Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard October/November 2019

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 45 of 47

46 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2019 OPINION making." This fusion function also enables and highlights the importance of "reliabil- ity" of information. In terms of "security," the F-35's technology removes barriers, while providing dedicated communication channels by which information is gathered, analysed and shared. Since the F-35 delivers a fusion capability, there could be enormous and positive implications for the Command- er's efforts to build and share a common op- erating picture. But, you have to be "in the game" to benefit from these aspects of "se- curity." If one opts out of the F-35 program, one could indeed be left behind. "Currency" speaks to how old the information might be. We have come a long way from the time constraints that afflicted First World War ar- tillery spotting pilots and wet-film reconnais- sance pilots of the Cold War. More importantly, what makes the F-35s information-capture so very "current" is the collection, depiction, fusion and sharing of real-time dynamic information. The "pro- cessing" step in the generic intelligence cycle of activities is where customising can take shape. Human cognitive assets are essential, but much of the work can also be performed by dedicated information technology (IT) capabilities, of which the F-35 and its fusion capabilities is a powerful example. Having this IT element integrated into a stealth- capable fast-moving air asset with defensive and offensive kinetic delivery capabilities provides the commander with options with no comparable antecedents; such is the ex- tent to which the aircraft deserves the label of a radical innovation. There is a growing tension 21st century commanders are facing, on the modern battlefield, between "the use of armed force within a military domain seeking to establish military conditions for a political solution – something we routinely refer to as 'war,' – and, the use of armed force that directly seeks political outcomes – something that is clearly beyond the scope of war in its tra- ditional paradigm." Modern conflict is dy- namic, alternating between these two forms, presenting the commander with a continu- ally changing operating picture, complicated by different actors able to change their roles with ease. It is to these situations we must apply ever more capable, flexible assets pre- cisely like the F-35, so as to provide com- manders with the very best means of gath- ering accurate, timely, relevant, reliable and customisable information, in keeping with the tenets of RCAF "shape," "sense" and aerospace power doctrine. Our closing message deservedly belongs to the late Colonel (USAF) John Boyd, to- day remembered as a leading strategist in the 20th century. To understand his "Observe- Orient-Decide-Act" OODA loop and his conceptualization of strategy is, again, to dismiss reductionism in favour of acknowl- edging how important it is to provide the commander with all relevant information in a timely, accurate way. It is not enough to provide "an" option for strategy; strategy calls for revealing all or as many options as possible, providing a menu of choices which permit the commander not just to pick one but to consider more, and thereby wreak havoc and deceive the antagonist about what the commander is really thinking. The F-35 platform adjoins a network of similarly capable assets whose collective pur- pose is to detect, shape and "exploit many vulnerabilities and weaknesses; cause con- fusion and uncertainty, disorder, panic and chaos; destroy the bonds that hold the ad- versary together;" and, create or sustain the bonds that unify our forces. In this way, our focus stays where it should, while never los- ing sight of the whole picture. Such vigilance provides us with a continuing stream of op- tions, enables rapid switching between op- tions and harmonizes our efforts to achieve what we set out to achieve." Reductionists might be trapped in their romanticizing models of aircraft capability, most certainly applying John Boyd's E-M theories to good use. We can forgive them because we likely fell into this trap as a con- sequence of marveling at the evolving flight envelopes on display at annual airshows. As the F-35 demo pilot said on arrival in Ot- tawa, in September 2019, "what the F-35 can really do is not actually on display to the general public." What reductionist's fail to realize is that Boyd's E-M theory was but a steppingstone to his much more important work on the OODA loop. The F-35 is a strategic asset the capabili- ties of which provide solutions that keep the user far ahead of the antagonist. There is a great deal at stake. A decision to opt out of the F-35 program based on a reductionist viewpoint risks relegating one's air force to a third-world capability for decades to come. Western air forces have long recognized the decisive nature of these assets. In this cen- tury, decisiveness will have just as much to do with the information gathering and fu- sion capabilities required today, as speed, manoeuvrability and the delivery of kinetic effects were the elements of decisiveness yesterday. Dean is a retired Lieutenant-Colonel with 30 years' service flying tactical helicopters. He continues to serve as Executive Director of the RCAF Association, and Publishing Edi- tor/Designer of the association's magazine, Airforce, something he has been doing since 2006. Dean earned a B.Sc. (Applied Science) from the Royal Military College in 1981, an M.A. (War Studies) from RMC in 2001, and an M.A. (Leading Innovation & Change) from York St. John University in 2016. He is currently completing an M.Sc. (Strategic Planning) with the Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh Business School. Dean is CAE-certified with the Canadian Society of Association Executives, and is certified as a Strategic Management Professional (SMP) with the Association for Strategic Planning. As the F-35 demo pilot said on arrival in Ottawa, in September 2019, "what the F-35 can really do is not actually on display to the general public." Photo: Lockheed Martin Corporation

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of Vanguard Magazine - Vanguard October/November 2019