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Lesson Index: [ Introduction | Lesson Objective | Overview | Early Perspective of War | Rise of Total War | WWI Perspective | Context for Airpower | Aircraft as a Military Tool | Aircraft for Strategic Effects | Early Airpower Theorists | Aipower Theorists—Douhet | Douhet’s Theory | Implications of Douhet’s Theory | Douhet’s Impact | Aipower Theorists—Trenchard | Trenchard’s Theory | Implications of Trenchard’s Theory | Trenchard’s Impact | Aipower Theorists—Mitchell | Mitchell’s Theory | Implications of Mitchell’s Theory | Mitchell’s Impact | Mitchell’s Legacy | Summary | Quiz ]

Title: Introduction

Action: An animation sequence begins with a background collage depicting World War I carnage and aircraft. This is overlaid with pictures of some of the visionaries of airpower’s strategic nature: Mitchell, Arnold, Eaker, and LeMay. A sequence of strategic bombers appears including the Barling bomber, B-17, B-29, B-52, and B-2.

Voice: Although modern airpower is significantly different than it was at the beginning of the last century, it has retained its inherently strategic nature. Early airmen such as Billy Mitchell, Hap Arnold, Ira Eaker, and Curtis LeMay saw the potential of an independent air force and of the strategic effects made possible by airpower. Their recognition of the inherently strategic nature of airpower led to the emergence of strategic bombardment as airpower’s premier mission.

Action: As the narration continues with a discussion of strategic attack, the Air Force emblem appears over a space view of the western hemispere. The B-17 appears as a representative of the “platform” view of strategic attack to be replaced by a picture of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) as an example of the “range” view of strategic attack.

Voice: Even though our Air Force and no less than 17 other western air forces subscribe to the concept of strategic airpower, the concepts of strategic attack are not well understood. Many view strategic attack as the mission of particular platforms like the bombers of World War II or the ICBMs of the Cold War. Others see strategic attack as simply an extension of surface-based firepower that is able to strike at any range.

Action: As the narration closes the Air Force emblem appears beside the following text:

Airpower provides the capability to achieve strategic effects that directly address campaign objectives.

Voice: In reality, strategic attack is the capability to achieve effects that directly address campaign objectives at the strategic level of war. Strategic attack is one of airpower’s unique capabilities. Rather than pursuing tactical objectives in a sequential manner to enable decisive strategic effects, airpower offers the capability to directly pursue strategic objectives. Understanding this strategic nature of airpower is fundamental to understanding airpower theory.

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