STATEMENT OF: LIEUTENANT GENERAL MARVIN R. ESMOND
DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF
AIR AND SPACE OPERATIONS
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I thank you for the opportunity to appear today and testify on the significant lessons the Air Force learned from ALLIED FORCE.
Core competencies are the basic areas of expertise the United States Air Force maintains and provides to the National Command Authorities. The Air Force maintains six core competencies, all enabled by command and control. They are the capabilities that aid a joint force to perform the military tasks required to achieve political and military objectives. Each particular core competency is not necessarily unique to the Air Force, but collectively they represent what aerospace forces uniquely provide to the commander of an operation. ALLIED FORCE established a historical precedent as the first-ever conflict of such size fought almost exclusively by aerospace power. Thus in reviewing ALLIED FORCE, a campaign designed for and executed by aerospace power, it seems appropriate to use aerospace core competencies to facilitate this effort.
Air and Space Superiority
General Michael Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff, has said, "We cant lose sight of the fact that air superiority is the enabler for everything else that we do." NATO sought and achieved air superiority at the start of combat operations and retained it throughout the air war over Serbia. Additionally, NATO achieved air supremacy in the skies over friendly forces within days from the onset of operations. Our widely dispersed forces never had to endure an air attack, a luxury not afforded Serb forces.
Although the physical destruction of the Serbian Integrated Air Defense System (IADS) proceeded at a slower than desired (or expected) pace, the benefits of air superiority were clear--with over 38,000 sorties, only two NATO aircraft were downed by enemy defenses and there were no combat casualties. "Against a well-equipped, well-trained air force and integrated air defense system, we essentially owned the air. [The Serb IADS] went into a mode of trying to hide We forced it to become essentially ineffective." (General Michael Ryan, Air Force Chief of Staff).
This is not to say that the U.S. Air Force was satisfied with its suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses. It was not. NATO encountered a capable enemy who used innovative tactics. Serbian forces were still firing surface-to-air missiles on the last day of the war. The Allies were unable to knock out that capability because of the camouflage, concealment, and deception (CC&D) efforts of the Serbs. The uncertainty this presented caused us to alter our tactics. The Air Force needs to find and kill non-cooperative defensive systems much more effectively than it can today. As General Richard Hawley, former Commander of Air Combat Command, said, "Maybe one of the issues that needs to be examined in the aftermath of this action is, Have we appropriately prioritized our research and development activities in order to take out an uncooperative IADS?"
In the future, air forces may still be held at risk by more effective and sophisticated
enemy air defenses than those the Serbs fielded. To avoid this, the Air Force must develop air superiority systems that can operate freely in a hostile environment, seek out and fix critical IADS nodes, and effectively attack enemy air defenses.
Space Superiority. Throughout this conflict, space capabilities supported precision engagement, information superiority, and global attack requirements. Innovative, non-traditional applications of infrared systems suggest even greater tactical and operational applications for systems such as the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS). According to General Richard Myers, Commander in Chief, U.S. Space Command, "In terms of using space assets, this was probably the best weve donesurely superior to Desert Storm from everything we can learn. But theres still a long way to go before space is really integrated with the rest of the campaign."
Space superiority was assumed from the start of hostilities. In this operation space was a neutral sanctuary that both the United States and Serbia used to their own advantage. Serbia did not threaten the United States space capabilities. However, the heavy U.S. reliance upon space today reflects a dependence that is expected to grow in the future. It is important that future operations characterize the space threat as is currently done for land, sea, and air and assess actions needed to gain and maintain space superiority.
Clearly, this was the most precise conflict of this size ever fought. Over 70% of the weapon aim points (Desired Mean Points of Impact or DMPIs) were attacked with preferred munitions. Major General Charles Wald, Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy on the Joint Staff, vividly described and displayed the effectiveness of NATOs precision engagement capabilities against fixed targets in the Serbian theater in his daily Department of Defense briefings. The extraordinary pinpoint accuracy of the NATO air forces delivery of precision-guided munitions was impressive. Close to 50% of all the precision munitions employed by U.S. assets were laser guided munitions delivered by F15Es and F16CGs. These weapons plus conventional air-launched cruise missiles and Maverick air-to-surface missiles again proved their value. GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions added significantly to our all-weather precision strike potential. Continued acquisition of this highly successful munition combined with efforts to integrate it on more of our strike assets promises even more capability in the near future. The U.S. Air Force is well along a modernization path which will ensure the vast majority of our strike assets are capable of delivering precision munitions in good weather or bad and at day or in darkness.
