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1. Bibliographic Entry. Cataclysm

2.  Author : Wolk

3.  Context:  Discusses development of USAAF through Arnold’s experience and the pursuit of strategic bombing.  Ties ACTS doctrine with combat employment and draws conclusions on the ethics of urban strike as well as the implications for the future of airpower.

4.  Scope: Pacific theater strategic bombing campaign, American perspective

5.  Evidence/credibility:  War experience, testing versus ships

6.  Central Proposition/Thesis: Airpower brought about the end of the war through dedication to strategic bombing, commitment to stay the course on the target sets, and properly executed Org/Train/Equip from Arnold’s leadership.

7.  Sub-themes:

a.  Urban bombing had strategic effects by displacing the population from where their industrial jobs were.  This was a calculated effect and goes beyond motives such as racism and/or revenge. (5, 112-113)

b. Arnold was an independent airpower zealot.  His tireless pursuit (it nearly killed him) of the B-29 stems from a commitment to strategic bombing theory and the concept that bombing could get a nation to capitulate.

c.  US planners were aware of the atrocities of the Japanese army, the numbers of civilian deaths, the internment camps, POW treatment, etc.  Debatable whether this was a factor in planning, but it certainly made incineration easier on the conscious.  This was one of the factors that motivated the desire to end the war quickly, and if that meant going through urban targets, then ok. (50-51,

d. Arnold had an initially tenuous relationship (over numbers of aircraft going to Allies versus building up USAAF) with Roosevelt, but built credibility along with building an Air Force.  Meeting Roosevelt’s production goals was critical to the POTUS, and bought Arnold some maneuvering room.  Allied production, through lend-lease, left USAAF under strength going into WWII, but it did keep the RAF, China, Russia in the war.  Right thing to do? Yes.

e.  Roosevelt was an airpower fan, and foresaw the bomber for the potential it possessed.  He advocated advancing the bomber line toward Japan and the bombing of the home islands as a critical capability.  (58-59)

f.  Japanese cities were less vulnerable to blast/frag then German cities, and their ‘home-industry/feeder production’ structure was difficult to target.  Fire bombing solved both problems.  (126)

g.  Japanese industrial base was more susceptible to airpower because it was island based = reliant on raw materials from afar and easily isolated.  (68)

h. QUADRANT conference determines that an invasion can only take place after Japanese strength and will is reduced (through bombing), that airbases would be captured to advance this goal (Marianas) and that strategic airpower had to be C2’d from a central authority who could maintain the mission and not let forces be dispersed to penny-packetting (70).

i.   Created XXth AF to exercise C2 over the bombers, with Arnold acting as unified component commander.  1st look at centralized control/decentralized execution of globally flexible assets.  Because airpower could traverse multiple AORs, and because airpower was providing effects in a target area not within anyone else’s AOR, it required a dedicated unified command – like Global Strike today. (95)

j.   The atomic bombs gave the emperor a way out.  The devastation and shock allowed him to out maneuver the militarists and wedge in the peace offer.  Author contends that the majority of the Japanese populous were relieved the by surrender brought on by the bombs. (119, 195)

k. The 9-10 March 1945 attacks on Tokyo were the most devastating ever, killing and destroying more than the atomic bombs.  334 B-29s caused a firestorm that destroyed 16 square miles of the city, left 1 million homeless, killed 97,000 people and wounded another 125,000. (125)

l.   SECDEF Stimson rejected Kyoto as a nuclear target.  Cited the cities population and religious significance as too high a cost for the Japanese to bear.  Racist? Revenge??  No (170)

m.   Overarching perspective was area bombing was acceptable if it shortened the war and avoided an invasion.

n. Absenteeism had significant effects on Japanese industrial output – 49% of workers weren’t coming to the factories. (217)

o. PTP – where does a supported/CC’s authorities end, and where does a global strike entity have autonomy to operate against strategic targets? XXth AF demonstrated this relationship with MacArthur and Nimitz.  Is it still valid in a networked/globalized world?

p. PTP – is there a min threshold of bombing that must be maintained in order to have morale effects on the enemy’s will?

a.  If under this threshold, do you just teach the enemy to live with air attacks (London, Germany, North Vietnam under Rolling Thunder)?

b. If you are going to strike above this threshold (Japan, North Vietnam under Linebacker II), are you going to be able to keep the people’s fortitude to inflict so much damage and destruction on the enemy?

c.  Where is this min threshold (assuming it exists) and how do you find it?

q. PTP – was the Pacific the airpower boon that it was because it was the Pacific (island geography, prone to strategic bombing, effects of air superiority, etc) or was the performance of airpower transferrable to any theater in the future?

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