Integrating Innovative Airpower: A Report from the Copenhagen Airpower Symposium

On April 17, 2015, two of our partners, the Williams Foundation (Australia) and the Centre for Military Studies (University of Copenhagen) hosted a seminar in Copenhagen on airpower innovation.

In this Special Report, an overview to the Symposium as well as the speaker’s presentations are highlighted and summarized.

Related material published on Second Line of Defense augments the focus on coalition operations is also included.

The conference launched a significant effort to think through the core problem of coalition airpower as seen from the standpoint of the smaller powers or air forces, or in the case of the United States, the role of the USMC in working through transformation correlated with evolving coalition approaches.

Operators from key Air Forces gave the core presentations that then drove the broader discussion.

It is no accident that one key element of USMC evolution is new approaches to C2 with allies, being developed by the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and their approach is indicative of the way the Marines think about the role of embedded airpower.

The Marine Corps approach is widely appreciated by allies as they think through their own relations to coalition operations, notably given the impact of airpower modernization, including the broader use of fifth generation capabilities.

Although a small country, Denmark has optimized its military forces to be one of the most expeditionary in today’s Europe.

In fact, Denmark has a core coalition operational competence, one that is of growing significance as operations become increasingly coalition in character.

Airpower and intervention forces are increasingly modular and scalable.

Denmark has modular and scalable forces in its DNA.

The conference was clearly not about applying lessons learned by other powers being to Denmark; it was an honest quest to understand how to reshape forces to be more effective as modular and scalable building blocks for future coalitions, notably as capabilities are being reshaped under the influence of new technologies, such as the broad introduction of fifth generation aircraft.

The rethinking being done by the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Air Force, the Dutch Air Force and the Danish Air Force as well as the USMC were the major inputs that challenged the participants at the symposium to think through the rapidly evolving demands for, and reshaping of, approaches for successful coalition airpower.

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Integrating Innovative Airpower: Facing 21st Century Strategic Challenges

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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