1990: ANSER and the Gulf War
“Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm had a pervasive effect on our work.” So began the first of the highlights described in Analytic Services’ annual report for 1991. However, the company’s efforts related to what became known as the Gulf War actually began in 1990.
On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Less than a week later, U.S. Air Force fighter planes were in Saudi Arabia after King Fahd requested military assistance. The massive U.S. force buildup—preparations for a possible major war—in the months that followed was dubbed Operation Desert Shield. It was during this time that ANSER began bolstering the Air Force with some relatively small studies related to what was happening in Southwest Asia.
After the Iraqi invasion, U.S. military leadership began shifting their preparedness planning from industrial mobilization to industrial surge. Such a surge would occur only if a war broke out, but many actions were being taken to enhance that surge capacity. If a war did break out, this revised policy would support U.S. actions in the Persian Gulf by sustaining Central Command (CENTCOM) and replenishing items diverted from other commands to CENTCOM.
ANSER developed Graduated Mobilization Response checklists for the Air Force, the briefing for which included a consolidated list of surge preparatory actions. Copies of the draft plan were circulated in the Pentagon.
The potential major war in Southwest Asia posed a certain threat that stimulated ANSER to other analytical support for the Air Force in the fall of 1990. For some time, ANSER had been staying cognizant of the threat of chemical and biological weapons. “With the spread of technology becoming ever more rapid,” went the abstract on one ANSER briefing on the subject, “it has only been a matter of time before a nation with limited assets but the desire for a ‘poor man’s weapon of mass destruction’ turned to biological and chemical warfare.”
To build the Air Force’s knowledge base on what ANSER called this “relatively obscure aspect of modern warfare,” ANSER initiated an informal series of instructional briefings for selected members of the Air Staff. ANSER also presented the tutorials to some members of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict (OASD(SO/LIC))—the Department of Defense office responsible for countering foreign terrorism.
During the buildup phase of Operation Desert Shield and continuing through the operation that followed—Operation Desert Storm, from January to March 1991—the U.S. military made a concerted effort to conduct extensive realistic training exercises using the deployed forces. The Air Force initiated the Rapid Response Process (RRP) to speed up the acquisition of equipment to fulfill urgent combat requirements related to that training.
For projects inducted into the RRP effort, ANSER directly supported the activities of two decision-making authorities related to those projects: the Special Action Team (SAT) and the General Officer Steering Committee (GOSC), who reviewed candidate RRP projects prior to presenting them to the Vice Chief of Staff for implementation approval.
ANSER also helped the Air Staff evaluate a major new system, the development of which was being expedited to operational status so that it could be used for the impending war. The Joint STARS, an advanced airborne radar system for supporting attacks on ground targets, was given its first operational field demonstration, and ANSER assisted the Air Staff in evaluating the results. Those results became the foundation for the JSTARS’s operation in Desert Storm, where the radar-equipped Boeing 707 flew more than 500 combat hours and garnered praise for its unique ability to track mobile Iraqi forces.
ANSER’s biggest and perhaps most influential effort for the Gulf War actually occurred after the war ended in early March 1991. Later that month, the Air Force Chief of Staff directed that the Air Force Center for Studies and Analysis serve as the repository for data and play a key role in gathering data on the war. The following month, the Air Staff formed a Gulf War project office to serve as the focal point for this process.
By late summer of 1991, after the Air Staff, the Air Force Office of History, and other agencies had conducted various research projects on the Gulf War, Secretary of the Air Force Donald Rice stated that he desired a more ambitious and inclusive survey and study of the war. The result was the Gulf War Air Power Survey (GWAPS).
For this landmark study, Secretary Rice directed, the GWAPS group would proceed in a “careful and meticulous fashion” and do so “according to the highest standards of professionalism and intellectual integrity and objectivity.” The GWAPS group soon concluded that a contractor should participate in every aspect of the survey—a contractor with expertise in every aspect of the survey, including operations, tactics, and command and control. Additionally, the contractor would provide computer expertise and facilities to support the entire GWAPS staff, which was expected to number in excess of 60 people. The GWAPS group contacted ANSER in late August 1991 to see if they could support such an activity—in all of its myriad requirements—on short notice.
On 3 September 1991, ANSER was awarded the contract.
ANSER immediately assigned personnel to assist on the seven task forces for the study. Aron Pinker was assigned to Task Force I, Chronology and Statistics. Frank Cartwright was assigned to Task Force III, Logistics, Support, and Space. Steve Orton, a Vietnam veteran and former intelligence officer who attended MIT and came to ANSER after 20 years in the Air Force, was assigned to Task Force VI, Operations and Effects. ANSER also formed a Research Services Support Section—which became the single greatest repository of Air Force data and records involving the Gulf War—included Marguerite Gibson and J.D. Chandler. At the height of the study activity, some 20 ANSER personnel were assigned to the project.
The final draft of the GWAPS was ceremonially presented to the Secretary of the Air Force on January 14, 1993.