also, the following:

Australian Strategy at a Turning Point: Implications for the United States


The Australian Approach to Developing and Deploying Remotes Systems in the Maritime Environment: The Perspective of Cmdr. Paul Hornsby


By Robbin Laird

Recently, I attended the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy’s Seapower conference being held in Sydney from October 8th through the 10th, 2019.

One of the sessions which I attended was a presentation by Cmdr. Paul Hornsby, Royal Australian Navy lead on autonomous warfare systems.

The presentation provided an overview on how the Australian Navy is addressing the development and evolution of remote systems within the fleet.

During my visits over the past five years in Australia and my time with The Williams Foundation, I have been impressed with the ADF and its efforts to build a transformed force.

The transformation process has been identified as building a fifth-generation force.

And within that effort, the significant modernization envisaged for the Australian Navy is focused on shaping a transformed maritime force as well.

As former Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral (Retired) Barrett put it in our interview earlier this year: “We are not building an interoperable navy; we are building an integrated force for the Australian Defence Force.”

The kill web approach was clearly what he is working from when he discusses force modernization for the Navy.

In this process of force transformation, the ADF is committed to a wide range of innovative roll outs to experiment in the evolution of its fifth generation con-ops.

This is why for a much larger force like the United States possesses, the Australians in their approach represent not just innovation for themselves but for the U.S. and other Australian allies.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the domain of unmanned maritime systems.

As Hornsby put it in his presentation: “We have no choice but to be leaders in this area.”

He underscored that the significant operational area which Australian forces need to patrol coupled with limited numbers of maritime platforms and manpower limits meant that the building, operating and integration of maritime remote systems in the fleet was an operational necessity for the Royal Australian Navy.

“We could not get enough help from remote systems and artificial intelligence.”

He argued that there was a cross-societal engagement with remote systems in Australia which the Navy could leverage as well.

He noted that Australia has been involved in allied exercises across the board in the remote systems area.

He laid out through the various exercises in the UK, Australia and elsewhere that his team has been fully engaged in cross learning with allies, and to do so in order to harvest the best and leave the rest.

He made a case for why Australia is a very important area for allies to work with the Aussies on remote innovations.

The conditions in Australia are challenging and paraphrasing Frank Sinatra: “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

I would argue that the current challenge facing the US and allies shaping an integrated distributed force is being able to make decisions at the tactical edge. Certainly, the introduction of the F-35 is providing a forcing function with this regard.

As allied militaries work their approaches toward shaping an integrated distributed force, and once they have forged approaches to make decisions at the tactical edge, they are then able to leverage what artificial intelligence operating in a network of remote systems, such as maritime remotes, can deliver to the combat force.

In other words, learning how to make decisions at the tactical edge with the fifth-generation force will allow for the next wave of innovation which AI-enabled remote systems decision making.

Cmdr. Hornsby underscored a number of key contributions of AI to the build out of a remote system distributed force.

The following graphic highlights the key aspects which he highlighted.

Key points are reaching a stage where the remotes can work with one another, underwater and above water, to provide SA to the battle commander; and to shape ways for the distributed system to assist and make decisions in something which really as way beyond the classic OODA loop.

When the machines are working OO and notably with AI then the focus is upon how to DA.

And even more to the point, humans and machines need to work the decision-making loop together and this requires signifiant learning on the human side for sure.

As he concluded his presentation, he framed a number of key questions which he argued needed to be addressed and ways ahead found to answer them.

It is often the case, that change is really about changing the nature of the questions which need to be answered, rather than finding new answers to older questions.

The following graphic lays out the core questions which he posed:

I would highlight one of those questions for a further comment– the need to design new combat ships from the outset to have the capabilities to operate with remotes.

This means that new platforms moving forward need to have data processing capabilities, personnel able to operate SA systems, an ability to include relevant remote platforms onboard as well as a range of platform payloads, and technicians onboard able to deliver sustainment to systems operating at a distance and over relatively long operational times.

In short, for Cmdr. Hornsby the future is now.

And I would add my own judgement – it is crucial to get some of these systems at sea in the operational force for these platforms and payloads will be transformed over time by operational input even more than R and D done by researchers alone.











Shaping an Enhanced Japanese-Australian Military Alliance: The First Joint Air Exercise

With Exercise Bushido Guardian, the Royal Australian Air Force has conducted its first joint air exercise with the Japanese.

The exercise is part of the expanded working relationship in defense agreed upon in 2017.

The opening of the exercise was highlighted in an article by Corporal Vevornica O’Hara published on  25 September 2019

The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal  Mel Hupfeld, has greeted participants of Exercise Bushido Guardian 2019 with a confident “konnichiwa” during a hangar ceremony in Chitose, Japan.

The exercise, involving members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (or Kōkū Jieita) and the Royal Australian Air Force, is being conducted at Chitose Air Base in Hokkaido and Misawa Air Base in Honshu from September 11 to October 8.

During the ceremony, Air Marshal Hupfeld said it was a pleasure to witness the strength of friendship between Australia and Japan and the growing bonds between the two air forces.

“We are here today because of a mutual desire to pursue broader and deeper defence ties, with BG19 achieving that and more,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“Together, we are not only conducting our first bilateral air combat exercise, we also taking a significant step forward in our military relationship and our airmen and airwomen are forging strong personal bonds.”

Air Marshal Hupfeld was confident the new friendships would continue throughout their careers.

“I have no doubt you’ll earn each other’s respect and admiration for your professionalism and skill,” he said.

“Working alongside other air forces allows each of us to gain critical insights and understanding, and unlocks more effective interoperability between friends and allies.

“The realistic and challenging training scenarios will greatly enhance our individual and joint preparedness for operations in support of our national and regional interests.”

Air Marshal Hupfeld thanked everyone for their dedication and hard work and said he looked forward to joining them in the air for an exchange flight in a Kōkū Jieita F-15J.

The Australian and Japanese governments agreed to pursue deeper and broader defence exercise cooperation in 2017.

Members of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force provide a warm welcome as Australian F/A-18 Hornets arrive at Chitose Air Base, Japan, for Exercise Bushido Guardian.

Postponed due to the Hokkaido earthquake in last September, BG19 is a first-of-its-kind bilateral fighter deployment to Japan.

The RAAF has deployed 140 people, along with six F/A-18A/B Hornets and an air battle management team, supported by the Air Mobility Group and the Combat Support Group elements and linguists.

Japan will have two F-15J squadrons and one F-2A squadron participating in the exercise.

And then in an article by Flight Lieutenant Katrina Trimble published on 27 September 2019 the nature of the exercise was discussed further.

The strength of Japan and Australia’s defence cooperation was evident when the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, took to the air in a Japanese F-15J during Exercise Bushido Guardian.

Air Marshal Hupfeld and his counterpart, the Chief of Staff Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Koku-Jieitai), General Yoshinari Marumo, visited exercise participants at Chitose Air Base, Japan, on September 25.

During the ceremony, Air Marshal Hupfeld thanked exercise participants for their contribution to the significant step forward in the two nations’ military relationship.

“Working alongside other air forces allows each of us to gain critical insights and understanding and unlocks more effective interoperability between friends and partners,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“Over the coming days we are not only conducting the first bilateral air combat exercise, we are also demonstrating our shared commitment to an enduring partnership.

“I have no doubt that you are already earning each other’s respect and admiration for your professionalism and skill, and that you will continue to build new friendships that will last throughout your careers.”

General Marumo and Air Marshal Hupfeld said the historic exercise was a symbol of Australia and Japan’s special strategic partnership, founded on common strategic interests and shared values.

“We will continue to pursue opportunities to improve bilateral and multilateral air training and exercises, including in new domains,” General Marumo said.

“Australia and Japan are committed to working proactively together to promote and maintain a free, open, stable and prosperous and open Indo-Pacific.

“We will also continue to pursue engagement opportunities that contribute to our two countries’ commitment to our region.”

In a gesture of friendship, Air Marshal Hupfeld and General Marumo took part in exchange flights in both a Koku-Jieitai F-15J and RAAF F/A-18 fighter jet. The jets were piloted by the exercise squadron commanders and gave the chiefs a first-hand insight into the aircraft’s interoperability in the air.

Bushido Guardian, running until October 8, is an important exercise with Australia’s Japanese partners. It provides realistic and challenging training opportunities to guarantee the best quality of air combat support to the militaries during real-world operations.

What does the exercise mean from the Japanese point of view?

According to an article published in The Japan Times, and written by Michael Macarthur Bosack, the exercise was put in a broader Japanese approach to allies in the current period.

On Wednesday, the Air Self-Defense Force concluded Exercise Bushido Guardian with Australian counterparts in Chitose, Hokkaido. Last week, the Maritime Self-Defense Force finished up Exercise Malabar with U.S. and Indian participants out of Atsugi Air Base, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Starting this week, the MSDF will be participating in Exercise Joint Warrior in the United Kingdom and the Ground Self-Defense Force will take part in the amphibious assault exercise Kamandag in the Philippines.

This level of interaction with foreign militaries is not only unprecedented, it would have seemed impossible just a decade ago for the Self-Defense Force. It is becoming increasingly commonplace though, to the point that Japan has been actively negotiating international agreements to allow for more routine operations by foreign forces in Japan and vice versa.

The author provided an assessment of why Japan was doing this.

Beyond simply presenting an alternative to China, Japan has actively taken steps to align itself with the so-called middle powers that support the status quo. That status quo is often referred to as the “rules-based international order,” and Australia, the U.K., France, the Philippines, India, Canada, New Zealand and others are all countries seeking to preserve it.

Japan has deliberately reached out to them, increasing exercise participation with those countries, and in some cases, working toward formalized instruments of alignment, whether in the form of a mutual logistics agreement, military information-sharing agreement or visiting forces agreement.

What does this exercise mean from the Australian point of view?

One could see this exercise and an expanded relationship with Japan as part of the evolving of their strategic approach in the region and beyond. Australia is expanding the working relationship with core allies beyond the United States.

This air exercise and their approach to shipbuilding alliances indicate an expanded working relationships with Britain and France in the defense domain as well.





In the Footsteps of Admiral Nimitz: VADM Miller and His Team Focused on 21st Century “Training”

By Robbin Laird

As Admiral Nimitz confronted the last century’s challenges in the Pacific, he concluded a core lesson for this century’s Pacific warriors:

“Having confronted the Imperial Japanese Navy’s skill, energy, persistence, and courage, Nimitz identified the key to victory: ‘training, TRAINING and M-O-R-E  T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G.’ as quoted in Neptunes’s Inferno, The U.S. Navy at Guadalcanal (James D. Hornfischer)”

The US and its core allies are shaping new capabilities to deal with the various threats and challenges in the Pacific in the time of the Asian century.

Flexibility in operations and agility in inserting force with a proper calibration of effect will be enhanced as new systems come on line in the years ahead. But these systems will have the proper effect only in the hands of skilled warriors.


Recently, I visited Naval Air Station, North Island, in San Diego, to meet with VADM Miller, Commander Naval Air Forces, or the “Air Boss” of the US Navy.

Joining the discussion was the F-35 US Navy Wing Commander, Captain Max McCoy.

We discussed the evolution of the Naval Air Wings in the context of the Navy working what we have called in the past “the kill web,” or what I am now referring to as building an integrated distributed force.

VADM Miller started by underscoring that significant change is underway for the carrier air wing or CAG.

The F-35 is providing a forcing function of change.

One Mean Aircraft from SldInfo.com on Vimeo.

According to VADM Miller:

“5th generation capability is a catalyst for change:  how we fight, how we train, how we maintain and sustain aircraft, how we flight test, and how man our squadrons (pilots & maintenance personnel).

“The emphasis is interoperability, networking, distributed forces, and integration.”

But several new capabilities are being introduced into the operational force, such as the Triton, P-8s, modernized Super Hornets, the new Hawkeye, the MQ-25 unmanned tanker.

These new capabilities are being worked into an evolving Naval strike force to shape new capabilities for the carrier and for the distributed force.

The new Commandant of the USMC has highlighted how he sees the evolution of the USN-USMC team to shape a distributed offensive defensive capability and the changes described by the Commandant along with changes to the carrier force are adding up to a significant trajectory of change for the sea-based force.

I asked him what are his top funding priorities and he underscored the key challenge of sustainment and getting the force fully supported for its demanding global deployment challenges.

But along with sustainment he highlighted the key challenge of shaping a new approach to training and testing in which the force evolves more rapidly in its combat learning skills from the standpoint of force interoperability.

The training function is changing dramatically, and in many ways, the reality underlying the function is changing dramatically as the capabilities and the focus on what I would call shaping an integrated distributed force change as well.

Captain Max McCoy highlighted what one might call the forcing function of the F-35 and of the F-35 aviators upon the training dynamic.

“We are teaching F-35C pilots to be wingmen, but training them to think like mission commanders.

“F-35C provides more situational awareness than ever before and pilots must be able to influence the battlespace both kinetically and non-kinetically.

“The pilot must interpret cockpit information and determine the best means to ensure mission success either through his own actions or by networking to a distributed force.”

They need to think like mission commanders, in which they are operating in terms of both leveraging and contributing to the networked force.

This means that the skill sets being learned are not the classic TTPs for a combat pilot but are focused on learning how to empower and leverage an integrated force.

“Training can no longer focus solely on T/M/S capabilities.

“Training has to develop young aviators who appreciate their role within a larger maneuver/combat element.

“Specifically, how does F-35C complement 4th generation capabilities within the Carrier Air Wing and surface combatants distributed within the Carrier Strike Group?

“It is no longer about fighting as a section or division of fighter aircraft.

“We only win if we fight as an interoperable, networked, and distributed force.

“We are still learning and incorporating 5th generation capability into the Navy.

“Our efforts must be calculated and measured but push beyond historical comfort zones.

“We must embrace what is new and redefine what is basic warfighting capability.

“This starts with the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) and Air Combat Training Continuum (ACTC) syllabi.

“We must make integrated training a key component of a pilot’s progression from FRS graduate to mission commander.    F-35C is an enabler, if and only if, we train our pilots to think well beyond the limits of their cockpit and reach of an individual aircraft’s weapons system”.

They are learning how to operate as distributed force packages.

This is leading to radical disjunctures from traditional training approaches and thinking.

How do you best train your aviators to tap into networks and provide for distributed strike?

In shifting from a training focus on traditional TTPs, how do Naval aviator’s problem solve differently?

How to reshape effectively the infrastructure to support new training approaches?

How do Naval aviators integrate with and maximize their impact for and on the combat force?

Live Virtual Constructive Training provides a technological path, but is a necessary but not sufficient tool set for the Navy to get where they need to go.

Training is now about shaping domain knowledge for the operational force to ensure that “we can be as good as we can be all of the time.”

According to Vice Admiral Miller and Captain McCoy:

“The ability to reshape training and change culture requires a warfighting community to break from traditional training methods either on the range, at sea and in the simulated environment.

“There are numerous reasons why we must find a new balance among live, virtual and constructive (LVC) training in a distributed mission training (DMT) construct.

“Range infrastructure, threat simulation, cost to operate, and security are driving us to search for new training opportunities.

“However, the most important reason is operational readiness – warfighting first.

“We must be ready and prepared to fight at all times independent of FRTP/OFRP phase.  LVC/DMT is the only way to be good all of the time given a unit’s resourcing that includes manpower, aircraft, and flight hour budget.

“It forces integration among 4th and 5th generation aircraft while also providing the medium to integrate with surface combatants.

“Again, in the future, we are all wingmen in the battlespace who must think well beyond the cockpit or bridge of our platforms.  LVC/DMT will be the proving ground that unlocks how we think and encourages TTP development that would otherwise be hindered by fiscal constraints and under-resourced or inadequate ranges.

“It is the bridge that builds cooperation and cohesiveness among communities.  LVC/DMT is the common ground that teaches our amazing tacticians how to appreciate a wide range of capabilities that are far more effective in the collective.”

If Admiral Nimitz would visit Naval Air Station, North Island, today, he would be amazed and pleased to see the technology in the hands and coming into the hands of the Naval aviation community.

But he certainly would wish to see the 21stcentury re-set of training underway to be fully supported and funded.

See also the following:

Air Marshal (Retired) Brown on Shaping a Fifth-Gen Kill Web Training Appraoch

Fighting at The Speed of Light: Making it All Work

The Maritime Services and the Kill Web

Vice Admiral Dewolfe Miller, III

Commander, Naval Air Forces/Commander, Naval Air Force, US Pacific Fleet

Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller is a native of Annapolis, Maryland, grew up in York, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1981. He holds a Master of Science from the National Defense University, is a Syracuse University national security management fellow and is a graduate of the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program.

His operational assignments include Training Squadron (VT) 19 in Meridian, Mississippi; Attack Squadron (VA) 56 aboard USS Midway (CV 41); Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 on USS Constellation (CV 64); VFA-131 and VFA-34 both aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69); executive officer of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70); commanding officer of USS Nashville (LPD 13); commanding officer of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) and as a flag officer, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2  participating in combat Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Resolve.

Miller’s shore tours include Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 5; aviation programs analyst Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV N80); Strike Fighter Weapons School Atlantic; deputy director of naval operations at the Combined Air Operations Center during Operation Allied Force; Office of Legislative Affairs for the Secretary of Defense; aircraft carrier requirements officer for Commander, Naval Air Forces; and flag officer tours in OPNAV as director for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (N2N6F2); assistant deputy chief of naval operations for Warfare Systems (N9B); and most recently as director, Air Warfare (N98).

Miller became Naval Aviation’s 8th “Air Boss” in January 2018.

He is entitled to wear the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal and other personal, unit and service awards.

For Vice Admiral Miller’s speech to UK Air Power Convention delivered July 2019, see below:

UK AirPower Convention Speech_FINAL_July2019

May 23, 2019, VADM Miller delivered a speech at Fallon at the Change of Command Ceremony at NAWDC.

Some of his remarks made in that speech follow:

“The National Defense Strategy clearly states that ‘the surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one.’  So as we re-enter into an era of great power competition, where we face evolving, credible threats, we need NAWDC now, more than ever, to ensure we are always and forever prepared to win.

“And the most critical component of being prepared to fight and win is by having the very best and most realistic training possible.

“Performance in combat has always been dependent on the level and quality of training – never on the hope of achieving personal expectations.  That aspect of our business is fully embraced here, where innovative and creative warfighters are pushed to the boundaries of the machines that they operate.

“Naval Aviators excel in the air and make a difference in the world because of the skills honed here at NAWDC.”

Finally, the VADM spoke at the annual MPA Convention where he highlighted the importance of how Navy aviation was being transformed for the ability of the Navy to contribute to the demands of the new generation of full spectrum crisis management facing the liberal democracies.

“Maritime patrol and reconnaissance is the oldest mission in naval aviation and is deeply rooted in our beginnings.  Involved in every major conflict over the past 100 years, acting as the eyes and ears of the Fleet to meet commander’s needs for time-critical, over-the-horizon situational awareness.

“In fact, a pioneering junior officer in a Curtiss flying boat conducted the first reconnaissance mission flown by the Navy in a wartime condition, overflying Veracruz, Mexico in 1914 photographing enemy positions and searching for mines. That same pilot several days later also became the first Naval Aviator to take hostile fire.

“Today, we truly find ourselves “back to the future” with an emboldened Russia and an increasingly assertive China.  As both countries continue to expand and grow and globally deploy, the maritime forces that provide world wide security that leads to prosperity, the United States Navy and our allies, need to be ready – globally.

“Clearly the Cold War was won without fighting and that should be our goal today…back to the future.  As such, diplomacy — not the military — should be the main battery.  But diplomacy that’s not backed by credible combat power is an empty suit.  That’s where we come in.

“That’s why we deploy mobile, agile and lethal carrier strike groups, Marine Expeditionary Units and Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Forces all over the globe.  That’s why USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) rapidly repositioned to the Arabian Gulf.  And that’s why the Golden Eagles of VP-9 are flying with armed HARPOON missiles in the SIXTH Fleet AOR and the Fighting Tigers of VP-8 and the Mad Foxes of VP-5 are conducting daily patrols in the South China Sea.

“That’s why VP-40 is providing armed escort for ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz they conduct the P-3’s final active-duty deployment.

“That’s why the VQ-1 “World Watchers” are deployed around the world providing continuous global ISR coverage to EVERY geographic Combatant Command.

“And why the Wizards of VPU-2 are ready “Anytime, Anywhere.”  Deployed and engaged in operations 365 days a year executing national tasking.

“When these forces combine with our international partners, the world’s finest ground forces, unmatched submarines, and cyber/space warriors, you get credible Joint Coalition combat power.

“Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss two myths that I’m often asked about:  one, that unmanned aircraft will make pilots obsolete and, two, that the era of the aircraft carrier is over – “Twilight of the Flattop,” I believe was the headline on last week’s Navy Times.

“We need look no further than Mark Twain to say that the reports of the demise of manned aircraft are greatly exaggerated.

“Just think for a moment that the mighty P-3, which first flew in 1962, is still flying missions in PACOM today…57 years later.  Please don’t take this remark as a sign that I am not a fan of TRITON.  As the Navy’s former director of ISR, nothing could be further from the truth.

“TRITON will be a game changer for many reasons and I am convinced that once VUP-19 deploys later this year and demonstrates the magnificent capabilities of the baseline variant – many more Commanders will quickly become fans.

Ladies and gentlemen, while the era of manned flight is far from over, the era of manned and unmanned teaming is just beginning and the need for steely eyed Naval Aviators will endure for as long as I can predict.

“Now let’s talk about aircraft carriers.

“Aircraft carriers and Aircraft Carrier Strike groups remain the centerpiece of our nation’s security strategy, supporting and protecting America’s national interests around the world.  As CNO has stated publically, and I echo – the aircraft carrier is the most survivable airfield in the world, travelling up to 700 miles in a day – capable of concentrating fires from the sea.  They need no permissions from host nations to operate, are sustainable, are, of course – supported by maritime patrol forces and provide valuable options to National Decision makers.

“I am perplexed at why some continue to proclaim the demise of the carrier.  Critics would have us believe that anti-ship ballistic missiles would render the CVN obsolete.

“Ladies and gentlemen, these critics and skeptics are flat out wrong.  The carrier strike group is more relevant today than ever before.

“On this topic, I’d like to quote ADM Harry Harris, a revered P-3 aviator, former Commander of Pacific Command and current Ambassador to South Korea.

“He stated “In this age of contested borders, disputed seas, and uncertain access, 4.5 acres of sovereign U.S. territory moving at will across the global landscape is a force to be reckoned with … and an enduring symbol of American power for which there is no substitute.

“We all know that Naval aviation is not static.

“Just look at the introduction of baseline TRITON and planned improvements of TRITON Multi-int, the capabilities resident in today’s P-8A and planned improvements in P-8 Inc III.  The same can be said of our carrier air wing with the advent of E-2D, Next Generation Jammer, Joint Strike Fighter, FA-18 Block III, CMV-22 and the GERALD R. FORD Class of Aircraft carriers.  Each – more networked, more autonomous, more capable and more lethal than their predecessors.

“These are indeed, exciting times to be a Naval Aviator – especially an aviator in Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance.”

Also, see the following USNI resource:


Re-setting Sustainment for the Royal Australian Navy Fleet


Recently, I attended the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy’s Seapower conference being held in Sydney from October 8th through the 10th, 2019.

For five years, I have been attending the Williams Foundation Seminars and writing the reports on the transformation of the RAAF and its impact on shaping a “fifth generation ADF” or what I like to call, “building an integrated distributed force.”

The RAAF has done this over a decade and has done so by buying the best airpower platforms being built in Europe and the United States and by focusing on ways to integrate those platforms to operate as an integrated force. In my view, this has been a very cost-effective way to get a transformed force.

Although it is a work in progress, the challenge posed by rebuilding the Australian Navy is of a different scale and magnitude and the government and the Australian Navy are taking a very different course to force transformation.

The Navy and the government have in mind building a national infrastructure for “continuous shipbuilding” which when translated into non-defense English means building infrastructure to build, upgrade, maintain and support naval forces on a continuous basis.

This means building new facilities, shaping new workforces and keeping them regularly employed to sustain as well as build. This is a costly and significant challenge, the magnitude of which significantly exceeds what has been done for the largely professional Air Force focused transformation.

This is about engaging the wider society and certainly taps into the national challenge of rebuilding national infrastructure to defend the nation against 21st century authoritarian powers.

In a session which focused on shaping a new sustainment approach for naval forces, Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm, Head of Maritime Systems Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, highlighted the importance of ensuring that a new sustainment strategy be built into the build out of the next generation Australian navy.

She argued that the Australian government has committed itself to a step change in naval capability. Australia will be engaged in the most significant recapitalization of its Navy since the Second World War.

“We need to reshape the way we sustain our fleet as we go about a significant change in how we are doing Naval acquisition.”

“As a result, we need to future proof our Navy so that it is capable and lethal and available when and where they are needed.

“We need to build a sustainment model which ensures that we can do this as well.”

Sustainment has been largely thought of as the afterthought to acquisition of a new platform. She argued that with the new “continuous shipbuilding approach” being worked, sustainment needs to be built in from the start into this process approach.

“We should from the outset to consider the best ways to sustain the force and to do so with engagement with industry in the solutions from the outset.”

She noted that the acquisition budget is roughly equivalent to the sustainment budget, and this means that a new approach to sustainment needs to accompany the new acquisition approach from the outset to ensure the delivery and operations of the most lethal and capable combat fleet which Australia can provide.

“There are serious external and internal forces that are forcing change in our thinking about how we will use our fleet…. A major investment in shipyards, work force, and in new ships requires an appropriate sustainment approach to deliver the capability to do the tasks our navy is and will be required to do.”

The shift to “continuous ship building” entails a major shift in how Australia needs to think about sustainment as well. She argued that a number of technologies had emerged which allow from a more flexible and adaptative way not only to build but to sustain ships as well.

“We need to take a fleet view and to shape a continuous approach to sustainment as well.”

Rear Admiral Malcolm dubbed the new approach of a continuous sustainment approach or environment as Plan Galileo.

Similar to what the RAAF has termed Plan Jericho as suggesting that discontinuity was as important as continuity, she has argued that there is a need for significant relaunch of thinking and build out of sustainment.

Plan Galileo is built around three key efforts.

The first is an improved approach to capability life cycle management.

The second is the establishment of regional maintenance centers.

The third is associated with the first two. Industrial engagement is crucial to driving regional hubs with true sovereign capability that is complementary to the national shipbuilding effort.

She underscored the importance of shaping a sustainment capability which can provide for redundancy and to do damage battle repair in crisis situations.

And she added that the Australian navy will need to focus as well on sustainment away from Australian territory as well.

She argued that the rebuilt dockyards and work force need to become multi-mission competent rather than single platform focused.

In this regard, she highlighted the importance of building regional support centers which could support a wide variety of vessels and systems.

In short, Rear Admiral Malcom provided a significant cautionary warning – if a shift in the sustainment model does not occur, the capability of even a newly built navy will be undercut in the conflictual world into which we have entered.

She made a vigorous case that the “continuous shipbuilding” approach needed to have a sustainment approach built in as well.

Indeed, given the dynamics of change associated within each class of ships associated with dynamics such as software upgradeability and in terms of building an integrated force within which the Navy will operate, the cross-domain operational requirements will require a modernization approach that becomes part of what one might consider to be sustainability.

And with the return of the significance of national and regional geography, the last thirty years reliance on a globalization process in which 21st century authoritarian powers have been key participants needs to be rethought, modified and reconfigured.





The Requirements of Fifth Generation Manoeuvre: October 24, 2019 Williams Foundation Seminar

On October 24, 2019, the Williams Foundation will host its next seminar on building an integrated fifth generation force.

This seminar will be held in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from 0800 through 1530.

Since 2013 the Sir Richard Williams Foundation seminars have focused on building an integrated fifth generation force. Recent seminars have evolved from the acquisition of new platforms to the process of shaping and better understanding the environment in which that integrated force will prepare and operate. In doing so they have, among other things, highlighted the challenges of making the strategic shift from counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to higher tempo and higher intensity Joint operations involving peer competitors.

Within this context, the 2019/20 seminars will further develop the ideas associated with an increasingly sophisticated approach to Joint warfighting and power projection as we face increasing pressure to maintain influence and a capability edge in the region. In doing so, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation will continue to look at the evolution of the Australian Defence Force from the perspective of the sovereign lens and setting the conditions for future success.

The seminar in October 2019 is titled ‘The Requirements of Fifth Generation Manoeuvre’ and will examine the differences and potential gaps in how the Australian Defence Force must equip and organise for multi-domain operations.

In April 2020, we will expand on the theme and focus on ‘Preparedness for Fifth Generation Manoeuvre’. This seminar will explore the readiness, training and sustainment activities necessary to prepare for a broad range of possible contingencies in support of national security objectives, which might involve acting independently in the broader region.

Seminar Outline

Fifth generation manoeuvre will go hand-in-hand with the Australian Defence Force’s ability to orchestrate a rapid increase in tempo and open up new ways and means of projecting power and undertaking an indirect approach to warfare. Building upon the existing foundations of Australian Defence Force manoeuvre capability, the aim of the October seminar is to explore the differences in character and attributes of fifth generation manoeuvre and identify potential gaps in the way we must think, equip and organise to meet emerging national security outcomes.

The seminar will consider manoeuvre from a historical perspective and evolve the concept to the emerging policy and requirements of contemporary operations, especially as they relate to power projection and the emergence of the electromagnetic spectrum as a warfighting domain in its own right.

It will examine how we sense, make sense, and decide within the emerging operational environment and highlight the increasingly sophisticated and integrated relationship between the human and technology and the trusted autonomous systems which will characterise fifth generation operations.

The seminar will further examine the enduring requirement for situational awareness as a prerequisite for operational success, and the challenges of developing a broader understanding of the environment and communicating command intent to enable manoeuvre, especially when the electromagnetic spectrum is both contested and congested. Multi-domain command and control will be a critical enabler for fifth generation manoeuvre with communication and network resilience a fundamental consideration in force design and employment.

The seminar will also highlight the ongoing need to inculcate a fifth generation mindset into combat support and combat service support functions to better exploit the advantages of greater access and movement of information as well as the traditional physical enablers of manoeuvre. It will consider the role of critical infrastructure and geography and the opportunities and risks associated with the Australian operating environment.

The Sir Richard Williams Foundation has identified pre-eminent speakers from across the Australian and international defence communities, as well as inviting industry representatives to reflect the integral role they will play in the national framework of future operational capability.


For our Williams Foundation micro site, which includes past Williams Foundation reports, see the following: