Proponents of strategic airpower argued endlessly with those who trusted in other ways to win. Yet, the resulting application demonstrated a far more complex and unified approach to airpower than envisioned by the inter-war airmen theorizing at the Air Corps Tactical School, who resolutely set out to determine how to bring Germany to its knees.
General Charles de Gaulle and Free France, through their military and political acuteness, along with their relentless perseverance, managed to gain a seat amongst the victors of the war. It was done mostly thanks to the use of the military tools at their disposal—including intelligence—that were directly instrumentalized to obtain concrete political gains.
McArthur’s Operations Analysis in the United States Army Eighth Air Force in World War II is not always the easiest read, but anyone interested in operations research, the history of World War Two, strategic bombing, the United States Air Force, or improving military operations would gain value from its pages. Most importantly, future war will almost invariably involve another Great Experiment as warfighters try to implement new ideas of warfare whose vision on paper do not live up to the cruel reality of war.
In the two largest wars this planet has ever experienced, the authority and influence of civilians over military affairs assured victory in one and the lack of such brought total and utter defeat in another. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things, civil control of the military has proven its value not only as an avenue for better governance, but as a strategic asset capable of providing the necessary leverage to achieve victory in wartime.
Hunt has written a book that challenges the modern strategist to process how we end our wars and how we deal with their excesses. Furthermore, Hunt challenges how we, as a whole society, commemorate these wars and their participants through the morally complicated saga of the Latvian Legion. The book’s moral weight is palpable as we attempt to answer some of those questions in the modern era.
The activities of the Army Service Forces rarely garner attention in ongoing debates about warfare. Perhaps this is because modern conflict, unlike World War II, does not rely on massive firepower and highly centralized command structures. However, the management rules conceived by General Brehon Somervell are no less relevant and applicable to today’s military procurement and logistical challenges than they were over 75 years ago.
Beyond the Beach is an essential addition to our understanding of the battle for France, these deaths, generally glossed over as “collateral damage,” profoundly shaped the French attitudes towards and understanding of the war. The work’s only shortcoming is that it teases but does not pursue many of its most interesting implications, leaving future scholars to build on its foundations.
Despite having the strongest air force in the world at the conclusion of the First World War, Britain faced a prominent strategic threat posed by a sizable French bomber force and the creation of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force. To counter the threat, the British created the world’s first integrated air defense system—a synchronized nexus comprised of radar to detect enemy aircraft, a command and control network to relay warnings, and fighter aircraft to challenge threats.
Success will not only be a matter of mere military adaptability, but above all the result of a political, popular, and military convergence, especially if reserves or conscripts are to be used as force multipliers. Therefore, officers should develop a political understanding of their profession within society.
Despite the long odds, Doolittle’s Raiders slipped through Japan’s defenses on April 18, 1942 to deliver a surprise blow. The raiders bombed several Japanese cities including Kobe and Yokohama, but Tokyo was perhaps the most significant because it was the Emperor’s home and the nation’s capital. In stunning fashion, the raid answered President Roosevelt’s call for retaliation and soothed America’s wounded pride. The Doolittle Raid’s place among the time-honored traditions of courageous military action is secure, but its impact on America’s ultimate victory in the Pacific remains unclear.
A successful strategy is usually not the result of one single factor such as advanced technology. Effective strategy depends on a closely interlocking set of systems that need to work smoothly together. Technology, people, doctrine, organizational structure, and training must work in a coordinated and complementary manner. Failure to integrate all these elements will create leaders who are just as frustrated such as the submarine skipper of the USS Tinosa in July 1943––when he spent the entire day firing torpedoes into an enemy ship only to see it sail away intact.
Biographies are often among the best-selling history books, but for many academic historians they are among the most difficult to write. The attraction to some subjects over others has also led to limitations in the literature. Many biographers are attracted to top-level commanders or to the lower level individuals making tough combat decisions in the tactical realm. Rarely do mid-level managers get a thorough treatment that can accurately relate the importance of their work to the larger trends of history. This is exactly what Brian Laslie’s new book Architect of Air Power seeks to remedy for General Laurence S. Kuter. In this brief but lively survey of Kuter’s life, Laslie successfully argues that although Kuter may not have risen to the fame of other Air Force leaders of his day, he nonetheless deserves recognition. Kuter was the father of the United States Air Force’s history program and a key developer of U.S. Air Force doctrine from the Second World War through the early days of the Cold War. As Laslie claims, he was the architect of American air power.
The post-World War II U.S. occupation of Japan set conditions that continue to shape today’s dynamic Indo-Asia-Pacific security environment. Architects of Occupation: American Experts and the Planning for Postwar Japan, by historian Dayna L. Barnes, examines the wartime planning processes and resultant policy that enabled Japan’s postwar transformation into a stable international actor and strong U.S. ally. This well-researched contribution to World War II literature thematically explores the policymakers, strategic planners, think tanks, media players and networks that influenced postwar outcomes and set the stage for modern U.S. foreign policy. Though the strategic reader will appreciate this generally persuasive volume’s bureaucratic politics lens, some of the author’s arguments about policy maker influence are imperfectly reasoned.
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation HUSKY, was the first combined amphibious invasion of Axis territory involving both British and U.S. forces. Poor planning and a weak operational command structure resulted in mediocre command and control of the air, land, and sea components throughout the operation. If measured by current U.S. joint doctrine, the integration of joint functions by the Allies during the Sicily Campaign was below par, leading to missed opportunities and increased costs. While Operation HUSKY still resulted in the Allied conquest of Sicily, the failures of the Allies in command and control and joint function integration during the campaign would result in greater combat losses than necessary and diminished returns during the Sicily invasion, as well as substandard operations on the Italian peninsula. The failures of integration during the HUSKY campaign illustrate why mission command and joint operations are critical components of current U.S. defense doctrine.
The experience of the 101st Airborne around Eindhoven not only provides a different lens through which to examine the Market Garden story, it also highlights the importance of placing rear area security at the forefront of planning considerations; particularly as we must expect our adversaries will aim to sever vulnerable lines of supply. The 101st Airborne experience raises a number of issues worthy of further consideration by contemporary planners at all levels of command. Overall, planners must consciously consider rear area security as an active combat operation in a continuously contested environment, thus avoiding static conceptions of this vital work.
Democracy will always benefit from the requirement to persuade the public––to gain consensus on, and legitimacy for, the use of force in order to defend or pursue national interests. If this opportunity is ceded for fear of being unconvincing, or in fear of explaining the ugliness it will entail, then a society will find itself bereft of clarity in the political objective and therefore unable to craft strategy appropriate the task at hand. Furthermore, the failure to have these discussions leaves the populace underprepared for the brutality and sacrifice that war may require.