Twenty First Century Warfare -- Theater Operations at the Speed of Light
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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Commanders should begin integrating directed energy weapons DEWs into future combat operations. Laser and radio frequency weapons other the ability to deliver precise doses of lethal power to distant targets at instantaneous speeds, thereby enabling revolutionary new combat capabilities. However, operational fires delivered by DEWs represent a significant departure from use of current weapons. Joint forces lack a coherent vision of how to fight with DEWs. Existing doctrine on planning, commanding, and executing operations is insufficient to exploit the full combat potential of speed-of-light weapons. While strong focus by war fighting commanders on missile defense has nurtured Airborne Laser ALD development, the author contends it is time to vigorously pursue doctrine envisioning lethal offensive applications. Too strict a focus on missile defense is unintentionally constraining development of U.S. combat capabilities by limiting examination of potential offensive missions or DEW systems like the ABL. Visionary doctrine is needed to capitalize on the decisive combat capabilities that DEWs offer. The author contends strong leadership by the USAF and joint experimentation emphasizing spiral development will enable force transformation by facilitating assimilation of maturing DEWs. Failure to adapt may result in ceding the high ground to enemies bent on reducing U.S. military advantages.
- Directed Energy Weapons