Military Helicopter Doctrines of the Major Powers, 1945-1992: Making Decisions about Air-Land Warfare

By Matthew Allen | Go to book overview

political lobbying effort came about because it simply was not able to exert sufficient political influence on the military decision makers.

The reason for this was the level of autonomy given to the military on matters of doctrine, especially where they related to conventional weapons used mainly in tactical situations. Although the approval of civilian bureaucrats was required, the authority and apparent expertise of serving officers was usually sufficient to win arguments on purely military matters. Even in the exceptional case of MacNamara's intervention in the debate over airmobility, it must be remembered that most of the impetus for that action came from within the military itself. Of course, doctrine was usually linked intimately to the introduction of new weapons and thus to funding and technical issues. In this way the division of power became blurred, particularly when weapons were first acquired, but even so doctrine was principally the reserve of military decision makers with other participants concentrating on equipment. Thus, generally speaking, bureaucratic politics was most crucial as a process in which competing arms and services within the military fought over the allocation of power and resources within their own organization.


CONCLUSION

Successful Innovations

Judging whether helicopter innovations were successful or not depends largely on the criteria that are used. With hindsight it might be tempting to assess whether the decision to innovate was correct or not. Were, for example, the Americans right to form an airmobile division in the early 1960s? It appears to be a successful innovation, mainly because of the division's successful employment in Vietnam; but what if some other conflict had occurred to which the airmobile unit was entirely unsuited? As discussed in the introduction to this book, such assessments about military effectiveness, which were themselves a part of the process of innovation, are fraught with risks. Ultimately, success is better judged in terms of whether an innovation remained a novelty or not. If innovations became established within the military, then they were no longer innovations and had, from the advocates' viewpoint, succeeded completely.

The groups of factors discussed previously were all capable of helping innovations to proceed given the right circumstances. Operational and strategic circumstances, along with a perceived enemy threat, could provide a compelling force for innovation; or experience could be favorable, as with the Ansbach and Vietnam trials of anti-tank helicopters. Politics could propel innovation where the helicopter advocates were either in

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Military Helicopter Doctrines of the Major Powers, 1945-1992: Making Decisions about Air-Land Warfare
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Military Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Abbreviations and Translations xiii
  • Introduction xix
  • Notes xxvii
  • 1 - Above the Best--Developments in the United States 1
  • Notes 58
  • 2 - Revolutions at Every Turn-- 71
  • Notes 113
  • 3 - Double Trouble--Developments in the United Kingdom 127
  • Notes 168
  • 4 - A Tale of Two Helicopter Forces--Developments in West Germany and France 179
  • Notes 205
  • 5 - A Rotary-Wing Revolution?-- Helicopters and Air-Land Warfare 213
  • Notes 234
  • 6 - Deciding on Innovation-- Helicopters and the Decision-making Process 235
  • Conclusion 261
  • Notes 266
  • Appendix - Summary of Helicopters' Technical Characteristics 271
  • Selected Bibliography 275
  • Index 283
  • About the Author 295
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