Title: Air War during Desert Storm Category: History www.china-doll.org www.universityessayexperts.com www.researchandwriting.org www.customwrittenbusinessplans.com Description: MLA Format, 25 Pages, 14+ Sources, This essay discusses the logistical efforts in supporting and carrying out the military air campaign during Desert Storm. See Chinadollpublishing.com for all of your prewritten paper needs. For custom writing visit www.china-doll.org Keywords: essays, term papers, theses, thesis, dissertations, dissertation, literature review, custom writing, prewritten papers, pre-written, pre-written papers, school paper, business paper, academic paper, academic writing, free papers, book review, papers online, desert storm, operation desert storm, air war, air campaign, air bridge, air combat, Iraqi war, military aircraft,
Following the buildup of air and ground forces during Operation Desert Shield (ODSi), Operation Desert Storm (ODS) resulted in one of the largest, most well orchestrated, and complex air campaigns in the history of modern warfare.
addition to the approximate 600k allied ground troops arrayed across the desert surrounding Iraq, the approximate 3,000 tanks, almost 4,000 APCs (armored personnel carriers), over 1,000 unique artillery pieces, and nearly 2,000 helicopters (Duffy par.31), the Allied forces had assembled, led by the United States, a most lethal and numerous air force.
In sum, the
various regions surrounding Iraq had the following combat or combat support aircraft totals: (1) Turkey-145 aircraft, (2) Saudi Arabia-832 aircraft, (3) carrier aircraft in the Red Sea270, (4) Bahrain-116, (5) Qatar-113, (6) Oman-90, (7) United Arab Emirates-116, (8) carrier aircraft in the Persian Gulf-141 (Duffy par.31).
Combined with other ground attack and
miscellaneous aircraft, the allied forces had collected over 2,600 combat aircraft to execute the air war over Iraq (Duffy par.31). Faced with such a challenge, Saddam Hussein refused to pull back from Kuwait, of which his invasion of that small neighboring country had started the entire affair.
campaign and the combat support campaign that followed it have been characterized as a war of “Smart strategies, smart weapons, and smart airmen…” (Caffrey par.1).
This characterization is
apparent in the planning that went into designing an effective air campaign prior to the war’s start; one that integrated the use of many different national air forces, as well as incorporated the follow-up ground campaign involving many different countries’ ground troops.
It is also apparent in the
selective use of special forces and ground attack helicopters employed just before the air campaign that set the stage for its success: “AT 11 p.m. Saudi time on Jan. 16, 1991, nine Apache helicopters and one Black Hawk of the 101st Airborne Division joined a squadron of Air Force special operations helicopters and flew into western Iraq” (Hasenauer par.1).
group of attack helicopters and Special Forces removed key Iraqi intelligence posts and set the stage for the highly coordinated and intense air campaign that was to follow.
However, key to
Desert Storm’s ultimate success that has made it a text book example of air warfare, are the countless support operations that were carried out behind the scenes.
Storm is text book not just for the execution of the air campaign to free Kuwait, but also for the logistics and transportation, and countless other operations that supported it. Within the first 48 hours of the start of the air campaign the Allied forces flew 2,107 air combat missions and dropped
over 5,000 tons of bombs on selected targets (Duffy par.2).
allied forces were able, because of the “smart” weapons involved, to avoid the carpet bombing travesties of past wars where the casualty toll inflicted on civilian populations defeated the primary objective of destroying enemy forces.
raw destruction of Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki were completely avoided though the amount of explosive ordinance involved in the air campaign was greater in many cases.
types of aircraft that deploy and deliver these smart weapons are the stuff of legend.
Thanks to the movie Top Gun and
others, America is familiar with the concept of fighter craft, but does not fully understand the character of these fighter craft or the true nature of their capabilities.
The F-15 Eagle,
the undeniable core of America’s modern air force, is an aircraft that even 30 years after its introduction, is still serviceable and competitive in the air: ..the F-15 Eagle, an aircraft so advanced that a quarter century after its debut, it is still the most important aerial combat weapon of the Air Force. The F-15 was superior for aerial combat to any aircraft because of its maneuverability. Its missiles would allow it to shoot down enemy aircraft such as the Soviet Foxbat that could fly faster and higher. (Haulman, No… 4)
Haulman goes on to add that the F-15 Eagle was the first modern aircraft to have a thrust greater than its weight which allows it to accelerate in a vertical climb (Haulman, No… 4).
were approximately 263 F-15 Eagles deployed in the region during ODS and these F-15s alone were responsible for downing 35 of the total 39 aircraft downed during ODS (Haulman, No… 4).
F-15 Eagle is currently being phased out, the fact that even 25 years after its inception (at the time of ODS) it was largely responsible for most of the plane to plane aerial combat encounters during ODS, speaks volumes to its effectiveness and overall design quality. The other elder statesman to America’s air force is the F16 Fighting Falcon.
There were approximately 168 F-16s deployed
throughout the region comprised of various Allied contributions (Duffy par.31).
The F-16, unlike the F-15 was not solely
designed for aerial combat superiority, but rather was intended for a mixed air and air-to-ground application.
It carries a
20mm cannon and can be armed with up to 6 air to air missiles (Haulman, No… 4).
The F-16 is credited with 2 kills of enemy
aircraft during ODS and its aftermath, and 5 during air missions over Bosnia and Kosovo later in that decade (Haulman, No… 4). Like its older brother, the F-15 Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which was introduced into the Air Force in 1984, has
served with distinction around the world and is a vital component to many countriesâ€™ air force. One of the other main aircraft to separate itself from the mass of air power in ODS was the highly effective, highly secretive F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter.
approximately 44 F-117s operating from an airbase in Saudi Arabia (Duffy par.31).
Of all the specialized aircraft, smart
weapons, and high-tech equipment deployed during ODS, this particular aircraft deserves special mention.
Nighthawk embodies what ODS came to be epitomized for: hightech, stealth, smart-technology, and strategic application. During ODS the: F-117s were the nucleus of the strategic air campaign. They flew only 2 percent of the total attack sorties yet struck nearly 40 percent of the strategic targets. Throughout the war, they attacked with complete surprise and were immune to Iraqi air defenses. "In a fashion analogous to a virus attacking a cell," F-117 stealth fighters destroyed Iraq's air defense network, shattered its integrity, and opened up the country to strikes by older, nonstealth aircraftâ€Ś (Griggs par.8) As Griggs points out, the F-117 only flew a small percentage of the total air sorties flown during ODS but was assigned, and was
successful at destroying, almost half of the targets central command deemed strategic in nature.
This confidence displayed
by central command and Pentagon leadership in the technology contained within the F-117 speaks volumes of the research, design, and forward design applications that went into this plane.
The F-117 Nighthawkâ€™s development began in 1978 and the
first aircraft was delivered in 1982 though its existence was not acknowledged until 1988 (F-117 par.1).
At the time of ODS
the F-117 was already, operationally speaking, 10 years old yet little understood by any country outside of the U.S. and certainly not comprehended by Iraqi forces of the time.
117 is built with angled facets that reflect radar, coated with a radar absorbing material, has a radar footprint estimated at 10-100cm, has glass panels coated to make them appear to be metal, employs a Kaiser Electronics Heads Up Display (HUD), a video monitor displaying infrared imagery, a full-color moving digital map, does not employ radar and instead uses forward looking infrared and downward looking infrared systems, and uses a flight management system that flies the aircraft until within target range (F-117 pars. 7-12).
Additionally, the F-117
aircraft deploys an entire host of â€œsmartâ€? weaponry that extends its strategic capabilities into the combat theater: the BL-109B laser guided bomb, the GBU 10 & 27 laser guided bomb units, and the Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick & AGM-88 HARM air-to-surface
missiles (F-117 par.8).
The F-117 Nighthawk is a marriage
between technology and strategy and spearheaded the air campaign over Iraq during ODS.
The F-117 Nighthawk enabled the rest of
the air campaign to be successful to the point of flawless execution. As a testament to these and other planes involved in the air campaign, the planning and execution of the campaign, and to the training and performance of the pilots flying the planes and the missions, losses of aircraft during ODS were minimal. Haulman reports that of 29,300 combat sorties flown, a total of 14 aircraft were lost which is a kill ratio of 0.048% (USAF Manned 1).
