John Warden III
John A. Warden III (1943-) is a retired United States Air Force colonel and an authority on strategy. To the general public, he may be best known for his book, Planning the Air Campaign.  Warden, after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, ran a Pentagon doctrinal research unit called Checkmate, under his overall assignment of Deputy Director for Strategy, Doctrine, and Warfighting, HeadquartersUnited States Air Force. His research includes a good deal of interpretation of Carl von Clausewitz's center of gravity concepts to modern warfare:
The term "center of gravity" is quite useful in planning war operations, because it describes that point at which the enemy is most vulnerable and the point where an attack will have the best chance of being decisive. The term is borrowed from mechanics, indicating a point against which a level of effort, such as a push, will accomplish more than that same level of effort could accomplish if applied elsewhere.Many current theorists argue whether a war has one, or multiple, centers of gravity. Warden is among those that believes there are many, and may be at various levels of warfare. Warden is known for his concentration on the operational art of warfare, which he describes as
"...the next level below strategic. It is primarily concerned with how to achiee the strategic ends of the war with the forces allotted. It is the level at plans are made for the actual employment of land, sea and air forces, and the level where these forces are used in the course of a campaigh. Generally, a theater commander is concerned with operations, as opposed to strategy.
He now speaks, writes, and does strategy consulting. His last Air Force assignment before retirement was as the Commandant of the Air Command and Staff College, following a tour as Special Assistant to the Vice President of the United States.
Warden presented the original for the 1991 Gulf War air campaign to GEN (ret.) Chuck Horner, then commanding air forces (CENTAF) for United States Central Command. According to a book by Horner (coauthored by Tom Clancy), a lieutenant general at the time, found he did not work well with Warden, and three stars beats one eagle. Sound thinking was involved, one member of the Checkmate. David Deptula, teamed stayed in Saudi Arabia, and now is himself a lieutenant general, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, United States Air Force.
The problems first seemed a matter of personalities. GEN H Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., commanding United States Central Command during the Gulf War, spoke well of Warden's original air war concepts. Schwarzkopf did express concern that Warden saw the air component winning the war, and did not provide enough support to land forces.
Before his Pentagon planning assignment, he had a number of operational and flying assignments, including commanding 36th Tactical Fighter Wing, Bitburg Air Base, Germany. The Wing flew 72 F-15C air superiority fighters, with which he developed doctrine for establishing control of the air.
He was a 1965 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and earned a Master's degree from Texas Tech University, and is a graduate of the National War College. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with ten oak leaf clusters.
- Warden, John A., III (2000), The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat (revised edition), toExcel
- Clancy, Tom & Chuck Horner (1999), Every Man a Tiger: The Gulf War Air Campaign, Putnam Adult
- Schwarzkopf, H Norman, Jr. (1992), It Doesn't Take a Hero, Bantam