Published Airpower Journal - Winter 1994
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.


Col Edward Mann, USAF

Know the enemy and know yourself:
in a hundred battles you will never
be in peril.

--Sun Tzu

Into the silence there dropped the notes of the dove: the grasshoppers were still now. Into the silence there dropped the thunder of cannon and the sharp clear sounds of rifles. . . .

Moved by a spirit that was outside ourselves and our captains, we went forward on to the plain. . . . [The leader] kept the pace midway between walk and run. There was a rhythm to the firing of the cannon: as the enemy jumped clear there came a puff of smoke and then the great wind of the bullet. Our leader sent fifty runners to tell the men that they must drop to the ground when they saw the puff of smoke, then the big bullet would go over their heads. The men having caught his words fitted themselves into our enemies' rhythm, and so there were less killed than was expected.

Still, great numbers were left behind on the plain. . . . On and on through the tall green grass, their plumes touched by the wind of death . . . their death-screams were heard above the roaring of the guns. . . . Indeed people were falling so fast that they made a sort of fence behind which the living hid while they fired. . . .

The war cry of Zulu filled the sky and the tread of Zulu shook the earth.1

The words are fiction, but the scene is real and vividly illustrates the fate of preindustrial warriors opposing industrial-age firepower. Such warriors, though they sometimes win the field, pay a horrible price in blood. Indeed, the industrial-age force would have to be incredibly stupid to lose such a battle. For instance, Lord Frederic A. Chelmsford lost the battle of Isandhlwana in 1879 (the battle described above) because he declined "local advice concerning the adversary and terrain before him on the grounds that 'the broad principles of tactics hold good in Africa equally as well as in Europe'."2 The British army paid heavily for Chelmsford's failure to obtain knowledge concerning the enemy and his deployments. Though Chelmsford's main column slaughtered Zulus by the hundreds, only 355 of 2,800 in the British force survived the battle. Just one day later, however, at Rorke's Drift, a British force of 85 drove off thousands of Zulus, killing 400-500 while losing only 17 men themselves.3 The major difference was that the smaller force knew the Zulu attack was coming and had prepared for it. Chelmsford might have known, but he chose not to.

Perhaps Operation Desert Storm was, as some people claim,the first information war,4 but it wasn't--by a long shot--the first time an armed force perished for lack of knowledge. Sun Tzu recorded the principle for us nearly 25 centuries ago. The struggle to dominate the enemy in terms of information and knowledge is not new, but it has recently taken on dramatically increased relevance in war fighting. It is possible--perhaps even likely--that "information warfare" represents a true revolution in war fighting5 and will require new understandings of military force and force application. If so, the overwhelming defeat of Iraq by the US-led coalition in 1991 may be attributable in large measure to the fact that Saddam Hussein's industrial-era armed forces ran up against a postindustrial military whirlwind. This article examines how air and space power contributed to coalition dominance in the collection, dissemination, and application of information and knowledge, and how this process affected the outcome of Desert Storm.

Rapidly gaining and exploiting information dominance was clearly a key goal of the Desert Storm air campaign plan. The first Iraqi targets attacked were air defense, leadership (including command, control, communications, and intelligence [C3I]), and electrical grids,6 all of which had the highest priority because of their impact on the Iraqis' flow of information. The integrated air defense command and control (C2) system, known as Kari (Iraq spelled backwards in French), provided tracking and targeting information for Iraqi fighter and surface-to-air missile (SAM) engagements of coalition aircraft. Breaking down this flow of information would fragment the enemy's air defense effort, forcing his SAMs into autonomous mode and leaving his interceptors virtually helpless. This situation allowed coalition aircraft to exploit Iraqi airspace at will. Leadership C3I targets provided linkages between the highly centralized decision-making elements (principally Saddam) and both the Iraqi population and the fielded military forces. Disrupting these systems would upset and discredit the regime, while simultaneously reducing its capability to control military forces.7 Without electrical power, communications would be reduced to verbal and handwritten messages conveyed by courier. Thus, a successful attack against the Iraqi power grids would disrupt nearly every kind of information flow within the nation.8 Plans called for maintaining pressure on Iraqi "information nodes" throughout the war to help create an exploitable "information differential."9

