Monday, September 24, 2007

Air Force planning for Iran strikes

Here's an interesting report about a supposedly secret Air Force working group drawing up plans for an air campaign against Iran:

This is interesting on several levels., but there may be less to the report than meets the eye. It looks like this is an Air Force show, so I'm not sure whether it's an actual planning group or a mere planning exercise. The planners don't seem to be working for the commander who would actually be conducting the campaign and jointness would normally mean that the Navy would be involved in the planning as well.
On the other hand, the Air Force is the one service that seems to believe, institutionally, that it can win a war all by itself, so there is some scope for concern if they're able to persuade the administration that some kind of "victory" or "success" is possible. Any war with Iran would necessarily have to rely on airpower, the Army being otherwise engaged.
The article mentions that they want to add a touch of "brilliance" to the planning. Now, there's nothing wrong with a little brilliance, of course, but a lack of tactical brilliance has not been our problem of late. Our conventional military superiority is so profound, that it's hard to see how being even more brilliant will make any difference in the outcome. If you're playing a High School JV football team would having Tom Brady's Patriots make any noticeable difference compared to having the Buffalo Bills on the field?
No, there can be absolutely no doubt that the U.S. can do whatever it wants from the air, destroying anything it can find while taking minimal losses. The question is what comes after that? What's the political outcome we desire and how is it brought about? Grand strategy has been our weakness and there's no hint that's about to change.


  1. Ahhhhhhhem.

    Would it surprise you to learn that the U.S. military has contingency plans for every region of the world?

    Every once in a while they dig out the blueprint for waging war in various parts of the world and update them. This does not rise to the level of conspiracy, it is merely good responsible planning.

    If they waited to the last minute to form the plan you would be leading the charge, charging incompetence.

  2. No shit.
    Naturally, having spent three decades in the service, and having some familiarity with some actual war plans, I'm quite aware that we have many contingency plans. This is a good thing. As a matter of fact, if Bush had actually USED the contingency plans we had for Iraq, things might possibly have turned out better.
    As it turns out, of course "they waited until the last minute to form the plan" (when they had a plan at all). So I suppose you agree that they were, indeed incompetent.
    My concern is not that there's planning. Planning is necessary. I'm worried that the planning is misdirected, concentrating on the tactics (where we already have overwhelming superiority) instead of the strategic questions (where we've been dunderheaded).

  3. If only they would consult the bloggers maybe, just maybe, amateurish military planners could see the big picture.

  4. When one cannot address the substance of a controversy there's always the old standby of the ad hominum attack, eh?
    As it turns out, we don't need to rely on some mere blogger for critiques of the administration strategy. There's been no shortage of experts, from flag officers to the Army war college to think tanks to academics to congresional studies to the military's own war plans to provide such a critique, either explicitly or implicitly.
    It's hardly an overstatement to say that the Bush administration has disregarded the views of almost everybody who actually has some expertise.
    Instead it's relied on the viewpoints of neocon pundits and Iraqi ex-pats and self-styled "tough guys" (virtually none of whom who have actually served in the militarty).
    It's not the job of the military planners to see the "big picture." That's the job of the "National Command Authority." As it turns out, the NCA hasn't been doing a particularly good job of it.

  5. That was an attack?

    Are these the same experts who said Reagan was a mad cowboy who would destroy the world by building a military, and the peaceful, lovable, non-confrontational, misunderstood Soviet regime wouldn't be our enemy if only we disarm?

    Why yes. I believe they are.

  6. Actually, no, they are NOT those people. I don't believe the Army War College, Anthony Cordesman, Generals Zinni, Clark or Shinseki, Bill Buckley, George Will, etc. were among those saying Reagan was a mad cowboy or the Soviet Union was a nation of teddy bears.
    Come out of the bubble, my friend, and deal with facts instead of jousing with strawmen.
    I don't pay attention to the Ramsey Clarks of the world, either. But when real,actual experts (as opposed to blowhards and pundits) say something, I think they're worth a listen. Try it sometime. So far you simply repeat talk radio junk. Can you cite any, like facts, to rebut anything I've said?
    Losing this war will be a disaster, but it doesn't appear Bush and company have ever been serious about winning it.