Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Checkmate and "The Black Hole"

Guest blogger Liz Scott provides a summary of the session, "Checkmate and the 'Black Hole'", with Colonel John A. Warden III, USAF (Ret.).

Colonel Warden discussed the inception of Checkmate and the planning of Gulf War I, as well as the major lessons learned.

Checkmate began due to the lack of an offensive planning cell.  The nation had spent most of its time planning defensive strategy.

When Kuwait was invaded, Colonel Warden was able to create an offensive plan quickly and effectively.  He attributes the success of the planning and the Gulf War I to four main principles:

1.  Open Planning:  This allowed for plenty of people to be included in the discussion.  "someone in the room has the answer!"  Also people take ownership of the issue.  Some people who were involved in the strategic planning were also responsible for the tactical implementation.

2.  Philosophical Consistent Planning:  This allowed for center of gravities to be identified and the war to be philosophically focused.

3.  Value in a Washington Based Planning Group:  Critical info exists there and it is difficult to access from the outside.  Once the plan was sent out to the field, Checkmate was only there to advise and no longer directive in nature.

4.  Air Power and Air Campaign Efficacy:  The heart of Gulf War I and the reason it lasted only 42 days!

Colonel Warden's main concept was an umbrealla approach to war planning.  Get the strategy right and give an over arching plan to the operators and let the operators figure out how to do their job!

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