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SAASS Theses

These SAASS theses were selected for publication from among those submitted to the faculty of SAASS, as one of the requirements for completion of a master’s degree in air and space power art and science. AU Press no longer publishes this series, but award-winning SAASS theses are now published in the Drew Papers series.

 A Framework for Military Decision Making under RisksThis is a study of the applicability of prospect theory to military decision making. Prospect theory posits that the decision maker’s reference point determines the domain in which he makes a decision. If the domain is one of losses, the decision maker will tend to be risk seeking, if gains, then he will be risk averse. The author proposes that if prospect theory’s propositions are correct, then it may be possible for the decision maker, by assessing his own domain, to make better informed decisions. One implication of this study is that if the decision maker can do the same for a subordinate or for an enemy, he may be better able to predict their responses in a given situation. The project’s goal is to develop a framework for assessing risk propensity. It does this by first describing the military decision-making process and concluding that it is a rational decision-making process. Second, this study describes prospect theory and matches the key aspects of the theory with the military decision-making process. Third, it proposes a framework for assessing risk propensity. The theory is tested in a case study of Gen Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1944decision to launch Operation Market Garden. This decision is analyzed in terms of Graham T. Allison’s three models for decision making and prospect theory to determine which model or theory seems to provide the best explanations for Eisenhower’s decision. The last chapter applies the risk propensity framework to the case study to test if it can predict risk propensity and its impact on decision making. The author concludes that prospect theory’s propositions are valid and that this theory provides a prescriptive way to consider decision making under risk. [LTC James V. Schultz, USA / 1997 / 55 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: ]
 A Historical View of Air Policing DoctrineThis paper reviews the historical accounts of the Royal Air Force (R.A.F) experiences in air policing during the interwar period, 1919-1939. It analyzes the evidence from the view of operational doctrine and applies an in-depth look at the basic tenets of R.A.F. air policing campaigns. It seeks to answer the question: to what doctrine did air commanders subscribe? It further analyzes the development of air policing tactical doctrine throughout the interwar period. It summarizes the conclusions and then offers this insight as it may apply to contemporary operations. This work seeks to provide an insightful view of the British experience and attempts to explain what has never been explained before, namely .how. air policing worked from the vantage point of those who conducted it. By tracing the R.A.F. operations during the more significant air policing examples and looking at the indigenous response, it describes the actual operational mechanism at work. [Maj Michael A. Longoria, USAF / 1992 / 66 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: ]
 A Kill Is a KillAs the Twentieth Century closes, efforts towards organizing, training, and equipping U.S. airpower assets remain based on the assumption of face-to-face conventional confrontations. This is a comforting hypothesis, as U.S. technological superiority should keep the odds stacked in our favor for decades to come. Air strategists may be overlooking the fact, however, that this very technological superiority may force adversaries to counter U.S. airpower with other than conventional methods. Couple this with the strong possibility that the interests of the U.S. and our opponents will likely be found on opposite ends of the spectrum of war, and U.S. airpower could be in for some surprises. This study analyzes the asymmetric threat to U.S. airpower across the political, operational, and tactical levels of war and examines whether the U.S. has adequately prepared itself to counter asymmetrical measures against its airpower assets. The answers are not reassuring. U.S. airpower is not likely to overwhelming technological capability by increasing friction levels and changing our visions of surgical warfare into an attrition reality. They will attempt to inflict “virtual attrition” as well by changing U.S. targeting strategies and reducing our effectiveness while buying themselves time to attain their objectives. In this respect, U.S. airpower can be strategically defeated. [MAJ Michael A. O’Halloran, USMC / 1999 / 83 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: ]
 A Matter of TrustDoctrinal differences over the employment of airpower are as old as military aviation itself. One particular area of contention has been close air support (CAS).The two primary issues related to CAS are its command and control and responsiveness. Soldiers have argued that ground commanders should control their own aircraft, because ownership assures that airpower directly responds to their needs. Airmen have maintained that airpower should be centralized under a single air commander to allow for its flexible theater wide employment. During World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm, ground commanders demanded greater influence over airpower employment. Concurrently, the Air Force disagreed with the Navy and Marine Corps over centralized versus decentralized control of air assets. These two issues of command and control and responsiveness are embodied in the process of apportioning and allocating CAS. In all conflicts since World War II, the United States has had the luxury of an overabundance of air assets. Despite a facade of centralization, airpower was parceled out to fill nearly everyone’s needs. This avoided the need for any difficult choices. This study follows the history of CAS since World War II to examine how it has been apportioned and allocated in the past. It then examines the current joint air operations process. It is the contention of this study that the current system, rooted in its historical past, does not fully employ CAS to its optimum potential. The historical view of CAS has been as a tactical measure, with limited localized effects. However, properly integrated and coequal with the ground scheme of maneuver, it can have operational level effects. This study examines two theories of the use of CAS at the operational level and then recommends changes to the view of CAS and the process for its apportionment and allocation. [Maj Peter A. Costello III, USAF / 1995 / 72 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: T-34]
