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Corum and Johnson, Airpower in Small Wars

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Conclusions

First half of 20th Century--Most common form of insurgency was rebellion against the crown

After WWII, anti-colonial insurgencies motivated by nationalistic motivations

Other types included Marxist insurgencies to overthrow western gov’t

Fall of Soviet Union removed support for Marxist style insurgencies

Columbia turned to drug trade for support

Small wars have more focus on pol/eco and media than a larger existential war. The parties need to take more considerations in this type of environment.

Insurgencies motivated today more by ethnicity than by ideology.

Air has a larger role as supporter in many smaller wars; they can provide airlift, para drops, supply, medevac, intell, surveillance etc that is essential for the troops amongst the population.

UK in Malaysia, created black/gray and white areas that labeled the level of resistance from the population. Ina white zone they got the best of everything. Strong population control, linked with building secure towns and providing for the population (food etc).



11 Lessons Learned


  1. A comprehensive strategy is essential. Strategy—“allocation of military, political, economic, and other resources to attain a political goal.” In an insurgency, political goal is paramount. Ultimate failure of French in Algiers, Russians in Afghanistan resulted form lack of strategy.
  2. The support role of airpower is usually the most important and effective mission in a guerilla war. Flying combat troops to insurgent location critical in several campaigns.
  3. The ground attack role of airpower becomes more important when the war becomes conventional.
  4. Bombing civilians is ineffective and counterproductive. I do not believe it—but he said it. Douhet and LeMay—they rhyme—coincidence, you decide.
  5. There is an important role for the high tech aspect of airpower in a small war. Smart Weapons, GPS, UAVs, etc.
  6. There is an important role for the low-tech aspect of airpower in small wars. Conversion of trainers to fighter bombers, transports to bombers, transports to gunships.
  7. Effective joint operations are essential for the effective use of airpower.
  8. Small wars are intelligence intensive.
  9. Airpower provides the flexibility and initiative that is normally the advantage of the guerilla.
  10. Small wars are long wars.
  11. The US and its allies must put more effort into small wars training.

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