Home / Robert Farley / Airpower Days Re-Revisited

Airpower Days Re-Revisited


My WPR column this week builds on Sunday’s Libya post:

One of the crucial military questions that emerged from the campaign involves the effectiveness of airpower. With one long ground war winding down and another in full swing, the United States and its allies are extremely reluctant to deploy ground forces. The leaders of the major intervening countries made clear that ground troops would not play a major role in the Libyan intervention, with U.S. President Barack Obama most emphatic on this point. With ground troops unavailable, the burden of military intervention falls on air and naval forces. The Libyan campaign began with a no-fly zone that quickly morphed into a large-scale campaign to support rebel efforts to destroy the Gadhafi regime. The early course of the campaign recalled the first months of the Afghanistan War, in which the United States overthrew the Taliban with airpower, special forces and Northern Alliance ground forces.


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  • The best part about this column on air power is the observation that air power did not win this war; Free Libya Forces on the ground won it.

    This was their fight, and we wisely relegated ourselves to a supporting role.

    In Libya, the overall political impact of the air offensive remains unclear.


    • wengler

      It’s better not to fly the banner until you are sure the war’s over.

      • I think it’s safe to move on to worrying about what’s next.

  • Ralph Hitchens

    Precision guidance & the realization of the “reconnaissance-strike complex” has steadily enhanced airpower’s role in 21st century conflict. Ed Luttwak, spectacularly wrong on occasion, has been consistently right on this score. Blue-suiters will forever be savaged by the Browns in the name of “boots on the ground,” but the working cliches these days are casualty-avoidance, “you break it, you bought it,” & the like. Two cheers for airpower.

  • joejoejoe

    It seems like the slow tempo did have a political benefit inside of Libya in terms of the rebel forces learning to work together. Maybe the key factor in the success of the “Afghan model” is not the toppling of the sitting government but the cohesion of it’s replacement.

    If you can provide civilian protection with a ring of air support and tighten the ring around the existing regime it doesn’t seem taking 6 months vs. 6 weeks is going to cost you any more in terms of lives and dollars and it gains you some stability with the replacement government.

    • wengler

      And then you can go in there and blow them away for the next 10 years.

  • owlbear1

    Nice article.

    One thought in regard to the future. The “Special Forces” designation can be easily changed to encompass whatever is needed.

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