John Andreas Olsen (ed.), European Air Power: Challenges and Opportunities (Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2014)
Professor Colonel John Andreas Olsen is a prolific author and editor of books on air power and military affairs and this latest work is based on a conference held at the Swedish National Defence College. The book offers an interesting insight into current challenges facing European air forces. It starts with a discussion of Europe’s three major air forces, the armee de l’Air, the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force, as well as the Turkish air force, which as Christian Anrig suggests deploys a significant combat capability and has aspirations to match the the aforementioned forces. The chapter on France is particularly interesting and as Etienne Durand suggests, the French have been unwilling, for a variety of reasons, to articulate an effective concept of operations, but despite this, they have gone through a significant transformation since the end of the Cold War. The next section of the book then focuses on the experience of the four Nordic air forces from the perspective of their respective service chiefs. These are particularly useful insights. Finally, the book ends with what is in effect a counter punch between Martin van Creveld and Air Vice-Marshal (ret’d) Professor Tony Mason on the subject of where do we go from here? Those who have read Creveld’s work The Age of Air Power will be familiar with his argument but Mason provides a useful counterpoint on air power’s continued relevance in an unstable world. I am still working through aspects of the books but my advice is to read it if you are interested in the current debates of air power and its use in modern conflicts.