Friday, April 13, 2007

Air power, the magic key to victory?

The Spring 2007 Army War College journal Parameters features an article on the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006: The 2006 Lebanon War: Lessons Learned by Sharah Kreps. Kreps looks at the hopes the Israeli military placed in air power during that war and how the results came up short. She argues that Israeli war planners say the Kosovo war as a model, reading its results to say that air power alone could defeat Hizbullah.

One of the tricky parts of this article is the concept that not so often discussed this way in civilian reporting, the idea that an emphasis on air power is driven by the "casualty aversion" of the home public, in this case Israel's. Air power can in theory minimize own-side casualties. But they also magnify casualties on the other side, including "collateral damage", aka, killing and injured civilian noncombatants, which can be seriously counterproductive to the goals of a war.

Also, as with any military article, it's helpful to keep in mind how particular analyses could be used in inter-service rivalries for funds and prestige.

William Arkin looks at what appears to him to be more than a little menance-mongering by the Air Force in
Is Iraq Making China the Next Soviet Union? Washington Post 04/12/07. To the Air Force, it seems, the Chinese are coming after us on all fronts. Arkin's conclusion:

I for one can only see disaster ahead in trying to turn today's China into yesterday's Soviet Union. Not that we "lose," but just in terms of wasted energy and resources and the wrong course. We need not only to get out of Iraq but also a complete change in priorities.
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