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Book description

Since the end of the Cold War the United States and other major powers have wielded their air forces against much weaker state and non-state actors. In this age of primacy, air wars have been contests between unequals and characterized by asymmetries of power, interest, and technology.  This volume examines ten contemporary wars where air power played a major and at times decisive role. Its chapters explore the evolving use of unmanned aircraft against global terrorist organizations as well as more conventional air conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and against ISIS. Air superiority could be assumed in this unique and brief period where the international system was largely absent great power competition. However, the reliable and unchallenged employment of a spectrum of manned and unmanned technologies permitted in the age of primacy may not prove effective in future conflicts.


'Good writing about recent history is hard ... and hard to find. The authors have done an admirable job of analyzing the actions of both airmen and statesmen as they adjusted the theory, systems, and tools they developed for war against great powers and combined them with new tools in this age of air power primacy. The result both examines the results of recent conflicts while they are still fresh and projects lessons to help the airmen and statesmen who must lead the transition back to major power conflict. I gained a better understanding of 'my wars'. You will, too.'

James M. 'Mike' Holmes - General, United States Air Force (retired.)

'Someday historians may regard the period following the breakup of the Soviet as an 'interwar era' – a relatively brief lull in outbreaks of great power conflict. The editors of this volume have assembled an outstanding compendium of analyses of airpower employment during this era. Some chapters are topical (e.g., the general rise in the importance of remotely operated air vehicles); others document airpower’s application in specific regional conflicts. Each chapter includes a penetrating and well-balanced narrative; together they form a must read for military professionals studying the lessons of airpower in the post-Cold War era, and their potential application to larger-scale conflicts.'

Allen G. Peck - Lieutenant General, United States Air Force (retired.)

'Air Power in the Age of Primacy rigorously examines all the major air campaigns since the end of the Cold War as no other book has. Analytically sharp and empirically rich, this terrific volume is a must read for anyone seeking to understand modern warfare.'

Caitlin Talmadge - Associate Professor of Security Studies, The Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

‘This is a splendid collection, unusually useful for practitioners of joint warfare and historians, that fills a painful literature gap. Each case study provides useful historical and operational background, compactly presented, and each poses analytical dilemmas that can facilitate academic and operational educational learning opportunities. While there is much we do not know about these conflicts, the authors have done yeoman’s work in carefully sifting what we do know, starting the conversation for what it might mean for combat and deterrence.’

Brian R. Price Source: Journal of Military History

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  • 1 - Air Power in the Age of Primacy
    pp 1-25
  • Air Warfare since the Cold War


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