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Coercion from the Air: The United States Use of Airpower to Influence End of Conflict Negotiations

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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This monograph examines how the United States employed air campaigns to influence end-of- conflict negotiations and the strategic landscape in the terminal stages of conflicts. Some of the last major combat operations during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War were airpower-centric operations intended to influence end-of-conflict negotiations. The increasing destruction brought to the Japanese mainland by the Twentieth Air Force and the shock of two atomic bombs drove the Japanese to surrender. In the months and days leading to the armistice in Korea, Far East Air Force FEAF aircraft undertook offensive operations against Communist forces and rendered unusable all runways in North Korea, with the intent of hampering post-conflict North Korean rearmament efforts. As the Paris Peace Accords floundered in late 1972, the United States used Operation Linebacker II to demonstrate resolve to the Republic of Vietnam and to induce the return of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to the negotiating table. These case studies demonstrate evidence of air powers ability to produce significant coercive effects with acceptable levels of risk. This lends credibility to the oft-repeated claim that tactical and operational level air actions can produce strategic effects.

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Technical Report,05 Jun 2016,25 May 2017



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Approved For Public Release;

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