May 19, 2024

The great benefit of looking at John Warden’s system is that it [employed] effects-based objectives [for] attacking an enemy

A BETTER PEACE continues the Great Strategists series with a look at the systems-based theory of John Warden III, Colonel, U.S. Air Force retired. Out of the emerging theories of airpower and his own experiences in Vietnam, Warden developed the five-ring system model of an enemy force. Using effects-based operations, Warden used the five rings to suggest ways to use air operations to more efficiently influence an enemy force. Attacking targets closer to the center of the rings meant greater effects on the enemy. Presenting the history, concept, and implications of this theory are U.S. Army War College professors Clay Chun and Jacqueline E. Whitt.



Clay Chun is Chair of the Department of the Distance Education at the U.S. Army War College. Jacqueline E. Whitt is Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Army War College and is the Editor of A BETTER PEACE. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army, or Department of Defense.

Image: Portrait of John Warden, U.S. Air Force photo; Five ring graphic adapted from Warden, John A. “The enemy as a system.” Airpower journal 9, no. 1 (1995): 40-55.

Image Credit: Composed by Tom Galvin


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