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Preventing a Cyber Dresden: How the Evolution of Air Power can Guide the Evolution of Cyber

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Technical Report

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Air University School of Advanced Air and Space Studies Maxwell AFB United States

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World Wars I and II witnessed air powers development in the crucible of hostilities. Ambiguous and competing air power schools of thought, on occasion, resulted in the strategically questionable employment of air power. The Allies bombing of the cultural city of Dresden in February 1945 serves as a vivid instance of the results of these tensions. The firestorms that devastated Dresden now inflame the contemporary air power debate was the area bombing of Dresden proportionate to the commensurate military gains Striking similarities exist between the emergences of cyber power today, as a means of warfare in a new domain, and the development of air power in the first half of the twentieth century. Reflection upon air powers evolution has been employed as a guide for the more efficient and effective development of cyber power. An analysis of air powers formative years has highlighted many of the pitfalls that lie hidden on cyber powers developmental path. An awareness of these pitfalls will allow cyber power to develop pre-emptive strategies on how best to avoid them thus, debates pertaining to a cyber Dresden will be able to take place before, rather than after, the event. Learning from air powers early experiences will help prevent cyber power from becoming mired in the same pits that frustrated air powers development. In turn, cyber advocates will be better able to concentrate their focus upon developing a coherent theory of cyber power, uniquely tailored to the challenges of their own domain.

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