The unspoken lesson of this volume of history is that when you try to fight an insurgency with airpower alone, you wind up pulling in significant ground forces to defend your forward bases. Forward-deployed, land-based air forces, therefore, create a much larger footprint than might be desirable in a given situation.
This issue is more than simply an historical curiosity. In addition to affecting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, it bears a growing influence on America’s short-term and long-term overseas basing challenges. Political considerations closed US air bases in the Philippines, and will eventually close air bases in Japan. And against the global terrorist threat, large military installations everywhere become targets that demand a higher degree of defense than ceremonial guards and rent-a-cops.
A growing portion of every country’s defense budget will be going to base defense in the coming years, and this early study gives us an overview of how the challenge has developed and a glimpse at what armed forces will face.