Decapitation Operations: Criteria for Targeting Enemy Leadership
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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This monograph establishes criteria for targeting enemy leadership during decapitation operations. It analyzes United States operations targeting strategic individuals over the course of the Twentieth Century. This discussion creates a list of recommended standards for the military commander to consider while planning decapitation operations. Five US decapitation operations conducted over a ninety-two year span provided historical precedence to answer the above questions. These strategic individuals were chosen for this study because they represent a century of US activity targeting enemy leadership. The author developed criteria for targeting enemy leadership through a combination of the Defense Departments doctrinal targeting process, the generally recognized principles of Just War Theory, Robert A. Papes Decapitation Theory, and the conclusions derived from Chapter Threes case studies. This monograph concludes that attempting to decapitate an organization without adhering to the following criteria will severely hobble the operations probability of strategic success. The four Decapitation Criteria are Criticality, Legitimacy, Cost Effectiveness, and Proportionality. Decapitation, most often, shapes the effectiveness of a larger, grand strategy that incorporates all elements of national power. The author recommends that commanders should always investigate the potential strategic values of targeting enemy leadership. More often than not, the pressure applied will provide some level of benefit. However, commanders must continuously reassess the expected value derived from decapitation and weigh that value against its costs. Employing Decapitation Criteria and the subsequent Outcome Analysis developed in this monograph can effectively aid a commander deciding on the benefits of targeting enemy leadership, and increase the operations strategic productivity.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Fire Control and Bombing Systems