Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Limits of Air Power

You know, our experience in Iraq War 2.0 has validated an answer to a question I answered two decades ago at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington when I presented the paper, "The First Gulf War and the Army's Future."

The First Gulf War being the Iran-Iraq War.

Iraq failed to push into Iran while they had the element of surprise and the advantage of numbers to seize anything of value that might have won the war for Iraq after the initial invasion.

During the Q and A period after, someone from the Air Force asked if it would have made a difference if the Iraqis had an air force comparable to our Air Force.

Having vowed to answer questions with my opinion and not give an all hands response (on the one hand ... but on the other hand ...) that essentially avoids responding.

So I simply said, "No, I don't think that would have made a difference." Period.

I've regretted that briefness and amended that answer on this blog at least once. (But I'll be darned if I can find one after 20 minutes of searching. Which is odd. Did I just think of doing that? Oh well.)

But as we've seen over the last year and a half a poor quality (but with good equipment) Iraqi military go up against fanatical enemies (ISIL instead of Iranian Pasdaran--Revolutionary Guards), we've actually gotten exactly that scenario.

Not only does Iraq have an air force as good as America's Air Force--Iraq has the actual United States Air Force.

And still the Iraqis have trouble advancing against enemies who can be fanatical but are small in number compared to their Iranian enemies in the 1980s and who are far less well equipped than their Iranian enemies from that war, who had a good American- and British-designed arsenal to use (initially, before going to Chinese-designed stuff).

So in retrospect, perhaps my original answer should stand as it was given.