Integrating Technologies and Tactics. The timely integration of technologies and tactics used to locate and destroy an uncooperative enemya component of an Integrated Air Defense System (IADS) that isnt radiating or mobile ground forces that arent engaged in combatblends precision engagement capabilities with near real-time responsiveness. Some of these technologies, like the U-2 Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System (ASARS) employed with the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS), are already fielded. Others require further modernization and/or changes in employment tactics to realize their full potential. Lieutenant General Michael Short, Allied Force Combined Force Air Component Commander, suggested the A-10 needs a night targeting and infrared navigation system to maximize its performance. In the absence of engaged friendly ground forces, General Hawley urged the Air Force and joint planners to "think about very light ground forces as a facilitator for airpower, rather than airpower as a facilitator for heavy ground forces." Such forces might provide real-time targeting information or employ remote sensors, special operations targeting elements, or unconventional human intelligence collectors. Systems, structures, and procedures for command and control, communications, computers, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) must be adequate to the mounting requirements for precision information to support precision weapons.
Collateral Damage. An expected (and desired) outcome of accurate munitions is reduced collateral damage. Collateral damage in this war was remarkably light, especially when one realizes that NATO flew thousands of strike sorties for over ten weeks. This was true even when accounting for the relatively few but highly publicized anomalies. The lack of collateral damage was directly related to the detailed target planning process, the increasing accuracy of precision guided munitions (PGMs) and the proficiency of U.S. and Allied aircrews. With less than 1% of strike missions producing collateral damage incidents, NATOs success with precision engagement and minimal collateral damage was a key factor in holding the Alliance firmly together during the bombing. The benchmark for high bombing accuracy and low collateral damage, however, may create unrealistic expectations for political leaders and the public at large in future air operations fought under very different circumstances. A requirement for 24-hour, all-weather precision engagement, in addition to traditional bombing, would necessitate changes in the development and acquisition of weapon systems and munitions, their associated costs, and the training requirements they drive.
All-weather precision-guided munitions were expended at a tremendous rate during the war, depleting stocks below planned levels. These should be replaced and the high consumption rates considered as part of a comprehensive review of all future weapons requirements.
In future operations, information warfare planners should contribute to the establishment of a comprehensive, theater-wide, joint and combined Information Warfare (IW) architecture that supports the joint commanders objectives and effects desired at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. The USAF operated a first-ever distributed ISR architecture, providing actionable information to the decision makers. Employing distributed operations, targeting and intelligence support was accomplished between units located at Beale (CA), Omaha (NE), Washington, Ramstein, HQ SHAPE, and several other sites located overseas and CONUS supporting real-time operations. To successfully support the expeditionary nature of our forces, we must continue to invest in systems and the architecture to support these type of distributed real-time operations.
Distributed operations enable the Air Force to minimize its forward footprint thus reducing force protection concerns, exploit its technical expertise via electronic connectivity (moves bytes not personnel), and fuse data from multi-INT sensors and platforms. They also relieve a significant airlift burden during critical periods. Such a construct is imperative for an Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF) to achieve and sustain Information Superiority. The critical enabler is on-demand, assured communication capabilities.
As a subset of both air superiority and information superiority, many of the air campaign participants saw the need for new measurement and signature techniques that could accurately locate IADS elements whose radars are not transmitting or are in hiding. Many of our current electronic combat systems are geared to technologies that are rapidly being replaced in the marketplace by state-of-the-art technology. Additionally, there may be value in researching ways to augment and improve our airborne jamming capabilities.
