War Termination and the Gulf War: Can We Plan Better?
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI
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The United States is the lone superpower left in the world. No other military can match the technology and lethality which American armed forces bring to the battlefield. Above all else, our military culture measures itself on annihilation of the enemy. But far too often in our history, battlefield victory has led to a failed peace because of a lack of foresight in planning on both the strategic and operational levels of war. The operational commander sits in a unique position to bridge the gap between national objectives and tactical actions. Armed with copious joint doctrine, he is charged with militarily defeating chosen enemies and creating conditions as a result of combat to achieve a strategically desired end state. In order to keep operational commanders focused on the aftermath of war, he needs to look no further than in his own doctrine and apply the principles of operational design to the post-hostilities phase of war before getting bogged down in combat planning. This will stimulate interagency cooperation early in the planning effort, create a synergistic effort of all the elements of national power, discover unique critical factors and operational objectives that may not be addressed in combat planning, derive what leverage may be required for peace negotiations, and give the operational commander a clearer understanding of transition issues. This ensures that conflict termination criteria are realized early in the planning stages of war and not after combat has started. Using the Gulf War as an example, the problems with how that war ended and could have ended will be explored. Had General Schwarzkopf applied this method to planning Desert Storm, we may have never had to fight Saddam Hussein again twelve years later in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics