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1 Why Air Forces Fail. 2 Why Air Force’s Fail Key elements consistently present in failed Air Forces: Airmen not trained for the task at hand Failure.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Why Air Forces Fail. 2 Why Air Force’s Fail Key elements consistently present in failed Air Forces: Airmen not trained for the task at hand Failure."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Why Air Forces Fail

2 2 Why Air Force’s Fail Key elements consistently present in failed Air Forces: Airmen not trained for the task at hand Failure to understand the nature of the threat Misunderstanding the opponent and training for the wrong fight Relegated to a subservient role vs. land component Why Air Forces Fail (University Press of Kentucky, 2006)

3 3 Categories of Failure "Dead Ducks:” Never really had a chance Poland in 1939, France in 1940, Italy from 1933 to 1943 "Hares:” Exploited advantages, but doomed by later blunders Germany in both World Wars and Japan in WW II "Phoenixes:” Rose from the ashes of early defeats Russia in both World Wars; US and Britain in WW II Arab Air Forces; Argentines in the Falklands Deficiencies in industrial infrastructure are key factors in most analyses of defeat, as are mistaken decisions about technology and tactics, and the neglect of logistics and pilot training.

4 4 Strategic, Systemic Failures Air Forces don’t fail by themselves: Failure occurs in national, strategic context Failure to Anticipate: Nature of war, nature of the enemy, & new technology Failure to Learn: Organizational / systemic deficiency lessons from other Air Forces & our own Failure to Adapt: Inherent human reluctance to adjust behavior

5 5 Case Study of the IAF Spectacular successes, and near catastrophic failures, offer lessons for the USAF Six Day War War of Attrition Yom Kippur Osirak, Beka’a & Beyond

6 6 Six Day War Decisive victory through airpower Won in a 3 hour air campaign 454 enemy aircraft destroyed Operation “MOKED” Rehearsed for a year: C2 by compass / stop watch Parallel airfield attacks, radio silence Enemy air forces in ruins Rest of the war about taking terrain with total air supremacy

7 7 Six Day War Lessons Lesson 1: Employment Offensive, independent, unconstrained Airpower won decisively vs. superior foes Lesson 2: Planning and training Keys to flawless execution Lesson 3: Leadership and morale Wins over superior numbers Lesson 4: Must destroy Will to resist Enemies’ operational tempo

8 8 War of Attrition Failure to learn, adapt & anticipate -- Egypt, Jordan & Syria simultaneous fronts IAF: Linchpin of deterrent posture--total reliance on airpower 1967-71 period would haunt IAF by ‘73: Strategic misuse of airpower In-lieu-of tasking Focus on terrorism “Enslavement to the Army” Success fed NATIONAL hubris Downed 7 Russian-flown MIG 21's in single engagement IADS threat widely known, but deemed manageable 2 jets lost per month = “cost of doing business” The “new normal” = routine milk runs against increasingly lethal IADS

9 9 War of Attrition Lessons Lesson 1: If you fixate on the immediate fight, you'll fail to achieve strategic & operational objectives, lose skills & lives, and fail to prepare for the next fight Lesson 2: Failure to anticipate / adapt to ENEMY innovation is lethal Lesson 3: Dominance is perishable Lesson 4: Hubris kills

10 10 Yom Kippur War Training for a major war sacrificed to fight the War of Attrition Bad habits of routine milk runs in support of the Army Complacency set in, having survived ZSUs, SA 2s and 3s. Precursor to war: Massive air engagement over Syria (9/13/73) 13 MIG 21s downed with zero losses, reinforcing hubris NATIONAL failure to anticipate the threat and correctly employ airpower - Yet IAF’s ability to adapt ultimately saved the day By Oct 73 best jets battered by 6 years of combat

11 11 Surprise Attack Precious hours lost debating authorization IAF pleas for preemptive strategic strike against Egypt and Syria Enemy allowed to attack first on 2 fronts IAF jets took off under fire Engaged in DCA and CAS IDF considered air superiority a “God-given” right Catastrophic attrition due to robust IADs No tactics / countermeasures against SA 6/7 Actual losses heavier than acknowledged 40 % -- catastrophic attrition in fighters!

12 12 Verge of Defeat Effort to reestablish air superiority undercut by “joint” & political concerns Leadership couldn’t make up its mind on center of gravity Effort shifted to the front most at risk -- in the North

13 13 Anatomy of Failure “ Smart logistics" made a great business case, but a horrible warfighting case Didn’t anticipate the speed of consumption of resources in ferocious combat against a well prepared enemy Price = 5000 casualties (30 % officers) Proportionally equivalent to 430K American casualties (in just 3 weeks of combat)

14 14 Yom Kippur War Lessons Lesson 1: Complacency KILLS Underestimating threat KILLS Preparing to fight last war KILLS Lesson 2: Political constraints KILL Lesson 3: Airpower is a strategic asset Tactics adapted mid-fight Steep learning curve cost 150 jets (but saved lives later) Lesson 4: Your allies might not bail you out Applicable only to Israel?

15 15 Osirak, Beka’a and Beyond Redemption relatively quick: Recognition of airpower as single point failure / success F-15s and 16s Weapons School training Primacy within the IDF Air Staff independent Pay off almost immediate: The Entebbe Raid Kills against MIG 21s, 23s and 25s Raid on Osirak nuke reactor Decisive victory in the Beka’a Valley Score: 89 to 2

16 16 Lessons Forgotten BUT, with success came new complacency Dominance taken for granted Future fight seen on the ground BRAC: Re-subordination to Army Lebanon & Intifada’s 1 / 2 Airmen doing in lieu of taskings -- AGAIN Diminished effectiveness against Hezbollah Failed to anticipate rocket impact Less effective against asymmetries Service rivalries Result: At best a draw militarily But a strategic / political defeat

17 17 Things to Ponder Warfare is dynamic & unpredictable Success & failure are cyclical Airpower is a strategic asset, critical to victory Good armies lose without air superiority Redemption is possible but fleeting Dominance erodes over time Over-confidence sets in quickly Don’t take air supremacy for granted The enemy will adapt, learn and anticipate

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