View The Document

Accession Number:



The Air Campaign: John Warden and the Classical Airpower Theorists


Author Organization(s):

Report Date:



Much has been made about the planning for and execution of the aerial dimension of the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. A major debate both within and outside of the US Air Force has been associated with the influence of Col John Warden. He was then a member of the Air Staff in the Pentagon and theoretically without an assigned function in theater-level campaign planning. Arguments that the Gulf War was a manifestation of a revolution in military affairs (RMA) with profound implications have greatly but unnecessarily complicated the debate. Equally important is the argument that antedated the Gulf War to the effect that such conflicts between states using conventional weapons and methods area passing phenomenon. The Gulf War might have been the last of its breed. This monograph explores whether there is anything significantly new about the ideas of Colonel Warden. Are they merely the repackaged concepts of the classical airpower theorists - as championed by Giulio Douhet, Hugh Trenchard, and William Mitchell? Examining Warden's ideas might yield an improved insight regarding whether we are really in the middle of a new RMA or merely continuing an RMA that began when the Wright brothers first brought the third dimension into play in 1903. The work does not yield many firm conclusions on the related topic of whether conventional war between states is an outdated concept or whether we can anticipate more conflicts like the one with Iraq. Still, this monograph contributes significantly toward improving our guesses in that regard. Initially this monograph establishes the context in which strategic air theory and doctrine was first articulated. Then it builds a baseline to use in evaluating the ideas of John Warden by devoting one chapter each to Douhet, Trenchard, and Mitchell. Chapter 5 compares Colonel Warden's ideas with those of the classical theorists. A conclusion, chapter 6, closes out the monograph.



File Size:





Communities of Interest:

Distribution Statement:

Approved For Public Release

View The Document