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America's Enduring Dilemma of Fighting Insurgents with Airpower
by Dr. Mark Clodfelter, Air and Space Power Journal
BLUF: "The problem for American air chiefs-and political leaders-is that their default position for applying airpower is often its kinetic aspect. American air commanders today cannot be expected to forgo the bombing option when insurgents attack US troops or when intelligence pinpoints "high-value" targets. Yet, those commanders-and their political leaders-must have a complete appreciation for the potential costs of such bombing and for whether the potential long-term price is worth the desired short-term gain. In certain cases, the costs may appear justified. For most, though, restraint is probably the prudent course of action. The emphasis on kinetic airpower helped doom America's pursuit of broad-based political goals against an insurgent enemy in Vietnam and may well to do the same as America follows those footsteps in Iraq and Afghanistan."