Strategic Lift and the Operational Commander: It's About Time
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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Phasing combat capability into a theater or across multiple theaters and then sustaining it has been central to a Combatant Commanders operational planning for decades. United States and coalition forces have been experiencing an increasing pace of operations throughout the post Cold War era, particularly as the Long War progresses. Strategic Lift has played a central role in the Combatant Commanders planning process in setting the stage for initial and sustained success. This paper addresses the role of Strategic Lift and whether it is adequate to ensure the success of Combatant Commanders both today and in the future. Operation Desert Storm is used as a baseline case study from which to evaluate Strategic Lift and claims that it was inadequate in the early 1990s. Operation Iraqi Freedom is then used to contrast Strategic Lift capability to determine if a Strategic Lift shortfall still exists. The overarching theme throughout is that Strategic Lift modernization and recapitalization must compete for scarce resources, therefore if a shortfall exists, the Combatant Commander must make the most effective use of assets available. To this end, the Combatant Commanders risk assessment will depend largely on time. Recommendations to improve Strategic Lift are alternatives for addressing strategic tanker shortfalls, logistics visibility and unit phasing options, logistics war-gaming and reliance on Effects Based Operations to mitigate potential risk.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics