This research brief describes work documented in A League of Airmen: U.S. Air Power in the Gulf War (MR-343-AF).

Excerpt: The Gulf War has generated a great variety of postmortems — everything from eyewitness accounts, to detailed Defense Department reports, to popular overviews emphasizing dramatic events and controversial participants. Because air power played such a visible role in the war, air war analyses represent a significant portion of the growing literature. Such assessments range from claims that air power was the "war winner," to studies that focus on its shortcomings, minimize its achievements, and argue that, in any case, the war was so unique that the accomplishments of air power offer no valuable lessons for the future. The general agreement seems to be that while air power was effective enough to be decisive, it did not win the war alone. Still debated is the matter of degree: Exactly how effective and how decisive was the performance of air power during the desert war?

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