The Limits of Air Power

One of the lessons of warfare that I would have hoped we might have learned but apparently have not is that however effective it might be air power has distinct limitations. Significant among those is that air power gives you no ability to control the situation on the ground. If you misunderstand or are indifferent to the situation on the ground, the use of air power alone can have deadly consequences that persist for years:

Nearly 3,700 migrants were rescued from boats near the coast of Libya on Saturday and early on Sunday, the Italian coastguard said.

A spokesman said rescue operations were likely to continue throughout Sunday. All of those pulled from boats were being taken to Italy.

Italian authorities said the migrants were rescued by Italian and French navy vessels in 17 separate operations.

At least 1,750 people have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean.

The number is a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014, when 96 people died. Many more migrants are expected to make the crossing as smugglers take advantage of calmer weather.

Here’s what I think. If it’s not worth putting “boots on the ground” to try to control the outcome, we should have a lot more reluctance to use air power to achieve our objectives than we presently do.

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    The most recent projections from the UN have the population of Africa quadrupling by the end of the century, to more than four billion people. That’ll be over 3.5 larger than Europe’s population. This is a small trickle through the dike compared to the deluge to come….

  • As I’ve mentioned before, the U. S. is the natural destination for people from Latin America and the Caribbean. Europe is the natural destination for people from Africa. Based on the demography of Latin America and the Caribbean, our “deluge” as you put it, is likely to slow to a trickle. Europe’s is just beginning. Interesting times.

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