AIRPOWER AGAINST AN ARMY CHALLENGE AND RESPONSE IN CENTAFâ€™S DUEL WITH THE REPUBLICAN GUARD. BY WILLIAM F. ANDREWS A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIRPOWER STUDIES FOR COMPLETION OF GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIRPOWER STUDIES AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, ALABAMA ABSTRACT In January and February 1991, Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) conducted an air-to-ground onslaught against Iraqâ€™s Republican Guard. The requirements of this operation conflicted with several aspects of the U.S. Air Forceâ€™s preparations for a European battleground. The low-altitude tactics CENTAF crews had practiced for the previous decade and a half were unsuitable for the task at hand. This study examines how effectively CENTAF adjusted air operations against the Republican Guards to the changing realities of combat. The extent to which existing USAF doctrine prepared CENTAF for this operation provides a baseline for the amount of adaptation required. The subsequent narrative identifies tactical innovations developed during the operation, the main elements of adaptive process, those factors that helped and hindered the process, and the sources of CENTAFâ€™s innovations. Initial F-16 and B-52 attacks on the Republican Guard registered little success. In response, CENTAF launched six significant tactical innovations in one week: A-10 deep interdiction, A-10 reconnaissance, F-16 Killer Scout operations, F-16 forward basing, F-111 and F-15E "Tank Plinking," and the use of cockpit videotape as a bomb damage assessment (BDA) source. These innovations required CENTAF aviators to create new tactics as they conducted operations. CENTAFâ€™s effectiveness against the Guard divisions improved, resulting in greater destruction of Iraqi forces. Critically weakened by air attack, the two Guard divisions that stood and fought were annihilated during the campaignâ€™s ground phase. CENTAFâ€™s adaptation to the realities of war in the Gulf, accomplished with impressive speed, was facilitated by four conditions. Air superiority created a permissive environment for innovative tactics. Open-minded attitudes of senior commanders nurtured the growth of new methods from all quadrants, allowing innovative ideas to flow freely up and down the chain of command. The commanderâ€™s faith in motivated and well-trained subordinates allowed units to find optimal solutions to complex problems in minimum time. Personal initiative cultivated on U.S. training and tactics ranges, in the classrooms at Nellis AFB, and flight briefing rooms across the USAF was the bedrock of the adaptation process. Although CENTAF did not precisely "fight the way it trained," the Air Forceâ€™s mantra, "flexibility is the key to airpower," was reaffirmed by CENTAFâ€™s adaptive process. Such flexibility should be perpetuated during peacetime in order to provide the Air Force the mental, physical, and organizational capability to adapt in future conflicts.