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AirSea Battle is Not AirLand Battle Redux

[ 32 ] June 5, 2013 |

In my latest at the Diplomat, I suggest that AirLand Battle is a poor analogy for what the Navy and Air Force are trying to do with AirSea Battle:

Rhetorically, AirSea Battle is the child of AirLand Battle, which succeeded Active Defense as United States Army doctrine in 1982. AirLand Battle doctrine explicitly prepared the United States and NATO for a war in Central Europe against the Warsaw Pact, although many of the basic precepts could also apply to other contexts (much of AirLand Battle translated well to Iraq in 1991, although cooperation between the Army and Air Force was already beginning to break down at that point). AirLand Battle represented an accommodation between the Army and the USAF, providing a respite to the decades of intra and inter-service strife that ran back as far as the 1920s. Effectively, the Air Force set aside a great deal of its strategic concept in order to provide operational and tactical support for the Army.

It is critical to remember that only utter, disastrous failure made AirLand Battle possible in the first place. The Army was badly damaged by the Vietnam War, suffering a cultural and institutional crisis that deeply threatened the identity and effectiveness of the force. The Air Force was, in some ways, even more threatened. The complete failure of Rolling Thunder to compel North Vietnam to end the war threatened many of the dearest conceptions undergirding strategic airpower theory. While Linebacker I helped save South Vietnam in the spring of 1972, it succeeded primarily through a concentration on tactical and operational targets. Linebacker II was a costly fiasco in that the strategic bombing resulted in the loss of 27 aircraft (including 16 B-52s) while producing no observable change in North Vietnam’s behavior.

Comments (32)

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  1. Bitter Scribe says:

    OK, as far as I can tell, the aqua penis never alters its position, angle or fire rate, while the orange penis dashes back and forth trying to pick off specific targets. And the two penises (penii?) come out roughly equal in the score. (I think. I got bored and turned it off before the end.) So the moral is…don’t try to act like you know what you’re doing?

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the plural of penis is “penes.”

      • RepubAnon says:

        Not Tea Party?

      • wjts says:

        The plural of “penis” is either “penises” or “penes”. Although many words that end in “-is” are pluralized by changing the “i” to an “e” (penis -> penes, pelvis -> pelves), some replace the “-is” with “-ides”: the plural of clitoris is either “clitorises” or “clitorides” and the plural of “iris” is either “irises” or “irides”.

        • cpinva says:

          is it just me, or does it seem like this particular conversation (the correct plural of penis) has been happening frequently of late, on this site? not sure what, if anything, that says, about the nature of the site itself, those posting on the threads, or the meaning of life, just thought i’d mention it.

          • rea says:

            does it seem like this particular conversation (the correct plural of penis) has been happening frequently of late, on this site

            You’re misremembering the discussion from the other day about the plural of “Loomis” . . .

  2. RepubAnon says:

    From the Trenchard Theory of strategic bombing on, the idea that dropping enough bombs from the air would win a war has not yet produced winning results. Yes, we need air superiority – but it’s a combined arms world out there in general. The Army should follow the Marine’s practice and get their own tactical aircraft.

    • Pseudonym says:

      Aren’t they legally prohibited from operating fixed-wing aircraft or something?

      • daveNYC says:

        I’m not sure if legally is the right word, but more or less yeah. I think they are allowed their own cargo planes though.

        In a sane world, the A-10 would be under the Army’s control.

        • firefall says:

          In a sane world, there wouldn’t be a separate Air Force

          • daveNYC says:

            Eh, I’m willing to consider that maybe air superiority and strategic bombing are far enough out there that sticking them in the Army could also lead to problems.

          • Major Kong says:

            I realize I’m biased but most countries have an independent air force. We were actually late to the game in creating one.

            I realize the Air Force is screwed up, but having seen how the Army runs things it would just be screwed up differently if the Army ran it.

        • patrick II says:

          That’s a reason why the Army is so vested in helicopters — no fixed wing so the Air Force doesn’t have ownership.

    • Major Kong says:

      The only thing the Navy and Air Force can ever agree on is they don’t want the Army to have tactical aircraft.

    • cpinva says:

      I believe it was gen. Curtis lemay, who declared that the air force would bomb n. Vietnam back into the stone age. which is pretty damn impressive, except when the subject of said bombing is only just barely out of the stone age. unlike Germany in wwII, n. Vietnam’s “war base” was not very industrialized, it was a mostly agrarian society, much like s. Vietnam. so “rebuilding”, after a b-52 carpet bombing, meant mostly just filling in the holes in the rice paddy. it also pissed off the populace, it didn’t demoralize them.

      for that matter, the “bomb them into submission” theory of air power has never actually worked in practice, ground troops are always required, to ultimately defeat the enemy. does any knowledgeable person still believe this?

      • tequila0341 says:

        Worked in the Kosovo War, combined with the threat of ground forces.

        Also largely worked against the Taliban in 2001-2002, when combined with CIA bribes and SF calling in strikes for Northern Alliance forces.

        • Anonymous says:

          In Kosovo, you can make a convincing argument that Serbs won.

          True, they lost Kosovo which was then occupied by NATO forces. But before the war, they were offered a deal where the NATO forces had a complete freedom of movement and the right to base “logistics” posts also in Serbia proper. In actual life, this would have limited Serbia’s sovereignity much more than the peace treaty they got after the Kosovo War. So, the Serbs got a better deal after the war than before it. That is not a complete victory but pretty good when you consider the odds they were fighting against. In addition, they were able to get Russians a pretty good share in the governance of Kosovo, which further sweetened the deal.

          The Kosovo crisis was only won by the West during the years of KFOR operation, when we were able to get the Kosovars their independence. That required a massive land forces’ presence.

          • Lurker says:

            The above comment is mine. Sorry for posting as anonymous.

          • ajay says:

            In Kosovo, you can make a convincing argument that Serbs won.

            True, they lost Kosovo which was then occupied by NATO forces. But before the war, they were offered a deal where the NATO forces had a complete freedom of movement and the right to base “logistics” posts also in Serbia proper. In actual life, this would have limited Serbia’s sovereignty much more than the peace treaty they got after the Kosovo War. So, the Serbs got a better deal after the war than before it.

            This argument is just nuts. Japan was offered unconditional surrender during WW2. Eventually, it got a deal which left the Emperor in place. But this does not make a convincing argument that Japan actually won the Second World War.

            • Lurker says:

              It depends. Any state that decides to go to war does so with certain aims of war. Japan went to the Second World War to establish the Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, and failed utterly. This is a lost war.

              A small country enters its wars with completely different set of war aims. For example, the Serbians went to Kosovo War in a situation where not going to war would have meant the occupation of the whole country. In such situation, not getting occupied after the war is a good result, almost is a victory.

              • ajay says:

                A small country enters its wars with completely different set of war aims. For example, the Serbians went to Kosovo War in a situation where not going to war would have meant the occupation of the whole country. In such situation, not getting occupied after the war is a good result, almost is a victory.

                No, no good, I still think that argument is completely nuts.
                Serbia would not have been “occupied”,
                it did not go to war with the intent of preventing this,
                the status and protections given to KFOR under the Rambouillet Agreement were entirely reasonable given that they were dealing with people that had happily killed and held hostage international peacekeepers before (among all the many, many other war crimes they had committed),
                and Serbia’s war aims – the destruction of the KLA and the re-establishment of Serb control of Kosovo – were manifestly not achieved by the war.

                For heaven’s sake, how many Serbs think they won the Kosovo war? Only the nutty ones, and not even most of those.

        • Barry says:

          “Also largely worked against the Taliban in 2001-2002, when combined with CIA bribes and SF calling in strikes for Northern Alliance forces.”

          No, it caused a temporary retreat and a regrouping.

          Note that ‘running a column into Kabul’ has generally just been the start of an Afghan war, not the end, or even the middle.

          • ajay says:

            “Also largely worked against the Taliban in 2001-2002, when combined with CIA bribes and SF calling in strikes for Northern Alliance forces.”

            Yes. Northern Alliance forces. Who were on the ground.

    • ajay says:

      From the Trenchard Theory of strategic bombing on, the idea that dropping enough bombs from the air would win a war has not yet produced winning results.

      Well, there was that one time.

      • cpinva says:

        that, and the hundreds of 1,000′s of ground troops, used to invade/capture the islands where those planes were launched from. they were softening up the home islands, for the planned invasion, by ground troops.

      • Major Kong says:

        After we’d sunk their fleet, cut them off from all resources, invaded most of their occupied territory and the Red Army had just swept them out of Manchuria like they weren’t even there.

        • daveNYC says:

          The knowledge that you could look up at one tiny plane in the sky and that 30 seconds later you’d be burnt meat and your city would be rubble is pretty damn scary though.

          • Major Kong says:

            I sometimes shudder to think that I had 16 of those things on my B-52.

            And they were powerful enough to make the Hiroshima bomb look like a firecracker.

  3. Hogan says:

    Happy D-Day, everyone! Storm a beach for me.

  4. First off I want to say terrific blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or hints? Thank you!

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