628/15                                                                   AIR POWER ASCENDANT: ALLIED FORCE (Dec 17)

“NATO’s Gamble” – Dag Henriksen

Henriksen, Dag. NATO's Gamble. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2007.

'About the Author':

Dag Henriksen is a lecturer in air power at the Royal Norwegian Air Force Academy. A native of Trondheim, Norway, he holds a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow.  He served in the Norwegian Air Force as an Air Battle Manager and served in NATO operations in the Baltics and the Afghanistan International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in 2007.

Key Points':


(xi) “This book focuses primarily on how the international community combined diplomacy and airpower in the handling of the Kosovo crisis.  It examines the key political, diplomatic, and military processes that shaped NATO’s crisis management and how airpower was utilized as the key instrument in NATO’s strategy to coerce the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to concede its demands.”

(xii) “NATO’s Gamble argues that international handling of the Kosovo crisis was marked by the different transatlantic perspectives on power, the role of diplomacy, and the use of force.  The American author and journalist Robert Kagan argues that on the all-important question of power—the efficacy of power, the morality of power, the desirability of power—American and European perspectives are diverging.  He adds, “That is why on major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus: they agree on little and understand one another less and less.”  Thus, as the crisis unfolded in Kosovo, the general European reluctance to use force and limited military capabilities would collide with the more pragmatic and forceful American approach.”

(13) General Clark’s three “measures of merit”:

            a. Do not lose aircraft, or at least, minimize the loss of aircraft

            b. Impact FRY military and police activities on the ground

c. As a political measure of merit, retain Alliance solidarity and the full support of regional partners

(14) The Phased Air Operations Plan:

a. Establish air superiority over Kosovo, degrade IADS and military command and control

b. Authorize military targets in Kosovo and FRY forces south of latitude  forty-four degrees north

c. Expand air operations against high-value military and security force targets throughout the FRY.

(22) Although the European members of NATO quickly authorized the use of airpower, they also insisted on significant targeting restrictions

(23) There was a disconnect between strategy and military operations during Operation Allied Force.

(30) The US’s concept of airpower was very different from the European vision of airpower as a coercive tool.  US planners expected decisive results instead of gradualism.

(50) Politicians did not understand the combinations of factors that made airpower effective in Desert Storm.  Nonetheless, airpower seemed politically cost effective, with low risk of casualties and significantly reduced potential of collateral damage.

(65) “The strategic debates after World War II were focused on means rather than aims; it was less a question of whether the United States was entitled to –or had any moral right to—project its world views and values onto other societies and cultures, than of how.”

(68-69) The Weinberger Doctrine.

(70) The effect of Vietnam was explicit, in the refusal of gradualism and the use of decisive force.

(76) Senior members of the Clinton administration believed the end of the Cold War allowed the United States to shift focus from foreign policy interests to foreign policy based on ideological values such as democracy, market economics, humanitarian relief, and genocide suppression.”  Madeleine Albright believed that foreign policy was a combination of Wilsonian idealism and geopolitical realism.

(78) Albright was a proponent of the use of limited force and believed the military’s utility lied in its use.

(90) “The general perspective among Western leaders at the outset of the Yugoslav crisis was that the conflict had limited strategic significance and was therefore of limited interest to their nations.  The resources and political will available to stop the war reflected this perception.  From the outset, the United States felt the solution in the Balkans was a European issue, one that was to be dealt with by the Europeans—a notion shared by many of the European leaders themselves.”

(110-117) Six factors important to creating conditions for airpower to succeed in August-September 1995:

            a. An economic embargo of Yugoslavia

            b. War exhaustion

            c. The relative strength of the federation forces and their ground offensive

            d. The US political and diplomatic offensive (Clinton’s reelection)

            e. Kosovo was most important to Milosevic

            f. Operation Deliberate Force

(164) “The State Department developed an approach in which it linked the threat of air strikes to the goal of achieving a political settlement; NATO would compel the Serbs to negotiate if they did not negotiate in good faith by themselves.  If her plan were implemented, Secretary Albright argued, the negotiations could have three possible outcomes.”

a. First, the pressure would force both parties to sign an agreement tat would include self-government for the Kosovars, with a NATO peacekeeping force to guarantee security.

b. Second, a Serb no and an Albanian yes would mean NATO bombing until Milosevic decided to negotiate.

c. Third, however, if both parties said no, the situation would be “a mess” for which both parties would bear responsibility.

(173) Differences between Rambouillet and the Dayton accords.

(190) “Anthony Lake says there is no doubt that the Europeans generally believe more in diplomacy and are more concerned about the application of military force, while the United States believes more in the application of force and is less convinced tat diplomacy works without threat.”

(190) “What is perhaps a real philosophical difference between we Europeans and the Americans is that hey have a tendency to believe too much in hard power, and we have a tendency to believe too much in soft power.”

(194) Coercive Diplomacy works if there is a credible threat and the enemy or oppose actually believes that a country will follow through.  This has everything to do with the solidarity of the international and domestic policy positions set forth by the American government

** The crux of Operation Allied Force is that if airpower is used as a coercive tool, politicians or commanders must be willing to use their weapons and back their threat.  Otherwise, their coercion is meaningless.

'Questions for Study and Discussion':

1. Considering the United States is the only state with extensive experience and success, why do we consider the airpower views of European states?

2. Is unlimited conventional airpower the only solution for success?

3.  Do we fight the wars we want to fight and create our own enemies?

4.  Has airpower become part of American diplomacy?  What are the consequences?

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