RAND PROJECT AIR FORCE SANTA MONICA CA
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As this volume appears, a single century has elapsed since armies and navies first began to experiment with the use of airplanes as implements of war. In the ensuing years, air power quickly became integral to the conduct of modern warfare, and sometimes its central element, particularly during the past several decades. Its use and effects are an increasingly important matter of study in international security scholarship, although it is fair to say that land and sea power, with their longer histories and somewhat greater stability of characteristics, remain more familiar to most scholarly observers. Air power is a vast subject, comprising all the uses of aviation in the pursuit of nations and other political actors power and security interests and the use of long-range missiles as well. Because of its focus on air power as an area of inquiry in international security studies, this essay does not aspire to provide a complete survey of air power history, to explore the many technological or sociological dimensions of air power, or to examine subjects such as the economic and cultural effects of air commerce. Nor does it give much attention to a number of primarily intra-military issues such as how best to organize and control a nations air power, although these understandably loom quite large for airmen. Yet some of these considerations do impinge significantly upon understanding air power more narrowly as an instrument of national military power, as the following discussion will reflect. Finally, this essay concentrates almost entirely on conventional air power, because nuclear-armed air power is addressed separately in this volume.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics