Accession Number:



Great Soldiers on Airpower

Descriptive Note:

Journal article

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



THE ROLE OF airpower in modern war engenders continuous debate. For some military thinkers, the case for airpower has not been made. In this article, seven great soldiers testify to the decisive nature of air power in modern war. At the strategic level of war, they saw airpowers unique ability to destroy an enemy nation from the inside out. They understood that when a nation cannot function, its military follows suit -- and that airpower can render a nation dysfunctional. Bradley acknowledged this logic. DOlier documented it. Eisenhower put the power of his presidency behind it. At the operational level of war, where large numbers of forces mass and maneuver, Eisenhower, Marshall, Patton, Bradley, Giap, and Khaled have testified to airpowers decisive ness. Based on personal experiences with all types of military operations, each came to understand that surface forces cannot effectively move, shoot, and communicate under efficient air attack. As professional soldiers, they recognized this shortcoming as critical to any military operation. When one side can move, shoot, and communicate -- while its opponent cannot -- it has a decisive advantage. Each of these soldiers would vigorously argue that well-equipped and well-led surface forces are necessary to exploit this advantage, but each understood that control of the air enables this advantage in the first place. Healthy skepticism is always valuable. The fact that something has worked in the past does not mean that one should slavishly rely on it indefinitely. Thus, a healthy skepticism of airpowers contributions in modern war is valid. However, critics must take the lessons of the past half century into account when they debate the merits of airpower. Some of the greatest soldiers of our era did so and came down firmly in support of the decisive nature of airpower.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: