LSCO: Is It, Or Should It Be, AirLand Battle 2.0?

Posted By: John Grenier Professional Content,

LSCO: Is It, Or Should It Be, AirLand Battle 2.0?

By: Dr. John Grenier

LSCO (Large Scale Combat Operations): The Army’s newest mantra that has catalyzed Army-wide reforms to prepare for battles and wars against peer and near-peer competitors. From the FA Branch’s perspective, the possibility of war against Russia, the PRC, Iran, and/or the DPRK has driven significant matériel and non-matériel changes. These include, for instance, the creation of new/modified long-range artillery systems such as ERCA (Extended Range Cannon Artillery) and PrSM (Precision-Strike Missile) and re-standing up DIVARTYs (Division Artillery) for each of the Army’s active-component combat divisions.[1]

            But LSCO, in the broadest sense, is nothing new for the Army. LSCO is perhaps best understood as occupying one end of what the Army (and the entire US military structure) formerly called the Spectrum of Conflict. The spectrum engrossed multiple varieties of conflict, and the Army generally placed wars between and among nation states at the “high-intensity conflict” (HIC) end of the spectrum, and wars against insurgents/guerrillas/terrorists and non-state actors at its “low-intensity conflict” (LIC) end. Frankly, the Army gave little thought to LIC and counterinsurgency (COIN) … which partly necessitated the creation of USSOCOM in the mid-1980s. Conflicts such as the one in Vietnam (which required 550,000 troops at its height to fight both North Vietnam Army regulars and Viet Cong guerrillas) sat somewhere near the “mid-intensity conflict” (MIC) part the spectrum. A possible war against the USSR and the Warsaw Pact took up most of the space at the spectrum’s HIC end.

            The end of the Cold War in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coupled with the quick and relatively easy defeat of Iraq’s military in 1991—only 100 hours of land battle that followed 40 days of around-the-clock air attacks on Iraq’s fielded forces, second echelon units, and C2 network and infrastructure—convinced the Army that future HIC against a competent near-peer competitor was unlikely. The subsequent emergence of new cyber and space-based “information warfare” technologies, and American policy makers’ preference to turn to the precision-strike capabilities of the USAF/USN and/or specialized operators (as their name denotes) from USSOCCOM to deal with post-Cold War problems of force employment, of which counter-terrorism proved the most intractable, left the “Big Green” Army looking for a mission set. Some thought modularization and presenting forces on the battlefield in brigade combat teams—vice divisions and corps—to focus on “contingency operations” against non-peer competitors offered an answer. Yet victory in Iraq and Afghanistan—LICs in which battalions and echelons below them should have made their most impact—proved elusive. The Army, understandably, looked to move on to something “new” in the mid 2010s. Enter LSCO.

            With the focus now intently on Russia and other near-peer competitors, some have suggested that LSCO is merely a warmed-over version of the doctrine for HIC that the Army developed for war against the USSR in the 1980s: AirLand Battle.[2] Others have said that AirLand Battle offers a roadmap to the future. Before either accepting or rejecting out of hand that LSCO is, or should be, AirLand Battle 2.0, we might be well served with understanding the historical context—the impacts of continuity, contingency, and change in a particular time and space—in which the Army created AirLand Battle, the doctrine that it latched on to as its raison d’être as it tried to emerge from defeat in Vietnam. The macro question at the end of the day for us in 2022 is to what extent will LSCO crystalize into a doctrine that shapes the Army through the rest of this decade and into the 2030s? With that in mind, there’s much to learn, and more to understand, about the “why” and the “how” of the Army’s effort to develop AirLand Battle in the 1970s and 1980s.

            AirLand Battle was, at its core, the doctrine that the Army hoped the Joint Force could use to build the strategy and operations it needed to win the land-war component of World War III. It broadly focused on the strategic lay of the land at the time, and it also addressed the fundamental problem that the Army faced at the operational-level of war: the Red Army and the Warsaw Pact greatly outnumbered the US Army and its NATO partners in Europe. Detailed analyses of annual REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) exercises convinced many American strategists that the notion that the Army could “ship” three corps/six divisions to reinforce V and VII Corps in Germany was little more than a pipe dream.[3] This realization grew more disconcerting after the USN (and the UK’s Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy, to whom the USN delegated most the “scut work” of anti-submarine warfare) quietly questioned whether it could defeat the Soviet Navy’s massive surface and submarine fleets to keep open the shipping lanes through the GIUK (Greenland, Iceland, UK) Gap to the Continent.[4] “Ivan’s submarines,” albeit most significantly his “boomers” that could launch ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, profoundly worried American policy makers and strategists. A historical artifact from the time, Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October, speaks to a preoccupation with the Soviet Navy that led the Reagan Administration to call for a 600-ship USN, which in turn threatened to consume significant portions of the DoD budget. Although Western Europe lived under the protection of the US’s (and to some extent the UK’s and France’s) nuclear umbrella, questions abounded whether a nuclear deterrent even remained viable. Deterrence was (and is) based on capability times (not plus) will: if either capability or will is zero, so is deterrence. In that light, would the POTUS really risk the obliteration of Chicago, or the British Prime Minister sacrifice Liverpool, if the only option to keep the USSR and Warsaw Pact out of Berlin or Bonn devolved to the nightmare scenario of a nuclear exchange between the USAF/USN and the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces and air force?[5] Although the French military seemed perfectly willing to defend La France to the last-standing West German and hold the line on its eastern border, that hardly comforted the people of the Federal Republic of Germany, or US commanders who must prepare for battle at the Fulda Gap, the lowlands between West and East Germany through which planners predicted the Warsaw Pact intended to storm to gain the Rhine River.[6] In the late 1960s, the Army contended that its and NATO’s technological superiority over Soviet and Warsaw Pact armies helped deter a non-nuclear war, and if deterrence failed, it proved enough to win on the battlefields of Central Europe. Soviet armored, long-range artillery (LRA), surface-to-air missile (SAM), and fighter-aircraft technologies, however, improved almost at a geometric pace in the early 1970s.[7] Nevertheless, the US and NATO wins the war in Clancy’s second novel, Red Storm Rising, without resorting to nuclear or chemical weapons to overcome the Russian hoards now equipped with state-of-the-art weapons. In another artifact of the time, the protagonists—the American tank crews and infantrymen fighting at the company level in the Fulda Gap—of MAJ Harold Coyle’ technothriller Team Yankee: A Novel of World War III survive (not necessarily win) a conventional battle against the Red Army. In the denouement of Team Yankee, the Soviets “nuke” Birmingham and NATO retaliates by destroying Minsk, which implausibly leads to a ceasefire. Still, the hero of the novel, the fictional CPT Sean Bannon paraphrases the Duke of Wellington’s apocryphal explanation for his army’s victory over Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 and he claims that the Warsaw Pact, “came on in the same old way, and we saw them off in the same old way.” Military professionals recognized Coyle’s story as mediocre fiction despite its popular success, including a series of comic books and video games. It certainly was no basis for strategy or doctrine. Though time proved that the Politburo’s massive expenditures to modernize the Red Army contributed to bankrupting the USSR, without the benefit of hindsight, the US Army in 1980 faced acknowledging that it looked over a radically changed strategic and operational landscape in Europe compared to the one it saw only a decade earlier. Clearly, Ivan harbored no intention of coming on in the same old way, and instead problems for the Army abounded.

            Possible solutions, or at least lessons to learn, also seemed available, provided the Army looked in the right place, and just as importantly, took the time to think deeply about them. It rightfully focused on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and the lessons that might come from its experiences in the Yom Kippur War of 6 to 25 October 1973. The IDF, tasked with protecting a small nation with a relatively small military against enemies who might attack at any moment, traditionally had been extremely casualty averse. Through the previous Arab-Israeli Wars (1948-1949, 1956, and 1967) the IDF managed the attrition of its forces quite well, despite facing opposing armies that in theory should have been able to maul it with overwhelming numbers. Much of the IDF’s pre-1973 success originated in Israeli warfighting doctrine, which pivoted around a central tenet that airpower served both as a force multiplier and protector of IDF ground formations.

            During the Yom Kippur War, airpower initially failed the IDF. Egyptian SA-6 SAM batteries and MiG fighters, which President Anwar al-Sādāt convinced the Soviet Union to give him, covered their ground forces’ operations over the Suez Canal and across the Sinai Peninsula. Syrian SAMs (also courtesy of the USSR) similarly protected from Israeli Air Force (IAF) attacks an armored thrust into the Golan Heights. Syrian tanks initially made significant gains. While IDF armor and FA quickly regrouped and bloodied badly both the Egyptian and Syrian ground forces, and then drove the overextended Syrians (who wildly burned through their Russian SAMs) from the Golan Heights, the losses the Israelis suffered in the first three days of the war were unsustainable: over 100 aircraft (or nearly a quarter of the IAF inventory) and 300 armored fighting vehicles were destroyed.

             The first 72 to 96 hours of the war demonstrated that modern weapons systems could produce staggering lethality and attrition, far beyond even the worst predictions of the most vocal doom-and-gloom prognosticators. Both the USSR and the US government tried to rush its clients matériel. The Americans’ Operation NICKEL GRASS suggested that provided the USAF/USN maintained local air superiority, it was possible to sustain by air a ground force engaged in corps and field army-sized combat operations. It required a Herculean effort, but over 32 days, the USAF’s Military Airlift Command (MAC) ferried over 23,000 tons of matériel of all sorts to Israel. The IAF in particular received air-to-air Sidewinder missiles, fresh-off the assembly line F-4 Phantom II fighters, and other combat aircraft from USAF and USN fighter and attack wings. It was then up to the IDF and IAF to make the best use of the American-supplied matériel.

            On the political front, Israel could not wait to act offensively while MAC’s buildup of supplies and planes progressed. Any long pauses in the fighting threatened to leave Arab armies inside Israel’s hard-won (in the previous wars) buffer zones, a possibility the Israelis could no more brook than NATO allowing the Red Army to remain in Hessen near the Fulda Gap if a hypothetical war in Europe went badly in its early hours. But Israeli commanders also understood all too well that the IAF could not operate west of the Suez Canal as long as large numbers of Egyptian SAMs remained operational: the IDF therefore must “bite the bullet” and cross the Suez to conduct SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses). The IDF offensive across the canal (led by MG Ariel Sharon, the “Hero of the Yom Kippur War” and later president of Israel) essentially was a ground-force operation to support an air campaign. Once the IDF overran the SAM sites, the IAF (reinforced with nearly 100 USAF and USN aircraft) quickly swept Egypt’s MiGs from the sky. The IDF, now benefiting from air supremacy, encircled the Egyptian Third Army near Suez City and prepared to destroy it, just as the Red Army annihilated the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad in World War II, but only faster. On the Golan Heights front, meanwhile, IDF FA, which had accompanied the Israeli counter-offensive that penetrated deep into Syria, began to shell the outskirts of Damascus. The USSR recognized that its Arab clients had lost yet another war to the Jewish state, and it instructed both the Egyptians and Syrians to accept the UN’s proposed cease fire.

            The Army, in 1974, could look to either Vietnam or the Yom Kippur War for the most recent lessons about the future of battle.[8] TRADOC’s first commander, GEN William E. DePuy, picked the Yom Kippur War, primarily because he saw in the IDF’s experience a simulacrum of the primary operational situation that US and NATO forces faced in Europe: qualitatively superior/quantitively inferior infantry formations that would be drawn onto fast-moving, armor and air-power dominated battlefields. DePuy adopted a back-to-basics training approach to reinforce the skills advantage of US Soldiers at the tactical level, and he also encouraged his doctrine writers at Ft. Monroe to think creatively and boldly about air power as much as ground power as they prepared the Army’s operational doctrine to carry it through the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s.

            In July 1976, the Army published its latest iteration of FM 100-5, Operations. The document made clear the assumptions that most shaped its authors:

We cannot know when or where the U.S. Army will again be ordered into battle, but we must assume the enemy we face will possess weapons generally as effective as our own. And we must calculate that he will have them in greater numbers than we will be able to deploy. … Because the lethality of modern weapons continues to increase sharply, we can expect very high losses to occur in short periods of time. Entire forces could be destroyed quickly.[9]

            FM 100-5 was a large and complex document ripe for possible interpretations, but in a nutshell, it substituted firepower for manpower at the tip of the Army spear. The imperative for more firepower meant the Army needed more self-propelled FA to keep up with and support its maneuver forces, better mechanized infantry, more aviation assets that could deliver anti-armor weapons, and more close-air-support aircraft.[10] FM 100-5 also made suggestions that verged on Army heresy. First, it essentially said that the Army cannot win the land battle without the Air Force. Second, it replaced the primacy of the offensive with “Active Defense”—limiting offensive action and counterattacks to denying the enemy contested areas or positions—and it concluded that commanders should attack “only if he expects the outcome to result in decisively greater enemy losses than his own, or result in the capture of objectives crucial to the outcome of the larger battle."[11]

            For an army schooled in warfare that centered on offensive maneuver, to read an operational-level doctrine that emphasized defense and stressed firepower at the expense of manpower raised hackles. GEN Donn Starry, who succeed DePuy as TRADOC commander in July 1977, noted the disquietude within the Army, and he tried to smooth the roiling waters by proffering the concept of the Central Battle, the part of the battlefield where the elements of firepower andmovement come together in maneuver to produce a decision. Part and parcel with the Central Battle concept was the criticism of FM 100-5’s focus—some said obsession—on winning the “First Battle,” the “one and done” mentality of the doctrine. Warsaw Pact second-echelon and follow-on forces (which the US and NATO lacked) surely could make moot any initial US-NATO battlefield successes. Thus emerged a focus on a much deeper battlefield (stretching into East Germany, Poland, and Belarus, for example) than assumed in the active defense of the Fulda Gap. Through several processes and analyses, an “air-land battlefield” consensus, in which air forces “stretched the battlespace,” emerged. The new constructs compelled the Army to think deeply about FM 100-5 rather than simply criticizing it.

            Through most of 1979, the Division 86 program at the Combined Arms Center (CAC), the Field Artillery School (USAFAS), and other branch schools fleshed out concepts of how Army divisions might interdict a second- or third-echelon attack from Warsaw Pact formations in the “deep battlespace.”[12] Battlefield interdiction traditionally had been a focus of the USAF: the efforts along the Ho Chi Minh Trail had failed to produce the results promised, but the success of US Army Air Forces’ March to mid-August 1944 “Transportation Plan” that successfully isolated the Normandy beachheads from the Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht armor offered a more positive precedent. The Army’s proponents of interdiction thus argued that ground force could similarly neutralize the Warsaw Pact’s overwhelming firepower and numbers advantages before they could bring them to bear on US-NATO forces in western Germany. Wholly in line with the weltanschauung of the Army at the height of the Cold War, much of their work focused on finding ways to employ “tactical” nuclear as well chemical weapons.[13] Of course, the USAF’s Strategic Air Command (SAC) scoffed that there was no such thing as a tactical nuclear weapon: once either side let the nuclear genie out of the bottle, SAC argued, Minuteman ICBMs and B-52 Stratofortress bombers with nuclear payloads, and the Soviet’s SS-18 ICBMs and their Tu-95 Bear bombers would surely dominate the war and make pointless the movements of ground forces.[14]

