Even before the first bomb fell, some observers believed the air campaign held the promise of winning the Persian Gulf War. But overall there was rampant uncertainty over whether air power could assure the outcome without a major ground offensive that might entail a notable loss of life. Computer models using traditional assumptions about attrition warfare predicted allied casualties in the thousands. The final authorizing order from the President to the Commander in Chief, Central Command, acknowledged that losses could reach 10 percent of fielded coalition ground forces. Despite such concerns, the consequences of initial air operations on shaping the war could not be denied. Opening attacks against command and control facilities and integrated air defenses proved uniformly successful, with some 800 combat sorties launched at night under radio silence against important targets. Only one coalition aircraft was lost, a Navy F/A-18, presumably to an infrared missile from a MiG-25. Over the next three days, the air campaign systematically struck targets on the strategic and operational levels, gaining unchallenged control of the air and freedom to operate with near impunity against enemy airfields, ground forces, and other assets. When a cease-fire was declared five weeks later, most observers acknowledged the roles of all elements of the coalition, albeit with interpretations largely drawn along service lines. However, the prevailing view was that Desert Storm was the apotheosis of air power. The only question that remained was whether the conflict pointed to the predominance of air power in future wars and thus to a need for a new way of viewing military operations. This article provides a new assessment of the use of air power in the Persian Gulf War. (6 photographs).