[Table of Contents][Overview: Information Warfare Issues][Chapter 6]
Something happened in Desert Storm never witnessed before. Air power in thousands and thousands of Coalition sortiesappeared to have defeated an enemy. Advocates of air power earnestly want others to accept what they believe Desert Storm proved. Desert Storm proved, they assert, that air power can be or is dominant and decisive,1 fulfilling the vision of Gulio Douhet, Billy Mitchell, Jimmy Doolittle,2 and others3or so advocates believe and want us to believe.
That want may be a weakness. This essay examines the notions of parallel war and hyperwar, principally as they apply to air campaigns, revealing minor flaws in the ideas and their application. First, it examines parallel war to determine what is new in the idea. Second, it examines this new kind of air warfare to illuminate the strengths and shortcomings parallel war evidences in theory and practice. Third, it argues that the theory is useful if applied against weak industrial states. Next, it postulates theoretical ways to defeat an adversary intending to employ parallel war. Defeating parallel war is possible whether the United States is the nation intending to employ it, or whether some post-Gulf War aficionado embraces the theory. None of this intends to do any more than add greater discernment to the theory of parallel war and hyperwar. Theories of parallel warfare are not bad or wrong. Rather, their shortcoming is that they have only limited utility in the emerging world.
Even so, one caveat remains: if parallel war is the new air warfare form, it would be a valuable one indeed. If authentic parallel war were possible, it would, as its advocates argue, render much of Clausewitz irrelevant. Clausewitz himself noted that
if war consisted of one decisive act, or a set of simultaneous decisions, preparations would tend toward totality, for no omission could ever be rectified. . . .
But, of course, if all the means available were, or could be, simultaneously employed, all wars would automatically be confined to a single decisive act or a set of simultaneous onesthe reason being that any adverse decision must reduce the sum of the means available, and if all had been committed in the first act there could really be no question of a second. Any subsequent military operation would virtually be part of the firstin other words, merely an extension of it.4
Three ifs, with three coulds and two woulds in tandem, suggest skepticism. Since everything pivots on if, the ideas bear close examination.
The idea of parallel war arises from understanding the enemy as a system or organism, simultaneously more complicated and less complicated than the people-state-armed forces system described by Clausewitz.5 The enemy state theoretically has five key organic components: (1) fielded military forces at the periphery; (2) the masses of the people who are not direct combatants; (3) a transportation infrastructure providing organic essentials; (4) the organic essentials themselves; and, (5) residing at the center, leadership or a controlling mechanism for the entire system. Advocates refer to these orbits or concentric rings as the five rings.6 Like a fractal, each of the rings also has within it the five components. Thus, the fielded forces at the periphery, from the army to the individual soldier, have within them leadership or some internal controlling mechanism.
In this taxonomy, the entire system and each ring has within it key nodes or centers of gravity.7 Leadership, the controlling mechanism, is the key node in each ring and throughout. The theory is that simultaneous and coordinated operations against all the key nodes in the system and in each of the rings are the essence of the a new kind of offensive military air campaign. Air, the theory holds, is the superior medium for prosecuting these operations. It is air power, the theorists argue, that allows attacks against the internal rings and all the other rings without first collapsing the outer rings that surround the inner ones.8
In contrast, serial warfare is, or was, warfare that engaged each ring and its categories of targets in turn, ad seriatim, moving from the periphery toward the center.9 In the past it was not possible to attack the sovereign in the castle until the opposing army had defeated the enemy monarchs fielded forces and moved through the population toward the center. In World War II, air attempted to engage its targets in parallel, but more often engaged its air targets and target sets serially within the organic whole of Germany, giving ball-bearing factories, submarine pens, petroleum, airfields, rail and road networks, and cities some priority for air attack at any given time. Parallel war, on the other hand, theoretically employs air power to attack all the decisive points in each ring and the decisive point of the entire system simultaneously. The object is not just the destruction of targets. Destruction is the means to an end. The object is to destroy or damage (or to render dysfunctional) those targets that produce a strategic effect by causing loss of the enemy systems organic capabilities.10 When these parallel warfare attacks occur with simultaneity or great speed, hyperwar results.
In a later iteration of the theory, and as information war11 becomes an intriguing notion within the services and the Department of Defense, information becomes the bolt running through all the rings and holding the rings together.12 John Warden, the leading theorist, also asserts that whatever else weapons may be or do, they are essentially information because they communicate messages, or meaning. Thus, air power delivers information to the enemy leadership. The most important information delivered in this ethereal sense is the message stop fighting, or your strategy has been defeated and you are paralyzed, or, in the extreme case, you are dying.
