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Are air bombings ineffective? - 9/30/2016 2:55:50 PM   
Jakers123

 

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When you think about modern fighters and especially large bombers, you see that they can carry a large amount of bombs, several tons, sometimes even dozens of tons and you get impressed, however..then you take a look at Syria, ISIS more precisely and you can't not wonder whether they are even doing anything.

How is it possible that the largest air forces of the world, USA, Russia, Turkey,etc. bomb a ,,primitive" terrorist organization for 2 years and that the results are barely visible? If the planes are so ineffective against isis, how were those planes expected to fight against ussr/usa during cold war?

Of course no one excepts them to defeat ISIS in one day, but still, when you bomb command posts, ammo depot's and such for years, you are supposed to have at least somewhat visible results...

Another example would be the not that famous 1999 battle of Koshare (and Gorozhup) in Yugoslavia, basically for 2 months NATO intensively bombed Yugoslav positions along the Albanian border (in order to make a path for KLA to invade Kosovo from Albania) and there was the KLA on the ground and yet they didn't succeed for 2 months, in the end the peace treaty was signed and the Yugoslav forces withdrew. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ko%C5%A1are

So if we assume that the reason for ineffectivnes in the case of ISIS is the large territory, how did the Koshare thing happen, which was limited to a much smaller territory? (footage of B-52 bombing positions along the Albanian border https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbP2tKR-goQ )

Yugoslav forces didn't have any advanced AA weapons, the most advanced were the SA-3 Neva and SA-6 Kub, so ,,being careful" is not the problem, the area is mountainous and with a lot of forests, so perhaps its because of that..?
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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 9/30/2016 3:47:55 PM   
chemkid

 

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.

< Message edited by chemkid -- 10/4/2016 7:28:20 AM >

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 9/30/2016 5:05:40 PM   
Max 86


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Because bombing alone never does the trick. In today's environment, it is the easy clean war that nations are okay with....as long as they don't have to put boots on the ground.

Its a chickensh!t way to fight wars by nations that really don't want to get involved in the first place but they don't want to look bad in the media.

The disaster unfolding in Aleppo is making my point. They have bombed those folks for days but right now Syrian forces are massing for a ground attack to finish the job.

God help those poor people.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 9/30/2016 6:53:13 PM   
Chickenboy


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I think the OP is not getting the point.

What percentage of the "huge air forces" from the nations cited are actually deployed targeting ISIS per se? Less than 1% of the US force? Certainly less than 1% of the Russian force is actually bombing ISIS per se (versus that percentage bombing Aleppo and NW Syria). What sort of results would you expect with such a negligible force deployed? Don't even get me started on the negligible contributions of other nations with not insignificant air forces of their own.

I would say that there *has* been some progress in whittling down ISIS per se by the use of air forces against them. Just ask the YPG and other kurdish fighters that we have been working with if they think the air support has been useful.

Numbers of boots on the ground, terrain, expense, military casualties, cost, national sense of responsibility (or lack thereof), fear of 'friendly' casualties, etc. etc. are all other factors affecting the pace of warfare against ISIS.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 9/30/2016 7:22:27 PM   
Kuokkanen

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Jakers123

How is it possible that the largest air forces of the world, USA, Russia, Turkey,etc. bomb a ,,primitive" terrorist organization for 2 years and that the results are barely visible? If the planes are so ineffective against isis, how were those planes expected to fight against ussr/usa during cold war?

Of course no one excepts them to defeat ISIS in one day, but still, when you bomb command posts, ammo depot's and such for years, you are supposed to have at least somewhat visible results...

Another example would be the not that famous 1999 battle of Koshare (and Gorozhup) in Yugoslavia, basically for 2 months NATO intensively bombed Yugoslav positions along the Albanian border (in order to make a path for KLA to invade Kosovo from Albania) and there was the KLA on the ground and yet they didn't succeed for 2 months, in the end the peace treaty was signed and the Yugoslav forces withdrew. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ko%C5%A1are

How intensive are those bombings compared to bombings of Japan in Second World War and North Vietnam in Vietnam War?

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 9/30/2016 9:18:32 PM   
Alchenar

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Matti Kuokkanen

How intensive are those bombings compared to bombings of Japan in Second World War and North Vietnam in Vietnam War?



What do you think is more effective:

a) 1000 tons of bombs where 5% land somewhere within 10 miles of the target

b) One bomb that hits the target


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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 9/30/2016 10:53:33 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Alchenar


quote:

ORIGINAL: Matti Kuokkanen

How intensive are those bombings compared to bombings of Japan in Second World War and North Vietnam in Vietnam War?



What do you think is more effective:

a) 1000 tons of bombs where 5% land somewhere within 10 miles of the target

b) One bomb that hits the target


Define target.

If you can...



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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 3:44:23 AM   
Zap


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The bombing campaign in Vietnam was working until politics entered and said we could only go no further north with the bombing.
Of course, the US was using many planes. Also agent Orange to deforest

Bombing campaigns in worldwarII were very successful. But it had the weight of thousands of bombers.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 7:20:41 PM   
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If a conflict is going to be won using conventional weapons, it will be necessary to send in the infantry in order to win it. Bombing alone will not get the job done.

< Message edited by Greybriar -- 10/1/2016 7:22:15 PM >


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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 7:37:15 PM   
sullafelix

 

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If bombing is allowed to be used as it was in WWII or Vietnam, it would be extremely effective.

Precision bombing with no or little collateral damaged has only limited effectiveness.

The small amount of bombs dropped by one B-52 in the video shows what I mean.

Now imagine 100 B-52s in formation dropping bombs on that same landscape.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 7:57:25 PM   
Orm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: sulla05

If bombing is allowed to be used as it was in WWII or Vietnam, it would be extremely effective.

Precision bombing with no or little collateral damaged has only limited effectiveness.

The small amount of bombs dropped by one B-52 in the video shows what I mean.

Now imagine 100 B-52s in formation dropping bombs on that same landscape.

I say that effectiveness depends on what the goal is. Without going into politics I would claim that achieving the US goal would be very hard with a WWII bomb campaign. It is even likely that it would make it harder to achieve the goals of the campaign. So, while it has huge impact it would be less effective.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 10:03:59 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Orm


quote:

ORIGINAL: sulla05

If bombing is allowed to be used as it was in WWII or Vietnam, it would be extremely effective.

Precision bombing with no or little collateral damaged has only limited effectiveness.

The small amount of bombs dropped by one B-52 in the video shows what I mean.

Now imagine 100 B-52s in formation dropping bombs on that same landscape.

I say that effectiveness depends on what the goal is. Without going into politics I would claim that achieving the US goal would be very hard with a WWII bomb campaign. It is even likely that it would make it harder to achieve the goals of the campaign. So, while it has huge impact it would be less effective.


There's no need to bring politics

And what is that goal if not an "act of force to compel our enemy to do our will"? Either you disarm or destroy them...

I remember a Soviet commander saying that of course they could have defeated the Talibans... err... after utterly destroying the country, obviously

Exactly like the Americans in Vietnam.

But for some reasons that path was not chosen.

Now think about the Red Army not bringing astronomical quantities of artillery, rockets in Berlin circa 1945 because hey there are civilians and NGOs might be monitoring our activities

And after that, the ruins, always the ruins.

< Message edited by TulliusDetritus -- 10/1/2016 10:08:24 PM >


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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 10:08:43 PM   
Orm


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And how would it be possible to talk about current bombings without politics? At least when you talk about the effect of the bombings. War in itself is political. Hence is bombings political.

Do I have to bring Clausewitz into this?

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 10:18:54 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Orm

And how would it be possible to talk about current bombings without politics? At least when you talk about the effect of the bombings. War in itself is political. Hence is bombings political.

