How Effective Is Strategic Bombing? Lessons Learned from World War II and Kosovo

How Effective Is Strategic Bombing? Lessons Learned from World War II and Kosovo

How Effective Is Strategic Bombing? Lessons Learned from World War II and Kosovo

How Effective Is Strategic Bombing? Lessons Learned from World War II and Kosovo

Excerpt

I would like to again emphasize this Philosophy of the Survey …
and that is with an open mind—without prejudice, without any pre
conceived theories—to simply gather the facts. We are simply to
seek the truth.

FRANKLIN D'OLIER, December 1944

Remember that quote from the chairman of the Strategic Bombing
Survey of World War II: “We wanted to burn into everybody's soul
the fact that the [USSBS's] responsibility was … to seek truth. …”
Nothing, but nothing, is more important than the integrity of our
[Gulf War Air Power Survey] product.

ELIOT COHEN, March 1992

Air power has been one of the most controversial issues for American defense policy since it first came into being as a military force in the early part of the twentieth century. Moreover, a certain component of American air power— strategic bombing—has been especially controversial. Pundits have railed against its perceived ineffectiveness, advocates have praised its apparent effectiveness, and zealots have been seduced by its professed cheaper cost in national blood and treasure. Over time strategic bombing's contested nature has endured. Although not the only type of American air power, strategic bombing has provided the historical identity for airmen and their air force.

Other major forms of military power have not been so problematic, so contested in American defense policy. Why? Perhaps because for many people strategic bombing continues to be an ambiguous and even unproven military force in war and conflict.

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