- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

The quick war in Iraq validated an emerging military doctrine that will rely on speed, air power and rapidly processed information to win conflicts.It is too soon to say whether Operation Iraqi Freedom fully replaces the long-standing Weinberger-Powell doctrine that has guided post-Vietnam presidents. Instead, the war seems destined to redefine the doctrine’s basic tenet of “decisive force.”Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his civilian staff put their stamp on war planning to a greater degree than recent predecessors, said U.S. officials and outside analysts. They demanded speed, flexibility and joint service operations.”We were pleased by the degree of agility and flexibility in the command structure [that] the troops themselves demonstrated,” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told The Washington Times.The war to oust Saddam Hussein showed that overwhelming, or decisive, force is no longer measured in massive numbers of boots on the ground.It is instead a more eclectic mix, combining the powers of ground and air operations, with multisource intelligence collection, intense psychological warfare and simultaneous covert actions. Execute these, and a military campaign can defeat a foe that may be more numerous, but nonetheless outgunned, Pentagon officials say.”People still have the tendency to measure their decisiveness of their organization by the number of people or the number of airplanes,” said retired Air Force Col. John Warden, a planner for the 1991 Operation Desert Storm.”But the right measure is how quickly you can impose the desired effect on your opponent. If you can do that with 10 airplanes, you put 10 airplanes over Iraq. It’s not the numbers of people or things, but the impact they have, and that’s gotten pretty darn effective,” he said.Col. Warden said the 27 days of combat showed that fewer ground troops are needed to take territory, if air power is used effectively.In some ways, Iraqi Freedom marked the Air Force’s and Navy’s first ultramodern air campaign. Since 100 percent of tactical aircraft carried precision guided weapons, compared with 15 percent in Desert Storm, planners could destroy hundreds of targets in less time with fewer aircraft and munitions.Because the military today flies an assortment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — from the 100-mile-wide-view Global Hawk to the “soda straw” peering of small drones — the United States has an added force multiplier. The UAVs provide commanders with the enemy’s real-time location.If there is a “Rumsfeld-Bush Doctrine,” it is that decisive force must encompass speed and stealth on the battlefield to end the fighting with limited casualties, Pentagon officials say.Mr. Rumsfeld and his staff played an active role in the war-planning process, as Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, presented evolving war plans over a 10-month debate. Officials said Mr. Rumsfeld pushed for a large role for special-operations troops who embody the flexibility and unpredictability he likes. He also believes precision bombing means that wars can be won with fewer ground troops than found in a traditional war plan.In Desert Storm, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and the first President Bush tended to give Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf what he requested, with few questions asked.But Mr. Rumsfeld challenged some of Gen. Franks’ war notions in what one Pentagon official described as a series of lively debates.”Some officers felt that Secretary Rumsfeld and his staff tended to be dismissive of military expertise,” Anthony S. Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in a report.An Air Force planner said in an interview that the original air war was to last 20 days before the ground invasion began. That was changed to 10 days, and then five days. Ultimately, the invasion began first, because a March 19 air strike on a bunker believed to hold Saddam Hussein prompted Iraq to launch missiles at coalition troops poised to invade from Kuwait.In the end, however, Gen. Franks got basically what he wanted in terms of ground troops. The one unforeseen event was Washington’s inability to win basing rights for the Army’s 4th Infantry Division in Turkey. Gen. Franks created a northern front with Green Berets, Kurdish guerrilla fighters and a small contingent of airborne troops.That kept the initial ground force at fewer than 80,000, against an Iraqi armed force of more than 300,000.Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger laid down his war doctrine in 1984 as a guide to keep commanders in chief away from another Vietnam War.He said that if the United States goes to war, it must be to protect “vital interests of the U.S. or its allies.” He said the action must have “clearly defined political and military objectives” and come with “reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their representatives in Congress.”Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, while chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the first Bush presidency, later augmented the doctrine, saying the force must be “decisive.” All the Powell-Weinberger tenets seemed to have been met in Iraqi Freedom. It is the definition of “decisive” that changes as new weapons technologies are fielded.Mr. Cordesman said his research showed that senior officers, as well as Mr. Rumsfeld, challenged long-held doctrine on force sizing.Mr. Rumsfeld expressed his penchant for speed during an interview Sunday with Fox News.”There’s no question but we simply have got to be able to move in hours and days and weeks rather than months and years,” he said. “We need to be swift. We need to have deployment capabilities that enable us to move in places.”All four branches can look back at the victory and find justification for their favorite programs.Stationing five Navy battle groups on the south and north of Iraq proved the merits of the big-deck aircraft carrier in projecting power.The Army, under pressure from Rumsfeld aides to lighten up, showed that heavy armor forces in the form of 60-ton M1-A1 tanks are needed to take and keep ground, and to subdue a city of 5 million people.The Marine Corps continues to show innovation in the war on terrorism. In Afghanistan, Marines went far inland from amphibious assault ships to set up Camp Rhino near Kandahar, the first U.S. foothold. In Iraq, Marines drove more than 350 miles north to Kut, then invaded eastern Baghdad and ended up in the town square pulling down a statue of Saddam.Because large stocks of weapons and equipment were pre-positioned in the Persian Gulf region, the Marines were able to deploy a Marine Expeditionary Force of 50,000 in less than half the time it took in Desert Storm. The run-up to that war took 144 days. This time, it lasted 58 days.The Air Force cemented the concept that pinpoint bombing and radar-evading aircraft can decimate ground forces, destroy command-and-control structures, sever communications and maybe even decapitate an enemy’s political leadership.

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