In his foreword to this excellent PDF book, Air Force historian John F Kreis notes that most histories of air warfare revolve around the actual combat, and far too few if any examine the issue of combat support or, as he does in this volume, air base defense. The author believes that this is an oversight, and I would agree.
Some of history’s more renowned tactical air commanders, most notably Air Force Major General Claire Chennault, commander of the Flying Tigers and later the 14th US Air Force in China in World War II, were late to discover that their ignorance of the challenges and necessity of air base defense undermined and sometimes erased their successes in the air. It was almost as if, once liberated of the ground, these otherwise fine aviators and leaders forgot that it existed.
In this comprehensive (if not exhaustive) tome, Kreis examines the entire topic of air base defense from the perspective of all the countries involved in combat, starting in World War I, and running all the way through the Vietnam War. Despite hints that the air arm has learned its lessons about base defense, the author suggests that there is still more to be learned. Indeed, if the recent experiences of the US Armed Forces and NATO in Afghanistan are any indication, air base defense remains as vexing as ever for both air and ground commanders.
This book belongs in the library of even the casual military historian.
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