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					                                                      ISSN 1463-6298




AIR POWER
REVIEW
Volume 13        Number 3        Autumn/Winter 2010


Air & Space Power after the SDSR
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton

The Gloves Will Have To Come Off: A
Reappraisal of the Legitimacy of the
RAF Bomber Offensive Against Germany
Air Commodore (Retired) Dr Peter Gray

“The Qu’ran and War: Observations on
Islamic Just War”
Dr Joel Hayward

Christianity, the West and Just War in
the Twenty-First Century
Dr Peter Lee

Prevention is better than Cure: What is the
Utility of Air Power in Conflict Prevention?
Group Captain Clive Blount

‘Pink’s War’ – Applying the Principles of Air
Control to Waziristan, 9 March to 1 May 1925
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Roe

False Start: the Enduring Air Power
Lessons of the Royal Air Force’s
Campaign in Norway, April-June 1940
Group Captain Alistair Byford

Viewpoints
Flight Lieutenant Sandy McKenzie
Professor Philip Sabin

Book Reviews
Group Captain Clive Blount
Group Captain John Alexander
Rev Dr (Squadron Leader) David Richardson



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Editorial board:
Gp Capt M Hart, D Def S (RAF), Chairman
Dr J Hayward, Dean RAFC
Mr S Cox, Head of AHB (RAF)
Air Cdre (Retd) Dr P Gray, Senior Research Fellow, University of Birmingham
Mr P Gibson, Hd of Air Media Centre, Air Cmd
Gp Capt C Blount, Asst Hd of Air & Space, DCDC
Wg Cdr M Tomany, Dep D Def S (RAF)
Dr I Gooderson, DSD, JSCSC
Dr D Hall, DSD, JSCSC
Dr A Conway, DSD, RAFC
Dr B Jones, DSD, JSCSC
Dr D Jordan, DSD, JSCSC
Sqn Ldr N Jones, D Def S (RAF) TO, Secretary




Photograph courtesy of:
Defence Image Database
                                                                              Royal Air Force technicians work
Print:                                                                        on a Chinook helicopter during a
No1 AIDU, RAF Northolt                                                        pre-Afghanistan exercise.
                                        1
                                        Air & Space Power after the SDSR
                                        Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton

                                        9
                                        The Gloves Will Have To Come Off: A
                                        Reappraisal of the Legitimacy of the
Volume 13 Number 3 Autumn/Winter 2010
                                        RAF Bomber Offensive Against Germany
                                        Air Commodore (Ret'd) Dr Peter Gray

                                        41
                                        "The Qu'ran and War: Observations on
                                        Islamic Just War"
                                        Dr Joel Hayward

                                        65
                                        Christianity, the West and Just War in the
                                        Twenty-First Century
                                        Dr Peter Lee

                                        85
                                        Prevention is better than Cure: What is the
                                        Utility of Air Power in Conflict Prevention?
                                        Group Captain Clive Blount

                                        97
                                        ‘Pink’s War’ – Applying the
                                        Principles of Air Control to Waziristan,
                                        9 March to 1 May 1925
                                        Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Roe

                                        119
                                        False Start: the Enduring Air Power
                                        Lessons of the Royal Air Force’s
                                        Campaign in Norway, April-June 1940
                                        Group Captain Alistair Byford

                                        143
                                        Viewpoints
                                        Flight Lieutenant Alexander McKenzie
                                        Professor Philip Sabin

                                        175
                                        Book Reviews
                                        Group Captain Clive Blount
                                        Group Captain John Alexander
                                        Rev Dr (Squadron Leader) David Richardson
Foreword


I
   t is appropriate that this edition    The next two articles by Dr Joel
   of Air Power Review opens with a      Hayward and Dr Peter Lee do
   piece by the Chief of the Air Staff   not have a traditional link to air
offering his views on the delivery       power but address an important
of Air and Space power in this post      contemporary debate. Dr Hayward
Strategic Defence and Security           argues that, given the strategic
review era. Far from the apocalyptic     importance of the Middle East, the
landscape that many predicted,           geographical location of our major
despite the loss of some platforms,      wars throughout the last two decades
the RAF remains capable across all       and the cultural origin of some
4 key air and space roles.               of the Islamist extremist groups
From this most contemporary view         currently fighting the West, it is
of the world, the second article is      surprising that very few non-Muslim
an historic treatise from Peter Gray     strategists and military personnel
examining the legitimacy of the          have included the Qur’an in their
bomber offensive over Germany in         reading. The article analyses the
the 2nd World War. It explores the       Qur’an and articulates its mandatory
debate surrounding the RAF’s part        codes of conduct vis-à-vis the use of
in the strategic bombing offensive       military force. It concludes that the
against Germany which, as Richard        Qur’an is unambiguous: Muslims
Overy’s recent Rees-Knowle lecture       are prohibited from aggressive
at Cambridge indicates, continues        violence and are compelled, if
to attract considerable attention        warfare should become unavoidable,
at academic and popular levels.          always to act within a code of ethical
The article addresses one of the         behaviour that is closely akin to,
most contentious aspects of all -        and compatible with, the western
the legality and legitimacy of the       warrior code embedded within the
campaign. It argues that the debate      Just War tradition. This article is
within the Air Ministry and with         intended to be useful to western
Bomber Command was actually more         military personnel — sufficient to
nuanced than is normally admitted        dispel any misperceptions that the
and that thinking on the laws of air     Qur’an advocates the punishment,
warfare was surprisingly mature          subjugation or even killing of
in the inter war years. The article      “infidels” as well as to reveal its key
concludes that given that the Second     concepts governing justice during
World War was total war, the strategic   wartime. The second article, by
air offensive played a vital part.       Peter Lee explores early Christian
influences on the Just War tradition      a key crisis management tool – across
before discussing how the ongoing         the whole spectrum of conflict. The
relevance of secularised versions of      article examines this utility, asking
these ancient ideas is influencing why    how air power can be used to prevent
and how war is fought in the twenty-      recourse to war to solve conflict.
first century. The past two decades       After first describing the range of
have witnessed a number of military       conflict prevention, from upstream
interventions by US, UK and other         engagement to deterrence and
allied forces in theatres as diverse as   coercion, it then goes on to describe
Kuwait, the Balkan region of Europe,      the attributes of air power that suit
Iraq and Afghanistan. At different        it to support conflict prevention
times over this period President Bill     activity. Using historical examples,
Clinton, President George W. Bush         the article demonstrates that air
and Prime Minister Tony Blair have        power provides decision makers with
made recourse to the vocabulary of        strategic choices unavailable from the
Just War in a bid to convince their       deployment of other force types.
respective peoples to support the
                                          Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Roe
use of force in pursuit of political
                                          takes a refreshing look at ‘Pink’s
ends. Just War is characterised by
                                          War’. In March 1925 the RAF
a number of criteria that have been
                                          was presented with the unique
codified and embedded in Western
                                          opportunity of testing the utility of
war discourse over many centuries
                                          air control against the mountain
and are widely understood: just
                                          strongholds of Mahsud tribesmen in
cause, right intention, last resort,
                                          South Waziristan. The successful 54
legitimate authority, proportionality,
                                          day operation, under the command
discrimination of combatants and
                                          of Wing Commander Richard
so on. This is an important and
                                          Charles Montagu Pink, was the only
fascinating debate and entirely
                                          independent air campaign on the
relevant for our time.
                                          North-West Frontier of India, despite
Group Captain Clive Blount provides       a number of ambitious schemes
an article in a more traditional vein,    for the fledgling Service to take full
drawing on the aspiration for an          control of the region. Known simply
‘adaptable Britain’ and a need to         as ‘Pink’s War,’ this article overviews
get maximum value from a taut             events prior to the start of operations,
force structure. He argues that the       and offers a detailed account of RAF
flexibility and adaptability of air       bombing and strafing activities from
power provides decision-makers with       9 March to 1 May 1925. It concludes
by analysing the outcomes of the           experience in south-central Norway.
mission, which ultimately resulted         Considered analysis of Norway 1940
in the tribal leaders seeking an           highlights many lessons that are still
honourable peace, with the loss of         of real contemporary relevance; in
only two British lives. The use of         particular, the critical importance of
coercive air power in Waziristan, and      control of the air in enabling all other
particularly against the Mashud tribe      activities; the psychological impact of
has an uncanny contemporary echo           air power; and air power’s potential
in the American Predator campaign          as a force multiplier providing
against Islamic militants in Pakistan.     mobility and firepower to small
                                           bodies of troops in extremely difficult
A further historical analysis is offered
                                           terrain. But the limits of the air
by Group Captain Al Byford who
                                           weapon were also evident, especially
marks the seventieth anniversary
                                           its dependence on force protection
of the expeditionary campaign that
                                           and secure basing in a campaign
was fought in Norway in the spring
                                           that was dominated by range and
and early summer of 1940 and brings
                                           distance, time and space, and the
it right up to date. Although the
                                           paucity of useable airfields.
operation was eclipsed at the time
by the German victory in France and        This edition of Air Power Review
the Battle of Britain, it is worthy of     contains two viewpoints, one
independent study. The Luftwaffe           by Flight Lieutenant Alexander
demonstrated, for the first time in        McKenzie and the second by
modern warfare, how all four air           Professor Philip Sabin. Alexander
power capabilities – control of the        McKenzie offers a view of operations
air, intelligence and situational          in Afghanistan using a historical
awareness, air mobility and attack         perspective and warns against
– could be brought together to             the folly of transposing successes
influence a joint campaign decisively.     in one theatre to the challenges
The RAF was much less successful,          of another. The article discusses
primarily because it was neither           the complexity of the current
organised nor equipped to undertake        operational environment, the
expeditionary warfare, but it still        difficulties of conducting effective
contributed more to the campaign           COIN operations in a 21st Century
than is generally acknowledged. In         world and the contribution that air
particular, air operations around          power can make to such operations.
Narvik act as a useful point of            The viewpoint offered by Professor
comparison with the disastrous             Sabin, an earlier version of which
some readers may have seen as a            Alexander and Rev Dr (Squadron
discussion paper on the RAF CAPS           Leader) David Richardson.
website,1 discusses the current and
                                           Notes
future utility of air and space power.
It addresses its topic in four parts.      1
                                            Link to RAFCAPS Discussion
First, it shows from past experience       Papers: http://www.airpowerstudies.
the difficulty of predicting the future,   co.uk/discussionpapers.htm
and assesses whether the UK’s
recent National Security Strategy
and Strategic Defence and Security
Review take adequate account of
this unpredictability. Second, it
discusses the key characteristics
of air and space power relative to
land and naval power, by boiling
the essential differences down to
just four basic factors, and assessing
the implications for the aerospace
contribution to joint campaigns. It
thirdly examines the very difficult
trade-off between the flexibility of
aerospace capabilities (in terms of
geographical application, operational
utility across the spectrum of conflict,
and adaptability of effects) and the
high costs and lead times which such
flexibility normally requires. Finally,
it analyses the human dimension of
air and space power, by assessing
how advances in simulation, UAV
technology and computer networking
are changing the roles of human
operators, and what this means for
the future of aerospace power.
This edition concludes with book
reviews offered by Group Captain
Clive Blount, Group Captain John
Notes on Contributors
Air Commodore Dr Peter Gray retired from the Royal Air Force in June 2008
and took up the position of Senior Research Fellow in Air Power Studies at the
University of Birmingham on 1st September 2008. Prior to retirement, Gray
was Director of the Defence Leadership and Management Centre taking up
post in September 2004. Gray spent his early career as a navigator on the F4
Phantom aircraft and, more recently, commanded 101 Squadron flying VC10 K
tanker aircraft. He has spent two staff tours in the personnel field followed by
a lengthy sojourn in the Cabinet Office, several appointments in the Ministry of
Defence and has served as Director of Defence Studies for the Royal Air Force.
Gray holds degrees from the Universities of Dundee, London, Cambridge
and Birmingham (PhD). He is a Fellow of the RAeS and of the Institute of
Leadership and Management.


Dr Joel Hayward is the Dean of the Royal Air Force College. He is also a
Director of the Royal Air Force Centre for Air Power Studies (RAF CAPS) and
the Head of King’s College London’s Air Power Studies Division. He is also
the lead academic for King’s MA, Air Power in the Modern World, which is the
UK’s first specialist degree programme in air power studies. He is the author
or editor of eight books as well as many book chapters and journal articles,
some of which have appeared in German, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and
Serbian translations. He lectures widely throughout Europe, Asia and beyond
on various defence and security topics.


Dr Peter Lee served as a Royal Air Force chaplain during the build-up to the
2003 invasion, and for most of the period of the UK’s involvement in Iraq. After
hostilities commenced he spent five months at a military hospital in Cyprus
providing pastoral support to wounded, maimed and injured soldiers who had
been airlifted from the battlefield. During this period Dr Lee developed a keen
interest in the way the intervention was justified, particularly by Prime Minister
Tony Blair. This prompted extensive reading of the classic just war arguments,
eventually leading to formal research in the field at King’s College London War
Studies Department. Since 2008 Dr Lee has been employed by King’s College
London as a Lecturer in Air Power Studies based at Royal Air Force College
Cranwell in Lincolnshire, specialising in the ethics of war. In 2010 he gained
his PhD in War Studies for a thesis entitled A Genealogy of the Ethical Subject
in the Just War Tradition. Dr Lee is regularly invited to lecture on this subject to
military, academic and wider audiences.
Group Captain Clive Blount is Assistant of Air and Space at the
Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre at Shrivenham. A fast-jet
navigator by trade, he has a varied flying background including tours in as an
instructor and in test flying. He has completed staff tours in the MOD, NATO,
and with HQ KFOR in Kosovo, commanded RAF Gibraltar, has served as an
ACSC tutor and’ until recently’ was XO of the Air Warfare Centre Test and
Evaluation Division at Boscombe Down. He was a Tedder Fellow in 2007/8,
gaining an MPhil in International Relations at the University of Cambridge and
is currently engaged, as a Portal Fellow, in part-time study for a PhD with King’s
College London.


Lieutenant Colonel Andrew M. Roe YORKS, Military Assistant to the
Surgeon General, was commissioned into the Green Howards in 1992. He
has held various command and staff positions in Northern Ireland, Germany,
Bosnia, Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands and Iraq. He is a graduate of the
U.S. Army Command and Staff College and the School of Advanced Military
Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has a PhD from King’s College London
and is the author of Waging War in Waziristan: The British Struggle in the Land of
Bin Laden, 1849-1947.


Group Captain Alistair Byford is a Tornado strike, attack and reconnaissance
pilot who has flown over 4000 hours in a career that began with the 1991 Gulf
War and has included twelve operational detachments, command of No. 31
Squadron and latterly, No. 904 Expeditionary Air Wing in Afghanistan. He
has taken post-graduate degrees at both Cambridge and Kings College
London, is the author of the current edition of AP 3000 – British Air and Space
Doctrine, and won the Two Air Forces’ Award’ for his recent Air Power Review
essay on the Channel Dash. He is currently attending the Royal College of
Defence Studies, following his last appointment as the RAF’s Director of
Defence Studies.
1




         Air & Space Power
           after the SDSR




    by Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton
           KCB ADC BSc FRAeS FCMI RAF
                                                                                     2
Introduction                               for the destabilisation of Pakistan and



T
                                           the wider region, or simply David
       he 2010 Strategic Defence
                                           Kilcullen’s pithy observation that the
       and Security Review (SDSR)
                                           West is likely to have to fight hybrid
       was conducted under 3 cute
                                           wars against deeply asymmetric
countervailing pressures: the need to
                                           opponents until it demonstrates it can
do all we can to ensure the success of
                                           succeed in them. The RAF is, and will
current operations, the need to look
                                           remain, fully committed to providing
forward to 2020 and beyond to ensure
                                           assured operational capability and
the long-term security of the United
                                           relevance in Afghanistan, across all 4
Kingdom, and the urgent need to
                                           Air & Space Power roles (see below),
address the government’s wider
                                           and building on the level of expertise
financial situation. The Review was
                                           in Air/Land Integration, and on the
structured in 2 parts: the National
                                           subtle but critical key roles involved
Security Strategy (NSS), published
                                           in applying air power in a complex
on 18 October, and the SDSR. The
                                           COIN environment.
NSS provided strategic vision and
purpose, and highlighted, above all,       Core Roles
the complexity and potential volatility
                                           During the SDSR process, I was (and
of the 21st Century world in which
                                           remain) determined to retain the
we live. The test of the strategy will
                                           capabilities necessary to deliver each
be the coherence of NSS and SDSR
                                           of the 4 fundamental air and space
– how well are the ends set out in
                                           power roles: Control of the Air and
NSS supported by the ways and
                                           Space; Air Mobility; Intelligence and
means delivered by SDSR, and by
                                           Situational Awareness; and Attack.
implication how well is the Future
                                           Though the post-SDSR RAF will
Force described in SDSR matched
                                           undoubtedly be smaller, it will retain
by Defence Planning Assumptions
                                           the ability to deliver significantly in
and the more detailed decisions on
                                           each of these areas, in maintaining
implementation which are needed.
                                           the sovereignty of United Kingdom
From an Air perspective, whilst the
                                           airspace, in Afghanistan, in the
full implications and detail will take
                                           Falkland Islands, and in the event of
some time to establish, it is clear that
                                           short-notice contingency operations
the outcome is a capable RAF, with
                                           anywhere on the globe.
an updated inventory, structured
to be as coherent as possible with         Whilst we will retire some fast jet
the wider priorities of UK Defence         platforms (all our Harrier and some
requirements in the 21st Century.          GR4) migration to their successors,
There will inevitably be rough edges       the Typhoon and eventually Joint
that need to be smoothed.                  Combat Aircraft (JCA), will give us
                                           a durable truly multi-role Combat
Afghanistan
                                           ISTAR capability based on 2 types as
In the immediate term, the                 we progress to 2020. Technologically
overriding priority is the campaign        this is the equivalent of the
in Afghanistan. Strategic failure          replacement of biplane fighters with
is something we simply cannot              the Hurricane and Spitfire in the
countenance from any perspective,          1930s. As each individual Hurricane
be it national security, the potential     and Spitfire delivered a quantum
3
    leap in capability over the Gloster       of threats and deal with them early
    Gauntlet and Gladiator aircraft they      is critical. The UK’s ability to do this
    replaced, so it became possible to        will be significantly enhanced by
    achieve more with fewer aircraft, and     the introduction of the Rivet Joint
    fewer squadrons. The same applies         capability which is able to span
    today. The very fact, that unlike         the full spectrum of intelligence
    Harrier, Tornado GR4, and Tornado         collection and dissemination, from
    F3, both Typhoon and JCA will be as       the strategic to the micro-tactical, and
    capable of delivering Control of the      deepen still further our cooperation
    Air as they are Attack or Intelligence    with our key intelligence ally. The
    and Situational Awareness, means          RAF will also continue to provide the
    that in the contested and challenging     UK military lead in integrating with
    operational environment of the            our allies and partners in the use of
    future fewer platforms will be            Space for intelligence and situational
    required to deliver greater capability.   awareness. Intelligence collection is
    Increasingly realistic and networked      of little use without effective analysis,
    simulation is also allowing us to         processing and dissemination,
    conduct much more training in             and as a Service we will remain
    synthetic environments.                   centrally engaged at the national
                                              and coalition level to ensure that the
    The Future Force structure also           collection of intelligence by air and
    maintains the capability of the RAF to    space platforms is coordinated with
    address another core Air and Space        HUMINT, and its processing and
    role – the provision of Intelligence      dissemination integrated with both
    and Situational Awareness to the          HUMINT and information from
    campaign. The further development         open sources.
    of Remotely Piloted Air Systems
    (RPAS) is one of the central elements.    Air Mobility is absolutely key to
    Not only do they provide a key            success at every level in Afghanistan
    capability for the current Afghan         in its current phase, and in most
    campaign, they also provide the           likely campaigns of the future. As
    basis for a persistent Combat ISTAR       with our Combat ISTAR, we will
    capability in future campaigns, and       replace old with new. Chinook,
    ensure that the RAF and UK remain         for example, is the key provider of
    in the vanguard of the development        rotary wing mobility in Afghanistan,
    of RPAS tactics and techniques, and       and in the likely Joint campaigns of
                                              the future, and we will be getting
    at the core of the eventual move
                                              an additional 12 Chinooks – less
    to truly unmanned autonomous
                                              than originally hoped but still very
    systems. It is not unreasonable to
                                              necessary. Similarly, whilst the
    envisage force structures with a mix
                                              Hercules, VC10 and Tristar continue
    of, say, one third remotely piloted
                                              to provide excellent service, our
    Combat ISTAR platforms to two-
                                              ability to squeeze much more from
    thirds manned after 2030.
                                              such venerable aircraft (some of our
    Strategic intelligence is a key           C130Ks are almost 40 years old) is
    capability for the United Kingdom.        limited. The C17, A400M and FSTA
    In the current strategic environment,     represent a better future capability
    the ability to detect the development     for Defence – and FSTA is more than
                                                                                   4
a tanker, it also provides enhanced       whole Service in a form that would
strategic airlift capability.             be recognisable to Trenchard, to
                                          Dowding, to Coningham or to Slessor.
The last ten years have seen
                                          The already impressive level of
a quantum leap in our ability
                                          operational experience across the
to provide air mobility in the
                                          Service also provides the basis to
demanding High Intensity Counter-
                                          enhance the conceptual component
Insurgency environment. Our
                                          by educating ourselves to produce
equipment is better protected, and
                                          flexible, thinking military airmen,
our crews more tactically adept. This
                                          true members of a wider profession
is something we will maintain after
                                          of arms, able to offer the optimum to
the drawdown of operations
                                          joint and coalition campaigns at all
in Afghanistan. Operationally
                                          levels. This will particularly involve
focused and tactically effective air
                                          a positive, sensible and credible
mobility is not an optional extra, it
                                          articulation and advocacy of the
is absolutely essential to the core
                                          value of air and space power in the
business of joint warfare.
                                          joint and combined campaigns of
For our Allies, the RAF will remain       the future. The professional links
a valuable partner capable of the         and relationships we have developed
full range of air operations in the       across the Atlantic and the Channel,
most demanding environments.              within the broader NATO and
The quality of the combat force will      further afield will remain strong and
be enhanced; indeed, the ability to       our people will continue to punch
self-escort will make integration         above their weight in Combined Air
into Coalition operations easier and      Operation Centres and joint and
mean that we will offer considerably      coalition headquarters.
more against capable opponents.
                                          Safety
Our capability to provide mobility
will be modern and survivable and         One area, which is non-negotiable,
our Strategic ISR capability will         is safety. The RAF will not,
be enhanced, notwithstanding the          under any circumstances, be driven
difficult decisions not to bring the      by considerations of resource
Nimrod MRA4 into service (see             to compromise safety, either on
below) and the withdrawal of the          operations or in training. On
Sentinel once it is no longer required    operations, it is quite simply
in Afghanistan.                           unacceptable to expose our people,
                                          of all 3 Services, to any greater risk
People
                                          than that imposed by the combination
The same premium that demands             of extremely demanding operating
agile future platforms demands            environments and the enemy.
intellectually and professionally agile
                                          Risks
people. This necessitates a singular
focus on the quality of training,         So much for the positives. Whilst the
using advanced simulation where           properly resourced SDSR will deliver
appropriate, and education to ensure      an RAF capable of fulfilling the 4
our current operationally focused         core air power roles, and offering
ethos is fully embedded across the        particular capabilities such as Storm
5
    Shadow to Coalition partners and            with less should drive innovation;
    allies, we should not blind ourselves       there are few good reasons, for
    to the fact that it contains some areas     example, why every airframe in an
    of risk. Perhaps the most obvious is        operational area should not be an
    the deletion of the suite of capabilities   ISR collector – or that FSTA could
    provided by Nimrod MRA4, which              not be configured as a strategic ISR
    range across the air, maritime and          platform - off the shelf modular
    land environments, and the full range       capabilities to make this happen exist
    of effects it offers, from long range       and can be integrated into current
    search and rescue at the softer end of      and future platforms.
    the spectrum, to kinetic attack against
                                                Future
    submarines and surface combatants.
    In addition, the Sentinel will be           It would be foolish to assume that the
    withdrawn from service, and the RAF         potential adversaries of the future,
    Regiment reduced in size, once no           whether state, non-state or hybrid,
    longer required in Afghanistan.             will concede entry to Western military
                                                expeditions as readily as they did in
    Mitigating these risks will demand          the moment of apparent unipolar
    close cooperation with our sister           American power between the end of
    Services in the UK, with industry and       the Cold War and 2003. Hezbollah’s
    with Allies. The Defence Secretary          ability to challenge Israeli use of
    has been clear that the Nimrod              the Lebanese littoral in 2006, and its
    decision means taking some risks            deployment of crude weaponised
    on the capability that the MRA4 was         UAVs, is a valuable lesson.
    to provide, and has been similarly
    upfront on the judgement that we            It is not necessary to agree completely
    have sufficient certainty in overflights    with the detailed examination
    and overseas basing to take risk            of potential future adversaries
    on Carrier Strike until the Joint           expounded in the American Air-
    Combat Aircraft – Lightning II –            Sea Battle concept, to accept that
    capability enters service. The Carrier      contested access will feature as a
    Variant of JSF will be cheaper to           matter of course in many future
    buy, and cheaper to maintain whilst         operational scenarios. The reality
    operationally it will go further and        of 21st century operations is that we
    carry a greater weapon payload than         deploy, enable and largely maintain
    the STOVL version. But we must              our forces by air and sea, and that
    retain the concept of employment            highly capable anti maritime and
                                                anti aircraft capabilities will be
    jointly with our Naval colleagues as
                                                increasingly available to potential
    the aircraft and the ship together are
                                                future adversaries, whether state,
    the power projection element and the
                                                non-state or hybrid actors. We must
    raison d’etre for the carrier.
                                                also accept and be able to work
    These decisions also show the need          within cyberspace as our adversaries
    in coming years for a ruthless focus        seek to gain the advantage in
    on delivering value for money.              unconventional and novel ways.
    Delays and cost overruns have               Theatre entry and deployed force
    both reputational and practical             sustainability are thus likely to be
    implications. The need to do more           challenged by our enemies as we
                                                                                       6
move towards and beyond 2015.                credible offensive capabilities in
Without the capability to operate            cyberspace. The nature of the RAF’s
in contested air and maritime                business, our implicit understanding
environments therefore, the UK’s             of the cyber terrain, and our technical
ability to project military influence        culture and training, all point to the
in future would be diminished. So            Service having a pivotal role to play
for the air environment, maintenance         in the understanding, defence and
of sufficient high end capability is         exploitation of cyberspace, now and
an essential pre-requisite for an            in the future.
adequate contribution to UK Defence          As we refine existing capabilities
in any but the most benign scenario.         and develop new capability areas
Both the National Security Strategy          essential to the challenges of the
and DCDC’s Future Character of               21st Century and as we move to
Conflict paper (FCOC) clearly                assure further our access to space,
identified Space and Cyberspace as           Defence must seek innovative
areas of asymmetric vulnerability.           approaches to ensure affordability.
That the UK is beginning to take             Commercially available technologies
ensuring access to Space somewhat            such as small satellites now offer
more seriously, is heartening, but           much of the capability previously
we need to consider carefully how            restricted to expensive military
(and how much) to invest in the              systems at a fraction of the cost. It
assured access to Space, upon which          should therefore be possible to meet
all 9 pillars of our critical national       many of the Defence requirements
infrastructure depend.                       by developing a mix of small and
                                             relatively inexpensive satellites and
FCOC notes that all future conflicts         purchasing space products without
will partially be fought through the         necessarily owning the systems.
media and by the use of cyberspace.
As the Director of GCHQ recently             Conclusion
highlighted, cyberspace is a                 The apocalyptic predictions of the
contested and competitive area. The          effect of SDSR on the RAF proved
domination of the information space          unfounded. Despite the loss of
will be critical to the delivery of future   some platforms, the Service remains
military effect. Both hybrid actors          capable and prepared to deliver
and nation states already exploit            across the 4 core air and space
cyberspace, and as the cyber attack          power roles. It is well configured,
on the Estonian banking system in            postured and focused to support the
2007, and denial of Georgian internet        immediate and overriding campaign
services during the Russia-Georgia           priority in Afghanistan – where its
conflict in 2008 indicate, sophisticated,    Combat ISTAR capability, principally
developed societies and economies            in the form of the Tornado GR4s,
are particularly vulnerable. The UK          are delivering outstanding reliable
must strive to guarantee that our            cost-effective results - the Air
systems and processes afford the             Defence of the United Kingdom and
resilience needed to enable us to            dependent territories, including the
continue to operate effectively in           Falkland Islands, and small scale
the future, and if necessary to have         contingencies. By 2020, it will be a
7
    more modern, and in many ways
    more capable force than it is today,
    with an enduring capability based
    on 2 highly capable and truly multi-
    role, Combat ISTAR platforms, a
    range of manned and remotely
    piloted Strategic ISR capabilities, a
    modern and flexible fixed and rotary-
    wing mobility capability and the
    pivot of UK military capability in
    both space and cyber operations.
    That this is the case reflects a
    fundamental and enduring reality.
    The ability to exploit the third
    dimension is essential to success in
    modern warfare: air and space power
    is both a key effector and enabler
    across the full gamut of current and
    potential future operations.
8
9




     The Gloves Will Have To Come Off:
      A Reappraisal of the Legitimacy
       of the RAF Bomber Offensive
             Against Germany


                 By Air Commodore (Ret’d) Peter Gray




    The debates surrounding the RAF strategic air offensive against Germany
    continue to attract considerable attention at academic and popular levels of
    debate. This article examines what is arguably one of the most contentious
    aspects of all - the legality and legitimacy of the campaign. It argues that the
    debate within the Air Ministry and with Bomber Command was actually more
    nuanced than is normally admitted and that thinking on the laws of air warfare
    was very mature in the inter war years. The bottom line, however, was that the
    Second World War was total war and had to be won; the strategic air offensive
    played a vital part.
                                                                                     10
Introduction                               enemy.3 These tenets gave rise to



