A Turning Point

In the first 24 hours of Desert Storm, coalition aircraft attacked more than 150 separate and distinct targets across Iraq—more than the total number of targets hit by the Eighth Air Force in 1942 and 1943, said the principal attack planner for the coalition air campaign. “The initial opening attacks of Desert Storm really signaled a radical departure from the conduct of warfare in the past,” Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of the AFA’s Mitchell Institute, told Air Force Magazine. The conflict, marking its 25th anniversary on Sunday, was “a turning point in the annals of military history,” setting conditions for modern warfare by establishing expectations for low casualties on both sides, for the precision in application of force, for coalition and joint operations, and for introducing a planning approach focused on desired outcomes, rather than “simply destruction of an adversary’s forces,” Deptula said. Additionally, “for the first time in history, airpower was the key force, or centerpiece, in the strategy and execution of a war,” he added.