Targeting Enemy Will from the Air: An Effects-Based Operation in Futility
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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When Clausewitz introduced the concept that an enemys power is derived from his total means plus his will to resist, a debate has centered on which is more important, the enemys military capability or his will. Air power theorists entered this debate and have long maintained that tactical and strategic aircraft alone have war winning capability because they can strike targets deep within a nations interior. While trying to prove the primacy of air power, airmen have searched for targetings holy grail -- the critical node that will bring about the enemys collapse. For many air power advocates, this target is the enemys will to resist. History is littered with American and coalition bombing campaigns that have used a variety of methods to directly or indirectly target enemy will. For the most part, these campaigns have been relatively unsuccessful. The Air Force and Joint Forces Command have introduced a new concept that has put a new twist on this old theme. Effects-Based Operations EBO has been vigorously promoted by Air Force leadership as a methodology to attack strategic targets like enemy morale. Though cloaked in different terminology, EBO has the same limitations that conspired against previous air campaigns. This paper examines some of the critical issues affecting the ability to target enemy will from the air. By analyzing some of these weaknesses, Joint Force Commanders can apply combat aircraft in a more effective manner, vice using them as a sole means of achieving operational or theater strategic objectives.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics