Power Journal - Winter 1994
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
DESERT STORM: THE FIRST INFORMATION WAR?
Col Edward Mann, USAF
|Know the enemy and know yourself:
in a hundred battles you will never
be in peril.
Into the silence there dropped the
notes of the dove: the grasshoppers were still now.
Into the silence there dropped the thunder of cannon
and the sharp clear sounds of rifles. . . .
Moved by a spirit that was outside
ourselves and our captains, we went forward on to the
plain. . . . [The leader] kept the pace midway between
walk and run. There was a rhythm to the firing of the
cannon: as the enemy jumped clear there came a puff
of smoke and then the great wind of the bullet. Our
leader sent fifty runners to tell the men that they
must drop to the ground when they saw the puff of smoke,
then the big bullet would go over their heads. The men
having caught his words fitted themselves into our enemies'
rhythm, and so there were less killed than was expected.
Still, great numbers were left behind
on the plain. . . . On and on through the tall green
grass, their plumes touched by the wind of death . .
. their death-screams were heard above the roaring of
the guns. . . . Indeed people were falling so fast that
they made a sort of fence behind which the living hid
while they fired. . . .
The war cry of Zulu filled the sky
and the tread of Zulu shook the earth.1
The words are fiction, but the scene is
real and vividly illustrates the fate of preindustrial warriors
opposing industrial-age firepower. Such warriors, though they
sometimes win the field, pay a horrible price in blood. Indeed,
the industrial-age force would have to be incredibly stupid to
lose such a battle. For instance, Lord Frederic A. Chelmsford
lost the battle of Isandhlwana in 1879 (the battle described above)
because he declined "local advice concerning the adversary
and terrain before him on the grounds that 'the broad principles
of tactics hold good in Africa equally as well as in Europe'."2
The British army paid heavily for Chelmsford's failure to obtain
knowledge concerning the enemy and his deployments. Though Chelmsford's
main column slaughtered Zulus by the hundreds, only 355 of 2,800
in the British force survived the battle. Just one day later,
however, at Rorke's Drift, a British force of 85 drove off thousands
of Zulus, killing 400-500 while losing only 17 men themselves.3
The major difference was that the smaller force knew the Zulu
attack was coming and had prepared for it. Chelmsford might have
known, but he chose not to.
Perhaps Operation Desert Storm was, as some people
claim,the first information war,4 but it wasn't--by
a long shot--the first time an armed force perished for lack of
knowledge. Sun Tzu recorded the principle for us nearly 25 centuries
ago. The struggle to dominate the enemy in terms of information
and knowledge is not new, but it has recently taken on dramatically
increased relevance in war fighting. It is possible--perhaps even
likely--that "information warfare" represents a true
revolution in war fighting5 and will require new understandings
of military force and force application. If so, the overwhelming
defeat of Iraq by the US-led coalition in 1991 may be attributable
in large measure to the fact that Saddam Hussein's industrial-era
armed forces ran up against a postindustrial military whirlwind.
This article examines how air and space power contributed to coalition
dominance in the collection, dissemination, and application of
information and knowledge, and how this process affected the outcome
of Desert Storm.
Rapidly gaining and exploiting information dominance
was clearly a key goal of the Desert Storm air campaign plan.
The first Iraqi targets attacked were air defense, leadership
(including command, control, communications, and intelligence
[C3I]), and electrical grids,6 all of which
had the highest priority because of their impact on the Iraqis'
flow of information. The integrated air defense command and control
(C2) system, known as Kari (Iraq spelled backwards
in French), provided tracking and targeting information for Iraqi
fighter and surface-to-air missile (SAM) engagements of coalition
aircraft. Breaking down this flow of information would fragment
the enemy's air defense effort, forcing his SAMs into autonomous
mode and leaving his interceptors virtually helpless. This situation
allowed coalition aircraft to exploit Iraqi airspace at will.
Leadership C3I targets provided linkages between the
highly centralized decision-making elements (principally Saddam)
and both the Iraqi population and the fielded military forces.
Disrupting these systems would upset and discredit the regime,
while simultaneously reducing its capability to control military
forces.7 Without electrical power, communications would
be reduced to verbal and handwritten messages conveyed by courier.
Thus, a successful attack against the Iraqi power grids would
disrupt nearly every kind of information flow within the nation.8
Plans called for maintaining pressure on Iraqi "information
nodes" throughout the war to help create an exploitable "information
To build and maintain this pressure, the US brought
a tremendous array of electronic warfare systems to the fight.
(Other coalition partners contributed a few systems, such as the
British Tornado GR1As, but the US provided the vast majority.)
Before and during the war, satellites and airborne systems collected
electronic intelligence, finding and fixing C3I nodes
of all types for later attention from less benign systems such
as the USAF's 61 F-4Gs and 12 specially configured F-16 Wild Weasels,
highly sophisticated systems capable of detecting and destroying
electronic radiation sources (especially radar emissions) with
high-speed antiradiation missiles (HARM) and Shrike antiradiation
missiles. The Navy and Marines contributed less sophisticated--yet
very capable--F/A-18, EA-6B, and A-7 HARM and Shrike shooters.
(These aircraft could detect and shoot at radiation sources but,
lacking some of the information available to the Weasels, could
never be sure they had released their missiles within range of
the target.) Many strike aircraft carried their own electronic
jamming equipment to counter Iraqi attempts to track and shoot
them with radar-guided systems; additionally, EF-111s, EC-130s,
and EA-6Bs accompanied most strike packages, employing even more
sophisticated (and powerful) jamming equipment.10 The
apparent Iraqi fears that radiating was both futile and dangerous
were certainly well founded, if not totally accurate.11
The enemy's ability to collect and use information was severely
disrupted, but creating that deficit represents only half the
According to Col John Boyd's observation-orientation-decision-action
(OODA) loop theory, this kind of offensive effort can "enmesh
[the] adversary in a world of uncertainty, doubt, mistrust, confusion,
disorder, fear, panic, chaos . . . and/or fold [him] back inside
himself so that he cannot cope with events/efforts as they unfold."12
This factor probably contributed greatly to the mass desertions
and surrenders of Iraqi troops and almost certainly to their general
ineffectiveness as a cohesive fighting force. Of course, as Boyd
also states, this disruption of the adversary's flow of information
represents only one side of the equation. The real objective is
to complete one's own OODA cycles faster than the adversary completes
his; thus, while "stretch[ing]-out [the] adversary['s cycle]
time," one must also "compress [his] own."13
Although caught somewhat flat-footed in August 1990, the coalition
immediately began working this part of the equation and continued
with a vengeance until the air war began in January 1991.
According to Colonel Boyd, "the O-O-D-A
loop can be thought of as being the C&C [command and control]
loop."14 Surely, Boyd is actually referring to
all aspects of what we call C3I (or what many people
now call C4I--the fourth C standing for "computers").
Logically, then, (1) intelligence15 provides observation
(in accordance with command elements' requirements); (2) working
together, intelligence and command elements provide orientation
(i.e., they determine what to observe, which observed
information is of greatest value, and how it is to be used
in making decisions); (3) command elements make necessary decisions
and direct the actions required to execute those decisions; and
(4) field units and their discrete elements (aircraft, tanks,
people, etc.) execute the directed actions (and contribute to
observation through postaction reports, at which point the cycle
begins again). All these elements are interconnected through the
communications element of C3I (and computers of C4I).
The whole can be only as strong as the weakest link. Even though
at least one of its links was very weak indeed (i.e., orientation,
discussed below), the coalition--after weathering a slow start--would
eventually dominate in every element of this cycle.
The slow start resulted in part from the orientation
of US operations planning--and, therefore, intelligence collection--for
the Middle East prior to early 1989. Before that time, planners
concentrated on a potential Soviet threat in the region. That
orientation, combined with the "aggressive security and counterintelligence
policies of the Iraqi regime," meant that the US (therefore,
the coalition, since the US owned the vast majority of intelligence
assets which could be brought to bear) did not have a full complement
of information on Iraq.16 Much of the available data
was old, of poor quality, and/or incomplete.17 The
US had satellites in place that could and did monitor military
activity, but little was known about the regime's intentions.18
Consequently, there was no consensus on the probability of the
Iraqi invasion before it actually occurred.19 Neither
was there a consensus on Saddam Hussein's intentions beyond the
occupation of Kuwait. Some people thought that he would continue
the attack into Saudi Arabia in early August, while others thought
he had already overextended himself and would now only dig in
and try to hold.20 The coalition immediately began
the scramble to improve the flow of information.
The first deployments to theater included US
airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to enhance
the development of an "air picture" for coalition military
leadership and forces. This knowledge not only was critical to
the defense of Saudi Arabia against air threats, but also helped
monitor Iraqi training activity and improve coalition understanding
of the Iraqi air force's readiness levels and sortie-generation
capability. Behind the initial air defense force deployments came
a plethora of reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft to monitor
Iraqi activities and define orders of battle. These included RF-4s,
RC-135s, TR-1s, P-3s, E-2s, RF-5s, and specially configured F-14s
and Tornado GR1As--a total of more than 100 such aircraft. Additionally,
Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicles flew nearly 300 reconnaissance
sorties.21 Two experimental E-8 joint surveillance
target attack radar system (JSTARS) aircraft contributed their
own brand of near-real-time battlefield reconnaissance. Though
using them was a risky gambit (because of their developmental
status), these aircraft provided tracking of both friendly and
enemy forces, thus reducing fratricide and making possible some
spectacular--usually one-sided--air-to-ground engagements such
as the one that produced the now-famous "highway of death."22
On top of all that, a significant array of military and civilian
space systems augmented air-breathing reconnaissance and surveillance
systems, providing meteorological information and imagery of various
types.23 Even this massive reconnaissance and surveillance
capability couldn't satisfy the coalition's insatiable appetite
for information on Iraq and its army's field deployments, so several
other types of fighter aircraft "flew reconnaissance missions
in an attempt to overcome the shortage."24
But coalition military leaders still couldn't
seem to get sufficient information quickly enough. Throughout
the war, theater planners had to contend with an unacceptable
lag in information flowing to them through normal intelligence
channels. Furthermore, the people who assigned priorities for
imagery collection were often not involved with target planning
(and, therefore, not in touch with the decision makers' priorities).
Because required information, once collected, frequently arrived
too late to be useful, planners had to use out-of-channel work-arounds
to assess bombing results within the 72-hour planning cycle.25
Some vital information--such as the location
of mobile Scud missile launchers--proved to be just too difficult
to obtain. Highly effective Iraqi deception efforts and employment
procedures made targeting the Scuds very difficult; confirming
successful attacks was almost impossible.26 The only
indication of success against the Scuds was the gradual reduction
in the number of missiles fired, although a resurgence in firings
during the last week of the war tended to cloud this assessment.
(Nevertheless, the last week's firings were still less than half
those of the first week.)27
Though far from mobile, Iraqi nuclear research
facilities proved nearly as difficult a problem. Coalition intelligence
uncovered only eight known or suspected nuclear facilities before
or during the war, yet postwar inspections by the International
Atomic Energy Administration turned up at least an additional
18. The fact that 16 of the 26 were considered "main facilities"28
means that at least eight major nuclear facilities escaped detection
until after the war.
Although these intelligence "failures"
were significant (especially the timing lag for national systems,
which was never really fixed), the coalition totally dominated
the Iraqis in terms of information collection (i.e., observation).
Saddam's forces had nothing to rival the coalition's collection
capability and no means of countering it other than tactical deception
(which, though used effectively by Iraq, clearly has limits).
The gap in information collection--huge at the outset of hostilities--grew
rapidly over time. This was especially true after the opening
of the air war, when the coalition expanded its collection efforts
while quickly altering force deployments and carefully denying
useful information to Iraq. With regard to observation, the coalition
held all the cards.
Orientation gets nowhere near the attention from
US military forces that observation does, yet it is probably the
most critical element in the entire OODA loop. Colonel Boyd notes
that "the second O, orientation--as the repository of our
genetic heritage, cultural tradition, and previous experiences--is
the most important part of the O-O-D-A loop since it shapes
the way we observe, the way we decide, the way we act" (emphasis
in original).29 In effect, orientation is the real
starting point of the OODA loop, even affecting what we
decide to observe (and then, what we decide to do). Lord
Chelmsford, for instance, decided not to observe anything about
the Zulus he would face or about the terrain on which he would
face them. Saddam Hussein made a similar decision (though less
overtly) and therefore had no resources with which to observe
coalition activities beyond his own front lines (other than international
sources such as radio and television, which were considerable
but nowhere near sufficient).30 For this lapse, both
Chelmsford and Saddam paid an enormous price. Orientation is the
critical link between information--which is nice to have--and
knowledge, which (when properly considered and acted upon) saves
one from peril.
The difference between information and knowledge
may seem very subtle at first, but in warfare it is truly critical.
On the one hand, information is passive and always exists (at
least in the abstract) whether anyone pays attention to it or
not. Among other things, it can be collected, collated, analyzed,
"fused," packaged, disseminated, and even managed. Of
particular relevance to the Gulf War, it can be stored, protected,
and concealed or suppressed, sometimes even from one's own decision
makers.31 It can also be jammed up in a system of data
flow that will eventually deliver it to decision makers but perhaps
not in time to be useful to them. Knowledge, on the other hand,
is active and must be possessed if it is to exist--let alone be
useful. Somewhere, someone must process the collected raw material
(information) into something recognizable and useful for decision
making (knowledge). For example, the location of a tank is information,
whether anyone knows it or not; it becomes knowledge only when
someone has seen and taken note of it. Such knowledge becomes
useful when it is fitted into a scheme of operations (are tanks
to be destroyed or left alone to support a potential coup?) to
make informed decisions. One need not do this perfectly--only
better and faster than the adversary.
Knowledge processing, then, requires the ability
to orient on the right information (e.g., using surveillance systems
to collect data about Iraq instead of the Soviet Union) and then
on discrete elements of information necessary to the decision
at hand (e.g., examining a particular set of pictures or documents
such as those that reveal Iraqi nuclear facilities). Thus, the
true purpose of information dominance (which requires proper orientation
on information collection and dissemination) is to provide an
exploitable knowledge dominance.
The ability to discriminate between useful information
and background "noise" (i.e., orientation) may have
been the weakest link in the US-designed C3I system
used by the coalition in the Gulf.32 In fact, US national
intelligence appears to be biased toward forcing all available
information through channels and shows little regard for shifting
priorities in the field. Often, discrete elements of information
needed by commanders and planners were already collected and available
but awash in a much larger stream of data that was working its
way through the system.33 However, if planners requested
these elements from key individuals within the system, they could
be extracted and forwarded hours-to-days faster than normal. Dave
Deptula, a key planner in the US Air Forces, Central Command (CENTAF)
special planning group (which quickly became known to other CENTAF
planners as the "Black Hole," because people and things
went in and never came out),34 cites an example of
"normal time delays involved in getting information [through
the formal system]":
We wanted a photo of a particular target. . .
. [Then-Brig Gen Buster C.] Glosson picks up the phone, calls
[DIA Director Mike] McConnell, and we get the photo in about 4
hours. . . . Twenty-four hours later, about, he gets a photo from
CENTCOM [US Central Command] or CENTAF/IN [Intelligence]. About
24 hours after that, 48 hours later, we get the same photo from
Data from the Gulf War Air Power Survey confirm
such scenarios.36 Obviously, this was not an observation
problem since the required information was available in the system
and eventually would have reached the planners--whether they needed
it or not!
Nor can the delays be blamed on lack of communications
(although they often are, especially by apologists for the national
intelligence system)37 because once the specific need
had been identified to the "right" people in the system
(i.e., once proper orientation was provided), delivery was nearly
immediate. Of course, communications problems existed, especially
during the early deployment phase. The CENTCOM area of responsibility
was an immature theater, and communications suffered from the
common initial deployment problem of Desert Shield: incomplete
time-phased force and deployment data38 for operations
plan (OPLAN) 1002-90 (CENTCOM's contingency plan for defense of
Saudi Arabia; in August 1990 it was still in conceptual development).
The US did not have much in the way of communications capability
in-theater when Iraq invaded Kuwait, and Saudi telecommunications
systems were of limited use for a large military operation such
as Desert Shield/Storm. But communications systems began moving
right alongside the combat forces on 8 August 1990.39
In fact, by war's end, CENTCOM had greater electronic communications
connectivity than US European Command, according to Lt Gen James
S. Cassity, the Joint Staff director of the Command, Control and
Communications System Directorate (J-6) during Desert Shield/Storm.40
At its peak, the system could handle over 700,000 telephone calls
and 152,000 messages per day. In addition, communicators managed
and monitored over 35,000 frequencies to ensure interference-free
radio connectivity for the theater.41
Much of the system that communicators ultimately
cobbled together was vulnerable to interference, yet--for whatever
reason--it was never successfully attacked by the adversary. Saddam's
forces probably could have seriously stressed coalition capabilities
with a moderate investment of time and effort. In particular,
they apparently could have interfered with tactical satellite
communications (TACSATCOM; ultrahigh frequency [UHF] and superhigh
frequency [SHF] radio communications) but either never tried or
were unsuccessful.42 Since overall theater communications
architecture, as it evolved, depended heavily upon TACSATCOM,
successful jamming would have severely degraded coalition communications
capability.43 Iraq's almost total lack of opposition
in the electromagnetic spectrum allowed the coalition to very
quickly build and maintain a system capable of delivering required
information. The fact that Glosson could get a call through to
McConnell at all--not to mention receiving a photograph from him
within four hours--indicates that sufficient communications were
available to deliver what planners needed. Faster data transfer
will always be desirable, but it is not the root of the intelligence
problem in Desert Shield/Storm. Nor does the solution lie in increasing
the flow of data.
The problem lies in a systemic orientation that
favors data flow over user needs. This at least partially explains
the debate between intelligence and operations over the intelligence
system's Desert Shield/Storm performance. That is, intelligence
delivered "tons" of information as fast as possible
(IN's self-imposed measure of merit), while operations wanted
specific "pounds" of it delivered much more quickly
than the system was capable of. Operations planners, unable to
get a satisfactory resolution within the intelligence system,
resorted to unofficial work-arounds and informal arrangements
outside the system.44
Examples of these external sources include General
Glosson's special relationship with Admiral McConnell and the
Black Hole connection to Checkmate45 for targeting
information. Planners also used unofficial, informal arrangements
to get bomb damage assessment (BDA) and measurements of battlefield
attrition levels (a subcategory of BDA that became very contentious
during the war) that intelligence was not providing.46
(In some cases, information was available, but intelligence sources
would not use it or make it available to operations planners.)47
Fortunately, Saddam did not experience a similar
problem with information sorting. Indeed, coalition efforts to
deny him useful information were so successful that once the war
started, he couldn't even follow the positions of his own forces--let
alone those of the coalition.48 Saddam's intelligence
was oriented on internal, not external, issues.49 He
possessed no space-based observation capability of his own and
failed to arrange access even to commercially available products
such as the French Satellite Pour l'Observation de la Terre
(SPOT). Of course, since France was a member of the coalition,
it was not likely to sell information to Saddam, but he could
have availed himself of more surreptitious means of obtaining
such products. These sources certainly would have exposed the
movement of two reinforced US Army corps 150 miles to the west.
That single piece of information, received and properly processed,
would have revealed the hopelessness of his force deployment in
terms even he could understand and thus might have altered his
Like other two-dimensional thinkers, Saddam failed
to see the implications of Col John Warden's "air-Schlieffen"
plan, but even he could not have failed to understand the seriousness
of a powerful two-corps surface force deploying beyond his right
flank, with nothing standing between it and Basra (or Baghdad,
for that matter). But, then, that was the major implication
of air-Schlieffen: because Saddam and his forces could not observe,
they could not orient and therefore could not decide sensibly
and therefore would act stupidly or not at all. The only sensible
action open to Saddam--acceding to coalition demands--escaped
him at this point. When the moment came, many of his forces would
try to fight, but their situation was hopeless. To reiterate Colonel
Boyd's assessment, they were enmeshed "in a world of uncertainty,
doubt, mistrust, confusion, disorder, fear, panic, chaos"
and folded "back inside [themselves] so [they could not]
cope with events/efforts as they unfold[ed]." The coalition
had unquestionably met Boyd's requirement of operating inside
the Iraqis' OODA loop, sometimes by a matter of days.
With observation platforms such as the TR-1 and
JSTARS linked directly (or through AWACS) to both command elements
and fighting units, coalition forces could spot, target, attack,
and destroy Iraqi armor and supply columns, literally in minutes.
This sequence of events occurred at Al Khafji, on the highway
of death outside Kuwait City, and--somewhat less dramatically--elsewhere
in Kuwait and southeastern Iraq. Even information from national
systems (satellites) could sometimes affect events in near-real
time. A phone call from Checkmate or Admiral McConnell, for instance,
could put bombs on the "building with the Mercedes parked
out front" within minutes.50
This was possible not only because of the rapid
observation and orientation cycles (relative to those of Iraq),
but also because Gen H. Norman Schwarzkopf and then-Lt Gen Charles
Horner delegated decision making to the lowest possible level
consistent with centralized control of air power. Before execution--and
for most of the 42 days of the air war--decisions about targeting
were made in the CENTAF planning cell. Only after the Al Firdos
bunker incident did high-level decision makers (probably Schwarzkopf,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Colin Powell, or both)
intrude themselves by withholding most Baghdad targets.51
Other than that, decisions did not require specific approval at
multiple command levels and therefore could be made quickly.
The division of targets into categories corresponding
to previously defined enemy centers of gravity--combined with
careful explanations of the categories and associated objectives,
as briefed to senior officials--helped desensitize leaders such
as Schwarzkopf and Powell (perhaps even Secretary of Defense Dick
Cheney and President George Bush) to specific target selections.
When a target clearly fitted one of the categories, everyone assumed
that it served a legitimate military purpose (and ultimately,
therefore, the political objectives)--an assumption that seems
vindicated by results. Glosson and his planners had free rein
to make adjustments as they saw fit. Schwarzkopf and Horner gave
support and general guidance--as well they should--but specific
targeting decisions were made in the CENTAF planning cells.52
General Glosson's delegated decision-making authority
extended downward to the flying units by virtue of General Horner's
position as joint force air component commander (JFACC). By selecting
Glosson for the position of chief air campaign planner with the
concomitant authority to control the air tasking order (ATO) (in
which all overland flights had to appear), Horner delegated him
authority over flying units' wartime taskings. The reorganization
of CENTAF in December 1990 further enhanced Glosson's authority
by making him commander of 14th Air Division (AD), comprised of
the USAF fighter and fighter-bomber wings. At the same time, Glosson
was named CENTAF director of campaign plans, a position that expanded
his role from directing strategic offensive planning in the Black
Hole to controlling all CENTAF planning functions in the newly
formed Campaign Plans Division. Thus, Glosson had both functional
authority (as the JFACC's campaign plans director) and service
authority (as commander of 14th AD) over all USAF fighter units.
There was no confusion whatsoever concerning his direction of
Just as Glosson's authority and the role of the
Black Hole planners evolved from strictly informal to ever more
formalized modes, so did their ability to provide the orientation
necessary to the collection and dissemination of intelligence.
Increasing at much the same rate was their ability to impose decisions
on the rest of the CENTAF plans division and the flying units
that would execute the plan. Following the December reorganization,
Glosson and his planners were powerful enough and sufficiently
"connected" to control the OODA loop for the entire
air campaign. Their innovative, informal approaches eventually
overwhelmed and, in some cases, swallowed up the formal system--witness
the December reorganization of CENTAF's plans division under Glosson's
direction and the key roles played by Black Hole planners in the
new organization. They also formed their own BDA cell, which--by
using gun-camera video and other information obtained outside
intelligence channels--bypassed the formal system almost entirely.
In other words, they "drove" their own OODA loop from
the special planning cell and made it respond to their 72-hour
planning priorities. Indeed, they made it responsive enough to
handle immediate priorities as well. They then aggressively and
continuously attacked and further degraded Iraq's capability to
OODA. A decision cycle similar to one that moved from observation
to action in minutes or hours for Horner's men probably took days
for Saddam--if it could be completed at all.54 As Col
John Boyd would say, the outcome was inevitable. Victory was assured
over 30 days before coalition ground forces moved to contact.
A new chapter in warfare was written on 17 January
1991. With the advent of postindustrial warfare, information warfare,
or knowledge warfare--whatever one might choose to call it--a
window opened, giving discerning people an opportunity to gaze
into the future. Although the view remains blurred and imperfect,
warriors who make the most of it increase their chances for victory
in the next round.
1. Daphne Rooks, Wizards' Country (Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton
Mifflin Co., 1957), 253-54.
2. Andrew Duminy and Charles Ballard, eds., The Anglo-Zulu War:
New Perspectives (Pietermaritzburg, Natal: University of Natal
Press, 1981), 65.
3. John Young, They Fell like Stones: Battles and Casualties
of the Zulu War, 1879 (London: Greenhill Books, 1991), 52-69,
88-89; and R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, The Encyclopedia
of Military History from 3500 B.C. to the Present (New York: Harper
& Row, 1986), 851.
4. See, for instance, Alan D. Campen, ed., The First Information
War: The Story of Communications, Computers and Intelligence Systems
in the Persian Gulf War (Fairfax, Va.: AFCEA International Press,
1992). Campen declares (among other things) that the Gulf War
"differed fundamentally from any previous conflict"
in that "the outcome turned as much on superior management
of knowledge as . . . upon performances of people or weapons"
(page vii; emphasis in original). Despite his use of the term
information warfare, Campen tacitly avers the truth--suggested
by Sun Tzu 2,500 years ago--that the ultimate goal of the struggle
is to dominate the enemy in knowledge--not information. Collection
and analysis of information is, of course, a part--but not the
whole--of the issue.
5. Or perhaps this is simply an important part of a larger military-technical
revolution (MTR; others have called it a revolution in military
affairs [RMA]). A third possibility is that information warfare,
MTR, and/or RMA are simply different names for the same phenomenon.
6. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War: Final Report to Congress,
vol. 1 (Washington, D.C.: Department of Defense, 1991), 156.
7. Ibid., 126-27; and Thomas A. Keaney and Eliot A. Cohen, Gulf
War Air Power Survey Summary Report (Washington, D.C.: Department
of the Air Force, 1993), 36-37.
8. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 1, 127.
9. Like several other concepts used in Desert Storm (e.g., parallel
attack and simultaneity), information differential acquired its
name after the war. See Joint Pub 1, Joint Warfare of the US Armed
Forces, 11 November 1991, 57. It is worth noting that this concept
is specifically tied to "advanced US technologies,"
a relationship that makes it a perishable advantage, dependent
upon continued US superiority in technology development.
10. Keaney and Cohen, 195-97.
11. Col S. D. Ramsperger, cited in Alan D. Campen, "Iraqi
Command and Control: The Information Differential," in Campen,
12. Col John R. Boyd, "A Discourse on Winning and Losing,"
1987, unpublished briefing slide set available at Air University
Library, Maxwell AFB, Ala., 177.
14. Ibid., 222.
15. For the sake of simplicity, intelligence is used here to
subsume all information sources. The author recognizes that much
of a commander's or staff's vital information is not provided
by the intelligence system.
16. Keaney and Cohen, 122.
17. Col James Blackburn, Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C., transcript
of interview with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds,
and author, 21 April 1993, 102-4, Desert Story Collection, US
Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
18. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 2, C-2.
19. See, for example, Bruce W. Watson et al., eds., Military
Lessons of the Gulf War (London: Greenhill Books, 1991), 146;
and H. Norman Schwarzkopf with Peter Petre, General H. Norman
Schwarzkopf, the Autobiography: It Doesn't Take a Hero (New York:
Bantam Books, 1992), 293-94.
20. Schwarzkopf, 310, 313-14; Col Steve Wilson, Washington, D.C.,
transcript of interview with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard
T. Reynolds, and author, 11 December 1991, 50-51, Desert Story
Collection, US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB,
Ala.; and Triumph without Victory: The Unreported History of the
Persian Gulf War (New York: Random House, 1992), 97-98.
21. Keaney and Cohen, 184, 195.
22. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 2, T-84 to T-87.
23. Ibid. 1: 194.
24. Keaney and Cohen, 195.
25. Ibid., 140-41.
26. Ibid., 83.
27. Ibid., 83-84.
28. Ibid., 123.
29. Boyd, 222.
30. Campen, in Campen, 172.
31. For example, according to Lt Col Dave Deptula, intelligence
personnel withheld certain photographs needed by Black Hole planners
until the end of the war because they "were afraid that if
they gave them to the Black Hole, they would get lost." Lt
Col Dave Deptula, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview with
Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and author,
12 December 1991, 103-4, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force
Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
32. If so, the problem is nothing new. Roberta Wohlstetter, for
example, points to the US failure to anticipate the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor in 1941. "To discriminate significant sounds
against this background of noise, one has to be listening for
something or for one of several things. In short, one needs not
only an ear, but a variety of hypotheses that guide observation"
(emphasis added). In other words, if one is to determine which
specific elements of information are important to the issue at
hand and then turn that information into useful knowledge, one
must have specific orientation on key questions--not simply indiscriminate
collection and dissemination. Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision
(Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1962), 55-56.
33. Maj Gen James R. Clapper, Jr., assistant chief of staff of
Air Force Intelligence during Desert Shield/Storm, says that the
flow of US intelligence operates on a "push" rather
than a "pull" system. That is, field units receive mostly
what analysts deign to give them rather than what they need. According
to General Clapper, the intelligence community is fixing this
particular problem. James R. Clapper, "Desert War: Crucible
for Intelligence Systems," in Campen, 81-85.
34. Lt Col Sam Baptiste, Maxwell AFB, Ala., transcript of interview
with Dr Diane Putney and Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, 24 September
1992, 24-25, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical
Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
35. Deptula, 12 December 1991, 91-92.
36. Keaney and Cohen, 131-32.
37. See Clapper, in Campen, 82.
38. Larry K. Wentz, "Communications Support for the High
Technology Battlefield," in Campen, 8.
39. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 2, K-27 to K-28.
40. "The services put more electronic communications connectivity
into the Gulf in 90 days than we put in Europe in 40 years."
Quoted in Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 2, K-26.
41. Ibid., K-26 to K-27.
42. Alan D. Campen, "Information Systems and Air Warfare,"
in Campen, 27; and idem, "Iraqi Command and Control,"
in Campen, 175.
43. Wentz, in Campen, 10-13.
44. Keaney and Cohen, 129-30.
45. Directed by Col John Warden, the Checkmate Division was part
of Air Force Plans and Operations. Under Warden's guidance, Checkmate
planners designed the Instant Thunder air campaign plan, which
became the basis for the air war against Iraq.
46. Keaney and Cohen, 138-39; and Deptula, 12 December 1991,
25-27, 54-64, 89-92, 101-3.
47. Although much information was available outside the intelligence
system, sometimes it was difficult to persuade intelligence personnel
to use nonsystem information. A case in point is gun-camera video,
which intelligence personnel initially refused even to review.
Deptula, 12 December 1991, 87-89.
48. Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, vol. 1, 215.
49. Ibid., 94; Campen, "Iraqi Command and Control,"
in Campen, 174; and James F. Dunnigan and Austin Bay, From Shield
to Storm: High-Tech Weapons, Military Strategy, and Coalition
Warfare in the Persian Gulf (New York: William Morrow and Co.,
50. Deptula, 12 December 1991, 32-34.
51. Even in this case, however, the CENTAF planners retained
a great deal of latitude, since they were left to define the limits
of Baghdad for themselves. They appear to have chosen a relatively
narrow definition that allowed them to continue attacking the
outskirts of Baghdad and surrounding areas without specific approval.
Lt Col Dave Deptula, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview
with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and
author, 23 May 1991, 64-67, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force
Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.; Maj Gen Buster
C. Glosson, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview with Lt
Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and author,
29 May 1991, 81-88, Desert Story Collection, US Air Force Historical
Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.; and Keaney and Cohen, 68-69.
52. Glosson, 29 May 1991, 81-84.
53. Lt Col Dave Deptula, Washington, D.C., transcript of interview
with Lt Col Suzanne B. Gehri, Lt Col Richard T. Reynolds, and
author, 11 December 1991, 28, 30-31, Desert Story Collection,
US Air Force Historical Research Agency, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
54. Campen, "Iraqi Command and Control," in Campen,
Col Edward Mann (BA, Pepperdine University; MA, University
of Southern california) is chief of the Doctrine Research Division,
Airpower Researach Institute, College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research,
and Education (CADRE), Maxwell AFB, Alabama. He is a command pilot
with 5,200 hours in the KC-135 aircraft. Previously, he was deputy
chief of the Airborne Command/Control Division, Headquarters Strategic
Air Command, Offutt AFB, Nebraska; National Defense Fellow, International
Security Studies Program, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy,
Tufts University, Medford, Massachusets; and a military doctrine
analyst at CADRE. He has written for Military Review, Air Force
Times, and Airpower Journal. Colonel Mann is a graduate of
Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and Air
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those
of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic
environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official
position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United
States Air Force or the Air University.