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Competing Theories of Airpower: A Language for Analysis


Lt Col Peter Faber, USAF

Aerospace Power Chronicles

Military theorists in the modern era have been either prescriptive or nonprescriptive, or they have tried to reconcile both the regularities and irregularities of war within broad, flexible guidelines. The division of military strategists into rationalists, mediators, and romantics raises an obvious question--where do airpower theorists belong in the spectrum of modern strategic thought? Upon reflection, it is obvious that pre-World War II theorists like Giulio Douhet, Billy Mitchell, and Hugh Trenchard promoted largely didactic, rationalist strategies, as did the "Bomber Mafia" of the U.S. Army Air Corps Tactical School and Allied planning organizations in World War II like the Committee of Operations Analysts (COA) and the Economic Objectives Unit (EOU).

The theorists and planners had more in common with the scientific overdeterminism of Jomini than the romantic probabilism of Clausewitz. They emphasized unilateral action against a largely passive (and defenseless) enemy;1 they typically focused on the architectural elegance of a theory rather than its veracity; they inferred that if a theory was symmetrical it must be right, despite the inevitable presence of biases, wishful thinking, and predispositions; and they deduced theories that were intuitively reasonable but not necessarily supported by facts. As a result, three pathologies appeared in airpower theory.

The first pathology: air theorists sought to develop hoary maxims that would apply to all wars, regardless of time and circumstance. The ACTS "Bomber Mafia," for example, adopted "a Jominian, mechanistic view of war--a view of war as a mathematical equation whose variables can be selectively manipulated to achieve success."2 Bomber advocates like Donald Wilson were not historicists--they minimized the role of context (political, cultural, and economic) in war. Instead, Wilson argued that any untried theory, including the theory of high altitude precision daylight bombardment, proceeded "on no firmer basis than reasoned logical thinking bolstered by a grasp of the fundamentals of the application of military force and the reactions of human beings."3 Unfortunately, Wilson's "good deductive reasoning" was more canonical and prescriptive than he was willing to admit. (In contrast, fellow bomber enthusiast Major General Frank Andrews was more honest. He highlighted a key ACTS maxim on multiple occasions: "Modern nations are as sensitive as a precision instrument. If you damage one vital part of a watch, the whole ceases to function."4 (Note the scientism, so popular since the early 20th century, of characterizing industrial society as a great clock. The Italian journalist Nino Salvaneschi characterized the Great War as a "gigantic watchmaking factory," while Count Gianni Caproni compared the disorganization of Austrian-German war production to breaking a watch by destroying its gears.5)

The second pathology: air theorists and planners made a fetish of quantification and prediction in war, especially in the United States. The authors of America's first strategic air plan, AWPD-1, predicted in August 1941 that an initial consignment of 6,860 bombers massed against 154 German target sets would produce victory in 6 months (after a necessary build-up period). Fighter advocate Claire Chennault boasted in 1942 that he could defeat Japan with 150 fighters and 42 bombers. Lastly, in early 1964 the Air Force and Defense Intelligence Agency developed OPLAN 37-64; it predicted an American victory over North Vietnam in 28 days, provided the U.S. struck 94 "strategic" targets in the North. All three examples illustrate an American tendency to confuse "bookkeeping" with analysis, where analysis is not a reductionist "firepower equation writ large," but must include an appreciation of context, combat efficiency, and other intangibles.6

The third pathology: air theorists have always relied on metaphors to buttress the "logic" of their arguments. Count Caproni, for example, expressed his opposition to battlefield air operations as follows: "It is not by chasing each bee in a garden that you. . . get the better of the swarm. You should rather destroy the beehive.".7 The ACTS "Bomber Mafia," in turn, "proved" the frailty of economic systems by comparing them to either a wispy spider's web or a tottering house of cards..8 Lastly, Colonel John Warden unwittingly suggests that modern societies are closed systems (and therefore unstable) by comparing them to the human body, which does not have the ability to substitute for lost "vital organs" (or necessarily work around them) the way a society does. Unfortunately, metaphor-based theories have led to the faulty employment of airpower in war. The theories, in addition to lacking empirical foundations, have failed to acknowledge a key point--armed conflict is a nonlinear, interactive process bedeviled by feedback loops, delays, "trigger effects," and qualitative changes..9 As a result, airmen have tended to believe that a generic, metaphor-based strategy will work repeatedly, and thus challenge Winston Churchill's observation that "Airpower is the most difficult of all forms of military force to measure, or even to express in precise terms.".10

Even with the above problems, there are comprehensive, rationalist theories of airpower. However, they have traditionally focused on just one part of the roles and missions spectrum--strategic bombardment. The latter mission, along with close air support and air interdiction, is part of Force Application, one of the four basic roles and missions air forces perform. The other three basic roles and missions include Control and Denial, which involves shielding a nation and its fighting forces from attack; Force Enhancement, which includes airlift, aerial refueling, electronic warfare, and surveillance operations; and Force Support, which includes logistics. Unfortunately, no airpower theorist has ever grappled with all four categories holistically. Instead, theorists have primarily focused on one-third of one-fourth of the roles and missions performed by modern air forces. It is within strategic bombardment, i.e., within a limited part of the roles and missions spectrum, that one finds genuinely sophisticated theories of conventional airpower. These theories, although riddled with "don't knows" and "can't knows," do share a systematic body of propositions first developed in the 1920s and 1930s..11 They also try to answer two basic questions--what are the vital elements of an enemy nation's power and how can airpower sufficiently endanger them to change an opponent's behavior? The answers provided by modern theorists to these questions are distinctly different.

As a result, the purpose of this article is twofold. First, it will highlight 17 different theories of airpower developed, no matter how briefly and provisionally, by soldiers, historians, and political scientists in a free marketplace of ideas. By comparing and contrasting the self-limiting taxonomies developed by each thinker or school of thought, current and future air planners might become more self-conscious about how they use airpower. They also might free themselves from groupthink and the ill-considered preference for a single theory as the blueprint for success. Such steps are important, since in an era of increasingly limited budgets "the kind of paradigms we search out, the way we put them together, and the ambitions we nurture for their powers" will become increasingly important..12 Air planners will no longer have the luxury of resolving theoretical debates by inclusion. They will have to choose one approach and reject another. As a result, we must identify, through a free competition of ideas, which theories of airpower will work and under what circumstances. Otherwise, airmen will continue to succumb to the broad generalizations and dogmatic assumptions of a vocal few.

Second, this article will provide American airmen with a common language for analysis. After 80 years of experience, the average Air Force officer still lacks a "pure" vocabulary or lexicon to analyze airpower theory. Junior officers in particular still confuse theory with doctrine, nor can they clearly identify contemporary theories of airpower, what they advocate, or what distinguishes one from another.13 In the case of the United States, the root cause of these problems, according to airpower historian Phillip Meilinger, is the long-standing dependence of Air Force officers on Army terminology.14 The Army provided a ready vocabulary for early airmen, but by adopting a lexicon that centered on surface warfare, advocates of land-based airpower became trapped in a prison house of language.15 They continued to rely on an adopted language that not only circumscribed their thinking, but also included an increasingly inadequate collection of terms and categories to describe the nature of air warfare and its objectives.

The term "interdiction," for example, illustrates the point. According to the U.S. military's Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, interdiction is "an action to divert, disrupt, delay or destroy the enemy's surface military potential before it can be used effectively against friendly forces."16 Unfortunately, this definition ignores the true possibilities of an interdiction campaign. It wrongly presupposes the goal of war is to confront and destroy the enemy army, and that air operations are mere prologues to this necessary act.17 In fact, aerial interdiction can itself be decisive, as demonstrated by the Battle of Khafji in Desert Storm, and in the interruption of an enemy's airlift operations over an entire theater.18 These types of distinctions, unfortunately, remain unclear to many working, everyday Air Force officers. A surface perspective remains so imbedded in the terms used by airmen that a new, unmediated lexicon is necessary. "We should use revolutionary terms," John Warden rightfully observes, rather than "slight modifications of old terms."19 In analyzing competing theories and doctrines of airpower, including their strengths and weaknesses, this monograph will use terminology that will ideally provide a common frame of reference (and a shared, unpolluted vocabulary) for those airmen interested in the future application of airpower as a political and military tool. Only then will they step outside of Army concepts and categories, and truly appreciate the internal logic of air warfare.

