Desert Storm: 30 Years Later

ARLINGTON, VA (January 17, 2021) — The AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to release a special report on the 30th anniversary of the start of Desert Storm, Desert Storm: 30 Years Later. According to the U.S. Government Accounting Office, the Persian Gulf War of 1991 “was perhaps the most successful war fought in the 20th Century,” and its success was based on the most successful air campaign the world has ever known. The strategy executed in Desert Storm stands in stark contrast to the wars of attrition and occupation that followed the initial successes of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in the nearly 20 years subsequent to the attacks on our homeland in 2001.

The commander of Desert Storm–Army General Norman Schwarzkopf–used airpower as the centerpiece of his strategy in a truly joint approach applying the right forces at the right places at the right times. The effects-based approach used for planning air operations proved pivotal in what became one of the most successful military engagements in history. We must remember these key points if today and tomorrow’s generations of military leaders are to benefit from the lessons of this seminal conflict.

In aid of that objective, the Mitchell Institute has assembled this 30-year retrospective, including a summary of the conflict and the perspectives of key leaders who were instrumental in its design and execution.

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