Information and the Limits of Air Power

Date of Graduation

Spring 2005


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


Combat air power, the portion of air power that takes a direct role in warfare, has a fundamental problem in gathering information. This paper compares the information gathering abilities of air power in World War Two and Desert Storm, two wars widely separated by time, by technology, and by other differences. The case study of World War Two shows how important information is to air power. Desert Storm shows that even with modern technology available for information-gathering and an extremely permissive information environment, information gathering is a limiting factor in the effectiveness of air power. This problem is due not only to technical limitations and energy countermeasures, but to the limits inherent to the nature of air power. This state of affairs may or may not be permanent. Despite many advances, many problems remain. This characteristic of air power can be used as a predictor of how effective air power is in a given conflict.


air power, intelligence, World War Two, Desert Storm, United States Army Air Force, United States Air Force

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Benjamin R. Styring