Historical Perspectives on Operational Environment Research and Objective Determination in Air Campaign Planning

By Wolusky, Tony | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

Historical Perspectives on Operational Environment Research and Objective Determination in Air Campaign Planning


Wolusky, Tony, Air & Space Power Journal


Editorial Abstract: The process of planning any air campaign includes five steps: operational environment research, objective determination, identification of centers of gravity, identification of strategy, and development of the joint air and space operations plan. Lieutenant Colonel Wolusky focuses on the first two planning steps, using historical examples to illustrate important concepts for today's air campaign planners. Although airpower is a relatively recent phenomenon, we can learn valuable lessons from past military campaigns, both ancient and modern.

The art of war is simple enaough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving.

-Ulysses S. Grant

ALTHOUGH AIRPOWER IS a phenomenon of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, examples from past military campaigns show us the timeless quality of managing warfare. Xerxes, Alexander, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Frederick the Great, Mao, and Patton imposed their will on their enemies by brilliant planning before they used military force. We can apply the lessons learned from military giants of the past to modern air campaign planning.

When our leaders need airpower to support American strategic objectives, the theater combatant commander tasks the joint force commander (JFC) and the subordinate joint force air component commander (JFACC) to create an air campaign plan that embodies the "combatant commander's strategic vision" and consists of "a series of related joint military operations that arrange tactical, operational, and strategic action to accomplish strategic and operational objectives within a given time and space."1 The joint air and space operations plan details how joint air and space forces will integrate to support the JFC's campaign plan. The JFACC's staff prepares the air campaign plan in five steps: operational environment research (OER), objective determination, identification of centers of gravity, identification of strategy, and development of the joint air and space operations plan.2 This article examines the first two steps from a historical perspective.

Operational Environment

Research

No matter how enmeshed a commander becomes in the elaboration of his own thoughts, it is sometimes necessary to take the enemy into account.

-Winston Churchill

During OER, which gives the air campaign plan its context, planners gather information about our allies' and enemies' capabilities and intentions, doctrine, and the environment facing the joint or combined force-a process also known as intelligence preparation of the battle space. The JFACC staff tries to understand the enemy and his motivations; it also examines the perspectives of the United States, as well as those of allied and neutral countries, in relation to the enemy.

OER planners study the major players' history, culture, military capabilities, leadership, geography, and weather. Of these factors, weather analysis is as important as it is unpredictable. The forces of nature have always haunted war planners. Gen Douglas MacArthur had to master the tides at Inchon, South Korea; Gen Dwight Eisenhower had to hit the beaches in Normandy, France, when the clouds parted; and the Russian winter ravaged Napoleon's retreating forces (400,000 men set out, but only 10,000 returned). Today, the vagaries of cloud cover and dust storms affect our precision-guided weapons and modern fighter aircraft.

Planners must also analyze all parties' command relationships, available forces, rules of engagement (ROE), applicable treaties and agreements, base-use rights, overflight rights, and logistics capabilities. For example, on 14 April 1986, in response to a terrorist attack on US servicemen in Berlin, the United States launched Operation El Dorado Canyon against targets in Libya. The strike package consisted of 24 F-111 fighters and five EF-111 jamming-- support aircraft, flying out of bases in England. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Historical Perspectives on Operational Environment Research and Objective Determination in Air Campaign Planning
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.