Today and in the future, armed conflict is anticipated to be short, decisive, and accomplished with a minimum of casualties. Much of the victory achieved by the US and its allies in Desert Shield and Desert Storm is correctly attributed to advances in technology—the combination of greater accuracy in weapons with the access enabled by stealth, along with more fast dissemination of knowledge through information technologies. Over a decade has elapsed since the Desert Storm turning point in the conduct of conventional war. The security environment has changed and the tools of warfare have been enhanced, but what is yet to be fully understood and integrated into the security planning is another critical element of what enabled success of the Gulf War air campaign: the effects-based approach to its planning and execution The Gulf War air campaign initiated profound transformation in the planning and amendment of warfare. The results were dramatic in that they changed the expectations of modern warfare.
The object of parallel war is to achieve effective control over the set of systems relied on by an adversary for power and influence—leadership, population, vital industries, transportation and distribution, and forces. Action to induce specific effects rather than just destruction of the subsystems making up each of these strategic systems or centers of gravity is the foundation of the concepts of parallel war, rapid decisive operations, or any other notion that seeks to achieve rapid dominance over an adversary. The crux of these constructs is not their physical elements, but their theoretical ones.
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