Storm over Iraq: Air Power and the Gulf War

Storm over Iraq: Air Power and the Gulf War

The first detailed analysis of why the Gulf War could be fought the way it was, the book examines the planning and preparation for war.

Richard P.

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In Storm Over Iraq: Air Power and the Gulf War, noted air power historian Richard P. Hallion raises the trumpet yet again, with an analysis of the 1991 Iraq war that attempts to prove that Air power won the Gulf War. While his arguments are somewhat convincing, and clearly air power played a significant, perhaps dominant role in the American victory in the Gulf, his biases are clear and his sources are almost entirely secondary. The first third of the book is devoted to an analysis of air power leading up to the Gulf War in 1991. In many instances, Hallion appears defensive, repeatedly anticipating and countering critics of air power. In his view, the solving of these issues led directly to the strengths and successes of the Gulf war. Hallion notes that in World War Two, Precision proved a relative word From September through December 1944 only 7 percent of all bombs dropped hit within 1,000 feet of their aiming point. Hallion traces the buildup to war, emphasizing the military strength of the United States and Iraq. In a flurry of overstatement, Hallion cites Husseins refusal to capitulate as evidence of his cruelty: By the time dawn broke the morning of January 17, Iraq was well on the way to losing the war, thanks to the coalitions strategic air campaign A humane leader would have sued for peace, for all he could expect now would be the continued dismembering of the Iraqi infrastructure and its remaining military forces by virtually Olympian air power. Along with stealth, the changes in precision allowed the Gulf war to proceed quite differently from previous conflicts. Hallion often punctuates the book with sections entitled What Went Right, and What Went Wrong, in various conflicts, often indicating that there is a clear, objectively correct way to wage air war, and a clear incorrect way. Hallion includes a large amount of sheer data, from details of sorties flown by various aircraft to technical specifications for various planes and defensive networks. It does raise questions regarding the veracity of the information presented, particularly in the details, and it remains to be seen if future research validates many of Hallions claims as more sources become available. In the air power era, neither armies nor navies can be considered the primary instrument of securing victory in war. Essentially, Hallion is making similar claims to that of Douhet and Mitchell before him, heralding that technological advances have finally rendered these once-outrageous claims to finally come to fruition: Today, air power is the dominant form of military power Air power has clearly proven its ability not merely to be decisive in was but to be the determinant of victory in war. While air power clearly played a decisive role in the Gulf war, to extend its decisiveness to war in general is a large leap. The intervening years have also proven his prophecies wrong, as the current conflicts America faces are anything but small ones with hesitant aggressors fearing reprisal through air power.

It was due to the military build-up of the 1980s, the development of the new weapons to be used by frontline troops, and studying prior 'mistakes' to develop new tactics combining the use of air and land forces that allowed the Coalition Forces to destroy the Iraqi military after 39 days of aerial attack followed by four days of ground attack supported by air power. Major points of the book: 1.It is better to emphasize an offensive air doctrine throughout the course of a war that focuses on conducting intensive air operations as deep into enemy territory as practicable as opposed to following a defensive air doctrine where you wait for the enemy to attack you 2.The goal of long-range global air power and precision weaponry is to strike deep into enemy territory with the intent to destroy both the means and intent to resist by attacking both military targets and targets necessary for the opponent's war machine to function and by not attacking civilian targets 3.The three primary missions of air missions are 1 air superiority, 2 strike, and 3 battlefield air support 4.Military force should be applied decisively, not as a means of sending signals to the opposition i.e. During the Second World War, American precision bombing of German industrial and military targets effectively prevented the German War Machine from being able to fight because Germany could no longer build the weapons necessary for its survival. In Vietnam, air power was used for close air support throughout the course of the war, and when North Vietnam left the peace table in 1972 Nixon ordered Linebacker I and II; these bombing missions effectively destroyed the North's ability to wage war and forced them back to the table to continue the peace talks. Israel used air power to devastate the Arab nations in each of the conflicts it faced; the major lesson the Americans learned from Israel's battles was what would could happen if a military power waged a war with the intent to win that war instead of hamstringing the military forces like what happened in Vietnam. The air attack had literally destroyed the Iraqi military's morale as much as it had their ability to fight, showing how important it was to have control of the air space above a battlefield and what overwhelming air power can do in terms of waging and winning a war.

  • English

  • Military

  • Rating: 3.81
  • Pages: 386
  • Publish Date: March 17th 1997 by Smithsonian Books
  • Isbn10: 1560987235
  • Isbn13: 9781560987239