Psychological Effects of U.S. Air Operations in Four Wars, 1941-1991: Lessons for U.S. Commanders
The psychological effects of air operations can significantly shorten wars and reduce their costs, particularly in American lives. In some conflicts, the psychological effects of air operations may exceed the physical effects in importance. This report examines ways to maximize the psychological impact of U.S. air power in future conflicts. Drawing upon POW interrogations and other data from the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, and Korean wars and World War II, the author assesses the psychological effects of past U.S. air attacks against both enemy strategic targets and deployed ground forces. The author identifies the conditions that have consistently produced a catastrophic disintegration in enemy resistance and large-scale enemy surrenders and suggests how U.S. commanders might design and conduct future military operations to exploit the psychological potential of air power more fully.
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