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Airpower Theory Essay

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“I believe that operational-level commanders must first master the basic philosophy and principles of warfare. Only then can they make current or new technologies their servant.” Since 1947, airpower theory had the greatest impact on the employment of American airpower, because the promise of strategic bombing would deliver decisive effects and achieve a swift victory continued throughout the wars in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. Although strategies, doctrines and technology changed over time, the application of US airpower revealed the dependence on the traditional air power theory in the second half of the twentieth century. In the first part, this paper will present the main prophecies and predictions of two of the most relevant airpower theorists.…show more content…
The Italian General Douhet viewed airpower as an offensive mean of warfare with a strategic mission. When the command of the air was once established, then direct offensives against surface targets could be employed. Air superiority with crucial for him. He believed, a war could be won quickly through aerial bombardment of an enemy’s population and vital center. This would demoralize civilians to such an extent that they would turn against the government and overthrow it. General William “Billy” Mitchell was the most influential air power advocate and theorist in the United States. He was influenced by Douhet´s thoughts. He was certain that strategic bombing in mass formation attacking centers of gravity would cripple civilian´s morale and could bring the defeat of any adversary on its own. Furthermore, Mitchell saw the need for centralized control of all airpower assets in a future air campaign. Having presented the main prediction and prophecies of two air power theorists, let us turn to their application through USAF leadership in the Korean and Vietnam…show more content…
In his influential work, The Air Campaign, John Warden argues that the use of strategic bombardment against the leadership of a government would lead to strategic paralysis. Furthermore, there would be no longer the need for direct attacks against an adversary’s forces. The purpose of the strategic employment of air power is to create strategic effect on the identified target set. This effect will be in support of the defined strategic aim, but may not be part of a theatre campaign. Warden developed a theoretical shift from economic warfare based on targeting the industrial web or directly against the population to informational targeting. The central theme of Warden´s Five Strategic Rings model is the focus on leadership. The other elements are organic essentials, infrastructure, population, and fielded forces. Warden stressed the importance of identifying the centers of gravity, which could vary depending on the adversary´s political, economic, military, and cultural characteristics. By circumstances, Warden´s Checkmate Division in the pentagon supported the development of the air option against Iraq in 1990. His model was applied to guide the development of the strategic air campaign and as Warden later contended “This was a case where the theory existed before the fact and the facts validated the theory.” There is little to say about the overwhelming success of operation