Battlespace Awareness. Battlespace awareness enhances the ability to plan and execute the mission of putting bombs on targets. It is the fundamental element of the "monitor-assess-plan-execute" cycle of air campaigning. The critical need for effective battlespace awareness was most apparent as NATO tried to locate and destroy the hidden IADS and ground forces in Kosovo. The alliance brought a tremendous amount of ISR capability to bear during the air war over Serbia, often under demanding circumstances, and those assets provided unprecedented battlespace awareness. However, from sensor-to-shooter, the Air Force must do a better job of quickly focusing the aircrews eyes and weapons on the targets. Information superiority requires improved battlespace awareness support tools to enhance tasking, processing, exploitation, and dissemination (TPED) of the data throughout all level of conflict. Particularly noteworthy was the ability of the Combined Air Operations Center to generate a combined force ISR battle management plan that mirrored the air tasking order with supporting ISR sorties and activities.
Low Density/High Demand (LD/HD). The allies relied heavily on a number of Air Force LD/HD systems as critical combat enablers throughout the operation. Most, but not all of these, were intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets supporting the information superiority core competency. Air Force command and control (C2), ISR, special operations forces (SOF), and combat search and rescue (CSAR) assets were used throughout the operation to support Joint and Allied operations. Because of the already high level of ongoing steady state commitments, many units operated at or above wartime surge levels and curtailed home station training. In some cases, too, the Air Force mobilized Reserve Component assets in order to conduct assigned missions. We must continue to develop operational concepts that provide robust LD/HD capability to the CINCs in a way that is both affordable and leverages modern technological advancements.
Reconstitution. Operation ALLIED FORCE (OAF) was the first major operation weve conducted with the post-Cold War force structure. The sum total of OAF and ongoing contingency operations equaled a Major Theater of War (MTW) level of effort for many portions of the Air Force. The combined effects of a smaller force structure, reduced forward basing, and a high level of ongoing steady-state contingency operations, created severe and lasting impacts on some USAF units and personnel. These adverse impacts to our readiness prompted the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to establish a reconstitution plan using the Expeditionary Aerospace Force (EAF) force management tools. This reconstitution effort is expected to continue through the end of calendar year 1999. The enduring lesson is that while we are skilled at conducting sustained deployed operations, there is a bill to pay in terms of readiness that includes expendables, spare parts, and personnel costs such as training, rest, and recovery.
Nothing so well represented the Air Force capability to conduct global attack in the air war over Serbia as our B-2s delivering precision-guided munitions via 29-hour missions from Missouri to Yugoslavia and back. As with any global attack sortie, superb tanker support facilitated these operations. The combination of on-board systems and GPS guidance on the B-2 proved even more accurate than planners had expected. This meant the B-2 could precisely engage multiple targets per sortie, destroying a disproportionate share of total targets in some of the most heavily defended areas of the conflict.
Other global attack assets like the B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress deployed forward and conducted extensive operations from Fairford Air Base, England. The heavy payload capability of the B-52 and B-1 brought massive firepower to bear against the Serbs in the form of inexpensive unguided bombs. These two platforms delivered over 70% of the non-precision munitions dropped by U.S. assets in ALLIED FORCE. The B-52s precision-guided Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missiles also provided a much needed stand-off strike capability, which was especially crucial in the opening days of the conflict.
Continued near-term modernization will provide several types of GPS precision weapons to the B-52, B-1, and B-2 giving them even greater employment flexibility. Additionally, use of the Multiple Source Tactical System (MSTS) provided real-time intelligence in the B-1 cockpit. This was a near real-time flex targeting prototype capability. A more permanent, rapid information classification solution should be pursued for all bomber platforms.
The Air Force also demonstrated its Global Attack capability by rapidly augmenting in-theater attack aircraft with CONUS stationed forces. The Air Force's ongoing expeditionary force structure realignment will further enhance this rapid-response expeditionary capability.
The overall performance of these weapon systems reinforced the benefits of a family of offensive platforms in a mix of forces made available to apply airpower anywhere in the world.
