The Evolution of the European Airman -- And what it means to the US Air Force|
9/21/2011 - NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) -- It's great to be here. Thank you, Sandy and AFA for allowing us all to be here. And a special thanks to Mike Dunn for allowing me to speak to you. You may want to counsel him later. (Laughter)
This is the topic, but let me tell you what I'm really going to talk about.
Next slide please.
Partnerships. By the way, I have a lot of other great partners in my current job than represented here. These are just five I picked at random of the 28 NATO Air Chiefs. These happen to be from Poland, Germany, France, Latvia and the Netherlands. These are great people. More importantly, great airmen. In fact incredible airmen.
When I first got to this job and started meeting these folks, that surprised me a little bit for some strange reason. I'd kind of forgotten how good European airmen had become over time. It made me kind of stop and think about how did they get to be this good? I thought we were kings of the hill.
Let me tell you something, "Jac" Jansen there in the bottom right corner, Jean-Paul Palomeros on the bottom left, Aarne Kreuzinger-Janik on the top right. They're as good as anybody I know wearing this uniform.
How did they get so good? Where did this all start? What does it mean for the future? That's what I want to talk about.
Some of you have probably heard the stories, and you're very familiar with the Montgolfier brothers, the inventors from France. Good looking guys, too, if you notice there on the left. Etienne's on the left and Josef's on the right. Nice dudes, huh?
In September of 1783, the Montgolfier brothers found themselves in a large meadow in front of the palace in Versailles, France, getting ready to test their first successful hot air balloon launch. It was a pretty cool day in Paris. Huge crowd. There were three passengers on that balloon because although the Montgolfiers were very confident in their science, they weren't confident enough to put themselves in the gondola. But there were three passengers. Two of them were a rooster and a duck; [the third was a sheep].
All three passengers survived the flight. It was a big day for aviation and a huge day for the Montgolfier brothers.
By the way, about a hundred years later the Wright Brothers, Wilbur, then 11, and Orville, 7, received a gift from their father. It was a toy helicopter. A rubber band powered toy helicopter. Built by the guy in the upper left picture, Alphonse Pénaud, a French inventor known by people who know these things as the Father of Flying Models. The Penaud model was something that inspired the Wright Brothers. In fact many years later that sketch you see in the middle was drawn by Wilbur in 1929 as he remembered this toy that kind of drove his passion for flight. Both brothers credited Penaud with igniting that flame.
The rest because history on that December day in 1903 -- inspired by a Frenchman.
History has a funny way of repeating itself. In November of 1911 young Lieutenant Giulio Gavotti of the Italian Air Arm, found himself in Northern Africa in the middle of a conflict between the Italian Army and the Ottoman Turks for control of Libya. On this particular morning, the first of November of 1911, Giulio woke up and after his breakfast of a double espresso and penne pasta, he said to himself, [Italian phrase], which of course means today I have decided to try to throw bombs from the airplane. [Laughter]. I've been working on my Italian, as you can tell. And he did. Four of them. Four pound bombs, round bombs like big grenades. He put three of them in a bag in the airplane and nailed it to the floor of the cockpit. He put the fourth one in the pocket of his leather flying jacket. He took the fuses with him. On the [approach to] target one he put a fuse in his mouth, screwed the bomb onto it as he got close, and then tossed it out of the side of the airplane at a precisely calculated release point. All four bombs hit the ground. Giulio was happy because his idea worked. The Turks were happy because nobody was hurt or injured or killed. And the Italians had just started the air campaign. Long before we did.
In May of this year I had the opportunity, as many of you have, I know some of you in this audience have done this, to speak at the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial just outside of Paris at a remembrance ceremony on Memorial Day. What an incredible experience. To stand at that monument and speak to a crowd that was honestly there to remember. To walk through the crypt below where 49 American aviators are buried is a moving experience.
You know the Escadrille. The picture on the bottom right is the number of members of the squadron. You've all heard the stories, you know many of the names. Raoul Luftberry in the upper right corner there, standing in front of his beloved Nieuport 28. The squadron mascots, Whiskey and Soda in the bottom left; [Lions identified as] big African dogs, to get them on the trains. One thing we forget about these guys though is these great American aviators, our first combat aviators, were trained by the French Air Corps. They were led in combat by a French Commander, Captain Georges Tenault, the picture on the upper left, during the entire time this organization existed. Georges Tenault's a hero in France. He's one of mine, too.
World War I was an interesting time for aviation in Europe because heroes came out of the war. All of us in the States knew about Eddie Rickenbacker and his 26 kills. Below him on the right side, Billy Bishop from Canada had 72 kills and was a hero in his home country. Everybody knew Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron; the ace of aces of World War I, with 80 kills. A romantic, charismatic, swash-buckling kind of figure, at least in the public eye. None of those things were true of the war he fought in.
On the left is the Frenchman René Fonck who was the leading ally ace of World War I with 75 kills. In the bottom left corner is a guy named Georges Guynemer. Georges was the darling of the French public. His frail personality caught their heart, as did his lion heart. He fought in 600 dogfights, 53 confirmed kills. He was shot down seven times and always survived to fight again. He received marriage proposals in the mail. Kids chased him for his autograph. People stalked him through towns.
Between the wars an interesting thing started to happen. European airmen wanted independence from their Army brothers. The first Air Force to gain that separation was the RAF. It actually happened before the war ended in 1918. About five years later the Italians separated from the Army and became a separate Air Army. About ten years later, in 1933, the French followed suit; followed closely by the German Luftwaffe; and then the Swiss Air Force. These European airmen paved the way for our Air Force to become a separate service. I didn't know that.
Other things happened between the wars that shaped the future of European aviation. The strategic bombing debate began in earnest. Here in the States we had proponents of different approaches. In Europe the key voices were Air Marshal Sir Hugh Trenchard from the RAF and General Giulio Dohet of Italy. Those Italians. They were pretty involved in this aviation stuff.
Both of these were strategic bombardment enthusiasts. Both of them felt that population centers as well as industry target and fielded forces were fair targets for a bombing campaign. Dohet stressed repeatedly that the number one action that must take place is that you had the air superiority before beginning the bombing campaign. A principle that was validated from July through October of 1940 as a very stubborn RAF flying Spitfire Mark 1s and other treat aircraft, stubbornly refused to cede the skies over the UK and the channel to the much stronger Luftwaffe and denied them the air superiority they required.
Here's another leading architect of European aviation and air power in general, something we don't hear a lot about here in the U.S. His name was Walther Wever. He was the head of the Luftwaffe from the early '30s to the mid '30s, until he died in 1936. He built the first full-service air force. He believed in fighter/bombers. He believed in multi-role aircraft. He believed in direct support to ground forces. And he believed in them strongly. Whether it was the Stukas in the top left and right pictures in this slide, or the JU88 in the bottom left, which served as everything from a dive bomber to a night fighter to a flying bomb during the war. Or the specialized three-man reconnaissance aircraft, the Focke-Wulf Fw189, the bottom center photo. He built an aeronautical juggernaut. Tested it in Spain and then unleashed it on Poland in 1939. That enabled the Wehrmacht, in less than 30 days, to be marching the streets of Warsaw. Air power had changed.
Another change was the rise of a new power. Alexander Novikov was the Chief Air Marshal of the Soviet Army during World War II. Some of you who are historians may remember Lenin saying in 1931 that the biggest problem the Soviets faced is that their industrial base was probably 50 to 100 years behind that of Western Europe, and that somehow Novikov working with industry leaders between 1940 and 1944 managed to produce 160,000 combat aircraft for the Soviet Army. The Ilyushin IL-2 and its follow-on model the IL-10 are still the most significant aircraft that are military aircraft produced in history. Over 42,000 models came off the line. The YAK-1 was a fighter that was fast and maneuverable, well-armed and intimidating to anybody the Soviets faced during the war. This air force would affect us until today.
They had heroes from World War II as well. We know of the ones from the States. Here are some of the ones from Europe. Hans Wind in the upper left corner was a Swedish speaking Finnish Air Force fighter pilot who had 75 kills. The bottom, Ivan Kozhedub, a Soviet pilot who was the leading allied ace in the war. He was named Hero of the Soviet Union three times. Upper right is the Brit Wizard of the Air, as they called him, Johnnie Johnson. Below him the Soviet female ace, Lydia Litvyak who had 12 kills on the Eastern Front. In the center, of course, is the ace of aces, the most prolific aerial killer in history, Erich Hartmann, nicknamed 'Bubi,' which means young boy. Respect is a wonderful thing. The Soviets called him "The Black Devil." Amazing guy. 345 of his 352 kills were against the Soviet Air Force.
An interesting thing happened very shortly after World War II ended. In 1948 the newly aggressive Soviet Army surrounded Berlin and cut off ground access to West Berlin. President Truman was advised by many of his political and military leaders not to do anything about it because he risks a confrontation. He chose otherwise and in conjunction with allies decided to conduct an airlift to resupply the people with [food and supplies]. Jack Simpson, in the upper left, was an RAF pilot. He and a number of others flew the RAF York aircraft shown there on the top right corner, they participated in this airlift -- two sorties a day for ten months. They combined with U.S. Air Force C-47s and C-54s shown on the ground in the bottom of this slide, on the ground at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany. Ten months later, two million tons of cargo and 260,000 sorties had been flown. Gail Halvorsen, the Candy Bomber, became a legend to the children of Berlin. And airlift took its rightful place on the aviation podium.
That same year another interesting thing happened in Europe. A number of nations came together and decided that because of this renewed Soviet aggression and the threat of expanding communism we needed to form an alliance. It was named the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and it was an alliance of necessity to beat this rising threat. There were 12 members -- Canada, the U.S., Iceland, Norway, the UK, Portugal, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Denmark in the initial group. A few years later, in 1952, Greece and Turkey joined the alliance. In 1955 West Germany came on board, and it wouldn't be for almost 30 more years before Spain joined the alliance in 1982.
As that alliance of necessity came together and began to function militarily, the U.S. got involved in a conflict in Vietnam. As we learned the shortfalls that we had in our tactical aviation capabilities, shortfalls that we worked very hard to fix over the next 20 years, European airmen watched and learned, and they participated in a very different debate that was ongoing in their part of the world.
As NATO began to expand and the U.S. began to look at the strategy of mutually assured destruction, it became obvious that a major strategic exchange with the Soviet Union wasn't anything to worry about so the U.S. began to put conventional forces onto the continent of Europe thinking a conventional action might be a better approach if it came to conflict. The NATO nations saw this developing and said it looks like you're willing to sacrifice our land and our people to fight your war. There needs to be a better strategy. So after five years of very emotional public debate we decided on the strategy of flexible response where we wouldn't put a conventional force on the ground in Europe. We would operate together to defeat any Soviet aggression and we would try and draw a line on the inner German border and not cede property. If it ceded, we would reclaim it. But all this would be backed by a very strong, credible strategic deterrence. [And we] moved forward.
As the Warsaw Pact continued to grow it capabilities, you can see up to almost 12,000 combat aircraft by 1980, NATO tried very hard to keep pace. Always about 67 percent behind, but hoping the quality of aircraft, quality of training would make the difference.
Then something magical happened in 1989 and the Wall came down. We decided to cash in the Peace Dividend. U.S. Air Forces in Europe brought down about 75 percent of its fighter force structure over the next eight years. From 28 squadrons down to 7. Our key NATO partners did the same thing. Sixty-seven percent of their fighter squadrons disappeared between 1990 and 2010. A significant reduction of combat capacity. As a result, the people who commanded U.S. European Command and the people who commanded U.S. Air Forces in Europe and the other components decided that we had to have a different approach to build capability where capacity didn't exist. So we started a very concentrated effort of theater security cooperation led by European Command.
This picture taken at an exercise called Carpathian Spring earlier this year. On the left is a U.S. C-130 pilot from Ramstein, on the right a Romanian C-130 pilot. We do lots of exercises like Carpathian Spring. Every year in USAFE we conduct about 1,765 engagement activities, military-to-military engagement activities, with air forces of Europe and Africa. Maggie Woodward and her team do 250 to 275 [engagements] in Africa, and we do the rest of those in Europe. That's a lot of activity. It has become the principle stay-at-home mission of U.S. Air Forces Europe, helping to win the fight in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
The dividend of this investment is easy to see. This is a snapshot we took in August of this year. Of the 48 coalition partners in Afghanistan, 37 of them are European partners. Of the 40,000 non-U.S. troops on the ground in ISAF, 37,000 of them are from Europe. This is where our best, closest and most capable partners live. The ones who stand beside us in the ugly places.
