Airpower (DIP 600)

Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce

Spring 2014

Monday 4pm-6:30pm

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 Ares, the DEW Line, DoD Buzz, the Study of Airpower, Airminded, and Lawfare.


Student Learning Outcomes:

After completing the course,

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

·       Students will be able to discuss and evaluate contemporary issues in airpower

·       Students will be able to trace how military policy decisions are made in the US governmental system.  

·       Students will be able intergrate airpower thought with the major schools of grand strategic thought

·       Students will be able to give competent professional oral presentations. 

·       Students will demonstrate the ability to generate and answer good, interesting questions  


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: 



Carl Builder, The Icarus Syndrome

John Andreas Olsen ed., A History of Air Warfare

Brian Glyn Williams, Predators: The CIA’s Drone War on Al Qaeda



C.R. Andregg, Sierra Hotel: Flying Air Force Fighters in the Decade After Vietnam

Giulio Douhet, The Command of the Air

Thomas P. Ehrhard, Air Force UAVs: The Secret History

Colin Gray, Airpower for Strategic Effect

Benjamin Lambeth, American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century

Richard Shultz, Robert Pfatzgraf, The Future of Airpower in the Aftermath of the Gulf War

Phillip S. Meilinger, Paths of Heaven: The Evolution of Airpower Theory

Richard Reynolds, Heart of the Storm: The Genesis of the Air Campaign Against Iraq

Alan J. Vick et al, Air Power in the New Counterinsurgency Era

Barry Watts, The Evolution of Precision Strike

Frank Tate, Army Aviation as a Branch, Eighteen Years After the Decision




Week 1 (January 27): Introduction I: History

            A History of Air Warfare 1-5

            Paths of Heaven 1-3, 5-7

            Douhet, The War of 19--


Week 2 (February 3): Introduction II: History and Modern

            A History of Air Warfare 6-16



Week 3 (February 10): Strategic Airpower

            Airpower for Strategic Effect


Week 4 (February 17): Airpower and Organizational Identity

            The Icarus Syndrome

            Army Aviation as a Branch, Eighteen Years After the Decision

            Paths of Heaven 11


Week 5 (February 24): Air Superiority

Sierra Hotel: Flying Air Force Fighters in the Decade After Vietnam


Week 7 (March 3): RMA and Strategic Paralysis

            The Evolution of Precision Strike

            Paths of Heaven, Chapter 10


Week 8 (March 10): Modern Airpower Projection

            John Warden, The Air Campaign: Planning for Combat

            Heart of the Storm: The Genesis of the Air Campaign Against Iraq

            The Future of Airpower (Luttwak, Warden, Shultz)


Week 9 (March 24): Airpower and the Military Industrial Complex

Anthony Cordesman, America’s Self-Destroying Air Power

Christopher Niemi, The F-22 Acquisition Program: Consequences for the US Air Force’s Fighter Fleet

Adam Ciralsky, Will it Fly?

The Future of Airpower (McCard, Blair)


Week 10 (March 31): Airpower and Savage Wars

            Air Power in the New Counterinsurgency Era

            Paths of Heaven 9


Week 11 (April 7): Naval Airpower

            American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century

Paths of Heaven 4


Week 12 (April 14): Drones

            Air Force UAVs: The Secret History

            Predators: The CIA’s Drone War on Al Qaeda


Week 13 (April 21): Lawfare

            Charles Dunlap, Law and Military Interventions

Phillip Meilinger, Airpower and Collateral Damage: Theory, Practice and Challenges

            The Future of Airpower (Gelbspan) 


Week 14 (April 28): Presentations