Monday, November 17, 2008

Air Power: Zooming and Booming for the Sheer Hell of It (Fred Reed)

The always politically incorrect Fred Reed writes a little primer on air power:

OK, today I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about air power. You will never need to read anything else. These revelations will provide blinding insight into our current wars. Here we go. Hold on.

The key: Air power is really good for things it is really good for, but works lousily for things it doesn’t work well for. (If “lousily” wasn’t a word, it is now.)

The foregoing is genius incarnate, and would revolutionize military thinking if the Air Force understood it, which it doesn’t. As is usual with our late-simian species, the fly-guys' motivations are instinctual and emotional, with reason a pretext slathered on afterwards and accountability a no-show.

Now, it is chic among Military Reformers and other fernbar Clausewitzes to say wisely that air power is impotent and useless and accomplishes nothing. This is not true. In its own kind of war, it works splendidly. Often it is the only thing that could. Anyone who thinks that airplanes are pointless gewgaws should talk, say, to Japanese survivors of the Coral Sea and Midway, or of Yamato’s death run.

See, what airplanes are good at is blowing up expensive, visible, identifiable things, to include other airplanes. An aircraft carrier in the open Pacific fits the bill nicely. You can’t hide aircraft carriers very well. They don’t look like anything else. Even a Marine pilot would never mistake one for an olive orchard, or the cathedral at Chartres, or the Gobi Desert. They just don’t look the same.

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