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Project CHECKMATE is a "highly confidential strategic planning group tasked with 'fighting the next war' as tensions rise with Iran" that was "quietly established" by the U.S. Air Force in June 2007 as a "successor to the group that planned the 1991 Gulf War's air campaign," Sarah Baxter reported September 23, 2007, in Rupert Murdoch's Times of London.[1]

CHECKMATE is led by Brigadier-General Lawrence A. Stutzriem, Director, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Strategic Studies Group - CHECKMATE,[2] "considered one of the brightest" U.S. Air Force generals.[1] Stutzriem was a "senior officer" in the Coalition Air Operations Center based in Saudi Arabia[3][4] "that ran the Afghanistan air campaign."[5]

CHECKMATE "consists of 20-30 top air force officers and defence and cyberspace experts with ready access to the White House, the CIA and other intelligence agencies". Stutzriem, who is assisted by Dr. Lani Kass, a "former Israeli military officer and expert on cyberwarfare", reports directly to General Michael Moseley, chief of the Air Force. According to Defense sources, "[d]etailed contingency planning for a possible attack on Iran has been carried out for more than two years" by U.S. Central Command, Baxter wrote.[1]


Project CHECKMATE's "freethinking mission is 'to provide planning inputs to warfighters that are strategically, operationally and tactically sound, logistically supportable and politically feasible'. Its remit is not specific to one country, according to defence sources, but its forward planning is thought relevant to any future air war against Iranian nuclear and military sites. It is also looking at possible threats from China and North Korea," Baxter wrote.[1]


Project CHECKMATE was "formed in the 1970s to counter Soviet threats but fell into disuse in the 1980s. It was revived under Colonel John Warden and was responsible for drawing up plans for the crushing air blitz against Saddam Hussein at the opening of the first Gulf war" in 1991, Baxter wrote.[1]

In 1996, a RAND Corporation case study on "U.S. and Russian Policymaking With Respect to the Use of Force" stated that "There is no known Russian counterpart to the U.S. Air Force's Project CHECKMATE, which studies potential conflict regions around the world from an operational perspective in support of contingency planning."[6]

Air Force Cyberspace Command

In early November 2006, U.S. Air Force officials formed the Air Force Cyberspace Command, which "includes the Internet and other computer networks, as well as the electromagnetic spectrum."[7] that "will have authority to launch wars in cyberspace", which was "largely the brainchild of Dr. Lani Kass, director of the Air Force Cyberspace Task Force."[8]

Kass "noted the use of improvised explosive devices in Iraq, and the Sept. 11, 2001, masterminds using the internet and satellite communications to plan the attack, and simulators to practice the attack." "The command’s new capabilities will include the ability to attack other computer networks and will mostly be focused on being proactive in the cyberspace realm."[7]

Fact-checking CHECKMATE

It appears that, like many government agencies, CHECKMATE was not so much "established"[1] as it resumed its old identity. Its functions had never ended.

According to an August 2005 biographical profile for Clarence R. "Dick" Anderegg, Director, Air Force History and Museums Policies and Programs, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., Anderegg served as "an air and space power strategist in Project Checkmate during the planning and execution" of Operation Enduring Freedom, launched 2001 in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 2003 in Iraq.[9]

The U.S. Air Force's online profile for the "CHECKMATE Division" states that the division was disbanded after the first Gulf War at the orders of Gen. Colin Powell, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. However, "the Force Analysis Division was re-established in XOX. This division of about 25 cross-functional individuals (21 XO / 3 LG /1 IN and civilian contractors) was used primarily to do programmatic and force-level capability assessments." Following Powell's retirement in November 2004, the CHECKMATE name was "resurrected".[10]

According to the Air Force's June 2005 CHECKMATE profile:[10]

CHECKMATE "... would support the efficient running of an operationally oriented joint Air Operations Center. This direction resulted in the development of the Air Campaign Planning Tool and our close working relationship with the air components in the field and the other Services. I believe it is safe to say that the CHECKMATE Division is currently the Air Force's Center of Excellence for Air Campaign Planning. We have developed hardware, software, courseware and trained individuals from aircrew members to JFACCs in the campaign planning process. Our people have supported every AOR training exercise in the past year and are in constant demand to support planning initiatives inside and outside of the Beltway. But, most importantly, we have been available to meet the needs of the CSAF and XO in times of crisis, when a warfighting decision was necessary."


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Sarah Baxter, "Secret US air force team to perfect plan for Iran strike," The Sunday Times (UK), September 23, 2007.
  2. Bio: Lawrence A. Stutzriem, Air Force Link, accessed September 24, 2007.
  3. Henry Michaels, "US pilots face trial for Canadian "friendly fire" deaths in Afghanistan," WSWS, January 18, 2003.
  4. "U.S. pilots should have known Canadians were below, inquiry told," CBC News (Canada), January 17, 2003.
  5. Jed Babbin, "Coffee Five-Two. The 'friendly-fire' trial," National Review Online, January 23, 2003.
  6. Jeremy R. Azrael, Benjamin S. Lambeth, Emil A. Payin, and Arkady A. Popov, Proceedings: "12. Russian and American Intervention Policy in Comparative Perspective" in "U.S. and Russian Policymaking With Respect to the Use of Force", RAND Corporation, 1996.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Sgt. Sarah Wood, "New Air Force Command to Fight in Cyberspace," American Forces Press Service, November 3, 2006.
  8. "Lani Kass: Israeli Defense Force veteran heading up Air Force Cyberpace warriors," WayneMadsdenReport (Yahoo! Groups), October 24, 2006.
  9. Bio: Clarence R. "Dick" Anderegg, Air Force Link, current as of August 2005.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Checkmate History," Checkmate HQ USAF/Pentagon, last updated June 2005.

External articles

External resources

  • Patrick K. Gamble, Wikipedia: "July 1978 - May 1981, chief, Air Threat Analysis Group (Red Team), Project Checkmate, Directorate of Operations and Readiness, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C."
  • Profile: Rick Graber, Northrop Grumman, Directed Energy Professional Society, March 2004: "spent more than six years working for Project CHECKMATE".
  • Bio: General Lance L. Smith, : Air Force Link, current as of December 2005: Smith, who retires January 1, 2008, served June 1982-July 1986 as a "Project Checkmate analyst for interdiction, Europe and Southwest Asia."


  • Benjamin S. Lambeth, "Pitfalls in Force Planning: Structuring America's Tactical Air Arm," International Security, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Autumn, 1985), pp. 84-120.