American Military Aviation: The Indispensable Arm

By Berg, Paul D. | Air & Space Power Journal, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

American Military Aviation: The Indispensable Arm


Berg, Paul D., Air & Space Power Journal


American Military Aviation: The Indispensable Arm by Charles J. Gross. Texas A&M University Press (http://www.tamu.edu/upress), John H. Lindsey Building, Lewis Street, 4354 TAMU, College Station, Texas 77843-4354, 2002, 382 pages, $35.00 (hardcover).

Dr. Charles Gross, a retired Air Force officer with active, Reserve, and Guard experience, has surveyed a century of the history of American military airpower. His chronological narrative advances five broad theses. First, he makes the uncontroversial assertion that airpower "has become an indispensable element" of American power. His next two theses present the contrasting ideas that leaders have consistently overestimated airpower's effectiveness yet have disparaged airlift and air refueling as "the neglected stepchildren of airpower" (p. 8). His final two simply contend that "air power has transformed warfare by extending the range and destructiveness of combat operations" and that airpower "has had a significant impact on American culture and economy" (pp. 8-9). Consistent with his wide-ranging theses, the author takes a broad perspective of airpower. He discusses aviation's growing importance in each US military service and addresses nearly all airpower roles. Embedding airpower's economic and cultural aspects deeply into his narrative, he even addresses space power briefly. Gross does not explicitly emphasize a joint-airpower perspective but does highlight contributions of the Reserve and Guard components-especially since the Vietnam War. Since Dr. Gross currently serves as chief of the Air National Guard's history program, his generous attention to airpower's total-force aspects is understandable. …

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