This ground-breaking study offers a compelling and original interpretation of the rise of military aviation. Jeremy Black, one of the world s finest scholars of military history, provides a lucid analysis of the use of airpower over land and sea both during the two world wars and the more limited wars of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Considering both the theory and praxis of air power, the authorbegins with hot air balloons, and then highlights the use of zeppelins, piston engine fighters, jet bombers, and finally the so-called Military Revolution of today. While discussing the growth of American and European military aviation, Black, a pioneer in emphasizing the importance of non-Western military history for understanding global developments, also traces the emergence of air power in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Black breaks new ground by exploring not only to conventional war both inside and outside Europe but also to the use of air power in unconventional wars, especially critical given to the spread of insurgencies around the globe. He vividly describes traditional debates over the pros and cons of strategic bombing and aircraft carriers versus battleships and gives equal attention to managerial, doctrinal, and technological innovations. The author shows how better management resulted in increasing lethality of close air support of the RAF during the latter part of World War II and at the same times highlights the limits of air power with case studies of the two Gulf Wars. The author goes beyond our traditional understanding of air power associated with bombing and fighter engagements, adding the important elements associated with naval power, including ground/logistics support, anti-aircraft measures, and political constraints. As he explains, air power has become Western politicians weapon of choice, spreading maximum destruction with the minimum of commitment. His current and comprehensive study considers how we got to this point, and what the future has in store. Anyone seeking a balanced, accurate understanding of air power in history will find this book an essential introduction."
A fascinating study of the changing military role of air power in the twentieth century, this book examines the sensational impact of the Great War, the pioneering work of air power theorists and visionaries in the interwar period, the air arms race, the SecondWorld War in Europe and the Far East, and finally, the post-war period.
What influences have shaped air power since human flight became a reality more than a hundred years ago? Global Air Power provides insight into the evolution of air power theory and practice by examining the experience of six of the world’s largest air forces--those of the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, Russia, India, and China--and of representative smaller air forces in Pacific Asia, Latin America, and continental Europe. The chapters, written by highly regarded scholars and military leaders, explore how various nations have integrated air power into their armed forces and how they have applied air power in both regular and irregular warfare and in peacetime operations. They cover the organizational, professional, and doctrinal issues that air forces confronted in the past, the lessons learned from victory and defeat, and emerging challenges and opportunities. Further, Global Air Power supplements the traditional military perspective with examinations of the ideological, economic, and cultural factors that give air forces their distinctive characters. Chapters show how the interplay among these internal factors, together with external challenges, determines the structure, role, and effectiveness of air forces. Together, these chapters illuminate universal trends as well as similarities and differences among the world’s air forces. Its combination of military history and sociopolitical analysis makes Global Air Power especially valuable to a broad range of historians, air power specialists, and general readers interested in national defense and international relations.
From the New York Times-bestselling author,an analysis of how flight has shaped warfare, politics, diplomacy, technology, and mass culture. In this book, Walter Boyne—former Air Force pilot and director of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum—examines the application of air power from the earliest days of the balloon down to the current era of space warfare, and postulates some startling new theories. The author unerringly depicts the contributions made by the people and planes of each era, some of them famous, some virtually unknown, but all vitally important. He highlights the critical competence of individuals at every step of the way, comparing the works of Guilio Douhet, William Mitchell, John Warden, and others philosophically, even as he compares the combat capabilities of leaders such as Hugh Trenchard, Bomber Harris, Herman Goering, Curtis LeMay, and Henry “Hap” Arnold. Aircraft, their weapons, and their employment are given equal treatment, and Boyne shares controversial, thought-provoking views on World War II bombings and air power in the Vietnam War.
The Strategic Concepts of John Warden and John Boyd
Author: John Andreas Olsen
Publisher: US Naval Institute Press
Airpower Reborn offers a conceptual approach to warfare that emphasizes airpower's unique capability to achieve strategic effects. Six world-leading theorists argue that a viable strategy must transcend the purely military sphere, view the adversary as a multi-dimensional system, and pursue systemic paralysis and strategic effects rather than military destruction or attrition. The book is divided into three parts. The first section presents a historical perspective on airpower theory and airpower strategy, tracing their evolution from the 1920s to the 1980s. The second section contains in-depth examinations of the strategic concepts that John R. Boyd and John A. Warden developed in the 1980s and 1990s, with an emphasis on their contemporary relevance. The final section provides further context on modern airpower theory and strategy. Theory, in this setting, serves as the basic paradigm, strategy represents its generic, mechanisms-centered application, and plans of campaign constitute the specific steps for any given situation. In short, the authors look beyond the land-centric, battlefield-oriented paradigm that has continued to dominate military theories and strategies long after airpower offered new options. The book acknowledges the essential role of advanced technology in improving airpower capabilities, but emphasizes that air services must cultivate and harness the intellectual acumen of airmen and encourage officers and men to think conceptually and strategically about the application of aerospace power. Modern airpower can offer political decision-makers more and better options--provided the underlying strategy coherently links the application of airpower directly to the end-state objectives rather than limiting it to "the battle." The book recommends that all countries should consider establishing a dynamic and vibrant environment for mastering aerospace history, theory, strategy, and doctrine; a milieu for cultivating broader knowledge of and insight into airpower; and a setting in which airpower experts have the opportunity to communicate their narrative to politicians, the media, and fellow officers, and to interact to mutual benefit with experts from all sectors of governance. This effort should emphasize the potentially unique contribution of airpower to political objectives and joint operations, and in turn connect to operational headquarters that do operational planning. Mastering such strategic thought lies at the heart of the military profession, but it requires in-depth knowledge and understanding of theory, strategy, and airpower, and transcends traditional metrics.
The Limits of Air Power analyzes the American bombing campaigns in Vietnam and shows why the use of air power, so effective in previous wars, proved unsuccessful in a limited war. Major Mark Clodfelter, a military historian, assesses the American use of air power from World War II through the Vietnam War, and shows how its effectiveness declined in Vietnam when air commanders and political leaders were faced with a very different kind of conflict than they had previously experienced. During World War II there was a very clear military objective – destruction of the Axis powers, in which the critical role of air power culminated in the detonation of two atomic bombs over Japan. During the Korean War, the threat of aerial attacks against North Korean dams hastened that war’s conclusion. But in Vietnam – where the enemy fought a guerrilla war and was not dependent on supply lines, and where no industrial economy existed – the threat of air power had less effect. The lessons learned from Vietnam, says the author, must become a part of Air Force doctrine going forward, and we ignore the lessons at our own peril. The New York Times praised The Limits of Air Power as “a courageous book. . . . It will enlighten any citizen interested in knowing whether the Air Force is prepared to do its job.”
Except in a few instances, since World War II no American soldier or sailor has been attacked by enemy air power. Conversely, no enemy soldier or sailor has acted in combat without being attached or at least threatened by American air power. Aviators have brought the air weapon to bear against enemies while denying them the same prerogative. This is the legacy of the U.S. Air Force, purchased at great cost in both human and material resources. More often than not, aerial pioneers had to fight technological ignorance, bureaucratic opposition, public apathy, and disagreement over purpose. Every step in the evolution of air power led into new and untrodden territory, driven by humanitarian impulses; by the search for higher, faster, and farther flight; or by the conviction that the air was the best way. Warriors have always coveted the high ground. If technology permitted them to reach it, men, women, and an air force held and exploited it – from Thomas Selfridge, first among so many who gave that “last full measure of devotion”; to “Women’s Airforce Service Pilot Ann Baumgartner, who broke social barriers to become the first American woman to pilot a jet; to Benjamin Davis, who broke racial barriers to become the first African American to command a flying group; to Chuck Yeager, a one-time non-commissioned flight officer who was the first to exceed the speed of sound; to John Levitow, who earned the Medal of Honor by throwing himself over a live flare to save his gunship crew; to John Warden, who began a revolution in air power thought and strategy that was put to spectacular use in the Gulf War. Industrialization has brought total war and air power has brought the means to overfly an enemy’s defenses and attack its sources of power directly. Americans have perceived air power from the start as a more efficient means of waging war and as a symbol of the nation’s commitment to technology to master challenges, minimize casualties, and defeat adversaries. This eight-two page book concludes that “future conflicts will bring new challenges for air power in the service of the nation.”
Statesmanship, Diplomacy, and Foreign Policy since 1903
Author: Robin Higham
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
From early zeppelins, to the Luftwaffe and the Enola Gay, to the unmanned aerial vehicles of today, air power has long been regarded as an invaluable instrument of war. However, nations have employed aircraft for many other purposes as well; they provide security and surveillance, and they are vital to myriad diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. Air power has become a means for statesmen to advance a variety of goals, opening up new possibilities and problems in times of peace as well as war. The Influence of Air Power upon History examines the many ways in which aviation technology has impacted policymaking since 1903. It analyzes air strategy in nations around the world and explores how a country's presumed technological capability, or lack thereof, has become a crucial aspect of diplomacy. Together, the essays in this insightful volume offer a greater understanding of the history of military force and diplomatic relations in the global community.
Airpower in Action tells the story of the evolution of airpower and its impact upon the history of warfare. Through a critical examination of twenty-nine case studies in which the United States in various coalitions and Israel played significant roles, the book offers perspectives on the political purpose, strategic meaning, and military importance of airpower. The authors demystify some of airpower’s strategic history by extracting the most useful teachings to help military professionals and political leaders understand what airpower has to offer as a “continuation of politics by other means.” Airpower in Action presents a spectrum of aerospace achievements, limitations, and potential that demonstrates how warfare has changed over the last few decades and why airpower has become a dominant factor in war. The case studies emphasize the importance of connecting policy and airpower: strategic effectiveness cannot substitute for poor statecraft. As the United States, its allies, and Israel have seen in their most recent applications of airpower, even the most robust and capable air weapon can never be more effective than the strategy and policy it is intended to support. By analyzing the operational history of the world’s most battle-tested air forces, the case studies can help military professionals understand the political context in which air operations must be assessed—beyond technological and statistical data—and develop an appreciation of the strategic value of airpower, rather than follow the tactical land-centric line of reasoning that still dominates military thinking. As a whole, this study is intended to encourage military professionals to combine the insights gained from these historical events with their specific fields of expertise, and ultimately to incorporate their enhanced airpower competence into their discussions with political decision makers, nongovernmental organizations, and fellow officers of all services. The focus on lessons and prospects allows officers to reflect on their calling and to articulate military principles more effectively in the councils of defense planning. Thus, while the historical chapters are relevant in their own right, the potential lessons must become integral to both the theoretical and applied dimensions of the airpower profession. The real value of airpower does not depend on promises of tactical and technological excellence, but on airpower’s relevance to statecraft proper and its ability to secure strategic and political objectives at a cost acceptable to governments and the public. The future of airpower lies in the ability of its practitioners to connect it to national policy and to view airpower in its political-strategic rather than tactical-technological domains. In sum, the U.S. and Israeli experiences show how and why airpower has become the political leaders’ “instrument of choice” for demonstrating national resolve. Airpower has become a symbol of American and Israeli strength, the supreme political muscle and ultimate trump card. This book should therefore be of interest to any nation that aspires to develop and operate airpower, or seeks to defend itself against it.
United States Air Force Academy. Department of History
This study analyzes the career of General Earle Everard “Pat” Partridge, USAF, with a focus on the airpower lessons that inspired his craftsmanship of the first air campaign of the United States Air Force. The author separates Partridge’s career into three sequential periods: company grade operational experiences; field grade instructional and doctrinal studies; and finally Partridge’s flag grade leadership and innovation. The conclusion, drawn from a career spanning both World Wars and culminating in the Korean War, is that Partridge generally endorsed official doctrine as a training goal; a goal to be adjusted to meet the unique and unpredictable contextual demands of an explicit war scenario. Next, the writer evaluates Partridge’s leadership in the Korean War-the first to follow the National Security Act of 1947-where service doctrine, joint training and technology deficiencies demanded unprecedented compromise and innovation. The final section of the study illustrates the lessons learned by Partridge in the aftermath of the Korean War, lessons that are as valuable today as they were fifty years ago on the Peninsula where America and its allies fought Communist expansion.