Thursday, June 14, 2012

Note From AFA President -- Spaatz Foreign Affairs 1946

One of our staff members (thanks, Doug) came across an article in Foreign Affairs from 1946.  [You might recall that the Air Force Association was created in 1946 – one year before the “birth” of the Air Force.]
The article was written by Gen Carl Spaatz and was entitled:  “Strategic Air Power – Fulfillment of a Concept.”  The piece is a testimony to Airpower.  A few quotes from it to interest you:
“Fortunately for us, neither Hitler nor the German High Command understood the strategic concept of air power or the primary objective of a strategic air offensive.  The Germans had air supremacy on the continent.  They also had air superiority in numbers over Britain; but they were unable to establish control of the air, and this was essential to carry out sustained operations.”
Comment:  Saddam Hussein, too, did not understand this … as well as some present and past US political leaders.
“Strategic bombing is thus the first war instrument of history capable of stopping the heart mechanism of a great industrialized enemy.  It paralyzes his military power at the core.  It has a strategy and tactic of mobility and flexibility which are peculiar to its own medium, the third dimension.  And it has a capacity, likewise peculiar, to carry a tremendous striking force, with unprecedented swiftness, over the traditional line of war (along which the surface forces are locked in battle on land and sea) in order to destroy war industries and arsenals and cities, fuel plants and supplies, transport and communications – in fact, the heart and the arteries of war economy – so that the enemy’s will to resist is broken through nullification of his means.”
“The first and absolute requirement of strategic air power in this war was control of the air in order to carry out sustained operations without prohibitive losses.”
“Another war, however distant in the future, would probably be decided by some form of air power before the surface forces were able to make contact with the enemy in major battles.  That is the supreme military lesson of our period in history.”  
The piece is long – 13 pages on my computer.  And there are a few spots where the ink has faded … probably from too much copying. 
As always, tell me what you think.
For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association

"The only thing more expensive than a first-rate Air Force is … a second-rate Air Force."  --  Senate staff member