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Old 06-07-2009   #21
slapout9
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Thanx for the response!

I'm an Air Traffic Controler within the Dutch Airforce, major, age 38. I will start with a joint internal study of the Dutch Defence School in August this year. One part of this study is a deeper knowledge of Air Power. Therefor I'm reading different books related to AP, for example Air Campaign, The War in the Air and The Path of Heaven.

As you know the Dutch are also involved in ISAF, with F16's and Transport and Attack Helicopters (AH64D and CH47). While I read the theories of John Warden I was wondering what AirPower could achieve in ISAF. While surfing on the internet I discovered your forum and thought; let's ask the experts!

And so I dropped my question.....

TS

(my initials of ATC)
TS, we like for new members to introduce themselves here at this link.
http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...t=1441&page=50

We do this for all new members so please do so when you can. After you do that I can give you some references to research. But in the meantime he is very well known over there and has lectured at your defense college (not sure what you call it). Anyway looking forward to the discussion. Slap
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Old 06-08-2009   #22
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Default Thanx!

Slap,

I replied your link and introduced myself on SWJ. You mentioned that John Warden lectured in the Netherlands, do you know when?

TS
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Old 06-08-2009   #23
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Slap,

I replied your link and introduced myself on SWJ. You mentioned that John Warden lectured in the Netherlands, do you know when?

TS
TS,would you like to talk to Colonel Warden yourself?
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Old 06-09-2009   #24
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Thumbs up Yes please!!

Of course I would like to speak to John Warden!

Next week we have different lectures about AP and one of these is the theory of John Warden. On Thursday 18th of June I have to start the lecture with a presentation. Therefor I want to know more about Warden in relation to COIN. FYI other speakers that week are Prof Dr Frans Osinga about OODA of John Boyd, Yaron Rosen about the Israeli War and John Olsen about DS and theory of Warden.

From the 22nd of June till the 3th of July we are in the USA at Maxwell AFB to do the simulation game of Air Campaign Planning. Will Col John Warden be interested in sharing his knowledge with us when we're visiting the USA...?

Thanx in advance for even trying to connect me with John Warden!!

Jan
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Old 06-09-2009   #25
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From the 22nd of June till the 3th of July we are in the USA at Maxwell AFB to do the simulation game of Air Campaign Planning. Will Col John Warden be interested in sharing his knowledge with us when we're visiting the USA...?

Thanx in advance for even trying to connect me with John Warden!!

Jan
Hi Jan,I think he would if he is not busy. Give me a couple of days to find out what he is doing. I will also send you a message with some research you may wish to review, I warn you up front there is a lot of reading in some of the reports. Also I live in Slapout,Al. just outside of Montgomery,Al. near Maxwell AFB so give me a call when you get over here and if you get some free time. Again give me some time for your request about Warden and I will get back with you and let you know what I found out. later Slap
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Old 06-15-2009   #26
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Default Colonel Warden and COIN

http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...4581#post74581

Glad to see somebody finally admit just how much Colonel Warden's theories have been used to win the War. Like I said Clear the skies,Hold the skies,Build an Air Bridge to the Objective
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Old 06-15-2009   #27
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Default Yeah, I noticed Petreaus met

Kayani on an Aircraft Carrier. And the reference to Blimps...
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Old 06-16-2009   #28
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Kayani on an Aircraft Carrier. And the reference to Blimps...
Ken, you see some of those Blimps
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Old 06-16-2009   #29
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Default Just the one.

That was enough...

Last edited by Ken White; 09-27-2009 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 05-24-2010   #30
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Default Colonel Warden On Iran

Washington Times interview with short quotes with Warden's views on Israel-Iran-US Options.


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...p-nukes/print/
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Old 03-05-2011   #31
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Default Airpower And Strategy By Retired USAF Colonel John Warden

Link to the article below. Read and find out why Airpower Theory has NOTHING to do with the Air Force, it is simply anything guided that moves through Air or Space regardless of which organization owns it or the platform from which it is launched. Also Wilf will have a fit as he takes Clausewitz to task and makes a good argument for "Bloodless Warfare."


http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchr..._04_warden.pdf
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Old 03-07-2011   #32
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Not really a lot new here, mostly a rehash of:

http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/a...les/warden.htm

and

http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/a...ttle/chp4.html

A synthesis of this "strategic paralysis" school of thought , combined with with Boyd's work is done in:

http://ebooks.gutenberg.us/AU_Press_...adok/fadok.pdf


The fundamental flaw in the Warden school of thought is that it is based on a fundamentally mechanistic view of systems theory. The only way you can "backplan" from a desired future state to the sequence of "centers of gravity" you have to break, is if there is a rigid cause and effect linkage amenable to such a decomposition.

There is a name for systems that do NOT exhibit that feature. "Complex". If you are trying to break simple systems with rigid cause and effect like power grids or supply chains then the Warden theory works great. Start trying to apply it to political systems and social networks and, well Aaron Barr of HBGary found out the hard way about how "the adversary gets a vote"

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/n...d-the-hive.ars

Airpower allows the simultaneous attack of key points in the adsersary system causing it to collapse. The more precise the ability to attack, the smaller the actualy kinetic effect required and the less the collateral damage.

The reality is that "centers of gravity" are not static and a true systems theory understanding of an adversary of any apprciable complexity is that they are not "mechanism" but "organisms" that do not simply and predictably collapse when "affected" but adapt, repair, re-orient, and exhibit unpredictable emergent responses.

A strategy based on the ability to predict the future - which is what is required in order to foresee a desired end-state, and determine a set of simultaneous actions that will result in an inexorable path to it - is not a realistic one. Despite how energetically we may wish it were so.
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Old 03-08-2011   #33
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Thumbs up Yes. Thank you.

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Originally Posted by pvebber View Post
The reality is that "centers of gravity" are not static and a true systems theory understanding of an adversary of any apprciable complexity is that they are not "mechanism" but "organisms" that do not simply and predictably collapse when "affected" but adapt, repair, re-orient, and exhibit unpredictable emergent responses.

A strategy based on the ability to predict the future - which is what is required in order to foresee a desired end-state, and determine a set of simultaneous actions that will result in an inexorable path to it - is not a realistic one. Despite how energetically we may wish it were so. (emphasis added / kw)
Two very important facts. Thanks for posting that.

Our desire for detailed instructions or a blueprint nowadays never ceases to amaze me. It's almost like people do not want to think...
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Old 03-08-2011   #34
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Air warfare strategy (real strategy!) becomes pretty interesting once it's being aimed at the enemy leadership's will (or ability to stay in power).

All else in air warfare is of rather secondary quality and ranges from support for army/navy (often very indirect) as lowly as to petty punishments.

Warden's airpower theory sounds to me like a) a misunderstanding and b) a surrender in face of the challenges. It's no wonder that many people are not convinced by him (and equally difficult to grasp why he's still famous!).


I wonder whether there's really no much better airpower strategist available (who's willing to publish something)?

Well, save for me, I think of myself as the great airpower strategist, of course. On the other hand, I thought I was a good driver until I wrecked my car without much outside help!

Last edited by Fuchs; 03-08-2011 at 01:11 AM.
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Old 03-08-2011   #35
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Default Warden's point is slightly different...

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Originally Posted by pvebber View Post
Not really a lot new here, mostly a rehash of:
pvebber-

Col Warden's point is only partially to re-hash his theory, but to point out that airpower (as Slap pointed out, this doesn't just mean the Air Force) can be used in "complex" situations as you call it.

Quote:
The fundamental flaw in the Warden school of thought is that it is based on a fundamentally mechanistic view of systems theory. The only way you can "backplan" from a desired future state to the sequence of "centers of gravity" you have to break, is if there is a rigid cause and effect linkage amenable to such a decomposition.

