Book Review: Airpower in Small Wars: Fighting Insurgents and Terrorists


by James S. Corum and Wray R. Johnson

Lawrence, Ks.: University Press of Kansas, 2003. Pp. xvi, 506. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $24.95. ISBN:0-7006-1240-8

A timely study of the role of air power in counter-insurgency, anti-terrorism, and pacification operations in the twentieth century. This is a comprehensive study that looks not only at the American, British, and French experience in places as widely separated as Mexican and Vietnam, but also at air power in usually overlooked small wars in places such as Guatemala, the Philippines, Morocco, Rhodesia, and Greece, to name but a few.

In contrast to other works on aviation history, Airpower in Small Wars does not just focus on the use of airplanes and helicopters, but tells a broader story of the integration of air assets with the other tools of counter-insurgency, diplomacy, development, and ground operations, making it a useful guide to many examples of successful and not-so-successful campaigns.

The work does have some omissions. Aside from the campaign in Afghanistan, there is nothing regarding Soviet use of air power in counter-insurgency operations, though they had considerable experience right from the days of the Russian Civil War, through the reconquest of Central Asia in the 1920s, and against separatist or pro-Nazi insurgents during the Second World War. Likewise Nazi use of aviation against insurgents in Russia and the Balkans has been overlooked. Nevertheless, a very valuable contribution to the literature of counter-insurgency. rc=http:/

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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