The Transformation of American Air Power

The Transformation of American Air Power

by Benjamin S. Lambeth
     
 
Since the unprecedentedly effective performance of the allied air campaign against Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, the role of American air power in future wars has become a topic of often heated public debate. In this balanced appraisal of air power's newly realized strengths in joint warfare, Benjamin Lambeth, a defense analyst and civilian pilot who has flown

Overview

Since the unprecedentedly effective performance of the allied air campaign against Iraq during Operation Desert Storm, the role of American air power in future wars has become a topic of often heated public debate. In this balanced appraisal of air power's newly realized strengths in joint warfare, Benjamin Lambeth, a defense analyst and civilian pilot who has flown in most of the equipment described in this book, explores the extent to which the United States can now rely on air-delivered precision weapons in lieu of ground forces to achieve strategic objectives and minimize American casualties.Beginning with the U.S. experience in Southeast Asia and detailing how failures there set the stage for a sweeping refurbishment of the nation's air warfare capability, Lambeth reviews the recent history of American air power, including its role in the Gulf War and in later conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Serbia. He examines improvements in areas ranging from hardware development to aircrew skills and organizational adaptability.Lambeth acknowledges that the question of whether air power should operate independently or continue to support land operations is likely to remain contentious. He concludes, however, that air power, its strategic effectiveness proven, can now set the conditions for victory even from the outset of combat if applied to its fullest potential.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lambeth's book is a synthetic and interpretive narrative that insightfully illuminates in a controversial way the numerous uses and misuses of US airpower during the last 35 years. . . This seminal work is written at many levels and will be of particular use to military professionals and civilian policy makers."—Choice, April 2001, Vol. 38, No. 8

"A good description of weapons development and a current air force structure and mission is made even more valuable by a concluding chapter about air force philosoply, air power theory, and the battle over resources and doctrine. . . Recommended as a good introduction to air power technology and ideology."—Library Journal

"The Transformation of American Air Power, like Lambeth's other research published by RAND, is reasoned and informed. It should be read and thought about by all who are interested in questions of roles and missions and air power in its various manifestations."—Dr. Mark D. Mandeles, The J. de Block Group. Air Power History, Winter 2000

"The Transformation of American Air Power amounts to a well-documented analysis of how air power has changed the way the American military fights. . . Lambeth's book ought to be required reading at all service war colleges."—Stephen P. Aubin, Strategic Review, Winter 2001

"This work is important for its historical research and for its policy relevance and should be read by students of the history of warfare and of American military policy."—Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. 77, No. 2

"Ben Lambeth's new book, The Transformation of American Air Power, is destined to join the 'must read' list. At a time when air and space power is becoming a dominant force in peace and war in a global society, Lambeth provides a book which strips away much of the smokescreen invoked by those who would be threatened by a straightforward documentation of the failures and the most recent successes of air power since the Vietnam War. . . The Transformation of American Air Power should be read by all military professionals and interested citizens who want to know more about the forces that will shape and dominate the Twenty-First Century commercial and military battlespace. Anyone called on to explain what air and space power means to all the United States will find this book a rich source of history and vision."—General Ron Fogleman, The Daedalian Flyer

"While most people involved in national security problems have been worrying about money issues, American forces have been sent off to fight and die all around the world in unprecedented and very difficult situations. Because of the great reluctance to expose ground troops to danger, the US has increasingly relied on air power. Benjamin Lambeth has produced the best research and thinking to date on what the role for US air power should be. This is the best work on the subject."—Leslie H. Gelb, President, Council on Foreign Relations

"A must read for anyone interested in the remarkable transformation of our airpower. Superbly researched and written."—General David C. Jones, USAF (Ret.), chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1978-1982

"Tremendously impressive in every respect. Exhaustive research, sage reasoning, and cogent explanations all come together in Ben Lambeth's deft hands. Best read yet on the air power story."—General W. L. Creech, USAF (Ret.), commander, Tactical Air Command, 1978-1984

"Ben Lambeth's skillful blending of historical background, current facts, expert opinions, fascinating anecdotes and illuminating vignettes provides a remarkable written brief in support of his thesis that air power has 'come of age' in the past quarter-century. I have never read a more compelling argument nor a more reasoned series of conclusions."—General Russell E. Dougherty, USAF (Retired), commander in chief, Strategic Air Command 1974-1977

"Ben Lambeth's gripping account shows, with a depth of understanding never before achieved, that it is not enough to know about the technology of modern aircraft and their weapons. His exacting research captures how airmen think, how traditional military planners fear the ascendancy of air power, and how all have failed to fulfill air power's real potential."—General Chuck Horner, USAF (Ret.), commander in chief, U.S. Space Command, 1992-1994

Library Journal
Lambeth, defense analyst and pilot, describes the chronological evolution of American air power from the Vietnamese War to the air strikes in Kosovo. Stealth technology, highly accurate strike capability, and the improved availability of battlefield information, argues Lambeth, have transformed American air power to a point where it has finally become strategic in its potential effects. A good description of weapons development and current air force structure and mission is made even more valuable by a concluding chapter about air force philosophy, air power theory, and the battle over resources and doctrine. Lambeth shows how air force technology--when applied correctly, as in Desert Storm, and not correctly, as in Kosovo--can be the deciding factor leading to victory. For a different slant on the same topic, the reader may wish to consult Michael Ignatieff's Virtual War: Kosovo and Beyond (LJ 5/1/00). Recommended as a good introduction to air power technology and ideology.--Richard Nowicki, formerly with Emerson Vocational H.S., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801438165
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
08/28/2000
Series:
Cornell Studies in Security Affairs Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

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