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This important report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. Throughout air power's inaugural century, theorists have posited numerous schemes to best exploit the air weapon's inherent flexibility and ubiquity. The evolution of air power theory has been fashioned along the way by harsh lessons of war, remarkable advances in technology, and the visionary concepts of a few select airmen.
Two modern-day theorists, Colonels John Boyd and John Warden, have significantly contributed to this evolution through their respective works on strategic paralysis. Although currently in vogue in the aftermath of Desert Storm, the notion of strategic paralysis has been around for quite some time. Its historical roots reach back to the writings of the Eastern philosopher of war, Sun Tzu, and the quest for paralysis underpins all theories of strategic conventional air power in one form or another. Characterized by its nonlethal intent and promise of force economization, strategic paralysis differs markedly from the more traditional strategies of annihilation and attrition.
Chapter 2 examines the idea of paralyzing, or incapacitating, one's opponent in greater detail. Although currently in vogue among civilian and military analysts of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the notion of strategic paralysis has been around for quite some time. I trace its historical roots to the ancient writings of the Chinese philosopher of war, Sun Tzu, and demonstrate that, in one form or another, the quest for paralysis underpins all theories of strategic conventional air power. I then produce a working definition of strategic paralysis by examining this concept in light of the theoretical works of British strategist J. F. C. Fuller and German historian Hans Delbruck. This analysis reveals what strategic paralysis is and what it is not.
Chapters 3 and 4 summarizes and critique the theories of strategic paralysis offered by John Boyd and John Warden. In his theory of conflict, Boyd highlights the psychological and temporal aspects of war and argues that one can paralyze an enemy by operating inside his observation-orientation-decision-action (OODA) loop. This can be accomplished by "tightening" friendly OODA loops and/or "loosening" enemy OODA loops. Thus, the key to winning in conflict lies in establishing a relative advantage over one's enemy in terms of both OODA loop speed and accuracy. Ultimately, this edge allows one to penetrate the opponent's "moral-mental-physical being" to negate his capability and will to resist through moral alienation, mental disorientation, and physical deprivation.