Investigating Oneself: The United States Air Force and its Evaluations of Air Power in War and Conflict
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
Pagination or Media Count:
Proving the effectiveness of the application of air power has been an important goal for the United States Air Force. However, since World War II up through at least the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the American Air Force has not been consistent in conducting extensive evaluations of its use of air power in major wars and conflicts. To assess the effectiveness of the American strategic bombing effort in World War II, the Army Air Force AAF established the civilian led and controlled United States Strategic Bombing Survey USSBS. The USSBS produced hundreds of reports that the AAF and the Navy used to justify their respective positions in the postwar debates over unification and strategy. Just three years after the 1947 unification of the armed services the newly formed independent Air Force found itself applying air power in Korea. Once the Korean War ended, however, the Air Force chose not to conduct an extensive evaluation along the lines of the World War II USSBS. This lack of interest in conducting an extensive evaluation of the effectiveness of air power in limited war continued when the Air Force did not assess itself by conducting an independent, civilian led evaluation of the Vietnam War. It was not until shortly after the Gulf War in 1991 when the Air Force conducted another intensive evaluation the Gulf War Air Power Survey GWAPS like the Air Forces World War II predecessor, the USSBS. In an important way, however, the USSBS was very different from the GWAPS. American airmen played a strong role in establishing the USSBSs organizational structure, in shaping the questions that it would answer, and airmen influenced the conclusions about strategic bombing in World War II that the USSBS reached. The airmen were thus pulling the Survey along in a direction that fit comfortably with the AAFs conceptual approach to air power and its post war interests in establishing an independent air arm.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics