Editor's Message (RCAF Journal - FALL 2014 - Volume 3, Issue 4)

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Here we are at the last issue of the Journal for 2014—my how time flies when you are having fun! As we close out the year, it amazes me just how busy the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is. In addition to our regular duties (often overlooked by the general public and press, yet extremely important), we participated in Operation ASSURANCE in Europe and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission. On a more sombre note, RCAF personnel find themselves once again engaged in combat operations in the Middle East; if memory serves me, this is the fifth time Air Force men and women have gone to “war” in the last twenty-five years. I often wonder if the individual(s) who coined the phrase “peace dividend” back in the early 1990s ever imagined that one of the “dividends” would be living in a more complex and, in some ways, more dangerous world.

To better deal with domestic and global challenges, the RCAF embraced, not always willingly, a culture of adaptability. We adapted to organizational, technological and operational imperatives in order to get the job done. I purposely use the word “adapted” rather than the current 21st-century buzzword “transformed,” as the latter implies a more permanent state that I am not sure has been achieved yet. In many ways, this is still the RCAF that I joined almost 40 years ago, and while I might applaud the continuity with respect to our heritage and traditions, it does make one think about the feasibility of institutional change.

In November of this year, the RCAF sponsored an Air Power Symposium at the Canadian Forces College, Toronto. The overall theme was an examination of technological change, in the near to midterm, and how it might impact the application of air power from a Canadian perspective. Although there were a number of excellent presentations, it was a discussion with Dr. Sanu Kainikara, from the Australian Air Power Development Centre, that really gave me pause. A former Wing Commander (lieutenant-colonel) in the Indian Air Force, Kainikara is a prolific writer on air-power topics. During our chat, he made the point that air forces may be spending too much time mesmerized by fifth-generation technology and not applying enough intellectual capital to what constitutes a fifth-generation air force. In other words, what cultural, organizational, recruiting, training, education, doctrinal, logistical and expeditionary issues, to name but a few, need to be addressed PRIOR to acquiring future technology to maximize its potential. I invite you to give it some thought, put finger to keyboard and let me know what you think would constitute a fifth-generation RCAF. If we get enough material, perhaps we can dedicate an entire issue to the RCAF of the future.

Speaking of the near future (i.e., the next issue), there seems to be a dearth of book reviews coming my way. So should Santa, or a gift-giving member of your family, provide you with reading material, please take a moment to send us a short piece on what you found to be good, or bad, about the book. If nothing else, it will provide me with ideas that I can pass on to my daughters when they ask that eternal question, “Dad, what do you want for Xmas?”

Enjoy the read.

 

Sic Itur Ad Astra

Major William March, CD, MA
Senior Editor

 

Abbreviations

RCAF―Royal Canadian Air Force

 

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