Accession Number:



Forecasting Approaches in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm

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[Technical Report, Monograph]

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

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Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm provide a contemporary example of successful Large-Scale Combat Operations by the United States. However, a closer examination of the military forecasting reveals that planners from the Third Army overestimated actual results, especially casualty numbers and war duration, by a significant amount. Planners used the AirLand Battle doctrine of the period to produce the gross overestimates. At the same time, The Dupuy Institute produced far more accurate forecasts using quantitative methods based on historical data. This study aimed to investigate how a quantitative approach to intelligence forecasting would have benefitted the Third Army planners at the operational level of war during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Using a case study methodology, the study examined how each organization developed its forecasts. Additionally, this study reviewed the risk created by overestimation and their application to current doctrine and Large-Scale Combat Operations. This study found that while the Third Army used both qualitative and quantitative methodologies for forecasting, the quantitative methodology was prone to error. The Dupuy Institute, using a more extensive data set and measuring more variables of combat power, provided better results during the operations. When adequately employed, quantitative methodologies have the potential to assist planners in developing more accurate, numerically-based forecasts that can assist decisionmakers in future conflicts.


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[A, Approved For Public Release]