Technology in warfare: The electronic dimension, the role of electronic warfare since its inception into a central aspect of the Gulf War in 1991
Abdul Karin Baram, Union Institute and University, United States
Union Institute and University . Awarded
This qualitative study investigates the impact of electronic warfare since its inception into central aspects of the Gulf War in 1991, explores how the world military understands electronic combat. The struggle for use of the electromagnetic spectrum to collect and distribute information while denying information to the enemy can determine who wins tactical firefights, large scale engagements, theater-wide campaigns, limited wars, and even global crises. The struggle for use of the electromagnetic spectrum affects the likelihood of nuclear war, and how it would be fought.
The struggle for the control of the electromagnetic spectrum is called electronic warfare because the spectrum is one of the most important channels through which information must pass. However, skills in electronic warfare is the touchstone of modern armies. Without it, armies are vulnerable to an enemy who invested more time, thought, and money in the preparation for electronic combat.
Any successful war is the product of multiple factors that combine to generate success. These factors are “people, leadership, training, technology, and doctrine.” On balance, the Coalition forces in the Gulf were better trained and motivated than their predecessor. Thus, the Air Forces, Navies, Armies, and Marines Corps, with minor exceptions, fought as they trained.
The role of technology in the Gulf War can be summarized with reference to the following dimensions: the depth dimension—the capability to destroy point targets anywhere in enemy territory; the vertical dimension—for the intelligence and air assault; the night dimension—the 24-hour battle; and the electronic dimension—for command and control, and electronic warfare. In all these dimensions, with the exceptions of field intelligence, results were very impressive.
Finally, while electronic warfare did not alone win the war, and may not have been used to their optimum advantage, the lessons remain clear. The West saw that control of the electromagnetic spectrum means control of the battlefield. I believe if there is a World War Three, the winner will be the side that can best control and manage the electromagnetic spectrum.
Baram, A.K. Technology in warfare: The electronic dimension, the role of electronic warfare since its inception into a central aspect of the Gulf War in 1991. Ph.D. thesis, Union Institute and University.
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