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In order to fulfill its potential, Air Power can be generated through a variety of different air operations. They will usually progress in a certain order. Under conventional military teaching it is considered that Air Power came of age during the first Gulf War, and the conflict was a near-perfect demonstration of Air Power planning.

The first stage is Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD). This consists of destroying the enemy's ability to interfere with Air Power operations, and thus enabling the friendly forces to establish one of the Degrees of Control of the Air.

Ops then progress to Air Operations for Strategic Effect, targeting the enemy's Strategic Centres of Gravity. This degrades the enemy's ability to give battle on all fronts, effectively "softening" his forces to prepare for the next stage.

Offensive Counter Air Operations can then be waged against forces in order to enable friendly armies and navies to proceed with their respective ops without excessive interference from the enemy.

Defensive Counter Air Operations are considered undesirable, since losing them loses the War.

Battlefield Air Interdiction intercepts and destroys or paralyzes enemy resupply routes.

Close Air Support operations are the risky ops that support military forces on land or sea in close range; it is this sort of operation that often leads to fratricide, but when used effectively it will act as a force multiplier - adding strength to conventional military attcks.

Long term, Air Power may remain in order to enforce peace, as was the case in post-War Iraq from 1991 onwards. For 12 years the Royal Air Force and USAF patrolled the skies of northern and southern Iraq in order to prevent its air force from regrouping; this was successful. Saddam Hussein, it is now known, buried his air force, and at the outset of Gulf War II only two Iraqi fighter aircraft were airworthy.

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