Special Operations Forces, Information Operations, and Airpower: prescription for the 21st Century
Sands, Thomas R.
Issler, Paul H.
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The Gulf War of 1990-1991 has been described as the pinnacle of second-wave warfare, characterized by massed field armies, maneuver formations based on the armored vehicle and airplane, second generation precision guided munitions (PGMs), and engagements involving thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. At the height of the conflict, over 500,000 United States (U.S.) servicemen were deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. The ensuing victory by U.S./Coalition forces and loss by Iraqi forces is one of the greatest lopsided outcomes in the history of warfare. Unfortunately, the demonstrated U.S. preeminence in conventional second-wave warfare may spell trouble for the 21st century. Potential adversaries will have taken note of our capabilities in this arena and will endeavor to develop methods and technologies that will negate our strengths either through asymmetric attack, innovation, or both. These actions will give rise to asymmetric warfare as the dominant paradigm. Combined application of special operations forces (SOF), information operations (IO), and airpower (AP) may produce synergistic effects that will permit smaller forces to effectively and efficiently counter our adversaries adopting asymmetric warfare. We employ a heuristic approach in conveying our vision of combined SOF, IO, and AP operations.
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