The Importance of Air Dominance

Recalling Operation Desert Storm 20 years on, retired Gen. Charles Horner, the Desert Storm air boss, exhorted today’s airmen to understand the vital importance of air dominance, neither taking it for granted, nor forgetting the hard-learned lessons of the past. “The lesson for me, from Vietnam was the importance of air dominance. … I remember training the world’s greatest air defenders, the North Vietnamese,” declared Horner at AFA’s Air & Space Conference Tuesday. On the eve of Desert Storm, Horner recalled telling Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, then heading US Central Command, that the Air Force would “not just control the air, but dominate it” words which were matched with the systematic elimination of Iraq’s air defenses, command and control, and air capability, a feat so successful that it has virtually “negated the advantage of massed forces” against the US forces since. Horner warned of straying from a concept of unified operational air command, bringing together joint and coalition partners, which he noted, was vital to success in Desert Storm.