Accession Number:

ADA465011

Title:

Misfire: An Operational Critique of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Targeting Strategy

Descriptive Note:

Research paper

Corporate Author:

NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2005-02-14

Pagination or Media Count:

28.0

Abstract:

Joint force commanders JFCs utilized improper weapons to accomplish strategic objectives during the major combat operations phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom OIF. U.S. Central Commands CENTCOM dependency on Precision-Guided Munitions PGMs appeared to have decisive effects during the initial campaign of Shock and Awe. However, while PGMs were instrumental in accomplishing the primary national-strategic objective of regime removal in OIF, targeting concentrated exclusively on leadership, command and control C2, and military equipment. Such a strategy enjoyed near-term success but failed to achieve the long-term ends of a politically stable Iraq. Rather than feeling soundly and convincingly beaten, Baathist leaders and Iraqi Army members merely retired from the battlespace to live to fight another day. Their efforts to inculcate insurgency groups, particularly within the Sunni population, created a well-spring of discontent. That discontent bred the terrorist factions with which the American military is currently embroiled. Less reliance on PGMs and a greater balance of coercive and destructive methods during OIF combat operations would have constituted an effects-based targeting strategy that would have satisfied all national-strategic objectives and established a smoother transition to stability operations. The denial strategy of Operation Desert Storm ODS was a prime example of attrition as an effective will-leveraging strategy in a limited war. In contrast, greater emphasis on attrition in OIF could have promoted a more stable peace at the end of major combat operations. While the firebombings of Dresden and Tokyo exemplify extremes in will-leveraging, JFCs may heed the success of coercive strategy and focus it upon the military personnel of todays adversaries. Tomorrows JFC should employ the coercive strategy of denial against fielded and paramilitary forces with measured, yet ruthless control.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Fire Control and Bombing Systems
  • Guided Munitions

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE