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Beyond Conflict and Kinetics: Airpower Strategy for Human Security Operations

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Technical Report

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Since 1903, airpower has provided a virtually impenetrable three-dimensional wall on the battlefield. As a result of this longstanding success, a significant amount of research, analysis, and scholarly endeavor has been devoted to understanding the strategy and missions accomplished during major combat operations. However, the success of airpower is not as impressive when viewed across the spectrum of military operations. In action described variously as military operations other than war, irregular warfare, and small wars, airpowers record is at best mixed. The political objectives of many of these operations tend to focus less on conflict against another military and more on the protection of a referent population. These types of political objectives closely identify with the concept of human security espoused by the United Nations, European Union and several states. Airpowers mixed record in these operations raises several questions. First, why is airpower so effective in traditional warfare but much less successful in operations other than traditional war Second, historical airpower theory is based largely on major combat operations, but what are the constituent elements of an airpower theory for human security operations Third, due to the interconnected nature of national security and military operations, if policymakers commit military resources for a human security objective how is the airpower strategy developed and executed To answer these questions, this study is guided by an overarching research question How effective is airpower at achieving human security political objectives This study will address the research question by defining human security in terms of the protected population and the type of security threat. The definition is used to analyze twenty-eight operations three case studies and twenty-five plausibility probesin which airpower supported a human security objective.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Humanities and History

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