Managing "Command and Control" in the Persian Gulf War

Managing "Command and Control" in the Persian Gulf War

Managing "Command and Control" in the Persian Gulf War

Managing "Command and Control" in the Persian Gulf War

Synopsis

During Desert Shield, the Air Force built a very complicated organizational architecture to control large numbers of air sorties. During the air campaign itself, officers at each level of the Central Command Air Forces believed they were managing the chaos of war. Yet, when the activities of the many significant participants are pieced together, it appears that neither the planners nor Lt. Gen. Charles A. Horner, the Joint Force Air Component Commander, knew the details of what was happening in the air campaign or how well the campaign was going. There was little appreciation of the implications of complex organizational architectures for military command and control. Against a smarter and more aggressive foe, the system may well have failed.

Excerpt

Coordination in organizations is not a trivial matter. "Disconnects" in communications and problems with division of labor normally result when different people see and respond to disparate elements of their environment or have conflicting goals. Such difficulties increase as larger numbers of people interact in the organization, information about the environment becomes imperfect and uncertain, and decision-makers perceive that the environment is changing. in future conflicts that demand a quick response, the necessity of having sufficient time to establish a large and complex organization--with worldwide secure communications links and capable of supporting precision- strike, high-technology weapons systems--will make the United States vulnerable.

The development of the Instant Thunder plan by Air Staff officers influenced the planning process at Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF). Our purpose, in this chapter, is to examine this planning process and the make-up of the developing theater command and control system through the activities of the special planning group, also known as the Black Hole, during Desert Shield. the Black Hole was established outside of the centaf tactical air control center (TACC) organization and was assigned the task of expanding and completing the Air Staff concept of a strategic air campaign plan. It was staffed by energetic, dedicated, and hard-working officers.

Many important questions about the air campaign remain unresolved. For example, analysis subsequent to Desert Storm has not yet determined whether the Air Staff's Checkmate air power theorists and the Black Hole planners correctly identified Iraqi centers of gravity--those targets that could disable the ability of Iraq to wage war--or whether the centers of gravity had been identified, but the bombing campaign had been too short, or under what conditions a bombing campaign, using conventional (nonnuclear) high-explosive munitions, could force a regime to surrender. During this current period of debate about force structure . . .

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