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Inflated by Air Common Perceptions of Civilian Casualties from Bombing
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
Pagination or Media Count:
One of the major issues in the history of airpower has been the affect that aerial bombardment has had upon the civilian population. This thesis examines the very common perception that aerial bombardment necessarily causes very heavy civilian casualties. From the early days of airpower this has been one of the primary assumptions of military theorists, politicians and the press. In fact, this thesis makes the case that, for a variety of reasons, the civilian casualties caused by air bombardment has been consistently overstated. From the 1930s to the present, the effect of airpower to produce casualties has been overestimated out of the ignorance of the press and the common perceptions of airpower. In some cases, the civilian casualties caused by air attack have been deliberately overstated in order to make a propaganda point. Recent conflicts such as the Gulf War demonstrate that the perceptions of heavy civilian casualties remain even if great care is taken to limit collateral damage in an air campaign. The recent wars show us that the deliberate falsification of civilian casualties from air bombardment is likely to remain as a major propaganda theme.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE