Air Power Defeating an Insurgency

Well, my post on this subject did stir up some conversation. My statement was that “So, we are left to state that we cannot think of a single insurgency that was defeated by airpower, primarily defeated by airpower, or even seriously undermined by airpower. Perhaps there is a case we are missing.”

This is, of course, not to say that air power has not been very important in fighting insurgencies, it is just too simply point out that air power does not seem to be able to do the job on its own.

Did I overstate my case? Are there a couple cases when this is not true? Perhaps there is a case I am missing. Let’s look at some of the other cases that people have suggested we look at.

  1. Chasing the Mad Mullah in 1920
  2. The Iraq Revolt 1920
  3. Kosovo 1999
  4. Italian Operations against the Senussi in Libya
  5. Habbaniya campaign and the defeat of Rashid Ali in May 1941

Perhaps some people were confused by the sentence “The airplane was first extensively used as a counterinsurgent tool by the United States in Nicaragua in 1927-1933…” which probably should have been written as “The airplane was first extensively used by the United States as a counterinsurgent tool in Nicaragua in 1927-1933…” I am going to edit the original post accordingly, so there is no confusion.

Anyhow, we will examine these five cases over the next couple of days. They are all pretty interesting. If there are any other examples we should look at, please let me know.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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