Thursday, March 10, 2011

Note from the President: Desert Storm, Goldwater

AFA members, Congressional staff members, civic leaders, DOCA members,

This year is the 20th year anniversary of Operation Desert Storm. In recognition of this, the Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies held a session with Gen (Ret) Charles A. Horner and Lt Gen (Ret) David A. Deptula. The Director of the Institute, Dr. Rebecca Grant, was the moderator.[Special thanks goes to Lockheed Martin Corp for helping us sponsor the event.] We put a transcript of the event on the Mitchell Institute part of our website.

A few quotes to interest you - all from Gen Horner:

… you'll hear terms like boots on the ground, you've probably heard that one. You'll hear terms like force on force. And what it says is this. It says that the reason we have military forces is to engage the enemy military forces. And it leads to things like attrition warfare.

You've got to be careful how you think about things. And quite frankly, ground forces, boots on the ground, carpet bombing, all those sayings that go with the land generals may or may not be accurate, but you as individuals, particularly the young guys, when you get in a situation of war you've got to think. You need to study your history; you need to study what's gone on in other wars and in the past. That to me is one of the most valuable lessons of Desert Storm.

Airpower is very dependent and leverages technology probably better than any other service other than space. We catch a lot of hell for it because it's expensive. But if you think about the impact of stealth, precision munitions, ISR, we've fundamentally changed the way wars are fought and the way that people die in battle. That's a good thing. But we've got to continue with our technology development.

Vietnam, they picked the targets in Washington. That was one thing I was very sensitive about in Desert Storm. I was not going to allow any target - I didn't care where we got information from. That was not the point. It was up to the Black Hole to nominate the targets and then it was up to the people executing the war to strike them or not strike them depending on how things changed.

Strategy. Everybody studies strategy. If you don't have good political objectives then it doesn't matter what strategy you have. You're not going to succeed. So that's why the military has to be involved in the political objectives of the conflict. This is where the senior guys have to suck it up.

We tend to view our enemies as we view ourselves. You've got to understand culture. Where we screwed up with the Iraqis is we tended to think they think like we do.

We ignore the support which is the foundation of air power. I'm talking about maintenance, supply; I'm talking about the bio-engineers. We deployed to the Middle East. I'd go down to Al-Dafra, and even the docs were standing in line at the porta potties holding up IVs. They're giving themselves IVs, waiting for their turn to go into the crapper. What happened is they got some bad ice and the whole base went down, boom, just like that.

We also did not have State Department participation. The end of the war came and they said Schwarzkopf, go negotiate with the enemy. He said that's not my job. My job is to kill them. You send somebody else up there. They said we don't have anybody else. We never thought about it. So he had to go up there. Then of course they got to fly and we saw what happened to the uprising.

The other thing that really was great was the coalition cooperation we had. The coalition really worked, and I was worried about that because if you read the history of World War II, the hardest thing you have is being in a coalition. Then quite frankly, our service cooperation was very, very good. Walt Boomer is a hero. Stan Arthur is a hero. And John Yeosock was my roommate. The only problem we had was the underling generals that would try and stir the pot. But that was great.

The piece is long - 19 pages on my printer and can be found at:

Secondly, there is scholarship funding available from lots of sources. AFA also has many programs [see:]. But there is one that I want to bring to your attention that has a special relationship with AFA and with which many of you might not be aware - the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program. Sen Barry Goldwater was the Chairman of the Board of the Aerospace Education Foundation (AEF) from 1975-1986. The AEF combined with AFA in 2007.

The Foundation awards undergraduate scholarships to outstanding students, known as Barry M. Goldwater Scholars, in the spring. The awards are made on the basis of merit to two groups of students--those who will be college juniors and those who will be college seniors in the next academic year--who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. Four-year institutions are eligible to nominate up to four students who are in the sophomore or junior class during the academic year. Two-year institutions may nominate up to two students who are sophomores during the academic year. To be considered, a student must be nominated by his or her college or university using the official online nomination process on the Foundation's website. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 annually.

For more information, see:

For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association


Anonymous said...

Gen horner shows why he iui a general

He shows the stuff needed tor replacev gates

don bagb


Mike Laughlin said...

Points by Gen Horner are succinct and fundamental. Have copied and printed so I can keep on target ... and hopefully influence others as hard won experience fades....

Mark Wynn said...

... and read the 19 pages. Nice job by President Dunn in pulling the key messages. That's what I saved.