Bastardization of Airpower

Marine Corps. Gen. James Mattis, commander of US Joint Forces Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, yesterday reasserted his objections to the strategic concept called effects-based operations, which proved wildly successful in Operations Desert Storm, Allied Force, and Enduring Freedom. Speaking at a symposium of the Reserve Officers Association in Washington, D.C, Mattis said EBO is a “sound approach” against “closed” systems, such as taking down a power grid, but has no place in “real war.” Where EBO “went wrong,” he said, is that it assumed war is predictable. However, human beings are unpredictable, some things are “not quantifiable,” and wars are simply a series of “muddling,” improvised responses to constantly changing conditions, he continued. The “American desire for certainty” must be resisted in combat, he said. Responding to a question from an Air Force officer, he called EBO “a bastardization” of what the Air Force does. (For more on Mattis and the EBO debate, read Improvisation Won’t Do It.)