Where You Sit and Centers of Gravity: Bridging the Gap Between Army and Air Force Perspectives
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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Clausewitzs concept of a military center of gravity has become a recognized tool for operational planning in the U.S. military. Both the Army and the Air Force share the same definition of what a center of gravity is, but each service has a different conceptual framework for determining it. Due to service traditions, capabilities, and limitations, there are significant divergences in opinion over what truly constitutes an enemy center of gravity and how one should approach it. This monograph briefly explores some of the doctrinal and historical bases for those differences. Operation Allied Force is presented as a case study to illustrate the respective biases of the overall commander, an Army four-star general, and the air component commander, an Air Force three-star general, and the difficulties present when there is no common consensus on a center or centers of gravity or how best to approach them. Given that such conceptual inconsistencies are likely to exist in virtually any future scenario where major Army and Air Force elements are involved, some common ground must be found to ensure unity of effort. This monograph proposes several recommendations to alleviate friction over center of gravity concepts. Ground and air commanders must first seek to understand the underlying conceptual differences. With such an understanding, centers of gravity should be chosen based on viability and feasibility and, when possible, to facilitate an unbiased analysis, outside agencies should be leveraged to determine appropriate centers. The final recommendation is that identified centers of gravity be subject to continual analysis to determining their continued viability and to determining the most likely avenue for success.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics