One step back, two steps forward an analytical framework for airpower in small wars
Stuewe, Ronald F.
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Airpower capability and military technology have created a vision of airpower that focuses on the lethality of weaponry instead of the use of that weaponry as a political tool. Unfortunately, such a lethality-focused force optimized to fight interstate conflicts, by definition, ensures that this force is sub-optimal for waging wars at the sub-state level. Small wars are conflicts where the political and diplomatic context, and not the military disposition of the combatants, is usually the determining factor. Following World War II there emerged an era of insurgencies and limited wars of territorial dispute. These small wars required new operational and tactical innovations involving the use of airpower, as the very nature of these wars differed from conventional conflict towards which most of aviation was geared. This thesis analyzes six historical cases involving the use of airpower across a wide spectrum of small wars through the lens of an analytical framework for countering insurgencies. While the typologies of no two conflicts are identical, and the application of airpower equally varied, this work provides fundamental assertions and implications regarding the proper use of airpower for waging war at this level.
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