Schwarzkopf's Gulf War Campaign: Revolutionary Future Strategy or Historic Anomaly?   [open pdf - 2MB]

The objective of this paper is to elucidate lessons that can be learned from the strategic planning for the Gulf War. The first lesson is how to better conduct military campaign planning. Other lessons arise by investigating the significance of a Commander in Chief (CINC) turning away from his established planning process in the height of a crisis. This paper consists of two parts. The first section will explain how the process that was the genesis of the Gulf War campaign occurred. This will show that with an ad hoc process, personalities and chance are the determining factors of the outcome. Although chance can never be eliminated in dynamic situations such as war, institutionalized processes can reduce chance to an acceptable and controllable level. The description of the ad hoc events will also serve to raise questions about the underlying reasons why Schwarzkopf did not use his standing operations plan (OPLAN). The second section will explore why a change the OPLAN was made, what lessons have we learned from the experience, and better ways for shaping future planning based on the Gulf War experience.

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