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Airpower in Mass Atrocity Response Operations (MARO)

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Technical Report

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Air University School of Advanced Air and Space Studies Maxwell AFB United States

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This study examines historical airpower intervention to contribute to the urgent task of educating and managing the expectations of political and military leaders about the unique contributions and risks of airpower in a Mass Atrocity Response Operation MARO. Analyzing airpowers historical effect in humanitarian interventions provides strategic options to political and military leaders on airpower capabilities and potential responses to mass atrocity situations in an effort to fill a void in doctrine and planning discussion. It also seeks to present some of the tools and risks of airpower in a MARO to provide a foundation for the planning, coordination, and execution of airpower operations in the prevention of and response to mass atrocities. By using a qualitative approach, the author attempts to answer 1 to what extent are airpower options effective in preventing or responding to a mass atrocity situation, and, 2 what can decision-makers and military leaders today learn from MAROs in history to apply in a future MARO The focus of the thesis is not to advocate for or against military intervention or response in particular situations, rather it seeks to examine airpower options in a MARO to prepare the military leaders and planners for this likely tasking in the future. Specifically, viewing historical humanitarian interventions in the Balkans and Libya through a lens focused on an airpower response to mass atrocities challenges many of the expectations, planning norms, and traditional targeting models. However, it also helps military leaders prepare for future policy guidance. Illuminating historical examples of airpower interventions will narrow MARO thinking by identifying successes, limitations, risks, and existing airpower capabilities, while matching them to operationally accepted means for conducting airpower operations that achieve the desired strategic and political effects.

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