OK, I know this is a weird obsession of mine, but ever since my “read everything ever written about World War II” phase, which came when I was 13, I have been fascinated by the still endless debate about the effectiveness of strategic bombing.
I recently exchanged email on the subject with William H. Roberts, my first managing editor at The Tech, a career naval man, and a published author on war tactics. Here’s his latest:
There have indeed been a lot of questions as to the efficacy of “strategic bombing” and I would say the record is mixed, with much ink expended—the US Strategic Bombing Survey (WWII) and Gulf War Air Power Survey (Gulf War I) come to mind. The WWII application of strategic bombardment was based in great part on the hope that air power could win a war cleanly, without the massive casualties of WWI, which hope was encouraged by pre-WWII thinking that grossly exaggerated the preciseness of “precision” bombardment and believed that “the bomber will always get through.”
That last quote was from a piece of Bill’s on the Civil War Monitor program, “Transformational thinking stresses a new technology’s disruptive effects and minimizes its drawbacks, devaluing experience and seeing a future in which all that is past will be swept away.”
There’s more on WWI and pre-WWII thought at Brett Holman’s blog, https://airminded.org