Mitigating the shortage of special operations aviation by an unconventional approach
Andersen, Bo C.
Arleth, Niels B.
Sepp, Kalev I.
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The quantitative shortage of special operations aviation within NATO has resulted in canceled special operations in Afghanistan, targets not being actioned, and Danish Special Operations Forces (SOF) being deployed to Mali without dedicated aviation, despite the Danish SOF's request for Danish helicopters. The majority of the European NATO members primarily focus air power on fighters and only secondarily on air mobility. If unaddressed, this shortage of aircraft and crews to conduct special air operations will continue. Inspired by the NATO special operations doctrine, the U.S. combat aviation advisors' training of the Afghan Special Mission Wing, and the U.S. use of contracted air in Uganda, this capstone explores alternatives to mitigate the shortage of special operations aviation. This capstone recommends establishing combat aviation advisors within the Danish Air Force and increasing the use of contracted air. In addition to training host-nation air units, the combat aviation advisors can facilitate interactions and integration when using contracted air. This capstone argues that special is not necessarily the same as elite and that special does not always require high-end aircraft to carry out special air operations. Furthermore, this approach demonstrates why humans are more important than hardware.
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