Do I have to bring Clausewitz into this?


Per definition that's what it is.

We still can talk about military operations I guess, regardless of the politics shaping these operations.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 10:21:05 PM   
Orm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus


quote:

ORIGINAL: Orm

And how would it be possible to talk about current bombings without politics? At least when you talk about the effect of the bombings. War in itself is political. Hence is bombings political.

Do I have to bring Clausewitz into this?


Per definition that's what it is.

We still can talk about military operations I guess, regardless of the politics shaping these operations.

Indeed.

But measuring the effectiveness of said bombing is hard without getting into politics. Both the goal with the bombings and the restrictions are political.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 10:32:21 PM   
TulliusDetritus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Orm
But measuring the effectiveness of said bombing is hard without getting into politics. Both the goal with the bombings and the restrictions are political.


Not necessarily. The OP should simply remember the Highway of Death, february 1991, that's the answer he is looking for.

The rest, let it die: it's not anymore military operations, but politics.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 10:59:40 PM   
sullafelix

 

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I was talking in general, not specific situations.

If you have command of the air and the other side cannot harm your bombers at all, bombing would be extremely effective. If it was used without a present day way of thinking about civilians it would be extremely effective.

I am not suggesting its use like that. I am just answering a technical question.

It is much like can I use Marvel Mystery Oil in my engine. You can, but beware of the consequences.

The thinking for the latter part of the 20th century and now is that 100 civilian casualties are extremely excessive. Compared to Allied and Axis bombing in WWII it is a very small drop in the bucket.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/1/2016 11:43:29 PM   
Jevhaddah


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quote:

ORIGINAL: TulliusDetritus


quote:

ORIGINAL: Alchenar


quote:

ORIGINAL: Matti Kuokkanen

How intensive are those bombings compared to bombings of Japan in Second World War and North Vietnam in Vietnam War?



What do you think is more effective:

a) 1000 tons of bombs where 5% land somewhere within 10 miles of the target

b) One bomb that hits the target


Define target.

If you can...



Anything that is NOT a submarine


Cheers
Jev

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/2/2016 12:01:18 AM   
vonRocko

 

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I feel bombing is only truly effective against a countries infrastructure and factories. Since isis does not have factories or railroads etc., bombing effects are limited. Infantry can survive intense bombing or artillery, just look at WW1 battles, or casino, or Stalingrad. The only way bombing has a chance is if it can be done without limits. As it is now, with limits, it is only symbolic.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/2/2016 9:11:58 AM   
Orm


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Tactical ground support has a impact on how the war is fought.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/2/2016 2:27:43 PM   
hadberz


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Bombing is very effective with the proper intel and a ROI. I wrote out some more, but it was getting into the politics. So I'll just say this, there are essentially 3 sides. So it's political. Also, as has been mentioned it takes infantry to win wars.

Disclaimer:

I am bias since I am retired Air Force. :)

< Message edited by hadberz -- 10/2/2016 2:29:55 PM >

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/2/2016 4:08:58 PM   
Jagdtiger14


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Are air bombings effective? Too bad you cant ask Mr Rudel that question, but you already know his answer. Take a look at the first Persian Gulf War (road to Basra as the extreme modern example).

The problem comes in when politics rears its ugly head and gets in the way of the war fighters. Absurd rules of engagement for example. The over-concern about civilian deaths, which in turn makes human shields a tactic. The Russians for example effectively prepared the Aleppo battlefield I'm sure with no regard to civilian deaths. And now the Syrian army is ready to push in also with no regard to civilian deaths.

The civilians remaining in Aleppo knew what was coming. They had a lot of chances to get out. Kinda like Berlin '45...except worse...they had no "glorious" leader to believe in for their suicide.

Sorry to say this, but the Russians are doing it right. Political rules of engagement make it seem as "air bombings" are ineffective.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/2/2016 4:47:16 PM   
MrsWargamer

 

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Today's bombs are smart as hell, but unfortunately the limitations make them as pointless as hell.

