The purpose of Counterforce: Locating and Destroying Weapons of Mass Destruction is to integrate the key insights of previous Air Force vision statements with the findings of the 1998 Long-Range Air Power Panel and address one of the most demanding practical issues that will impact America's next first battle. The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) changes the context and conduct of future warfare. For starters, America's military strategy, operations concepts, and doctrine for the early 21st century should be based on the very real possibility that the armed forces will be pitted against adversaries armed with biological and chemical weapons and the ballistic and cruise missiles needed to deliver them accurately across great distances. The single most distinguishing feature of counterforce operations against WMD, as compared with existing missions of battlefield area interdiction, offensive counterair, and deep interdiction, lies in the targets themselves: chemical and biological weapons and ballistic and cruise missiles. These targets may already be earmarked for attack under an existing mission area but counterforce operations against WMD should be considered a specialized subset of these other missions and whose neutralization or destruction is of immense importance to the success of the overall campaign. Many of the WMD targets should be destroyed early in a conflict to prevent their use against friendly populations and forces. Locating these targets can be difficult, including, for example, the specific site of WMD facilities within the confines of a larger fixed target. Some targets may be relocatable; they may be vulnerable to attack for a short period of time (hours) at the outset of conflict. Mobile targets, such as missile transporter-erector-launchers (TEL), present an especially difficult bombing task due to an enemy's use of ruses, decoys, rapid shoot-and-scoot operations, and other tactics. Another consideration is the depth of the target from political borders. Generally speaking, the deeper the target location, the more onerous is the counterforce strike operation. Finally, linking sensors-to-shooters can help significantly in striking the WMD target within the enemy's decision-making cycle.
INSS Occasional Paper 21