Rapid Global Mobility
The U.S. Air Forces ability to provide rapid global mobility proved key to NATOs
responsiveness throughout the war. The air mobility system simultaneously supported the increase of theater forces from three to ten wings during the air campaign, performed a major humanitarian relief operation, and deployed Task Force Hawk. Air mobility forces deployed to locations such as the international airport at Budapest and supported the build-up of bare bases at Balikesir and Bandirma in Turkey and Durres and Tirana in Albania.
Airlift requirements and command and control functions increased due to the rapidly changing nature of the air war over Serbia. These changes, such as the doubling of deployed air units and the high use of precision weapons, drove significant changes to movement plans. As a result, planners were forced to use airlift rather than slower surface transportation. According to General Tony Robertson, Commander in Chief, United States Transportation Command and Commander of Air Mobility Command, "U.S. foreign policy doesnt happen without air mobility This was USAFEs and USEUCOMs war and air mobility played a frontline part in it. It would not have happened without airlift and air refueling." The C-17 was the air mobility workhorse deploying assets to the theater and its 96 percent reliability rate was a major success story. Tankers provided the backbone of the air support effort, since nearly every combat mission required air refueling due to the operating distances to the targets. For the future, we must closely monitor the accelerated life-cycle costs of critical mobility assets such as the C-141 and KC-135. In addition, the Air Force must continue to seek interdepartmental assistance in working host-nation approval to use the frequencies required by on-board electronic systems, particularly due to the unpredictable nature of future U.S. missions throughout the world.
Agile Combat Support
Logistics support was another success story during the air war. Nevertheless, further
improvements are needed to meet the needs of the Expeditionary Aerospace Force. According to General George Babbitt, Commander of Air Force Materiel Command, "We really need to do more than mouth words about developing lighter, leaner deployment packages." He suggests the future will depend upon munitions that are smarter and smaller. This will allow the AEFs to carry their initial strike weapons with them, rather than depending on pre-positioning or sea-land lift. Such concepts are necessary to support rapid responses with airpower in future conflicts.
Communications. Communications benefited from lessons learned during deployments in the fall of 1998. By capitalizing on the existing commercial communications infrastructure in
Europe, the Air Force overcame shortfalls in military communications and ensured an unprecedented flow of data and information to support combat operations. However, even with commercial augmentation, bandwidth availability was a critical issue which required close attention.
The daily Air Tasking Order (ATO) had to be disseminated via NATO secure transmission media. The NATO classified system used for dissemination quickly bogged down. USAFE communications and intelligence personnel worked through a myriad of restrictive SIPRNet policies to develop an acceptable "community of interest network" to address this issue. Essentially, this was a "pipe within a pipe" and worked extremely well, reducing ATO dissemination time from several hours to a matter of minutes. In the future, the Air Force must still resolve the issue of disseminating classified NATO air tasking orders to participating units outside the theatersuch as direct delivery support missions.
Command and Control
Command and control is the enabler of the Air Forces core competencies. The Air Force relied heavily on effective command and control procedures and systems, experienced commanders, and skilled, well-trained professional staffs. In the air war over Serbia, command and control worked well at the tactical level. The rapid re-tasking of attack aircraft to targets detected by the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was innovative and quite successful.
However, at the operational and strategic levels Air Force leaders noted two dominant problems. The first was that the command and control structures, procedures, and lines of authority were complicated. The principle of unity of command must be reinforced in future training, doctrine, and operations. The second problem was the perception that the air campaign planning and execution process was a matter of servicing the ATO, rather than commanding the air battle. Future training of air leaders and planners must move beyond the current emphasis on learning the "process" of command and control to a focus on developing and refining the potential impact of alternative means of employing aerospace power.
This conflict presented the Air Force with a significant test of its performance in terms of its core competencies. It also provided analysts and planners with feedback to determine actions necessary to further improve performance against the demands of those competencies. These preliminary assessments tell us that the existing core competencies, having achieved success in the air war, remain relevant and that the training and equipping actions which support them are improving the Air Forces ability to accomplish its missions. In each core competency there were significant examples of success as well as opportunities for improvement. We will continue to further scrutinize this initial assessment and will complete a more comprehensive analysis by next summer. This research effort will help provide the Air Force the basis for making decisions about its future.