In This Review

Revolution in Warfare? Air Power in the Persian Gulf
Revolution in Warfare? Air Power in the Persian Gulf
By Thomas A. Keaney and Eliot A. Cohen
Naval Institute Press, 1995, 314 pp

The authors were charged by the U.S. Air Force with developing an assessment of the Persian Gulf War air campaign comparable to the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey undertaken after World War II. Given special access to classified data and key individuals involved in planning and executing the campaign, they argue persuasively that technological advances, including stealth, laser-guided munitions, and anti-radiation missiles, permitted air power to operate at unprecedented levels of effectiveness. But they also rigorously detail air power's limitations, including its inability to eliminate the Iraqi nuclear weapons program, neutralize the Scud missile threat, or shatter Saddam Hussein's hold on power through attacks on the Iraqi leadership. The book's liberal use of charts and tables -- a number of which are difficult to read or interpret -- both reward and punish the reader. But taken as a whole, the book presents as comprehensive an assessment of the role of air power in the war as is likely to be written for a long time.