Aerial Interdiction: Air Power and the Land Battle in Three American Wars

When even the Air Force admits that they have not paid enough attention to a field of aerial warfare, you can be assured that they have nearly ignored it.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, a study of military history yields the unfortunate conclusion that air strategists have paid far too much attention in their planning to strategic bombing (reducing the enemy’s political, economic, and communications infrastructure) and air-to-air combat (shooting down the enemy’s fighters and bombers) and not enough to other fields where, perhaps, credit for success could not be attributed to the air arm. Politics does more than empirical evidence or threat analysis to determine doctrine, strategy, tactics, and weapons, and this is a dangerous vulnerability.

Mind you, the Air Force is not alone in this failing – each of the five services (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines) suffers from this malady in some degree, though the Marines and Coasties, used to making a little go a long way, suffer somewhat less so. To the zoomies’ credit, the historians they fund at the Center for Air Force History are going back and analyzing the lessons of the past to try to keep America’s birdmen from having to relearn some valuable lessons.

What Dr. Eduard Mark has uncovered – much, I am sure, to the chagrin of his blue suited sponsors – is that the Air Force has learned the wrong lessons from its experience in aerial interdiction (defined as the effort to sever enemy forces from their lines of supply, reinforcement, movement, and communication). Worse still, Dr. Mark delivers the scathing conclusion that the Air Force is making the wrong assumptions about hardware, tactics, and acquisition, and that these have dangerously undermined the force’s ability to conduct interdiction.

A fascinating, well-documented read.

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