European airmen are also there. That's an RAF Reaper flying out of Kandahar. At the bottom left is a Polish gunship that performed superbly in northern and western Iraq. The bottom right is a Spanish Searcher UAS contributing to the ISR picture for ISAF. In the upper right is a French Mirage 2000, also operating out of Kandahar. By the way, that's a two-seater. The guy in the back seat is an instructor. His name is Skyler Hester. He's a U.S. Air Force major. He's on a three year exchange tour with the French Air Force building cooperation, building partner capacity, learning from the French and teaching what he can. He's building partners.
When we took this snapshot there were 11 European nations operating on the air side in Afghanistan. You can see what they were doing. By the way, if you're not a flag person, starting from the left, that's Germany, Belgium, Spain, at the bottom is France, in the middle is Italy at the top, then the Netherlands, Portugal, the UK, on the right is Sweden, Norway, Poland. A lot of capability reflected on this slide. A lot of great airmen.
That little blue box on the left is important. Last year Roger Brady came to this forum and gave a great presentation, talked about NATO JTAC training. It continues. NATO's trained about 154 Joint Terminal Attack Controllers for those 17 non-U.S. countries.
The last time I was in Afghanistan I talked with an Estonian JTAC who was supporting a Czech Infantry Battalion. He'd been with them for four months. The day before they had been operating [inaudible] security for a Bulgarian security force that was operating in support of a U.S. counter-terror task force. They called in Dutch F-16s and Polish gunships for close air support during the mission. The world has changed. For those of you who haven't been out there in a while, it doesn't look like the uniforms that you're used to, but the capability is phenomenal.
Today there are about 210 NATO JTACs in Afghanistan. That's 210 U.S. JTACs who don't have to be there.
This is the face of our new European partners. His name is Dans Jansons. He's a Latvian airman in a Joint Terminal Attach Controller. He's sitting in the upper left corner with a sergeant from the Michigan Army Guard named TJ Pierce, because they're operating together on a joint operational mentoring liaison team in Afghanistan, in a really ugly part of Afghanistan, that was half Latvian infantry and half U.S. Army National Guard. The JTACs were all Latvian. Their joint fire observers were U.S. Army. That inseparable team probably never dreamed they'd be working with each other until they showed up in Afghanistan. And there were [inaudible] successes.
The picture on the bottom right came after Jansons was shot by a sniper when he and TJ Pierce moved up in cover to try and blunt a Taliban attack on the forward operating base. They needed to get a better fix on the enemy positions. A sniper hit Captain Jansons; TJ Pierce pulled him to safety, dressed his wounds, and later carried him to a waiting helicopter along with another Latvian JTAC. On the way to the helicopter that second JTAC was also wounded and loaded in the helicopter for evacuation as well. Two days later, Sergeant Pierce was wounded. A third Latvian JTAC on the ground was killed as he stayed in his observation post, refusing to retreat because he didn't think he could quit calling in air power to try and blunt the Taliban attack on the forward operating base behind him. He was overrun in position and was calling for air as they killed him.
These new NATO partners don't have huge air fleets. They don't have great technology. What they do have is strong, brave fighting hearts, and they've proven they'll stand shoulder to shoulder with us and they'll die there if necessary. We should be very very proud to call them friends.
Something else interesting happened with the European airmen. As we got into Operation Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991, they kind of watched on CNN or if they participated beside us they watched the results and they learned that precision and technology was critical to modern aerial warfare. They began to develop it. So by 1999 in Operation Allied Force that Canadian F-18 pilot watching AVH-6s depart from Aviano could have been the guy who went out and targeted certain military headquarters in Belgrade. The Dutch pilots who shot down the MiG-29 in the bottom right on their first sortie knew what they were doing. They had great training, great equipment, and a warrior heart.
