[Table of Contents] [Chapter 4]
Strategy is the art and science of translating national security objectives into practical military plans and operations. Strategy formulation in an age of revolution in affairs is especially challenging. Our two strategy essays by two premier military thinkers, Col John Warden and Col Richard Szafranski, debate the issue of just how innovative strategy formulation must be in the midst of a military revolution. Col Warden argues that war in the twenty-first century will be significantly different for the United States from anything encountered before the Gulf War. However, Col Szafranski contends that there may not be really much that is revolutionary in contemporary notions of parallel war and hyperwar.
Col Warden believes that twenty-first century strategy will have to ensure great precision: high casualties will not be politically tolerable; collateral damage must be minimized; nonlethal weapons will have wide application; and manipulation of information will be critical. Strategy will have to concentrate on an enemys entire system of organization and activity, not simply its armed forces.
Using the five-ring analogy, Col Warden proposes that strategy should target an adversarys leadership, energy or resources, infrastructure, population, and armed forces. This would make airpower the dominant instrument of such new era warfare. Simultaneously attacking these essential components rather than concentrating solely on enemy armed forces is the essence of Wardens strategy. Warden believes that the five-ring analysis gives us a good picture of what to strike, and that we must view the enemy as a system, not an independent mass of tanks, aircraft, or dope pushers. Wardens goal is to make the cost political, economic, and militaryto the enemy higher than he is willing to pay, or to impose strategic or operational paralysis on him so that he would become incapable of acting.
Col Szafranski, however, questions whether proposals like Col Wardens aiming at the simultaneous reduction of the enemy systems overall energy level, so that the organic system goes into shock are really new. Is attacking the various centers of gravity in parallel and with hyper speed really a new theory of war? Szafranski argues that 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. Col Szafranski adds that the nuclear attack single integrated operations plan (SIOP), long used by the US Air Force Strategic Air Command, promoted and planned for parallel war and hyperwar long before `the five rings came into vogue.
While Col Wardens essay implies that the five-rings strategy can work against very large states like China, or versus almost any adversary, Col Szafranski limits its utility to smaller industrialized states and is dubious regarding utility against terrorist or insurgent organizations. Worse, writes Szafranski, airpower cannot make the decisive and dominant contribution to [counterterrorism and counter-insurgency] much to the chagrin of airpower advocates.
Col Warden was a key planner and organizer of the allied air campaign that gave the Coalition air superiority over Saddam Husseins air force in the 1991 Gulf War. Parallel war and hyperwar did shock and paralyze the Iraqi state and its military forces. Wardens essay suggests that this same parallel war and hyperwar approach, emphasizing airpower as the key to rapid and complete victory, can and should be applied in future conflicts in the twenty-first century.
However, Col Szafranski argues that this theory of fighting wars, and the central role assigned to airpower in it, does not apply to all kinds of conflicts. Szafranski contends that we still have not found a theory of airpower and air strategy that applies universally. Indeed, this leads to the question of whether or not one air doctrine and military strategy for all contingencies can be effective across the entire spectrum of types of conflicts and types of adversaries that the United States and its allies may confront in the future. Perhaps, instead, there should be a search for multiple air doctrines for various alternative types of conflicts and enemies.
The reader can decide for himself or herself what is new or different in Col Wardens air theory for the twenty-first century, and whether the same strategy will work across the spectrum of conflicts. What both Col Warden and Col Szafranski do agree on is that paralyzing or neutralizing an enemys critical warfighting assetswhether military or civilian, whether physical or psychologicalis important for strategy success in twenty-first century warfare.&127;
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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