In WW2 you weren't aiming at groups of people, you were aiming at entire countries.

I'm sure if you flew 100 modern bombers over a location with someone like ISIS in it and merely aimed at the centre of the target you'd kill off ISIS right quickly. But the target would be utterly flattened and there'd be little if anything living anywhere near the target.

I recall what Caen looked like when it was 'liberated'. But you still have to occupy the ruins.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/2/2016 5:49:19 PM   
sullafelix

 

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Had the British quickly followed up the massive bombing of Caen they could have swept the dazed SS defenders aside.

Yes, ground troop are always needed to occupy.

The OPs question is bombing effective can be answered with a resounding yes.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/2/2016 8:25:14 PM   
Kuokkanen

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: sulla05

The thinking for the latter part of the 20th century and now is that 100 civilian casualties are extremely excessive. Compared to Allied and Axis bombing in WWII it is a very small drop in the bucket.

"Deaths of few is tragedy. Deaths of many is statistics."

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/3/2016 8:21:51 PM   
Anthropoid


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I seem to recall there was a United States military report written either in the late 1940s or early 1950s which used the value of hindsight to attempt to create synthetic estimates of "how effective" the strategic bombing campaigns against Nazi Germany had actually been at achieving its goals. I also seem to recall that the overall conclusion was: 'meh.'

I think the effects in the Vietnam conflict may have had more promise, but here, there is no value of hindsight and the North Vietnamese command and government are famous for disinformation.

Japan: small land area, very compact communities, built predominantly out of highly flammable materials. I believe the effectiveness here was greater, but had the war drug on longer, the effectiveness would have had diminishing effects.

The general operational response to a strategic bombing campaign seems to be: disperse (troops, industry and materiel), do not travel en masse, and travel at night as much as possible. I want to say that, until rather late before VE Day, those aspects of the German war machine which could be dispersed into rural cottage industry settings, else put underground/otherwise protected from bombing were still churning out an impressive amount of production.

I don't think there is any question that: 1. Tactical airstrikes can make a huge difference in winning battles; 2. Strategic bombing campaigns cause the enemy trouble, force him/her to adapt and exposes them and their stuff to a new and heightened risk; 3. Targeted attacks intended to take out specific individuals (leaders or whomever) which are based on timely and unique intell (drone strikes, cruise missile strikes, whatever) might well be so effective that they continue to prevail as the primary form of "war without war" even after Obama leaves office.

But if anything, the intended effect of "winning" a war either by demoralizing the enemy or reducing his war fighting capacity to the point where he just gives up does not seem to have ever held true. As my fellow arm chair theorists have pointed out above: you cannot win wars without ground forces, though in the context of total war, all-out bombing campaigns may well be a "cost-effective" means to cause the enemy lots of grief.

I regard the ongoing "campaigns" against ISIS as largely PR campaigns, a desire to be able to point and say "We ARE doing something about it."

The societies which could put an end to Islamo-Supremacist movements simply do not have the stomach for it, as it would ultimately take decades, $trillions, substantial degrees of "savagery" which the West has still shown a reluctance to adopt, tens if not hundreds of thousands of friendly casualties and millions if not tens of millions of enemy/collateral casualties. And even then, with ~25% of humanity "vulnerable" to the allure of ideologies like ISIS (that is what 1.75 billion? . . . if only 5% are eager recruits = 87 million which was the entire population of Germany ca. Nazi era), defeating these "movements" may take centuries instead of decades, and I doubt even the most hardened Hawks are willing to commit to that.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/3/2016 11:09:35 PM   
Chickenboy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid

I seem to recall there was a United States military report written either in the late 1940s or early 1950s which used the value of hindsight to attempt to create synthetic estimates of "how effective" the strategic bombing campaigns against Nazi Germany had actually been at achieving its goals. I also seem to recall that the overall conclusion was: 'meh.'

I think the effects in the Vietnam conflict may have had more promise, but here, there is no value of hindsight and the North Vietnamese command and government are famous for disinformation.

Japan: small land area, very compact communities, built predominantly out of highly flammable materials. I believe the effectiveness here was greater, but had the war drug on longer, the effectiveness would have had diminishing effects.

The general operational response to a strategic bombing campaign seems to be: disperse (troops, industry and materiel), do not travel en masse, and travel at night as much as possible. I want to say that, until rather late before VE Day, those aspects of the German war machine which could be dispersed into rural cottage industry settings, else put underground/otherwise protected from bombing were still churning out an impressive amount of production.

I don't think there is any question that: 1. Tactical airstrikes can make a huge difference in winning battles; 2. Strategic bombing campaigns cause the enemy trouble, force him/her to adapt and exposes them and their stuff to a new and heightened risk; 3. Targeted attacks intended to take out specific individuals (leaders or whomever) which are based on timely and unique intell (drone strikes, cruise missile strikes, whatever) might well be so effective that they continue to prevail as the primary form of "war without war" even after Obama leaves office.

But if anything, the intended effect of "winning" a war either by demoralizing the enemy or reducing his war fighting capacity to the point where he just gives up does not seem to have ever held true. As my fellow arm chair theorists have pointed out above: you cannot win wars without ground forces, though in the context of total war, all-out bombing campaigns may well be a "cost-effective" means to cause the enemy lots of grief.

I regard the ongoing "campaigns" against ISIS as largely PR campaigns, a desire to be able to point and say "We ARE doing something about it."

The societies which could put an end to Islamo-Supremacist movements simply do not have the stomach for it, as it would ultimately take decades, $trillions, substantial degrees of "savagery" which the West has still shown a reluctance to adopt, tens if not hundreds of thousands of friendly casualties and millions if not tens of millions of enemy/collateral casualties. And even then, with ~25% of humanity "vulnerable" to the allure of ideologies like ISIS (that is what 1.75 billion? . . . if only 5% are eager recruits = 87 million which was the entire population of Germany ca. Nazi era), defeating these "movements" may take centuries instead of decades, and I doubt even the most hardened Hawks are willing to commit to that.


Good post, Anthropoid. +1.

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/4/2016 1:22:52 AM   
Anthropoid


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Chickenboy
Good post, Anthropoid. +1.


Thanks Chickenboy, however I should correct my (apparently) somewhat inaccurate claims about the overall conclusions of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey having been 'meh.' At least if we consider the consensus reached on the pages of Wikipedia to be sufficiently reliable--which I think it often is, and sometimes is not.

Wikipedia, for all its shortcomings never ceases to amaze. If nothing else that fact that it seems to be always growing; I do not recall this summary page existing before when I set out to familiarize myself with that report. Not that I've read the whole "several thousand pages(!?!)" but I do recall skimming through a PDF copy of one of the summary sections.

The bullet section down the wiki page a bit is particularly instructive as it outlines major areas of "Failure" and "Success" and here I can take some edification that my overall impression from memory is valid as, there were significant elements of German industry where strategic bombing failed to have any real impact.

quote:

Aviation production: "In 1944 the German air force is reported to have accepted a total of 39,807 aircraft of all types -- compared with 8,295 in 1939, or 15,596 in 1942 before the plants suffered any attack." According to the report, almost none of the aircraft produced in 1944 were used in combat and some may have been imaginary.
Armoured fighting vehicle production "reached its wartime peak in December 1944, when 1,854 tanks and armored vehicles were produced. This industry continued to have relatively high production through February 1945."
Ball bearings: "There is no evidence that the attacks on the ball-bearing industry had any measurable effect on essential war production."
"Secondary Campaigns" (Operation Chastise & Operation Crossbow): "The bombing of the launching sites being prepared for the V weapons delayed the use of V-l appreciably. The attacks on the V-weapon experimental station at Peenemunde, however, were not effective; V-l was already in production near Kassel and V-2 had also been moved to an underground plant. The breaking of the Mohne and the Eder dams, though the cost was small, also had limited effect."
Steel: The bombing greatly reduced production, but the resulting shortage had no contribution to the defeat.
Consumer goods: "In the early years of the war—the soft war period for Germany—civilian consumption remained high. Germans continued to try for both guns and butter. The German people entered the period of the air war well stocked with clothing and other consumer goods. Although most consumer goods became increasingly difficult to obtain, Survey studies show that fairly adequate supplies of clothing were available for those who had been bombed out until the last stages of disorganization. Food, though strictly rationed, was in nutritionally adequate supply throughout the war. The Germans' diet had about the same calories as the British."


