Aerial Refueling For NATO's Smart Defence Initiative
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE United States
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Nations pooling resources together to obtain a military capability is a method to reduce national costs. The NATO Secretary Generals Smart Defence initiative is a program for NATO to invest resources and share military capabilities. NATO operations over the last 20 years have indicated a reliance on aerial refueling to conduct operations for Article 4 out-of-area missions. Aerial refueling would also benefit operations under Article 5 given the vast distances of the Alliances territory. Aerial refueling aircraft should be a future investment for NATO. The United States has the preponderance of aerial refueling capability in the Alliance. With the U.S. strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific region, there is a need to ensure that NATO has aerial refueling capability amongst the European partners. NATO should acquire more aerial refueling assets to optimize defense funding during austerity to ensure the Alliance continues to invest in capability it needs to support operations set forth by the Alliances political leadership. NATO has previously implemented programs to acquire airframes to improve capability with the acquisition of the E-3A for the command and control mission and the C-17A for strategic airlift missions.