Expeditionary Operations require a number of enablers to make things happen.
Mobility & Deployability requiring (Air) Transport capabilities is one aspect, but another key enabler is the ability to set-up a deployed airfield and then is able to receive and transfer the forces into theatre.
The aim of the Deployable Airfield Activation Wing (DAAW) project is to improve NATO's capability to activate and run a deployed airfield in support of NATO Operations. Such a deployed airfield could function as a Deployed Operating Base (DOB) for fighters or Combat Support aircraft (i.e AWACS, Maritime Patrol, Air-to-Air refuelling, etc), but also as an Aerial Port of Debarkation (APOD) or a combination of DOB and APOD. A deployed airfield could origin from an existing, well-established and functioning military airbase (best case), an International or Regional Airport, or even a bare base in an austere environment with limited or no Host Nation Support (worst case).
The DAAW concept focuses on the modules for the required capabilities (personel and equipment, qualitative and quantitative) and their readiness category (how quick should this capability be able to react). Also the planning and synchronisation of the related activities is essential for the success of base activation. Depending on what is available already at the existing airfield and what could be made available through the host nation (to include contracting), certain capabilities have to be deployed and established at a deployed airfield. These capabilities are categorised into different modules:
- Airfield assessment; to find out what is already available or could be made available at an existing base and thus, examining what has to be brought in;
- Airfield Operation modules, to include air traffic control and airspace management, meteorological services, Fire and Crash Rescue;
- Ground Handling modules like aircraft ground handling, load planning, loading & unloading of aircraft, cargo & passenger handling;
- Airfield Support modules, such as communications, supply, transport, engineering & construction, fuel;
- Runway Operations modules, including runway & taxiway sweeping, de-icing and snow removal, runway lighting, arrester gear;
- Medical modules;
- Force Protection and Security modules, such as air defence, active & passive ground defence, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).
Such an airfield activation capability needs to be in theatre well in advance of the arrival of the bulk of forces at the deployed airfield. Therefore the DAAW has to be at a high readiness in order to be available to be employed on a short notice. The assured availability of adequate airlift to move the DAAW is another critical success factor.
NATO RESPONSE FORCE (NRF)
Implementation of the DAAW concept is being achieved by linking it to the NATO Response Force (NRF) concept. The DAAW concept has been used to better detail the functions, requirements and capability statements of the Deployed Operating Bases (DOB) and Aerial Ports of Debarkation (APOD). These elements are expressed in the Combined Joint Statement of Requirement (CJSOR) for NRF and its Force Generation Process. Although the NRF should serve as a catalyst, the DAAW would be available for the entire range of NATO operations. Experimentation during future exercises and training of NRF would be an asset for its further development.
NATO DEFENCE PLANNING
Another avenue by which the DAAW concept is being implemented is NATO Defence Planning. Defence Planning is the tool for NATO to ensure that it can undertake the full range of missions stemming from its Level of Ambition as a consequence of NATO's Comprehensive Political Guidance. The establishment of a capability to perform Expeditionary Operations is an essential element of Force Planning and as such the the provision of forces and associated military capabilities and structures for NATO to enable Expeditionary Operations is crucial within this context. The capability to activate airbases in an austere environtment, the so-called Bare Base Kits (BBK), is one of the most important areas within the Defence Requirement Review (DRR) process in NATO. The DAAW concept was and still is an important source of information and guidance for NATO staff elements that deal with BBK and base activation.
From a conceptual point of view, the DAAW concept is an integral part of the Expeditionary Operations Integrated Capability Team (EO ICT) efforts of NATO's Strategic Allied Command for Transformation (SACT). Expeditionary Operations is one of the top priorities for transformation of the Alliance.
EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DEFENSE POLICY (ESDP)
Following the adoption of the European Security Strategy, the EU Member States committed themselves to the Headline Goal 2010 (HLG 2010) and the ability of the EU to respond with rapid and decisive action to an emerging crisis. After the development of the EU Battle Groups Cencept based on the EU Military Rapid Response Concept, the European Union is currently performing a study to ensure the availability of an air capacity in the context of ESDP with an adequate reaction time to support urgent small scale operations (e.g. in support of an EU Battle Group) or for the initial phase of larger operations. This study, the Rapid Response Air Initiative (RRAI), aims at enhancing the generation of air rapid response elements and proposes a (draft) concept for a European deployable Air Station. The JAPCC supports the EU with this initiative, using the DAAW concept and results from its follow-on work.