18 October 2017

Airpower Strategy for the 21st Century

By Tyson Wetzel

United States Air Force (USAF) airpower strategy is in a period of stasis and badly in need of reinvigoration. The post-Vietnam era brought about a renaissance in airpower thinking, as combat veterans returned from their wartime experiences determined to avoid making the same mistakes they saw repeated in the Vietnam air campaign. Colonel John Boyd developed a theory of military conflict that emphasized speed and tempo to create havoc inside the mind of the enemy. Colonel John Warden built on Boyd’s theories and applied airpower to the Clausewitzian concept of centers of gravity to design his Five Rings Theory. Warden’s intellectual successor was Lieutenant General David Deptula, who worked closely with Warden in the development of the Operation DESERT STORM (ODS) air campaign. After the war, Deptula developed a theory of air operations he called Effects-Based Operations (EBO), which advocated viewing the adversary as a system, and directing effects on critical links and nodes within that system. 

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