Airpower May Not Win Wars (Alone), But It Does Not Lose Them



After back-to-back land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is time to reflect on the U.S. approach to ISIS. To this day, arguments stubbornly envision a kind of victory that only landpower can deliver — with decisive battles, military capitulation, and a unified adversary who accepts “defeat.” It is certainly true that airpower cannot “hold ground” and act as an occupying force. Neither can naval power. But not all conflicts have to be resolved by the seizure of land, and not all political solutions require armed occupations to enforce. For the United States, isolated by two great oceans, air and naval power are the critical elements of national power, and, used correctly, they have been and can be decisive.


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