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KendrickWang

Week4Journal

TheAirPowerRevolutionproducedadramaticshiftinthenatureofwarfare.Notsince
theintroductionofgunpowdertofightinghadsuchadrasticparadigmshifttakenplace,andin
anincrediblyshorttimeithadonlytakenelevenyearsfromthefirsttimidflightoftheWright
FlyertothestartofthefirstbombsdroppedonParisin1914.
WhatwasaccomplishedbytheAirPowerrevolutionwastheadditiontoathird
dimensionofwarfare.Insteadofbruteforcegroundattackslikethemillionmenwhoperishedin
theSomme,defensescouldbepummeledfromtheair,aswellastheside.Orinstead,they
couldbebypassedaltogethertheintroductionofthebomberaircraftinthefirstWorldWar
resultedintheconceptofstrategicbombing,andopenedupciviliantargetstoattack.
ItishardnottoconsidertherevolutioninairpowerasanRMA,owingtoitsincredible
impact.However,ithasallthehallmarkqualitiesofone.Clearly,thetechnologicalcomponent
ispresent,intheformoftheaircraft.Thewarplanedidchangethenatureofwarfareinaddition
toallowinggreaterspeedandmobilityinattacks,itledtociviliansbecomingtargets.
OrganizationalchangeshavetakenplaceasaresultoftheAirPowerRevolutionentirelynew
branchesofthemilitarywerecreatedtohandlethewarintheair,liketheUSAFfromthe
USAAF.Finally,lastingdoctrinalchangeshavebeenmade:theconceptofstrategicbombing,
andmorerecently,thenicheroleofcloseairsupportforgroundtroopsfromstrikeaircraftsuch
astheA10Thunderbolt.Indeed,oneofthefirstmovesmadebymilitariesaroundtheworldis
toestablishairsuperioritybeforeconductinggroundoperations.
Moreover,therevolutioninairpowercreatedadifferentperspectiveonwarfare,thatof
thecivilian,coweringinabombshelter.Armiescouldnolongerprotecttheirhomelandsinthe
fashionthattheydidinthepast.Astrikecouldoccuratanytime,whichcaninspirefearamong
thoseonthereceivingendofsuchblows.Europehadbeenallbutpummeledintodustbythe
massbombingcampaignsofeitherside,andassuch,iseventothisdayhesitanttowagewar.
Asamorerecentexample,theuseofaircraftasstrikeweaponsofterrorduringtheeventsof
September11,2001sentthecitizensoftheUnitedStatesintoanunprecedentedfearofflying
oncommercialaircraft,andresultedincontroversialairportsecuritychanges.
Intermsofliningupwiththesixobservationsofthefirstweek,therevolutioninairpower
clearlysatisfiesobservation1,inthattheaircraftdrivesthetechnologicalaspectsoftheRMA.
Withobservation2,theaircraftwasinventedbyaviatorsandengineers,notsoldiers,and
indeed,itswidestusetodayisforthetransportationofpeopleandgoods.Withobservation3,
thecompetitionbetweenrivalcountriescertainlyspurredinnovationonthepartofwarplanes
theAlliedplanesofthefirstWorldWarhadadistinctdisadvantageagainstGermanaircraftwith
interruptormechanismsforfiringthroughpropellers.Conversely,GermanBf109softhe
secondWorldWarwereeventuallyoutmatchedbysuperiorAlliedaircraftliketheP51.When
lookingatobservation4,thebalanceofpowershiftedtothatofoffensetheaircrafthelpedin
parttobreakthestalemateofWorldWarI,andleftsoldiersatadisadvantagewhendefending
theirhomecitiesduringWorldWarII.Therapidadaptationofaircraftforwarfare,thattook
placeinonly11yearsaspreviouslymentioned,fitswiththe5thobservation.Finally,themight

oftheLuftwaffeduringtheearlystagesofWorldWarIIbroughtEuropetoitskneesinlessthan
ayear,alopsidedvictorycharacteristicofobservation6.
Thequestionhasbeenbroughtup,andindeedremains,ifawarcouldbeconducted
entirelyfromtheair.Itremainsyettobeansweredinconcretetermsthesamplesizeforpurely
airconductedwarfareissmall.TheBattleofBritain,theBattleofMidway,andthedestruction
ofJapanviabombingareexamples,butthelistisstillshort.Manybelievedthataircraftwould
lendanindomitablehandtotheaggressor,yetthisprovedtobeuntruedespitethemany
bombingmissionsandhelicopterusageoftheVietnamwar,theVietnamesewereableto
successfullyholdoutagainsttheUnitedStates.However,thenascenceofroboticwarfareand
dronestrikesareagainaskingthatquestion,withmilitariesbecomingincreasinglyabletostrike
withminimallossoflifeoneitherside.Inmyopinion,therecordhasshownthatthebalance
tipsbetweendefenseandoffense.Shellingandmachinegunsledtotrenches,whichledto
tanks,whichledtoantitankweaponry.Shouldtheoffensivepoweroftacticaldronestrikes
becomedominating,thenadefensivetechnologymayarisethatcoulddefeatthem:perhaps
weaponsderivedfromEMPpulses,orlongrangelasertechnologywhichhasalreadybeen
provenagainstdronesbytheUSNavy.Groundwarfareisnolessimportantthanairwarfare,
andwillcontinuetobefortheforeseeablefuture.