            Nevertheless, in October 1979, TRADOC presented at a meeting of the chiefs of staff of the Army and USAF, the Army’s vice chief of staff, the commander of the USAF’s Tactical Air Command (TAC), and GEN Starry a view of a future battle in which US ground forces pre-emptively employed tactical nuclear and chemical weapons. The “Twenty Star Meeting,” and several meetings that followed, kick started a rush to determine how the Army might combine tactical-nuclear and chemical-weapons strikes, ground-maneuver operations, and LRA fires to interdict enemy forces in their rear areas. USAFAS’s particular contribution to the evolving body of thought centered on the Nuclear System Program Review (NSPR), held at Ft. Sill in December 1979. At the NSPR, USAFAS staff officers briefed a concept of an “integrated battlefield” that included several FA-delivered tactical nuclear options, beyond those TAC could offer with its mid-1960s-vintage F-111 Aardvark low-level penetrators, each loaded with only six “small” nuclear bombs and missiles. The school’s position was that a threat of accurate, persistent, timely, and all-weather tactical-level nuclear strikes from 8-inch cannons that employed “ultra-low yield” (.1 megaton, or 100 kilotons) warheads might deter the Warsaw Pact from forming its units in the dense formations that breakthrough operations required.[15] This was, if nothing else, bold thinking.

            The question then became how to include in doctrine all the different concepts and products of the “out-of-the-box” thinking that the likes of USAFAS and other Army organizations offered. In the late 1970s, the Army’s home for tactical and operational problem-solving resided at Ft. Leavenworth with the CAC, and responsibility for writing FM 100-5 sat with TRADOC, at Ft. Monroe. GEN Starry recognized many short-comings in this arrangement, not the least of which was that PME instructors, the cadre responsible for teaching and explaining doctrine to the Army’s future leaders, and perhaps those who best understood how to clarify its more esoteric concepts, had no part in formulating and writing doctrine. He therefore directed the Army must include doctrine writers among the instructor community throughout the PME system. When in March 1980 the Army announced that it intended to revise FM 100-5, the Department of Tactics (DTAC) at the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) at Ft. Leavenworth received the assignment. Publication of TRADOC’s “Operational Concept of the AirLand Battle” a year later gave DTAC a name for the doctrine it intended to write. It was then up to DTAC’s small team of lieutenant colonels—Huba Wass de Czega as lead author and L.D. Holder and Richmond Henriques as assistants—to produce a document the entire Army could buy off on. As CGSC faculty members, Wass de Czega, Holder, and Henriques almost instinctively turned to classics of military thought and theory, particularly the writings Carl von Clausewitz, Basil H. Liddell Hart, and J.F.C. Fuller, as they contextualized their work. They also readily embraced suggestions from the field: the German concept of mission-type orders (Auftragstaktik) found its way into the doctrine and to this day remains a constant of US operations.

            The Army published its revised FM 100-5 in August 1982. Although titled Operations like its predecessors, it quickly became known as AirLand Battle, for good reason. Its central premise read that “The AirLand Battle will be dominated by the force that retains the initiative and, with deep attack and decisive maneuver, destroys its opponent's abilities to fight and to organize in depth."[16] Rapid movement and high-volume fires, the doctrine added, promised to blur distinctions between forward and rear areas. Furthermore, the range and lethality of Red Army/Warsaw Pact, PRC, DPRK, or perhaps Iranian or Iraqi weapon systems promised to match or exceed the Army’s. Fortuitously, American advancements in C2 and ISR gave US commanders the almost instantaneous knowledge—perhaps a silver bullet—they needed to win across the battlespace.[17] US forces, the doctrine continued, must expect the enemy to employ nuclear and chemical weapons, but the Army must not permit the use of such weapons to decide the conflict. Instead, it must recognize that “On the modern battlefield, nuclear fires may become the predominant expression of combat power, and small tactical forces will exploit their effects."[18] Because of the lethality of modern weaponry, future battle will be short and violent. Decision could come in hours or days, on the model of the Yom Kippur War, vice weeks or months, as was the World War II norm.

            The USSR and Warsaw Pact fell apart before the Army could use either its 1982 or slightly revised 1986 AirLand Battle in Europe. Saddam Hussein, however, gave the Army the perfect arena in 1991 to prove in action the doctrine’s validity. Operation DESERT STORM witnessed history’s most successful combined air and land campaign.[19] Airpower (both new platforms such as the F-117 Nighthawk “stealth” fighter and legacy systems such as the F-111 and B-52, albeit carrying only conventional weapons) both interdicted the battlefield and protected maneuver forces and multiplied their effects. American C2 and ISR capabilities, and the nearly complete destruction of the enemy’s C2 network, from Saddam’s palaces in Baghdad through Iraqi platoons in Kuwait, gave American commanders total information dominance, just as the doctrine prophesized. The US Army refused to allow Saddam to decide the conflict with either the threat or the employment of chemical or biological weapons: the Soldiers of the 24th Mechanized Infantry Division, as they raced across the western desert to gain the Iraqi rear and encircle the enemy in Kuwait, kept their MOPP (Mission Oriented Protective Posture) gear ready. The Army was determined to fight and win quickly and decisively, and it did.[20]No wonder, then, that the DESERT STORM Special Study Group titled its official history of the Gulf War Certain Victory. With AirLand Battle as its operational doctrine, there was never any doubt in the Army’s mind about the battle’s outcome.[21]

            Tomorrow’s LSCO/HIC will demand a doctrine different than AirLand Battle. Most significantly, the nuclear variable (or at least the employment of tactical nuclear weapons by the US Army) is missing in discussions of the LSCO equation. That said, concerns about out-gunned, out-ranged, and out-manned formations remain. RAND’s 2019 Army Fires Capabilities for 2025 and Beyond, which USAFAS sponsored to provide an independent assessment of the fires capabilities the Army needs as it transitions from COIN to LSCO, made stark the imperative to counter Russian overmatches in distance, volume, and rate-of-fire among FA assets. At the same time, the Suwalki Gap, the stretch of land between the Russian enclave at Kaliningrad and the Russian client state of Belarus, looks eerily similar to the Fulda Gap. Airpower will certainly take a central role in any new doctrine for LSCO. But the USAF recently has quietly questioned its ability to provide air superiority, even with fifth-generation fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, in the face of Russia’s “double-digit” SAMs in the S-300 series (the SA-10, the SA-12, and the SA-20).[22] US field artillerists today think of using long-range precisions fires (LRPF) to first win the counter-battery fight; the Army of tomorrow may need to devote early on a significant portion of its LRPF, and the new Mid-Range Capability (MRC), to SEAD missions. The Army may find itself supporting the air campaign before the air campaign can support the ground campaign, à la Ariel Sharon’s operation across the Suez Canal in 1973. The draft “Army Concept for Fires,” which aims to provide a conceptual foundation for developing future capabilities and, just as importantly, engendering doctrine development and ideas about future armed conflict, might help, just as the 1981 “Operational Concept of the AirLand Battle” brought into focus the mid- and late-1980s’ tasks. Of course, one might question if future operations really will support two (or more) distinct campaigns because the US military and its partners will have benefitted from decades of Joint and interoperability training. But even at the acme of AirLand Battle in DESERT STORM, there were distinct air and land campaigns, despite what the doctrine’s cobbled together name implied. Reverberations from the past—both the troubled times of the late 1970s and early 1980s and the victorious days of 1991—continue to rumble through Army doctrine-writing and planning circles. Today’s Army should listen attentively to the echoes of AirLand Battle.

An American-produced F-4 Phantom with IAF markings and the signature IAF

desert camouflage paint pattern during the Yom Kippur War.


V and VII Corps stood on the west side of the Fulda Gap, opposite the Soviet 8th Guards Army in East Germany, for much of the

Cold War. Soviet and Warsaw Pact rear-echelon forces in East Germany and Poland threatened to overwhelm US and NATO forces.


Soviet armor in a parade in 1983 commemorating the October Revolution of 1917.


[1] See John Grenier, “DivArtys in 2021 and Beyond: Much More Than Everything Old is New Again,” FA Journal 3 (2021): 37-39.


[2] That said, LSCO has yet to be codified into a formal doctrine like AirLand Battle.

[3] While the Army spoke of moving three corps and six divisions across the Atlantic, REFORGERs between 1969 and 1993 tested capability to transport only one division-plus

[4] One might question whether the 6,000 Soldiers who participate in today’s ATLANTIC RESOLVE exercises go to Europe more for public relations and confidence-building messaging than to train and exercise combat capability. See (accessed 23 FEB 2022).

[5] “New-q-lure combat, toe-to-toe with Ruskies,” in the immortal words of the fictional MAJ T.J. “King” Kong in Dr. Strangelove. (accessed 23 FEB 2022).

[6] French Soldiers’ attitudes perhaps originated in the trauma that the Germans’ occupation and partition of their nation between 1940 and 1944 inflicted on them and their citizens.

[7] FA professionals noticed the 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV when the Russians unveiled it at the Moscow Victory Day Parade in 2015: the 2S35’s range and rate of fire far surpasses that of the legacy 2S19 Msta, and it threatened to significantly complicate future counter-battery fights for US artillerists.

[8] The Paris Peace Accords on 27 January 1973 signaled the end of US combat operations in Indochina.

[9] Quoted in John Romjue, From Active Defense to AirLand Battle: The Development of Army Doctrine 1973-1982 (Ft. Monroe, VA: TRADOC Historical Office, 1984), 6.

[10] The appearance of the USAF’s A-10 Thunderbolt II (aka the Warthog)—the much beloved, at least by the Army, “tank killer”—in 1975 and the AH-64 Apache—initially intended as an aerial anti-tank platform—in 1986 spoke to the quest for anti-armor aviation assets in both the USAF and the Army.

[11] Quoted in Romjue, 9.

[12] Division 86 was part of the CAC’s analysis and war-gaming effort that studied alternative structures to the Army’s organization of its divisions. The goal was to recommend a template the Army could use for its divisions in 1986.

[13] The United States began a secret biological weapons program in 1943, but it discontinued it in 1969. In 1975, the US ratified the 1925 Geneva Protocol and 1972 Biological Weapons Convention that outlawed biological weapons.

[14] The USAF’s Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) did not enter service until 1983; Peacekeeper ICBMs followed in 1986.

[15] Little Boy, which the US dropped on Hiroshima, produced a blast yield of 15 kilotons; Fat Man, the atomic bomb with which the US struck Nagasaki delivered a blast yield of nearly 21 kilotons.

[16] Quoted in Romjue, 66

[17] Those advances reached a significant milestone in 1996 when the USAF’s E-8 JSTARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) took to the skies. JSTARS provide ground-moving target-indicator (GMTI) information to commanders at all echelons, but they have never been deployed against a peer competitor with advanced snit-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities.

[18] Quoted in Romjue, 67.

[19] Some outside the US military have argued that DESERT STORM better demonstrated the application of NATO’s FOFA (Follow-on Forces Attack) operational sub-concept than the use of AirLand Battle. They point to the absence of nuclear weapons in the Coalition’s plan or execution. That said, FOFA was (and is) primarily a defensive doctrine. It was “designed to attack with conventional weapons those enemy forces which [sic: that] stretch from just behind the troops in contact to as far into the enemy’s rea as our target acquisition and conventional weapons systems will permit” in order “to reduce to a manageable ratio … the number of enemy forces arriving at our General Defensive Position” [italics added]. Quoted in Michael Diver, “NATO’s Follow-On Forces Attack (FOFA) Concept: Past, Present, and Future,” student paper (Rome, Italy: NATO Defense College, 1990), 1.

[20] For contemporary reporting on the Army in DESERT STORM, see

[21] Robert H. Scales, Certain Victory: The United States Army in the Gulf War (Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Staff, US Army, 1993).

[22] Russia sold at bargain prices S-300s to Iran in 2016.