 A United States Antisatellite Policy for a Multipolar WorldWhether to pursue the continued development of a United States antisatellite in the 1990s will prove a difficult choice for defense planners. Making a case for the weapon system in the bipolar world seems “intuitively obvious” to ASAT advocates. The US was faced with a formidable foe possessing weapons in superior numbers in many categories. The Soviet Union also recognized the “force-multiplier” effect space systems had for its forces made the Soviet Union appear an even more formidable enemy. Pursuing a US ASAT in that era appeared to many a logical, necessary choice to negate such advantages. Responding to the perceived threat, the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Carter administrations chose a “two-track” policy for the US ASAT program—arms control and ASAT research and development short of actual deployment. The Reagan and Bush administrations chose a different policy, opting for outright deployment convinced that verifiable arms controls on ASATs were unachievable and Soviet space systems must not be allowed to operate in sanctuary. Fearing an escalation of the arms race to space, Congress, in large part, has thwarted the plans of these administrations with ASAT testing bans and reduced funding. A new ASAT policy seems appropriate as the US faces an entirely new, but uncertain, threat with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the rise of a multipolar world. Analyzing the ASAT debate from the past and the dynamics of the emerging space environment and threat can help in formulating that new ASAT policy—a continued ASAT research and development program, short of production and deployment, and arms control combined with collective security to diminish threat uncertainty. As the US reduces defense spending and force structure, such a policy would serve the national interests of the United States as the multipolar world develops. [Maj Roger C. Hunter, USAF / 1995 / 57 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: ]
 Adaptive Command and Control of Theater AirpowerThe Air Force doctrinally advocates centralized command and control (C2) with decentralized execution as the best means to concentrate force on any facet of an enemy’s power. Although there are historical examples of effective command and control that have been less centralized, the USAF views decentralization as the cause of inefficient and suboptimal use of airpower. Trends in modern business, government, economics, science, and computer and communications systems suggest that it is appropriate to develop predominantly decentralized C2 methods to enhance the current doctrine. Two broad-based tools assist the development of the expanded spectrum of C2 options. First, this study develops a conceptual framework and describes eight interconnected subject areas to consider in describing a C2 system. Second, the author also describes the new science of complexity theory that provides interdisciplinary viewpoints to assess and enhance the adaptability and responsiveness of command and control. [Maj David K. Gerber, USAF / 1999 / 114 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: ]
 Aerospace Doctrine Matures Through a StormIn March 1992, the Air Force published a new Air Force Manual 1-1, Basic Aerospace Doctrine of the United States Air Force. This document is not merely an update of previous editions. Instead, it is a statement of propositions concerning the use of aerospace power set within the context of war, and based on explicit analysis of historical and contemporary experience. Its intent is to provide guidance for the exercise of professional judgement by all aerospace leaders. This thesis is intended to provide a framework for examining this new doctrine. It traces the heritage of aerospace power and examines the history and theory behind Air Force doctrine. It then evaluates how well this new manual explains aerospace power’s role in Desert Storm and assesses the implications of the doctrine necessary for the future joint use of aerospace forces. The research question asks how well this new AFM 1-1 provides the basic guidelines needed for using aerospace power in a theater-level conventional war such as Desert Storm. Unclassified material relating to the history of aerospace doctrine, aerospace performance in Desert Storm, and other service doctrine regarding aerospace power’s use, are investigated. The conclusion is that the March 1992 version of AFM 1-1 provides a sound doctrinal basis for such conventional theater conflicts. This new summary of basic aerospace doctrine is also broad enough to assist in the development of joint aerospace doctrine as well. [Lt Col Kurt A. Cichowski, USAF / 1992 / 95 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: T-10]
 Aerospace Strategy for the Aerospace NationThis study analyzes the need for a national aerospace strategy that encompasses the two aspects of aerospace power: the aerospace industry and military aerospace. The author assesses the aerospace industry as to its importance to the United States. The conclusion is that this industry provides the kind of high-technology, high-wage jobs necessary to improve the nation’s standard of living in the future. Next, the writer evaluates current military strategies against a set of political imperatives and the reliance each strategy has upon aerospace power. The results of this process show that each military service is very reliant upon aerospace power for the success of its strategy. By coupling these two building blocks with the serious problems that exist in the aerospace industry and in military aerospace, the author shows the need for the United States to develop a national aerospace strategy. The final section of the study proposes the goals and objectives of such a strategy and proposes the formation of a National Aerospace Council to fully develop and implement a national aerospace strategy. [Maj Stephen E. Wright, USAF / 1994 / 54 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: ]