There is a name for systems that do NOT exhibit that feature. "Complex". If you are trying to break simple systems with rigid cause and effect like power grids or supply chains then the Warden theory works great. Start trying to apply it to political systems and social networks and, well Aaron Barr of HBGary found out the hard way about how "the adversary gets a vote"
So we should just give up on trying to understand the enemy? Warden's rings model is simply a way of depicting a system, complex or not. As Warden says in the article:

Quote:
Opponents are complicated things with many moving and static parts, but we can simplify our analysis by seeing them as a system, which means that they function in some reasonably connected manner.
In other words, we must somehow simplify the enemy into a system to understand it. How would you recommend understanding the enemy's political system?

Quote:
Airpower allows the simultaneous attack of key points in the adversary system causing it to collapse. The more precise the ability to attack, the smaller the actually kinetic effect required and the less the collateral damage.

The reality is that "centers of gravity" are not static and a true systems theory understanding of an adversary of any appreciable complexity is that they are not "mechanism" but "organisms" that do not simply and predictably collapse when "affected" but adapt, repair, re-orient, and exhibit unpredictable emergent responses.
An organism is any living system, or the highest level of cell organization (Nation Institute of Health). So no, they aren't static- and Warden isn't suggesting that. But we still need to simplify even a political "organism" into a system that we can understand if we are to affect it. Warden is also suggesting that the faster we hit a system (or organism) in a parallel attack, the less it can adapt and re-orient.

Quote:
A strategy based on the ability to predict the future - which is what is required in order to foresee a desired end-state, and determine a set of simultaneous actions that will result in an inexorable path to it - is not a realistic one. Despite how energetically we may wish it were so.
This is the point of Warden's article - that airpower is not being used as effectively as it could be because the accepted wisdom is that it is "too hard" to use it in complex systems, and that "everyone knows airpower won't work" in situation x (say COIN). He argues that this is because of our terminology and past history. He believes we can find ways to make it work if we try. Warden is arguing that we should try to make sure we keep our desired end state in mind. He also is arguing that if we can't find ways to reach our objectives quickly, we should consider if we should really should go to war.

Warden is arguing not that we need to predict the future, but that we should know what future we want to create.

Do you really think that our strategy should not try and foresee our desired end state?

V/R,

Cliff
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Old 03-08-2011   #36
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Default What else is war about?

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Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
Air warfare strategy (real strategy!) becomes pretty interesting once it's being aimed at the enemy leadership's will (or ability to stay in power).
What else is war about?

Quote:
All else in air warfare is of rather secondary quality and ranges from support for army/navy (often very indirect) as lowly as to petty punishments.
Hmm, how do you think the Wehrmacht, or say the Iraqi Military in 1991 felt about this? Pretty secondary quality huh...

Quote:
Warden's airpower theory sounds to me like a) a misunderstanding and b) a surrender in face of the challenges. It's no wonder that many people are not convinced by him (and equally difficult to grasp why he's still famous!).
Can you explain why you think this is a misunderstanding, or a surrender?

Quote:
I wonder whether there's really no much better airpower strategist available (who's willing to publish something)?
Warden's strategy worked out pretty well for us in Desert Storm - it pretty much allowed the US to achieve its objectives. I know that many folks in the ground services scoff his theories... but then again, he is an airpower strategist. He is pretty well respected in the USAF, and his theories are taught at the USAF professional schools.

I think part of the problem with Col Warden's theories is that people want to use them like an Army FM on the Military Decision Making Process, like a cook book rather than a guide.

I think there's plenty of airpower strategy out there - the doctrine is fairly well established.

V/R,

Cliff
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Old 03-08-2011   #37
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Originally Posted by pvebber View Post
A strategy based on the ability to predict the future - which is what is required in order to foresee a desired end-state, and determine a set of simultaneous actions that will result in an inexorable path to it - is not a realistic one. Despite how energetically we may wish it were so.
pvebber,
I don't know where you got the idea(you are not alone,many people believe that) that warden believes in predicting things as his chart on the Time Value of Action points out it is about "probabilities."

He has always warned about war being the most dangerous activity there is because of the unpredictability, it goes all the way back to his original publication of "The Air Campaign." Below is a link to a 2004 presentation warning about trying to predict the future.

http://www.ndu.edu/inss/symposia/joi...Warden-PPT.pdf
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Old 03-08-2011   #38
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Default Cliff Notes...

pvebber can answer for himself but, for your consideration:
Quote:
So we should just give up on trying to understand the enemy? Warden's rings model is simply a way of depicting a system, complex or not.
True, however there are two problems that must be addresssed -- and Warden and many smart guys who defend him do not bother to address them. First, the Rings model is also a simple way of depicting a system that may be more complex than some not so smart guys who try to use it realize. i.e. it can lead to mistakes. As yousaid above:
Quote:
I think part of the problem with Col Warden's theories is that people want to use them like an Army FM on the Military Decision Making Process, like a cook book rather than a guide.
Secondly, it can depict the system but as has been said, many things out there defy categorization as a system.
Quote:
In other words, we must somehow simplify the enemy into a system to understand it. How would you recommend understanding the enemy's political system?
I suggest that trying to understand the enemy's political system is often unnecessary -- it is also exceedingly difficult to get right, particularly if that system is conducted in another language and / or stems from a quite different culture. What is necessary from both a military and a strategic standpoint is relatively sure if basic knowledge of what that system does. 'What' needs to be known, 'why' and 'how' will most often be nice to have for diplomatic purposes but actually relatively useless for strategic or war purposes.
Quote:
...So no, they aren't static- and Warden isn't suggesting that. But we still need to simplify even a political "organism" into a system that we can understand if we are to affect it. Warden is also suggesting that the faster we hit a system (or organism) in a parallel attack, the less it can adapt and re-orient.
Without quibbling over details, I agree Warden has some good points. As did John Boyd. And Curtis LeMay. Or CvC, Jomini, De Saxe (probably one of the best of the bunch) and Subatai (certainly one of the 'winningest' of all time...). So do you and so do I -- a lot of folks do. None of us or of them has all the answers. I know neither you or Slap suggest that, I'm just reiterating it to point out that the principle sometimes gets lost behind the name. Warden is good but he's not the be all and end all; the Rings have applicability in some situation -- but not in all. Airpower (all source) is great but it also has limitations -- as does ground power or sea power...

My problem with John Warden or anyone who offers THE optimum solution (even though they add caveats, their primary pet rock shows in their pocket) is that I'm old and have yet to see any one trick pony win the dressage.
Quote:
He also is arguing that if we can't find ways to reach our objectives quickly, we should consider if we should really should go to war.
That's true, he always has -- and he rarely gets credit for that. I suspect his 'air power uber alles approach has a great deal to do with that and his valid points get obscured by that. Parochialism tends to draw parochial responses...
Quote:
Warden is arguing not that we need to predict the future, but that we should know what future we want to create.

Do you really think that our strategy should not try and foresee our desired end state?
In reverse order:

Our 'strategies' (multi polar plural ) have not done that at all well in 236 years. Fortunately, we muddle through rather well.

We aren't doing the present really well. The future may be a step too far. The Wardens of this world might be able to get there but those really smart guys are only about 20% of the grand total -- that other 80% of us have to be dragged along and herded like a batch of cats. Hard to get there from here. Really hard. Particularly with a governmental system that changes directions every 2 to 8 years (that annoys the daylights out of the Strategists...). We tend to get really serious (that applies to both domestic and foreign political as well as military issues) only when confronted with an existential threat and there are none of those in view at this time...

Last edited by Ken White; 03-08-2011 at 05:00 AM.
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Old 03-08-2011   #39
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Originally Posted by Cliff View Post
What else is war about?
Most warfare is not about directly breaking will, but about doing something that has an indirect effect on the enemy leadership's will, around several corners.

Quote:
Hmm, how do you think the Wehrmacht, or say the Iraqi Military in 1991 felt about this? Pretty secondary quality huh...
It's secondary quality because it requires a huge amount of effort and damage in order to reach the real goal very indirectly.

This time "indirect" does not mean "smart", it means "poorly aimed".

The meagre quality becomes more visible if you assume that the same would have been attempted with a copy of the Iraqi air force, negating the extreme disparity in resources. Hint: The Wehrmacht failed in 1940 against the British with pretty much the same as the U.S.A.A.F. attempted in 1942-1944.


Quote:
Can you explain why you think this is a misunderstanding, or a surrender?
He offers so many targets to attack that I can only conclude he failed to find the real lever.

Quote:
Warden's strategy worked out pretty well for us in Desert Storm - it pretty much allowed the US to achieve its objectives. I know that many folks in the ground services scoff his theories... but then again, he is an airpower strategist. He is pretty well respected in the USAF, and his theories are taught at the USAF professional schools.
None of this is really an argument in itself, especially not the firs ton, for his actual proposal for Desert Storm had been rejected in favour of a less fancy one - and that one produced some interesting and unanticipated effects.

Quote:
I think part of the problem with Col Warden's theories is that people want to use them like an Army FM on the Military Decision Making Process, like a cook book rather than a guide.

I think there's plenty of airpower strategy out there - the doctrine is fairly well established.

V/R,

Cliff
There's almost always something "well established". Infantry and cavalry doctrine were "well established" in 1913.

The actual air power in use was
- successful in Iraq 1991 with an extreme resource disparity in near-perfect terrain
- semi-successful at most with various punitive strikes during the 1990's
- successful in Yugoslavia 1999 with an extreme resource disparity, yet still thoroughly embarrassed tactically, technically and strategically.
- successful in Afghanistan 2001 with a total resource disparity that didn't even encounter noteworthy resistance
- successful in Iraq 2003 with 'beyond extreme' resource disparity in very good terrain, but still with major gaffes
- failing in Iraq 2003-2007 with total resource disparity against an elusive enemy
- failing in Afghanistan 2005-2011 with total resource disparity against an elusive enemy (probably even with a negative net effect!)


Well, if I go to a funfair and easily pling all targets there, and tomorrow I go into the wilderness with a shotgun and miss almost all the rabbits, hitting many trees, squirrels and cats instead - does this mean that my marksman skill is well established and satisfactory?


The only thing that's well established is the orchestration/'synchronisation' of strike packages.
Airpower strategy of the last two decades has been a joke; I saw only a primitive application of brute force.
The whole idea of elegance is totally gone missing because too many resources were at hand for too many conflicts.


---------------------

Just an example; scenario 1999 Kosovo Air War against Yugoslavia, what I would have done:
(1) negotiate an electricity embargo against Yugoslavia by all neighbours, employ observers along the high voltage power lines.
(2) Take out all powerplant turbine rooms in Yugoslavia (save for the one of the nuclear power plant; instead cut its nodes in a safe distance) with a single B-2 sortie (JDAMs were already available).

Offer a deal:
Yugoslavia re-establishes autonomy for Kosovo and accepts foreign (military) police forces of its choice (no more than 50% slavs, though) as reinforcements for a mostly prejudice-free maintenance of security in Kosovo.
NATO repairs the damage ASAP and asks the neighbours to lift the electricity embargo.

How many months would they have accepted a life with electricity restricted to hospitals, the upper class residence area of Belgrade and state buildings? In resistance to what? Basically a gift!
I guesstimate they wouldn't have accepted it for much longer than they endured the resistance-provoking bombardment.

THIS is elegant strategy.
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Old 03-08-2011   #40
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My problem with John Warden or anyone who offers THE optimum solution (even though they add caveats, their primary pet rock shows in their pocket) is that I'm old and have yet to see any one trick pony win the dressage.That's true, he always has -- and he rarely gets credit for that. I suspect his 'air power uber alles approach has a great deal to do with that and his valid points get obscured by that. Parochialism tends to draw parochial responses... In reverse order:
Warden is also terrible when it comes to using historical examples to "prove" his points. His "The Air Campaign" is riddled with poor examples and things massaged to fit. His guide is flawed in that he really doesn't admit that airpower has any limitations and totally ignores the "soft" aspect of airpower (where I think it can have a greater impact, especially in wars that fall below the "toe to toe nuclear combat with the Ruskies" level). I use his book as a class textbook simply because it's one of the few accessible works out there, but it generates good discussion every time.
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