years to come, operational scenarios will increasingly require multinational cooperation.1
This notion applies not only to defense alliances with structures already established in
peacetimesuch as NATO or the European Union of the futurebut also, and more
particularly, to so-called coalitions of the willing, tailored to the specific
requirements of a given mission. Some time ago, for example, the essential program for
achieving this interoperability included NATOs Defense Capability Initiative.
Meanwhile, the NATO Response Force, expected to reach its full operational capability in
2006, has become the driving force of transformation and the benchmark of its
success. Plans call for equipping the European contingents of the NATO Response Force in a
way that ensures they can fully cooperate with US forces across the entire range of
operations. Due to the United States military-pioneering role and technological
superiority, that country will predominantly determine the developments in warfare over
the next several decades. Therefore, one would do well to take a closer look at the US
policy documents and strategy papers that will govern such developments and to draw
lessons from the US conduct of operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Doing so will
help identify the changes that coalition partners of the United States have to follow in
order to ensure compatibility in terms of the conduct of operations.
learned from Iraqi Freedom make it possible to derive conclusions about air warfare in
future conflicts. However, any evaluation of the results from that operation must consider
the wars initial situation:
Sorties flown in the northern and southern no-fly zones neutralized a major share of the
enemy air defense systems before the beginning of hostilities. Furthermore, the Iraqi air
force did not fly a single sortie. Thus, the coalition enjoyed air superiority over most
of the country from the very beginning, obviating the need for an extended air campaign as
a prerequisite for the ground offensive.
Analysis of the initial deployment must not ignore the fact that since Operation Desert
Storm in 1991, coalition forcessome of them with heavy equipmenthad remained
in the Gulf region, able to prepare for a major force deployment.
Ultimately, one must consider the differing capabilities of the adversaries involved in
the conflict in terms of technology and training. From the very beginning, the Iraqi armed
forces, elements of which were more suitable for preventing domestic riots than for
conducting warfare, proved incapable of acting jointly. Thus, what took place on the Iraqi
side during the operation amounted to a very static land war.
to these circumstances, then, one cannot readily apply lessons from the Iraq war to future
conflicts. Nevertheless, one can derive some principles from the US transformation concept
and the practical course of the war. The central element of the transformation process
entails an evolution towards forces that lend themselves to more efficient employment.
Future wars will be waged by rapidly deployable, smaller, more mobile, and lighter forces,
capable of immediately engaging in combat operations in the theater of operations. In this
context, mere force ratio will become less important. Indeed, future operations will
exhibit jointness, further development of networkcentric warfare (NCW), intensive
employment of special operations forces (SOF), and an increase in information operations.
Thus, a faster pace, improved accuracy and flexibility in the conduct of operations,
accurate but massive air strikes, and effects-based operations will determine operational
planning.2 Other determining factors will include the extended use of outer
space; utilization of high technology, smart bombs, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV),
which deliver near-real-time reconnaissance results for a networked battlefield; and rapid
movement of mobile ground forces.
trends, occasionally summarized in the media under the term Rumsfeld Doctrine, are
reflected in concepts and strategy papers developed to a major extent by military thinkers
before Donald Rumsfelds second tenure as US secretary of defense. One finds these
thoughts particularly well expressed in the military -strategic-policy document known as Joint
Vision 2020.3 This article considers the new level of jointness, the
capability to conduct NCW, the significance of new sensors and weapons, and the importance
of mobility and support.
war in Iraq marked the fading of air forces predominant role and the increasing one
played by land forces. In the Gulf War of 1991, the war in Kosovo, and Operation Enduring
Freedom, the focus shifted to the capabilities of airpower, with armies relegated to the
background. Today, high-tech war waged from the air provides an essential contribution to
the reconnaissance and engagement of the enemys political and military command and
communication structure. Surgical operations conducted over great distances and with
substantial precision (which spares the civilian population and minimizes the loss of
friendly forces) demonstrate the vital and crucial impact of airpower. Even today,
however, airpower alone cannot decisively achieve the operational objective. Accordingly,
the ground war during Iraqi Freedom showed that heavy armored units with considerable
firepower still constitute a necessary element of combined-arms combat.
general, although future wars will still require ground forces, airpower and air
superiority will continue to have decisive importance for operational successdespite
all asymmetric forms of war. For instance, given the endurance and precision of their
modern assets, air forces can relieve land forces by preventing the concentration or
forming up of the enemys army. Moreover, air forces together with naval forces
contribute to operational success by deploying personnel and providing logistic support.
Iraq war clearly showed that success requires each services simultaneous, optimized
employment of a whole range of diverse, quickly employable weapon systems based on
impressive information superiority and information density on the entire battlefield; SOF
employment; and information operations. In particular the interaction among SOF personnel;
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets; and air forces, as well as
the employment of 802 US Navy Tomahawk land-attack missiles demonstrated an essential
aspect of joint warfare. The war also illustrated the advantage and effectiveness of joint
operations, which had developed from mere cooperation in terms of deconfliction in 1991 to
an exemplary integration. In the future, boundaries between the individual types of
air-warfare operations will become blurred or even disappear completely since we can
employ weapon platforms more flexibly. Moreover, the increased flow of information will
make a clear differentiation between various categories of air operations obsolete with
respect to the planning and deconfliction process. The effectiveness of joint warfare also
implicitly concludes that smaller but better-trained force components are sufficient for
the successful conduct of operations. For instance, ground forces employed in Iraqi
Freedom comprised only three US divisions and one British division.
this extent of jointness works only if the individual services are closely networked. The
Iraq war and other conflicts of the recent past did not include a coherent battlefield
with an uninterrupted front line, and one cannot assume such a configuration for future
wars. Without networking, armed forces fail to operate efficiently in such an environment.
Thus, we can conclude that NCW is an absolute prerequisite for jointness.
of NCW include speed, information superiority, and flexible decision superioritythe
basis for execution superiority. Information superiority depends upon a multitude of
different space- and air-based sensors. In this context, future development will include
minimizing compatibility problems among different sensors used by the individual services
and organizations to gather reconnaissance data. The ultimate objective involves producing
a uniform, accessible situation picture in which information from the various domains
flows together. The US Air Force has designed its ISR manager, currently under
development, to present data provided by Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS),
Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), U-2, Rivet Joint, and UAV
aircraft, as well as the US Navys EP-3 electronic--reconnaissance aircraft,
simultaneously in one situation picture. One finds a similar approach in the concept of
the MC2A-X multisensor experimental aircraft, designed to integrate on one platform the
abilities of AWACS to control air warfare, of JSTARS to monitor land warfare, and of Rivet
Joint aircraft to collect signals intelligence. Furthermore, one should consider adding
tanker functions to this aircrafts repertoire.
order to ensure decision superiority, procedures have been developed and organizations
established so that representatives of the reconnaissance, intelligence-service, and
military-leadership communities can make coordinated, quick decisions. One finds a
negative exampledelayed decision makingin the time--consuming targeting
process that occurred in the Kosovo war. But the time-sensitive--targeting cell
established in the combined air operations center (CAOC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during
the Iraq war enabled forces in the theater of operations to react immediately, thanks to
the capability of making rapid decisions.
the networking of modern sensorswhich can perform battlefield reconnaissance and
surveillance in near real timewith weapons provides the basis for information and
decision superiority. Such networking directly affects the pace of operations. For
instance, it reduced the time required from target acquisition to the release of weapons
(i.e., the sensor-to-shooter gap) from days or hours in the Gulf War of 1991 to hours or
minutes in Iraqi Freedom. Future technical developments, such as the
aforementioned MC2A&127;X and the ISR manager, as well as new procedures will further
reduce this gap. In Afghanistan, for instance, a Predator UAV communicated reconnaissance
data directly to an AC-130 for the first time. This not only obviated the need for
time-consuming data transfer as well as analysis and evaluation in a CAOC, but also
allowed the AC-130 to use its weapons directly during first overflight without conducting
a preliminary reconnaissance flyby. Additionally, this procedure displayed another
essential element of NCW. Specifically, forwarding information to lower levels of command
results in more autonomous and decentralized warfare, giving units at those levels more
responsibility. This kind of warfarein which the commander gives lower-level units
more freedom and responsibility to fulfill their mission as long as they act in accordance
with overall tacticshas been part of German warfare doctrine since the
mid-nineteenth century; it is known as Auftragstaktik. That is why we think German
forces are well prepared to employ NCW in this regard.
order to avoid losing contact with the digitized network system of NCW, one must establish
the following prerequisites: inter-operability, modern means of identification, the
ensuring of swift decision making, improvement of joint planning, and further
technological development of sensors and weapons. In the future, NCW will link
reconnaissance results from outer space and the air with intelligence, the command and
communication level, and the battlefield. It does not replace direct combat, however. The
information edge and distribution of information to appropriate levels can minimize but
not eliminate the Clausewitzian fog of war.
fact that 10 types of UAVs equipped with different sensors saw action in the Iraq war
illustrates their increased significance in various operations. Their importance will
continue to grow in view of the replaceability and manifold employment options of unmanned
systems. The endurance of UAVs allows them to loiter over or pursue a target until a
weapon system arrives to engage it (see the above-mentioned example of the Predator and
the AC-130). Alternatively, plans call for equipping UAVs themselves with
weaponswitness the arming of the Predator with Hellfire missiles, which has set a
trend in this regard. UAVs are also performing ISR. In the Iraq war, almost no manned
tactical aircraft conducted penetrating air-reconnaissance missions. Apart from satellite
reconnaissance, UAVs such as the Predator or Global Hawk performed standoff,
high-altitude, or penetrating reconnaissance.
to the UAVs all-weather and night-fighting capability, weather conditions and
darkness-related restrictions will become less significant factors in warfare. These
unmanned systems make it possible to fight accurately at night, without either
restrictions or detection by the enemy. They can also employ weapons accurately in fog,
clouds, smoke, or haze. Thus, the battlefield of the future will no longer offer the enemy
any sanctuaries since UAVs can monitor and engage forces around-the-clock. An all-weather,
night-fighting capability will become an indispensable prerequisite for any participation
in air operations.
of outer space will become a greater factor in air superiority. Although space-based
military and civilian systems deliver communication, reconnaissance, and weather data,
only satellites permit the employment of new weapons controlled by the global positioning
system (GPS), such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition. With their synchronized time base,
satellites play an essential role in NCW. During Iraqi Freedom, a total of 27 satellites
determined the position of friendly and foreign forces and identified target coordinates.
Iraqis attempt to jam the GPS marked the beginning of navigation
warfare, in which asymmetrical countermeasures will seek to deny access to
state-of-the-art navigation means. After the Iraq war, Secretary Rumsfeld announced
accelerated implementation of navigation warfare doctrine, designed to deny
the enemy the utilization of the GPS while ensuring its military usage by friendly forces.
This would involve local jamming of the civilian GPS signal or using new technologies.
showed that preplanned actions in the classical modes are becoming less significant due to
short-notice changes to the mission and the allocation of targets to aircraft during a
sortie. These procedures require flexibility in terms of command, control, employment, and
armament. Modern platforms develop into multirole aircraft designed for several modes of
employment and capable of carrying as many types of munitions as possible.
choice of munition changes the appearance of air warfare. Developments in arms technology
lead to improvement in precision capability and the utilization of several different
control systems in a weapon (e.g., laser-guided, satellite-controlled, and inertially
guided systems). As a result, operations become more cost-effective, optimization of
weapons employment to the target improves, and the risk of collateral damage declines. For
instance, the relatively low number of civilian casualties in the Iraq war and images
showing the largely intact cityscape of Baghdad reflect the success of efforts to spare
civilian targets, as does preservation of the civilian infrastructure and economic basis
in order to establish a postwar order.
some extent, coalition aircraft used inert bombs during the war to emphasize the effect of
bombing rather than the effect of weapons. However, despite the high technology, dumb
bombs represented 30 percent of all munitions dropped because of their usefulness against
certain targetsfor example, the engagement of mechanized units. All in all, one
observes a trend away from preplanned to dynamic targeting and from classical attrition
bombing to effects-based bombing.
employment of strategic bombers in cooperation with SOF personnel suggests that their
endurance and load capacity will make them significant weapon systems for the future,
whenever we establish air superiority as a prerequisite for their employment. Thanks to
their range, obtaining basing permissions for them is not necessary. In the future, only a
command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance platform that is secure, fast, effective in near real time, and redundant
will assure the establishment of air superiority. The integration of other armed forces in
technological and procedural terms will become more difficult because of the accelerated
development of US airpower.
this context, one must take into consideration the factors of combat service support.
Logistics must be able to stay abreast of this quick-paced conduct of operations. For
instance, during Iraqi Freedom, the capacity of the logistics system determined the pace
of the land forces. Turkeys refusal to let US forces operate from its territory
underscores our dependence on basing rights, an issue that will become particularly
significant in the future.
must also have the ability to deploy forces quickly and over great distances. One option
entails acting early and deploying forces to smaller, temporary locations in or near
potential crisis areas, as occurred in the Iraq war. Another option involves strategically
relocating forces, as the United States did when it moved the 173rd Airborne Brigade from
Italy to the theater of operations in northern Iraq and airlifted the 26th Marine
Expeditionary Unit directly from the Mediterranean Sea into the combat area.
we can transport only a small percentage of personnel and materiel by air, we must begin
to concentrate on permanently relocating weapon systems to sea-based contingents all over
the world. During the aforementioned air-land operation in northern Iraq, a C-17 transport
aircraft relocated an M-1 Abrams tank for the first time, but relocating a single tank
with a C-17 requires too much effort. From the sea, however, one can project military
power worldwide, collect enemy information at an early stage, and become less dependent
upon support bases and foreign-sovereignty issues. Using large, fast transport platforms
(e.g., airlifters) to conduct strategic sealift and airlift will determine the course of
insights gained from Iraqi Freedom will have a lasting influence on the doctrine of future
(air) wars. Jointness, networkcentric warfare, and, in particular, improvements in sensors
and weapons characterize this new form of war, which will change the classical
picture of armed forces and have implications for the structure and equipment of the
armed services. But the asymmetry typical of this war does not permit a generally valid
conclusion. Regardless, we have crossed the threshold of a new form of warfare. A nation
that does not follow this development will find itself unable to meet the standards
required of a coalition partner in future wars.
implementing the NATO Response Force, the alliance has demonstrated its understanding of
this message. NATO seriously approaches transformation by reorganizing alliance
structures, armed forces, and capabilities. Doing so will serve to gradually close the
often quoted transatlantic gap in the fields of technology and the conduct of operations,
thus strengthening NATO as the key transatlantic link.
During the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom, all 29 students of the 47th German Air Force
Command and Staff College course at the Führungsakademie in Hamburg (the German Armed
Forces Command and Staff College) evaluated the lessons learned from the air war over
Iraq. They produced a 200-page study published in Germany and disseminated throughout the
German Air Force. This article derives from that studys last chapter, written by the
One glossary defines effects-based operations (EBO) as a process for obtaining a
desired strategic outcome or effect on the enemy, through the synergistic,
multiplicative, and cumulative application of the full range of military and nonmilitary
capabilities at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. Joint Forces
Command Glossary, http://www.jfcom.mil/about/glossary.htm#E. Decisive action
takes place directly against an enemys critical vulnerabilities and centers of
gravity in order to achieve effects formerly attainable only after long periods of
tactical and operational attrition. For instance, during Iraqi Freedom, coalition forces
took pains to spare the energy-supply system, transportation infrastructure, and media
institutions so as to enhance the postwar order. EBO offers an opportunity to reduce costs
and avoid collateral damage. Doing so helps justify war in the public eyea
requirement that will become even more significant in the future.
Vision 2020 (Washington, DC: Joint Chiefs of Staff, 2000).
Col Frank M. Graefe
(MS, University of Armed Forces, Munich, Germany) is commander, 2nd Squadron, Fighter Wing
(FW) 71 Richthofen, Wittmund Air Base (AB), Germany. He has served in a
variety of flying and staff positions, including operational flying in FW 73
Steinhoff, Laage AB, Germany, and FW 74, Neuburg AB, Germany. Colonel Graefe
started basic flying training at Sheppard AFB, Texas, and attended operational training
course F-4 at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. He is now a senior pilot with over 1,000 flight
hours in the F-4F Phantom. Colonel Graefe is a graduate of the Fuehrungsakademiethe
German Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Hamburg.
published in Air
& Space Power Journal
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