With the above goals in mind, let us look at a conceptual framework (and air-centered "language") that anyone can use to analyze multiple theories of airpower. The framework is the creation of Dr. Robert Pape, who deliberately attempts to link military means with political ends. The "language" of the framework does rule out different courses of action, but as Don Herzog rightfully observes: "Any vocabulary will downplay certain possibilities, will make them elusive or invisible or presumptively unacceptable;" embedded within any language, however, are "concepts, even ideological concepts, [that] open up new possibilities we wouldn't notice without them."20

Airpower theorists have traditionally disagreed over one critical question--how do you convince an enemy to abandon key political goals and objectives? On a strategic level, Giulio Douhet, William "Billy" Mitchell, Hugh Trenchard, and Arthur "Bomber" Harris sought political concessions by destroying the psychological will of an opponent's society. In World Wars I and II, Nino Salvaneschi, the Committee of Operations Analysts (COA) and the Economic Objectives Unit (EOU) sought to do the same, but by first depriving an enemy of the industrial capacity to wage war.21 On an operational level, everyone but Douhet agreed that limited technology restricted airmen to serial attacks. Everyone also agreed with General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, who later stressed that the problems of selecting appropriate target systems, and the specific targets within them, were of overriding importance. Targeting, according to Vandenberg, was a matter for continued study, refinement, and reevaluation.22 However, as Figure 1 shows, there was a quarrel over what target sets to attack.

Theorist(s) Target Set(s) Theorist(s) Target Set(s)
Salvaneschi Major munitions
Slessor Troops, supplies,
Douhet Population
Harris Population
Mitchell Vital centers Wilberg, Weber,
& the Ger. Gen. Staff
Enemy field army
(in 1920s)
War materiel,
COA Munitions plants
ACTS Key economic
nodes (industrial web)
EOU Oil/transportation

Fig. 1 - Representative Targeting Strategies Prior to 1945

Douhet and "Bomber" Harris, for example, argued that the heart of an enemy's resistance was its population. Walter Weber, Helmut Wilberg, and the German General Staff, in contrast, felt that overwhelming an enemy field army would ultimately coerce an enemy nation. Unfortunately, virtually every theorist or targeting group also confused combat effectiveness (means) with strategic effectiveness (ends). As a result, the "how," "what," and "where" of targeting received much more attention than the "why" of it. No theorist or group adequately explained how destroying a particular target set would trigger a specific reaction that yielded a desired political outcome. (In other words, if I use X, Y will happen and cause desired change Z.) Douhet, for example, ultimately assumed that attacking an enemy's population would inspire it to revolt, and thus lead a government that cared about its people to discontinue its policies. Caproni, Salvaneschi and the COA equally assumed that destroying German munitions plants would quickly paralyze enemy military operations, and lead to similar results. (Note that John Slessor also stressed the key role of operational paralysis in war.) In all cases, however, the theorists-planners hit an intellectual wall. The targeting process was (and remains) civilian in nature (i.e., it depends on a variety of disciplines). Unfortunately, Douhet and his successors were largely ignorant of politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, and other related fields. Without a holistic, multidisciplinary approach, their targeting strategies ultimately yielded to trial and error in war, particularly in the sphere of economics. The connection between destroying parts of a target system and changing enemy behavior remained unclear, as it still does today.

Given the overconcentration by early theorists on the mechanics of targeting, it should be no surprise that the causal relationship between aerial attacks and political outcomes remains murky. In fact, a clear exposition of this relationship remains the Holy Grail of airpower theory. A possible first step towards discovering the Grail is to answer five basic questions about the conduct of air warfare.

Question #1: according to Dr. Robert Pape and Colonel Pat "Doc" Pentland, USAF, all theorists must answer a key question before they begin air operations. Pape's question asks the following: should I adopt a punishment strategy, which tries to push a society beyond its economic and psychological breaking point, a denial strategy, which tries to neutralize an opponent's military ability to wage war, or a decapitation strategy, which destroys or isolates an opponent's leadership, national communications, or other politico-economic centers? (Note that punishment and denial strategies try to translate military effects into political change. A decapitation strategy, in contrast, does the opposite.)23

Colonel Pentland, in contrast, asks the theorist to posit a similar (and yet different) question: should I adopt a disabling strategy, which either disrupts an enemy's capabilities or undermines his resolve, a delaying strategy, which uses threats or deterrence to preserve the status quo, or an enabling strategy, which tries to create stability where it is weak or does not exist?24 In terms of using airpower, a disabling strategy includes direct attacks against specific targets. It also includes those ancillary functions (refueling, reconnaissance, etc.) that support air attacks. A delaying strategy involves air policing or an air embargo, while an enabling strategy provides military assistance programs. Ultimately, as one moves from disruption to stability, military options becomes less effective while economic, cultural, and political options become more effective.

Once an air planner answers Question #1, as defined by either Pape or Pentland, he must then answer four additional questions. For educational reasons, the following questions move from the specific to the general. Under actual planning conditions, however, an air planner should ask the questions in reverse, from the general to the specific. By adopting the latter approach, the planner will ensure that air targeting serves a definite political purpose rather than become an end in itself.

Question #2: what are the proper methods of an aerial attack? This question typically focuses on the meteorological constraints of an assault, the mix of aircraft and weapons used, and the actual tactics employed. However, given the growing importance of disruption and paralysis in air warfare, the most important methodological issue at the moment is timing. In short, what is the proper timing of an aerial assault? When should it occur? How long will it take? Should it be incremental, sequential, cumulative, or simultaneous? By answering these questions, the air planner determines how to use time and space properly. The planner, for example, may choose to conduct a series of measured, escalatory air attacks. If Thomas Schelling is correct, war is a form of vicious diplomacy; it retains a negotiatory character. The deliberate pauses of a gradualist campaign allow opponents to assess the growing costs and risks of war. As a result, they can exchange proposals and counterproposals, and possibly reverse course.

On the other hand, the air planner could conduct simultaneous assaults against multiple targets. With the advent of advanced data links and precision guided munitions (PGMs), Colonel John Warden argues, performing simultaneous (and devastating) air attacks is now possible. The sheer speed of the attacks could disorder and confuse an enemy to the point of panic and mental paralysis. As a result, the enemy could capitulate, not because of battlefield casualties, but because of the entropy his or her command structure experiences with the compression of time and space.

Question #3: which targets are the most important: enemy leaders, "organic essentials" such as oil, information, and electricity, or an opponent's industrial infrastructure, population, or fielded military forces? Are these targets important individually or in combination? Unfortunately, airmen traditionally ask these specific (and critical) questions before resolving three broader targeting issues.

Issue #1: what aspects of an enemy's power should an air planner attack, either individually or together? As Colonel Pentland points out, the planner could zero in on the sources of an opponent's power, which include the military, industrial, or cultural foundations of a state; he or she could focus on the manifestations of an opponent's strength, which include the governmental and ideological projection of force; or he or she could concentrate on the linkages of an enemy's assets, which include the "human and material networks" that determine how effectively a nation organizes and employs its resources.25

Issue #2: after the air planner determines what aspects of an enemy's power to assault, he or she must then determine what generic targeting strategy to adopt. There are three basic options available. First, the planner could adopt a strategy that includes a direct approach, which emphasizes head-on assaults against enemy military capabilities; an indirect approach, which emphasizes maneuver warfare and the sapping of an enemy's will to fight; and/or a rapid transition approach, based on John Boyd's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Act (OODA) Loop, which tries to either outpace or slow down an opponent's decision making calculus.

On the other hand, the planner could adopt an inside out or an outside in strategy. In an inside out approach, as embodied by John Warden's Five Rings Model, the attacker strikes vital targets deep within enemy territory. Fielded military forces, the Warden analogy argues, cannot operate effectively without a "brain" directing them. If you sever the "brain" (i.e., enemy leadership), you incapacitate an opponent from the "inside out." An outside in strategy, in contrast, focuses on those peripheral forces protecting the inner core of an opposing state. By eliminating these forces, which can include the general population and the military, the planner can endanger the inner sources of enemy power. Dr. Robert Pape's theory of aerial coercion (see below) is a recent variation of the familiar outside in approach.

Issue #3: after determining which generic targeting strategy to adopt, the air planner must ask "what level of destruction or disruption do I want?" As Kevin Williams observes, there are a hierarchical series of effects that occur in air targeting. A "first-order" effect involves the physical or functional destruction of a target within a broader system. If accomplished at a sufficient rate, it yields a "second-order" effect, which degrades a system's overall ability to operate. An opponent will typically respond to this effect by trying to work around it and continue to support his or her military strategy. In a "third-order" effect, an enemy nation can no longer compensate for the damage it is experiencing; work-arounds no longer work. As a result, the nation must change its military strategy. Finally, a "fourth-order" effect signals victory, i.e., the imposition of your political will on your opponent. You produce this outcome by "achieving three-order effects in a unique and situationally dependent set of target systems."26 To reach this point, however, the air planner must always consider what level of destruction (or disruption) he or she ultimately desires.

With the above three issues resolved, the air planner can finally determine what specific target set(s) he is going to attack. According to Carl Kaysen, the planner might rely on six criteria, particularly when dealing with economic targets.27 First, he or she should consider the military importance of a target. This step can include "a rough classification of the value to enemy military operations of all types of equipment and supplies used by the enemy forces."28 (The classification, however, is relative to the strategic situation, and to the tactics and doctrine of your opponent.) Second, the planner might ask "what proportion of the target is put to direct military use?" The higher the proportion, the more important the target may be, especially in a short war scenario. Third, there is the criterion of depth; it measures the military importance of a target in terms of time. "Average depth," according to Kaysen, "is a time concept designed to measure the average interval of time elapsing between the output of a good or service. . . and its appearance. . . in a finished military item in the hands of a tactical unit."29 Typically, "the measure of depth is important as an indication of the time available to the enemy for the organization of substitute consumption, alternate production, and so forth, before he suffers military damage."30 Again, in a short war scenario a target with little "depth" may require immediate attention. Fourth, one should determine the economic vulnerability of a target, which can include the following-- substitutability for processes and equipment, substitutability for products or services, process and plant layout vulnerabilities, an opponent's recuperability, and ratio of capacity to output.31 Fifth, the planner might consider the physical vulnerabilities of a target set.32 What type of construction is it? What is it made of? Does it contain additional machinery, stocks of combustible or explosive materials, or other significant items? Finally, he or she should accurately determine the location and size of a target set. Only then is it possible to decide which specific targets require destruction or disruption.

Question #4: after an air theorist determines what aspects of an opponent's power to attack, what targeting framework to adopt, what order of effects to reach, and what particular target sets to assault, he or she must then answer a fourth critical question: what mechanism(s) do I expect an air attack to trigger? In other words, what changes do I expect as a result of an air attack? Will it, for example, cause a palace coup, a military retreat, a popular revolt, or a decrease in the number of political risks an enemy is willing to take? Will it isolate ruling elites from their political base (or from fielded military forces) and thus cause operational paralysis, politically and militarily? Unfortunately, our ability to accurately identify mechanisms and their expected results remains poor. Over the last 80 years, airmen have become very effective in maximizing "first-order" effects. In fact, decisive physical and functional destruction has become a synonym for targeting efficiency. As stated before, however, the linkages between destruction and outcomes remains unclear. Woven into each theory of airpower are a priori assumptions about mechanisms that are not always obvious or necessarily wrong. They are, nevertheless, a collection of biases and belief systems more than they are empirical proofs. As a result, airmen have not succeeded historically at recognizing mechanisms for what they are. To succeed in the future, they must pattern themselves after the targeting groups of World War II, but instead of fixating on economics, the groups must be multidisciplinary in scope and include civilian academics. Only then will we begin to understand the dynamic relationship between targeting, mechanisms, and the following category.

Question #5: finally, a theorist must ask what political outcomes do I expect from an air assault? Do I seek political concessions, a military defeat, or an actual change of government? If the first option, what particular concessions do I want? Will the enemy abandon key interests if put under sufficient duress, or are my political goals unreasonable? If I concentrate on military success, do I want to disarm my opponent or merely acquire territory? Lastly, if I want a change in government, just what type of government do I want? All these questions (and others) are complicated and confirm that war termination is yet another underdeveloped area in airpower theory.

In asking the above questions, air theorists focus on four categories--timing, targeting, mechanisms, and political outcomes--that help them avoid a common mistake--fixating on the "how" of air strategy rather than the "why." The questions are not designed to be prescriptive; instead, they provide the intellectual scaffolding for a budding theorist to build his own theory of airpower. However, as the framework developed by Robert Pape illustrates (see Figures 2 and 3), the causal relationship between timing, targeting, mechanisms, and outcomes remains under dispute. As in the past, a clear explanation of this relationship remains the Holy Grail of airpower theory, and in the case of seventeen airpower theorists or schools of thought, the answers provided are very different indeed.

Theorist(s) Target Set(s) Mechanism Political Outcome
Major munitions
Destroy equilibrium
in equipment
Military defeat
Douhet Population (cities) Revolution Change government or its
Mitchell Vital centers Civil Uprising " " "
(in 1920s)
war materiel,
" " "
Slessor Troops, supplies,
Interrupt or
destroy equipment
and supplies
Military defeat
ACTS Key economic nodes
(industrial web)
Social collapse,
break popular will
Change government
or its behavior
Harris Population
Fear, lost
" " "
Weber, & the
Ger. General
Enemy field army Battlefield
army destruction
Military defeat
COA Munitions plants Materiel
" " "
EOU Oil/transportation Operational
" " "
de Seversky
(in 1950s)
All aspects of
an industrial
Internal blockade
of goods; leads
to national
Change government
or its behavior

Fig. 2. Representative Air Strategies Prior to 1960

  Timing Target Mechanism Political outcome
May Incremental Political
Change leaders
or policies
Janis Irregular Leadership
or population
Near miss
Change policies
Warden Hyperwar Leadership +
4 rings
Change leader(s)
Schelling Incremental Population Future costs
and risks
Change policies
Boyd Fast Tempo Communications Deny strategy/
Yield territory;
change policies
Pape Incremental Military forces Thwart military
Yield territory
change policies

Fig. 3 - Six Theories of Aerial Coercion Since 1960


1. In contrast, antirationalists like Clausewitz remind us that war is an interactive process--each combatant tries to impose his or her will on an animate object that reacts. Airpower theorists up through John Warden have traditionally minimized the interactive nature of air warfare, primarily because of their fixation on the "inherently offensive" nature of the medium. As a result, the defense has typically received short shrift in airpower theory. See Carl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. and eds. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 149.

2. Colonel Thomas A. Fabyanic (ret.), "War Doctrine, and the Air War College--Some Implications for the U.S. Air Force,” Air University Review, Vol. XXXVII, No. 2 (January-February 1986), p. 12.

3. Lieutenant Colonel Don Wilson, "Long Range Airplane Development," November 1938, pp. 5-6, AFHRA file number 248.211-17.

4. "Address of Major General Frank M. Andrews Before the National Aeronautical Administration," January 16, 1939, p. 8, AFHRA file number 248.211-20.

5. Nino Salvaneschi, Let Us Kill the War: Let Us Aim at the Heart of the Enemy, 1917, p. 31, AFHRA file number 168.661-129; Count Gianni Caproni, Memorandum on "Air War", 1917, p. 2, AFHRA file number 168.66-2.

6. The examples appear in James C. Gaston, Planning the American Air War: Four Men and Nine Days in 1941 (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1982); Rick Atkinson, Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War (New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1993); and General William M. Momyer, Air Power in Three Wars (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1978). The quotation is from Benjamin S. Lambert, "Pitfalls in Force Planning: Structuring America's Tactical Air Arm," International Security, Vol. 10, No. 2 (Fall 1985), p. 92.

7. Caproni, Memorandum on "Air War,” p. 2.

8. ACTS bomber instructor Muir "Santy" Fairchild was typical. He understood the illogic of metaphors but still subscribed to the industrial web theory of strategic bombardment. See Kenneth Schaffel, "Muir S. Fairchild: Philosopher of Air Power," Aerospace Historian, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Fall 1986), p. 167.

9. Alan Beyerchen, "Clausewitz, Nonlinearity, and the Unpredictability of War," International Security, Vol. 17, No. 3 (Winter 1992-93), p. 63.

10. Quoted in Andrew G. B. Vallance, "The Conceptual Structure of Air Power," in Air Power: Collected Essays on Doctrine, ed. Vallance (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1990), p. 1.

11. From where did the common body of propositions come from? According to James Spaight, a direct attack on an Army's sources of supply and munitions was "the meeting place of rival doctrines of air power." See James M. Spaight, Air Power in the Next War (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1938), pp. 159-60.

12. Quoted from Albert O. Hirschman, "The Search for Paradigms as a Hindrance to Understanding," World Politics, Vol. XXII, No. 3 (April 1970), p. 338.

13. Few junior officers, for example, are familiar with the theories of Thomas Schelling or Robert Pape, both of whom focus on coercion rather than carnage. Both theorists advocate obtaining political concessions from an opponent without paying significant military costs. Schelling, however, focuses on imperiling civilian populations, while Pape advocates neutralizing an opponent's military strategy.

14. See Colonel Phillip S. Meilinger, "Towards a New Airpower Lexicon-or-Interdiction: An Idea Whose Time has Finally Gone?," Airpower Journal, Vol. VII, No. 2 (Summer 1993), pp. 39-47. Significantly, both the Army and its Air Corps understood the power of words (in relation to military aviation) in the interwar years. On the Army side, Major General R. M. Beck, Jr., Assistant Army Chief of Staff, directed the Air Corps to delete all references to "independent air operations" in a draft version of Field Manual 1-5, Employment of the Aviation of the Army. A suitable substitute, in Beck's opinion, was "operations beyond the sphere of influence of surface forces." See Memo for the Chief of Staff, March 29, 1939, p. 2, in AFHRA file no. 167.5-3 (1936-1939).

15. A rare and limited exception was Englishman Hugh Trenchard, who self-consciously introduced titles and terms that were unique to the Royal Air Force, and thus affirmed its status as a separate (i.e., independent) service. However, like his American counterparts, Trenchard did not purge the RAF of army-centered terms like "theater," "battlefield," "close air support," strategic-tactical "fires" and many others.

16. Quoted in Meilinger, "Towards a New Airpower Lexicon," p. 40.

17. Ibid., p. 41.

18. Ibid., pp. 40-41.

19. John A. Warden III, unpublished letter to Ambassador Paul Wolfowitz, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, September 15, 1992, p. 2. Colonel Warden may be only half right; there is utility in modifying old terms. Recent, helpful steps include transforming "air power" into a single word. "Airpower," its apostles argue, better conveys the indivisibility of air warfare and its "inherently" strategic nature. It also promotes air-mindedness in others.

20. Don Herzog, "Interest, Principle, and Beyond: American Understanding of Conflict," in Behavior, Culture, and Conflict in World Politics, eds. William Zimmerman and Harold K. Jacobson (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), p. 234.

21. Salvaneschi, for example, claimed that the Allies "must aim, not at the army that fights, but at the factories of Essen." See Salvaneschi, Let Us Kill the War, p. 38.

22. See Major Kevin E. Williams, In Search of the Missing Link: Relating Destruction to Outcome in Airpower Applications (Maxwell AFB, AL: School of Advanced Airpower Studies Thesis, June 1994), p. 4.

23. For a discussion of each approach, see Robert A. Pape, Jr., "Coercion and Military Strategy: Why Denial Works and Punishment Doesn't," The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 15, No. 4 (December 1992), pp. 423-475.

24. Pat A. Pentland, Theater Strategy Development, unbpublished manuscript, 1993-94, pp. 2-5.

25. Ibid., p. 3.

26. Williams, In Search of the Missing Link, pp. 5-7.

27. See Carl Kaysen, Note on Some Historic Principles of Target Selection (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, Project RAND Research Memorandum 189 (RM-189), July 15, 1949.

28. Ibid., p. 2.

29. Ibid., p. 4.

30. Ibid., p. 5.

31. Ibid., pp. 5-6.

32. Ibid., p. 6.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not relect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.