The Evolution of Electronic Combat Doctrine
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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Since the initial USAF aircraft losses to North Vietnamese air defenses, electronic combat has become an increasingly vital element of modern air warfare. Initially a self-protective defensive tactical reaction to a hostile anti-aircraft environment, electronic combat has steadily evolved into a full-fledged offensive element central to an air campaign. The present study traces this evolution over the course of four conflicts-Vietnam, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Bekka Valley Campaign, and Desert Storm--and contrasts it with the more slowly changing substance of the Air Forces basic doctrinal manual, Air Force Manual 1 - 1, over the same period of time. Based on the variance between AFM 1-1 and the emphasis placed on electronic combat by the Desert Storm air campaign, the study explores the manuals relevance to the currently practiced realities as they apply to electronic combat. Further, the study questions AFM 1-1s insufficient discussion of both the need to equip the force for the next war and to examine trends, first evident during Desert Storm, that may well be crucial in future conflicts. The immediate challenge for doctrine is to adequately emphasize the pervasive nature of electronic combat in modem air war and to apply those lessons with an eye toward the future as well as the past.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics