The Instigator
Jingle_Bombs
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
AbandonedSpring
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Airpower can hold Land.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
AbandonedSpring
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 10/21/2014 Category: Technology
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 645 times Debate No: 63667
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)

 

Jingle_Bombs

Pro

A simple two round discussion about whether or not air forces by themselves can hold land. I intend to show through historical examples and modern warfare theory that the air forces of today can indeed complete the Army's role of 'clear, secure, and occupying land' without needing large battalions of ground troops for support. Con will have to prove that winning major wars still requires a ground component and that boots on the ground are vital for its success. This debate is open to anyone with a knowledgable background on military history, technology, and air-land battle doctrine. First round is for acceptance.
AbandonedSpring

Con

This is an interesting topic, so thanks for starting it!

Now, I'll start of with my argument, seeing how there are only 3 rounds.

To begin, I will state that I believe air power can hold land, however, like you stated, my job is to prove, "Con will have to prove that winning major wars still requires a ground component and that boots on the ground are vital for its success"

Which I entend to do next round.

Thanks!
Debate Round No. 1
Jingle_Bombs

Pro

In this round I've decided to prove my theory that Airpower can hold land by naming three historical examples where it did so, CON is free to scutinzie these examples or provide counters should he wish - though CONS's arguements does not have to soley be a historical dissusion on CON's part. I'll then conclude by making some brief remarks about Airpower theory and Airpower today. I hope to return to Airpower theory and make rebutals to CON in the final round.

3 Historical Examples Where Airpower Held or Controlled Land


1) The Berlin Airlift (1948 –1949)

The first example of where Airpower held or controlled land all on its own is the Berlin Airlift. Following the USSR army’s encirclement of Berlin and Moscow’s ban on all land travel in or out of the city, President Truman –while lacking in available ground troops- ordered the newly created U.S. Air Force to begin supply drop operations immediately. The result was a total force of 692 allied aircraft that provided around the clock provisions for more than two million inhabitants; delivering some 2.3 million tons of food and supplies and some 13,000 tons of cargo a day for 15 straight months [1]; thereby proving to the world that airpower –by itself- could hold land.

2) Battle of Ia Drang (1965)

Made famous by the movie, “We were soldiers,” The battle of Ia Drang was the first major engagement between army infantry of the US Army and the army regulars of the People's Army of North Vietnam. On the second day of the battle, some 800 US soldiers risked being overrun by over 2,000 Vietnamese fighters; after hours of desperate close fighting and their ammunition nearly gone, a USAF ground controller put out an urgent distress call for “Broken Arrow.[2]” What followed was one of the greatest displays of military dominance in US history; within minutes of being given new priority, all available tactical aircraft loitering in Vietnam were given new heading to converge on location for danger close CAS; F-100 saber jets broke in hard onto the battlefield with napalm bombs; while other aircraft like the F-4 Phantoms and A-4 Skyhawks provided rocketry and gunnery support. After the initial aerial onslaught was complete, heavily-armed B-52s followed up the day’s events with a massive arclight bombing run, leaving a gigantic bloodbath in their wake, but ultimately saving US forces on the ground.

3) Highway 80 and Iraqi No Fly Zones (1991)

The last example I will list is Highway 80 and the Iraqi no fly zones. Highway 80 of course, was known by coalition pilots as the "highway of death." After being routed in Kuwait, Iraq's elite Republican Guard division attempted to make a desperate getaway back into Iraq. US Air Force planners immediately picked up on this, where American F-15s and A-10s (among others) made easy pickings of the Republican Guard units trapped on the overly crowed highway, needless to say, the carnage was immense.

A short mentioning also needs to be given to the success of the Iraqi No Fly Zones; for years after the Gulf War, coalition aircraft on constant patrol occupied the northern and southern parts of Iraq, ensuring that the Iraqi Army could never again threaten its Kurdish and Kuwaiti neighbors.

Operation Allied Force (1999)

Finally, no claim that airpower can replace ground forces can be complete without giving quiet mentioning to Operation Allied Force. According to the late military historian, John Keegan; 'allied force proved, airpower alone can win a war[3].' In the 78 days of constant aerial bombarding by NATO air forces, and without the use of ground forces, it was airpower that ultimately created the political & military climate necessary for negotiations to take place at the Dayton Peace Accords; thereby formally ending the regional conflict between Yugoslavia and Kosovo.

Air Power Today

Airpower theorist Giulio Douhet (1869-1930) once theorized that airforces would one day be able to bomb countries into extinction. But it wasn't until the advent of heavy and precision guided weaponry, real-time battlefield surveillance, new high-tech mobile command & control concepts (AWACS), aerial-refueling, and modern day jet aircraft that Airpower finally proved that it had the technological expertise to replace boots on the ground if necessary. John Warden's (1943-present) 5 rings concept for strategic bombing and total paralysis of a country -effectively featured in the Gulf War- provides a tactical blueprint for wining wars directly through airpower, these include; the destruction of an enemy's Leadership, Organic Essentials, Infrastructure, Population, and Field Forces [4]; all of which stand in direct opposition to the Army's famous AirLand battle concepts - where airpower is limited to a strike and supporting role. Yet, time and again, from Desert Storm onwards, airpower has proven the mighty go-to force for the destruction of enemy forces, the denial and capturing of territory, the elimination of priority targets, intelligence gathering, the speedy transportation of assets, and the political flexibility that is necessary to win wars. No other service has the capabilities or collective firepower to simultaneously match security objectives to air, sea, space, land, and cyberspace - all at the same time, and that is why Airpower reigns supreme.

Sources:
1) http://www.afhso.af.mil...
2) http://arlingtoncemetery.net...
3) http://strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil...
4) http://en.wikipedia.org...
AbandonedSpring

Con

Alright, I will begin by structuring my debate into three examples, then explaining how they convey my argument. Then, I will seamlessly tie all my ideas together, to form one conclusion paragraph.

I will start by defining hold- to have possession or ownership of or have at one's disposal.

In a war type situation, this would mean that aircrafts are not capable of possessing land, it may be able to give us this land, aircrafts are not capable of holding land.

To begin I would like to state that all of my arguments will be pulled from the past, seeing as to those seem to be where the best examples are- mainly because that is the only place where examples exist. I will also pull from historic battles, one that everyone is somewhat familiar.

1. The American revolution. The American revolution was fought between America and the British. At the time, the British had the most powerful army at the time. America fought long and hard, and under great leadership, came out victorious. This is an example where air power did not hold land, but leadership did. Aircrafts cannot hold a piece of land for a nation, people have to be there to regulate it. To state that aircrafts can hold land is not true. People on the ground, who function in the area hold the land

2. I will also dive deeper into the battles of the American Revolution. For this contingency: The Battle of Bunker Hill.

The Battle of Bunker Hill was arguably one of the most important battles of the American Revolution, if we are talking about holding land. The battle went down over the dispute of a piece of land. America needed it to stop the British, and the British needed it to win over America. Long story short, no one really "won". Britain took the hill, but also had roughly 1,054 casualties. The land conquered was not won with aircrafts, nor was it maintained by them. And Britain kept that land for a long time.

3. The battles of Lexington and Concord.

Here, this was the first battle of the Revolutionary War. This was the point where the British understood the Americans were more than just a group of rebels. Namely because they Americans won this battle. The British had lost the battle, and retreated. America was able to hold their position without the need for aircrafts.

Finally, I'll slap up my arguments. Overall, the battles presented showed that aircraft is a non-necesity when were talking about controlling land. This is because airpower cannot do this. It can only gain access of land. All air strikes can really do is win us the land. But to maintain it, boots have to be on the ground. Just delivering troops/resources does not count as "holding land". Bombings also do not count as holding land. This counts as conquering land, but were not here to talk about that.

Thank you, I am open to rebuttals
Debate Round No. 2
Jingle_Bombs

Pro

Lexington, Concrod, and Bunker Hill are interesting examples.. I think the smoothbore muzzleloader might be a little overmatched though when met with laser guided munitions dropped from a high.

As for CON's last point, I do not dispute that ground forces are sometimes more effective at occupying land than Airpower; however Airpower today is so advanced and so fundamentally lethal, it can in fact prevent land from being captured by enemy ground forces. Massive ordnance delivered accurately and on location -no matter the weapon system used- can rout away any army; which is why a continental army from the revolutionary era would lose in one single arclight bombing run. I appreciate CON trying, but I don't think there is still yet any reason to doubt why a continuous no-fly zone over a given area of land cannot permanently deny its capture by enemy ground forces. In order to continue this discussion, one must provide evidence that proves modern day examples like The Battle of Ia Drang or the Siege of Khe Shah are the exception and not the rule to Airpower theory, and that large deployments of ground troops are still needed to maintain territory in today's wars.
AbandonedSpring

Con

Alright, since you know my argument inside and out, I will jump straight into rebuttals.

To begin, "Lexington, Concrod, and Bunker Hill are interesting examples.. I think the smoothbore muzzleloader might be a little overmatched though when met with laser guided munitions dropped from a high."

It might be, but then again, I don't remember us having technology that advanced in 1949,1965, and arguably 1991. So I really don't understand why you would be willing to throw away 3/5 of your arguments to try and combat mine. Likewise, this claim is irrelevant. It does not matter how they would be when matched because they were not in the same time period.

Next, "As for CON's last point, I do not dispute that ground forces are sometimes more effective at occupying land than Airpower; however Airpower today is so advanced and so fundamentally lethal, it can in fact prevent land from being captured by enemy ground forces. "

Sometimes? Try all the time. Airpower is great for when we need help, but our first go to weapon should not be laser guided missiles. They are simply too inefficient. While they certainly get the job done, a Tomahawk Crew Missile costs roughly $1.5 million. http://www.economist.com...
I agree that the programs are advanced, but it can't capture enemy ground. A missile has a hard time taking out entire cities, especially if we want to keep someone alive, or just don't want to cause as much destruction as possible, which we typically try to do.

"Massive ordnance delivered accurately and on location -no matter the weapon system used- can rout away any army; which is why a continental army from the revolutionary era would lose in one single arclight bombing run."

Can it really rout away an enemy? When our missiles have advanced so much, you better believe our enemies defenses have as well. Armored tanks and armored planes line the sky, filled with troops ready to jump, and all you want to have is a missile. Simply ineffective.

"I appreciate CON trying, but I don't think there is still yet any reason to doubt why a continuous no-fly zone over a given area of land cannot permanently deny its capture by enemy ground forces. In order to continue this discussion, one must provide evidence that proves modern day examples like The Battle of Ia Drang or the Siege of Khe Shah are the exception and not the rule to Airpower theory, and that large deployments of ground troops are still needed to maintain territory in today's wars."

Boy, do you appreciate the value of the comma. I had to break this up in my head into different sentences because this jumped around so much and it was so long. I will give you the topic, "Airpower can hold Land." No where in that topic does it say capture land. All I have to do is prove that airpower can't hold land. It can't, only ground units can. Also, the Vietnam war is not a very good war to cite in any type of debate, mainly because the majority of Americans hated it, which is why we pulled out of Vietnam, and effectively lost. Ultimately though, I'm not saying that airpower isn't good, in fact, it's great! But it simply cannot 'hold' land. For that, we would actually need to have troops their. You have to have an influence on an area so people don't revolt. To properly hold land, you simply cannot just have missiles pointed at a body of people. What if our government today removed the police force, and just pointed laser guided missiles at us. I could guarantee there would be civil unrest.

Thanks for this debate! Great rounds!
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by sengejuri 2 years ago
sengejuri
I'm sorry I didn't see this debate when it came up, I would have taken it!

Really interesting topic. I have a pretty extensive knowledge of military doctrine and history and I'd love to debate you on this or a similar topic when you're done. Feel free to send me a challenge.

(FYI, AirLand Battle is no longer the doctrine of the U.S. Military. It is now Unified Land Operations)
Posted by Vyppaaa11 2 years ago
Vyppaaa11
In certain situations it can't. Areas with dense civilian populations and areas with complex tunnel systems (IE:Vietnam).

As a pilot I recognize the utility of air power but I also realize it's limitations.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by sengejuri 2 years ago
sengejuri
Jingle_BombsAbandonedSpring
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: This was a tough vote. Con's examples were very weak (it doesn't make much sense to give evidence from a time period before aircraft existed). However, Pro's examples were not much better. Airlifting supplies during peace time is not "holding land." The Ia Drang example is not valid either because the aircraft were only there to support......troops on the ground. The aircraft themselves did not land on and secure LZ X-Ray. Finally, the source Pro used for the Operation Allied Force example is AGAINST the merits of air power (I wonder if Pro actually read the whole article?). The conclusion states - "Air power neither decimated nor defeated the Yugoslav army in the field. In fact, the air strikes did very little to damage Serb forces in Kosovo" While Con's examples were weak, Con wins by default because Pro never actually showed that air power can hold land. They only showed that it might be able to deny access to land, which is not the same thing.