Ellis on NATO war with Serbia Critique



Background: Due skittishness about NATO casualties in the Kosovo campaign, Ellis's aviation forces were constrained to fly above 15,000 feet over Serbia.  (In the era before smart weapons, air-to-ground weapons were dropped from much lower altitudes -- to gain accuracy for weapons much less likely than smart weapons to hit their targets.)

This 15K' stricture made hits by Serb ground-based air defenses on NATO aircraft much less likely.  Yet the stocks of smart air-to-ground weapons in NATO inventories permitted hitting targets even at those altitudes.

As you know from my lecture, this combination worked.  NATO lost no aircraft to enemy fire, and yet achieved its compellence objective with Serbia  (even though the duration of the campaign was roughly 10 times what was expected at its outset).

The purpose of the weekly assignments is to improve your ability to critique selected

defense reports, studies and briefings. They will help us to help you to quickly grasp the analytical foundation of any work, evaluate it, and to offer your views on it-· the key steps in critical thinking about defense analyses.

Because any defense leader-or any leader, for that matter-has limited time to spend on individual issues, a good critique must be succinct and dispassionate. Thus, your critiques are limited to 500 words. Good critiques are lean, crisp and, above all, illuminating. Good critiques also stand on their own-not requiring the reader to be intimately familiar with the analysis.

The following will help you get started: 

After reading the work, and before you begin to write, try to fit the analysis into proper context. Keep in mind the setting in which a decision maker-the analysis's and its

critique's consumer-will view the work. 

Next, identify the key assumptions that underlie The work Identify them explicitly (sometimes the author will help you), and decide the degree to which you agree or disagree to which you agree or disagree substantially with any particular assumptions, note why. 

Identify alternative assumptions, if appropriate and possible. Pose at least one

competitor assumption (usually, one you'd prefer), and contrast its viability.

If the work is not current, make an issue of it only if new information has become available that refutes the work. (It is generally most appropriate to view the work from the time perspective when it was done.) 

If important facts are incorrect --especially if they influence the results of the analysis -

identify and correct them. If other evidence or facts were omitted, characterize and add


Finally, decide whether or the author's conclusions flow from the works logic and evidence. If not jot down why not.

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