Magazine article National Defense

Retired Air Force Commander Counsels against "Incremental Warfare"

Magazine article National Defense

Retired Air Force Commander Counsels against "Incremental Warfare"

Article excerpt

The Defense Department's 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) should take into account the lessons from the Kosovo air war, said retired Air Force Gen. Michael C. Short, former commander of NATO air forces.

A major lesson, he said, is that the temptation to make war in an incremental fashion should be resisted. "Avoid any tendency to start slowly and then ramp up," Short said. "The QDR is supposed to be about how to fight and win."

Short, who retired in July 2000, made his remarks during a meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill. "The QDR is about more than just hardware and budgets," he said.

The former 16th Air Force commander warned against the inclination to use the experience in Kosovo as "a template for the future." Stopping short of calling the 78-day allied air campaign an anomaly, as some members of the armed forces have done already, Short declared that "air power [in this instance] is not a free lunch," and will not, in itself, provide easy solutions for executing and winning future engagements.

It is more important, he said, to concentrate on being better prepared for coalition operations. "In Kosovo, we were unprepared for the political ramifications of coalition operations," said Short. U.S. commanders had to learn to cope with the fact that allied nations could both approve and veto targets.

In fact, he said, the United States should play an even larger leadership role in future NATO operations.

During longer conflicts, Short stated that "effects-based targeting," is the most desirable way to proceed. …

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