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Air Power as a Coercive Instrument

by Ian O. Lesser Keith Crane Seth G. Jones Rollie Lal John G. Mcginn Daniel Byman

Coercion--the use of threatened force to induce an adversary to change its behavior--is a critical function of the U.S. military. U.S. forces have recently fought in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, and the Horn of Africa to compel recalcitrant regimes and warlords to stop repression, abandon weapons programs, permit humanitarian relief, and otherwise modify their actions. Yet despite its overwhelming military might, the United States often fails to coerce successfully. This report examines the phenomenon of coercion and how air power can contribute to its success. Three factors increase the likelihood of successful coercion: (1) the coercer's ability to raise the costs it imposes while denying the adversary the chance to respond (escalation dominance); (2) an ability to block an adversary's military strategy for victory; and (3) an ability to magnify third-party threats, such as internal instability or the danger posed by another enemy. Domestic political concerns (such as casualty sensitivity) and coalition dynamics often constrain coercive operations and impair the achievement of these conditions. Air power can deliver potent and credible threats that foster the above factors while neutralizing adversary counter-coercive moves. When the favorable factors are absent, however, air power--or any other military instrument--will probably fail to coerce. Policymakers' use of coercive air power under inauspicious conditions diminishes the chances of using it elsewhere when the prospects of success would be greater.

Disjointed War: Military Operations in Kosovo 1999

by Bruce R. Pirnie Walter L. Perry John G. Mcginn John Gordon Bruce Nardulli

An examination of the 1999 conflict in Kosovo, with a focus on joint military operations. The 1999 military operation against the Yugoslav Army in Kosovo suggests several areas in which Joint military operations were deficient. This study examined all aspects of the Kosovo conflict,including its political and historical underpinnings, in an attempt to understand these deficiencies and to recommend improvements. This document--provided in both a classified and unclassified version--is based on extensive original source documents and interviews with most of the principal participants, and serves as the definitive Army record on Kosovo. While the primary focus of the research was on U.S.Army involvement, it covered many other aspects of Operation Allied Force. Topics included NATO objectives in Operation Allied Force, air and ground planning, evolution of the air operation and its effects on fielded Yugoslav forces, Task Force Hawk, and peace operations. The 1999 military operation in Kosovo suggests several areas in which Joint military operations were deficient. This study examines all aspects of the Kosovo conflict, with a focus on U.S. Army involvement, including its political and historical underpinnings, in an attempt to understand these deficiencies and to recommend improvements.

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