He goes on to add that though this number is
phenomenal in and of itself, it is even more impressive when viewed in juxtaposition to the weaponry the Iraqi’s had at their disposal to defend against aircraft attack: “16,000 SAMs, 7,000 antiaircraft guns, and 750 combat aircraft” (Haulman USAF Manned 1).
The extent of the threat faced by aircraft during the Iraq
war consisted of 3 primary modes of attack and 1 secondary mode of attack.
Iraq employed 3 main defenses against Allied
aircraft: Soviet designed SA-3 and SA-16 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), Soviet designed anti-aircraft artillery (AAA), and its own combat aircraft (Haulman USAF Manned 3-5).
effective of these 3 counter measures were the SAMs with the second-most effective being the triple AAA.
Finally, Iraq’s Air
Force was largely, if not completely ineffective as large portions of it had been flown to other surrounding countries and no Allied aircraft were lost to Iraqi combat aircraft. The air campaign itself accomplished many objectives for Allied forces.
The 39 day air campaign directly resulted in a
100 hour ground campaign that illustrated to the world just how effective an assertive, strategic, and well-coordinated air campaign could be.
Among the main objectives accomplished that
set the stage for Saddam’s surrender: air superiority was achieved in 7 days, Saddam’s ground forces were completely decimated even before the ground campaign began resulting in few Allied casualties because of this decimation and demoralization, and enabled the complete liberation of Kuwait (Guzinger 1995). What made ODS unique among air campaigns was not that it was an air front in and of itself, but rather, that it was the first full-blown air campaign not meant to support a ground operation or another front, but was, in and of itself, a campaign meant to ensure total victory without, necessarily, a resulting lengthy ground campaign.
Viewed in this way ODS’ unique position among
air campaign history becomes evident even to the casual observer: …the term second front does not adequately describe the Desert Storm air campaign. In the past…an air front was often the only means of engaging an enemy before a ground invasion…[in ODS]airpower was used more as a primary rather
than a secondary front. General Schwarzkopf could have initiated Desert Storm with a classic combined-arms offensive. Instead, he chose to use an air front to accomplish a specific set of objectives prior to engaging in ground combat (Gunzinger par.26) Countless Allied casualties and Iraqi civilian casualties were avoided by instituting this strategy.
However, even given the
undisputed success of the ODS air campaign, it still remains necessary to move in on the ground to completely remove the threat of an enemy combatant.
The major improvement and
evolution of an air front that was demonstrated by the air campaign of ODS, is that air campaigns can be run as their own theater with follow-up support by conventional ground forces. What facilitated this strategic improvement in air campaign methodology was not, necessarily, greater numbers or smarter tacticians, but a watershed of technological innovation. Essentially, the ODS air campaign was the integration of the traditional brute force of air delivered munitions with a laundry list of technologically advanced devices: “…stealth aircraft, precision munitions, and information technologies…” (Gunzinger par.27). The technological innovations that have elevated ODS to legend status or that of a watershed event have been broken down into 5 key technological areas that separated ODS from
conventional air campaigns of the past: stealth and low observable platforms, laser-guided weaponry, aerial refueling, the high-speed anti-radiation missile (HARM), and a secure telephone system, or the STU-III (Griggs par.6).
and low observable platforms were a mix of technological innovations and re-application of existing technology.
previously mentioned F-117 Nighthawk spear-headed the air campaign and paved the way for the low observable platforms and by itself would have been noteworthy.
However, because of its
stealth capabilities, the F-117 was particularly adept and effective at delivering the laser-guided weaponry discussed later.
Other stealth/low observable platforms were the Tomahawk
land attack missiles (TLAMs) and the conventional air-launched cruise missiles (CALCMs) (Griggs par.7).
Griggs points out that
though these stealth/low observable platforms were intended for strategic strikes, they never were envisioned as becoming the strategic spearhead of the air campaign that they evolved into (Griggs par.7).
This marriage of technology, stealth/low
observable platforms, and strategic employment thereof cannot be stressed enough as being almost solely responsible for the complete success of ODS and of making that air campaign the revolutionary event it has become: â€œIn the Gulf War, Iraq's air defenses were immediately struck, and they never recovered from those initial, stunning blowsâ€? (Griggs par.7).
In ODS, stealth
enabled stealth and the psychological toll the mere threat of a strike with no warning did to Iraqi troops was responsible for much of the demoralization on the ground. Laser-guided weaponry, chiefly, laser-guided bombs (LGBs) allowed for devastating strikes to take place with surgical precision thereby minimizing civilian casualties or other collateral damage.
Though LGBs are not a new technology per se,
their use was greatly facilitated by stealth technology, both in deliverance and in the fact that the stealth delivered attacks cleared the way for effective employment of LGBs by conventional aircraft without fear of reprisal (Griggs par.9).
weaponry, because it could be more effectively deployed by conventional aircraft such as the F-111s, F-15s, and A-10s, was employed in new and novel ways that traditionally LGBs were not able to be used for.
By being able to attack at will because
the Iraqi air defenses had been so truncated, these other conventional aircraft were able to selectively strike at any Iraqi armor deployment desired and to do so accurately: â€œEvery target in Iraq was available, and virtually every target attacked was destroyed by one or two precision weaponsâ€? (Griggs par. 11).
So accurate were these precision guided weapons that
the Iraqi armor and supply train was so decimated prior to the ground campaign that the Iraqi army literally had no effective
means of transportation and no real defenses left other than small arms. Air refueling technology is not new.
This technology has
been in development since prior to World War II and in full military application since the Korean War.
What elevated air
refueling to the level of technological innovation were a series of process oriented capabilities that allowed the operational aspect of air refueling to become a logistical exercise in precision: More than 100 tankers operated as part of the Atlantic and Pacific air refueling bridges, thereby permitting the rapid deployment of some 1,000 fighters, bombers, and support aircraft. During the war, tankers flew almost 5,000 sorties, totaling nearly 20,000 flight hours, refueling almost 15,000 Air Force, Navy, and Marine airplanesâ€Ś(Griggs par.12) Communication, air traffic control, and fuel delivery technologies allowed for the highly coordinated and intricate air refueling stations to be built across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
These air refueling stations allowed combat and
combat support aircraft to fly directly to the theaters of operation without the numerous stopovers normally involved in such a re-deployment.
Contributing most to establishing air superiority during ODS was a weapon known as the HARM or the high-speed antiradiation missile, of which an approximate 1,067 were deployed during ODS (Griggs par.14).
This missile was designed and
utilized to sniff out enemy radar tracking devices which were used to target Allied aircraft.
If an Iraqi air defense system
employed its radar tracking technology the HARM was sent in to destroy it by following the air defense system’s radar: “The HARMs were so effective that Iraqi operators would, in fact, turn off their radars if they knew a HARM-carrying aircraft was in the area (Griggs par. 14).
These unique and highly effective
precision weapons were responsible, along with the other stealth technologies in the sky, for opening up the skies over Iraq to an Allied at-will bombing campaign. Battlefield communication is a vital component of any wellcoordinated and complex battle plan.
The telephonic system
deployed to the Gulf region during ODS and utilized from the front lines to rear-echelon headquarters was a system called the STU-III.
350 of these phones were deployed to the area and,
along with field phones, and a secure fax line network, became the backbone of ODS’ communication network (Griggs par.15).
Iraqis had no comparable system and saw all their lines of communication completely destroyed during the first few days of the air campaign.
The application and use of new technology, and the reapplication and revolutionary use of old technology, did not stop with ground and air applications, but actually extended up into space for the first time in history.
dramatically reported the first days of the air campaign: “It all seemed effortless, antiseptic and surreal: casualties were very light…and the high-tech gadgets in America's multibilliondollar arsenal seemed to work with surgical lethality…” (Desert par.1), it seemed to sum up the realization that Allied forces, led by America, had opened up a new age of warfare.
first time in modern warfare a complete network of global positioning satellites (GPSs) were deployed from space to provide real-time, accurate location and spatial analysis data. A total of 16 GPSs were used and collectively guided TLAMs to targets, tracked friendly armor and artillery positions, located land mines, and were used to navigate aircraft to specified targets (Griggs par.16).
GPS combined with other space-based
technologies such as image capture satellites, created a completely new dimension to modern warfare not fully envisioned prior to ODS.
Mann sums this new dimension of warfare up with
the catchall phrase of “electronic warfare systems” (par.5). However, he points out that the direction this new dimension takes will not be limited by the technologies involved necessarily, but rather, as it was in ODS, by the ability to
turn this sheer amount of collected data, or information, into useful and applicable intelligence or knowledge (Mann par.15). Because of the innovations realized in and taken advantage of during ODS, even newer technologies and new applications of older technologies are currently being devised.
dimension to warfare is an entirely new operational frontâ€”the information campaign: â€œAll of these activities relate to information dominance. Control of the battlefield in the future will increasingly depend on how well we are able to control the information available to forces on both sides of the battleâ€? (Griggs par.19).
Realization of this new dimension is a direct
result of ODS and the innovations resulting from it.
up the technological revolution of warfare with its roots in ODS in this way: 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. (Mann par.33) ODS was, more than anything, a war waged on myriad computer screens from Iraq to offices in the United States, and mediated through various networks, including the Internet and satellite.
One low technology aspect to the air campaign that often is not fully examined is the psychological warfare component to the campaign that was operated through the Air Force and its aircraft in the region: Airplanes have served as psychological instruments in recent conflicts by dropping leaflets and broadcasting radio and television messages. In conjunction with air strikes, these methods have persuaded enemy troops to surrender, abandon their positions, and stop fighting. In association with humanitarian air missions, they have also convinced civilians to turn against enemy leadershipâ€Ś (Haulman USAF Psychological 1) Various types of aircraft were utilized in ODS to deliver propaganda leaflets to Iraqi troops and civilians for various purposes.
The manner in which they were dropped varied but
primarily the leaflets were loaded into leaflet bombs which were then delivered via aircraft, usually a C-130 but could also be delivered via F-16 or other ordnance dropping aircraft utilizing the M-129 leaflet bombs (Haulman 5-12).
contained on the leaflets accomplished many things psychologically: they warned of impending attacks which were then delivered as promised to ensure Iraqi troops understood their predicament, some leaflets promised safe passage and care as a prisoner of war if the individual carried the leaflet with
them as a guarantee, they informed civilians of where food drops would be delivered, and they were even used as advertising for other propaganda campaigns such as printing the radio bandwidth of Allied broadcasts in Arabic that could be heard broadcast from other Allied planes(Haulman 6-12).
C-130 aircraft were
outfitted with trailing broadcast antennas and sent into strategic areas to broadcast specific, targeted messages to the civilian and troop populations both (Haulman 10).
drawback or disadvantage to the psychological warfare use of aircraft is that it usually places the delivering aircraft in some degree of exposure to enemy anti-aircraft measures because they usually need to be lower flying to safely deliver the leaflets or to stay within broadcast range if delivering a radio message (Haulman 13).
There was not a great loss of aircraft to
this particular hazard during ODS because leaflets and broadcasts werenâ€™t actually begun until near the end of the air campaign.
By this time much of the Iraqi air defense mechanism
had been destroyed.
There is no doubt that the psychological
efficacy of aircraft during ODS in delivering messages, and the psychological terror of the sudden and accurate attack by stealth aircraft, did much to disintegrate Iraqi morale long before actual ground combat took place. Some areas of operations during ODS that sometimes do not receive the full recognition they deserve for their own use of
technology and accomplishments in operational unity, are logistics, transportation, and supply.
The sheer magnitude of
not only moving the amount of forces, equipment, and supplies as were moved before, during, and after ODSi and ODS is mind boggling considering the short amount of time it was accomplished in.
The bulk of military transportation and
logistics is handled by two military components: the Military Airlift Command (MAC) and the Military Sealift Command (MSC), which together form the U.S. Transportation Command (Thomchick 40).
These two components making up the U.S. Transportation
command are supplemented by the transportation and logistics units of each individual military component of the U.S. armed forces.
Along with the permanently maintained fleet of
transport aircraft maintained by MAC and the permanent fleet of transport vessels maintained by MSC, the U.S. Transportation Command has congressional authority to ask for assistance, during times of National need or emergency, from the common civilian carriers to provide transportation services as well as aircraft and vessels.
This congressional authority for the MAC
is known as the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) and the comparable authority for MSC is the Sealift Readiness Program (SRP) (Thomchick 41).
For ODS, large sections of each of these
congressional acts allotting MAC and MSC authority to requisition civilian transportation units into military service
were enacted: “The CRAF program was enacted on August 18,” requiring civilian airline companies to commit aircraft to assist with transportation needs, and the MSC had “…70 out of the 96 RRF vessels…and 199 vessels, including 10 tankers, had been chartered…” (Thomchick 41).
Combined with each components’
standing equipment and each branch of the armed services own transportation equipment, this massive call up of active and reserve transportation equipment created one of the most complex logistical challenges seen at that time. One publication remarked that, “There is nothing quite like a protracted conflict in a distant land with insecure ground lines of communication to bring out the importance of strategic and intra-theatre air logistics”(Biass 1), as a way to highlight the challenges faced by the transportation and supply units deployed during ODS.
The author states that rather than being
revolutionary in its own right, ODS transportation and logistics processes were still based on a cold war model of deployment instead of a new, more flexible, model necessary for more numerous but smaller conflicts.
The issues exposed during ODS
pointed out the areas in transportation and supply that needed upgrading (Biass 1). In any event, the challenges overcome by the military transportation components during ODS were great and the innovations developed opened up entirely new avenues of supply
chain management previously unimagined.
The CRAF requisitioned
by MAC alone was responsible for: 314,000 military passengers to the Persian Gulf by the end of the year 1990, as well as 305,000 tons of cargo (Thomchick 44).
This is in addition to the
personnel and cargo transported through military operated aircraft.
In sum, the militaryâ€™s use of its backup civilian
measures to make up for demand placed upon its airlift and sealift operations ran extremely smoothly and the full call-up of either act was never required or implemented.
worldwide transportation and shipping during ODS, contrary to many professionalsâ€™ opinion prior to the beginning of the war, was not dramatically interrupted by the preparation and action during ODS (Thomchick 49). Beyond a streamlined and integrated supply chain being set up internationally to transport massive amounts of equipment and personnel, several innovations within the supply chain were attempted to take advantage of scale and efficiencies.
initiative implemented and tested during ODS was the single-fuel concept designed to reduce the amount of different fuels necessary to be purchased, shipped, and stocked in the region (Le Pera 41).
Since jet aircraft traditionally use JP-4 jet
fuel, and many ground vehicles utilize diesel fuel or regular gasoline, plus the presence of various other types of fuels and fuel mixtures required by all manner of military vehicles, the
logistics of supplying fuel are often debilitating in their own right.
Although there were several logistical and operational
issues with the implementation of the single fuel concept, overall the project was deemed a success and the actual fuel delivered was a kerosene based fuel (JP-8)(Le Pera 41). However, given the sheer multitude of different vehicles and power units within them, it was apparent that there were going to be exceptions to complete integration of the single fuel concept: …some Air Force units were located on bases where only JP4… was available. Some Army units requested diesel fuel instead of JP8 because JP8 did not make acceptable smoke in the M1 Abrams’ exhaust-system smoke generators. Further compounding the problems was the lack of training of ground units, which would have reduced their initial concerns about using aviation fuels in ground vehicles and equipment. (Le Pera 41) In spite of these issues discovered during ODS the single fuel concept was deemed a success because it solved a greater amount of problems and issues than were created by its implementation. A few of the benefits of a single fuel concept are: fuel storage, transportation, and distribution can be permanently customized to maximize efficiencies within the supply chain, with only a single fuel there are fewer errors and breakdowns
due to dispensation of the wrong fuel, and JP-8 increases engine life by decreasing component wear and tear and allows for longer fuel storage (Le Pera 43).
This major innovation first widely
deployed and tested in ODS was a major development in the field of transportation and supply chain logistics as well as fleet management operations.
As far as hard lessons learned about
this single fuel initiative born out of ODS, the primary lesson was that fuel system components must be upgraded in many different vehicles to allow them to operate on JP-8 fuel: â€œAn engineâ€™s fuel pump must be JP8 compatible in all types of operating conditionsâ€? (Le Pera 43).
The real world practical
application of the single fuel concept was made more relevant and its benefits more completely understood through its implementation in ODS. At the unit level within the transportation and logistics field there are many accounts of innovative approaches to mission critical tasks that took place allowing for better movement of personnel and supplies.
Often these operations took
place under hazardous conditions and without very much preparation time.
One such unit was the 436th Airlift Control
Element (ALCE) that was active in transportation and logistics projects in both the U.S. and in Kuwait (Cirafici par.1).
ALCE is part of the MAC and as such had responsibility for troop and supply movement out of the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air
Station, flight crew provision on transport flights to the area of operations, and was finally given the decidedly difficult task to set up the airhead operations at Kuwait International Airport following the ground invasion (Cirafici pars.1-2).
sight that greeted the ALCE was one of the worst environmental disasters known to man before or since due to the Iraqi military’s destruction and sabotage of the Kuwaiti oil fields throughout Kuwait but also around the airport and the airport itself was a picture of spent mayhem: The airfield…was littered with the debris of air strikes and of battle. Many of the structures were damaged by CBUs, fuel-air bombs, and by six months of Iraqi vandalism. Numerous Iraqi main battle tanks…antitank vehicles, and Soviet styled jeeps were abandoned around the airfield…the Iraqis had positioned Kuwaiti automobiles across all of the hard surfaces and removed their tires and ignition wiring. The wreckage of a British Airways Boeing 747 and a Kuwaiti Air Force DC-9 cluttered the passenger terminal apron… (Cirafici par.7) The ALCE immediately set about dispensing with unexploded ordinance, organizing fuel depots, setting up various landing zones for the Marine, Air Force, and Army aviation units now operating out of the Airport.
Later, a fully integrated air
traffic control center was rebuilt, runways repaired and
returning Kuwaitis integrated into the operations.
established by the ALCE became a center of operations for the entire region and as such, was witness to, and facilitated in, the movement and transfer of supplies, personnel, Armed Forces Brass, and all manner of press and dignitaries: the American Ambassador to Kuwait, Ted Koppel, Crown Prince al-Sabah, Secretary of State James Baker, and numerous other visiting and permanent dignitaries and press (Cirafici 14).
The ALCE, while
intent on operating a mission critical airlift for both military and humanitarian purposes was also tasked with maintaining a fully operational international airport complete with services for civilian flights, created a new standard for military readiness and preparation. The Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, proved to be a climactic period in the history of the U.S. Armed Forces.
that period in time, the Armed Forces were tasked with accomplishing a wide-range of objectives, with very little infrastructure in place, and in a short amount of time given the circumstances.
Additionally, the Air Force, in contrast to
other military conflicts, was especially tasked with not only opening up a front, but to actually operate the only front and further, to establish supremacy both in the air and on the ground.
The Allied combined Air Forces, commanded and led by
the United States, achieved a remarkable victory even prior to
the ground campaign.
In fact, as the ground campaign is now
effectively recorded, it was more of a mop up operation than a campaign.
The true and deciding action took place in the skies
over Kuwait and Iraq prior to the start of the ground offensive. The air campaign accomplished many things of which the following were the most notable: â€Śthe Iraqi forces that were attrited [sic] prior to the ground campaign, the incredible number of soldiers who surrendered or deserted their posts, the demoralized state of the troops who remained, the rapid liberation of Kuwait, and the low number of US casualties all point to the value of using a mature air instrument to achieve the maximum economy of forceâ€Ś(Gunzinger par.27) Clearly, the air campaign during ODS is deserving of all the accolades it has been showered with, but perhaps the most deserving of all its accolades are for the civilian and military lives the operation preserved through its effectiveness and precision.
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