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Airpower Applied presents a spectrum of aerospace achievements, limitations, and potential that demonstrates how warfare has changed over the last few decades and why airpower has become a dominant factor in war. The case studies emphasize the importance of connecting policy and airpower: strategic effectiveness cannot substitute for poor statecraft. As the United States, its allies, and Israel have seen in their most recent applications of airpower, even the most robust and capable air weapon can never be more effective than the strategy and policy it is intended to support. By analyzing the operational history of the world’s most battle-tested air forces, the case studies can help military professionals understand the political context in which air operations must be assessed—beyond technological and statistical data—and develop an appreciation of the strategic value of airpower, rather than follow the tactical land-centric line of reasoning that still dominates military thinking.
As a whole, this study is intended to encourage military professionals to combine the insights gained from these historical events with their specific fields of expertise, and ultimately to incorporate their enhanced airpower competence into their discussions with political decision makers, nongovernmental organizations, and fellow officers of all services. The focus on lessons and prospects allows officers to reflect on their calling and to articulate military principles more effectively in the councils of defense planning. Thus, while the historical chapters are relevant in their own right, the potential lessons must become integral to both the theoretical and applied dimensions of the airpower profession.
The real value of airpower does not depend on promises of tactical and technological excellence, but on airpower’s relevance to statecraft proper and its ability to secure strategic and political objectives at a cost acceptable to governments and the public. The future of airpower lies in the ability of its practitioners to connect it to national policy and to view airpower in its political-strategic rather than tactical-technological domains.
In sum, the U.S. and Israeli experiences show how and why airpower has become the political leaders’ “instrument of choice” for demonstrating national resolve. Airpowe