Magazine article National Defense

Air Force Wants Greater Role in 'Downtown' Wars

Magazine article National Defense

Air Force Wants Greater Role in 'Downtown' Wars

Article excerpt

The Air Force is carving out a growing role for itself in what seems to be an expanding mission for U.S. military forces-joint urban combat operations.

Unlike previous decades, when U.S. armed services were asked to defend the nation in a global war against a single super power the Soviet Union-those services today are being required to face a series of smaller adversaries, often in urban settings. While those operations, in places such as Panama, Kuwait and Bosnia, typically emphasize use of U.S. ground forces, the Air Force plays an important role, too.

"Aerospace power offers battlespace commanders a greatly expanded range of options to defeat an urban adversary," said Maj. Gen. Norton A Schwartz, director of Air Force strategic planning, at a recent DFI International seminar in Washington, D.C. In urban operations, Schwartz said, air power can be used to: Provide commanders with reconnaissance information and analysis from space-based satellites and spy planes. Seize and maintain control of the air over the fighting with fighters and missiles.

Attack key targets, such as bridges, power plants, enemy fortifications, with bombers, missiles, and helicopter gunships. …

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