Death or paralysis of the systems military or warfighting capability is the objective and intended effect of the air campaign. The goal is to visit the cumulative death of a thousand cuts on the enemy system.13 Because the object sought is paralysis, parallel war and hyperwar aim at the sudden and simultaneous reduction of the enemy systems overall energy level, so that the organic system goes into shock. The simultaneous engagement of centers of gravity prevents recovery from this shock because the energy available to the system is inadequate to restore the system to full functioning. Thus, attacks against the centers of gravity must occur not only in parallel, but also with hyper speed. Since ground forces cannot do this, since forces afloat cannot do this (except through their air power), then air forces are the forces best suited for employing parallel war at hyperwar tempo. Or so the theory goes.
According to Jeffrey R. Cooper, what might be new is a way of fighting, enabled by technology, that could evidence both coherence and simultaneity. Cooper writes:
At the operational level, the impact of these coherent operations is to overwhelm the opponents ability to command and control his forces, denying him the ability to respond to our campaign plan and operations, and forcing him at the limit to execute only uncoordinated preplanned actions.
The attacks themselves are
a (massively) parallel series of synchronized integrated operations conducted at high-tempo, with high lethality and high mobility, throughout the depth and extent of the theater, intended to force the rapid collapse of both the enemys military power and the enemys will.
The consequence of the attacks is rapid defeat of the enemy force
due to the simultaneous parallel operations, the high mobility, the high lethality, and the capability for sustained high tempos of operations, so many enemy units can be defeated in detail simultaneously that the operation may resemble a more classic coup de main executed in a single main-force engagement.14
But is this a new theory? Military forces since Clausewitz have been enjoined to identify and engage the center of gravity of an enemys military capability. Simultaneous and integrated attacks have long been the goal of combined arms. Attacks on the leader and leadership are not new goals of warfare, whether the enemy was viewed as a system or not in the past. Even in chess, not a new game, it is possible to impose checkmate without the serial destruction of all the adversarys knights, rooks, and pawns. Nor is it novel that such a campaign theory would be advanced by airpower advocates. What the air aspects of the theory promise seem to differ little from what Douhet, Mitchell, and the faculty of the Air Corps Tactical School promised. Air power, we have always been toldeven promisedby air power advocates, will be decisive. That the United States Strategic Bombing Survey and The Gulf War Airpower Survey both used empirical data to show that some of the undertakings of airpower fell short of the vision of airpower cannot be ignored.15
Nor should anyone ignore that the idea that parallel warfare, as distinguishable from serial warfare, is not a new strategic conception. As early as 1951, a naval officer, Capt (later Rear Adm) J. C. Wylie, asserted that there were two types of strategy: sequential and cumulative. He described the cumulative approach in an article that appeared in Proceedings in 1952. Wylie later wrote that
there are actually two very different kinds of strategies that may be used in war. One is the sequential, the series of visible, discrete steps, each dependent on the one that preceded it. The other is the cumulative, the less perceptible minute accumulation of little items piling one on top of the other until at some unknown point the mass of accumulated actions may be large enough to be critical. They are not incompatible strategies, they are not mutually exclusive. Quite the opposite. In practice they are usually interdependent in their strategic result.16
Moreover, the architects of the nuclear single integrated operations plan (SIOP), like Wylie, promoted and planned for instant cumulative war, or parallel war and hyperwar, decades before current theorists articulated the five rings. As Desmond Ball has shown, SIOP nuclear weapons were allocated against target sets in the former Soviet system characterized as leadership (leadership), nuclear force (nuclear forces), economic and industrial (organic essentials and logistics infrastructure), and other military (other fielded forces).17 The, SIOP also evidenced coherence and simultaneity, using Coopers terms. Thus, there is scant difference between the targeting logic of the SIOP approach and the targeting logic of the five-rings approach, save for the important distinction that one employed nuclear weapons effects and the other did not, but might have.18 While the difference between the nuclear SIOP and parallel war waged with conventional weapons is critically important, there are more similarities between the theories than differences. Both approaches sought to strike decisive points, both sought to checkmate enemy leadership, both were executed simultaneously and with hyper speed,19 both aimed at driving down enemy energy levels dramatically, both sought to impose shock and paralysis on the enemy system, and both sought to eliminate rapid (or almost any, in the case of the SIOP) enemy post-attack recovery capability.20 Nuclear weapons use does make a difference. The SIOP intended to be so threatening that it also may have been self-deterring. Parallel warfare using nonnuclear appears no less threatening in terms of its immediate consequences, but has fewer constraints on its employment. Even so, the difference in weapons is not a difference in the theory qua theory nor in the proximate effects the SIOP and nonnuclear parallel war sought.21
The strength of cumulative strategies, both the SIOP and parallel war, even though they are the same theory, is that they promise to reduce more rapidly the war-making capacity of an industrialized enemy state.22 It is indisputable that industrial states may be organized as the kind of system represented. The logic of a cumulative model appears sound, albeit somewhat mechanical, in the case of the five rings, and there are lucrative targets for air attack throughout the enemy system. The air campaign in Desert Storm demonstrated that the combat power of Iraq or a state like Iraq can be reduced by apparently simultaneous and coherent attacks against important targets. The SIOP, had it been executed, would likely also have proven the point against a more robust belligerent and war-fighting system.23 Conventional weapons have the additional advantage of being easier to employ and having fewer constraints on their employment than nuclear weapons. Unconventional weapons have the added advantage, in some cases, of producing effects that can be reversed. Thus, the ability to prosecute these kinds of nonnuclear attacks, using SIOP targeting logic under a new name, is a valuable adjunct to warfare in the latter years of the second wave.24
While a cumulative strategy promises to be effective against any enemy, one difficulty with the five-rings model is that it is ill equipped for coping with organisms that are not industrialized or industrializing state systems. Certainly a terrorist organization is a system that has separate component parts. Of course an insurgent organization is a system that has differentiated component parts. While theoretically possible to differentiate the component parts of both terrorist systems and insurgent organizations, it is not always easy actually to identify or to isolate these parts. As physical entities, the component parts, or five rings of terrorist and insurgent organization are exceedingly difficult for the air campaign planner to target. Thus, the model holds, but becomes exquisitely irrelevant for these types of organizations and counterterrorism warfare and counter- insurgency warfare. Worse, airpower cannot make the decisive and dominant contribution to these kinds of fights, much to the chagrin of airpower advocates. Fighting in the former Yugoslavia, the ill-starred intervention in Somalia, and our impotence in stopping the genocide in Rwanda are only the more recent examples of the limits of airpower. Airpower, it would seem, works best in massive doses applied as an antidote against the strength of industrial or industrializing states, uniformed armed forces, and identifiable leaders and other targets.
The five-rings model thus becomes illogical or at least impractical for nontrinitarian warfare, or what Gen John Boyd calls irregular warfare. Nontrinitarian warfare, as described by Martin van Creveld, is warfare wherein the warring sides do not manifest the organization of Clausewitzs remarkable trinity of state, people, and armed forces. If, as John Keegan, Carl Builder, Martin van Creveld and others suggest, conventional war between industrial states is the less likely warfare form for the future,25 this need not invalidate the theory entirely. The model remains extremely useful for its heuristic value to novitiate students of warfare and as a thesis to stimulate antithesis and debate.
Nontrinitarian warfare is only one of the challenges with which the theory cannot contend. Some of the characteristics of warfare on the eve of the third wave also confound the theory: demassification, diversity, and ninjitsu. Demassification is the fractionating of large conventional targets into much smaller ones. For example, mainframe computers are an attractive and easy-to-target set of nodes. Distributed laptops are less attractive targets because they are simultaneously more numerous, less easy to locate, mobile, and less easy to target. Third-wave information technology liberates leader- ship and leadership command centers from the requirement to reside in fixed locations. Just as telecommuting is possible for nonwarfare knowledge workers today, it is not inconceivable that the leaders of warfare operations in the future can command these operations from their domiciles, from nonbelligerent states, or from offshore. As hierarchies yield to networks, leadership will also become demassified. Virtual presence makes distance command and control possible. Thus, even among warring states, the leaders need not reside in the states to direct the fighting.
Miniaturization combines with demassification to complicate the challenge. A satellite dish receiver that measures three to five meters in diameter is an easy target for precision-guided or even area weapons. A satellite receiver or transmitter that measures one-half meter in diameter is a more difficult target to strike, especially if thousands are employed in a distributed network. While the model may be valid, the targeting challenge is such that the model might as well be invalid since it has little utility.
Dual-use technologies and facilities also confound the five- rings campaign planner. Fermentation chambers, for example, are essential components of a system that brews beer. These same fermenters are also essential for the production of biological weapons. Beer is good. Biological weapons are not good. Dual-use systems do not fit easily into the targeting template. Information technology is ubiquitous and much of it serves multiple constituencies. The Global Positioning System (GPS) would be a lucrative target, but the constellation of these satellites is demassified and distributed. Moreover, GPS users are military and civilian. Thus, the consequences of attacking GPS must be borne by friendly forces, enemy forces, and neutrals. Most communications satellites pose the same type of problem for campaign planners. Demassification, miniaturization, and dual-use also make ninjitsuthe art of invisibilitypossible. By distributing important elements of a system, reducing them dramatically in size, embedding them in other things (religious facilities, civilian hospitals, university research centers), these elements effectively become invisible to the campaign planner.26
There are at least seven additional minor problems. First, the attacks may not actually occur simultaneously, except when compared to warfare of the distant past. Next, like the SIOP, the current model strives for the decisive battle in new form. Third, it neglects evolution in the attacked organism or system. Fourth, it pays insufficient attention to war-termination issues. Fifth, the current model neglects the reality of the challenges posed by the post-attack damage assessment architecture, the Air Tasking Order (ATO) system, and the reality of combined arms operations. Sixth, the assertion that information is the bolt that holds the rings together seems to give the lie to the entire theory. And last, in the world that is emerging, there may be little room for this type of air campaign. Each of these lesser challenges deserves a few words.
The simultaneous attacks celebrated by the five-rings theorists in the Gulf War did not occur simultaneously. They occurred sequentially and over time. For airpower to be effective, air superiority, or control of the air, is necessary. To achieve air superiority, enemy air defenses must be defeated, circumvented, or suppressed. Thus, and even though the initial onslaught may have attacked other targets in other categories, elimination or reduction of the capabilities of the enemys air defenses always must be the first priority of an air campaign.27 If the theorists and air campaigners assert that suppression of enemy air defenses was not their first priority in time and in space, that assertion appears to contradict current air doctrine. If they accept that coping with enemy air defense capability was the first priority, but reply that the first wave of attacks included other targets, then the attacks were not simultaneous, but merely very close in time. (Zeno probably would argue that any separation in time, however, constitutes serial warfare.) In truth, the opening salvos of the Desert Storm air campaign were directedas they must be for air power to be effectiveagainst the enemy air defense system, the crucial first step in the air campaign.28 Sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and Army Apache helicopters were part of this first wave of airpower attacks for airpowers benefit. How quickly other targets in the series followed, becomes less relevant to the theory. A compressed serial attack is still serial warfare, even though time compression may create the appearance and, more important, the effect of simultaneity.29
Because the five-rings model for air campaign planning asserts that the consequence of its attacks will be paralysis of the enemy system, it in effect asserts that the Napoleonic and Clausewitzian decisive battle is its aim. Moreover, it seeks to annihilate enemy capability.30 (It does this, by the way, even while some of its advocates suggest that their theories now might have rendered much or most of Clausewitz irrelevant.) If the aim of the air campaign is not achievedthat is, if the consequent is not affirmedthen the fault must reside not in the air campaign, but somewhere else.31 Dogmatic adherence to the air campaign plan list of priority targets is necessary to prove the theory. Close air support, the theory holds, is less important than strategic attack. If sorties have to be reapportioned because of some ground emergency, then the dogma has been violated and, of course, the opportunity to win a decisive battle may have then been lost. Where the targeting list is followed religiously, failure to achieve a decisive battle can also be attributed to inadequate intelligence. Or it could be bad weather, the bane of aviation. Or it could be caused by an adaptive enemy.
The reality is that organisms are autopoietic; that is, they struggle to preserve themselves.32 Any attacked organism can be expected to struggle for survival by responding and adapting to stimuli, to internal changes, and to its new environment. Rigid adherence to an air campaign plan specifying a series of parallel attacks in advance is rigid adherence to a set of attacks designed against the initial organism, not the evolved one. The danger with a wonderfully deterministic air campaign plan is that it may adapt poorly to an organism that evolves in unexpected ways. When flying weather impedes mechanical execution of the air campaign plan, allowing the enemy respite and the opportunity to recover, it is the fault of chaos. When mobile missiles are introduced in unexpected ways, it is the fault of intelligence. When operations against mobile missiles deplete sorties intended to achieve the decisive victory of the air campaign, it is the fault of the politicians. Airpower advocates did in fact argue that the Iraqi Scuds were not militarily significant.33 That the missiles might have rent the Gulf War Coalition asunder had they not been actively pursued and engaged shows an immature understanding of what constitutes military significance in state warfare. Mobile missiles ought to have been priority targets in the air campaign: as political weapons they might have altered the course and outcome of the war.
War termination issues, not neglected in the SIOP, also appear to be neglected in the five-rings approach. The posited aim of the air campaign is strategic paralysisthe expectation being that paralysis must somehow equate to surrender. The reality is somewhat different. Wars may end because the losers sense that there is something they value more than the object of the war and that continuing the war imperils preservation of this more important value or preference set.34 The five-rings model attacks everything but population centers, perhaps encouraging the enemy to fight to the death. Even simple attacks can then have unintended consequences. Attacks against communications designed to separate leadership from fielded forces, for example, may also deprive leadership of feedback regarding damage to the organism. Thus, the organism may neither realize its paralysis nor behave as a paralytic. Certainly, if attacks annihilate a large part of the enemys capability, defeat in detail is then possible, whether the enemy fights on or notthat is, if public opinion on the winning side supports the bloodletting required to defeat an enemy in detail. None should, of course, underestimate the ruthlessness of a United States forced to fight for its vital interests. It would be equally foolhardy to underestimate the power of public opinion in fights not perceived by our citizens as involving their vital interests.
The five-rings approach may work well against a weak enemy and a transparent target set. If the enemythe resistant element described by Clausewitzis not weak or stupid, or if the target set is characterized by attention to ninjitsu, problems arise for the air campaign planner. Prewar intelligence, very effective damage assessment, and close coordination are all required to make the ATO system function effectively. (Where the ATO is less effective and the fault cannot be attributed to intelligence, it is, we are told by some, the fault of the Army and the Marines.35) The ATO takes a long time to produce.36 This fact alone ensures that it directs attacks against an organism that no longer exists. If damage assessment is imperfectnormally imperfection is the status quo unless the weather is perfect, intelligence is precise and abundant, and the enemy is perfectly inept or stupidthe problems are compounded. That Saddam was not stupid, albeit an excessively bold risk-taker (and even though Gen H. Norman Schwarzkopf reviled him as a strategist), is shown by his pawns gambit on the border of Kuwait in 1994. Perhaps the Gulf War educated him.
If the Gulf War educated us, we should now appreciate that warfare is a poor laboratory for validating air-only, or naval-only, or ground-only theories.37 Warfare against a small and inferior state is an even poorer laboratory. We fight with combined arms and depend on their interaction, their combined effects, to defeat the enemys strategy. An enemy facing a 400,000 or a one-half million person allied army on its border will invariably behave differently than one only facing air attacks, no matter how wonderful the pounding to which air subjects that enemy. It may be as divisive as it is short-sighted to resign forces in other media to the null set when attempting to use an actual fight with a third-, fourth-, or tenth-rate opponent to illustrate or prove a theory.
AirpowerArmy, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and other nation airpowerwas powerful in Desert Storm. Of that there can be no doubt. But was it powerful because Iraq was so inferior? Was airpower powerful alone, or was it powerful because of the forcethe well-armed, well-trained, belligerent and hot-blooded human beingspoised to take the fight to Baghdad on land and from the sea? Would not have true parallel war, horizontal and vertical parallel war, brought the interactive power of land warfare and amphibious assault to bear on Iraq even as the air campaign unfolded? Has our desire for few casualties become yet another weakness; a weakness leading us away from sound strategy?38
This last question is an important one when examining the air campaigns quest for parallel war. Wars occur and warfare occurs within a much broader context than the battlespace. Will the strategic context of the futurethe entire social, political, economic, and military gamut of goals, interests, and behaviorstolerate the kind of Desert Storm air campaign advocated? Parallel war is and has been a wonderful theory. Yet, the move from theory to practice is both a torturous and tortuous one. Preparedness to execute the SIOP, for example, cost the United States trillions of dollars over decades. Preparedness to execute a Desert Storm-type air campaign against any but small and weaker states might require an equivalent investment. Would such warfare work against a large country? Against a peer? Will the United States ever again have the surplus resources it had in Desert Storm? Not likely, seems to be the answer.
Iraq was and is a small country. When proportional silhouettes of Iraq are superimposed over a larger nation, as they are in Figure 3, the aerial achievements of Desert Storm appear in a different light. This is not to suggest any adversarial relationship with or hostile designs against China. Rather, this perspective merely illuminates the fact that Iraq is a very small country.
Finally, if information is the bolt that holds the five rings together, then information is the decisive center of gravity. Accordingly, should we not aim all attacks at information? Even though our understanding of information operations or information warfare is imperfect and immature, the evolving theory demands that the connectivity between and within the rings becomes the object of attack. Electrical power production facilities, roads and rails, airfields, missile production installations, and government buildings are not difficult for the air campaigner to target. Information is, or would be, difficult to target. Inclusion of information as a lucrative target may be a trendy afterthought on the part of airpower advocates on the one hand. On the other hand, it may be creation of another precondition for success of the air campaign. The precondition, if not met, then becomes the fault not of the theory, but of prehostility target intelligence or the clumsy execution of a brilliant air campaign plan.
Perhaps the more valuable contribution the five-rings model makes to the study of warfare is that it elucidates how one can falsify or defeat the theory. The first priority, the best way to defeat an adversary, Sun Tzu tells us, is to defeat an adversarys strategy. Air campaigners do not appear to be strategists. More likely they are air tacticianstheir protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. If the five rings support the overall strategy or constitute the strategy of the air campaign, how can one defeat the strategy? There are at least five ways, with each one examined in turn. (Recall, please, that this discourse aims at theory and antithesis. In practice, some of these countervailing means are as risky as they are illegal. Even so, we would do well to keep in mind that our conceptions of risk and legality may be ours alone. There are antithetical notions out there in the real world.)
Computer hackers have relatively easy access to software programs called worms and viruses. A worm is used to delete a portion of a target computers memory, and the aptly named virus calls forth a machines files and copies itself onto them, creating an unfixable mess. Database records can be (and have been) altered by outside interference, just as broadcasting airwaves have been intercepted and preempted. Even on a small budget, it seems, where there is a will there is a way.39
As Brigadier V. K. Nair, VSM (Retired), wrote in his book War In The Gulf: Lessons for the Third World:
Active measures to degrade attacking electronic systems should be cost effective and simple. For example, the most sophisticated system such as that of the United States, could be totally disrupted by the projection of a suitable virus that would automatically find their [sic] way back into the computers on which the systems are dependent. Cheap, simple and effective avenues must be exploited on a priority.40
Thus, it is only a matter of technique and time before these countermeasures to parallel war are employed. What are the counter-countermeasures? There may be none, although information technology may provide the homeopathy of future warfare.41 In the quest for primacy in warfare, the pendulum will continue to swing between measures and countermeasures. The elusive search for the technologies, the weapons, and the concepts of operations and organization that allow Vernichtungschlacht likely will continue.
There may not really be much that is revolutionary in contemporary notions of parallel war and hyperwar. It is the logical evolution of a nonnuclear SIOP accelerated in serial applications. The ability to execute a nonnuclear SIOP against a large state or peer would require SIOP-level investments. After acquiring the capability, an adversary could checkmate it by simple tactical adjustments modulating the strategic environment. Dispersing and disguising targets and making the public opinion consequences of striking them unacceptable cause the more obvious of these modulations. Absent the powerful real or imagined survival motives that impelled the SIOP, it is unlikely that the United States or any other nation will acquire the kind of airpower required to satisfy the needs of the parallel war and hyperwar air campaign. Absent the acquisition of the required technologies, the theory remains a rather large and important footnote to the Gulf War.
A problem with contemporary air campaign theories may be the progressive detachment of these presumptive airpower theories-presumptive from the realities of warfare.42 The new theories seem to be less about warfare than they are about the ways in which some believe the battlespace ought to be apportioned and the resources that ought to be acquired once the roles of force elements are determined. Warfare is about human beings, human aspirations, and human passions. No one should thoughtfully relegate the study of warfare to the investigation of sterile technology and the targets that reside in precisely defined systems or rings. Warfare between humans is a hot thing, not a cold thing. It is more about blood, fear, surprise, and friction than it is about technology. Precision targeting depends on speed and certainty, including the assurance that humans can know and understand causal relationships. Parallel war theorists require the ready availability of the technologies that allow speed, precision, and the chimera of accurate knowledge and authentic understanding. Parallel war requires massive resource investments.43
Thus, airpower in this current formulation seems to have become no more nor less than the power of detached, dispas- sionate technology.44 Technology is applied science. The science of the parallel war theorists is cold, deterministic, andfrom the perspective of those who value jointness or integration misapplied. If this, then that is a supposition that warfare rarely substantiates. The hubris of contemporary airpower theorists may be that they so badly want airpower to be dominant or decisive that they have made the Desert Storm air campaign the mechanistic template for all future wars. This want is a potentially dangerous weakness. Airpower, as Carl Builder suggests in The Icarus Syndrome, still lacks a theory.45 Even so, one must applaud those who search for one, even while cautioning them that they may not have found one yet.&127;
1. Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor, The Generals War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1994); and John A. Warden III, Air Theory for the Twenty-first Century, in Karl P. Magyar, ed., Challenge and Response: Anticipating US Military Security Concerns (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1994), 326329. Warden asserts that one of the ten concepts that describe the revolution of the Gulf War and must be taken into account as we develop new force levels is The dominance of airpower. Some disagree regarding airpowers contribution in the Gulf War. See Robert H. Scales, Certain Victory (Washington, D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 1993).
2. The function of the Army and the Navy in any future war will be to support the dominant air arm. See James H. Doolittle, speech to the Georgetown University Alumni Association, 30 April 1949, cited in Robert D. Heinl, Jr., Dictionary of Military and Naval Quotations (Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 1966), 6.
3. Airpower advocates believe airpower was both dominant and decisive in the Gulf War. In the wake of the war, the principal architect of the Desert Storm air campaign plan, Col John A. Warden III, emerged as the lead airpower theorist in the United States Air Force. His prewar book, The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat, is pirated, translated, and studied abroad. The Swedish Air Force uses his theories as the model for the most stressful kind of air attack against which they must be prepared to defend. In Australia, Warden is ranked along with Douhet and Trenchard as an important air theorist. Colonel Warden is a former commandant of the Air Command and Staff College, Air University.
4. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. and trans. by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), bk. one, chap. 1, 79. Emphasis in original.
5. The characteristics of parallel war and the air campaign primarily are those provided by Colonel Warden. Like Col John R. Boyd before him, most of Wardens brilliant exposition of parallel air warfare is in the oral tradition: briefings and briefing slides. Where primary written works are available, they are cited.
6. Warden, Air Theory for the Twenty-first Century, 311318.
7. Dan Hughes reminded me that in physics, just as in jujitsu, a body has and can have only one center of gravity. Dr Hughes is a colleague at the Air War College, Air University.
8. Warden, Air Theory, 326331. See also John A. Warden III, Employing Air Power in the Twenty-first Century, in Richard H. Schultz, Jr., and Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr., eds., The Future of Air Power in the Aftermath of the Gulf War (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1992), 6469.
9. John R. Pardo, Jr., Parallel Warfare: Its Nature and Application, in Karl P. Magyar, ed., Challenge and Response: Anticipating US Military Security Concerns ( Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1994), 277296.
10. David Deptula, draft, unpublished manuscript, Firing for Effect Change in the Nature of Warfare, 14 October 1994, 1221. The author is grateful to Col Jeffrey Barnett, OSD/NA, for pointing out this essay.
11. Information Dominance Edges Toward New Conflict Frontier, Signal Magazine, August 1994, 3740. See also George Stein, NetWar-CyberWar- Information War, June 1994, forthcoming in Air Power Journal; John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, Cyberwar is Coming! Comparative Strategy, 2, AprilJune 1993, 14165; and Norman B. Hutcherson, Command and Control Warfare: Putting Another Tool in the War-Fighters Data Base (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press), 5 August 1994.
12. Conversation with Colonel Warden, 10 November 1994. See also Warden, Air Theory, 329330.
13. John Warden sometimes uses the example of 150 tornadoes simultaneously striking the United States. Such a large number of tornadoes hitting at the same time would make recovery exceedingly difficult since recovery resources could not be shared easily.
14. Jeffrey R. Cooper, Another View of the Revolution in Military Affairs (Carlisle Barracks, Pa.: US Army War College, 1994), 2930. Coopers insightful conclusions about the constraints on an authentic revolution in military affairs (RMA) can also be applied to the air campaign theory of parallel war.
15. The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Summary Report (European War), 1945; reprinted in The United States Strategic Bombing Surveys (European War) (Pacific War) (Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air University Press, 1987); and Thomas A. Kearney and Elliot A. Cohen, Gulf War Air Power Survey: Summary Report (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1993). The bomber does not always get through (sometimes bombers have difficulty getting through the budget process), nor are precision weapons of much use unless supported by precise prestrike information on the target and poststrike damage to it.
16. J. C. Wylie, Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1967), 26. Italics added. Wylie introduced the differentiations of sequential and cumulative in Reflections on the War in the Pacific, US Naval Institute Proceedings 78, no. 4 , April 1952, 351361. See also J. C. Wylie, Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control, in Classics of Sea Power (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1989), 101.
17. Desmond Ball, Development of the SIOP, 19601983, in Desmond Ball and Jeffrey Richelson, eds., Strategic Nuclear Targeting (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), 8081.
18. A historian assigned to the Gulf War Airpower Survey team, speaking under the promise of nonattribution, pointed out to the Air Force officers detailed to assist with the study that the targeting logic of the Instant Thunder air campaign briefing was the same as the SIOP. He was told that parallel war was an Air Force idea, while the SIOP was a joint idea. Parallel war is an old idea. It remains an important one for nuclear operations, since deterring and fighting a peer may require a return to dependence on nuclear weapons.
19. Ballistic missile attack options evidenced extraordinary coherence and simultaneity. Theoretically it was possible, for example, to time sea-based and land-based ballistic missile launches so that all attacking warheads arrived at the first possible point of enemy radar detection simultaneously. Source is a discussion with Lt Gen Jay W. Kelley, USAF, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, 1 December 1994. General Kelley is the commander of Air University.
20. What may be new here may be that some in the tactical air forces discovered the approach that strategic air and missile forces had long taken to warfare. The Air Force Directorate of Warfighting Concepts Development (AF/XOXW) lays claims to the notion of parallel warfare, using the differences between parallel and serial electrical circuits as the illustrative model. Admiral Wylie would probably be pleased; imitation is the highest form of flattery.
21. CMDR J. M. van Toal, OSD Net Assessment, suggests that the difference between employing nuclear weapons and nonnuclear weapons creates distinctions that are definitive.
22. A state like Iraq is an even easier target set. A very senior air officer involved in the Desert Storm air campaign, speaking under the promise of nonattribution, asserted that achieving air supremacy against Iraq was about as difficult as shooting at a tethered goat.
23. Dan Hughes suggests that there are at least two sides to this issue. Perhaps it was awareness of this likelihood in the leadership of the former Soviet Union (or the US) that made such a US (or Soviet) attack unnecessary.
24. Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War: Survival at the Dawn of the 21st Century (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1993). Desert Storm was not third wave warfare. It may, however, have been nearly the epitome of second wave warfare.
25. John Keegan, A History of Warfare (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994); Martin van Creveld, The Transformation of War (New York: Free Press, 1991); and Carl Builder, Guns or Butter: The Twilight of a Tradeoff? (May 1994), a presentation to the USAF Air University National Security Forum, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Used with permission.
26. Maj Gen Peter D. Robinson, former commandant of the Air War College, points out that the techniques of mobility, deception, disguise, dispersion, misinformation, and diversion are still useful ways of creating ninjitsu.
27. The demassification and dehumanization of attack systems could make the suppression of enemy air defenses a much lower priority. A strength of the SIOP was the land-launched and sea-launched ballistic missiles that preceded attacks by manned aircraft. SSBNs are stealthy by virtue of their operations. The five-rings parallel war air campaign planner may not have such missiles to employ. Cruise missiles and stealth as a design feature become the analog of intercontinental ballistic missiles and were employed as we would expect them to be if the SIOP and parallel warfare theories are the samein advance of manned systems.
28. James A. Winnefeld, Preston Niblack, and Dana J. Johnson, A League of Airmen: U.S. Air Power in the Gulf War (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1994), 120121.
29. Barry R. Schneider points out that compacted serial warfare may `be parallel warfare in effect if the adversary does not have the time to respond effectively. I would argue that this further illuminates a limitation in the theory: to produce the effect desired in time, we must use Clausewitzian mass in space. Absent nearly unlimited mass, the notion of parallel air warfare may only be valid if applied against small countries. Dr Schneider is a colleague at the Air War College, Air University.
30. Advocates argue that the objective is not annihilation but control. The possibility that control actually is secured by annihilating military capability should not be overlooked.
31. David Deptula, draft, Firing for Effect, 20.
32. Erich Jantsch, The Self-Organizing Universe (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1980), 7, quoted in Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science: Learning about Organization from an Orderly Universe (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 1992), 18.
33. Alexander S. Cochran et. al., Gulf War Air Power Survey, Volume I: Planning (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1993), 1034. Dr Cochran is a colleague at the Air War College, Air University.
34. Joseph A. Engelbrecht, War Termination: Why Does A State Decide To Stop Fighting? (Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University, 1992). Col Engelbrecht is a colleague at the Air Universitys Air War College.
35. According to a senior Air Force officer speaking to the Air War College under the promise of nonattribution, the Army is to blame for its passion for deep attack and the way in which it uses the fire support coordination line (FSCL) to apportion the battlespace. The Marines are to blame for withholding sorties from the joint forces air component commander (JFACC). All of this, the official argued, reduces the power of airpower.
36. The importance of time and opportunity in warfare, dimensions currently neglected in Army doctrine, is developed in Robert R. Leonhard, Fighting by Minutes: Time and the Art of War (Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1994). See the discussion of some of the limits of the ATO system on page 74.
37. As Gen Al Gray, the former commandant of the Marine Corps, says, Ive never seen a battlefield too crowded to exclude anyone who wants a shot at the enemy.
38. The Department of Defense plans to increase investment in nonlethal technologies significantly. One wonders if unwillingness to kill the enemy or employ friendly ground forces in mortal combat against an adversarys homeland forces renders the United States weak to the point of impotence. If the Army and Marine Corps ground forces are unused in combat, they will eventually become less useful for and effective in combat.
39. Joseph N. Pelton, Future View: Communications Technology and Society in the 21st Century (Boulder, Colo.: Baylin Publishing, 1992), 196.
40. V. K. Nair, War In The Gulf: Lessons for the Third World (New Delhi, India: Lancer International, 1991), 110.
41. Said another way, information warfare may provide the antidote for parallel warfare. Eventually, and embellished by technology to intrude into acoustic, tactile, olfactory, and visual space, information technology may be the antidote for all warfare. See Marshall and Eric McLuhan, Laws of Media: The New Science (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988); Gregory L. Ulmer, Heuretics: The Logic of Invention (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994); and Diane Chotikul, The Soviet Theory of Reflexive Control in Historical and Psychocultural Perspective: A Preliminary Study, Technical Report NPS55-86-013 (Monterey, Calif.: Naval Postgraduate School, 1986).
42. A theory that asserts, for example, that an air force owns responsibility for everything that transits the air is not a warfare theory. A theory that asserts, for example, that an air force owns responsibility for the deep battle or the high battle is not a warfare theory. These are roles and missions, or defense resource appropriation, theories. A theory, on the other hand, hypothesizes that the battlespace is seamless.
43. Where the maintenance and modernization of large land armies continue to sap national investments, the required technologies are less likely to be forthcoming. France, England, and Germany provide good examples. The army structurally and financially dominates the defense debate and budget. Thus, airpower is foredoomed to structural impotence in France, Germany, and England.
44. A senior Air Force officer speaking to the Air War College under the promise of nonattribution asserted that without technology, there is no Air Force. Technology is a tool, a means to an end. When it becomes an end in itself, it may serve itself instead of warfare.
45. Carl Builder, The Icarus Syndrome: The Role of Air Power Theory in the Evolution and Fate of U.S. Air Force (New Brunswick, NJ.: Transaction Publishers, 1994).
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the US Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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