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Lesson Index: [ Introduction | Lesson Objective | Overview | Foundations of Doctrine | Air Corps Tactical School | WWII—Europe | WWII—Japan | WWII—Nuclear Weapons | Cold War Doctrine | Massive Retaliation | Cold War Technology | Flexible Response | The SIOP | Korea | Korean Command Structure | Korean War Aftermath | Prelude to Vietnam | Objectives in Vietnam | Vietnam War 1965–1973 | Rolling Thunder—Objectives | Rolling Thunder—Restrictions | Rolling Thunder—Outcome | Command Arrangements | Route Package System | Khe Sanh | Airpower at Khe Sanh | LINEBACKER II | Post-Vietnam Assessment | AirLand Battle | Impact of AirLand Battle | Operation EAGLE CLAW | Operation URGENT FURY | Goldwater-Nichols Act 1986 | Summary | Quiz ]

Title: The SIOP

Voice: Although the policy of Flexible Response sought to increase conventional capability, the Air Force continued to focus on providing a nuclear retaliatory capability. General Curtis E. LeMay’s Single Integrated Operations Plan, or SIOP, became the Air Force’s highest priority mission. In accommodation of Kennedy’s Flexible Response policy, the SIOP employed a counterforce strategy of targeting Soviet military systems and installations as opposed to urban areas. Unfortunately, the SIOP did not represent a strategic air campaign. Quite simply, the SIOP was a targeting plan for nuclear war that provided for a timed release of nuclear weapons over enemy territory. A true air campaign would have employed operational art and integrated the application of all forms of airpower against the enemy. Air Force doctrine’s emphasis on the upper end of the spectrum of conflict left a significant doctrinal void on the other end of the spectrum ranging from unconventional warfare to conventional warfare. This doctrinal shortfall would have a marked impact on how the Air Force would respond to crises in the coming years.

Action: Screen begins with a faded picture of a B-52 in the sky as the background. The following bullets are shown in support of the narration:

Action: As the second bullet is shown, the picture of the B-52 is replaced with a picture of President Kennedy being sworn in as president. Two-thirds of the way through the narration, all is replaced by the following header and a graph:

Action: The graph shows that the Air Force doctrine’s emphasis on the upper end of the spectrum of conflict (of limited and general nuclear war) left a significant doctrinal void on the other end of the spectrum ranging from unconventional warfare to “limited” war to conventional war.

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