Discuss about the Military Strategy for Power Control.
Air Force is undoubtedly one of the prime wings of any defense sector. Countries today, invest humongous amounts in terms of money and human resource to nurture this sector. The ability of the Air Force was first notably recognized around World War 1. This was one of the on field scenarios where Air Force has been used to a full extent. General Giulio Douhet, an Italian general was known for his theory of Air Power (Wylie, 2012). Proposed through a book called The Command of the Air, that was published in 1942, the General implies that war can be won through a strong air force and the amount of bloodshed that takes place in such scenarios can be dramatically decreased. The General was the first to envision the true capacity of Air power and puts in theory that strategic bombers that target vital centers of major cities of the war opponent’s territory can help in creating a sense of chaos in the opposing army that would be crucial to win the war (Pape, 2014). Below is a discussion to help understand the theory proposed by General Giulio Douhet and the extent to which the same is still relevant after the modern technological developments.
The theory of Douhet is based on three main ideas proposed. The first is that it is mandatory to gain of Air superiority to assure victory. The second is that air defenses of the enemies must be suppressed by the offensive air units. The third and the most crucial is that the air units have to target and attack the heart of the nation in question. These include industry hubs, cultural hubs, communications, transport or other areas that are of great prominence to the people in the country (Coleman, 2012). These ideas were of great use in the World War II to attack Germany.
Though there was a scarcity of long range fighters, identification of strategic locations that would provide a tactical advantage played a prominent role. One of the best example for the same was the General LeMay’s night, low level bombing that in Japan that was quite successful (Sherman, 2016). Some of the other successful attacks that have closely followed the Douhet’s principles are the RAF night bombing, pacific theater bombing, Vietnam linebacker II, and strategic bombing in southwest Asia.
It is believed for the past many years that one kind of attack alone cannot win a war. It has been said so many times that it is indeed truly believed. In case of the Germany Strategic bombing, the country was threatened due to the attacks on its major centers through strategic bombing. However, the country was taken under control only after the land and the marine troops have had a foothold of the land. It is true that only Air power cannot win a war, but a war cannot be won without efficient Air strategies as well (Gooch, 2013).
The airplane is a relatively new technology when compared to the marine and land weapons. However, it is one of the prominent inventions that has elevated the offensive strategy within years of its introduction to warfare. Starting from the wood made planes used on World War I to the supersonic stealth planes used today, there has been tremendous advancements. There has be changes to the capabilities, techniques and design of the air craft. However, the attacking strategy still is highly influenced by Douhet’s Theory.
This theory is relevant even in today’s world and will continue to do so, as this is the primitive theory on Air Power. Before Command of the Air was published there were relatively no theory of how air power can be used efficiently. This is again because airplanes were used only, just before World War I to begin with. Douhet had on field experience from the very beginning (Reeve, 2013). Italy’s war against Ottoman Empire was the first understanding of air warfare which later adapted in to the World War I. The Ottoman Empire war provided Douhet an elevation to understand how the war can be successful with efficient attacks using significant air power which was later implemented in WWII against Germany. This has made Douhet to be one of the very first to study and theorize air warfare. Note that post the death of Douhet, there have been incidents were air power was used, however, none of these incidents have had the need to use the same at the extent at which Air Power was used in WWII (Eldridge, 2015). Simply, implying that though there are several theorists that propose against Douhet’s theory, none have been actually implemented at a great extent.
The heart of Douhet’s theory was to break the heart of the nation. By heart, he meant the places that stand as centers of morale and strength for the country. This is one of the statement that will indeed be relevant to any warfare. Breaking the morale of the country is the first step to conquer it. To do the same, Air power is believed to be the most efficient tactic. The reason is that the advancement in Air Defense is not as quick and responsive as the advancement in the Air offence (Conroy, 2014). This would mean that the chances of a successful air attack are higher than any other form. He also stated that “The bomber will always get through”.
In the 1945, attack against Japan 334 planes attacked Tokyo in the night. This was because careful understanding of the strategies and the failed efforts have already proven that day light air attacks are not very efficient. The invention of atomic bomb and the use of the same in modern warfare in combination of an air attack had crumbled the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing nuclear holocaust that had lasted for years (Abruzzino, 2013). Placing an atomic bomb on strategic centres through land and marine is close to impossible due to the sheer defence available against these units. The advancement of the bombs has only become added advantage, there by being a compliment to Air Power.
By the end of WWII, The U.S has gained the advantage of being able to create and deliver a nuclear bomb. They have also elevated the position of manned strategic bombers in the defence. These were again effectively used in the Vietnam incident. The conflict with Vietnam was a challenge to the U.S army given that battles individually were being won but the nation as a whole was not being conquered (Osinga, 2016). With negations being stalled by the Vietnamese, B-52 were authorized and used to attack strategic centres following the Douhet’s theory closely. The attacks have been made of some of the heavily defended sites of the country including Hanoi and Haipong. The strategic bombing campaign was named Linebacker II. The technology development then had aided high altitude bombers who were effective even against the surface-to-air missiles. In a span of 11 days 34 targets in Vietnam were attacked. Thanks to the high end, altitude precision planes that helped deliver tons of bombs without being heavily affected by the air defence strategies.
All the above mentioned examples may or may not directly contribute their victory to the Douhet’s Theory. However, when thoroughly analysed it is true that the same is relevant in all the cases of Air Power take over and technological advancements have only aided Air Power to become stronger.
Air Power is a strong unit of an army and the technological advancements in the airplane design and capabilities, bombing design and techniques, Global positioning system, Air routing techniques have all made Air power a dependable unit. Douhet’s Theory has hence been strengthened by the advancement in technology.
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