Air forces in asymmetric missions (part 2)

„Reflexions on air power“

Dirk Heinzmann


The first essay about the topic „Air forces in asymmetric missions“ delineates – under the aspect of the “development of air power” – the dimension of the historical development of air power. Starting from the first military missions more than 100 years ago and basing on them, their relevance as well as the possible potential of action of air forces in asymmetrical conflicts is analysed up to the present time. At the same time air power as one of the decisive military components in the portfolio of the Instruments of Power is elucidated, and the process of adaptations which the air forces have undergone in this case especially during the last two decades is demonstrated. Thus, their adapted role in the conglomeration of military, politics, economy and society is illustrated.

The present second sequel „Reflexions on air power“ now discusses the relationship the military airpower with selected critical fields of interaction and describes their importance in the interplay with further vital factors. Both the relevance of the air forces for politics and their manifold links within the military framework as well as significant unique characteristics are highlighted. From that extensive knowledge can be deduced, which on the one hand refine the basic understanding for the essence of air power, and which on the other hand generate interaction with the other national factors of power. In the context of military exercise of power, the role of air forces is generally acknowledged and considered to be an essential element of politics, even so in the western society of values. Especially for the information and communication sector which is considered pivotal for a political situation analysis, the domination and control of lower airspace and even of outer space is decisive. Additionally, the military potential of air forces has been used in asymmetrical conflicts for many decades, and well-tried besides.

The permanently developing processes and changes in all political, diplomatic and social areas gradually have led to adaptations in military interactions as well as their strategies and doctrines. Like in the past, this process is inevitably pushed forward dramatically by technological changes and progress, especially with the air forces. In this special volatile dynamics, the people involved must not be neglected, - neither soldiers nor diplomats nor plain citizens. Otherwise, the danger would arise that the necessary synchronization of the technological dimension of air forces and the concomitant qualification, training and education of the actors dwindle away. As a matter of fact, this does not only concern the super air power USA with their over-dimensioned and system-characterising affinity towards technology or their patriotic self-conception, it also concerns smaller states. Particularly as in our democratic societies the highly qualified, discussion-able and interculturally well-versed human represents the largest capital with his actions as a superior, negotiator and thinker.