Small Wars Journal


Irregular Warfare Initiative: Armed Overwatch: Airpower in Irregular Warfare - Past, Present, and Future

Mon, 04/12/2021 - 8:14am

An interview with Lt Gen (Ret.) Thomas Trask and Dr. James Kiras on the looming cultural changes facing airpower in irregular warfare

Retired Lieutenant General Thomas Trask transitioned from the Air Force in 2017 after thirty-three years of service, retiring as the vice commander of United States Special Operations Command. During his career Tom flew rescue and special operations helicopters, accumulating more than 3,200 hours and over fifty combat missions.

Dr. James Kiras teaches at the US Air Force’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. In addition to his knowledge of aviation history, his other areas of expertise include irregular warfare, international terrorism, and special operations, He is the author of Special Operations and Strategy: From World War II to the War on Terrorism.

RAND: The Air War Against The Islamic State

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 9:55pm

Full Report:

Airpower played a pivotal role in the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from 2014 to 2019 and contributed to the success of Operation Inherent Resolve. This report sheds light on the impact of the air operations in Operation Inherent Resolve and whether airpower could have been applied differently to achieve faster, more-sustainable outcomes. The authors incorporate interviews with U.S. and coalition personnel, primary-source documents, and U.S. and coalition strike and sortie data to document the operational history of the air war, assess the relationship between airpower effects, and analyze the strategic and operational impact of airpower in Operation Inherent Resolve.

The authors find that, although airpower played an essential role in combating ISIS, airpower alone would not have been likely to defeat the militant organization. Instead, the combination of airpower and ground forces—led by Iraqi and Syrian partners—was needed to destroy the Islamic State as a territorial entity. The overarching strategy of Operation Inherent Resolve, which put ground-force partners in the lead, created several challenges and innovations in the application of airpower, which have implications for future air wars. To be prepared to meet future demands against nonstate and near-peer adversaries, the U.S. Air Force and the joint force should apply lessons learned from Operation Inherent Resolve.

Doomed from the Skies, Damned on the Ground

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 12:55pm
Every U.S. airstrike resulting in civilian casualties nullifies the eighteen-year long endeavors of reconstruction and nation building aimed at winning the hearts and minds of Afghans in the perpetual War on Terror. The airstrikes have alarmingly augmented the xenophobia of Afghans towards the foreign troops and especially those of the United States.

About the Author(s)