Attacking Iraq - Rapid Dominance
"Shock & Awe"
In mid-to-late January 2003 news reports concerning the possible invasion of Iraq began to discuss one potential military strategy called Rapid Dominance, or Shock & Awe.
The aim of Rapid Dominance is to affect the perception, ability, and will of an adversary to respond to a coordinated attack led by the United States. The purpose of the plan is to induce sufficient "shock and awe" to render Iraq impotent.
Rapid Dominance would therefore provide the ability to control, on an immediate basis, the entire region of operational interest and the environment, broadly defined, in and around that area of interest. Beyond achieving decisive force and dominant battlefield awareness, the strategy's authors envisage Rapid Dominance producing a capability that can more effectively and efficiently achieve the stated political or military objectives underwriting the use of force by rendering the adversary completely impotent.
In Rapid Dominance, "rapid" means the ability to move quickly before an adversary can react. This notion of rapidity applies throughout the spectrum of combat from pre-conflict deployment to all stages of battle and conflict resolution.
"Dominance" means the ability to affect and dominate an adversary's will both physically and psychologically. Physical dominance includes the ability to destroy, disarm, disrupt, neutralize, and to render impotent. Psychological dominance means the ability to destroy, defeat, and neuter the will of an adversary to resist; or convince the adversary to accept our terms and aims short of using force. The target is the adversary's will, perception, and understanding. The principal mechanism for achieving this dominance is through imposing sufficient conditions of "Shock and Awe" on the adversary to convince or compel it to accept our strategic aims and military objectives. Clearly, deception, confusion, misinformation, and disinformation, perhaps in massive amounts, must be employed.
The key objective of Rapid Dominance is to impose this overwhelming level of Shock and Awe against an adversary on an immediate or sufficiently timely basis to paralyze its will to carry on. In crude terms, Rapid Dominance would seize control of the environment and paralyze or so overload an adversary's perceptions and understanding of events that the enemy would be incapable of resistance at tactical and strategic levels. An adversary would be rendered totally impotent and vulnerable to our actions. To the degree that non-lethal weaponry is useful, it would be incorporated in the ability to Shock and Awe and achieve Rapid Dominance.
Theoretically, the magnitude of Shock and Awe Rapid Dominance seeks to impose (in extreme cases) is the non-nuclear equivalent of the impact that the atomic weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had on the Japanese. The Japanese were prepared for suicidal resistance until both nuclear bombs were used. The impact of those weapons was sufficient to transform both the mindset of the average Japanese citizen and the outlook of the leadership through this condition of Shock and Awe. The Japanese simply could not comprehend the destructive power carried by a single airplane. This incomprehension produced a state of awe.
A Rapid Dominance strategy applied to Iraq may include hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles and precision-guided munitions used in the opening hours of the war and in the days following the beginning of the war.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|