Air strikes still don’t work

The failure of the American air campaign against 4GW forces will not be news to anyone who has read William S. Lind’s ON WAR:

The Islamic State continues to gain new recruits in large numbers despite weeks of airstrikes and other military efforts by the United States, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the group’s ability to attract new recruits to replenish their fighting ranks is an indication of the its mass appeal. U.S. strikes have thus far not degraded IS’s ability to grow its forces, Kirby said.

It would have been more than a little remarkable if they had. Some relevant quotes from the newly released book; note that the most recent one was written more than six years ago.

  • Air power works against you, not for you. It kills lots of people who weren’t your enemy, recruiting their relatives, friends and fellow tribesmen to become your enemies. In this kind of war, bombers are as useful as 420mm siege mortars.  – “Incapable of Learning”
  • The Israeli high command continues to express its faith in the foxfire of air power to destroy Hezbollah, but, as always, it’s not working. Lebanon is taking a pounding, to be sure, but Lebanon is not Hezbollah. – “Welcome to My Parlour”
  •  Air power failed, as it always does against an enemy who doesn’t have to maneuver operationally, or even move tactically for the most part. – “Beat!”
  • The U.S. Air Force recently announced it is developing its own counter-insurgency doctrine, precisely because some people are suggesting air strikes are counterproductive in such conflicts. Well, yes, that is what anyone with any understanding of counter-insurgency would suggest. The Air Force, of course, cares not a whit about the realities of counter-insurgency. – “The Perfect (Sine) Wave”
  • Air power always promises more than it can deliver. – “Operation Cassandra”