From 'Whack-A-Mole' to Three-Dimensional Chess: Leveraging Airpower to Defeat the Improvised Explosive Device   [open pdf - 580KB]

From the thesis abstract: "Beyond their battlefield effects, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are weapons of 'strategic influence' which directly affect the US-led coalition's strategic center of gravity--its collective will to continue to continue the conflict. This asymmetric capability mitigates the overwhelming mismatch between insurgent and coalition forces and casts victory in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) into serious doubt, which begs the question: Given airpower is its primary asymmetric advantage in the OCO environment, how can the US leverage it most effectively to counter the comprehensive IED threat? Accordingly, this essay seeks to provide an answer with a counter-IED (C-IED) operational design and innovative airpower roles and missions--re-aligned ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance], extensively integrated information operations (IO) and precision attack, and engagement with the population- -to defeat the comprehensive IED threat within the broader aims of OCO. The entire IED threat is examined to provide a foundation for the new operational design. Subsequently, a re-focused C-IED end state and COGs [centers of gravity] are nominated and further broken down into critical vulnerabilities and lines of operation. Corresponding roles and missions for airpower are then examined in depth and condensed into a recommended way ahead to win the C-IED fight at last."

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