 Air ControlIn 1921 as England faced severe financial pressures resulting from the economic strain of World War I, the British government sought a military strategy for policing its newly acquired Middle East mandates. After a successful demonstration of airpower’s effectiveness in Somaliland, the British adopted and implemented an air control strategy in Mesopotamia, Transjordan, Palestine, and Aden. Until 1936 air control was the military strategy for those areas. Air control changed the central notion of military strategy in that theater from a surface-based to an aerial-based scheme. The Royal Air Force (RAF) enjoyed success and encountered failure when it employed the air control strategy under various conditions. After World War II, almost 20 years after the RAF abandoned air control, the United States Air Force (USAF) explored the control concept as a potential deterrent strategy. Dubbed Project Control, the USAF ultimately declined the study’s main tenets but implemented elements of its proposals. Thereafter, air control remained a dormant design until the 1990–91 Persian Gulf War. There elements of the control strategy reemerged as a common thread in the conduct of the air war. This analysis of air control examines all three conceptual frameworks. By assessing the validity of the RAF and USAF models, this study finds that air control provides political and military leaders a military strategy for a smaller defense establishment. It also identifies shortcomings and advises caution when choosing the escalatory pattern of the control model. [Maj George R. Gagnon, USAF / 1993 / 60 pages / ISBN: AU Press Code: ]
 Airpower versus a Fielded ForceLt Col Haun examines two groups of airmen--the Misty forward air controllers (FAC) of Vietnam from 1967 to 1970 and the A-10 FACs over Kosovo in 1999. He compares the tactics used in these two cases in 'which US airpower was required to attack enemy forces independent of friendly ground troops. In the Vietnam War, Air Force O-1 and O-2 FAC began flying visual reconnaissance missions over the southern area of North Vietnam. A comparison of the Misty and A-10 FAC missions clearly demonstrates a failure of the USAF to develop a full range of suitable tactics for the direct attack of enemy fielded forces. Drawing from the lessons of the Misty and A-10 FACs, Colonel Haun's recommendations focus on equipment, tactics and training, and doctrine. Haun warns that airmen should understand there is no silver bullet for the challenge of target identification. No single piece of equipment or advance in technology will solve the problem. Airmen must first develop the proper doctrine and tactics, then take their equipment and trains as realistically as possible. Only then can USAF reach its potential for defeating an enemy army in the field. [Phil M. Haun / 2004 / 98 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: T-8]
 Airpower versus TerrorismThis study analyzes the effectiveness of airpower versus terrorism using three case studies. The first case study is Operation El Dorado Canyon, America’s response to Libyan state-sponsored terrorism. The second case study is Operation Infinite Reach, America’s cruise missile response to the 1998 al-Qaeda bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The third case study is the Israeli use of airpower versus the second Palestinian intifada of September 2000. The case studies address multiple common questions: What was the context? Why was airpower selected? How was airpower employed? What were the objectives and were they achieved? And, finally, What were the lessons learned? Additionally, each case study looks at the impact of military action on domestic opinion and third-party opinions. Overall, these three case studies reveal a spectrum of responses with which states can respond to terrorism. Operation Infinite Reach shows that when a nation is unwilling to commit itself seriously against an enemy, the message it sends is one of timidity and inertia. Operation El Dorado Canyon showed Mu’ammar Gadhafi that his support of terrorism would not come without cost. Further, Libya offered multiple high-value targets that could be destroyed—thus revealing a major weakness of states that sponsor terrorism. The Israeli use of air and ground power to combat terrorism has been effective, but this case also shows that military power alone cannot stop terrorism; at some point diplomacy must prevail. [Maj Todd R. Phinney, USAF / 2007, 93 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: T-9]
 An Enduring Framework for Assessing the Contributions of Force Structure to a Coercive StrategyDOD is still struggling to define itself in the post-cold-war age more than a decade after the new period began. With a strategy and force structure review occurring on average every two years, the military has still not been able to generate a consistent basis on which to justify its force structure or its strategy. Colonel Beene uses a decision analysis framework as a foundation for creating such a basis. Instead of depending on leadership for guidance, which changes with destabilizing regularity, he relies on the theories of coercion that began in the cold war era. Colonel Beene contends that these theories have particular value today, especially in light of the many innovations the nation has undertaken in the past decade. Modified and translated for modern conventional warfare, these theories form the basis for a framework of enduring requirements for any military force that undertakes a coercive strategy. Colonel Beene develops this framework to the operational level of analysis, and it is applied to two developmental air platforms, the Global Hawk Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle. He describes how this analysis tool compares to other tools of strategy and force structure assessment. Colonel Beene recommends the framework's continued use and development. [Eric A. Beene / 2002 / 90 pages / ISBN: / AU Press Code: T-23]
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