Strategic Bombing - A Decisive Military Force?
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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The following monograph is a circumscribed look at the effects of air power on achieving political objectives. It is no way intended to be a commentary on the relative bravery of airmen compared to soldiers and sailors or an attempt to justify budgetary decisions on defense spending. The nature of the subject implies a competition for primacy between the Army and Air Force. My intent is not to pursue the notion of competition, but to examine the efficacy of an air force using strategic bombing to be decisive in the application of military power to achieve political objectives. To accomplish this I have chosen three examples from history that are often touted by airmen as conclusive proof of the decisive nature of airpower 1 the atomic bombing of Japan, 2 the LINEBACKER air operations over Vietnam, and 3 the air campaign for Operation Desert Storm. By comparing the political objectives, the actions of ground and naval forces, and the results of air operations I believe one can begin to determine the parameters of air powers ability to be a decisive military force. The choice of the U.S. Air Force as the only air force to be examined is driven by several factors. First, my readings indicate that the U.S. Air Force has a long history of doctrine and thought that stresses the importance of strategic attack and the ability to achieve national aims through air power. Second, the United States arguably has the most technologically advanced air force in the world. This overwhelming technological advantage plays to our national penchant for imagining war as a system on system event versus a complex social interaction. We want our air force to be decisive it provides a clean, long distance method to conduct diplomacy by combat.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics