DoD Plans Allied Force Review
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 12, 1999 The Department of Defense will conduct an after-action review for Operation Allied Force, Pentagon officials announced July 8.
Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre and Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will head the review. They expect to brief Defense Secretary William Cohen on the study around Labor Day.
Hamre said during a press conference that these reviews are part of a normal process that "will help us [U.S. military] do our job better if we ever have to go to war again." He said the review would also be used in making resource decisions for next year's budget and as a foundation for future strategic planning.
Vice Adm. Vern Clark, director of the Joint Staff, said the lessons-learned study is organized into three groups to review three primary mission areas: deployment and employment operations, intelligence support for operations, and alliance and coalition warfare. Each group is chaired by a flag officer and will have members representing the services, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and defense agencies.
The regional commanders in chief, the services and defense agencies will provide their information to these working groups. Hamre said he did not want to limit what they submit. "If we ask them to answer questions we pose to them, then the tendency is to just answer those questions," Hamre said. "Some other aspect may be equally important, but we wouldn't receive that information."
Clark said that any after-action review starts at a tactical level and moves to the strategic. So up and down the chain of command, this review has significance and use.
High on the list of topics the groups will address is the use of new systems and technologies. Unmanned aerial vehicles -- like the Predator -- were important to Operation Allied Force, and their impact will certainly be studied, Clark said. The process of getting information to those who need it on an almost-real time basis will also be examined.
In the area of deployment, study group members will look at the challenges in quickly getting the force in place and operating from forward locations. They will also review operations in an air defense environment where the enemy's use of decoys, such as tractors made to look like tanks, misled NATO pilots and created problems in battle damage assessment. Each of the 30 confirmed instances of collateral damage that happened during the air campaign would be studied to find out what went wrong.
Hamre said the technology gap between the United States and its NATO allies also will be addressed. He said the operation pointed out the need for our allies to have stronger defense budgets.
"Our allies have not invested in what it takes to fight a modern war the way we do it, and the way I think that Western democratic societies want to fight wars -- with a great deal of precision, minimal collateral damage, intense operations, so you can quickly get it over with," Hamre said.
Hamre told reporters the review will answer many of their questions, but emphasized its goal is to prepare the U.S. military to fight future wars. "We've got to figure out what worked and what didn't work -- and we had lots of things both ways," he said.