Accession Number : ADA421969

Title :   Setup: What the Air Force Did in Vietnam and Why

Corporate Author : AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL

Personal Author(s) : Tilford, Earl H., Jr

PDF Url : ADA421969

Report Date : JUN 1991

Pagination or Media Count : 328

Abstract : The United States Air Force of the 199Os faces perhaps the single greatest challenge to its institutional weltanschauung since it became an independent service in 1947. The specter of a hostile, expansionist Soviet Union-which, for the last 45 years, has justified the maintenance of a large strategic air force overwhelmingly oriented to the western European theater is fading fast with no similarly immense threat on the immediate horizon to take its place. As a result, the USAF, perhaps more than any other US military service, faces the prospect of losing the foundation upon which it has based its entire institutional identity and even its very existence. Strategic bombing is not mere doctrine to the USAF; it is its lifeblood and provides its entire raison d'etre. Strategic bombing is as central to the identity of the Air Force as the New Testament is to the Catholic church. Without the Gospels there would be no pope; and without strategic bombing there would be no Air Force. The theology of strategic bombing has influenced every aspect of the Air Force's development since well before World War II. This system of belief too often has led the keepers of the USAF's institutional memory to dismiss as aberrant, peripheral, and irrelevant anything that fell outside the narrow confines of its strategic concepts. The USAF's uncritical approach to its own past has enabled it to declare strategic bombing decisive where it was not (Europe, 1943%5); to claim victory where there was none (Vietnam, 1972); and to neglect those air operations that, indeed, proved indispensable and potentially decisive (tactical air campaigns in the European and Pacific theaters during World War II and in Korea during 1950 and 1951).

Descriptors :   *AIR FORCE, *AERIAL WARFARE, *VIETNAM WAR, MILITARY FORCES(UNITED STATES), MILITARY OPERATIONS, MILITARY STRATEGY, THEATER LEVEL OPERATIONS, UNITED STATES, HISTORY, STRATEGIC WARFARE, KOREA, AIR POWER, STRATEGIC BOMBING, CAMBODIA, LAOS.

Subject Categories : Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE