Published Authors

Air Force Advising and Assistance: Developing Airpower in Client States

by Edward B. Westermann

The increased focus on counterinsurgency warfare and US nation building efforts after the attacks of 11 September 2001 reignited interest in military advising within military and other government organizations, private think tanks, and defense related contractors. Most studies on the subject, based on the chronological scope and numerical preponderance of ground advising missions, has quite naturally focused on these past efforts. Less attention has been given to air or naval advisory missions. This work seeks in part to help redress this current imbalance by examining a number of historical case studies dealing with air advisory efforts. By examining a number of historical case studies, this volume analyzes the challenges and opportunities inherent in aerial advisory efforts and offers insights into the methods by which such missions succeed or fail. Air advisory missions date almost to the first days of powered flight.

Air advisory efforts have a number of unique elements based on the fundamental role of advanced technology and the extensive resource requirements associated with aviation operations. For example, air advisory efforts are profoundly influenced by the types of aircraft involved and the types of mission flown. Likewise, the issues of maintenance support and the infrastructure needed for these missions plays a key role in determining capabilities available to the host nation. In the case of infrastructure, airfields, fuelling depots, maintenance and repair facilities, and radar and communications equipment offer a few of the most obvious requirements to support flight operations.

The early history of advisory efforts reveal issues that remain relevant today, including questions related to the nature of aerial technology to be shared, the type of training to be provided, and the potential economic benefits that might accrue to the donor nation as a result of the sale of aviation technology to the host country. In many respects, air advisory efforts raise a number of profound strategic questions for the donor nation. Among others, these questions relate to the type of technology to be shared, the nature of training to be given, the role of foreign advisors in operations, the issue of infrastructure development and auxiliary training programs, the preparation of foreign advisors for their duties, and perhaps most significantly the development of the type of capabilities required to address the host nation’s security environment. Via a series of historical case studies, this volume explores these questions and others.