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The Utility of Targeting the Petroleum-Based Sector of a Nation's Economic Infrastructure

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Master's thesis

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Modern conventional warfare requires not only adequate military forces, but advanced economic infrastructures capable of supporting these forces. Such infrastructures provide large vulnerable targets susceptible to enemy air attack. Although some targets have little value, this is not the case with oil. The petroleum-based sector of any nations economy is a vital target, particularly during large, fast-paced conventional operations. This study focuses on the fundamental utility of targeting and attacking generic petroleum systems. At question is whether targeting oil systems might be useful, and if so, what part of the system to attack. When considering an oil system as a potential target, one most certainly thinks of World War II, or Vietnam. While these particular conflicts are by no means the only example of targeting oil systems, they provide valuable insights when analyzed. Take, for instance, the case of the Second World War. Prior to the conflict, little thought had been given as to how one might actually go about destroying the petroleum-based sector of a nations economic infrastructure. As the war progressed, it became evident that strategic centers of gravity were not always within reach. Little thought had been given as to how unescorted, daylight strategic bombing might be used to defeat Germany, Finally, the historical studies of World War II highlight one last lesson, the need to consider collateral effects when targeting oil. In shifting the focus to current and future trends, while the petroleum based sector of the economy offers a large, vulnerable target, it is necessary to analyze the lessons of the past with current and future trends to dramatically affect the outcome of war.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Aircraft Operations
  • Administration and Management
  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Fire Control and Bombing Systems

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