I want to change the direction of the US Air Force debate, so the following is directed not just at Woodruff (whose opinions are insightful in these matters) but also at you other people.. yes, you.
(sax, be nice. You're polluting my thread too much).
GreecePwns wrote:I think Saxi's question has merit still. How can these Special Forces "control" a battlefield when said battlefield is a weapons manufacturing plant that they do not wish to do significant damage to?
The Air Force Special Forces are not at all just a destructive force. In fact, they quite often parachute into an area to secure, for instance, a runway.
GreecePwns wrote:I can only imagine that the weapons being held there would be seized by the time they get there (from Florida? I think it said Florida), and if need be the rebels could just rig the place with explosives as a last resort.
And the Special Forces guys wouldn't be aware of and prepared for that possibility?
Aside from the "ground troop" aspect, you guys are ignoring the vast array of tactics that don't directly "seize or hold territory" that the Air Force does in fact provide. I'm not sure why you all think that only ground troops are relevant to this sort of an activity. It's really quite confusing. Control of the air is in fact control of the battlefield
(1) In regard to aerial reconnaissance, I mostly agree with you.
(2) It would depend on the aircraft's (acceptable) uses.Strategic bombing
(2a) WW2, bombing civilians didn't seem very effective in reducing the morale of the enemy. (possible exception: nuking civilians + a few military and industry)
(2b) WW2, bombing economic infrastructure seemed very effective (as I far as I can recall), yet many civilians are killed in the process, so again there's the issue of it being acceptable.
(2c) Vietnam, I've heard good arguments for and against the actual effectiveness of US air power and its capability to win the war for the US, so I'm not sure.
(2d) Persian Gulf War. Worked like a charm, so this suggests that resistance groups in dry, arid regions would be out of luck. Heavily forested regions (vietnam)? Maybe. Mountainous areas (Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan)? Perhaps not.
Criticisms with strategic bombing also apply to air interdiction (namely, targeting supply lines, but not so much against troop movements). Why supply lines? In guerrilla wars, the line between soldier and civilian in the role of supplying is very vague.Close air support/tactical bombing
This is probably where air superiority would be most effective, and most acceptable in regard to minimizing civilian casualties. Yet, from what I recall, the risks of incurring more losses are higher (depending on the rebels' weaponry, Stinger missiles? or other MANPADS?)
--I'm beginning to think that foreign "aid" would be necessary for the rebels' success.
So, a few questions:
(1) Would CAS be the most effective for the US government? And... how effective?
(2) How necessary is aerial intel versus ground intel? As in, if the US is deficient in ground intel (due to resistant local civilians), would the benefits of aerial intel (satellites included) offset this imbalance?
(3) During a revolution, how much in revenue could the US print and collect from the population?
---US has plenty of money for the Iraq II and Afghanistan wars, and after ten years, the results are inconclusive--and that's with a local population being generally resentful and against US intervention or at least prolonged occupation. And with US/ISAF soldiers "dealing" with non-Americans.
(4) Assuming that UAVs are part of the air force (and not CIA's pet project), how would this change the game--in regard to debate about US Air Forces?)