Airpower (DIP 600)

Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce

Spring 2014

Monday 1pm-3:30pm

Robert M. Farley

Office: Patterson 467

Office Hours:

Telephone: 859-533-0410




All aspects of modern warfare include airpower, defined by the Royal Air Force as "The ability to project power from the air and space to influence the behaviour of people or the course of events". This course will trace the development of airpower theory and practice from the beginning of the twentieth century until the present day. We will study the ideas of the major airpower theorists, the results of the major airpower campaigns of the last 100 years, and the contemporary and historical structure of the world’s major air forces. 



This course will be conducted as a graduate seminar, with minimal lecture.   I expect everyone to attend, have studied the readings, and have a familiarity with current events.  Any major reputable newspaper will suffice for the latter, although I prefer the New York Times.  I also expect that every student will regularly read the blogs Danger Room, Ares, The DEW Line,


Student Learning Outcomes:

After completing the course,

·         Students will demonstrate a familiarity with the history of airpower practice and theory


Academic Integrity

Per university policy, students shall not plagiarize, cheat, or falsify or misuse academic records. Students are expected to adhere to University policy on cheating and plagiarism in all courses.  The minimum penalty for a first offense is a zero on the assignment on which the offense occurred.  If the offense is considered severe or the student has other academic offenses on their record, more serious penalties, up to suspension from the university may be imposed. 


Plagiarism and cheating are serious breaches of academic conduct.  Each student is advised to become familiar with the various forms of academic dishonesty as explained in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities.  Complete information can be found at the following website:  A plea of ignorance is not acceptable as a defense against the charge of academic dishonesty. It is important that you review this information as all ideas borrowed from others need to be properly credited.


Plagiarism includes reproducing someone else’s work, whether it be a published article, chapter of a book, a paper from a friend or some file, or something similar to this. Plagiarism also includes the practice of employing or allowing another person to alter or revise the work which a student submits as his/her own, whoever that other person may be. Students may discuss assignments among themselves or with an instructor or tutor, but when the actual work is done, it must be done by the student, and the student alone.  However, nothing in these Rules shall apply to those ideas which are so generally and freely circulated as to be a part of the public domain (Section 6.3.1).



Grading will be based on class participation (25%), and three 7-9 page analytical papers (25% each) OR one 22-24 page research paper.  You must decide on which option (and inform me) by the third week of the course. All work will be graded on an A (4), A- (3.7), B+ (3.3), B (3), B- (2.7) and so forth scale.  Final grades above 3.5 will be awarded an A, between 2.7 and 3.5 a B, and below 2.7 a C or lower.


All papers must be typed and double-spaced.  Please do not exceed the page limit.  Specific paper topics are up to you.  The papers need not hold to any particular format (policy oriented memo, for example), but should be internally consistent in focus.  Additional research is welcome, and may be necessary for the adequate presentation of some topics.  One paper is due on the week of your presentation (see below), one on the final day of the course, and one at any time during the course other than those two dates.   The research paper is due on the final day of the course.


You will be required to make an oral presentation and defense of one analytical paper (or of your research paper) during class.  You must indicate to me a preference for which week to present by the second week of the course, such that I can stagger presentations. The presentation should last about fifteen minutes, and will be followed by a fifteen minute question and answer period.  The presentation will make up 50% of your participation grade, or 12.5% of the total grade. Research paper presentations will occur on the last day of the course.


The papers will be evaluated on both content and presentation.  Information must be accurate, arguments must be well thought out, and style must be compelling.


Class Materials

Purchase of the following books is strongly recommended: 


John Andreas Olsen ed., A History of Air Warfare

Carl Builder, The Icarus Syndrome

Marshal L. Michel III, Clashes: Air Combat Over North Vietnam, 1965-1972

Grant T. Hammond, The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security

Robert Pape, Bombing to Win

Conrad Crain, American Airpower Strategy in Korea, 1950-1953



Week 1 (January 23): Introduction I: History

            A History of Air Warfare


Week 2 (January 30): Introduction II: History and Modern

            Global Air Power


Week 3 (February 6): Aviation Industry and Tradecraft

            Readings to be determined

            Guest Speaker: Stephen Trimble


Week 4 (February 13): Strategic Airpower

            Bombing to Win


Week 5 (February 20): The Air Campaign

            American Airpower Strategy in Korea, 1950-1953



Week 6 (February 27): Air Superiority

            Clashes: Air Combat Over North Vietnam, 1965-1972


Week 7 (March 5): John Boyd and the OODA Loop

            The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security


Week 8 (March 19): Modern Conceptions of Strategic Airpower

            The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat

            Global Reach and Global Power


Week 9 (March 26): Airpower and the Military Industrial Complex

Anthony Cordesman, America’s Self-Destroying Air Power


Week 10 (April 2): Airpower and Savage Wars

            Air Power in the New Counterinsurgency Era

            Guest Speaker: Conrad Crane


Week 11 (April 9): Airpower and Identity

            The Icarus Syndrome


Week 12 (April 16): Future of Airpower

            Air Force UAVs: The Secret History


Week 13 (April 23): Presentations