The strategic air campaign against Iraq engaged organizers from diverse disciplines with diverse views. That the storm, when it broke, lasted just forty-three days is a tribute not only to those who planned it, but also to those who executed it. The strategic air campaign, the focus of this volume, the second in the account of the United States Air Force's participation in the Persian Gulf War, began with a spectacular nighttime attack by Coalition aircraft against the capital city of Baghdad. This attack, seen by the world, occurred in concert with bomb and missile attacks against outlying command, control, and communications nodes and the electrical grid supporting them. The strategic air campaign also targeted Iraq's chemical and biological weapons production and the sites of nuclear reactors. The strategic bombing campaign against Iraq's aircraft shelters, particularly successful, is recounted in this volume, as is the Coalition's effort to prevent the launching by Iraq of Scud missiles toward her Arab and Israeli neighbors.
The author has done a thorough job of utilizing the documentation produced by the Air Stall; the Ninth Air Force, and the former Strategic and Tactical Air Commands to describe the evolution of the combined command structure in Saudi Arabia. He has also conducted numerous valuable interviews with key USAF personnel and obtained much detailed information about the interactions among the participants whose responsibility it was to organize the campaign to free Kuwait. He exhaustively analyzes events and issues that preceded the execution of the strategic air war -operationally, Instant Thunder- and the rationale behind the selection of core strategic target sets -enemy centers of gravity. The author, Dr. Richard G. Davis, joined the USAF history program in 1980, transferring to the Air Staff History Branch in 1985 and to the Histories Division in 1990. He has published several articles on World War II strategic bombing and a military biography on one of the USAF's leading practitioners of strategic bombing, General Carl A. Spaatz.
Davis became familiar with modern service programs and doctrine by covering the Program Objective Memorandum and issues surrounding the interservice agreements known as the "31 Initiatives" from 1985 to 1990.