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This report examines the contributions and limitations of air power in the Persian Gulf War. The authors conclude that, for the first time in modern combat, air power was the equal partner of land and sea power, performing the critical enabling function that led to victory. The authors seek to moderate, however, certain claims made by airpower advocates after the war: they maintain that the war did not demonstrate that a strategic air campaign guarantees victory, but rather that air power, skillfully employed under the right conditions, can neutralize, if not completely destroy, a modern army in the field. Nor did the war display breakthroughs in weapon technology, but rather the prowess of well-trained and motivated airmen and their support crews in using maturing technology. Moreover, the authors maintain, the air war was not fought as jointly as many supposed. The sheer mass of available air power allowed it to be used inefficiently at times to cater to doctrinal preferences of the various services.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    The Setting for the Gulf Air War

  • Chapter Three

    The Deployment

  • Chapter Four

    Planning the Air Campaign

  • Chapter Five

    Command, Control, and Organization

  • Chapter Six


  • Chapter Seven


  • Chapter Eight

    Information Acquisition and Management

  • Chapter Nine


  • Chapter Ten

    Air Combat System Performance

  • Chapter Eleven

    Air Power Performance in the Gulf War

  • Chapter Twelve

    An Assessment of Air Power’s Role

  • Appendix

    Statistical Data on Desert Shield and Desert Storm

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