As we moved into Operation Odyssey Dawn and Operation Unified Protector, Maggie Woodward will tell you that as she put the team together there were a couple of things that became quickly obvious. The first was that they had learned this precision lesson.
Can we run this video?
They know what they're doing. They're very capable of flying side by side with us and getting the job done. Against any threat. Any target. If you haven't been able to keep up with them over the years, lose the old image and put that one in your head.
By the way, another thing that Maggie will tell you was really impressive about Odyssey Dawn is the way the coalition came together. If you look at the timeline on this chart, within the first three days she had eight different NATO nations flying together on a single ATO. Over the next few days she added a number of others including some very non-traditional partners. This only works because those original eight were very comfortable operating together. Maggie knew all the senior reps who showed up in the planning cell. We've exercised and trained with them for years. There were no strangers here. There was no new technology. No new tactics, techniques and procedures. That's what building partnership capacity is all about.
By the way, they didn't just fly in the same ATO, Maggie put them the same packages. Here's an example, and it's one of the larger targets she was trying to deal with. Multiple aircraft from multiple countries, all under a single mission commander. That doesn't happen by accident. It takes a dedicated investment of time, energy, training and resources over time.
By the way, another funny thing happened. In about 1999 as Allied Force was finishing up, all those countries in Eastern Europe that had come out from under the Soviet rule about ten years before, they kind of found their feet, they were looking to the West and going you know, I want some of that. And after applying and being considered and being accepted, some of them were brought into NATO. In 1999 we added Poland and Hungary and the Czech Republic. In 2004, it was the Baltic countries -- Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Slovakia joined the alliance. Finally in 2009, Albania and Croatia joined. NATO had become an alliance of choice.
A broad spectrum of capabilities. Remember those Italians? Now they're operating Predators. They're flying new tankers, KC-767s. They're flying Typhoons. Great capability. Great leadership. Great airmen.
I could go through several of our peer or near-peer air forces in Europe and give you the same description. It would just have a different face under the [Air Chief].
We also have the other end of the spectrum. The Estonian Air Force flies a couple of L-39s, a handful of helicopters and some truly vintage aircraft. They're led by a former pilot in the Soviet military, General Valeri Saar, a tough, street smart, dedicated warrior. He's looking for ways to contribute to the NATO military. He works it hard.
Then the economy reared its ugly head. Countries that were in some cases already struggling, their ability to contribute to national defense was significantly impacted. These are NATO statistics and they show that in 2010 only 5 of the 28 nations met their mandatory minimum cap of two percent of GDP going toward defense spending. In 2011 that number will decrease. In 2012 there may well be just one depending on what happens with us. A big impact here.
European air forces are getting smaller. If you haven't been there in a while you'd be surprised. The Danes have about 2,000 people in their Air Force. Incredibly good at what they do, incredibly small. The Norwegians have about 3,000, as do the Finns. The Brits are going to be down around probably 30,000 here very shortly. The French, 34,000 to 35,000. The Luftwaffe, 22,000. Huge cuts. Big changes.
NATO has once again become an alliance of necessity. No one can afford to go it alone. We have to develop capability together or we'll fail. It's really that simple.
So I think we have some decisions to make in the United States and the United States Air Force and in the U.S. Air Forces in Europe. What those decisions are are not necessarily as important as how we train them. Our strategic guidance is still pretty clear. It hasn't changed. Europe is still important. The allies there are key to us. We need access. We need presence. We need forward deployed forces. Secretary Donley confirmed that yesterday as part of our Air Force strategy. The question is, how many forward deployed? Deployed to where? What are they doing?
As we get into that discussion, I think we need to keep a couple of models in mind. They're new, non-traditional models. Most of you have heard of the Strategic Airlift Consortium. Twelve nations -- ten NATO, two Partnership for Peace -- that came together and bought three C-17s and operate out of an air base in Papá, Hungary. Nations buy into a percentage of their flying hours per year and the amount they pay in terms of percentage of flying hours they can execute as their own nation's strategic airlift. The crews are multinational. There may not be a U.S. person on the airplane, by the way. It's a very interesting model.
Let me tell you what impressed me the first time I went. By the way, they just passed their 5,000th flying hour, which is a [significant] achievement for them.
But the first time I went I met a Bulgarian air crew member and he talked to me about how proud he was to be in this wing. He talked to me about the strategic missions, the Bulgarian strategic airlift missions he had flown with a mixed nation crew, to deliver humanitarian relief supplies to Haiti and to Pakistan to aid flood relief efforts. He had tears in his eyes as he described his country contributing to humanitarian efforts worldwide. When he told me about taking a box of humanitarian supplies from Bulgaria with the Bulgarian flag on the side and handing it to a Pakistani tribesman, he was in tears.
This is a powerful construct, in all of the obvious human ways. It's a capability that many of these nations have never had before. How else can we use them? Can we do tactical airlift this way? A couple of European countries are already trying; is there a way to make that bigger? Is it possible to do it with air refueling? NATO nations have air refueling capability. They'll never have what AMC has in terms of capacity, but we can certainly pull them into a better job of supporting contingency activity, I believe.
Then you get into things like the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance System which is a consortium of countries that are coming together to buy five or six Global Hawk derivatives. Flying out of Naval Air Station Sigonella. The problem with this construct in my mind is it isn't big enough. Not in numbers, but in concept. Having a single ISR platform be kind of the only focal point for NATO ISR isn't going to get it done. OUP showed us we have an ISR shortfall in NATO, clearly. But it's not just an ISR shortfall, it's an intelligence shortfall. And it's not because our militaries and our air forces don't want to participate, it's because we haven't put the resources against them.
I would love to see an ISR Center of Excellence in Europe led by the U.S., led by NATO, led by another country. I wouldn't care. That takes the technical definition and excellence of the JTAC training which is done to a NATO standard, and adds the prime of a heavy airlift line.
Teach regional analysts how to do their job. Develop a core of targeters for NATO to be used in future air command and control activities, build the pieces that need to be part of an ISR division in NATO's CAOC under the new air command. RPA is something that NATO air forces are all interested in. Some are flying them, some are developing them, some want to develop them. All of them come to the U.S. and say look, you have more experience than we do, what can you teach us? Help us figure out what needs to be done. We're close enough partners that this isn't looked at as a negative thing. They're just looking for advice. They'll adapt it to their own needs.
We need an RPA Center of Excellence in Europe. I hope USAFE has a squadron of RPAs one day, [possibly after] Afghanistan. When we do, we need to take [sensor] control stations and put them in a central location, maybe Ramstein. Connect them to DGS-4. Get the necessary disclosures, allowances created so we can do joint training. Teach other air forces how to do this. Make sure that we can connect, that we can share disseminated products. That formats are compatible. That uplinks and downlinks can connect to each other so that for future coalitions or future NATO alliance activity we can share product. Today we can't. It's an investment, but it's not that big an investment for the potential return on it.
As we put new capability into Europe, let's talk about dual basing. All of our air forces are trying to downsize or limit structures, save facilities, cut O&M costs. Let's put like platforms together. Let's put RPAs in the same place. Let's put infrastructure in the same place. Let's save the types of logistics support equipment that don't have to be at two bases when they can be at one. If we're partners, let's be partners.
Then the big issue in Europe right now is missile defense, both on the NATO and the U.S. side. As we look at should we downsize in Europe, people need to keep in mind that this mission is growing and that capability to do this can't be downsized or it will fail. It is so heavily dependent on the U.S. in its early stages that we have to keep that in mind.
Air power's changed a lot since Giulio put that bomb in his pocket, the fuse in his teeth, and headed toward a target. So have European airmen. They were leading the world then. They're still pretty damn good.
I don't know where we'll go next, but I do know that if we're not walking beside them, we won't get a vote. The way ahead may be a little bit of a mystery but there's two things in my mind that are not a mystery about the future. The first is that my wife is still going to be gorgeous. [Laughter]. The second is that my Air Force will still be the best the world has ever seen, because we are not going to let it be anything else. That's why it's so great to be here with you and with the AFA. This is a family reunion.
Air power. It's good for what ails you.
Thank you folks, I appreciate your time.