Returning to Lessons Learned

The US has forgotten some of the lessons learned during Desert Storm, warned the dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute. “It would behoove us to revisit some of the tenets that allowed us to be so successful and apply them today,” retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula noted in an interview with Air Force Magazine. During Desert Storm, the US used a parallel warfare approach—in which aircraft attacked many key targets simultaneously—and planned actions based on the desired outcome, said Deptula, who was the principal attack planner for the coalition air campaign at the time. The senior military leadership “was very focused and had established clear and concise strategic objectives,” he said. However, in more recent conflicts, objectives have been muddied, he said. “Now, in the case of the Islamic State, we don’t even have a coherent strategy, and we’re unfortunately reverting to the kind of gradualistic approaches that were so unsuccessful in Vietnam,” Deptula said. “You start at the end game and you work backwards. You don’t start just randomly attacking targets because there’s a target that presents itself.”