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Friday, March 8, 2013

The Concept of Airpower: Its Emergence, Evolution, and Future

As airpower enters its second century, it will remain the most important instrument of international security. Although operations against unconventional adversaries have put strains, both budgetary and conceptual, on the U.S. Air Force and its allies, the current situation does not typify the most serious threats that the great democracies will likely face in the 21st century. Pundits and prophets may argue that major war between powerful developed nations is a thing of the past and that the only threats to international security now emanate from non-state actors, but they are, quite simply, wrong. Powerful states still exist and new ones are rising. Those states have interests and military forces to pursue them. While few if any national leaders in today's world overtly seek armed conflict, the interests of some states invariably infringe on those of others. When confrontations occur, tensions rise and cascading events can lead nations to war even when neither party sees it as a desirable course of action.

The early airpower visionaries understood that airpower is uniquely suited to deter interstate war and win such wars when deterrence fails. They appreciated the inherent value of being able to operate in the vertical dimension, with the speed, range, and flexibility to hold an enemy at risk across the breadth and depth of the battlespace and, if needed, take war to the very heart of his society. Early theorists may have debated whether airpower was most effectively employed against the enemy's surface forces or against nonmilitary targets in the rear, but the one issue on which virtually all of them agreed was that no army, navy, or government could survive for long if it ceded command of the air above it to an enemy.

Date of Report: March 7, 2013
Number of Pages: 21
Order Number: CH13002
Price: $9.95

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