By Simon Pearson.
The Islamic Alliance had spent years studying and learning Nato’s air assault techniques, always searching for weaknesses. The Egyptians and Saudis had all been taught first hand. No wonder they were able to give the first wave such a bloody nose. From Hardy’s Cyprus package thirty-seven aircraft were shot down. The other three packages and two Israeli equivalents had fared almost as badly in similarly sprung traps. A total of 106 Nato jets and 22 Israeli jets were lost. The silence of the air defences and the patience of the commanders had been richly rewarded. For the second time in a week the air campaign was suspended. With the loss of a total of five Death Stars, even the operations of the B-2s and F-117s were halted, their invisibility now very much past tense and clouded with uncertainty, while the way ahead was considered. The Islamic Alliance had moved every single SAM between dusk on the 30th and dawn on the 31st. ‘Air supremacy’ was replaced by ‘air denial’. The Alliance had won another round.
The roots of this failure could be traced back to a combination of the information revolution of the 1990s and a complacency about the problems posed by a sizeable opponent that was more reactive and flexible than the Iraqis in 1991, and the North Koreans and Serbs in 2002. The West had singularly failed to heed the warning signals. While more and more money was spent on tactical, operational and strategic information-gathering systems the complementary infrastructure required to sift, assimilate and then disseminate to the decision-makers and war-fighters remained woefully inadequate. The generals remained bullish, repeating worn-out phrases such as ‘Information is power’. What they failed to see was that the whole system was creaking under a flood of information. Throwing more computers and complex software at the problem actually slowed the whole process down as the information had to pass through an increasing number of interested parties before getting to where it was needed in a timely fashion. The revolutionary idea of a ‘military information buffet (much like a cybercafé)’, where all information and intelligence was freely and immediately available to all end-users, who would be able to take exactly what they required for their missions when they required it, were rejected on grounds of security.