University of Twente Student Theses


A clouded future : on combat clouds in the US and Europe and their impact on NATO's capability gaps

Mickel, Donella Jytte (2019) A clouded future : on combat clouds in the US and Europe and their impact on NATO's capability gaps.

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Abstract:In an era where the speed of combat is evolving in parallel to the speed of information, success or failure in warfare are increasingly determined by the knowledge factor. This prominence of the information superiority idea, has evolved into concrete strategic and operational concepts. One of them is the Combat Cloud: an intellectual and operational paradigm identifying information, data management, connectivity and command and control as its core mission priorities. The original concept developed by David A. Deptula envisioned its application predominantly for the American military services, as the fits neatly into the ambitious strive for securing the US’ military dominance in the air domain. However, NATO already suffers from an array of imbalances between the leading US and its European allies, especially in terms of capabilities and technological advancement, The successful American implementation of the Combat Cloud is potentially even widening the capability gaps within NATO, if European militaries can not keep track. However, France and Germany as the leading European NATO states initiated a major defence cooperation, laying the foundation for an own European Combat Cloud. The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) initiative anticipates a cloud network for networking manned and unmanned aerial vehicles in order to achieve the full spectrum of effects. The FCAS could actually bring Europe closer to the American level of military-technological innovation and provide the foundation for improved cooperation within the alliance. However, the parallel Combat Cloud development efforts also represent a potential redundancy of approaches, which eventually could negatively affect interoperability between the NATO states, if a common, overarching framework is missing. This thesis analyzes and compares the Combat Cloud realization effort of the US and European states respectively, following a comparative case study approach. It finds that while both approaches share a common vision, the projects differ vastly in terms of their technological focus and the foreseen strategic application. Additionally the unfavourable political context marked by fickle transatlantic relations, is not indicating any ambition of the parties to engage in a collaborative Combat Cloud approach. If implemented successfully, the FCAS could indeed narrow down the technological gap within NATO, however this dynamic is likely not channeled into the improvement of military cooperation as the political willingness is missing.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:89 political science
Programme:European Studies MSc (69303)
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