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tale of two cities


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             In the early 1920s, Giulio Douhet, an Italian and William Mitchell, an American were among the first theorists to realize the full implications of air power. Both theorists viewed that the use of air power would provide a significant edge in winning future wars. They shared the vision of using long-range strategic bombers to strike deep into enemy territory so as to destroy both the enemy's means and will to resist.1 The theorists had, however, differing views on the conceptual deployment of air power. These are mainly in the areas of whether air power should be employed jointly with other services, the type of targets, the type of bombing (aerial versus pinpoint), the perceived types and roles of the combat aircraft. .
             The conduct of the 1991 Gulf War and the 1999 Kosovo conflicts saw air power being deployed extensively. Both conflicts saw some relevance and contrasts in the theories as expounded by Douhet and Mitchell. The Gulf War, for example, very much employed the joint operations concept while the battle in Kosovo employed solely air power. The aim of this essay is to look at whether the theories expounded by Douhet and Mitchell had been validated during the Gulf War and the Kosovo Conflict. We shall first look at the major concepts raised by both theorists.
             Douhet's Theory of Air Power.
             Douhet believed that the airplane, with "complete freedom of action and direction", had revolutionized warfare and that airplanes would win wars quickly and decisively without first defeating enemy surface forces.2 Douhet stated that the Army and Navy performed essentially defensive roles in war and the only weapon suitable for the offensive was the aircraft. As such, he advocated an independent air force and saw no requirement in conducting joint operations with other services.
             Douhet viewed that the first priority in air operations was to gain command of the air.


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