To build and maintain this pressure, the US brought a tremendous array of electronic warfare systems to the fight. (Other coalition partners contributed a few systems, such as the British Tornado GR1As, but the US provided the vast majority.) Before and during the war, satellites and airborne systems collected electronic intelligence, finding and fixing C3I nodes of all types for later attention from less benign systems such as the USAF's 61 F-4Gs and 12 specially configured F-16 Wild Weasels, highly sophisticated systems capable of detecting and destroying electronic radiation sources (especially radar emissions) with high-speed antiradiation missiles (HARM) and Shrike antiradiation missiles. The Navy and Marines contributed less sophisticated--yet very capable--F/A-18, EA-6B, and A-7 HARM and Shrike shooters. (These aircraft could detect and shoot at radiation sources but, lacking some of the information available to the Weasels, could never be sure they had released their missiles within range of the target.) Many strike aircraft carried their own electronic jamming equipment to counter Iraqi attempts to track and shoot them with radar-guided systems; additionally, EF-111s, EC-130s, and EA-6Bs accompanied most strike packages, employing even more sophisticated (and powerful) jamming equipment.10 The apparent Iraqi fears that radiating was both futile and dangerous were certainly well founded, if not totally accurate.11 The enemy's ability to collect and use information was severely disrupted, but creating that deficit represents only half the battle.

According to Col John Boyd's observation-orientation-decision-action (OODA) loop theory, this kind of offensive effort can "enmesh [the] adversary in a world of uncertainty, doubt, mistrust, confusion, disorder, fear, panic, chaos . . . and/or fold [him] back inside himself so that he cannot cope with events/efforts as they unfold."12 This factor probably contributed greatly to the mass desertions and surrenders of Iraqi troops and almost certainly to their general ineffectiveness as a cohesive fighting force. Of course, as Boyd also states, this disruption of the adversary's flow of information represents only one side of the equation. The real objective is to complete one's own OODA cycles faster than the adversary completes his; thus, while "stretch[ing]-out [the] adversary['s cycle] time," one must also "compress [his] own."13 Although caught somewhat flat-footed in August 1990, the coalition immediately began working this part of the equation and continued with a vengeance until the air war began in January 1991.

According to Colonel Boyd, "the O-O-D-A loop can be thought of as being the C&C [command and control] loop."14 Surely, Boyd is actually referring to all aspects of what we call C3I (or what many people now call C4I--the fourth C standing for "computers"). Logically, then, (1) intelligence15 provides observation (in accordance with command elements' requirements); (2) working together, intelligence and command elements provide orientation (i.e., they determine what to observe, which observed information is of greatest value, and how it is to be used in making decisions); (3) command elements make necessary decisions and direct the actions required to execute those decisions; and (4) field units and their discrete elements (aircraft, tanks, people, etc.) execute the directed actions (and contribute to observation through postaction reports, at which point the cycle begins again). All these elements are interconnected through the communications element of C3I (and computers of C4I). The whole can be only as strong as the weakest link. Even though at least one of its links was very weak indeed (i.e., orientation, discussed below), the coalition--after weathering a slow start--would eventually dominate in every element of this cycle.

The slow start resulted in part from the orientation of US operations planning--and, therefore, intelligence collection--for the Middle East prior to early 1989. Before that time, planners concentrated on a potential Soviet threat in the region. That orientation, combined with the "aggressive security and counterintelligence policies of the Iraqi regime," meant that the US (therefore, the coalition, since the US owned the vast majority of intelligence assets which could be brought to bear) did not have a full complement of information on Iraq.16 Much of the available data was old, of poor quality, and/or incomplete.17 The US had satellites in place that could and did monitor military activity, but little was known about the regime's intentions.18 Consequently, there was no consensus on the probability of the Iraqi invasion before it actually occurred.19 Neither was there a consensus on Saddam Hussein's intentions beyond the occupation of Kuwait. Some people thought that he would continue the attack into Saudi Arabia in early August, while others thought he had already overextended himself and would now only dig in and try to hold.20 The coalition immediately began the scramble to improve the flow of information.

The first deployments to theater included US airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to enhance the development of an "air picture" for coalition military leadership and forces. This knowledge not only was critical to the defense of Saudi Arabia against air threats, but also helped monitor Iraqi training activity and improve coalition understanding of the Iraqi air force's readiness levels and sortie-generation capability. Behind the initial air defense force deployments came a plethora of reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft to monitor Iraqi activities and define orders of battle. These included RF-4s, RC-135s, TR-1s, P-3s, E-2s, RF-5s, and specially configured F-14s and Tornado GR1As--a total of more than 100 such aircraft. Additionally, Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicles flew nearly 300 reconnaissance sorties.21 Two experimental E-8 joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS) aircraft contributed their own brand of near-real-time battlefield reconnaissance. Though using them was a risky gambit (because of their developmental status), these aircraft provided tracking of both friendly and enemy forces, thus reducing fratricide and making possible some spectacular--usually one-sided--air-to-ground engagements such as the one that produced the now-famous "highway of death."22 On top of all that, a significant array of military and civilian space systems augmented air-breathing reconnaissance and surveillance systems, providing meteorological information and imagery of various types.23 Even this massive reconnaissance and surveillance capability couldn't satisfy the coalition's insatiable appetite for information on Iraq and its army's field deployments, so several other types of fighter aircraft "flew reconnaissance missions in an attempt to overcome the shortage."24

But coalition military leaders still couldn't seem to get sufficient information quickly enough. Throughout the war, theater planners had to contend with an unacceptable lag in information flowing to them through normal intelligence channels. Furthermore, the people who assigned priorities for imagery collection were often not involved with target planning (and, therefore, not in touch with the decision makers' priorities). Because required information, once collected, frequently arrived too late to be useful, planners had to use out-of-channel work-arounds to assess bombing results within the 72-hour planning cycle.25

Some vital information--such as the location of mobile Scud missile launchers--proved to be just too difficult to obtain. Highly effective Iraqi deception efforts and employment procedures made targeting the Scuds very difficult; confirming successful attacks was almost impossible.26 The only indication of success against the Scuds was the gradual reduction in the number of missiles fired, although a resurgence in firings during the last week of the war tended to cloud this assessment. (Nevertheless, the last week's firings were still less than half those of the first week.)27

Though far from mobile, Iraqi nuclear research facilities proved nearly as difficult a problem. Coalition intelligence uncovered only eight known or suspected nuclear facilities before or during the war, yet postwar inspections by the International Atomic Energy Administration turned up at least an additional 18. The fact that 16 of the 26 were considered "main facilities"28 means that at least eight major nuclear facilities escaped detection until after the war.

Although these intelligence "failures" were significant (especially the timing lag for national systems, which was never really fixed), the coalition totally dominated the Iraqis in terms of information collection (i.e., observation). Saddam's forces had nothing to rival the coalition's collection capability and no means of countering it other than tactical deception (which, though used effectively by Iraq, clearly has limits). The gap in information collection--huge at the outset of hostilities--grew rapidly over time. This was especially true after the opening of the air war, when the coalition expanded its collection efforts while quickly altering force deployments and carefully denying useful information to Iraq. With regard to observation, the coalition held all the cards.

Orientation gets nowhere near the attention from US military forces that observation does, yet it is probably the most critical element in the entire OODA loop. Colonel Boyd notes that "the second O, orientation--as the repository of our genetic heritage, cultural tradition, and previous experiences--is the most important part of the O-O-D-A loop since it shapes the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act" (emphasis in original).29 In effect, orientation is the real starting point of the OODA loop, even affecting what we decide to observe (and then, what we decide to do). Lord Chelmsford, for instance, decided not to observe anything about the Zulus he would face or about the terrain on which he would face them. Saddam Hussein made a similar decision (though less overtly) and therefore had no resources with which to observe coalition activities beyond his own front lines (other than international sources such as radio and television, which were considerable but nowhere near sufficient).30 For this lapse, both Chelmsford and Saddam paid an enormous price. Orientation is the critical link between information--which is nice to have--and knowledge, which (when properly considered and acted upon) saves one from peril.

The difference between information and knowledge may seem very subtle at first, but in warfare it is truly critical. On the one hand, information is passive and always exists (at least in the abstract) whether anyone pays attention to it or not. Among other things, it can be collected, collated, analyzed, "fused," packaged, disseminated, and even managed. Of particular relevance to the Gulf War, it can be stored, protected, and concealed or suppressed, sometimes even from one's own decision makers.31 It can also be jammed up in a system of data flow that will eventually deliver it to decision makers but perhaps not in time to be useful to them. Knowledge, on the other hand, is active and must be possessed if it is to exist--let alone be useful. Somewhere, someone must process the collected raw material (information) into something recognizable and useful for decision making (knowledge). For example, the location of a tank is information, whether anyone knows it or not; it becomes knowledge only when someone has seen and taken note of it. Such knowledge becomes useful when it is fitted into a scheme of operations (are tanks to be destroyed or left alone to support a potential coup?) to make informed decisions. One need not do this perfectly--only better and faster than the adversary.

Knowledge processing, then, requires the ability to orient on the right information (e.g., using surveillance systems to collect data about Iraq instead of the Soviet Union) and then on discrete elements of information necessary to the decision at hand (e.g., examining a particular set of pictures or documents such as those that reveal Iraqi nuclear facilities). Thus, the true purpose of information dominance (which requires proper orientation on information collection and dissemination) is to provide an exploitable knowledge dominance.

The ability to discriminate between useful information and background "noise" (i.e., orientation) may have been the weakest link in the US-designed C3I system used by the coalition in the Gulf.32 In fact, US national intelligence appears to be biased toward forcing all available information through channels and shows little regard for shifting priorities in the field. Often, discrete elements of information needed by commanders and planners were already collected and available but awash in a much larger stream of data that was working its way through the system.33 However, if planners requested these elements from key individuals within the system, they could be extracted and forwarded hours-to-days faster than normal. Dave Deptula, a key planner in the US Air Forces, Central Command (CENTAF) special planning group (which quickly became known to other CENTAF planners as the "Black Hole," because people and things went in and never came out),34 cites an example of "normal time delays involved in getting information [through the formal system]":

We wanted a photo of a particular target. . . . [Then-Brig Gen Buster C.] Glosson picks up the phone, calls [DIA Director Mike] McConnell, and we get the photo in about 4 hours. . . . Twenty-four hours later, about, he gets a photo from CENTCOM [US Central Command] or CENTAF/IN [Intelligence]. About 24 hours after that, 48 hours later, we get the same photo from CENTCOM/J-2 [Intelligence].35


Data from the Gulf War Air Power Survey confirm such scenarios.36 Obviously, this was not an observation problem since the required information was available in the system and eventually would have reached the planners--whether they needed it or not!

Nor can the delays be blamed on lack of communications (although they often are, especially by apologists for the national intelligence system)37 because once the specific need had been identified to the "right" people in the system (i.e., once proper orientation was provided), delivery was nearly immediate. Of course, communications problems existed, especially during the early deployment phase. The CENTCOM area of responsibility was an immature theater, and communications suffered from the common initial deployment problem of Desert Shield: incomplete time-phased force and deployment data38 for operations plan (OPLAN) 1002-90 (CENTCOM's contingency plan for defense of Saudi Arabia; in August 1990 it was still in conceptual development). The US did not have much in the way of communications capability in-theater when Iraq invaded Kuwait, and Saudi telecommunications systems were of limited use for a large military operation such as Desert Shield/Storm. But communications systems began moving right alongside the combat forces on 8 August 1990.39 In fact, by war's end, CENTCOM had greater electronic communications connectivity than US European Command, according to Lt Gen James S. Cassity, the Joint Staff director of the Command, Control and Communications System Directorate (J-6) during Desert Shield/Storm.40 At its peak, the system could handle over 700,000 telephone calls and 152,000 messages per day. In addition, communicators managed and monitored over 35,000 frequencies to ensure interference-free radio connectivity for the theater.41

Much of the system that communicators ultimately cobbled together was vulnerable to interference, yet--for whatever reason--it was never successfully attacked by the adversary. Saddam's forces probably could have seriously stressed coalition capabilities with a moderate investment of time and effort. In particular, they apparently could have interfered with tactical satellite communications (TACSATCOM; ultrahigh frequency [UHF] and superhigh frequency [SHF] radio communications) but either never tried or were unsuccessful.42 Since overall theater communications architecture, as it evolved, depended heavily upon TACSATCOM, successful jamming would have severely degraded coalition communications capability.43 Iraq's almost total lack of opposition in the electromagnetic spectrum allowed the coalition to very quickly build and maintain a system capable of delivering required information. The fact that Glosson could get a call through to McConnell at all--not to mention receiving a photograph from him within four hours--indicates that sufficient communications were available to deliver what planners needed. Faster data transfer will always be desirable, but it is not the root of the intelligence problem in Desert Shield/Storm. Nor does the solution lie in increasing the flow of data.

The problem lies in a systemic orientation that favors data flow over user needs. This at least partially explains the debate between intelligence and operations over the intelligence system's Desert Shield/Storm performance. That is, intelligence delivered "tons" of information as fast as possible (IN's self-imposed measure of merit), while operations wanted specific "pounds" of it delivered much more quickly than the system was capable of. Operations planners, unable to get a satisfactory resolution within the intelligence system, resorted to unofficial work-arounds and informal arrangements outside the system.44

Examples of these external sources include General Glosson's special relationship with Admiral McConnell and the Black Hole connection to Checkmate45 for targeting information. Planners also used unofficial, informal arrangements to get bomb damage assessment (BDA) and measurements of battlefield attrition levels (a subcategory of BDA that became very contentious during the war) that intelligence was not providing.46 (In some cases, information was available, but intelligence sources would not use it or make it available to operations planners.)47

Fortunately, Saddam did not experience a similar problem with information sorting. Indeed, coalition efforts to deny him useful information were so successful that once the war started, he couldn't even follow the positions of his own forces--let alone those of the coalition.48 Saddam's intelligence was oriented on internal, not external, issues.49 He possessed no space-based observation capability of his own and failed to arrange access even to commercially available products such as the French Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre (SPOT). Of course, since France was a member of the coalition, it was not likely to sell information to Saddam, but he could have availed himself of more surreptitious means of obtaining such products. These sources certainly would have exposed the movement of two reinforced US Army corps 150 miles to the west. That single piece of information, received and properly processed, would have revealed the hopelessness of his force deployment in terms even he could understand and thus might have altered his subsequent actions.

Like other two-dimensional thinkers, Saddam failed to see the implications of Col John Warden's "air-Schlieffen" plan, but even he could not have failed to understand the seriousness of a powerful two-corps surface force deploying beyond his right flank, with nothing standing between it and Basra (or Baghdad, for that matter). But, then, that was the major implication of air-Schlieffen: because Saddam and his forces could not observe, they could not orient and therefore could not decide sensibly and therefore would act stupidly or not at all. The only sensible action open to Saddam--acceding to coalition demands--escaped him at this point. When the moment came, many of his forces would try to fight, but their situation was hopeless. To reiterate Colonel Boyd's assessment, they were enmeshed "in a world of uncertainty, doubt, mistrust, confusion, disorder, fear, panic, chaos" and folded "back inside [themselves] so [they could not] cope with events/efforts as they unfold[ed]." The coalition had unquestionably met Boyd's requirement of operating inside the Iraqis' OODA loop, sometimes by a matter of days.

With observation platforms such as the TR-1 and JSTARS linked directly (or through AWACS) to both command elements and fighting units, coalition forces could spot, target, attack, and destroy Iraqi armor and supply columns, literally in minutes. This sequence of events occurred at Al Khafji, on the highway of death outside Kuwait City, and--somewhat less dramatically--elsewhere in Kuwait and southeastern Iraq. Even information from national systems (satellites) could sometimes affect events in near-real time. A phone call from Checkmate or Admiral McConnell, for instance, could put bombs on the "building with the Mercedes parked out front" within minutes.50

This was possible not only because of the rapid observation and orientation cycles (relative to those of Iraq), but also because Gen H. Norman Schwarzkopf and then-Lt Gen Charles Horner delegated decision making to the lowest possible level consistent with centralized control of air power. Before execution--and for most of the 42 days of the air war--decisions about targeting were made in the CENTAF planning cell. Only after the Al Firdos bunker incident did high-level decision makers (probably Schwarzkopf, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Colin Powell, or both) intrude themselves by withholding most Baghdad targets.51 Other than that, decisions did not require specific approval at multiple command levels and therefore could be made quickly.

The division of targets into categories corresponding to previously defined enemy centers of gravity--combined with careful explanations of the categories and associated objectives, as briefed to senior officials--helped desensitize leaders such as Schwarzkopf and Powell (perhaps even Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and President George Bush) to specific target selections. When a target clearly fitted one of the categories, everyone assumed that it served a legitimate military purpose (and ultimately, therefore, the political objectives)--an assumption that seems vindicated by results. Glosson and his planners had free rein to make adjustments as they saw fit. Schwarzkopf and Horner gave support and general guidance--as well they should--but specific targeting decisions were made in the CENTAF planning cells.52

General Glosson's delegated decision-making authority extended downward to the flying units by virtue of General Horner's position as joint force air component commander (JFACC). By selecting Glosson for the position of chief air campaign planner with the concomitant authority to control the air tasking order (ATO) (in which all overland flights had to appear), Horner delegated him authority over flying units' wartime taskings. The reorganization of CENTAF in December 1990 further enhanced Glosson's authority by making him commander of 14th Air Division (AD), comprised of the USAF fighter and fighter-bomber wings. At the same time, Glosson was named CENTAF director of campaign plans, a position that expanded his role from directing strategic offensive planning in the Black Hole to controlling all CENTAF planning functions in the newly formed Campaign Plans Division. Thus, Glosson had both functional authority (as the JFACC's campaign plans director) and service authority (as commander of 14th AD) over all USAF fighter units. There was no confusion whatsoever concerning his direction of their activities.53

Just as Glosson's authority and the role of the Black Hole planners evolved from strictly informal to ever more formalized modes, so did their ability to provide the orientation necessary to the collection and dissemination of intelligence. Increasing at much the same rate was their ability to impose decisions on the rest of the CENTAF plans division and the flying units that would execute the plan. Following the December reorganization, Glosson and his planners were powerful enough and sufficiently "connected" to control the OODA loop for the entire air campaign. Their innovative, informal approaches eventually overwhelmed and, in some cases, swallowed up the formal system--witness the December reorganization of CENTAF's plans division under Glosson's direction and the key roles played by Black Hole planners in the new organization. They also formed their own BDA cell, which--by using gun-camera video and other information obtained outside intelligence channels--bypassed the formal system almost entirely. In other words, they "drove" their own OODA loop from the special planning cell and made it respond to their 72-hour planning priorities. Indeed, they made it responsive enough to handle immediate priorities as well. They then aggressively and continuously attacked and further degraded Iraq's capability to OODA. A decision cycle similar to one that moved from observation to action in minutes or hours for Horner's men probably took days for Saddam--if it could be completed at all.54 As Col John Boyd would say, the outcome was inevitable. Victory was assured over 30 days before coalition ground forces moved to contact.

A new chapter in warfare was written on 17 January 1991. With the advent of postindustrial warfare, information warfare, or knowledge warfare--whatever one might choose to call it--a window opened, giving discerning people an opportunity to gaze into the future. Although the view remains blurred and imperfect, warriors who make the most of it increase their chances for victory in the next round.


1. Daphne Rooks, Wizards' Country (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1957), 253-54.

2. Andrew Duminy and Charles Ballard, eds., The Anglo-Zulu War: New Perspectives (Pietermaritzburg, Natal: University of Natal Press, 1981), 65.

3. John Young, They Fell like Stones: Battles and Casualties of the Zulu War, 1879 (London: Greenhill Books, 1991), 52-69, 88-89; and R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, The Encyclopedia of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the Present (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 851.

4. See, for instance, Alan D. Campen, ed., The First Information War: The Story of Communications, Computers and Intelligence Systems in the Persian Gulf War (Fairfax, Va.: AFCEA International Press, 1992). Campen declares (among other things) that the Gulf War "differed fundamentally from any previous conflict" in that "the outcome turned as much on superior management of knowledge as . . . upon performances of people or weapons" (page vii; emphasis in original). Despite his use of the term information warfare, Campen tacitly avers the truth--suggested by Sun Tzu 2,500 years ago--that the ultimate goal of the struggle is to dominate the enemy in knowledge--not information. Collection and analysis of information is, of course, a part--but not the whole--of the issue.

5. Or perhaps this is simply an important part of a larger military-technical revolution (MTR; others have called it a revolution in military affairs [RMA]). A third possibility is that information warfare, MTR, and/or RMA are simply different names for the same phenomenon.

6. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War: Final Report to Congress, vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense, 1991), 156.

7. Ibid., 126-27; and Thomas A. Keaney and Eliot A. Cohen, Gulf War Air Power Survey Summary Report (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Air Force, 1993), 36-37.

8. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 1, 127.

9. Like several other concepts used in Desert Storm (e.g., parallel attack and simultaneity), information differential acquired its name after the war. See Joint Pub 1, Joint Warfare of the US Armed Forces, 11 November 1991, 57. It is worth noting that this concept is specifically tied to "advanced US technologies," a relationship that makes it a perishable advantage, dependent upon continued US superiority in technology development.

10. Keaney and Cohen, 195-97.

11. Col S. D. Ramsperger, cited in Alan D. Campen, "Iraqi Command and Control: The Information Differential," in Campen, 173.

12. Col John R. Boyd, "A Discourse on Winning and Losing," 1987, unpublished briefing slide set available at Air University Library, Maxwell AFB, Ala., 177.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid., 222.

15. For the sake of simplicity, intelligence is used here to subsume all information sources. The author recognizes that much of a commander's or staff's vital information is not provided by the intelligence system.

16. Keaney and Cohen, 122.

17. Col James Blackburn, Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and author, 21 April 1993, 102-4, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

18. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 2, C-2.

19. See, for example, Bruce W. Watson et al., eds., Military Lessons of the Gulf War (London: Greenhill Books, 1991), 146; and H. Norman Schwarzkopf with Peter Petre, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the Autobiography: It Doesn't Take a Hero (New York: Bantam Books, 1992), 293-94.

20. Schwarzkopf, 310, 313-14; Col Steve Wilson, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and author, 11 December 1991, 50-51, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.; and Triumph without Victory: The Unreported History of the Persian Gulf War (New York: Random House, 1992), 97-98.

21. Keaney and Cohen, 184, 195.

22. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 2, T-84 to T-87.

23. Ibid. 1: 194.

24. Keaney and Cohen, 195.

25. Ibid., 140-41.

26. Ibid., 83.

27. Ibid., 83-84.

28. Ibid., 123.

29. Boyd, 222.

30. Campen, in Campen, 172.

31. For example, according to Lt Col Dave Deptula, intelligence personnel withheld certain photographs needed by Black Hole planners until the end of the war because they "were afraid that if they gave them to the Black Hole, they would get lost." Lt Col Dave Deptula, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and author, 12 December 1991, 103-4, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

32. If so, the problem is nothing new. Roberta Wohlstetter, for example, points to the US failure to anticipate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. "To discriminate significant sounds against this background of noise, one has to be listening for something or for one of several things. In short, one needs not only an ear, but a variety of hypotheses that guide observation" (emphasis added). In other words, if one is to determine which specific elements of information are important to the issue at hand and then turn that information into useful knowledge, one must have specific orientation on key questions--not simply indiscriminate collection and dissemination. Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1962), 55-56.

33. Maj Gen James R. Clapper, Jr., assistant chief of staff of Air Force Intelligence during Desert Shield/Storm, says that the flow of US intelligence operates on a "push" rather than a "pull" system. That is, field units receive mostly what analysts deign to give them rather than what they need. According to General Clapper, the intelligence community is fixing this particular problem. James R. Clapper, "Desert War: Crucible for Intelligence Systems," in Campen, 81-85.

34. Lt Col Sam Baptiste, Maxwell AFB, Ala., transcript of interview with Dr Diane Putney and Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, 24 September 1992, 24-25, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

35. Deptula, 12 December 1991, 91-92.

36. Keaney and Cohen, 131-32.

37. See Clapper, in Campen, 82.

38. Larry K. Wentz, "Communications Support for the High Technology Battlefield," in Campen, 8.

39. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 2, K-27 to K-28.

40. "The services put more electronic communications connectivity into the Gulf in 90 days than we put in Europe in 40 years." Quoted in Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 2, K-26.

41. Ibid., K-26 to K-27.

42. Alan D. Campen, "Information Systems and Air Warfare," in Campen, 27; and idem, "Iraqi Command and Control," in Campen, 175.

43. Wentz, in Campen, 10-13.

44. Keaney and Cohen, 129-30.

45. Directed by Col John Warden, the Checkmate Division was part of Air Force Plans and Operations. Under Warden's guidance, Checkmate planners designed the Instant Thunder air campaign plan, which became the basis for the air war against Iraq.

46. Keaney and Cohen, 138-39; and Deptula, 12 December 1991, 25-27, 54-64, 89-92, 101-3.

47. Although much information was available outside the intelligence system, sometimes it was difficult to persuade intelligence personnel to use nonsystem information. A case in point is gun-camera video, which intelligence personnel initially refused even to review. Deptula, 12 December 1991, 87-89.

48. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 1, 215.

49. Ibid., 94; Campen, "Iraqi Command and Control," in Campen, 174; and James F. Dunnigan and Austin Bay, From Shield to Storm: High-Tech Weapons, Military Strategy, and Coalition Warfare in the Persian Gulf (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1992), 348-49.

50. Deptula, 12 December 1991, 32-34.

51. Even in this case, however, the CENTAF planners retained a great deal of latitude, since they were left to define the limits of Baghdad for themselves. They appear to have chosen a relatively narrow definition that allowed them to continue attacking the outskirts of Baghdad and surrounding areas without specific approval. Lt Col Dave Deptula, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and author, 23 May 1991, 64-67, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.; Maj Gen Buster C. Glosson, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and author, 29 May 1991, 81-88, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.; and Keaney and Cohen, 68-69.

52. Glosson, 29 May 1991, 81-84.

53. Lt Col Dave Deptula, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and author, 11 December 1991, 28, 30-31, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

54. Campen, "Iraqi Command and Control," in Campen, 171-73.


Col Edward Mann (BA, Pepperdine University; MA, University of Southern california) is chief of the Doctrine Research Division, Airpower Researach Institute, College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education (CADRE), Maxwell AFB, Alabama. He is a command pilot with 5,200 hours in the KC-135 aircraft. Previously, he was deputy chief of the Airborne Command/Control Division, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, Nebraska; National Defense Fellow, International Security Studies Program, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusets; and a military doctrine analyst at CADRE. He has written for Military Review, Air Force Times, and Airpower Journal. Colonel Mann is a graduate of Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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