Accession Number : ADA307557

Title :   The Use of Air Power as a Coercive Instrument: Considerations for the Operational Commander.

Descriptive Note : Final rept.,

Corporate Author : NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT

Personal Author(s) : Stough, Michael S.

PDF Url : ADA307557

Report Date : 12 FEB 1996

Pagination or Media Count : 20

Abstract : While, in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, debate rages as to the effectiveness of air power in a wartime environment, the U.S. continues to be extensively involved in military operations short of war. Air power constitutes a significant component of these operations and, in certain cases, has been the instrument of choice when attempting to coerce or retaliate against other nations or groups. Air power is an attractive instrument of coercion because it's cheap in terms of casualty risk and doesn't signal the same level of commitment as the introduction of ground troops. While air power might be an attractive coercive instrument, it's not a panacea; and the operational commander should be aware of its limitations. These limitations include target-poor environments, a characteristic of third-world countries; the existence of political constraints; ancillary effects beyond those intended; enemy countermeasures, both passive and active; the mixed signals of limited commitments; problems associated with measurement of effectiveness; and loss tolerance. Balanced against these limitations, certain guidelines appear to exist which, if observed during planning and employment, should help to maximize air power's impact. First and foremost, the political objective should be kept in the forefront of the planning efforts. Coercive air operations should also attempt to balance effectiveness and efficiency, choose the appropriate level of force projection, and ensure operational as well as strategic utility.

Descriptors :   *MILITARY STRATEGY, *OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS, *MILITARY COMMANDERS, *COERCIVE FORCE, *AIR POWER, DEVELOPING NATIONS, MILITARY OPERATIONS, RISK, MODIFICATION, EFFICIENCY, THESES, LIMITATIONS, TARGETING, BEHAVIOR, COUNTERMEASURES, POLITICAL NEGOTIATIONS.

Subject Categories : Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE