"Gulf lesson one is the value of air power...(it) was right on target from day one. The Gulf war taught us that we must retain combat superiority in the skies...Our air strikes were the most effective, yet humane, in the history of warfare."
- President George Bush
29 May 1991
The air campaign was designed to exploit Coalition strengths (which included well-trained aircrews; advanced technology such as stealth, cruise missiles, precision-guided munitions (PGMs), superior command and control (C2), and ability to operate effectively at night); and to take advantage of Iraqi weaknesses (including a rigid C2 network and a defensive orientation). Coalition air planners intended to seize air superiority rapidly and paralyze the Iraqi leadership and command structure by striking simultaneously Iraq's most crucial centers of gravity: its National Command Authority (NCA); its nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) warfare capability; and the Republican Guard divisions.
The Strategic Air Campaign formed Phase I of the four phases of Operation Desert Storm. Phase II focused on suppressing or eliminating Iraqi ground-based air defenses in the Kuwait Theater of Operations (KTO). Phase III emphasized direct air attacks on Iraqi ground forces in the KTO (including the Republican Guard Forces Command (RGFC) and the Iraqi Army in Kuwait). Phases I-III constituted the air campaign. Phase IV, the ground campaign to liberate Kuwait, used air attacks and sea bombardment in addition to ground attacks on concentrations of Iraqi forces remaining in the KTO. Concurrent with the Offensive Ground Campaign was an amphibious landing option, Operation Desert Saber, to be executed as required for the liberation of Kuwait City. The theater campaign plan recognized the phases were not necessarily discrete or sequential, but could overlap as resources became available or priorities shifted.
On 16 January, at 1535 (H - 11 hours, 25 minutes), B-52s took off from Louisiana carrying conventionally armed air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs). They would launch their ALCMS approximately two hours after H-Hour. The first irretrievable hostile fire in Operation Desert Storm began at approximately 0130 (H-90 minutes), 17 January, when US warships launched Tomahawk land attack missiles (TLAMs) toward Baghdad. At 0238, while the TLAMs were still in flight, helicopters attacked early warning radar sites in southern Iraq. Stealth fighters already had passed over these sites en route to attack targets in western Iraq and Baghdad. The helicopter, F-117A, cruise missile, F-15E Eagle fighter, and GR-1 Tornado fighter bomber attacks helped create gaps in Iraqi radar coverage and the C2 network for the non-stealth aircraft which followed. Powerful air strikes then continued throughout the country. Within hours, key parts of the Iraqi leadership, C2 network, strategic air defense system, and NBC warfare capabilities were neutralized. By the conflict's first dawn, air attacks on Iraqi forces in the KTO had begun. These led to a steady reduction of their combat capability, and made it difficult for them to mass or move forces without coming under heavy Coalition air attack, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and CENTCOM. Hundreds of Coalition aircraft participated in these missions, marked by precision and impact, while suffering extremely low losses. Coalition air power continued to destroy strategic targets in Iraq and the KTO. Although hindered by bad weather, the air campaign, which extended throughout the 43 days of Operation Desert Storm, won air supremacy and met its key objectives, although suppression of Scud attacks proved far more difficult than anticipated and the destruction of Iraqi nuclear facilities was incomplete because of intelligence limitations.
Phase II of Operation Desert Storm sought the systematic neutralization or destruction of Iraqi surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems and large-caliber antiaircraft artillery (AAA) pieces that threatened Coalition aircraft in the KTO. The suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD), which began in the air war's first minutes, not only attacked enemy air defense weapons, but also the C2 centers that linked them. Many accompanying acquisition, fire control, and target tracking radars, according to DIA reports, also were put out of action or dissuaded from coming on line. In this way, Coalition air planners carved out a medium- and high-altitude sanctuary, which allowed friendly aircraft to operate in the KTO with some degree of safety.
Coalition electronic warfare (EW) aircraft were invaluable during this phase. With active jamming, passive location systems, and antiradiation missile delivery ability, they either attacked enemy weapon systems or rendered them ineffective. Because of the number and mobility of enemy antiaircraft systems, SEAD continued throughout the war. It paved the way for strike aircraft to begin direct air attacks on enemy artillery, armor, and troops in the KTO.
Direct air attacks on Iraqi forces in the KTO continued until the cease-fire. In early February, the weight of Coalition air power shifted from strategic operations in Iraq to attacks on ground forces in the KTO, which could not resist the aerial attack effectively. By G-Day, interdiction of supply lines to the KTO reduced deliveries to a trickle. These and direct attacks on Iraqi supply points and in-theater logistical transportation, according to enemy prisoner of war (EPW) reports, resulted in major local shortages of food for fielded Iraqi forces in Kuwait. The RGFC and other high priority units, however, predominantly were located farther from Coalition forces, closer to rear-area supply depots, and tended to be better supplied than frontline forces.
Coalition aircrews developed innovative tactics to use PGMs against Iraqi armor. While estimates vary, by the start of the ground offensive, Army Component Central Command (ARCENT) estimated many of Iraq's tanks, other armored vehicles, and artillery in the KTO had been destroyed from the air. CINCCENT had stated he would not recommend starting the ground offensive until the combat effectiveness of the forces in the KTO had been degraded by half. The destruction of Iraqi operational command centers and communications links prevented effective military C2 and helped prepare for the rapid, successful Offensive 6round Campaign. When the Iraqis attempted their only ubstantial ground offensive operation, at the Saudi Arabian town of Al-Khafji Coalition air power responded rapidly to help around forces defeat the initial assault. At the same time, aircraft attacked and dispersed Iraq's two-division follow-on force before it could join the battle.
When ground forces encountered Iraqi resistance, Coalition airpower again was called on to attack the enemy and help minimize Coalition losses. This often required aircraft to fly lower into harm's way to identify and attack targets. Most Coalition air losses during the latter stages of the war were suffered in direct support of ground forces. During this final phase, the Coalition's speedy conclusion of the war, with minimal casualties, highlighted the synergy of powerful air and ground forces.
Decision To Begin The Offensive Ground Campaign
CINCCENT has said that several factors influenced his belief as to
when the Offensive Ground Campaign should begin. These factors
included force deployments and planning, logistics buildup, weather
forecasts favorable for ground offensive operations, cohesion of the
Coalition, and attack preparations, along with the air campaign. All
were important in reducing risks and enhancing the probability of
success with limited losses. While precise measurement of force ratios
was not possible, senior commanders considered that Iraqi combat
effectiveness needed to be reduced by about half before the ground
offensive began. Combat effectiveness included both measures such as
numbers of soldiers, tanks, armored personnel carriers (APC), and
artillery (and degradation thereof), as well as less measurable
factors such as morale. Once air operations began, Iraqi reactions
could be analyzed to provide further evidence on their military
capability. For example, the Iraqi failure at Khafji indicated an
inability to orchestrate the sorts of complex operations needed for a
mobile defense. Further, the battle seemed to indicate a decline in
the will of Iraqi soldiers while at the same time it provided a great
boost in morale and confidence among Coalition Arab forces.
Planning The Offensive Air Campaign
The Early Concept Plan - Instant Thunder
During the initial days after the invasion of Kuwait, the CENTCOM
and Service component staffs began planning for defensive and
offensive operations from Saudi Arabia. The Air Force Component,
Central Command (CENTAF) staff began planning an air campaign on 3
August; this provided the basic input for CINCCENT and CENTAF
commander briefings to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
(CJCS), the Secretary of Defense, and the President.
The Secretary of Defense instructed CJCS and CINCCENT to develop an offensive option that would be available to the President if Saddam Hussein chose to engage in further aggression or other unacceptable behavior, such as killing Kuwaiti citizens or foreign nationals in Kuwait or Iraq. This planning was the basis of CINCCENT's 8 August request to the Air Staff for a conceptual offensive air campaign plan directed exclusively against strategic targets in Iraq. He determined it would not be advisable to divert the deployed CENTAF staff from organizing the arrival and bed down of forces, while preparing a plan to defend Saudi Arabia from further Iraqi aggression. (See Chapter III for details of the D-Day plan). On 10 August, the Air Staff's deputy director of plans for war fighting concepts briefed CINCCENT in Florida on the Instant Thunder concept plan. The CJCS was briefed the following day and directed the Air Staff to expand the planning group to include Navy, Army, and Marine Corps (USMC) members and to proceed with detailed planning under the authority of the Joint Staff's director of operations. The CJCS reviewed the concept with the Secretary of Defense and received his approval.
When CINCCENT saw the expanded briefing again on 17 August, it bore the Joint Chiefs of Staff seal; by then both the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps also had accepted the concept plan. On 25 August, CINCCENT briefed the Secretary of Defense and the CJCS on a four-phase offensive campaign plan: Phase I, a Strategic Air Campaign against Iraq; Phase II, Kuwait Air Campaign against Iraqi air forces in the KTO; Phase III, Ground Combat Power Attrition to neutralize the Republican Guards and isolate the Kuwait battlefield; and Phase IV, Ground Attack, to eject Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The broad outlines of Operation Desert Storm had taken shape, but plans were further developed and refined for the next several months. As the plan was developed further, the Secretary of Defense and CJCS continued to review it in detail, culminating in an intensive two-day review in Saudi Arabia in December.
Non-US Coalition members became involved in planning during September. By the end of November, British Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) planners were integrated fully.
The Air Staff concept plan had been called Instant Thunder to contrast it with Operation Rolling Thunder's prolonged, gradualistic approach to bombing North Vietnam during the 1960s. Instead of piecemeal attacks designed to send signals to enemy leaders, Instant Thunder was designed to destroy 84 strategic targets in Iraq in a single week. If all went well, air attacks would paralyze Iraqi leadership, degrade their military capabilities and neutralize their will to fight. There was, however, great concern on the part of CJCS and CINCCENT, particularly in August and the first part of September, that an aggressive Iraqi ground offensive in the absence of significant heavy Coalition ground forces might succeed in seizing key airfields as well as ports, water facilities, and oil production sites.
As the air planners built Instant Thunder, they realized that in this war, the development of PGMs and active and passive antiradar technologies (stealth, jamming, antiradiation missiles) would allow attacks directly against the enemy leadership's ability to function. These attacks could neutralize the regime's ability to direct military operations by eroding communications, and depriving leaders of secure locations from which to plan and control operations. These leadership capabilities became key targets for Instant Thunder, and the main difference between it and more traditional strategic bombing campaigns.
In addition to attacks designed to influence the Iraqi leadership's ability to control their forces, the plan also envisaged attacks to reduce the effectiveness of forces in the KTO. Targets included NBC facilities, ballistic missile production and storage facilities, key bridges, railroads and ports that enabled Iraq to supply its forces in the KTO, and the Iraqi air defense system.
The Air Staff planning group (known as Checkmate), working under the Air Staff's deputy director of plans for war fighting concepts, categorized strategic targets as follows:
The Instant Thunder concept plan was designed to attack Iraq's centers of gravity. It envisioned a six-day (good weather and 700 attack sorties a day) attack on 84 strategic targets in Iraq. This initial plan, however, did not address some major target systems that became important in Operation Desert Storm.
Although suppressing Scud attacks later proved crucial to the strategic objective of frustrating Saddam Hussein's effort to draw Israel into the war, the missiles were not regarded initially as a threat to military forces - unless they were equipped with unconventional warheads - because of their inaccuracy. (In fact, however, a Scud strike on a barracks in February inflicted more US casualties than any single engagement. Moreover, Scud attacks elsewhere in the theater, for example on the ports of Ad-Dammam and Jubayl, in the early stages of the war when large concentrations of VII Corps troops were waiting for their equipment to arrive by sealift, potentially could have inflicted very large casualties.) In any case, trying to find and attack such mobile, easily hidden targets promised to absorb many sorties without likelihood of much success. The early plans, therefore, concentrated on attacking the fixed Scud launch facilities and production centers.
If Iraq attacked Saudi Arabia, the CENTAF commander, who also acted as the Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC), planned to concentrate air attacks on the Iraqi ground forces which might move against the Saudi oil fields and northern airfields. The Instant Thunder concept expected those targets to be attacked by RAF and Saudi Tornados, and US F-16s, AV-8Bs, A-10s, AH-64s, AH-1s, and F/A-18s.
Meanwhile, aircraft designed for long-range attacks would concentrate on strategic targets in Iraq. In time, this difference of focus lost much of its practical meaning, especially after the deployment of additional air and ground assets starting in November. An abundance of Coalition air and ground power gave assurance that an air campaign could be waged simultaneously against strategic targets in Iraq and Iraqi forces moving into Saudi Arabia, if necessary.
Instant Thunder Evolves Into Operation Desert Storm Air
During the fall, JFACC planners merged CENTAF's pre-deployment
concept of operations with the Instant Thunder concept to form the
foundation for the Operation Desert Storm air campaign plan.
Navy, USMC, and Army planners worked closely with Air Force (USAF) planners in August and September to draft the initial offensive air campaign plan. In Riyadh, Naval Component, Central Command (NAVCENT), Marine Corps Component, Central Command (MARCENT), and ARCENT were integral planning process members. RAF planners joined the JFACC staff on 19 September.
CENTCOM's offensive air campaign special planning group (SPG), in the RSAF Headquarters, was part of the JFACC staff and eventually became known as the Black Hole because of the extreme secrecy surrounding its activities. The Black Hole was led by a USAF brigadier general, reassigned from the USS Lasalle (AGF 3) where he had been serving as the deputy commander of Joint Task Force Middle East when Iraq invaded Kuwait. His small staff grew gradually to about 30 and included RAF, Army, Navy, USMC, and USAF personnel. Because of operational security (OPSEC) concerns, most of CENTAF headquarters was denied information on the plan until only a few hours before execution. By 15 September, the initial air planning stage was complete; the President was advised there were sufficient air forces to execute and sustain an offensive strategic air campaign against Iraq, should he order one.
During October, as planning began for a possible offensive ground operation to liberate Kuwait, air planners began to give more attention to Phase III, air attacks on Iraqi ground forces in the KTO. There was concern a ground assault against the well prepared KTO defenses might result in large and unnecessary loss of life. If Saddam Hussein did not comply with UN demands, air attacks would help the Offensive Ground Campaign meet its objectives rapidly and with minimal casualties. Computer modeling suggested to air planners it would take about a month of air attacks to destroy 75 to 80 percent of the armored vehicles, trucks, and artillery of the regular Iraqi army in Kuwait. Historical evidence shows attrition levels of 20 to 50 percent usually render a military force combat ineffective.
Another change from Instant Thunder was the decision to begin bombing the Republican Guards in southern Iraq at the start of Operation Desert Storm. The Secretary of Defense and CJCS identified the forces as the mainstay of the Iraqi defenses in the KTO, not only because they provided the bulk of Iraq's mobile reserves, but also because the regime counted on them to enforce the loyalty and discipline of the regular troops. In addition, weakening the Republican Guards would diminish Iraq's post-war threat to the region.
Given the SPGs small size, and the restrictions imposed by distance and limited communications, the director of campaign plans needed help. Checkmate augmented the SPG as an information fusion and analysis center; it provided an educated pool of manpower with face-to-face access to the national Intelligence Community. Instant Thunder had identified only 84 targets, but by January, intelligence experts and operations planners identified more than 600 potential targets, of which more than 300 became part of the CENTCOM strategic target list.
The planners in theater also received help from the Strike Projection Evaluation and Antiair Research (SPEAR) team of the Navy Operational Intelligence Center. SPEAR helped complete the picture of the Iraqi integrated air defense system (IADS), which used a mix of Soviet and Western equipment and concepts tied together by a C2 system largely designed by French technicians. Named Kari, this C2 system coordinated Iraqi air defense forces which could inflict severe Coalition losses. As part of a joint analysis with USAF and national agency participation, SPEAR helped identify the extent and nature of the threat, the key IADS nodes, and the importance of destroying those nodes early in the campaign.
On the basis of the joint analysis, in-theater modeling using the Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence simulation model (provided by the USAF Center for Studies and Analysis and Headquarters USAF Plans and Operations) predicted low-altitude attacks on key leadership, Command, Control, and Communications (C3), and electrical targets in Baghdad would be extremely dangerous for both F-111F and A-6E aircraft. Consequently, these crucial targets were attacked from medium altitudes by F-117As and low altitudes by TLAMs. The SEAD effort to neutralize the Kari system proved vital to Coalition success; the initial blow, according to intelligence reports, was one from which Iraqi air defenses never recovered.
At first, planners could rely on fewer than 75 long-range aircraft with a laser self-designation capability: 18 F-117As and 55 A-6Es. The mid-August decision to deploy 32 F-111Fs was the first major expansion in the laser-guided bombing capability. After the November decision to deploy additional forces, the number of aircraft so equipped increased to more than 200 F-117As, F-15Es, F-111Fs, and A-6Es.
Instead of having to make the first attack, return to base to rearm, refuel, and then make a second attack, the larger number of aircraft would strike about as many targets with a single wave. This increased the number of targets attacked almost simultaneously, complicated Iraq's air defense task, and increased aircraft availability for later strikes.
The Operation Desert Storm Air Campaign Plan
The plan was based on achieving the five military objectives listed
below. These objectives were derived from the President's objectives
and a planning model developed by the Air Staff's deputy director of
plans for war fighting concepts. Below each objective are listed the
target sets that would be attacked to secure the objective. (Although
degrading a target set commonly would help achieve more than one goal,
target sets are listed only once.
JFACC Air Campaign Objectives
Leadership Command Facilities
There were 45 targets in the Baghdad area, and others throughout
Iraq, in the leadership command facilities target set. The intent was
to fragment and disrupt Iraqi political and military leadership by
attacking its C2 of Iraqi military forces, internal security elements,
and key nodes within the government. The attacks should cause the
leaders to hide or relocate, making it difficult for them to control
or even keep pace with events. The target set's primary objective was
incapacitating and isolating Iraq's senior decision-making
authorities. Specifically targeted were facilities from which the
Iraqi military leadership, including Saddam Hussein, would attempt to
coordinate military actions. Targets included national-level political
and military headquarters and command posts (CPs) in Baghdad and
elsewhere in Iraq.
Electricity Production Facilities
Electricity is vital to the functioning of a modern military and
industrial power such as Iraq, and disrupting the electrical supply
can make destruction of other facilities unnecessary. Disrupting the
electricity supply to key Iraqi facilities degraded a wide variety of
crucial capabilities, from the radar sites that warned of Coalition
air strikes, to the refrigeration used to preserve biological weapons
(BW), to nuclear weapons production facilities.
To do this effectively required the disruption of virtually the entire Iraqi electric grid, to prevent the rerouting of power around damaged nodes. Although backup generators sometimes were available, they usually are slow to come on line, provide less power than main sources, and are not as reliable.
During switch over from main power to a backup generator, computers drop off line, temporary confusion ensues, and other residual problems can occur. Because of the fast pace of a modern, massed air attack, even milliseconds of enemy power disruption can mean the difference between life and death for aircrews.
Telecommunications and Command, Control, and Communication
The ability to issue orders to military and security forces, receive
reports on the status of operations, and communicate with senior
political and military leaders was crucial to Saddam Hussein's
deployment and use of his forces. To challenge his C3, the Coalition
bombed microwave relay towers, telephone exchanges, switching rooms,
fiber optic nodes, and bridges that carried coaxial communications
cables. These national communications could be reestablished and so,
required persistent restrikes. These either silenced them or forced
the Iraqi leadership to use backup systems vulnerable to eavesdropping
that produced valuable intelligence, according to DIA assessments,
particularly in the period before the ground campaign.
More than half of Iraq's military landline communications passed through major switching facilities in Baghdad. Civil TV and radio facilities could be used easily for C3 backup for military purposes. The Saddam Hussein regime also controlled TV and radio and used them as the principal media for Iraqi propaganda. Thus, these installations also were struck.
Strategic Integrated Air Defense System
The Iraqi strategic IADS was one of the more important immediate
target sets; before Coalition air power could exercise its full aerial
bombardment potential, the effectiveness of Iraqi air forces and
ground-based air defenses had to be reduced to negligible proportions.
Targets included the mid- and upper-level air defense control centers,
SAM sites, radar sites, and the C3 nodes that connected the system.
Air Forces And Airfields
The Iraqi Air Force posed both a defensive threat to Coalition air
operations, and an offensive threat to Coalition forces in the region.
In addition to a defensive capability, the Iraqi Air Force had a
chemical weapons (CW) delivery capability and had used PGMs.
Initial targeting of the Iraqi Air Force during Operation Desert Storm emphasized the suppression of air operations at airfields by cratering and mining runways, bombing aircraft, maintenance and storage facilities, and attacking C3 facilities. Coalition planners anticipated the Iraqis initially would attempt to fly large numbers of defensive sorties, requiring an extensive counter-air effort. Air commanders also expected the Iraqis to house and protect aircraft in hardened shelters. An attempt to fly some aircraft to sanctuary in a neighboring country also was expected, although the safe haven was thought to be Jordan, rather than Iran.
Biological and Chemical Weapons Research, Production, and Storage
The extensive Iraqi NBC program was a serious threat to regional
stability. Coalition planners intended to destroy weapons research and
production capability and delivery vehicles. Because of the Iraqis'
elaborate efforts to hide the extent of their programs, Coalition
forces were uncertain of their exact scope.
Intelligence estimates varied, but the planning assumption was that Iraq could produce a rudimentary nuclear weapon by the end of 1992, if not sooner. throughout the planning period, and during the conflict, finding and destroying NBC weapons facilities remained a top priority. International investigations continue to reveal the advanced character of Iraq's nuclear program, and to uncover additional facilities. The existence of the Al-Athir complex, 40 miles south of Baghdad, which was reported lightly damaged by bombing, was not confirmed until late in the war. It was the target of the last bomb dropped by an F-117A in the conflict.
Scud Missiles, Launchers, And Production And Storage
Iraq's Scud missile capability was considered a military and a
psychological threat to Coalition forces, a threat to civilian
populations in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and some other Gulf countries,
and a threat to long-term regional stability. Along with targeting the
fixed launch sites in western Iraq, Coalition planners targeted Iraq's
ability to deploy existing missiles and build more.
Intelligence estimates at the time of the total numbers of mobile launchers and Scuds were sketchy and proved to be too low. As a working estimate, planners used 600 Scud missiles (and variants), 36 mobile launchers, and 28 fixed launchers in five complexes in western Iraq, plus some training launchers at At-Taji. Initial attacks concentrated on eliminating the fixed sites. Plans were developed for hunting and destroying mobile Scud launchers, but the missiles would prove to be elusive targets.
Naval Forces And Port Facilities
Although Iraq was not a major naval power, its naval forces posed a
threat to Coalition naval and amphibious forces, and sealift assets.
Iraqi forces had Silkworm and Exocet antiship missiles and mines; they
could create a substantial political and military problem by
destroying or seriously damaging a major surface ship. Coalition
planners targeted Iraqi naval vessels, including captured Kuwaiti
Exocet-equipped patrol boats, port facilities, and antiship missiles
to prevent interference with Coalition operations and to reduce the
threat to friendly ports and logistical systems in the Persian
Oil Refining And Distribution Facilities
Fuel and lubricants are the lifeblood of a major industrial and
military power. Iraq had a modern petroleum extraction, cracking, and
distillation system, befitting its position as one of the world's
major oil producing and refining nations. Coalition planners targeted
Iraq's ability to produce refined oil products (such as gasoline) that
had immediate military use, instead of its long-term crude oil
Railroads And Bridges
Most major railroad and highway bridges in Iraq served routes that
ran between Baghdad and Al-Basrah. Iraqi forces in the KTO were almost
totally dependent for their logistical support on the lines of
communication (LOCs) that crossed these bridges, making them lucrative
targets. Although Iraqi forces had built large stockpiles of supplies
in southeast Iraq by January, DIA reported cutting the bridges
prevented or reduced restocking, and prevented reinforcement of
deployed forces once the air campaign began.
Iraqi Army Units Including Republican Guard Forces In The
Iraq's means of projecting power into Kuwait and against the
Coalition centered on its ground forces deployed in the KTO,
especially its best units, the Republican Guard. Although Iraqi forces
were dug into strong positions built to defend against ground attack,
they were vulnerable to air attack. Coalition planners hoped to reduce
the combat effectiveness of these forces in the KTO by about 50
percent before the ground offensive.
Military Storage and Production Sites
The long-term combat effectiveness of Iraq's large military forces
depended on military production facilities and continued support from
its logistical base. Destruction of repair facilities, spare parts
supplies, and storage depots would degrade Iraq's combat capability
and long-term threat to the region. Planners knew there were too many
targets to be eliminated entirely. For example, there were seven
primary and 19 secondary ammunition storage facilities alone
identified on target lists; each was composed of scores of individual
storage bunkers. Consequently, they planned first to destroy the most
threatening production facilities and stored materiel, then
methodically to proceed with attacks on other storage and production
facilities as time and assets allowed.
Constraints on the Concept Plan
Avoid Collateral Damage and Casualties
A key principle underlying Coalition strategy was the need to minimize casualties and damage, both to the Coalition and to Iraqi civilians. It was recognized at the beginning that this campaign would cause some unavoidable hardships for the Iraqi people. It was impossible, for example, to shut down the electrical power supply for Iraqi C2 facilities or CW factories, yet leave untouched the electricity supply to the general populace. Coalition targeting policy and aircrews made every effort to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage. Because of these restrictive policies, only PGMs were used to destroy key targets in downtown Baghdad in order to avoid damaging adjacent civilian buildings.
Off Limits Targets
Planners were aware that each bomb carried a potential moral and
political impact, and that Iraq has a rich cultural and religious
heritage dating back several thousand years. Within its borders are
sacred religious areas and literally thousands of archaeological sites
that trace the evolution of modern civilization. Targeting policies,
therefore, scrupulously avoided damage to mosques, religious shrines,
and archaeological sites, as well as to civilian facilities and the
civilian population. To help strike planners, CENTCOM target
intelligence analysts, in close coordination with the national
intelligence agencies and the State Department, produced a joint
no-fire target list. This list was a complication of historical,
archaeological, economic, religious and politically sensitive
installations in Iraq and Kuwait that could not be targeted.
Additionally, target intelligence analysts were tasked to look in a
six-mile area around each master attack list target for schools,
hospitals, and mosques to identify targets where extreme care was
required in planning. Further, using imagery, tourist maps, and human
resource intelligence (HUMINT) reports, these same types of areas were
identified for the entire city of Baghdad. When targeting officers
calculated the probability of collateral damage as too high, the
target was not attacked.
Only when a target satisfied the criteria was it placed on the target list, and eventually attacked based on its relative priority compared with other targets and on the availability of attack assets. The weapon system, munition, time of attack, direction of attack, desired impact point, and level of effort all were carefully planned. For example, attacks on known dual (i.e., military and civilian) use facilities normally were scheduled at night, because fewer people would he inside or on the streets outside.
CINCCENT planners estimated that, with odd weather and a specified
level of effort, Phases I-III would last approximately 18 days. The
main attacks of Phase I, the Strategic Air Campaign, would last about
six days; a lower level of effort, against strategic targets, would
continue throughout the remainder of the war to maintain pressure
inside Iraq, to reattack targets not previously destroyed, and to
attack newly discovered targets. The concentrated Phase II effort to
establish air superiority over the KTO would last approximately one
day; as was true for Phase I, a lower level of effort would continue
to keep enemy air defense suppressed. Phase III, designed to reduce
Iraqi combat effectiveness in the KTO by half, was to begin near the
end of the Phase II SEAD effort and was expected to complete its
objectives in about 10 to 12 days. Phase III attacks would continue
until the President directed the start of the Offensive Ground
Campaign. During Phase IV of Operation Desert Storm, air operations
were designed to support the ground maneuver scheme by flying
interdiction, battlefield air operations, and close air support (CAS)
sorties. Interdiction would continue against enemy artillery, rockets,
and reserve forces throughout the KTO. There was some planned overlap
of the phases (Table VI-1).
The original sequential air campaign execution was designed to reduce the threat to Coalition aircraft conducting Phase III, the systematic reduction of the Iraqi military forces in the KTO. With the increased amount of Coalition air power available in January, CINCCENT merged the execution of Phases I - III so Operation Desert Storm would begin with air attacks throughout the theater against the most crucial targets in each phase.
The predicted phase lengths were planning guidelines. CINCCENT built the Phase IV Offensive Ground Campaign plan on the assumption that air power alone would reduce Iraqi combat effectiveness in the KTO by about half. If all went as planned, Saddam Hussein and his forces in the Kuwait theater would be immobilized - unable to coordinate an effective defense, or to plan and execute-large-scale counter offensives. Continued attacks and restrikes would maintain desired levels of disruption. If the Offensive Ground Campaign became necessary, it would be fought on Coalition terms. There would not be months of fighting and thousands of casualties as some had predicted, or as Saddam Hussein hoped. The ground offensive would last only days and Coalition casualties would be lighter. Together, the air and ground campaigns would ensure destruction of the Iraqi army's offensive capability, and the Coalition's success. Referring to the Iraqi Army in the KTO, the CJCS said in January, "First we're going to cut it off; then we're going to kill it."
Preparing to Execute the Plan
The Joint Forces Air Component Commander
The historical problem of fragmented air operations command was
solved when the CINCCENT operations order (OPORD) assigned the CENTAF
Commander as the JFACC, responsible for planning the air campaign, and
coordinating, allocating, and tasking apportioned Coalition air
sorties to meet the theater objectives.
Although this concept had been used at least as early as World War 11, Operation Desert Storm was the first regional conflict in which the JFACC was established formally. The concept proved its value; JFACC planned, coordinated, and, based on CINCCENT's apportionment decision, allocated, and tasked the efforts of more than 2l700 Coalition aircraft, representing 14 separate national or Service components. He integrated operations into a unified and focused 43-day air campaign using the master attack plan (MAP) and the air tasking order (ATO) process, which provided the necessary details to execute the attack.
The Master Attack Plan
The JFACC's intent for the air campaign was set forth in the MAP and
the more detailed document derived from it, the ATO. The MAP was the
key JFACC internal planning document which consolidated all inputs
into a single, concise plan. CINCCENT had identified the crucial enemy
elements or centers of gravity which had to be attacked effectively to
achieve the President's stated objectives. From these centers of
gravity, planners identified the Iraqi targets sets and, with the help
of intelligence from a variety of agencies and institutions, set out
to identify and locate the crucial nodes as well as those making up
the bulk of the targets in each set. Using the concept of a strategic
attack - striking directly at each target set's crucial nodes - the
initial attack plan was developed. It focused on achieving desired
effects appropriate to each target set rather than each target. As a
subset of the CENTCOM joint target list, a JFACC master strategic
target list was developed using a target reference number system based
on the initial 12 target categories. However, the MAP did not merely
service the target lists; it required timely analysis of BDA, and
reflected changing target priorities, and other political and combat
MAP preparation reflected a dynamic JFACC process in which strategic decision making was based on objectives, CINCCENT guidance, target priorities, the desired effect on each target, a synthesis of the latest multi-source intelligence and analysis, operational factors such as weather, the threat, and the availability and suitability of strike assets. In putting together the MAP, the best weapon system to achieve the desired effect was selected - regardless of Service or country of origin and requested by the JFACC through CINCCENT if not already available in theater. Force packages were built to exploit enemy weakness and Coalition advantages (e.g., night operations, stealth, PGMs, cruise missiles, drones, attack helicopters, SOF, and airborne refueling).
The result was a relatively compact document (the first day's MAP was only 21 pages) that integrated all attacking elements into force packages and provided strategic coherency and timing to the day's operations. It consisted of the sequence of attacks for a 24-hour period and included the time on target, target number, target description, number and type of weapon systems and supporting systems for each attack package. The MAP drove the process.
The Air Tasking Order
The ATO was the daily schedule that provided the details and
guidance aircrews needed to execute the MAP. through a laptop
computer, it meshed the MAP with the air refueling plan. Weapon system
experts from the JFACC staff and field units worked together with
intelligence, logistics, and weather experts to add such details as
mission numbers, target identification, and, sometimes, ordnance loads
to the MAP. The weapon system experts included representatives from
all of the Services, the RAF, the RSAF and, during the war, other
Coalition air forces based on their degree of participation. Service
and Coalition representatives served both as planners and as liaisons
to their component or national staffs. Target assignments, route
plans, altitudes, refueling tracks, fuel offloads, call signs,
identification friend or foe codes, and other details were allocated
for every Coalition sortie.
The ATO was a two-part document. The first focused on targeting and mission data and EW/SEAD support. The second contained the special instructions on topics such as communications frequencies, tanker and reconnaissance support, Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) coverage, combat search and rescue (CSAR) resources, routes into and out of enemy airspace, and many other details. If they did not adhere strictly to the ATO, Coalition air forces risked air-to-air and surface-to-air fratricide, inadequate fighter and SEAD support, or inadequate tanker support to reach the target and return safely. The ATO allowed C2 elements to orchestrate combat and support operations. C2 elements such as the land-based Tactical Air Control Center (TACC), EC-130 Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Center (ABCCC), AWACS and E-2Cs functioned more effectively and efficiently because the ATO provided a single attack script. While including Navy aircraft flights into Kuwait or Iraq, the ATO excluded Navy sorties over water. It tasked some aircraft originating outside the CENTCOM AOR, such as B-52s based in Spain, England, and the continental United States (CONUS).
Incorporating the close hold, offensive air campaign ATO into the normal planning process was challenging. During the planning phase for Operation Desert Storm, all the information was loaded into a laptop computer in the SPG, carried to the CENTAF ATO division in the middle of the night, and connected to heavy duty printers used for the daily training ATOs. When the hundred-page-plus ATOs were printed, they were carried back to the SPG where they were reviewed for accuracy, packaged, transmitted electronically by secure channels, flown around the theater, and delivered to units that were to participate in the air campaign. As the enemy situation changed, the MAP and the ATO were refined continuously.
The ATO was very effective and successful, particularly for the initial, preplanned stages of the Strategic Air Campaign. However, the ATO did not respond as rapidly when air operations progressed and emphasis shifted to more mobile targets. This was caused by a lengthy planning cycle, the size and perceived complexity of the ATO, and dissemination delays caused by some forces' not having compatible equipment. In addition, the ATO planning cycle was out of phase with available BDA. Target selection and planning often were nearly complete before results of the previous missions were available. Plans were developed to use kill boxes, strip-alert aircraft, and uncommitted sorties in the ATO to ensure ATO execution flexibility and operational responsiveness.
Transition to Wartime Planning
As the offensive approached, the JFACC merged his special-access
planning program with the rest of his headquarters. The JFACC's
director of air campaign plans (DCP) determined the SPG's
compartmented nature was too cumbersome and that the planning process
should be part of the daily ATO processing and execution cycle.
An early January SPG reorganization satisfied that need by consolidating several planning functions to establish the Guidance, Apportionment, and Targeting Division (GAT). The Black Hole became the Iraqi Strategic Planning Cell - primarily responsible for the Strategic Air Campaign. It functioned as before in creating the MAP, but no longer was responsible for the mechanics of ATO processing and distribution. The JFACC combat operations plans division became the KTO Planning Cell - primarily responsible for direct attack on Iraqi forces in the KTO. Planning cells for electronic combat, counter-Scud and NBC attack planning, ARCENT ground operations liaison, and an analysis cell, rounded out the GAT staff.
The DCP also was given responsibility for the ATO division, as well as the Airborne Command Element division, whose officers flew on board AWACS and helped control the air war. The DCPIs responsibilities, therefore, encompassed planning, processing, and part of execution, with some people from every function participating in every other function. This organizational structure made it easier to carry the strategic focus of the air campaign from the MAP through the ATO to the AWACS mission director's console.
When the air offensive began, the DCP divisions began to operate on a 24-hour basis. The process began with CINCCENT guidance for adjustments to the air campaign plan passed through the JFACC 0700 staff meeting. Based on this guidance, the chief planners of the Iraqi/KTO planning cell created the MAP, which was approved by the DCP by 2000 that same day. Once approved, it was given to the intelligence division for aimpoint selection and verification for some specified targets. In other cases, planners and Navy, USMC, and RAF units selected aimpoints. Additional planning cell members transferred the MAP onto target planning worksheets (TPWs) and added details such as mission numbers required for processing the MAP into an ATO.
At 0430 the next day the TPWs were delivered to the ATO division, which worked out the details required to make the plan an executable ATO (e.g., airspace deconfliction, tanker routing, identification squawks, and special operating instructions). This information was then entered into the computer-aided force management system (CAFMS). Between 1700 and 1900, the final ATO was completed and sent to those units equipped to receive it electronically. The execution day the ATO covered began the next morning.
Three wars were going on each day - the execution war of today; the ATO building for tomorrow's war; and the MAP for the day-after-tomorrow's war. Weather, slow and limited BDA, the implications of Scud attacks and associated shifting of resources eventually compressed the three-day process into two. As a result, planners assumed more of the current operations tasks, improvised to work around BDA shortcomings, and developed a system to track the multitude of adjustments and changes to avoid unnecessary restrikes.
The ATO was much larger than the MAP, often more than 300 pages of text, and there were difficulties disseminating it. To transmit the ATO, the USAF deployed an existing electronic system, CAFMS, an interactive computer system for passing information that allows online discussion between the TACC combat operations section and combat units. CAFMS transmitted the ATO and real-time changes to most land-based units. However, CENTAF had problems using CAFMS to transmit the ATO to some B-52 units and aircraft carriers, in large part because of the complexity of the satellite relays to units outside the peninsula. Some problems were solved by extending CENTCOM's tactical super-high frequency satellite communications(SATCOM) network to include B-52 bases. After the MAP was written, planners rarely changed Navy sorties because of planning and communications concerns. Initially, this limited the flexible use of Navy air assets and resulted in USAF and USMC land-based air assigned to most short-notice changes.
The ATO reflects the USAF philosophy and practice for attack planning. The USAF focused on the potential for large-scale theater war and developed a system that allowed an orderly management of large numbers of aircraft. Because USAF doctrine separates intelligence, targeting, and flying functions, the ATO was designed to provide mission commanders with detailed direction about many aspects of the mission (including the target, weapon type, and strike composition, but not tactics).
Navy JFACC planning staff members provided targeting data before ATO dissemination through the Fleet satellite command net, and secure voice satellite telephone (INMARSAT). The Navy ultimately found the best way to distribute the final ATO and any strike support graphics and photos to the carriers was to use an S3 aircraft or a courier. There were acknowledged difficulties with the mechanics of disseminating the ATO because of the lack of interoperability between the carriers' data systems and CAFMS. Nevertheless, it would have been impossible to achieve the air campaign's success and conduct combat operations as they were fought without the MAP and ATO.
Planners built flexibility and responsiveness into operations by delegating most detailed mission planning to the wing and unit level. Some aircraft were held in reserve or placed on ground alert to allow quick response to combat developments, Scud launches or missile transporter sightings, convoys or troop movements, and newly discovered targets. Many aircraft were assigned to generic or regional target locations, such as kill boxes in the KTO, where they might receive detailed attack instructions from air controllers. Most aircraft had alternate targets that allowed flexible response to changes in weather or other developments in the tactical situation.
At the beginning of Operation Desert Shield force deployment, there essentially was no existing US military command, control, communications, and computer (C4) infrastructure in the region. By mid-January, the Coalition had established the largest tactical C4 network ever assembled. This network provided for the C2 of forces, dissemination of intelligence, establishment of an in-theater logistics capability and for myriad other combat service support activities such as personnel, finance, and EW. Despite this effort, the start of Operation Desert Storm made it clear the requirement for communications outstripped the capacity. This was especially true for the large amounts of imagery and intelligence data bases that needed to be transmitted throughout the theater. These products required large bandwidth capacity circuits for transmission. The available circuits simply were not able to handle the magnitude of data.
The Fleet pursued several initiatives to relieve some overloaded military circuits. One of the more effective innovations was use of INMARSAT to help with tactical communications. INMARSAT proved to be a vital link for coordinating the efforts of NAVCENT in the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and staff elements in Riyadh, for communicating directly with CINCCENT, and for coordinating ATO inputs with the Persian Gulf battle force commander in USS Midway. (A discussion of C3 is found in Appendix K.)
CENTCOM deception helped achieve the tactical surprise that set the
stage for defeat of Iraq. A visible pattern of round-the-clock air
activity was established as part of the overall deception plan.
Placement of air refueling tracks and training areas emphasized
support for a frontal assault against entrenched Iraqi defenses that
helped CINCCENT play on Iraqi beliefs about Coalition intentions.
The Iraqis were conditioned to the presence of large numbers of AWACS and fighter combat air patrols (CAPs) on the borders with Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. These aircraft flew defensive missions in the same orbits and numbers that would be used for the air offensive. A series of surges began to create a pattern of increased activity one night a week.
The final preparations for Operations Desert Storm were masked by placing many aircraft on ground alert. The published reason was as a precaution against a pre-emptive Iraqi attack before the 15 January UN deadline. The true reason was to permit mission planning, crew rest, and aircraft reconfigurations without revealing the Coalition's actual intentions. Ground alert weapons loads matched the loads listed in the ATO for the attack. However, F-1 5s flew daily operational CAP missions within EW coverage and could not stand down without leaving Saudi airspace unprotected and raising Iraqi suspicions. To maintain the desired Iraqi perception of routine Coalition operations, but also allow F-15 units to make final preparations, F1 6s not involved in the first attack were tasked to fill the defensive gaps. These and other Coalition deception efforts helped apply the principle of surprise in warfare.
On The Eve of the Air War
Disposition of Air Forces
At the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, there were 2,430
fixed-wing aircraft in theater, just more than one quarter of which
belonged to non-US Coalition partners. Thirty-eight days later, G-Day,
that number had grown by more than 350. Approximately 60 percent of
all aircraft were shooters, producing a relatively high tooth-to-tail
ratio in the theater.
USAF aircraft were bedded down throughout Saudi Arabia and the other
Gulf states, initially depending on where they could be received;
relocations were based primarily on each aircraft's role in Operation
Desert Storm. Some tanker assets, as well as unique reconnaissance
platforms such as the TR-1s, and U-2s, and specialized combat aircraft
such as the F-117As, EF-111s, and F-111Fs, were based at installations
near Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast. This increased security by keeping
them well away from areas that could be reached by a sudden Iraqi
pre-emptive strike. It also let them practice and refine most tactics
outside of Iraqi radar range.
Air superiority fighters, such as the F-15C, and air-to-ground aircraft, such as the F-15E, were based relatively close to the Iraqi border, where they had the greatest reach and were near long-duration CAP stations over Iraq. Finally, battlefield attack assets such as the A-10s also were based close to the KTO, to allow rapid reaction to battlefield events and improve their ability to generate a high number of sorties quickly. (The disposition of Air Force Special Operations Command, Central Command aircraft are in Appendix J.)
The operating areas of the aircraft carrier battle forces at the
beginning of Operation Desert Storm are shown on Map V1-4. The USS
John F. Kennedy (CV 67), USS Saratoga (CV 60), and USS America (CV 66)
battle groups operated in the Red Sea while the USS Midway (CV 41),
USS Ranger (CV 61), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) battle groups
operated in the Persian Gulf. USS America left the Red Sea on 7
February and arrived in the Gulf on 15 February to provide more air
support for ground forces in the ground offensive. Typically, with
three carriers present in the Red Sea early in the war, one carrier
operated in a northern station and one in a southern station while the
third replenished fuel and ammunition to the west.
In addition to the six carrier air wings, other Navy air assets in theater supported the Coalition effort. EP-3 and EA-3B aircraft conducted EW missions to support the strike offensive, while the P-3Cs conducted extensive reconnaissance, supporting maritime strike and Coalition maritime intercept operations.
In keeping with a Naval expeditionary posture, USMC aircraft were
based both on amphibious ships in the Gulf and at bases ashore. The
main operating bases ashore for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), the I
Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) aviation combat element, were at
Shaikh Isa, Bahrain, and at Al-Jubayl Naval Air Facility and King 'Abd
Al-'Aziz Naval Base, Saudi Arabia. Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 11,
based in Bahrain, was equipped with F/A-1 8A, C and D aircraft as well
as A-6E, EA-6B and KC-130 aircraft. MAG 16 and MAG 26, the helicopter
groups, initially were at Al-Jubayl with CH-46, CH-53, AH-11 and UH-1
aircraft. Later, before the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, some
helicopters were forward based at Al-Mishab to support the forward
movement of I MEF. MAG 13 (Forward) was at King 'Abd Al-'Aziz Naval
Base, with AV-8Bs and OV-10s. The AV-8Bs and OV-10 were the most
forward land-based fixed-wing aircraft of any Service. Forward bases
for both fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft also were established at
various locations throughout the theater. Three locations were
Tanajib, an ARAMCO facility 35 miles south of the Kuwait border,
Al-Mishab, 28 miles south of the border, and Lonesome Dove, a
logistics support base in the Saudi desert, also near the border.
Marine Air Control Group (MACG) 38 provided the Marine Tactical Air
Command Center, an alternate Tactical Air Command Center, a
ground-based Direct Air Support Center (DASC), a DASC Airborne
(DASC-A) in a KC-130, a Tactical Air Operations Control Center, an
associated early warning/control site, two I-HAWK missile battalions,
and two Stinger antiaircraft battalions.
Marine aircraft also were positioned on amphibious ships in the Persian Gulf as part of the Amphibious Task Force (ATF) under NAVCENT. MAG 40, the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) aviation combat element, had arrived in the Gulf in September. Its aviation assets included fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft (20 AV-8Bs, 24CH-46s, 14 CH-53s, 6UH-1Ns, and 15 AH-1s). The 13th MEU (SOC), under the operational control of 4th MEB, had an additional 12 CH-46s, four CH-53s, four AH-1s, and two UH-1Ns. In January, the 5th MEB arrived in the Gulf, bringing an additional six AV-8Bs, 24CH-46s, four CH-53s, 12 UH-1Ns, and 20 AH-1s to the ATF. The 5th MEB joined the 4th MEB, forming a major amphibious force that included 31 ships and more than 17,000 Marines and sailors in the landing force.
Joint Task Force Proven Force
During the first few weeks after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait,
Headquarters United States Air Forces Europe (USAFE) planners
developed a concept to base EW support at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.
They envisioned complicating Iraqi defensive efforts by diverting
attention electronically. The proposal eventually was endorsed by
European Command (EUCOM) and the CJCS. The proposal was briefed to the
Turks and discussions regarding authorization began.
Meanwhile, USAFE began to form the force package that eventually would coalesce at Incirlik as Joint Task Force (JTF) Proven Force, a composite wing (similar in concept to a Navy carrier air wing) of reconnaissance, fighter, bomber, tanker, EW, and C3 aircraft. The Commander-in-Chief Europe (CINCEUR) and CINCCENT agreed that while EUCOM would retain operational control, CENTCOM would exercise tactical control and provide targeting requirements and tactical direction.
On 21 December, the CINCEUR Crisis Action Team telefaxed an advance copy of the preliminary JTF Proven Force OPORD to Headquarters USAFE. Two days later, on 23 December, CINCEUR sent Headquarters USAFE the formal OPORD message. The CINCEUR OPORD tasked USAFE to appoint a JTF commander in the rank of major general, establish a staff to support the JTF commander, and coordinate air refueling, strike planning, and mission execution activities.
The first contingent of 39 JTF Proven Force headquarters personnel deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and arrived at Incirlik Air Base on 16 January. The next day, the Turkish Parliament empowered the Turkish government to use "those forces previously authorized (e.g. foreign military [forces] brought to Turkey since the Gulf Crisis) at the time and in the manner the government deems appropriate to carry out UN Security Council resolutions." The Turkish General Staff's rapid coordination and approval of airspace control, safe passage procedures, and air refueling tracks facilitated JTF Proven Force's entry into the air war.
JTF Proven Force was a powerful group of aircraft that included F-15s for air cover; F-16s for day strike; F-111Es for night strike; EF-111s, EC-130s and F-4Gs for EW and SEAD; KC-1 35s for aerial refueling; RF-4s for reconnaissance; and E-3Bs for airborne surveillance and C3.
To reduce the amount of detailed communication required between Riyadh and Incirlik, JTF Proven Force missions were planned as part of the MAP, but their tasking was not as detailed, and in some cases was similar to mission type orders, which provide broad guidance on an expected outcome, such as, "Destroy CW production facilities at Mosul." JTF Proven Force planners were assigned targets on the master target list and then determined force size, mix, and desired weaponry details normally included in ATO taskings for most other units. Their relative geographical isolation in northern Iraq allowed them to operate semiautonomously, and the amount of coordination they required with mission packages from other Coalition air forces was limited. JTF Proven Force conducted most of its operations north of At-Taji. This was primarily because its location allowed aircraft to reach targets in northern Iraq more readily than could the forces based in Saudi Arabia.
Once Operation Desert Storm began, B-52s deployed to Moron Air Base, Spain, came under EUCOM control and sometimes flew missions coordinated with JTF Proven Force. Later, more B-52s deployed to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom. The decision to fly bombing missions from this location came after approval was granted to fly over French territory carrying conventional weapons. Once bombers based at Fairford began flying in support of JTF Proven Force, bombers at Moron switched to targets near the southern Iraq/Kuwait border under CENTCOM control.
Other EUCOM forces deployed to Turkey as well. On 12 January, the Secretary of Defense authorized the deployment of two EUCOM Patriot batteries from Dexheim, Germany, to Turkey to provide air defense for Incirlik Air Base. By 22 January, six of the eight launchers and 43 missiles were in place and operational.
A large contingent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's
Allied Command, Europe, Mobile Forces (Air) deployed to Turkey to
deter an Iraqi attack. Eighteen Luftwaffe Alpha Jets deployed with
approximately 800 personnel. Three German reconnaissance aircraft also
arrived with about 125 support personnel.
The non-US Coalition partners made a valuable contribution to the success of the air campaign through diplomatic, logistic, and operational support. Some partners who, for various reasons, did not send air forces, provided overflight or basing rights which made support of the effort in theater possible.
Others provided air forces which reinforced the Coalition's capabilities in numerous ways. The RAF provided tactical fighter squadrons as well as helicopters, reconnaissance aircraft, tankers and transports. The Royal Canadian Air Forces (CAF) deployed air superiority and 9 round attack fighters available for defensive counter air missions, and support of ground forces. The French Air Force (FAF) provided tactical strike squadrons, air superiority fighters, tankers, transports, reconnaissance aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), and helicopters. The Italian Air Force deployed attack fighters, transports/tankers, and reconnaissance aircraft, available to conduct and support air intercept and interdiction missions.
The Gulf Cooperation Council states provided logistic and operational support, as well as air superiority and ground attack fighter aircraft available to fly offensive counter air, defensive counter air, and interdiction sorties. Air forces also were available to conduct refueling, airborne command and control (C2), reconnaissance, utility, and airlift missions.