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Learning Large Lessons

Learning Large Lessons: The Evolving Roles of Ground Power and Air Power in the Post-Cold War Era

David E. Johnson
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Learning Large Lessons
    Book Description:

    The relative roles of U.S. ground and air power have shifted since the end of the Cold War. At the level of major operations and campaigns, the Air Force has proved capable of and committed to performing deep strike operations, which the Army long had believed the Air Force could not reliably accomplish. If air power can largely supplant Army systems in deep operations, the implications for both joint doctrine and service capabilities would be significant. To assess the shift of these roles, the author of this report analyzed postÂ-Cold War conflicts in Iraq (1991), Bosnia (1995), Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001), and Iraq (2003). Because joint doctrine frequently reflects a consensus view rather than a truly integrated joint perspective, the author recommends that joint doctrine-and the processes by which it is derived and promulgated-be overhauled. The author also recommends reform for the services beyond major operations and campaigns to ensure that the United States attains its strategic objectives. This revised edition includes updates and an index.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4241-5
    Subjects: History, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figure and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xxii)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    This monograph poses the hypothesis that post–Cold War operations have witnessed a shift in the roles of ground and air power in warfighting.⁴ Note that “warfighting” is not “conflict resolution,” a point that will be addressed at the end of this monograph. Rather, it refers to conventional major combat operations. The two services largely responsible for promulgating the relevant doctrines, creating effective organizations, and procuring equipment for the changing conflict environment in the domains of land and air—the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force—do not appear to be fully incorporating the lessons learned from post–Cold...

  9. CHAPTER TWO The Relationship Between American Ground Power and Air Power Before the End of the Cold War
    (pp. 9-20)

    Historically, tension has existed between the Army and the Air Force over the relative roles of ground and air power. The origins of this tension date to the period between the two World Wars, when the Air Force was a branch of the Army. Throughout the interwar period, U.S. Army airmen fought to establish air power as a decisive instrument and to gain their independence from what they considered a conservative Army hierarchy that was incapable of realizing the potential of air power as anything other than long-range artillery relegated to supporting the ground effort. The views of the airmen...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Iraq, 1991
    (pp. 21-64)

    Operation Desert Storm was the pivotal moment in reigniting the debate about the relative roles of ground and air power that had largely abated during the final years of the Cold War. As theGulf War Air Power Survey Summary Reportpresciently noted, “Whether this remarkable outcome presages a new relationship between air forces and ground forces will, no doubt, be debated for years to come.”¹

    On August 2, 1990, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and quickly overran the country. By August 6, the Iraqis were consolidating their gains and had more than 200,000 soldiers and some 2,000 tanks in Kuwait....

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Kosovo, 1999
    (pp. 65-90)

    On March 24, 1999, NATO began Operation Allied Force to compel Slobodan Milosevic, president of Yugoslavia, to end the human rights abuses Serbs were committing against ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo. Following a 78-day campaign, Operation Allied Force ended on June 9, when Milosevic met NATO’s demands and Serbian forces began withdrawing from Kosovo.¹

    Real difficulties, however, came about in prosecuting Allied Force. To begin with, the initial NATO plan assumed that Milosevic would accede to NATO demands with a two- to three-day air power demonstration focused on military targets. Essentially, NATO planners expected “a reprise of...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Afghanistan, 2001
    (pp. 91-104)

    On October 7, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the United States and its coalition partners had begun operations in Afghanistan.¹ The campaign was in direct response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland by al Qaeda, which had found sanctuary and state support in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. That same day, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B. Myers gave a briefing on Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the name given to military operations in Afghanistan. OEF had six objectives:

    To make clear to the Taliban leaders...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Iraq, 2003
    (pp. 105-136)

    On September 17, 2002, President Bush outlined a newNational Security Strategythat would redefine how the United States viewed its military options. Until this point, the administration’s strategy had been largely reactive and similar to that of the previous administration’s, as it was laid out in the September 2001Quadrennial Defense Review Report: “U.S. forces will remain capable of swiftly defeating attacks against U.S. allies and friends in overlapping timeframes.”¹ President Bush’s new policy envisioned a proactive approach to the threats facing the nation:

    The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions to counter a sufficient...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN What Has Been Learned and What Has Not?
    (pp. 137-208)

    This review of post–Cold War operations shows that the United States has a unique military capability that has grown ever more impressive since the 1991 Gulf War. In the realm of large-scale theater warfare, today’s U.S. armed forces are clearly without peer. Furthermore, the services have made significant accommodations to joint operations. Nevertheless, in the area of ground and air operations, important warfighting lessons either have not been learned, have been ignored, or have been interpreted within service perspectives.

    This study assessed several post–Cold War operations to test the hypothesis that a shift has occurred in the relative...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 209-230)
  16. Index
    (pp. 231-236)