Accession Number : ADA330870

Title :   Strategic Airpower: The Search for the Holy Grail

Corporate Author : AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL

Personal Author(s) : Coleman, Gary S.

PDF Url : ADA330870

Report Date : 01 APR 1996

Pagination or Media Count : 37

Abstract : To a great extent, the history of airpower theory is the history of a futile search for the strategic knockout punch. From Douhet to LeMay, airpower zealots have argued that the proper application of airpower would, through various means, rapidly and inevitably bring an enemy nation to its knees. In practice, the efficacy of this belief remains to be conclusively demonstrated in any conflict. Nevertheless, the search for the aerial knockout punch continues to dominate airpower thinking today. The origin and persistence of this misplaced focus can be attributed to the general failure of airpower theorists and planners to fully incorporate concepts of the operational level of warfare into airpower thinking. Historically, the most troublesome aspect of any particular airpower theory is the linkage between tactical events, such as striking targets from the air, and the desired strategic and political effects. This critical link between tactics and strategy, which we know as the operational level of warfare, adds to airpower thinking the concepts of synergy and cumulative effect, concepts which in turn call the very idea of a strategic knockout punch into question. Failure to develop an adequate appreciation for the operational aspects of warfare substantially increases the danger of enjoying a seemingly endless string of tactical victories while suffering strategic defeat.

Descriptors :   *MILITARY STRATEGY, *AIR POWER, *BATTLE MANAGEMENT, MILITARY HISTORY, AIR STRIKES, MILITARY CAPABILITIES, THREAT EVALUATION, AIR FORCE PLANNING, NATIONAL DEFENSE, MILITARY ART.

Subject Categories : Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE