Gulf War II: Air and Space Power Led the Way
|Report - Military|
|February 18 2008|
The Global War on Terrorism that began the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, seemed almost fated to lead to a second major war between the United States and Iraq. And it is now clear that the Air Force also was destined to play the leading role in creating the strategic conditions for victory in that war, executed by a total of 466,985 US and allied forces in Spring 2003.
In the early morning of March 20, 2003 (local Baghdad time), two F-117 Stealth fighters launched out on a daring mission to bomb a specific building thought to be a Saddam Hussein hide-out. Just three weeks later, US Marines pushed into downtown Baghdad and helped a crowd of Iraqis topple a statue of Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi capital belonged to US forces, and Saddam and his sons were nowhere to be seen.
The defeat of Saddam’s regime was a dramatic advance in the Global War on Terrorism. It was also a new kind of victory, one that showed how airpower could alter the conditions for joint force operations.
Plans for Gulf War II—officially named Operation Iraqi Freedom, or OIF—started to coalesce in early 2002. Yet up until the night of March 20, the whole shape of the impending war was debated and discussed around the world.
Few guessed that the war would throw out the window a number of tried-andtrue concepts about campaign shaping and phasing.
OIF was lauded for being extremely “joint,” with conventional ground forces playing a role more prominent than had been seen in years. Indeed, the war’s daily progress tended to be measured on the ground. How far had the 3rd Infantry penetrated into Iraq? When did the Marines cross the Diyala River in eastern Baghdad? Newly “embedded” TV crews produced riveting footage of American soldiers and marines taking fire and shooting back. By contrast, coverage of the air war was rare.
Even so, this was an airpower war. Pre-war planning fine-tuned air and ground coordination mechanisms from the tactical to the operational level, all to produce the optimum level of joint firepower. Modern airpower made it possible to:
Credit goes to the joint and coalition force for a stunning success. However, it was the recent developments in airpower— led by the United States Air Force—that put in place the entire framework for victory. ...
PDF format, 580KB, 44Pages.
By Dr. Rebecca Grant. An Air Force Association Special Report.
Dr. Rebecca Grant is president of IRIS Independent Research in Washington, D.C., and a fellow of the Eaker Institute for Aerospace Concepts, the public policy and research arm of the Air Force Association’s Aerospace Education Foundation. She is also a contributing editor to Air Force Magazine, the journal of the Air Force Assocaiton.
Her professional research interests center on joint doctrine and airpower employment in joint campaigns.
The Air Force Association (AFA) is an independent, nonprofit civilian organization promoting public understanding of aerospace power and the pivotal role it plays in the security of the nation.
AFA publishes Air Force Magazine, sponsors national symposia, and disseminates information through outreach programs of its affiliate, the Aerospace Education Foundation. Learn more about AFA by visiting us on the Web at www.afa.org.
The Aerospace Education Foundation (AEF) is dedicated to ensuring America’s aerospace excellence through education, scholarships, grants, awards, and public awareness programs. The Foundation also publishes a series of studies and forums on aerospace and national security. The Eaker Institute is the public policy and research arm of AEF.
AEF works through a network of thousands of Air Force Association members and more than 200 chapters to distribute educational material to schools and concerned citizens. An example of this includes "Visions of Exploration," an AEF/USA Today multidisciplinary science, math, and social studies program. To find out how you can support aerospace excellence visit us on the Web at www.aef.org.
|Last Updated ( February 18 2008 )|
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