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MEslaymaker

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CROSSWINDS: The Air Force's Setup in Vietnam

CROSSWINDS: The Air Force's Setup in Vietnam - Earl H. Tilford Like Clodfelter in "The Limits of Airpower," Tilford argues that the air force has been slower than any other service to honestly evaluate and learn from its conduct in the Vietnam War. He also shows that the popular notion about politicians being to blame for rendering the air war ineffective is bunk.

He examines the overall air war rather than focusing exclusively on bombing of the north, and provides a cursory comparison of the Vietnam and Gulf air wars. Tilford served as an intelligence officer in the Vietnam War, earned a PhD in history from George Washington University, and was a professor of military history at the air force's Command and Staff College. So far I've found the scholarship in this book to be superior to that in his other works, but here I think he pretty much nails it. Bottom line:

"The Air Force position was that if the United States could fight and win the big war, it could always win any smaller war. Thus, a separate body of doctrine or specifically designed strategy for little wars was unnecessary. Even the weapons that would be used in big war could be used in lesser conflicts. 'Today's nuclear weapons,' wrote Loosbrook, 'coupled with our determination to use them if needed, can take the profit out of aggressive war, big or little.' Nuclear weaopns were, for the Air Force, the paramount means for fighting wars and the possibility of their use in any conflict was not to be discounted."