Force Protection after Khobar Towers: A Case Study
NATIONAL WAR COLL WASHINGTON DC
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This paper recounts the bombing of the Khobar Towers complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on 25 June 1996 during which 19 U.S. Air Force personnel were killed and over 500 wounded. The airmen were part of the U.S. Air Forces 4404th Wing Provisional. The blast was head as far as 20 miles away, but it reverberated most loudly in the American press and the halls of the Pentagon. How could it happen Was the United States doing all it could to prevent such a tragic event Was there a failure of individual responsibility Was this an isolated incident or a systemic failure Newspapers debated these questions for weeks, while the Department of Defense DoD searched for the same answers. One area that finds general agreement among members of the DoD is the dramatic change in the emphasis placed on the force protection program in the months after the bombing. Changes were made that dramatically affected the way all four services train and equip their forces, as well as the methods used by unified commanders when planning for and undertaking military operations. An entire paper could be devoted to the process of force protection as it has evolved since June of 1996. This paper instead examines the development of force protection policy within the DoD in the aftermath of the Khobar Towers bombing. Using the Practitioners Framework provided in the course, the bombing will serve as a case study in the national security decision making process.
- Administration and Management
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Unconventional Warfare