As others have pointed out above, the scale of the strategic bombing campaigns in WWII or Vietnam were much larger than the present campaigns against ISIS, and of course many operational factors are tremendously different. I suppose the safest conclusion from history is: its complicated, and even when strategic bombing is effective, it may only be of limited effectiveness.

One last point worth mentioning, if memory serves, the section of this massive survey I paid the most attention to was the part about "breaking the will to fight" and the conclusion here was that the effect was not only zero but may well have (for a period of time) increased the solidarity, resourcefulness and resolve of the population to fight and win. The German bombing campaign against England certainly seems to have had that effect.

It may be that the present campaign against ISIS is constraining them, reducing their materiel resources and depleting their manpower, while at the same time filling them (and their would-be recruits from around the globe) with ever greater resolve to achieve their goals. Given their goals are essentially antithetical to Western life, that is a perhaps sobering point.

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The x-ray is her siren song. My ship cannot resist her long. Nearer to my deadly goal. Until the black hole. Gains control...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkIIlkyZ328&feature=autoplay&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CocLGbd6tpbuQRxyF4FGNr&playnext=3

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Post #: 28
RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/4/2016 2:04:08 PM   
MrsWargamer

 

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I think it is a good thing no one has yet to ever do the things I have in the past pondered due to the largely inhuman methodology I have pondered.

We could wipe out all life in some places and thus wipe out the defending targets. But it would require uncivilized ideas that are only possible in a game like Civilization (ironic considering the name of the game).

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RE: Are air bombings ineffective? - 10/4/2016 2:34:57 PM   
Chickenboy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Anthropoid
It may be that the present campaign against ISIS is constraining them, reducing their materiel resources and depleting their manpower, while at the same time filling them (and their would-be recruits from around the globe) with ever greater resolve to achieve their goals. Given their goals are essentially antithetical to Western life, that is a perhaps sobering point.


I've read a number of texts on the American European bombing campaign of the Second World War. Without belaboring the points, I think 'meh' (shrugs shoulders) is an apt description.

It had its successes, most certainly. Particularly against the German synthetic fuel plants later in the war. When our heavy bombers were focused on a particular industry (that was critical-not ball bearings that are a fungible commodity), that industry could be made to feel pain. Same for rail yards, marshaling centers, etc.

When frittered hither and yon, the heavy bomber force was less effective. Particularly questionable was the notion of breaking the enemy will to fight. History will show that was largely rubbish.

I think the current bombing campaign against ISIS is constraining them to an extent. It's likely had an impact on their income streams (small scale oil smuggling and refining) and attritted some front-line artillery, C&C and other targets of tactical importance.

The unpleasant and unspoken fact is that we ("the West") just really don't care all that much about ISIS. If we *really* believed that this movement was an intrinsic threat to our long-term well being, a so-called existential threat, we would act accordingly. Raqqa could easily be turned into a glass-lined self-lighting incandescent cinder within about 15 minutes. Ditto Mosul. Several thousand times over.

The bombing campaign against ISIS currently is parsimonious, tic-tac and small scale. Because that's how much we really care. I don't think you can draw grand conclusions from this like the OP about the overall effectiveness of air power.

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