O
                                           the concepts of ius ad bellum and ius
         ne of the great
                                           in bello which are central to the Just
         misconceptions, and then
                                           War Theory and are also key in the
         font of many subsequent
                                           International Law of War; in turn,
injustices, arising from the Second
                                           they reflect the rules of going to war
World War was that the airmen
                                           and the conduct of combatants in war
merely saw this conflict as the ideal
                                           itself.4 More recently, and arguably
proving ground for the application
                                           reflecting his own age as well as
of the principles of unrestricted air
                                           that of his subject, General Viscount
war against civilians and their cities
                                           Wolseley in his Life of John Churchill,
as had been laid down by the various
                                           writing in 1894, stated that
inter-war ‘prophets’.1 The myth has
continued that the ‘Bomber Barons’         history proves that it [the army] has
then pursued those aims without            seldom fought well in what it believed
constraint once the nature of the          to be an unrighteous cause. Unless the
conflict confirmed that the gloves had     Rank and File are interested in their
indeed come off. The expression itself     work, there will be no enthusiasm, and
is derived from the short hand used        from an army without enthusiasm little
by senior officers in the RAF in the       can be expected.5
lead up to the War in which Britain        The essence of this was, written as
should not be the first to unleash         it was by a distinguished soldier,
unrestricted warfare, but that it was      that the need for a just cause was
ultimately inevitable. But this image      paramount for military forces to be
of callous, blood thirsty, potential war   expected to function (presumably
criminals sits at considerable odds        in the absence of prevailing laws of
with the more traditional concepts of      armed conflict which were then newly
military chivalry and the underlying       under development).6 Despite more
requirements for the conflict to be        modern rhetoric, these concepts were
legal and for there to be a just cause     equally valid for the bomber crews
for the military actions undertaken.2      and their commanders.
The underlying military ethos was          The standard refrain, however,
built on the work of early Christian       has been that cynical national
writers who, acknowledging the             interests prevented the ratification
sanctity of human life, tried to           of the 1923 Hague Rules on Aerial
impose a degree of rationalism and         Bombardment and any meaningful
discipline on the inevitable exercise      progress to be made at the Geneva
of violence and taking of life. In 418,    Disarmament Conference, thus
St Augustine wrote a short treatise        preventing the use of the bomber
on military morality to a senior           from being outlawed or restraint
Roman official charged with keeping        placed on its use. Recent discussion
tribesmen from the Sahara out of           has therefore tended to have been
Roman (Christian) Africa. Augustine        conducted on moral grounds thus
advised that war should only be            allowing the philosophers and
conducted when necessary and then          more emotive voices to come to the
with the minimum force; he added           fore. This exercise has often been
that mercy should be shown to the          completed using modern vocabulary,
11
     standards and invariably without        implications involved in a progressive
     the international and technological     approach. The third misconception,
     context. Recent examples include        will be explored is that once the
     A. C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities   ‘gloves’ had come off, the debate was
     and Donald Bloxham’s chapter,           over. The reality was that there were
     ‘Dresden as a War Crime’ in Addison     serious concerns over the perceptions
     and Crang’s Firestorm: The Bombing      of the campaign and its portrayal.
     of Dresden.7 For some authors, the      Finally, the paper will show how these
     bombing offensive has become            concerns became evident even while
     the epitome of all that is brutal       the offensive was being waged.
     in war with, in an extreme form,
     the air offensive approximating         The Development of Thinking on
     in its manifestation of evil to the     the Morality and Legality of Warfare
     Holocaust.8 Although it is possible     The standing military view on
     to use theories such as Michael         ethics in conflict, pertaining to
     Walzer’s work on Just and Unjust        the period in which air power was
     Wars it has to be acknowledged          conceived and developed, can best
     that, notwithstanding its ancient       be summarised as conservative and,
     precedents, this concept was not        to the military mind, appealingly
     in widespread use at the time           pragmatic. In a lecture to the Royal
     that the Offensive was planned          United Services Institute in February
     and conducted.9 It is therefore         1898, W. V. Herbert queried whether
     suggested that it is not appropriate    it was possible to have an ethical
     to use modern constructions out of      side to warfare. He went on to
     the context of the times and that a     discount the arguments germane
     serious analysis should be seen from    to the professional philosopher
     a historical backdrop. This paper       who ‘will argue a soul into a stone,
     will examine the development of         and beauty into the earthworm’,
     thinking on the restraint of warfare    preferring to align the discussion
     prior to the advent of air power        with ‘the ordinary fight-your-daily-
     and subsequently in order to show       battle individual like you and me.’ 11
     that thinking at the senior levels in   Herbert dealt with ius ad bellum as
     the Royal Air Force and in the Air      concomitant with nationhood and
     Ministry was considerably more          therefore inevitable.12 But he saw
     complex and sophisticated than the      ius in bello as having changed, or
     standard caricature.                    developed, with ‘women and children
     The second serious misconception        not molested – at least, not officially;’
     has been that the Strategic Air         open towns are not shelled and
     Offensive against Germany, to use       poison gas is held in abhorrence.13
     the title of the Official History,      Herbert, arguably showing more
     and area bombing in particular          foresight than many others
     started with Harris and his advent      investigating the moral and legal
     to power as Commander-in-Chief          issues, concluded with the suggestion
     Bomber Command in February              that as warfare had developed,
     1942.10 As this paper will show, the    there was need to develop, a ‘firmly-
     road to area bombing was all the        established and universally-accepted
     more incremental with all of the        code’ to regulate its conduct.14 But he
                                                                                        12
then went on to stress the primacy of         Force issued in 1922 in which chapter
actually winning:                             XI deals with ‘Aircraft in Warfare
                                              against an Uncivilised Enemy.’ 18
All said and done, ‘Win your war’ is
                                              The enemy are uncompromisingly
the most important, and it is the most
                                              referred to as ‘savages’.19
primitive, maxim of the science of strategy
– that is drive your opponent into such a     The natural progression from a
corner that he is content to have the terms   broadly accepted code of conduct,
of peace dictated to him. The rest comes a    arguably an extension of the chivalric
long way after.15                             code, is for the required behaviours
In an answer to a question from the           to be set out in formal language and
floor, Herbert explained that a code of       agreed between nations; ideally this
ethics could only be relevant between         should take the form of a binding
nations of an equal state of civilisation     treaty. In short, to transpose them
and that it could not reasonably              into an international law of armed
be expected to apply between the              combat. Adam Roberts has insisted
English and the Zulus.16                      that the study of [international] law
                                              must be integrated with the study of
This presentation was only 20 years           history.20 A logical extension of this
before the end of the First World War         is that the development of air law,
and it is unlikely that attitudes would       and indeed strategy and doctrine,
have changed markedly from the date           must be examined in the context of
of its delivery through to the years of       the wider international and domestic
colonial air policing and the formation       political situation. In turn, the
of Fighter and Bomber Commands                developments in thinking must take
in 1936. The need for parity between          heed of the pace of technological
the levels of civilisation of the             progress (including limitations), and
warring states would later have               in particular the weapons on which
chilling overtones in the justification       restraint was sought.
for a range of activities in Europe
and the Far East. The Germans, for            The literature on the laws of war, and
example, considered the Slavs to              their development, is extensive.21
be approaching subhuman and the               Michael Howard makes the point
Japanese had a similar approach               that the role of the military is to use
to the Chinese. The Americans in              violence with deliberation, with
putting together their fire-bombing           purpose and in a legitimate manner;
offensive of mainland Japan had               he characterises this as force and that
a similar mindset.17 At a more                force between states constitutes war.22
pragmatic level, the language used            This can be taken slightly further with
by Herbert should not be viewed               the legal aspect expanded to include
with modern mindsets of equality              the use of force for legitimate reasons
and tolerance; his was very much the          and applied in a legitimate manner
language and attitude of the time.            thereby specifically encompassing
And this was reflected in the official        ius ad bellum and ius in bello. Within
publications (acknowledging the               Howard’s use of ‘deliberation’, he
Journal of the Royal United Services          embraces the elements of choice,
Institute as only quasi-official) such        decision and the issue of orders.23
as C.D 22 Operations Manual, Royal Air        The latter, although Howard does not
13
     pursue the issue, is important in         and their officials from seeking to
     the context of subordinates being         impose some degree of order.
     protected from charges of war crimes      This may have been for a variety
     by the orders of their superiors; the     of motives some of which may have
     understanding of international law        been genuinely altruistic; others
     in the inter-war years allowed such       aspects may have been self-serving,
     protection.24 But Howard does             but there is no doubt that at least
     make the point that if control does       they tried.
     break down, the result is likely to
                                               Attempts to prohibit specific
     be one that contravenes the ethical
                                               (usually nasty) types of weapon had
     and legal dimensions.25
                                               a much longer provenance with
     The development, and application,         Greek, Roman and Hindu codes
     of international law has long been        banning the use poisons; later, the
     problematic in that states have           Lateran Council of 1132 declared
     consistently sought to avoid the          that the arbalest and crossbow were
     incorporation of laws that they           ‘unchristian weapons’.28 Beyond
     consider likely to impinge upon           the broad appreciation of the need
     their national interests; this is         for there to be an underlying moral
     compounded by the absence of any          sense of rightness about the cause
     real enforcement mechanism beyond         discussed above, the first significant
     the utterances of the International       attempt at the codification of the
     Court of Justice.26 In his detailed       rules of warfare was completed by
     review of Air War and the Law of War,     Dr. Francis Lieber of the University
     the distinguished American military       of Columbia for issue to the Union
     lawyer Hays Parks cites one of the        Army on 24th April 1863.29 The
     most pre-eminent international            ‘Lieber Code’ became the model for
     lawyers of the 20th Century, Sir          many national manuals and for the
     Hersch Lauterpacht, as stating that ‘If   Hague Peace Conferences of 1899
     international law is the weakest point    and 1907.30 More recently the 1868
     of all law, then the law of war is its    St. Petersburg Declaration sought
     vanishing point’.27 Notwithstanding       to ban ‘explosive projectiles under
     this apparently cynical viewpoint         400 Grammes weight’ (sic).31 This
     from the legal profession, the            Declaration is also particularly
     advisers to the Air Ministry, and         significant in its attempt ‘to alleviate
     their predecessors in the War             the calamities of war; That the only
     Office, took these issues seriously
                                               legitimate object which States
     as will become evident below.
                                               should endeavour to accomplish
     The issue is further complicated
                                               during war is to weaken the military
     by the benefit of hindsight in
                                               forces of the enemy’.32
     that the prospect of international
     conventions being used to curb the        This was followed by the 1899
     likes of Hitler seems improbable at       Hague Conference which was
     best. From a jurisprudential point        originally called under a Russian
     of view, however, the possibility of      initiative designed to slow down
     contravention of these rules, and the     the potential impact of Western
     unlikelihood of retribution, has not      technology and, ideally, to avoid war
     prevented nations, their politicians      completely.33 For obvious reasons,
                                                                                            14
air power was not high on the agenda,         there were no real navigations aids,
but Commission I of the conference            resulting in inaccuracies in bombing.
agreed a 5-year moratorium on the             For example, a German raid, by
discharge of explosives or projectiles        aircraft as opposed to Zeppelins,
from balloons.34                              on 13 June 1917 against the ‘docks,
                                              wharves, railways, Government
The prohibition on the utilisation of
                                              Stores, and warehouses situated
balloons had expired by the time of
                                              in the centre of the town on the
the 1907 Hague Convention which
                                              banks of the Thames’ actually hit
duly renewed the ban.35 And
                                              a council school in the East End
although manned flight had occurred
                                              of London killing or injuring 120
by this time, its military utility was
                                              children.37 But as Parks points out,
not uppermost in the minds of the
                                              aerial bombing (or bombardment)
delegates. Technological advances in
                                              was not the worst offender when it
artillery and ballistics, however, were
                                              came to lack of discrimination. The
such that the dangers of long range
                                              German ‘Paris Gun’, which was used
bombardment resulted in Convention
                                              in conjunction with their offensive in
IV laying down the following Articles
                                              March 1918, had a range of 75 miles
which would later influence the 1923
                                              and could only be aimed at the centre
Convention on Aerial Warfare and
                                              of Paris.38 Naval bombardment of
the thinking of officials in the interim:
                                              shore positions, especially as the
Article 25. The attack or bombardment,        calibre of the guns increased was no
by whatever means, of towns, villages         more discrete. There is an interesting
or buildings which are undefended             contemporary issue in these latter
is prohibited.                                points in that artillery remains at
                                              least as guilty as air power in causing
Article 26. The officer in Command
                                              collateral damage, but the latter
of an attacking force must, before
                                              invariable gets the blame.39
commencing a bombardment, except in
cases of assault, do all in his power to      During the First World War, the War
warn the authorities.                         Cabinet was clearly concerned about
                                              the legality of aerial bombardment
Article 27. In sieges and bombardments
                                              of undefended (or open) towns and
all necessary steps must be taken to spare,
                                              cities and the possibility of ‘tit for tat’
as far as possible, buildings dedicated
                                              reprisals. The War Office accordingly
to religion, art science, or charitable
                                              produced two memoranda clarifying
purposes, historic monuments, hospitals
                                              the situation.40 The General Staff
and places where the sick and wounded
                                              summarised the use of aerial
are collected, provided they are not being
                                              bombardment and outlined the
used for military purposes.36
                                              history of the development of the
The advent of the First World War saw         law. In the second paper, the Staff
rapid developments in the aircraft and        pointed out that the renewal (in
associated weapons. As the range,             1907) of the Hague Declaration
and payload, of the aircraft increased        of 1899 outlawing the launching
so did the capability to carry the            of projectiles had not been fully
war deeper into the homelands of              ratified, and not at all by the four
the belligerents. Technology had,             Central Powers, thereby leaving it
however, only progressed so far and           without binding force. The paper
15
     went on to confirm that although           of a two-part report; the first part
     bombardment of undefended towns            covered Rules for the Control of Radio
     was forbidden, there remained doubt        in Time of War and the second Rules of
     on both sides as to what constituted       Aerial Warfare.47 One of the crucial
     defence, openness and the removal          steps forward, in theory at least, was
     of legal protection when the town          Article 22 which stated that:
     contained targets of military utility.41
                                                Aerial bombardment for the purpose of
     The interplay between technological
                                                terrorizing the civilian population, of
     capability, the needs of discrimination
                                                destroying or damaging private property
     and the desirability of tapping the
                                                not of military character, or of injuring
     potential of offensive air power would
                                                non-combatants is prohibited.48
     continue to challenge the exponents
     of the new air arm throughout the          Article 24 went on to state that:
     period covered in this paper.
                                                (1) Aerial bombardment is legitimate
     The development of the legal                   only when directed at a military
     thinking in how to limit, contain              objective, that is to say, an object
     or prohibit the use of aircraft                of which destruction or injury
     continued almost seamlessly. There             would constitute a distinct military
     was, however, a new impetus as the             advantage to the belligerent.
     various powers tried to recover from       (2) Such bombardment is legitimate
     the shock of four years of brutal              only when directed exclusively at
     warfare. The Paris Aerial Navigation           the following objectives: military
     Convention of 1919 did nothing to              forces; military works; military
     constrain potential belligerents.42            establishments or depots; factories
     The Washington Naval Conference                constituting important and
     (more correctly titled the Washington          well-known centres engaged in
     Conference on the Limitation of                the manufacture of arms,
     Armament) made a brief attempt                 ammunition or distinctively
     to ban novel forms of warfare,                 military supplies; lines of
     including aircraft, but concluded              communication or transportation
     that this would not be practical.43            used for military forces.
     Instead the baton was taken up by
     the Hague Commission of Jurists            (3) The bombardment of cities, towns,
     which commenced on 11 December                 villages, dwellings or buildings not
     1922 under the chairmanship of                 in the immediate neighbourhood
     John Bassett Moore of the United               of the operations of land forces is
     States.44 The delegation consisted of          prohibited. In cases where the
     representatives of the United States,          objectives specified in paragraph
     Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and        2 are so situated, that they cannot
     the Netherlands; each delegation               be bombarded without the
     consisted of legal and technical               indiscriminate bombardment of
     experts.45 The delegation from                 the civilian population, the aircraft
     the Britain included J. M. Spaight,            must abstain from bombardment.
     a senior official from the newly           (4) In the immediate neighbourhood
     formed Air Ministry.46 The Hague               of the operations of land forces,
     Conference finished on 19 February             the bombardment of cities, towns,
     1923 with the unanimous adoption               villages, dwellings or buildings is
                                                                                       16
    legitimate provided there exists a     member in 1923. In addition to being
    reasonable presumption that            a senior official in the Air Ministry
    the military concentration is          (having transferred from the War
    sufficiently important to justify      Office on the formation of the new
    such bombardment having regard         organisation), Spaight was a prolific
    to the danger thus caused to the       author writing on issues such as the
    civilian population.49                 legalities of Land Warfare.54 He was
                                           also a keen advocate of air power
These Rules made a brave attempt to
                                           publishing numerous volumes
impose some degree of humanitarian
                                           including one on the likely future
control on the development of air
                                           role of air power in a potential major
power. But the 1923 Hague Rules
                                           war which was published in Liddell
were not ratified by any of the nations,   Hart’s series.55 Spaight’s work has
with France, the Netherlands and           three facets that are both distinct, and
Great Britain particularly opposed to      complementary. He was an air power
their adoption.50 The conventional         advocate; an academic lawyer (a jurist
view, therefore, was (and remains)         in his own right); and a senior official.
that they were a political and legal       What then is the evidence for his
failure.51 The reality was that the        influence on the existing and future
states involved were not prepared to       members of the Air Ministry?
fetter what was still a largely untested
weapon of war that clearly had             The difficulties of establishing
considerable potential.                    influence are considerable,
                                           particularly when those who should
That said, the Hague Rules provided        be susceptible are idealists wedded
a foundation level of understanding        to the invincibility of their ideas or
of what possible future laws of            weapons.56 Nevertheless, Higham
aerial warfare might look like, or         considers Spaight to be an air power
be based upon.52 The Rules also            theorist without whom no survey
provided a useful vehicle for the          would be complete; he describes him
evolution of those that had been           as being ‘Trenchard’s good friend’.57
specifically drafted for Land or Naval     Some degree of influence may be
warfare. Furthermore, rules for            assumed from such an association.
the third dimension acknowledged           Spaight’s academic pedigree
that air operations could operate          (including an LLD), along with his
over either environment without            status in the, then small, Air Ministry
discrimination; by implications, crews     also implies a degree of influence –
could not be expected to follow one        especially over legal issues.58 This
set or the other depending on their        is seen quite specifically in 1921
geographical location.53 Probably          when he proffered text and advice –
most importantly, in absolute terms in     which is taken in full – for the draft
Britain and more specifically for the      of CD22 the RAF’s first Operations
development of thinking in the Air         Manual.59 Spaight then took his
Ministry, the sessions in the Hague        academic knowledge, and experience
kept the issues close to the forefront     of attending the Hague Conference,
of intellectual endeavour. This was        and articulated his thinking in Air
due in no small part to the efforts of     Power and War Rights first published in
J. M. Spaight, who was a delegation        1924.60 In his preface to the second
17
     edition, he wrote of the great honour     minutes on the file (as Director of
     to have had his book officially           Operations and Intelligence) that
     recommended to candidates for the         the future Chief of the Air Staff was
     RAF Staff College, implying that          fully conversant with the debate.67
     there was a captive audience of           The fact that Spaight was employed
     potential students to be influenced.61    at the time as Director of Accounts
     Spaight saw his intermediate work,        clearly did not limit his influence
     Air Power and the Cities, as being part   on international legal matters.68 A
     of a continuum.62 Beyond the rather       similar minute to the Chief of the Air
     high-flown prose of his published         Staff on Disarmament links potential
     work, Spaight also produced two           use of bombing with reprisals and
     legal briefs for internal Air Ministry    specifically cites Spaight as the source
     consumption; these are undated, but       of legal advice (again still as Director
     the AHB archivist’s assumption is that    of Accounts).69
     they were written in 1927.63 Higham
                                               Although Spaight saw his Air Power
     suggests that Spaight’s influence
                                               and War Rights and Air Power and the
     comes through in a memorandum
                                               Cities as being a series with the first
     published by Trenchard in 1928 which
                                               edition of War Rights in 1924; Cities in
     points up the likeness between naval
                                               1930 and the second edition of War
     and air bombardment.64
                                               Rights in 1933, it was clear that any
     There are, however, a number of more      amendments that Spaight sought
     explicit references to Spaight’s work     to make to the second edition were
     which confirm his influence. In the       limited by the printing requirements
     Chief of the Air Staff’s submission       of not being able to change the
     to a Chiefs of Staff Meeting in 1928,     pagination.70 The most significant
     the equivalence of naval and air          difference between the two editions
     bombardment was reintroduced              is the introduction of discussion on
     with a specific reference to the          disarmament.71 Parks makes the
     British Year Book of International Law    point that Spaight’s works were ‘far
     article written in 1923 by Spaight.65     more comprehensive than any law
     A similar, but even more explicit,        of war manual used by any military
     reference occurs four years later in      service at the time.’ 72 Spaight’s work
     the context of Air Ministry proposals     was therefore a readily available
     for amendments to the Hague Rules         source of legal advice for his
     in which a minute to the Chief of the     colleagues in the Air Ministry, and
     Air Staff confirms that:                  those who were likely to become staff
                                               officers having attended the Staff
     Some help has also been given by Mr.
                                               College at Andover. At the most basic
     Spaight whose book on ‘Air Power and
                                               level he provided a straightforward
     War Rights’ has been considerably drawn
                                               iteration of the Draft Rules and a
     on in framing the paper.66
                                               guide to their interpretation. More
     The minute sheet is subsequently          importantly, Spaight also provided
     initialled with ‘I agree J.M.S.’          detailed examples of where the
     presumably indicating Spaight’s           British, French and German air
     concurrence with the paper. It is         forces had used air power in the
     clear from (then) Group Captain           First World War. This was not just of
     C F A Portal’s signature to a number of   historic interest, but presented clear
                                                                                           18
evidence of the custom and practice         and statesmen should acknowledge
of states – opinion juris and therefore     this pragmatism and, instead of
an actual source of international           seeking outright prohibitions, they
law.73 He took the analytical process       should attempt to impose some
a stage further by highlighting areas       degree of control. This conditional
where the Draft Rules would be              use of language is important in that it
likely to be impractical guidelines         allowed Spaight to introduce his next
for future commanders. Spaight was          theme in which ‘there is a right to
prophetic in his identification of the      bombard certain categories of purely
difficulty in discriminating between        civilian property [which] should
military targets and neighbouring           be recognised and regulated’.79
civilian populations.74 He went on to       Characteristically, he then went on to
highlight the potential difficulties for    describe custom and practice in land
airmen in operating at considerable         and naval engagements.
height and in bad weather.75
                                            Spaight pragmatically summed up his
As a keen author on wider air               thinking on the subject – as a jurist
power issues, as well as having the         seeking to influence his peers in the
insight from his position in the Air        legal arena on whom would fall the
Ministry, Spaight was well aware            responsibility of formulating revised
of the contemporary thinking on             rules – by bluntly stating that:
the morale-damaging potential of
                                            Let there be no mistake about it: the cities
air attack. He therefore commence
                                            will be bombed, whatever rule is laid
his chapter on ‘Bombing: (III)
                                            down. In no other way will belligerents
Civilian Property’ with a discussion
                                            be able to seek to obtain the moral effect
on bombing ‘for a political or
                                            which they will certainly seek.80
psychological end’.76
                                            This set the tone for the thinking in
The object of their attack will be moral,
                                            the Air Ministry and subsequently
psychological and political rather
                                            Bomber Command. There was a
than military: the aim will be to so to
                                            complete acceptance that air warfare
disorganise and disturb the life and
                                            should be waged in as humane a
business of the enemy community as
                                            way as possible consistent with
to make it impossible for the enemy
                                            the exigencies of the conflict. This
State to continue to resist, and at the
                                            was underpinned by the conflicting
same time to create in the enemy
                                            wishes to see as fair a code of rules
population as a whole a feeling of
                                            as could be achieved. Furthermore,
depression and hopelessness, to make
                                            it shows that official Air Ministry
a whole nation war-weary.77
                                            thinking had developed in pace
Spaight then introduced a degree of         with international developments,
realism into the jurisprudential arena      with acknowledgement to the
by acknowledging that States would          technological developments and
accept the prohibition on attacking         with a marked degree of common
civilian property, but that they would      sense. Finally, it is evident that senior
qualify it with the proviso that            military officers, and in particular
‘common sense and practicability’           those destined to run the strategic
would not prevent attacks from taking       air offensive had direct access to the
place.78 He suggested that jurists          thinking and were influenced by it.
19
     The Geneva Disarmament                      task easier for those entrusted with
     Conference and the Potential                giving effect to government policy,
     for limitations on Bombing                  or to building a bomber force that
                                                 could potentially reach the desired
     The Geneva Conference enjoyed
                                                 deterrent features.
     cross-party support in the United
     Kingdom with Lloyd George,                  Given that the rationale for the
     MacDonald and Baldwin firmly                Conference was based (at least in
     behind the main issues.81 They              part) on alleviation of suffering
     considered the country to be bound          inflicted on the huge scale in
     by Article 8 of the Covenant of the         evidence during the First World
     League of Nations in which:                 War, it may have been reasonable
     The Members of the League recognise         to assume that each of the military
     that the maintenance of peace requires      environments was equally at risk of
     the reduction of national armaments to      forced reduction, or abolition. Fleets
     the lowest point consistent with national   had arguably been responsible for
     safety and the enforcement by common        the blockade of Germany and the
     action of international obligations.82      deaths of three-quarters of a million
                                                 civilians.88 Similarly, Terraine offers
     Furthermore, the preamble to Part           ‘a grim commentary’ in his tables
     V of the Treaty of Versailles required      of casualties during the First World
     Germany ‘strictly to observe the            War challenging the myth that the
     military, naval and air clauses’            defensive was less costly than the
     in ‘order to render possible the            offensive.89 The irony therefore was
     initiation of a general limitation of the   that it was the potential of air power,
     armaments of all nations’.83 Baldwin        rather than its proven destructive
     saw this also as a matter of honour.84      capacity and ability to inflict
     Unfortunately, the vast majority of         suffering, that brought it to centre-
     States represented, and especially          stage in Geneva.
     the more powerful, ‘did not care
     what came out of the Conference,            After some seven years of preliminary
     for good or ill, provided their own         discussions, the Conference opened
     interests were safeguarded’.85              formally in Geneva on 2 February
     Furthermore, ‘the whole Conference          1932.90 Fifty nine nations sent
     was impractical in its approach to          delegations and this rose to sixty one
     realities, and tendentious suggestions      before the end of the proceedings;
     increasingly flowed from the various        each nation carried an equal vote
     delegations’.86 Londonderry                 leading countries that did not have
     (Secretary of State for Air) concluded      a particular capability to vote for the
     that ‘[the Conference] never had            abolition of weapon systems that
     a chance of success from the very           they did not possess (such as air
     beginning owing to the fact that,           power or submarines).91 Inevitably
     with exception of ourselves, no             continental nations saw the offensive,
     Power, small or great, had any              or defensive, nature of weapons from
     intention of reducing its armed             their own geo-strategic viewpoint;
     forces’.87 Nevertheless, the task           for example, the Japanese saw large
     had to be tackled. The inherent             surface fleets as aggressive, whereas
     contradictions did little to make the       the United States viewed them as
                                                                                      20
first lines of defence.92 The British    territory and shipping of another
approach was to encourage an all         Sovereign Signatory State’, and the
round reduction in armaments and         abolition of heavy bombers, had been
was prepared to set the example          raised, but subject to much criticism.99
even though British air strength         Baldwin took matters considerably
was lagging behind that of Italy,        further with the radical, but heartfelt,
France, the Soviet Union and             suggestion that if nations were really
America.93 The Chiefs of Staff           serious, they
Annual Review for 1932 made grim
                                         ‘ought to agree to scrap all military
reading in its description of the
                                         and naval aviation. Civil aviation also
effects of the ten-year rule and dire
                                         would have to be dealt with, possibly by
economic situation.94 But the
                                         abolishing the costly subsidies devoted to
Foreign Office saw this as what
                                         this purpose’.100
today would be described as ‘best
practice’ with Britain demonstrating     He went on to acknowledge that
real commitment to treaty obligations.   his views were unlikely to find
The official Foreign Office policy       favour, either with colleagues, or
submission to the Cabinet was            internationally. But Baldwin stressed
based on the so-called ‘Leeper           that if his ideas were feasible the
memorandum’, named after its             abolition would ‘remove one of the
author in the department.95 The          main elements of that fear that
proposals in this document included      was the disturbing feature in the
the submission that German               international situation’ (emphasis
claims for parity of treatment           in the original).101 The Cabinet
should be acknowledged; that the         were reported to be ‘impressed’ by
British policy should be based on        the proposal and no objection of
qualitative disarmament; and that        principle was raised.102 A more
HMG should consider proposing            pragmatic note crept in with the
‘the complete prohibition and            acknowledgement of likely rejection
outlawry in all circumstances of         and the concomitant requirement to
the dropping of bombs from any           have policy at hand to cope with the
aircraft on the territory or shipping    many other proposals tabled.103
of another Sovereign State’.96 It was
                                         Baldwin’s realisation that a total
axiomatic to the Foreign Office that
                                         abolition of military aviation was
Britain should play a leading role at
                                         unlikely to find favour was quickly
the Conference.97
                                         realised. The Prime Minister
In Cabinet on 4 May 1932, the Prime      raised the issue informally with the
Minister (Ramsay MacDonald)              French who ‘would have none of
pointed out to his colleagues that       it’.104 The Air Ministry response
‘nearly every nation had made            was inevitably hostile, both to the
proposals’ on the subject of air         impracticality of abolishing all air
warfare and the absence of a statement   forces and imposing control over
on the United Kingdom position was       civil aviation.105 The former point
very likely to be remarked upon.98       was eventually acknowledged by
Various suggestions, including           the Cabinet which agreed that other
the introduction of a new law of war     methods would be required.106 Nor
prohibiting ‘bomb-dropping on the        was the Air Ministry convinced that
21
     a prohibition of bombing would             thinking was that a complete abolition
     result in a meaningful reduction in        would render rules nugatory meaning
     the threat to world peace. The CAS         that once conflict commenced,
     stated in a letter to Londonderry          bombing would be unrestricted; it
     that, in the event of war, reliance on a   would be better to acknowledge the
     written pact would have little chance      probability of bombing being used,
     of observance, not least because war       but to circumscribe its use by clear
     was supposed already to have been          rules.113 This is echoed in the Second
     renounced by just such a pact.107          Edition of Air Power and War Rights,
     Furthermore any country at risk of         where J.M. Spaight wrote:
     aggression would use ‘every weapon
                                                It seems to be unsafe to disregard the
     it could lay its hands on’.108 Finally,
     Salmond pointed out that reliance          verdict which history has pronounced
     on a ‘paper pact’ would be dangerous       from the Second Lateran Council
     for the protection of ‘military            onwards, upon such attempts to ban
     objectives in this country, including      completely the use of new and more
     those in London’ and that this point       scientific weapons of war. Such attempts
     had been accepted by the Cabinet           are foredoomed. Rules regulating and
     sub-committee chaired by Baldwin.109       restricting bombing, but not prohibiting
     A complete abolition of bombing also       it absolutely, are likely in the writer’s
     required qualification to allow its        opinion, to be honourably observed by
     limited use in air policing in India,      civilised states.114
     Aden and Iraq as had been tentatively      These debates continued throughout
     acknowledged by Leeper and featured        the life of the Conference in a
     in most Air Ministry submissions.110       manner that was described by a
     The Air Ministry preference was for        Foreign Office official, who quoted
     there to be a strict convention on the     the French delegation as saying that
     circumstances under which bombing          ‘the Disarmament Conference was
     from the air could be considered           like merry-go-around – the same old
     acceptable. They were totally content      wooden horse kept coming round
     to see an ‘entire prohibition of all air   and round again’, but that he was
     attack upon the civilian population’       afraid ‘that it is the French themselves
     and restrictions in numbers and            who supply the motive gyratory
     weights.111 The Air Staff files show       power’.115 Germany withdrew from
     the depth of the debate on these           the Conference in mid-September
     issues with advice coming from J.M.        1932, not to return until January
     Spaight on what had already been           1933.116 Hitler’s accession to the
     covered during the discussions             Chancellorship on 30 January 1933
     on the Hague Rules in 1923.112             ensured that the demands for parity
     These suggestions varied from a            of treatment would grow along with
     requirement for all potential military     French concerns over security.117
     targets to be situated a specified         Germany finally walked out of the
     distance from civilian populations         Conference chamber on 14 October
     through to an acknowledgement that         1933 and subsequently resigned from
     a general prohibition of bombing           the League of Nations, effectively
     was not considered legally workable.       bringing matters to an end.118
     The essence of the Air Ministry            From the spectre of disarmament
                                                                                       22
and the abolition of air power, the         military objectives and must be capable
task facing Londonderry and his             of identification.
senior colleagues changed radically
                                            In the third place, reasonable care must
to became one of matching German
                                            be taken in attacking those military
growth in aircraft. Nevertheless,
                                            objectives so that by carelessness a
the evidence from the files does
                                            civilian population in the neighbourhood
not suggest the degree of cynicism
                                            id not bombed.122
over which airmen have been so
frequently accused. There was               This expression of formal
certainly realism at all levels that air    Government policy was reiterated
warfare could not be banned, but            to Bomber Command in response
there seems to have been a genuine          to a query from the C-in-C on 30
acceptance of the political desirability    August 1938 that in attacking German
of outlining rules under which it           aircraft factories, a proportion
could be used.                              of bombs would fall outside the
                                            immediate designated target area
The Road to War                             causing serious casualties among
The use of air power in Spain (and          the civilian population.123 The Air
in particular in Barcelona in March         Council replied on 15 September 1938
1938 where bombardment had been             having taken advice from Malkin.124
used with the threat that it would          The Air Council admitted that ‘there
be repeated every three hours               are certain objectives, particularly
until the city surrendered) and by          among aircraft factories, which it
the Japanese in China was cited             would be impossible to attack, even
as evidence that ‘the only way to           by day, without causing loss of life
humanise war is to abolish it.’ 119 The     to the civilian population in the
Prime Minister admitted that the            neighbourhood.’ The operational
advent of air warfare had introduced        limitations were again acknowledged,
‘new methods, new scope and new             but ‘for reasons of policy, however,
horrors which have, in fact materially      which the Council feel sure you will
changed its character.’120 He went          readily understand, it is essential that
on to admit that there was ‘no              in the opening stages of a war your
international code of law with respect      action should be rigorously restricted
to aerial warfare which is the subject      to attack on objectives which are
of international agreement,’ but that       manifestly and unmistakably military
the underlying principles of the law        on the narrowest interpretation
as it applied to sea and land warfare       of the term; and that even such
were applicable to the air ‘and are         objectives should not be attacked
not only admitted but insisted upon         initially unless they can be clearly
by this Government.’121 These               identified and attacked with a
principles included that it was             reasonable expectation of damage
                                            being confined to them.’ The policy
against international law to bomb
                                            was based on the need not alienate
civilians as such, and to make deliberate
                                            neutral opinion (not stated, but
attacks upon civilian populations.
                                            presumably America as Roosevelt
In the second place, targets which are      had appealed for such restraint) and
aimed at from the air must be legitimate    to avoid giving any ‘genuine pretext
23
     for retaliatory action.’ Attacks would       in War.’ 131 In setting the foundations
     therefore have to be concentrated            for the future direction of war, the Air
     on targets such as railways (but not         ministry letter included the following
     trains unless positively identified as       general statement:
     military), formed bodies of troops
                                                  The policy governing the selection of
     and concentrations of transport.
                                                  targets for air attack is a matter for
     Newall, in submitting this directive to
                                                  decision by the government. This policy
     Swinton for approval concluded that
                                                  will be made known, through the Air
     these restrictions were unlikely to last
                                                  Ministry, to Commanders-in Chief and
     long stating: ‘but we obviously cannot
                                                  will be reflected in operation orders.’ 132
     be the first ‘to take the gloves off.” 125
                                                  The practicalities of who would be
     Chamberlain’s acknowledgement of
                                                  allowed to do what and when were
     the parallel nature of some of the laws
                                                  discussed by the Chiefs of Staff
     of war came into focus in 1939 when
                                                  and subsequently in the CID on
     the Admiralty raised the question
                                                  1 September 1939. The essence of
     of bombardment of targets on the
                                                  the discussion was that if Germany
     shore including coastal defence
                                                  initiated unrestricted air attacks
     works and docks.126 The CAS wrote
                                                  at the outset of hostilities, Bomber
     to his naval counterpart (Admiral Sir
                                                  Command would be used to
     John Pound) suggesting that Malkin
                                                  attack the German oil resources.
     chair a meeting with representation
                                                  If, however, Germany was to restrict
     from each of the Services to discuss
                                                  attacks to military objectives, the
     setting rules to prevent loss of
                                                  RAF would attack the German
     civilian life.127 The meeting went
                                                  Fleet at Wilhelmshaven; attack
     into considerable detail and outlined
                                                  warships at sea when found within
     a two-stage approach with first
                                                  range; undertake widespread
     restricting bombardment to a very
                                                  propaganda (leaflet) drops at night;
     narrow interpretation of military
                                                  and ‘conserve resources until our
     objectives and the second allowing
                                                  hands are freed.’133
     a broader approach consistent with
     the lines agreed with French in Staff        Bomber Command therefore went
     Conversations.128 The instructions,          to war with bombing policy
     which Army commanders were to be             predicated on the foreign policy
     required to obey in spirit, reiterated       requirements consistent with
     the key principles of bombardment            President Roosevelt’s message to
     of civilians being illegal.129 In the        all potential belligerents that their
     event, foreign policy issues intervened      ‘armed forces shall in no event and
     with Lord Halifax of the opinion             under no circumstances undertake
     that the original ‘Stage One was             bombardment from the air of civilian
     too restrictive and would alarm our          populations or unfortified cities, upon
     allies.’130 These were duly issued           the understanding that the same
     by the Air Council to Air Officers           rules of warfare shall be scrupulously
     Commanding at home and overseas              observed by all their opponents.’ 134
     on 22 August 1939, followed by a             The other constraint (imposed by
     further letter enclosing ‘Air Ministry       Halifax) was that the rules should
     Instructions and Notes on the Rules          not appear overly restrictive lest allies
     to be observed by the Royal Air Force        (France in particular) thought that
                                                                                      24
Britain was being overly cautious in     analogy of ‘removing gloves’ was mild
the interests of its own defence.        in the extreme.
But throughout the process, it is
                                         The Strategic Air Offensive
clear that the serving officers, at
least from Group Captain and             The raw reality of the first months
above were prepared to follow            of the war was the RAF was not
a restrictive approach. It could         technologically capable of carrying
be argued that this was a merely         heavy bombing raids into German
mechanical reaction based on the,        territory irrespective of the rights or
admittedly high, likelihood that         wrongs; in the words of the official
the gloves would indeed have to          historians ‘Bomber Command was
come off at some stage. But the          small, ill equipped and ineffective.’ 139
evidence suggests that if those in       This was recognised within the
the Air Ministry were cynical about      COS as was the need to build up
the whole issue, they had the sense      strength in what became known
not confide their doubts to the files    as the ‘phoney war’.140 Within the
destined for the archives! But as        Air Ministry, the Director of Plans
Hays Parks has pointed out, even         (Slessor), as early as 7 September
the international lawyers of the         1939, carried out a detailed review of
day doubted the applicability of         German actions in Poland working on
the international law of war to the      the basis that Germany had set the
modern means at the disposal of          precedent for unrestricted attack.141
nations on an unprecedented scale.135    The official historians point out that
Interestingly, Parks acknowledges        it was ‘Air Commodore Slessor’s duty
the failures in diplomacy, but           to examine this question from every
has hard words for the failure of        side, and his memorandum should
international lawyers and moral          not be taken as an indication that
philosophers of the time ‘who failed     he or the Air Staff were at this time
to adjust international law and moral    definitely opposed to the policy of
thinking to major technological          restricted bombing.’142 Nevertheless,
changes in society and warfare.’136      they added that the policy was as
Nor could the scholars claim that        much a matter of expediency as of
the issues had not been raised.137       morality.143 This view was directly
That said, neither government, nor       reflected in the words used by Newall
private citizens, had much faith in      in a telegram to Barratt in France
international agreements providing       some weeks later in which he said:
them with protection.138 The reality     Owing to German action in Poland, we
of the international experience of the   are no longer bound by restrictions under
1930s where Britain had attempted        the instructions governing naval and
to set the example by unilaterally       air bombardment S.46239/S.6 of 22/8
disarming had been shown to be           nor by our acceptance of Roosevelt’s
false logic. International agreements    appeal. Our action is now governed
appeared to mean little to the new       entirely be expediency i.e. what it suits
breed of dictators as events were        us to do having regard to (a) the need
proving. And the ready examples          to conserve our resources; (b) probable
of the use of air power in Abyssinia,    enemy retaliatory action, and (c) our need
Spain and China suggested that the       still to take into account to some extent
25
     influential neutral opinion.144           sense; lines of communication which
                                               were useable for military purposes
     At face value, this would appear as if
                                               were included.149 From this point,
     Slessor’s appreciation of the situation
                                               there was a gradual escalation in
     had been accepted by the CAS and
                                               what Bomber Command was being
     policy had changed formally. The          asked to carry out, and what it
     reality, however, is that the strategic   sought permission to attempt.150 For
     air offensive was held in check for       example, in part in retaliation for
     many months and prohibition on            the bombing attacks on London, the
     indiscriminate bombing remained           C-in-C sought permission to attack
     in place until 1942 and explicitly        the ‘middle of Berlin’ citing the
     reinforced on a number of occasions       German War Office and Air Ministry
     as will be covered below. From            as appropriate aiming points.151
     the wording used by the Air Staff,        Newall’s response was to substitute
     including in formal Directives, it        ‘Railway Communications’ and
     is clear that while Newall would          not mention the former targets! 152
     have liked to change RAF policy,          Nevertheless it is clear from a minute
     Government policy had not moved           sent by SASO Bomber Command
     at all.145 Chamberlain clearly            (AVM Bottomley) to the Groups
     believed that the war would ‘fizzle       which reminded them that the
     out with the collapse of the Nazi         behaviour of aircrews from ‘another
     regime’ and an escalation in the use      Command’ in jettisoning their bombs
     of air power may have exacerbated         through cloud without being able
     the situation.146 He had also seen        to identify the target was not
     the bombing force primarily as a          acceptable; the minute concluded
     deterrent from the beginning of the       unequivocally that ‘Bombs are not to
     rearmament phase.147 Chamberlain          be dropped indiscriminately.’ 153
     also fundamentally believed that
     Britain should have the ‘moral            The retaliatory nature of the
     right’ on her side as it would be a       escalation is apparent from the
     ‘tremendous force on our side’ and        Directive issued to the Command
     that if bombing started it would          at the end of October 1940. This
     be ‘worth a lot for us to be able to      included the need to attack the
     blame them for it’.148 It is possible     morale of the German people ‘when
                                               they can no longer expect an early
     that Chamberlain’s mindset over
                                               victory.’ 154 In addition to attacks on
     countries far away prevented
                                               oil, and aluminium and component
     him from agreeing with Slessor’s
                                               factories, there should be raids to
     establishment of the precedent.
                                               cause ‘heavy material destruction in
     The question of expediency and            large towns and centres of industry’
     morality had to be reviewed, first in     as a demonstration ‘to the enemy
     the light of the invasion of Denmark      of the power and severity of air
     and Norway on 9 April 1940 and            bombardment and the hardships
     then the low-countries in May 1940.       and dislocation that will result.’ 155
     Following consideration by the COS,       These attacks were to include high
     fresh instructions were issued on 4       explosives, incendiaries, delayed
     June 1940 in which the term ‘military’    action bombs and ‘the occasional
     was to be interpreted in the broadest     mine.’ 156 Part of the rationale was to
                                                                                      26
impose pressure on the fire services.157   plan and the CAS (Sir Charles Portal)
These instructions clearly mirror          submitted it to Churchill who was
the experiences of London over the         doubtful, to say the least.163 The
period and again echo the place            Prime Minister was clearly concerned
of retaliatory action in the culture       that the required resources, based
of the times (which had been               on the extant woeful lack of accuracy,
present since the German Zeppelin          would not produce the effects that
raids of 1916). After an interlude,        the Air Ministry predicted.164 The
which was planned to be about              situation was compounded by
four months, where the Directives          depressingly high casualty figures
focused on anti-submarine activities       among the aircrews that, if sustained,
a ‘comprehensive review of the             would prevent the force ever
enemy’s present political, economic        generating sufficient crews to man
and military situation’, disclosed that    the expanded force.165 Accordingly,
the weakest points in his armour lie       directives were issued emphasising
in the morale of the civilian population   the conservation of forces ‘in order to
and in his inland transportation           build a strong force to be available by
system.’158 Although barely                the spring of next year’ [1942].166 This
mentioned in the directive, the aim        recuperative lull, and the impending
of the review was to see what could        introduction of navigation aids such
be done to assist Russia.159 The other     as Gee, enabled the Air Ministry to
important milestone in this directive      issue the Directive of 14 February
was the inclusion of ‘Targets on water     1942 (notably to Air Marshal Baldwin
suitable for concentrated and continuous   who was Acting C-in-C prior to the
area attacks on moonless nights’           arrival of Harris) in which he was
[emphasis in the original]; these          ‘accordingly authorised to employ
targets were ‘congested industrial         your effort without restriction’
towns where the psychological effect       [emphasis added].167 The directive
will be the greatest’ and included         acknowledged that this renewal
Cologne, Dusseldorf, Duisburg and          of the offensive ‘on a heavy scale’
Duisburg-Ruhrort.160 The section           would ‘enhearten [sic] and support
on Duisburg, almost certainly              the Russians.’ 168 Furthermore, the
inadvertent considering the emotive        directive of 9 July 1941 was modified
tones it would later carry, included       because it had been decided that the
the word ‘area.’ 161                       ‘primary object’ of Bomber Command
This period saw the Chiefs of Staff        operations ‘should now be focused
conclude that, after ‘meeting the          on the morale of the enemy civil
needs of our own security,’ the heavy      population and in particular, of the
bomber would receive top priority          industrial workers.’ 169 It would be
in production in order to destroy          all too easy to take the critical words
the ‘foundations upon which the            ‘without restriction’ out of context
[German] war machine rests – the           and imply that this meant the formal
economy which sustains it, the morale      institution of terror bombing.
which sustains it, the supplies which      Throughout the first three years of
nourish it and the hopes of victory        the war, the legality and morality
which inspire it.’162 The Directorate      of the strategic air offensive were
of Bomber Operations worked up this        inextricably interlinked with what
27
     was technically possible. It is clear    was not shy to admit that to their
     from Churchill’s frustration over        faces.173 But at the same time, Harris
     the lack of urgency in carrying out      was aware of the serious potential of
     reprisals included an element of         damage to morale if their sacrifice
     moral argument.170 For much of           was ignored, or worse, that a public
     the period, Britain fought without       debate should challenge the morality
     effective allies with whom a coalition   of their actions. Any war machine
     strategy could have offered an           runs the risk of being depicted
     alternative to bombing. In efforts       as causing wanton death and
     to have some real effect on the          destruction; this is an enduring fact
     German war machine, the march            of warfare. The problem for Bomber
     towards unrestricted area bombing        Command, and the Air Ministry, was
     was inevitable. The unthinkable          all the more complex because the
     option of coming to terms with           crews, who risked their lives daily,
     Germany passed and the focus of          still lived in the local community and
     those charged with the conduct           had to return there every morning.
     of the war had to come up with           Accusations against them would have
     strategy that offered a credible way     been hugely detrimental to their
     in which to win. W.V. Herbert’s          morale and that of their families. But
     1898 RUSI lecture had stressed the       Harris was keen for the importance
     importance of winning ‘with all of       of his Command’s work to reach
     the rest coming a long way after’ was    a wider public.174 His post-war
     arguably increasingly relevant as        complaint was that the Air Ministry
     the war became ‘more total’.171 In       was ‘extraordinarily cautious’ in
     many ways, it was easier for those       the way in which it dealt with even
     charged with decision making if the      the more intelligent and reputable
     movement (one would hardly call it       journalists.175 On the other hand,
     progress) towards totality in warfare    Churchill, Portal and the Air Staff
     was gradual and the decisions could      were concerned that offensive could
     be taken incrementally rather than       be portrayed as indiscriminate.176
     in a single step.172 This incremental    Although Harris would almost
     process, and the central role played     certainly not have been bothered by
     by Portal as C-in-C and then CAS,        the comparison, it is probable that his
     must be acknowledged. The Directive      more strategically minded colleagues
     of 1942 was in place before Harris       would have preferred not to have
     arrived as C-in-C. Although he had       any comparisons between British
     been involved in policy formulation      and American professed operational
     when he was DCAS, this was earlier       techniques aired in public,
     in the war and although he was           particularly in the United States.
     subsequently an advocate of the          The problem was exacerbated by the
     Offensive, he was not its sole author    repeated government statements
     or architect.                            confirming that ‘the policy of limiting
                                              objectives of Bomber Command to
     The Debate over Perceptions
                                              targets of military importance... and
     of the Campaign
                                              not been changed to the bombing
     As C-in-C, Harris was acutely aware      of towns and wide areas in which
     of the dangers faced by his crews, and   military targets are situated.’ 177 In
                                                                                            28
Parliament, in December 1943,                against the bomber offensive could
Sinclair confirmed that the policy had       not but hamper the Government in the
not changed since he had previously          execution of this policy and might affect
answered a similar question in March         the morale of the aircrews themselves.182
1943. When tackled over Berlin,
                                             Biddle has described this as ‘semantic
Sinclair confirmed the military and          hair-splitting’ which ‘enraged
economic significance of the capital,        Harris’; presumably the lengthy
but again avoided the issue of the           delay before Street replied would
government having now ‘resorted to           have done little to help.183 Harris
indiscriminate bombing, including            was not prepared to accept what
residential areas.’ 178 As Hastings          was arguably a more reasoned and
has pointed out, a similar exchange          strategic outlook. His response
took place between Sinclair and Lord         provided both a blunt statement of
Salisbury when again the Secretary           the reality of the offensive and a clear
of State failed to defend the C-in-C         insight into his own view of the total
whose rhetoric over the heart of             nature of the war.
Berlin ‘ceasing to beat’ had provoked
the correspondence.179                       It is surely obvious that children, invalids
                                             and old people who are economically
Predictably, Harris took up the              unproductive but must nevertheless
cudgels formally against the                 consume food and other necessaries are
‘dead hand of the Civil Service’             a handicap to the German war effort and
in attempting to ensure that the             it would therefore be sheer waste of effort
public understood what was being             to attack them....The German economic
achieved by his people.180 The               system, which I am instructed by my
Permanent Under Secretary (PUS),             directive to destroy, includes workers,
Sir Arthur Street assured Harris             houses, and public utilities, and it is
that ‘no attempt has been made to            therefore meaningless to claim that the
conceal from the public the immense          wiping out of German cities is ‘not an end
devastation that is being brought to         in itself....’ 184
the German industrial cities’, but he        Harris then went on to explain the
went on to point out that ‘in all official   reality, that in the war as it was
pronouncements’ the emphasis                 then being fought, ‘everything and
was on the ‘obvious truth, i.e., that        everybody’ in the cities ‘which is
the widespread devastation is not            a help to the German war effort’
an end in itself but the inevitable          came within the objectives which
accompaniment of an all-out attack           Bomber Command was seeking to
on the enemy’s means and capacity to         destroy. Furthermore, he asked that
wage war.’181 Street then went on to         anyone in the authorities who did
state that:                                  not understand this should ‘at once
It is, in any event, desirable to present    be disabused of the illusion, which is
                                             not merely unfair to our crews now
the bomber offensive in such a light
                                             but will inevitably lead to deplorable
as to provoke the minimum of public
                                             controversies when the facts are fully
controversy and so far as possible
                                             and generally known.’ Harris further
to avoid conflict with religious and
                                             emphasised that
humanitarian opinion. Any public protest,
whether reasonable or unreasonable,          It is not enough to admit that devastation
29
     is caused by our attacks, or to suggest that   almost dismissive with language such
     it is an incidental and rather regrettable     as ‘the fact that our aircraft occasionally
     concomitant of night bombing. It is in fact    killed women and children is cast in
     produced deliberately.185                      my teeth I always produce this
                                                    example of the blockade.’ 189 To
     He went on to recommend that
                                                    Harris, it was evident that the war
     the Air Ministry request the Joint
                                                    with Germany was total war, and he
     Intelligence Committee (JIC)
                                                    was unshakeable in this view and
     to produce a report on German
                                                    in the consequences that stemmed
     morale.186 The findings of this, and
                                                    from it.190 In the context of Sinclair’s
     the more detailed report produced
                                                    ‘hedging’, Probert has suggested that
     by the Air Ministry intelligence staff
                                                    Harris ‘was being left, in effect, to
     will be covered in the next section;           carry the can at home and abroad.’ 191
     meanwhile, it is interesting to note           It could therefore be argued that
     that with the exception of a JIC               allowing Harris to remain in post
     Report in October 1943, very little            was a politically shrewd decision by
     intelligence work had been done                Sinclair and Portal, even though they
     on the subject since at least before           may not have said as much.
     America entered the war.187
                                                    The Sting in the Tail
     It is clear from the correspondence
     that Harris understood that the Air            On 26 January 1945, Churchill
     Ministry was trying to ‘provoke the            minuted his close friend Sir
     minimum of public controversy and              Archibald Sinclair (Secretary of State
     so far as possible avoid conflict with         for Air):
     religious and humanitarian opinion’,           I did not ask you last night about plans
     but did not accept the primacy of              for harrying the German retreat from
     such an approach over the protection           Breslau. On the contrary, I asked
     of the morale of his crews who may             whether Berlin, and no doubt other
     not have been expected to grasp the            large cities in East Germany, should not
     subtleties of the real strategic level.        now be considered especially attractive
     Probert, citing Longmate presumably            targets. I am glad that this is ‘under
     with approval, has suggested that              consideration’. Pray report to me
     only Harris emerged from this debate           tomorrow what is going to be done.192
     with any real credit.188 But it could
     be argued that Harris was not able             Sinclair dutifully replied the next
     to grasp, or accept, the complexities          day that, after attacks on oil
     and ambiguity that characterises               production and other approved
     leadership at the highest levels.              systems, the Air Staff had now
     Furthermore, although he professed             arranged for effort to be directed
     that he understood the potential               against ‘Berlin, Dresden, Chemnitz
                                                    and Leipzig or against other cities
     consequences of too open an
                                                    where severe bombing would
     admission of the totality of the
                                                    not only destroy communication
     war Bomber Command was
                                                    vital to the evacuation from the
     fighting, Harris was clearly not
                                                    East but would also hamper the
     willing to moderate his anger or
                                                    movement of troops from the West.’ 193
     exasperation. In his memoirs, he
     remained uncompromising and                    Despite reservations from Harris as
                                                                                          30
to the utility of attacking Dresden,      At a more elevated level, the Prime
Bomber Command attacked on 13             Minister put pen to paper in what has
February 1945 with the USAAF Eighth       been described variously as among
Air Force following up the next day.194   the ‘least felicitous… of the long
Even by the improved standards            series of war-time minutes’ and ‘an
of 1945, the raids were extremely         astonishing minute.’199 He wrote:
successful causing considerable
                                          It seems to me that the moment has come
damage and many casualties. What          when the question of bombing German
made Dresden different was the            cities simply for the sake of increasing
press release and interview given by      terror, though under other pretexts,
Air Commodore C. M. Grierson at           should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall
the Supreme Headquarters Allied           come into control of an utterly ruined
Expeditionary Force in Paris.195 The      land….The destruction of Dresden
ensuing Associated Press (AP)             remains a serious query against the
despatch stated that Allied Air Chiefs    conduct of Allied bombing. I am of the
had made the ‘long awaited decision       opinion that military objectives must
to adopt deliberate terror bombing        henceforth be strictly studied in our own
of German population centres as           interests rather than that of the enemy.’ 200
a ruthless expedient to hastening
Hitler’s doom.’196 This was widely        Portal immediately instructed
published in America and was              Bottomley to ask for Harris’s
broadcast in Paris. Public opinion        comments. His personal letter
in the US had hitherto been fed a         to the C-in-C is reproduced in
diet that emphasised the precision        full in Saward’s ‘Bomber’ Harris.201
of the American bombing campaign.         Bottomley summarised the Prime
Concern was only partly alleviated by     Minister’s note, reiterated extant
Marshall’s statement that it had been     policy and invited the C-in-C to
carried out at Russian request.197        comment. Harris’s reply was prompt
                                          and predictably pungent. He pointed
The despatch gained a brief exposure      out in characteristically blunt terms
in London prior to heavy censorship.      that the suggestion that the Bomber
The matter was subsequently raised        offensive had been conducted for
in parliament on 6 March 1945 by          the ‘sake of increasing terror, though
Mr Richard Stokes MP.198 As he            under other pretexts’ was an insult
rose to speak in the House, Sinclair      both to the Air Ministry policy and
rose from his seat and pointedly          to the crews that had carried it out.
left the Chamber. Stokes read out         Harris went on to highlight the
the AP despatch in full and then          misperceptions over Dresden that
accused the government of hiding          would be obvious to any psychiatrist
the true nature of the bombing            – ‘it is connected to German bands
campaign from the British public.         and Dresden shepherdesses’. Rather,
Sinclair replied some hours later         ‘Dresden was a mass of munition
that the government was not wasting       works, an intact government centre
its time on purely terror tactics.        and a key transportation point to the
Although criticism was relatively         East. It is now none of those things.’
muted, the seeds had been sown for        He went on to discuss the policy
later outbursts of conscience.            underlying the Bomber offensive,
31
     concluding with the warning that          reached the highest levels of the Air
     such scruples as the Prime Minister       Ministry in the inter-war years and
     was considering would lengthen            was acknowledged in the Geneva
     the war and increase the task facing      Disarmament process. As the Second
     the army both in Germany and              World War approached, there was
     against Japan.                            considerable American pressure on
                                               the belligerents not to remove the
     Portal strongly backed the stance
                                               gloves. It was clearly understood
     taken by his C-in-C and Churchill
                                               within the Air Ministry that, although
     withdrew his minute. The revised
                                               Germany had attacked cities in
     version made no mention of Dresden.
                                               Poland and subsequently Rotterdam
     The attack, however, was something
                                               in an indiscriminate manner, the
     of a turning point in that the genie
                                               RAF would not be allowed to do so
     was now out of the bottle and the
                                               as it was contrary to Government
     role and purpose of the offensive
                                               policy. This did not change until
     was subject to rather more debate
                                               Chamberlain was replaced by
     – on both sides of the Atlantic. In
                                               Churchill who favoured offensive
     the UK, this increased as it became
                                               actions in all its guises and was
     increasingly obvious that the war
                                               adamantly opposed to any political
     was going to be won and that such
                                               settlement with Germany. For many
     destruction would require to be more
                                               months thereafter, Bomber Command
     rigorously justified. Arguably this
                                               was the only means by which Britain
     saga was the starting point of what
                                               could strike at Germany. Even when
     many saw as the belittlement of
                                               America entered the war after Pearl
     Bomber Command’s achievements
                                               Harbor, it was many months before
     leading to bitterness and acrimony
                                               sufficient means were available to
     among crews, groundcrews and
                                               adopt a different strategy. Even
     commanders as the politicians were
                                               then, any possible method could be
     seen as belatedly scrabbling for the
                                               considered reasonable to shorten the
     moral high ground.202
                                               conflict and save lives (of whatever
     Concluding Comments                       nation) as a result. The memories
                                               of flying over the devastation of the
     This paper has sought to place the
                                               battle fields of the First World War
     ‘savage debate’ over legality and
                                               remained clear in the minds of the
     morality of the Strategic Air Offensive
                                               Commanders and senior politicians
     in some form of historical context
                                               and the carnage of bitterly fought
     rather than adopt the now popular
                                               land warfare was to be avoided.
     emotive tone adopted by some
     modern philosophers. The track            The reality was that the road to area
     record of the lawyers, officials and      bombing was complex involving a
     military officers over the half century   range of factors, including technology,
     before area bombing shows that a          poor weather, aircrew loss rates,
     number of attempts were made, even        German defences and the need to
     before air power was recognised as        demonstrate a second front to the
     having the potential that it eventually   Russians all contributing to the
     achieved, to limit or regulate the        development of the policy. It is clear
     bombardment of cities and civilians.      that German bombing of European
     There is clear evidence that this both    cities and eventually British added
                                                                                     32
to the ‘justification’ for widening the    because of the lack of alternatives,
scope of the attacks on Germany.           especially in 1942; by the unanimity of
Although the Directive of February         purpose within the senior leadership
1942 was a watershed in terms of           in the UK; by the agreement with the
targeting policy it has to be noted        American allies from 1943 onwards;
that this was in place before Harris       and by the evident results as the
took Command. Admittedly, he was           offensive continued.
a staunch advocate of the Offensive,
                                           In retrospect, there is a seeming
and had been part of the staffing
                                           inevitability about the move towards
process when DCAS; but he was
                                           area bombing as part of the totality
not its sole architect. It is also clear
                                           of the war against Germany. In
that the senior figures in Whitehall
                                           the context of the scale of losses
at political, official and military
                                           in the bombing of Japan (both
levels, understood that there was an
                                           conventionally, by fire bombing
underlying debate to be had on the
                                           and the two nuclear detonations);
morality of the offensive they were
                                           in the holocaust; and on the eastern
extremely keen that it should be
                                           front between Russia and Germany
downplayed for much of the War. The
                                           the damage inflicted on Germany
unedifying scramble for the moral
                                           was an integral part of what it took
high ground after Dresden, and the
                                           to win. It also meshed with the
subsequent snub of the Command,
                                           culture of thinking on bombing that
all suggest that these senior folk
                                           had grown from popular literature,
were well aware of the action for
                                           through the experiences of 1916-18,
which they bore as much, if not more,
                                           by which London had to be defended
responsibility than Harris.
                                           – preferably by offensive action and
By the end of the Second World War         that the British public (and its press)
it appeared that little had changed        demanded retribution in kind. But
from Herbert’s presentation at RUSI;       this culture in Britain also allowed
even in the realms of ius in bello, the    the politicians, officials and senior
racial sub texts of rules only applying    military officers to go through the
to civilised peers were evident in the     motions of seeking either to abolish,
German attitudes to Slavs and by           or to regulate, warfare (and aerial
(and against) the Japanese in the far-     bombardment in particular) in a way
east and Pacific. And Herbert’s stress     that seemed to have been futile in
on the importance of winning ‘with         1942 and arguably ever since. The
all of the rest coming a long way          reality was that there were no extant
after’ was arguably increasingly           Laws of war that would make the
relevant as the war became ‘more           bombing offensive legal or otherwise.
total’. In many ways, it was easier        To many, however, the honest
for those charged with decision            endeavour of the inter-war years
making if the movement (one would          and the patient attention to detail,
hardly call it progress) towards           for whatever underlying reason, did
totality in warfare was gradual            more than enough to ensure that
and the decisions could be taken           cause was seen as just and legitimate.
incrementally rather than in a single      The practicalities of having a war
step. The logic of the transition at       to win, by any available means and
the time was all the more reasonable       without restriction, was hardly a
33
     policy that was going to withstand            collection). Carlo D’Este has
     post-war scrutiny, especially when            described the debate as ‘savage’:
     the erstwhile aggressors were likely          see Warlord: A Life of Churchill at
     to be tried for war crimes. But the           War, 1874-1945 (London: Allen Lane,
     scramble for the moral high ground            2009), p.732.
     did little to dignify what, for the           2
                                                     The concepts of military chivalry
     vast majority, for the greatest bulk          should not be overstated in this context,
     of the time was a just and legitimate         but it is especially noteworthy that
     offensive. That it was seen as such           specific rules had long existed about
     is evident from the words of a letter         ‘open towns’ and siege warfare.
     from Marshal of the Royal Air Force,          3
                                                     Gary Wills, Saint Augustine (London,
     Sir John Salmond to the Archbishop            Phoenix, 2000 [1999]), p. 121.
     of Canterbury (Dr William Temple)             4
                                                     Among many secondary sources,
     who had expressed his regret to the           see Michael Howard, George J.
     press over the bombing of Lubeck              Andreopoulus and Mark R. Shulman
     and Rostock:                                  (eds.), The Laws of War: Constraints
     Surely the innate decency of the Briton       on Warfare in the Western World
     and the principles of Freedom and Justice     (New Haven: Yale University Press,
     which all of the allies are united to         1994), pp.2-3.
                                                   5
     maintain, are sufficient moral guarantee        General Viscount Wolseley, The Life
     that they will be qualified to use ‘Victory   of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough
     to God’s Glory’, when the time comes.203      to the Accession of Queen Anne
                                                   (London: Richard Bentley and Son,
     Notes                                         1894), Vol. 2, p.84.
                                                   6
     1
      For the most authoritative                     Wolseley was commander-in-chief
     discussion on this topic see Tami             of the British Army from 1895-1901;
     Davis Biddle, Rhetoric and Reality in         see Hew Strachan, Politics of the
     Air Warfare: The Evolution of British         British Army (Oxford: Clarendon
     and American Ideas About Strategic            Press. 1997) pp.65-66.
                                                   7
     Bombing, 1914-1945 (Princeton NJ:               A. C. Grayling, Among the Dead Cities:
     Princeton University Press, 2002).            Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in
     On the injustices, the debates                WWII a Necessity or a Crime (London:
     over memorials to ‘Bomber’ Harris             Bloomsbury, 2006) and Paul Addison
     and, indeed to Bomber Command                 and Jeremy A. Crang (eds), Firestorm:
     continue to this day. Repercussions           The Bombing of Dresden 1945 (London:
     continue, not least in Canada where           Pimlico, 2006). The literature on
     the remembrance of crews lost in the          Dresden in particular is extensive, but
     Command is marred by continuing               these references provide a flavour of
     accusations of war criminality: see           the debate.
                                                   8
     David L. Bashow, No Prouder Place:              See, for example, Jorg Friedrich, The
     Canadians and the Bomber Command              Fire: The Bombing of Germany 1940-
     Experience, 1939-1945 (St Catherines,         1945 (New York: Columbia University
     Ontario: Vanwell, 2005) and interview         Press, 2008).
                                                   9
     with author October 2006 following              Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust
     Bashow’s Presentation to the Air              Wars; A Moral Argument with Historical
     Crew Association Metro Toronto                Illustrations (New York: Basic Books,
     Branch, 9 September 2006 (author’s            4th edn. 2006). Walzer does debate
                                                                                        34
the bombing of German cities. See           23
                                               Ibid.
also Charles Guthrie and Michael            24
                                               This was obviously pre-Nuremberg
Quinlan, Just War: The Just War             Trials. See J. M. Spaight, Air Power
Tradition, Ethics in Modern Warfare         and War Rights, (London: Longmans,
(London: Bloomsbury, 2007), p.7.            1924), p. 47. Spaight’s role within
The resurgence in Just War Theory           the Air Ministry and as an author,
was largely due to American                 will described below; it is useful to
philosophers’ frustration with the          note his citation, with approval, of
lack of logical explanations for their      the British Manual, Land Warfare as
country’s involvement in Vietnam.           agreeing this point.
10
   Sir C. Webster and N. Frankland,         25
                                               Howard, op cit., p.3, he cites the
The Strategic Air Offensive against         American atrocities at My Lai in 1969
Germany 1939-1945 (London: HMSO,            as an example.
1961, four volumes.                         26
                                               Rosalyn Higgins, Problems and
11
   W. V. Herbert Esq., (late Captain,       Processes: International Law and How
Turkish Army), ‘The Ethics of               We Use It, (Oxford: Oxford University
Warfare’, JRUSI, 42 (2) (1898 July/         Press, 1994), Chapters 1 and 2
December), p.1022.                          generally and p. 13 in particular.
12                                          27
   Ibid., p. 1024.                             W. Hays Parks, ‘Air War and the
13
   Ibid., p. 1025.                          Law of War’, Air Force Law Review,
14
   Ibid., p. 1028.                          32 (2) (1990), pp. 1-225, fn.5. The
15
   Ibid., p. 1029.                          use of this quotation by an eminent
16
   Ibid., p. 1032.                          military lawyer is interesting in itself.
17
   See, for example, Michael Howard,        The original, which is not cited by
‘Constraints on Warfare’, in Howard,        Parks, was from H. Lauterpacht, ‘The
Andreopoulos and Shulman (eds.),            Problem of the Revision of the Law of
The Laws of War, op cit., p. 8.             War’, British Yearbook of International
18
   C.D.22 Operations Manual, Royal Air      Law, 1952, p.382.
                                            28
Force, Air Ministry, 1922; AIR 10/1197.        Roberts and Guelff, Documents on
19
   Ibid., p.126.                            the Laws of War, p.53.
20                                          29
   Adam Roberts, ‘Land Warfare: From           Adam Roberts and Richard Guelff,
Hague to Nuremberg’, in Howard,             Documents on the Laws of War, (Oxford:
Andreopoulos and Shulman (eds.),            Oxford University Press, third edition,
The Laws of War, op cit., p.117.            2000 [1982]), p.12-13.
21                                          30
   In addition to Howard,                      Ibid., p.13.
                                            31
Andreopoulos and Shulman (eds.),               Ibid.
                                            32
The Laws of War, see also Michael              Ibid., pp.54-55 for the full document.
                                            33
Howard (ed.) Restraints on War: Studies        Adam Roberts, ‘Land Warfare’, in
in the Limitation of Armed Conflict,        Howard, Andreopoulos and Shulman
(Oxford: Oxford University Press,           (eds.), The Laws of War, pp. 120-122.
                                            34
1979), A. P. V. Rogers, Law on the             Roberts and Guelff, Documents on
Battlefield, (Manchester: Manchester        the Laws of War, pp. 35 and 59. For
University Press, third edition, 2004       detailed commentary see Parks, ‘Air
[1996]) and Christine Gray, International   War and the Law of War’, pp.9-12.
                                            35
Law and the Use of Force, (Oxford:             Roberts and Guelff, Documents on
Oxford University Press, 2000).             the Laws of War, p. 67.
22                                          36
   Howard, Restraints on War, p.3.             Roberts and Guelff, Documents on
35
     the Laws of War, p.78.                    War (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1938).
     37                                        56
        J. M. Spaight, Air Power and War          Robin Higham, The Military
     Rights, p.220.                            Intellectuals in Britain: 1918-1939 (New
     38
        Parks, ‘Air War and the Law of         Brunswick NJ: Rutgers University
     War’, p.22.                               Press, 1966), p.242.
     39                                        57
        The author is grateful to Dr              Higham, ibid., p.230.
                                               58
     Christina Goulter for highlighting           In 1927 when Spaight produced two
     this issue, in addition to her other      legal briefs on the use of air power, he
     invaluable comments.                      was an Assistant Secretary of which
     40
        TNA PRO CAB 24/44 ‘Air Raids           there only eight in the Ministry. This
     on Open Towns; Memorandum                 was a 2* level equivalent. The Air
     prepared in the Historical Section        Force List April, 1927.
                                               59
     of the Committee of Imperial                 Neville Parton, ‘The development
     Defence in accordance with War            of Early RAF Doctrine’, Journal
     Cabinet 358, Minute 9’, 7 March 1918.     of Military History, 72 (4) 2008,
     Followed by CAB 24/48 ‘The Legal          p.1166. See AIR 5/299, ‘Printing
     Aspects of Bombardment from the           and Publication of RAF Operations
     Air’, 12 April 1918.                      Manual CD22’ for the full saga.
     41                                        60
        CAB 24/48, op cit.                        J. M. Spaight, Air Power and War
     42
        Roberts and Guelff, Documents on       Rights, op cit..
                                               61
     the Laws of War, p.140                       J. M. Spaight, Air Power and War
     43
        Parks, ‘Air War and the Law of         Rights (London: Longmans, second
     War’, p.24.                               edition, 1933) ‘Preface’.
     44                                        62
        Roberts and Guelff, op cit., p.140        J. M. Spaight, Air Power and the Cities
     45
        Ibid.                                  (London: Longmans, 1930), page v.
     46                                        63
        See M. W. Royse, Aerial                   AIR 8/86 and AIR 8/87 ‘The
     Bombardment and the International         Doctrine of Air-Force Necessity’ by
     Regulation of Warfare, (New York:         J.M. Spaight OBE, LLD (?1927) (sic).
                                               64
     Harold Vinal, 1928), pp.215-216.             Higham, Military Intellectuals,
     47
        Roberts and Guelff, op cit., p.140.    p.179. The Trenchard memorandum
     48
        Ibid., p.144.                          is reproduced in Sir Charles Webster
     49
        Ibid., pp.144-145.                     and Noble Frankland, The Strategic Air
     50
        Ibid. p.140.                           Offensive against Germany 1939-1945
     51
        Tami Davis Biddle, ‘Air Power’, in     (London: HMSO, 1961), vol. IV, p.73.
     Howard, Andreopoulos and Shulman          Much of the language in the section
     (eds.), The Laws of War, p.148.           on international law sounds as if
     52
        For example, we see repeated           drafted by Spaight.
                                               65
     attempts by the Air Ministry, and            ‘The War Object of an Air Force’
     the Admiralty to change those Rules       produced for COS 147 (69th Chiefs of
     though to 1939. See ADM 116/4155          Staff Meeting). AIR 9/8 Folio 1 Air
     Note form Air Plans to the Admiralty      Staff 17 May 1928.
                                               66
     dated 17 August 1939.                        AIR 8/141 ‘Rules of War, Hague
     53
        J. M. Spaight, Air Power and War       Rules: Air Ministry Proposals’, 3
     Rights, p.35.                             November 1932.
     54                                        67
        J. M. Spaight, War Rights on Land         AIR 8/141 and The Air Force List,
     (London: Macmillan, 1911).                October 1932.
     55                                        68
        J. M. Spaight, Air Power in the Next      The Air Force List, October 1932, p14.
                                                                                           36
69                                             83
   AIR 8/139, Minute to CAS dated 5               Ibid., Part V, pre-amble.
                                               84
May 1932.                                         Middlemas and Barnes,
70
   An examination of the first                 Baldwin, p.723.
                                               85
two volumes side by side shows                    Londonderry, Wings of Destiny, p.62.
                                               86
the mirror imaging of the page                    Ibid. Ironically, MacDonald’s
numbering with changes to the text             attempt to set out figures at the
confined in scope to the number and            Conference in relation to limitations
size of the paragraphs removed.                in numbers set the Conference
71
   J. M. Spaight, Air Power and War            aghast, Ibid., p.63.
                                               87
Rights (London: Longmans, second                  Emphasis in the original, ibid., p.50.
                                               88
edition, 1933), ‘Preface’; and Air Power          Figures quoted in Meilinger,
and the Cities, (London: Longmans,             ‘Clipping the Bomber’s Wings’, p.309.
1930), page v. Spaight, Air Power and          AIR 8/151, in the Disarmament series,
War Rights (third edition, 1947) in            contains an extract from Hansard
which he admits to there being                 dated 11 July 1923 in which Lord
little difference between the two              Linlithgow made this point in debate.
                                               89
volumes, p.vii. For disarmament                   John Terraine, The Smoke and
and international law see the second           the Fire; Myths and Anti-Myths
edition p. 256-259.                            of War 1861-1945 (London: Leo
72
   Parks, ‘Air War’, p.39, fn.150. He          Cooper, 1992 [1980]), pp.35-47 and
also points out that Manual of Air             p. 43 in particular.
                                               90
Force Law in both 1933 and 1939 had               For a broader discussion on the
not included chapters relating to air          early days in Geneva see Maj.
warfare; p.39.                                 Gen A. C. Temperley, The Whispering
73
   Spaight, Air Power and War Rights, ch.      Gallery of Europe (London: Collins,
IX provides details over pp. 233-238 of        1938) where the author was the
targets, and dates that they were              British Chief Military Adviser;
attacked, which would be forbidden             see ch.VI for the work of the
should the new rules be adopted.               Preparatory Commission.
74                                             91
   Ibid., p.217.                                  Montgomery Hyde, British Air
75
   Ibid., pp.220-226.                          Policy Between the Wars, p.276. For an
76
   Ibid., p.239.                               example of the role of the smaller
77
   Ibid., p.239.                               states in supporting the Benes
78
   Ibid., p.239.                               Resolution see CAB 24/232, C.P. 270
79
   Ibid., p.240.                               (32) Foreign Office Memorandum
80
   Ibid., p.259.                               on the Resolution dated 28 July 1932.
81
   Middlemas and Barnes, Baldwin,              See The Practicability of Drawing a
p.723. It should be noted (as it is by         Distinction between Offensive and
the authors, p.725) that this work was         Defensive Weapons, Note by CAS dated
published before Cabinet Papers                8 September 1931 in AIR 8/124.
                                               92
became available.                                 Meilinger, ‘Clipping the Bomber’s
82
   The Treaty of Peace between the Allied      Wings’, p.313. This offensive/
and Associated Powers and Germany,             defensive divide also featured among
signed at Versailles, June 28th 1919, Part I   the Chiefs with the Navy seeing
(London: HMSO, 1919). Cited by Sir             bombers as offensive: see CAB24/230
John Simon in D.C. (P) 4 as pre-amble          C.P. 182(32) dated 31 May 1932. Both
to the UK policy line in AIR 8/128.            the Army and the Navy took every
37
     opportunity to encourage the demise         107
                                                     AIR 8/140, CAS to SofS (in Geneva)
     of the upstart Service.                     dated 8 July 1932.
     93
        CAB 24/227, C.P. 10(32),                 108
                                                     Ibid.
     Disarmament Conference: Memorandum          109
                                                     Ibid. See also AIR 8/140 Minute
     by the Secretary of State for Air on        from Gp. Capt. Portal to CAS dated
     Policy in regard to the Limitation of Air   1 September 1932 emphasising this
     Armaments (With Memorandum by the           point. The Sub-Committee reported
     Chief of the Air Staff), 5 January 1932.    at C.P. 152(32) and the Cabinet
     See also, Montgomery Hyde, British          endorsed the Conclusions at CAB
     Air Policy Between the Wars, p.277.         23/71, Cabinet Conclusions 27 (32)
     94
        CAB 24/229, CID 1082-B, Annual           dated 11 May 1932.
     Review for 1932 by the Chiefs of Staff      110
                                                     PRO 30/69/496, Suggested Lines of
     Sub-Committee, 17 March 1932.               Policy at the Disarmament Conference,
     95
        PRO 30/69/496, Suggested Lines           para.5. See also CAB 24/228, C.P.
     of Policy at the Disarmament                82 (32), Air Disarmament and the
     Conference, circulated by Simon on          Abolition of Bombing Aircraft, Part II,
     19 March 1932.                              Memorandum date 17 February 1932.
     96                                          111
        Ibid., paras. 3, 4 and 5 respectively.       See CAB 24/232, C.P. 272(32), Note
     97
        Ibid., para.5.                           by the SofS for Air on Air Disarmament
     98
        CAB 23/71, Cabinet Conclusions           Policy, dated 30 July 1932.
     26(32), 4 May 1932, p.3.                    112
                                                     AIR 8/151 with minutes to CAS and
     99
        Ibid.                                    DCAS forwarding notes by Spaight
     100
         Ibid., p.4.                             (who was the Director of Accounts
     101
         Ibid.                                   for the Ministry but still an authority
     102
         Ibid., p.5.                             on International Law ) dated 18 April
     103
         Ibid.                                   and 12 May 1932.
     104                                         113
         This was reported by Cadogan (a             AIR 8/151: Letter from CAS to Sir
     Counsellor in the Foreign Office, and       John Simon dated 16 February 1932.
                                                 114
     subsequently Permanent Secretary)               J. M. Spaight, Air Power and War
     to his counterparts in Geneva; a            Rights (London: Longmans, 2nd
     copy of the letter was then slipped         edition, 1933), p.250.
                                                 115
     ‘confidentially’ to CAS by Wg. Cdr              AIR 8/151, Cadogan to Howard
     Hodsoll (Deputy Secretary to the            Smith letter dated 15June 1932.
                                                 116
     CID) on 18 June 1932; AIR 8/151.                Montgomery Hyde, British Air
     For a broader discussion see,               Policy Between the Wars, pp.283-287
     Montgomery Hyde, British Air Policy         and Temperley, The Whispering Gallery
     Between the Wars, p.281with the             of Europe, pp.215 and 233
                                                 117
     implication that MacDonald was                  See Temperley, op.cit., pp.277
     lukewarm at best to the proposal.           and 279.
     105                                         118
         CAB 24/230, C.P. 181(32) dated              Montgomery Hyde, British
     31 May and C.P. 183(32) dated               Air Policy Between the Wars, p.295.
     3 June 1932. See also AIR 8/151 for         Temperley, The Whispering Gallery of
     the staff papers.                           Europe, p.258.
     106                                         119
         See CAB 21/379, Ministerial                 HC Deb, 21 June 1938, Vol.337,
     Policy Committee Conclusions                cc919-1045. Mr Noel-Baker, c920.
                                                 120
     dated 7 March 1933 for a very                   The Prime Minister, ibid., c936
                                                 121
     clear acknowledgment.                           Ibid.
                                                                                        38
122                                        142
    Ibid. These were based on the              Webster and Frankland, Strategic
Draft Hague Rules.                         Air Offensive against Germany,
123
    AIR 20/22, Minute J. B. Abraham to     Vol.I, p.135
                                           143
C-in-C Bomber Command dated 15                 Ibid.
                                           144
September 1938. See also AIR 41/5,             AIR 2/4474, Telegram CAS to
Section D, ‘Air Ministry Instructions      Barratt dated 16 October 1939, encl
of 15 September 1938’.                     14A. Dean, who was in the civil
124
    Ibid.                                  directorate S6 at the time agreed that
125
    Ibid.                                  bombing in the west was not carried
126
    AIR 41/5, Section D, ‘Admiralty        out because it suited Britain, France
Proposals 1939’.                           and Germany; Dean, Royal Air Force in
127
    Ibid. Group Captain J. C. Slessor      Two World Wars, p.264.
                                           145
forwarded a copy of Bomber Command             Directive (DCAS – Douglas) to
Operation Instruction No.2 to Malkin to    Portal dated 4 June 1940; Webster
inform the meeting. ADM 116/4155,          and Frankland, Strategic Air Offensive
Minute dated 9 August 1939.                against Germany, Vol.IV, App.8 (xi). AIR
128
    AIR 41/5, Section D,                   14/77 in which ‘in no circumstances
‘Interdepartmental Committee.              should night bombing degenerate
August 1939’.                              into mere indiscriminate action,
129
    AIR 41/5, Section D, ‘Proposed         which is contrary to the policy of His
Permissible Objectives’.                   Majesty’s Government’.
130                                        146
    AIR 41/5, Section D, ‘Air Council          Self, Chamberlain, p.393. See
Instructions of 22 August 1939’.           also Robert Self (ed.), The Neville
131
    Ibid.                                  Chamberlain Diary Letters, Vol IV;
132
    Ibid.                                  The Downing Street Years, 1934 -1940
133
    Ibid.                                  (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005): Letter to
134
    Ibid.                                  Ida dated 10 September 1939.
135                                        147
    Parks, ‘Air War and the Law of             Self, Chamberlain, p.237.
                                           148
War’, p.50.                                    Self, The Diary Letters, Letter to Ida
136
    Ibid.                                  dated 10 September 1939.
137                                        149
    Beyond the works of Spaight, see           AIR 41/5, Section D, ‘Bombing
Philip Landon, ‘Aerial Bombardment         Instructions of 4 June 1940.
                                           150
& International Law’, JRUSI, 77,               Parks, ‘Air War and the Law of
1932, p.44.                                War’, p.47.
138                                        151
    Parks, ‘Air War and the Law of             AIR 41/5, Section D, ‘Berlin’.
                                           152
War’, p.49.                                    Ibid.
139                                        153
    Webster and Frankland, Strategic           AIR 14/194, Minute SASO to
Air Offensive against Germany, Vol. I,     Groups dated 14 June 1940.
                                           154
p.129. They quote this for the first two       AIR 41/5, Section D, ‘Directive of
years of the war.                          30th October 1940’. See also Webster
140
    AIR 41/5, Section D, ‘Our Long-        and Frankland, Strategic Air Offensive
term Policy’.                              against Germany, Vol. IV, p.128, para.3.
141                                        155
    AIR 14/194, Ppaer by D of Plans            Ibid. p.129, para, 3(b).
                                           156
dated 7 September 1939, ‘Note                  Ibid. p.129, para.4 (ii).
                                           157
on the Question of Relaxing the                Ibid.
                                           158
Bombardment Instructions and                   Webster and Frankland, Strategic
Initiating Extended Air Attack’.           Air Offensive against Germany, Vol. IV,
39
     p.133 for the former Directive dated      2001), p. 199.
                                               174
     9 March 1941 and p.135 for the latter         Harris, Bomber Offensive, p.156.
                                               175
     dated 9 July 1941. See also Vol. II,          Ibid.
                                               176
     p.167 et seq for the discussion on the        See Biddle, ‘Bombing by the
     move to area bombing.                     Square Yard’, p.641.
     159                                       177
         AIR 41/5, Section D, ‘Help                HC Deb 1 December 1943, vol.395,
     for Russia’.                              cc. 337-9; Question put to Sinclair by
     160
         Webster and Frankland, Strategic      Mr Richard Stokes (Labour, Ipswich).
                                               178
     Air Offensive against Germany, Vol.           Ibid.
                                               179
     IV, p.138, Directive dated 9 July,            Hastings, Bomber Command,
     Appendix A, para.3.                       pp.172-3.
     161                                       180
         Ibid.                                     Harris, Bomber Offensive, p.164.
     162
         COS Memo 31 July 1941 in Webster      Harris was less that charitable about
     and Frankland, Strategic Air Offensive    many of his civilian ‘colleagues’
     against Germany, Vol. II, pp.180-181.     one of whom he described as being
     163
         Ibid., p.182.                         ‘worth at least a division to the
     164
         Ibid., pp.183-5.                      enemy on every day of the war’.
     165
         Ibid., pp.185-7.                      Harris’s original complaint is at AIR
     166
          Webster and Frankland, Strategic     14/843, Letter Harris to Street dated
     Air Offensive against Germany,            25 October 1943.
                                               181
     Vol. IV, p.142, Directive dated 13            AIR 14/843, Letter Street to Harris
     November 1941.                            dated 15 December 1943.
     167                                       182
         Ibid., p. 143, Directive dated 14         Ibid.
                                               183
     February 1942, para.1.                        Biddle, ‘Bombing by the Square
     168
         Ibid., p.144, para.4(ii).             Yard’, p.642.
     169                                       184
         Ibid., p.144, para.5.                     AIR 14/843, Letter Harris to Sweet
     170
          Churchill, op. cit.                  dated 23 December 1943.
     171                                       185
         W.V. Herbert, ‘The Ethics of              Ibid
                                               186
     Warfare’, p.1029.                             Ibid., para.6.
     172                                       187
         The world of experimental                 See AIR 20/8143 for the absence
     psychology emphasises this with the       of reporting. But see below for the
     work of Stanley Milgram in particular.    JC Report.
                                               188
     In his now infamous experiment (and           Probert, Bomber Harris, p.194. See
     now considered highly unethical)          also Norman Longmate, The Bombers
     Milgram demonstrated that under           (London: Hutchinson, 1983), ch.26.
     the guidance and authority of a           Longmate described Harris as having
     scientist, the subject would eventually   none of Street’s ‘Jesuitical niceties’;
     apply lethal electric shocks to the       op.cit., p.369
                                               189
     victim (a stooge) but the incremental         Harris, Bomber Offensive, p.177.
                                               190
     nature made the whole possible.               For a wider debate of the role of
     The same is said to apply to the          air power in total war see Buckley, Air
     persecution of the Jews in Nazi           Power in the Age of Total War.
                                               191
     Germany. See Stanley Milgram,                 Probert, Bomber Harris, p.193.
                                               192
     Obedience to Authority: An Experimental       Minute 26 January 1945. Ian
     View (London: Tavistock, 1974)            Hunter (ed), Winston & Archie: The
     173
         Henry Probert, Bomber Harris: His     Collected Correspondence of Winston
     Life and Times (London: Greenhill,        Churchill and Archibald Sinclair 1915-
                                                                                   40
1960 (London: Politico, 2005), p.411.     202
                                              Churchill returned to the charge
See also Part 1 of this Collection for    over the bombing of Potsdam on
their correspondence during the First     14 April 1945. Minute to Sinclair
World War including the time when         dated 19 April 1945, Ian Hunter (ed),
Sinclair was second in command to         Winston & Archie, p.414. Sinclair’s
Churchill in the 6th Battalion, Royal     biographer has described this as a
Scots Fusiliers.                          ‘cowardly attempt to distance himself
193
    Ibid. Reply dated 27 January 1945.    from a morally reprehensible action’;
194
    The literature on Dresden is huge,    see Gerard J. De Groot, Liberal
but see Peter W. Gray ‘Dresden 1945       Crusader: The Life of Sir Archibald
– Just Another Raid?’, Royal Air Force    Sinclair (London: Hurst, 1993), p.204.
                                          203
Air Power Review 4(1), Spring 2001,           RAF Museum Hendon: Salmond
pp.1-17. See also Sebastian Cox, ‘The     Papers, B2639, Letter from Salmond to
Dresden Raids: Why and How’ in            the Archbishop of Canterbury dated
Addison and Crang (Eds), Firestorm        20 May 1942.
and Tami Davis Biddle, ‘Dresden 1945:
Reality, History and Memory’, Journal
of Military History, 72(2), April 2008,
pp.413-451.
195
    Mark A. Clodfelter, ‘Culmination
Dresden 1945’, Aerospace Historian,
September 1979, p135.
196
    Webster and Frankland, Strategic
Air Offensive against Germany,
Vol. III, p.113. See also Biddle,
op cit, p.438.
197
    Webster and Frankland, Strategic
Air Offensive against Germany,
Vol. III, p.113.
198
    Stephen A Garrett, Ethics and
Airpower in World War II –The British
Bombing of German Cities, St Martin’s
Press, New York, 1993, page 118. It
should be noted that this book does
not command universal approval as a
balanced survey on the ethical debate
of the era.
199
    Webster and Frankland Strategic
Air Offensive against Germany,
Vol. III, p.112 and Dudley Saward,
‘Bomber’ Harris (London: Sphere
Books, 1985), p.382.
200
    Prime Minister to General Ismay
(for Chiefs of Staff Committee)
and the Chief of the Air Staff;
28 March 1945.
201
    Saward, op cit, p.383.
41




                   “The Qur’an and War:
                  Observations on Islamic
                        Just War”


                               By Dr Joel Hayward




     Given the strategic importance of the Middle East, the geographical location of
     our major wars throughout the last two decades as well as the cultural origin
     of some of the terrorist groups that have hassled the West during that time,
     it is surprising that very few non-Muslim strategists and military personnel
     have included the Qur’an in their reading. This article analyses the Qur’an and
     articulates its mandatory codes of conduct in order to determine what that text
     actually requires or permits Muslims to do vis-à-vis the use of military force.
     It concludes that the Qur’an is unambiguous: Muslims are prohibited from
     aggressive violence and are compelled, if warfare should become unavoidable,
     always to act within a code of ethical behaviour that is closely akin to, and
     compatible with, the western warrior code embedded within Just War. This
     article is intended to be useful to western military personnel — sufficient
     to dispel any misperceptions that the Qur’an advocates the punishment,
     subjugation or even killing of “infidels” as well as to reveal its key concepts
     governing justice during wartime.
                                                                                    42
Introduction                              requires or permits Muslims to do



I
                                          in terms of military violence. It is
    have been a professional
                                          my conclusion (and that of every
    military educator since 1996
                                          authoritative Islamic scholar) that the
    and throughout most of those
                                          Qur’an is unambiguous: Muslims are
fourteen years I have taught the
                                          prohibited from aggressive violence
ethics of war — almost always
                                          and are compelled, should war prove
through the framework of western
                                          unavoidable, always to act within
Just War concepts — to military
                                          a code of ethical behaviour that is
personnel from all three services and
                                          closely akin to, and compatible with,
at various levels from officer cadets
                                          the western warrior code embedded
to senior officers. Particularly since
                                          within Just War.
the declaration of the so-called War
on Terror in 2001, I have noticed an      This article is intended to be useful —
increasing concern among military         sufficient to dispel any assumptions
students at all levels that, while “we”   that the Qur’an advocates the
adhere to Just War tenets, other states   punishment, subjugation or even
and peoples, particularly Muslims         killing of “infidels” as well as to
in general and Arabs in particular,       reveal its key concepts governing
have no comparable philosophical          justice during wartime — but it is not
framework for guiding ethical             designed to be exhaustive. Nor is it
behaviour during international            designed to trace the complex 1400-
disputes and during warfare itself.       year history of Islamic faithfulness to
                                          the Qur’anic teachings. Its endnotes
Having so far overseen the education
                                          contain terrific books and articles for
of approximately 3,000 Royal Air
                                          readers interested in that subject.1
Force officer cadets at the Royal Air
                                          Yet the article will hopefully help
Force College, and having taught Just
                                          to enrich the understanding of the
War on almost every commissioning
                                          servicemen and women who serve
course in which they have studied
                                          in Islamic lands or see the current
since 2005, I have been struck by
                                          conflict as somehow being related to
what I perceive to be the consensus
                                          that faith’s approach to war.
opinion of students: that although we
westerners have a code of war based       The Book with 1600 Million Readers
on restraint, chivalry and respect
                                          Although Muslims constitute one-
for civilians, the faith of Islam —
                                          quarter of the world’s population,
from which “radical Islamists” gain
                                          people do not tend to read the holy
their inspiration and permission,
                                          scriptures of other faiths so it is
if not guidance — is more militant,
                                          not surprising that very few non-
aggressive and tolerant of violence.
                                          Muslims have taken time to read
According to this view, Islam is
                                          the Qur’an.2 Yet, given the strategic
indeed the religion of the sword.
                                          importance of the Middle East, the
My purpose in writing this article        geographical location of our major
is therefore to analyse the holy          wars throughout the last two
text which underpins Islam and            decades as well as the cultural origin
articulates its mandatory codes           of some of the terrorist groups that
of conduct in order to determine          have most frightened or angered the
what that text, the Qur’an, actually      West during that time, it is surprising
43
     that very few non-Muslim strategists       tolerance, conciliation, inclusiveness
     and military personnel have taken          and peace, but also to a few scriptures
     time to read the Qur’an alongside          that seem to be more aggressive than,
     doctrine publications and works of         for example, Christians are used to
     military philosophy. The Qur’an is         reading in the words of Christ and
     certainly shorter than Clausewitz’s        his followers as expressed in the New
     magisterial Vom Kriege (On War) and        Testament. Critics of the Qur’an who
     far easier to understand.                  advance what I consider to be an
                                                unsustainable argument that Islam
     The Qur’an is a relatively short
                                                is the world’s most warlike major
     book of approximately 77,000 words,
                                                faith — among whom the American
     which makes it about the size of
                                                scholar Robert Spencer is both the
     most thrillers or romance novels
                                                most prolific and influential 6 —
     and roughly half the length of the
                                                routinely highlight Qur’anic passages
     New Testament or one-quarter the
                                                to support their argument that Islam
     length of the Old.3 It is neither
                                                has a tendency towards aggressive
     deeply complex philosophically nor
                                                war, not inclusive peace.7
     written as inaccessible poetry or
     mystical and esoteric vagueness. The       These writers tend to focus their
     Qur’an was reportedly revealed by          attention on a few passages within
     the angel Gabriel to Muhammad,             the Qur’an which seem to suggest
     a Meccan merchant in what is now           that Allah encourages Muslims to
     Saudi Arabia, through a series of          subjugate non-Muslims, and even
     revelations from Allah (Arabic             to take their lives if they refuse to
     for God), over a period of twenty-         yield. The critics especially like to
     three years beginning in the year          quote Surah (Chapter) 9, Ayah (Verse)
     610. Muhammad’s companions                 5, which has become known as the
     memorised and wrote down the               “verse of the sword” (Ayat al-Sayf).
     individual revelations almost straight     This verse explicitly enjoins Muslims
     away and compiled them into the            to kill “pagans wherever ye find them,
     Qur’an’s final Arabic form very soon       and seize them, beleaguer them, and
     after his death in 632. The Qur’an         lie in wait for them in every stratagem
     is therefore held by Muslims to be         (of war).” 8 You could not imagine
     the very words of Allah, recorded          gentle Buddha or the peaceful, cheek-
     precisely as originally revealed           turning Jesus ever saying such things,
     through Muhammad. This explains            the critics assert, brushing off some
     why most of the world’s 1.6 billion        of Jesus’ seemingly incongruous
     Muslims4 endeavour to learn at least       statements, such as Matthew 10:34 —
     the basics of Qur’anic Arabic so that      “Do not think I come to bring peace
     they can read and more importantly         on earth. I did not come to bring
     hear Allah’s literal words as originally   peace, but a sword” — as allegorical
     revealed and why they consider all         and metaphorical.9
     translations into other languages to
                                                When they read the Qur’an, the
     be decidedly inferior.5
                                                opponents of its message tend not
     Even a cursory reading of the              to place adequate importance on the
     Qur’an will draw the reader’s eyes         obvious difference between Jesus and
     to hundreds of scriptures extolling        Muhammad. Jesus was the spiritual
                                                                                    44
leader of a small and intimate group               who fight you, but do not
of followers at a time of relative peace           transgress limits: for Allah
throughout the land. He suffered                   loveth not transgressors.
death, according to the Christian
                                            191. And slay them wherever ye
scriptures, but his execution by
                                                 catch them, and turn them
the Rome-governed state came after
                                                 out from where they have
a short burst of state anger that
                                                 turned you out; for tumult
actually followed several years of
                                                 and oppression are worse
him being able to preach without
                                                 than slaughter; but fight them
severe opposition and no known
                                                 not at the Sacred Mosque
violence. By contrast, Muhammad
                                                 [Al-Masjid Al-Haram, the
(in some ways like Moses) found
himself not only the spiritual but also          sanctuary at Mecca], unless
the political and legislative leader of          they (first) fight you there;
a massive community that wanted                  but if they fight you, slay
to be moderate, just and inclusive               them. Such is the reward of
but suffered organised warfare                   those who suppress faith.
from other political entities which         192. But if they cease, then Allah is
were committed to its destruction.               Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
His responsibilities (including
the governance, sustenance and              193. And fight them on until
protection of tens of thousands of               there is no more tumult or
children, men and women) were                    oppression, and there prevail
very different.                                  justice and faith in Allah; but
                                                 if they cease, let there be no
The scholars and pundits who dislike             hostility except to those who
the fact that Muhammad had to fight              practise oppression.
his way to peace and who consider
his religion to be inherently martial      Before this article offers an
often add to their condemnation            explanation of the meaning of
of Surah 9:5 with equally strong           these ostensibly severe verses and
attacks on Surah 9:29. This verse          presents other verses in order to
directs Muslims to “fight those who        give a balanced view of the Qur’anic
believe not in Allah” and the Day of       view of war, it is worth observing
Judgment, who do not comply with           that even among the scriptures
Muslim laws, as well as those Jews         that form the bedrock and bulk of
and Christians who reject the religion     the Judeo-Christian tradition — the
of Islam and will not willingly pay        Old Testament — are verses that
a state tax after their submission.10      explicitly advocate murderous
Many critics assert that this verse        large-scale violence incompatible
directs Muslims to wage war against        with any codes of warfare that Jews
any and all disbelievers anywhere          and Christians would nowadays
who refuse to embrace Islam or at          condone. When Joshua led the
least to submit to Islamic rule.11         Israelites into the Promised Land
                                           and promptly laid siege to Jericho,
The critics also place negative focus
                                           which was the first walled city they
on Surah 2:190-194, which states:
                                           encountered west of the Jordan
 190. Fight in the cause of Allah those    River, “they destroyed with the sword
45
     every living thing in it — men            of Srebrenica in July 1995.
     and women, young and old, cattle,
                                               It is my assessment of historical
     sheep and donkeys.”12 The lack
                                               evidence that Christianity is a faith
     of what we would today call
                                               of peace that cannot reasonably be
     discrimination between combatants
                                               considered blameworthy in and
     and non-combatants accorded with
                                               of itself for the Crusades, the
     God’s earlier commandment that,
                                               Holocaust, the Srebrenica massacre
     in areas which God had set aside
                                               or the Timothy McVeigh terrorist
     for their occupation, the Israelites
                                               attack in Oklahoma City in 1995,
     were to ensure that, “without mercy,”
                                               even though Christians committed
     they did not leave alive “anything
                                               those horrendous acts and many
     that breathed”.13
                                               others. It is also my judgment that
     The ancient world was certainly           Islam is equally a faith of peace
     brutal at times, with military excesses   that cannot fairly be seen as
     sometimes involving deliberate            blameworthy in and of itself for
     widespread violence against whole         the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam
     civilian communities. “It is a            Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait or
     wonderful sight,” Roman commander         the Al-Qaeda attacks on America
     Scipio Aemilianus Africanus gushed        in 2001, even though Muslims
     in 146 B.C. as he watched his forces      committed those disgraceful
     raise the enemy city of Carthage to       deeds. Certainly Islam’s framing
     the ground following his order that       scriptures, the Qur’an, contains
     no trace of it should remain. “Yet I      no verses which are more
     feel a terror and dread lest someone      explicitly warlike than those
     should one day give the same order        cited above and, in any event,
     about my own native city.” 14             those verses have not provided
     No-one can doubt that humanity has        major Islamic movements, as
     since made tremendous progress            opposed to impassioned minority
     in the way it conceives the purpose       splinter groups, with a mandate
     and nature of warfare and the role        to wage aggressive war or to
     and treatment of non-combatants.          inflict disproportionate or
     Yet we would be wrong to believe          indiscriminate brutality.
     that the “Carthaginian approach” has
                                               Abrogation?
     disappeared entirely. The Holocaust
     of the Jews in the Second World           While Muslims hold the Qur’an
     War, one of history’s vilest crimes,      to be Allah’s literal, definitive and
     involved the organised murder of          final revelation to humankind, they
     millions of Jews by Germans and           recognise that it is not intended to be
     others who considered themselves          read as a systematic legal or moral
     Christians or at least members of         treatise. They understand it to be a
     the Christian value system. Other         discursive commentary on the stage-
     crimes perpetrated by Christians          by-stage actions and experiences of
     during recent wars have included the      the prophet Muhammad, his ever-
     (Orthodox Christian) Bosnian Serb         increasing number of followers and
     massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim          his steadily decreasing number of
     men and boys in and around the town       opponents over the twenty-three year
                                                                                   46
period which took him from his first     should be developed.
revelation to his political hegemony
                                         Opponents of Islam or (at least of
in Arabia.15 Consequently, doctrines
                                         Islam’s supposed teachings on war)
or concepts within the Qur’an
                                         have routinely argued that, in the
emerged or developed in stages
                                         early years of his mission while
throughout that period, with some
                                         still in his hometown of Mecca,
early passages on inheritance,
                                         Muhammad strongly advocated
alcohol, law, social arrangements
                                         peaceful co-existence with peoples
and so on being superseded by
                                         of other faiths, particularly Jews
later passages, a phenomenon that
                                         and Christians. Despite mounting
the Qur’an itself describes in Surah
                                         resistance and persecution, some of
2:106, which reveals that when
Allah developed a concept beyond         it violent and all of it humiliating,
its first revelation and he therefore    Muhammad advocated an almost
wanted to supersede the original         Gandhian policy of prayerful and
verses, he would replace them with       dignified non-resistance. Then, after
“better” ones.                           he and his followers fled persecution
                                         in 622 by escaping to Medina,
This pattern of conceptual               where they had more chance of
modification or development does         establishing a sizeable and more
not mean that Muslims see the            influential religious community,
Qur’an as purely contextual, with        Muhammad became increasing
all its scriptures being relevant        bitter at his intransigent foes in
only to the time and place of the        Mecca and ordered warfare against
individual revelations. The Qur’an       them.17 Finally (the critics claim),
itself states in several Surah that      following the surprisingly peaceful
Allah’s words constitute a universally   Islamic occupation of Mecca in 630,
applicable message sent down for         Muhammad glumly realised that
“all of mankind” and that it was “a      certain Jews and others would not
“reminder” (with both “glad tidings      accept his prophetic leadership or
and warnings”) to “all” of humanity.16   embrace Islamic monotheism, so
With this in mind, Muslims believe       he then initiated an aggressive war
that to ignore scriptures on the         against all disbelievers.18 Critics
basis of a that-was-then-this-is-        furthermore claim that, because
now reading would be sinful. They        Muhammad did not clarify his
likewise believe that to quote or draw
                                         position before he died two years
inspiration or guidance from verses
                                         later, in 632, after Allah’s revelation
in isolation, without seeing how they
                                         to mankind was complete, the
form parts of consistent concepts
                                         verses encouraging the martial
which only emerge when the entire
                                         suppression of disbelief (that is, of
book is studied, would be unhelpful
                                         the disbelievers) are still in force
and self-serving. They also reason
                                         today. These supposedly include
that, while their holy book was not
                                         the so-called “verse of the sword”
revealed with the intention of being a
                                         of Surah 9:5 (and 29), quoted above
self-contained and systematic ethical
                                         and revealed to Muhammad in 631.19
treatise, it serves eminently well as
                                         As scholar David Bukay wrote:
the source from which a universally
applicable ethical system can and        Coming at or near the very end of
47
     Muhammad’s life … [Surah 9] trumps          representative of Islamic belief
     earlier revelations. Because this chapter   or behaviour. His assertions that
     contains violent passages, it abrogates     the verse of the sword and other
     previous peaceful content.20                martial Qur’anic verses are still in
                                                 place and universally applicable
     The critics of Islam who hold that
                                                 therefore holds no more weight of
     view insist that these warlike verses
                                                 authority than arguments to that
     abrogate (cancel out) the scores of
                                                 effect made by Spencer, Bukay and
     conciliatory and non-confrontational
                                                 their Islam-mistrusting colleagues.
     earlier verses which had extolled
                                                 Certainly most Islamic authorities
     spiritual resistance (prayer and
                                                 on the Qur’an and Muhammad
     outreach) but physical non-
                                                 today, as opposed to scholars from,
     resistance. They note that Osama
                                                 say, the more ambiguous medieval
     bin Laden and other leading “radical
                                                 period, are firm in their judgement
     Islamists” — who also believe that
                                                 that the most warlike verses in the
     the later Qur’anic versus on war have
                                                 Qur’an, even those revealed very
     cancelled out the earlier peaceful
                                                 late in Muhammad’s mission, do
     and inclusive verses — have justified
                                                 not cancel out the overwhelming
     their vile terror attacks on America
                                                 number of verses that extol tolerance,
     and other states by quoting from the
                                                 reconciliation, inclusiveness and
     “verse of the sword” and the other
                                                 peace.23 For example, according to
     reportedly aggressive scriptures
                                                 British scholar Dr Zakaria Bashier
     mentioned above. Bin Laden certainly
                                                 (author of many books on early Islam
     did draw upon the verse of the
                                                 including a thorough analysis of war),
     sword and other seemingly militant
                                                 all the beautiful verses throughout
     Qur’anic scriptures in his August
                                                 the Qur’an which instruct Muslims
     1996 “Declaration of War against
                                                 to be peaceful, tolerant and non-
     the Americans occupying the Land
                                                 aggressive are:
     of the Two Holy Places” 21 as well as
     in his February 1998 fatwa.22 The first     Muhkam verses, i.e. definite, not
     of these wretched fatawa instructed         allegorical. They are not known to have
     Muslims to kill Americans until they        been abrogated, so they naturally hold.
     withdrew from their occupation              No reason exists at all to think that they
     of Saudi Arabia, and the second             have been overruled.24
     more broadly instructed them to
                                                 Bashier adds that even the contextual
     kill Americans (both civilians and
                                                 information revealed within the
     military personnel) and their allies,
                                                 Qur’an itself will lead readers to
     especially the Israelis, for their
                                                 the inescapable conclusion that
     suppression of Islam and their
                                                 the verse of the sword related only
     exploitation of Islamic resources in
                                                 to a particular time, place and set
     various parts of the world.
                                                 of circumstances, and that, in any
     Of course, the obviously partisan           event, claims of it superseding the
     bin Laden is not a cleric, a religious      established policy of tolerance are
     scholar or a historian of early Islam.      “not borne out by the facts of
     He is an impassioned, violent               history.” 25 Prolific British scholar
     and murderous extremist without             Louay Fatoohi agrees, arguing that an
     judgement or moderation. He is not          “overwhelming number” of Muslim
                                                                                    48
scholars reject the abrogation thesis     with the Arabic conjunction “wa,”
regarding war. Fatoohi highlights         translated above as “but,” indicates
the fact that throughout history the      that its line of logic flows from the
Islamic world has never acted in          verse or verses above it. Indeed,
accordance with this extreme view,        the preceding four verses explain
that Muslims have co-existed very         the context.
well with other faith communities
                                          Ayah 1 gives the historical context
and that the 1600 million peaceable       as a violation of the Treaty of
Muslims in the world today clearly        Hudaybiyah, signed in 628 by the
do not accept the view otherwise, if      State of Medina and the Quraysh
the did, they would be at war as we       tribe of Mecca. In short, this was a
speak.26 Muhammad Abu Zahra, an           peace treaty between Muhammad
important and influential Egyptian        and his followers and those Meccans
intellectual and expert on Islamic        who had spent a decade trying to
law, summed up the mainstream             destroy them. Two years after it was
Islamic view by rejecting any             signed the Banu Bakr tribe, which
abrogation thesis pertaining to           had allied with the Quraysh, attacked
conflict and stating that “War is not     the Banu Khuza'a tribe, which had
justified … to impose Islam as a          joined the side of the Muslims.
religion on unbelievers or to support     Muhammed considered the Banu Bakr
a particular social regime. The           attack a treaty violation, arguing that
prophet Muhammad fought only to           an attack on an ally constituted an
repulse aggression.”27                    attack on his own community.28 Then,
Explaining the Verse of the Sword         following his extremely peaceful
                                          seizure of Mecca and his purification
It is quite true that, taken in           of its holy site (he destroyed no
isolation, Surah 9:5 (the verse of the    fewer than 360 idols in the Ka’aba),
sword) seems an unusually violent         the Qur’anic revelation contained a
pronouncement for a prophet who           very stern warning. (Other sources
had for twenty years preached             reveal that Muhammad then
tolerance, peace and reconciliation.      explained it publicly from the steps
Yet it is equally true that, when read    of the Ka’aba and sent out deputies
in the context of the verses above        to the regions around Mecca to
and below Surah 9:5, and when the         destroy pagan shrines and idols
circumstances of its pronouncement        and utter the warnings to local
by Muhammad are considered, it            communities.29 ) The scriptural
is not difficult for readers without      warning was clear: anyone wanting
preconceptions and bias to                to undertake polytheistic pilgrimages
understand it more fully. Here is the     to Mecca (or immoral rituals within
verse again:                              it, such as walking naked around
                                          the Ka’aba30 ) in accordance with
But when the forbidden months are past,
                                          existing agreements with the
then fight and slay the pagans wherever
                                          Quraysh tribe or with Muhammad’s
ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer
                                          own community should understand
them, and lie in wait for them in every
                                          that henceforth they would not be
stratagem (of war).
                                          permitted to do so. No polytheism
The fact that the verse actually starts   (worship of more than one god) and
49
     idolatry (worship of any man or object   Muslims to remember that they
     instead of the one god) would ever       must be merciful (“to open the way”)
     again be tolerated within Islam’s holy   to those who repented and accepted
     city. From that time on it would be a    their penitent obligations in terms
     city devoted to Allah alone.31           of Islam. Moreover, the verse of
                                              the sword is immediately followed by
     Ayat 2 and 3 were revealed through
                                              an unusually charitable one — again
     Muhammad to give polytheists or
                                              ordinarily left out of Islam-critical
     idolaters living in Mecca and its
                                              treatments — in which any of the
     environs as well as any polytheistic
                                              enemy who asked for asylum
     or idolatrous pilgrims in transit
                                              during any coming violence were
     along Muslim-controlled trade and
                                              not only to be excluded from that
     pilgrimage routes a clear warning        violence, but were to be escorted to
     that they should desist or leave.        a place of safety.32
     The scriptures generously included
     a period of amnesty that would           The rest of Surah 9 contains more
     last until the end of the current        explanation for the Muslims as to
     pilgrimage season. Thus, Arab            why they would now need to fight,
     polytheists and idolaters would gain     and fiercely, anyone who broke their
     a four-month period of grace. Ayah       oaths or violated the sanctity of holy
     4 makes clear that during that period    places, despite earlier hopes for peace
     of amnesty, polytheists or idolaters     according to the terms of the Treaty of
     were to be left untouched so that        Hudaybiyah. The controversial Ayah
     Muslims would not themselves             29, which talks of killing polytheists
     become promise-breakers. (“So fulfil     and idolaters, actually comes
     your engagements with them to the        right after Ayah 28, which speaks
     end of the term; for Allah loves the     specifically about preventing them
     righteous.”) After clarifying that the   from performing religious rituals or
     threatened violence would apply          pilgrimages in or around the newly
     only to those who had ignored the        purified sanctuary in Mecca. Ayah
     warnings and continued to practice       29 thus also refers to the cleansing
     polytheism or idolatry in and around     of Mecca and its environs as well as
     the holy city and its sanctuary, and     to the need to secure the borders of
     were still foolish enough not to have    the Arabian Peninsula from greater
     left after four months, Ayah 5 — the     external powers which might smother
     sword verse — clearly warned them        the Islamic ummah (community)
                                              in its infancy. The rest of Surah 9
     that there would be a violent military
                                              also apparently contains scriptures
     purging or purification in which they
                                              relating to the later campaign against
     seriously risked being killed.
                                              Tabuk, when some groups which had
     Although this is sometimes               treaty obligations with Muhammad
     omitted by critics of the verse of       broke their promises and refused
     the sword, the verse actually has a      to join or sponsor the campaign. It
     secondary clause which, after the        is worth noting that, in this context
     direction to root out and kill anyone    also, Muhammad chose to forgive
     who had ignored the clear and            and impose a financial, rather than
     solemn warnings and continued            physical, penalty upon those who
     their polytheism or idolatry, enjoined   genuinely apologised.33
                                                                                     50
It is clear, therefore, that the verse    authority, Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim,
of the sword was a context-specific       who only stated that the verse of
verse relating to the cleansing and       the sword cancelled out every treaty
purification of Mecca and its environs    which had granted pilgrimage rights
of all Arab polytheism and idolatry       to Arab pagans to travel along Islamic
so that the sanctuary in particular,      routes, enter Mecca and perform
with the Ka’aba at its centre, would      unpalatable rituals there.36 Because
never again be rendered unclean           this earlier source referred to the
by the paganism of those locals           verse of the sword “abrogating”
and pilgrims who had long been            something, Spencer mistakenly
worshipping idols (reportedly             extrapolates this to claim, baselessly,
hundreds of them) there.34 It was         that this one single verse cancelled
proclaimed publicly as a warning,         out all existing inter-faith practices
followed by a period of grace which       and arrangements and forever
allowed the wrong-doers to desist         negatively changed attitudes to non-
or leave the region, and qualified        Muslims in general.
by humane caveats that allowed for
                                          In case any readers are not convinced,
forgiveness, mercy and protection. It
                                          there is another verse in the Qur’an
is thus not as bloodthirsty as Robert
                                          — also from the later period of
Spencer and his colleagues portray it.
                                          Muhammad’s life — which (using
Indeed, it is so context-specific that,
                                          words virtually identical to the verse
even if it WERE still in force — and I
                                          of the sword) also exhorted Muslims
share the assessment that it has not
                                          to “seize and slay” wrongdoers
abrogated the scriptures encouraging
                                          “wherever ye find them”. Yet this
peace, tolerance and reconciliation
                                          verse, Surah 4:89, is surrounded
— it would only nowadays have
                                          by so many other explanatory and
any relevance and applicability if
                                          qualifying verses that its superficially
polytheists and idolaters ever tried
                                          violent meaning is immediately
to undertake and re-establish pagan
                                          moderated by its context of tolerance
practices in the Saudi Arabian cities
                                          and understanding. First, it
devoted only to Allah: Mecca and
                                          threatened violence in self-defence
Medina. In other words, in today’s
                                          only against those people or groups
world it is not relevant or applicable.
                                          who violated pacts of peace with the
Critics apparently fail to grasp          Muslims and attacked them, or those
the specific nature of the context        former Muslims (“renegades”) who
— the purification of Mecca               had rejoined the forces of oppression
from polytheistic and idolatrous          and now fought aggressively against
pilgrimages and rituals — and even        the Muslims. Secondly, it stated that,
misquote the famous medieval              if those aggressors left the Muslims
Islamic scholar Isma’il bin ‘Amr bin      alone and free to practice their faith,
Kathir al Dimashqi, known popularly       and if they did not attack them, but
as Ibn Kathir. Spencer claims that        offered them peaceful co-existence,
Ibn Kathir understood the verse of        then Allah would not allow Muslims
the sword to abrogate all peaceful        to harm them in any way (“Allah hath
verses ever previously uttered by         opened no way for you to war against
the prophet.35 Ibn Kathir said no         them”).37 The verse went even
such thing. He quoted an earlier          further. It not only offered peaceful
51
     co-existence to those who formally          followers fled Mecca and settled in
     made peace with the Muslims, but            Medina — two years in which the
     also to anyone, even backslidden            Quraysh continued to persecute them
     Muslims, who merely chose to stay           and then led armies against them
     neutral; that is, who did not take          — Muhammad finally announced a
     either side in the tense relations          revelation from Allah that Muslims
     between the Muslims on the one              were allowed physically to defend
     hand and the Quraysh and their              themselves to preserve themselves
     allies on the other.38                      through the contest of arms. Most
                                                 scholars agree that Surah 22:39
     Self-defence                                contains that first transformational
     It is worth remembering that, for           statement of permission.41 Including
     the first fourteen years of his public      the verses above and below, it says:
     life (from 610 to 624), Muhammad             38. Verily Allah will defend (from ill)
     practiced and proclaimed a policy                those who believe: verily, Allah
     of peaceful non-resistance to the                loveth not any that is a traitor to
     intensifying humiliation, cruelty                faith, or shows ingratitude.
     and violence that the Quraysh, the
     dominant tribe of Mecca, attempted           39. To those against whom war is
     to inflict upon him and his fellow               made, permission is given (to
     Muslims. Throughout this period                  fight), because they are wronged
     he strenuously resisted “growing                 — and verily, Allah is Most
     pressure from within the Muslim                  Powerful for their aid.
     ranks to respond in kind” and                40. (They are) those who have been
     insisted “on the virtues of patience             expelled from their homes in
     and steadfastness in the face of their           defiance of right (for no cause)
     opponents’ attacks.” 39 These were:              except that they say, “Our Lord
     desperate days for the ummah [Islamic            is Allah”.
     community]. Muhammad had to contend         These verses continue by pointing
     with the hostility of some of the pagans    out that, had Allah not previously
     in Medina, who resented the power of the    used some people elsewhere
     Muslim newcomers and were determined        to defend themselves from the
     to expel them from the settlement. He       aggression and persecution of others,
     also had to deal with Mecca, where          there would surely have been the
     Abu Sufyan now directed the campaign        destruction of “monasteries, churches,
     against him, and had launched two           synagogues and mosques, in which
     major offensives against the Muslims        the name of Allah is commemorated
     in Medina. His object was not simply        in abundant measure.” The verses
     to defeat the ummah in battle, but to       add that Allah will surely aid those
     annihilate all the Muslims. The harsh       who aid him, and that he is truly
     ethic of the desert meant that there        mighty and invincible.
     were no half-measures in warfare: if
                                                 The references to defending the
     possible, a victorious chief was expected
                                                 faithful from harm in Ayah 38, to
     to exterminate the enemy, so the ummah
                                                 those on the receiving end of
     faced the threat of total extinction.40
                                                 violence in Ayah 39 and those
     In 624, two years after he and his          who have been driven from their
                                                                                   52
homes in Ayah 40 reveal very              Thus, continued resistance could
clearly that Allah’s permission to        — and nowadays can — only be a
undertake armed combat was not            proportionate response to continued
for offensive war, but self-defence       oppression.44 In every Qur’anic
and self-preservation when attacked       example in which warfighting (qital)
or oppressed. Interestingly, it even      is encouraged for protection against
extols the defence of houses of           oppression or violence, verses can
worship, including the churches           be found that stress that, should the
of Christians and the synagogues          wrongdoers cease their hostility, then
of Jews.                                  Muslims must immediately cease
                                          their own fighting.
This permission for self-defensive
warfighting (the Arabic word is qital,    The Qur’anic permission for
or combat) corresponds precisely          defensive resistance to attacks or
with the first Qur’anic passage on war    oppression does not mean that
that one reads when one starts from       Muhammad enjoyed war, or took
the front cover: Surah 2:190, which,      pleasure whatsoever in the fact
as quoted above, states: “Fight in the    that defensive warfare to protect
cause of Allah those who fight you,       his ummah from extinction or
but do not transgress limits: for Allah   subjugation would involve the loss
loveth not transgressors.” Thus, the      of even his enemies’ lives. He was
purpose of armed combat was self-         no warmonger and forgave and
defence and, even though the need         pardoned mortal enemies whenever
for survival meant that warfare would     he could. This “reluctant warrior,”
be tough, combat was to adhere to         to quote one scholar, urged the use
a set of prescribed constraints.42        of nonviolent means when possible
The following verse’s instruction to      and, often against the advice of his
“slay them” wherever they turn up         companions, sought the early end
commences with the conjunction            of hostilities.45 At the same time,
“wa,” here translated as “and,” to        in accordance with the revelations
indicate that it is a continuation of     he had received, he accepted that
the same stream of logic. In other        combat for the defence of Islam and
words, Muslims were allowed to            Islamic interests would sometimes be
defend themselves militarily from the     unavoidable. One of Muhammad’s
forces or armies which were attacking     companions remembers him telling
them wherever that happened.              his followers not to look forward to
Tremendous care was to be taken           combat, but if it were to come upon
not to shed blood in the environs         them then they should pray for safety
of Mecca’s sacred mosque, but if          and be patient.46 He took no pleasure
Muslims found themselves attacked         in the fact that — as also taught in
there they could kill their attackers     later western Just War theory —
while defending themselves without        the regrettable violence inherent
committing a sin. This series of          within warfare would sometimes be
verses actually ends with instructions    necessary in order to create a better
that, if the attackers ceased their       state of peace. Explaining to fellow
attacks, Muslims were not to continue     Muslims the need in some situations
to fight them because Allah is            to undertake combat, Muhammad
“Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”43         acknowledged Allah’s revelation that
53
     warfare was something that seemed         disgracefully mutilated the body
     very wrong, indeed a “disliked”           of Muhammad’s beloved uncle
     activity, yet it was morally necessary    Hamzah during the Battle of Uhud
     and thus morally right and obligatory     five years earlier. Hind had cut
     under some circumstances.47 Warfare       open Hamzah's body, ripped out
     was frightening and dreadful, but         his liver and chewed it.51 She then
     in extremis better than continued         reportedly strung the ears and nose
     persecution and attack.48                 into a "necklace" and entered Mecca
     His greatest victory — his eventual       wearing it as a "trophy" of victory.
     return to his hometown Mecca in 630       When justice finally caught up
     at the head of an army of 10,000 —        with her five years later she threw
     was itself a bloodless affair marked      herself upon Muhammad’s mercy.
     by tremendous forgiveness. After his      Extending clemency of remarkable
     forces entered the city, the panicked     depth, Muhammad promised her
     Quraysh tribe, which effectively          forgiveness and accepted her into
     surrendered after realising that          his community.52
     resistance to the pilgrim army was        Proportionate Response, Last Resort
     futile, anticipated that their leaders    and Discrimination
     and warriors would be slain.49 After
     all, for two decades they had             Mercy between humans, based
     humiliated, persecuted and tried to       on forgiveness of someone else’s
     assassinate Muhammad and had              acknowledged wrongdoing, was
     maltreated and even waged savage          something that Muhammad believed
     war against his followers. Yet, aside     precisely mirrored the divine
     from four murderers and serious           relationship between the Creator and
     oath-breakers who were beyond             humans. The concepts of patience,
     rehabilitation, Muhammad chose            forgiveness and clemency strongly
     to forgive them all in a general          underpinned the early Islamic
     amnesty. There was no bloodbath.          practice of warfare. Proportionality
     He reportedly asked the assembled         — one of the core principals of
     leaders of Quraysh what fate they         western Just War — also serves as
     anticipated. Expecting death, but         a key foundational principle in the
     hoping for life, they replied: “O noble   Qur’anic guidance on war. Doing no
     brother and son of a noble brother!       violence greater than the minimum
     We expect nothing but goodness            necessary to guarantee victory is
     from you.” This appeal must have          repeatedly stressed (and described
     relieved Muhammad and made                as “not transgressing limits”). So is
     him smile. He replied: “I speak to        the imperative of meeting force with
     you in the same words as Yusuf [the       equal force in order to prevent defeat
     biblical Joseph, also one of Islam’s      and discourage future aggression.
     revered prophets] spoke unto his          Deterrence comes by doing to the
     brothers. … ‘No reproach on you this      aggressor what he has done to the
     day.’ Go your way, for you are freed      innocent: “Should you encounter
     ones.” 50 He even showed mercy            them in war, then deal with them
     to Hind bint Utbah, Abu Sufyan’s          in such a manner that those that
     wife, who was under a sentence of         [might have intended to] follow
     death for having horrifically and         them should abandon their designs
                                                                                    54
and may take warning.” 53 With            days for reflection and decision58 )
this deterrent function in mind, the      then the grievance ended. A state of
Qur’an embraces the earlier biblical      brotherhood ensued. If the enemy
revelation to the Israelites, which       refused, then a proposal would be
permits people to respond to injustice    extended that offered them peace in
eye for eye, tooth for tooth. Yet, like   return for the ending of aggression
the Christian Gospels, it suggests        or disagreeable behaviour and the
that there is more spiritual value        paying of a tax. If the enemy refused
(bringing “purification”) in forgoing     even that offer, and did not cease
revenge in a spirit of charity.54 This    his wrong-doing, they forfeited
passage, interestingly, is from the       their rights to immunity from the
same period of revelation as the verse    unfortunate violence of war.59
of the sword, which further weakens
                                          Islamic concepts of war do not define
the abrogation thesis mentioned
                                          and conceptualise things in exactly
above. Moreover, even on this matter
                                          the same way as western thinking has
of matching one’s strength to the
                                          done within the Just War framework.
opponent’s strength55 , the Qur’an
                                          Yet the parallels are striking. The
repeatedly enjoins Muslims to
                                          reasons for going to war expressed
remember that, whenever possible,
                                          within the Qur’an closely match
they should respond to provocations
                                          those within jus ad bellum, the Just
with patience and efforts to facilitate
                                          War criteria which establishes the
conciliation. They should avoid
                                          justice of a decision to undertake
fighting unless it becomes necessary
                                          combat. The criteria include Just
after attempts have been made at
                                          Cause, Proportionality and Last
achieving a peaceful resolution
                                          Resort. The behaviour demanded
(which is a concept not vastly
                                          of warriors once campaigning and
different from the western Just
                                          combat have commenced also closely
War notion of Last Resort) because
                                          match those within jus in bello, the
forgiveness and the restoration of
                                          Just War criteria which establishes
harmony remain Allah’s preference.56
                                          the proper behaviour of warriors
Dearly wanting to avoid bloodshed         that is necessary to keep the war
whenever possible, Muhammad               just. The Qur’an described this as a
created a practice of treating the        prohibition against “transgressing
use of lethal violence as a last resort   limits”.60 Ibn Kathir, a famous
which has been imitated by Muslim         and relatively reliable fourteenth-
warriors to this day, albeit at times     century scholar of the Qur’an,
with varying emphases.57 Before any       accepts earlier interpretations that
warfighting can commence — except         the “transgressions” mentioned
for spontaneous self-defensive battles    in the Qur’an refer to “mutilating
when surprised — the leader must          the dead, theft (from the captured
make a formal declaration of war          goods), killing women, children and
to the enemy force, no matter how         old people who do not participate in
aggressive and violent that enemy is.     warfare, killing priests and residents
He must communicate a message to          of houses of worship, burning down
the enemy that it would be better for     trees and killing animals without
them to embrace Islam. If they did        real benefit.” 61 Ibn Kathir points out
(and Muhammad liked to offer three        that Muhammad had himself stated
55
     that these deeds are prohibited.             Islam or violate the sanctity of its
     Another source records that, before          holy places, no-one else is to be
     he assigned a leader to take forces          harmed. The reason for this is clear.
     on a mission, Muhammad would                 Central to the Qur’anic revelation is
     instruct them to fight honourably,           the message that the decisions that
     not to hurt women and children, not          pertain to life and death are Allah’s
     to harm prisoners, not to mutilate           alone, and Allah has proclaimed that
     bodies, not to plunder and not to            life — a “sacred” gift — must not be
     destroy trees or crops.62                    taken without “just cause”.64 In the
                                                  Qur’anic passages narrating the story
     In the year after Muhammad’s death
     in 632, his close friend and successor       of Cain and Abel (Surah 5:27-32,
     Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, compiled         revealed very late in Muhammad’s
     the Qur’an’s and the prophet’s               life) one can read an explicit
     guidance on the conduct of war               protection of the lives of the innocent.
     into a code that has served ever             Surah 5:32 informs us that, if anyone
     since as the basis of Islamic thinking       takes the life of another human,
     on the conduct of battle. In a               unless it is for murder, aggressive
     celebrated address to his warriors,          violence or persecution, it is as
     Abu Bakr proclaimed:                         though he has killed all of humanity.
                                                  Likewise, if anyone saves a life, it is as
     Do not act treacherously; do not act         though he has saved all of humanity.
     disloyally; do not act neglectfully. Do      To discourage war, the very next
     not mutilate; do not kill little children    verse is clear: those who undertake
     or old men, or women; do not cut off the     warfare against the innocent do not
     heads off the palm-trees or burn them;       count as innocent, nor do those who
     do not cut down the fruit trees; do not      inflict grave injustice or oppression
     slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel,       upon the innocent. They forfeit their
     except for food. You will pass by people     right to what we would nowadays call
     who devote their lives in cloisters; leave   “civilian immunity,” and are liable to
     them and their devotions alone. You          be killed in battle or executed if they
     will come upon people who bring you          are caught and have not repented.65
     platters in which are various sorts of
     food; if you eat any of it, mention the      Jihad
     name of God over it.63                       It should already be clear that, far
     There is no explicit statement within        from serving as the foundation of
     the Qur’an that defines the difference       a callous faith in which human life
     between combatants and non-                  is not respected, or a bellicose
     combatants during war, so readers            faith in which peace is not desired,
     might think that any man of fighting         the Qur’an presents warfare as
     age (children, women and the aged            an undesirable activity. It should
     having been excluded) is considered          be undertaken only within certain
     fair game. The Qur’an does not allow         constrained circumstances and in
     this. The verses that talk of combat         a manner that facilitates the quick
     allow war only against those who are         restoration of peace and harmony
     waging war; that is, those in combat.        and minimises the harm and
     Aside from those combatants and              destruction that war inevitably
     anyone acting unjustly to suppress           brings. An analysis of such matters
                                                                                  56
would not, of course, be complete        times, even during the heightened
without making some sense of             passions inevitable in war.
the famous word and concept that
                                         Despite some popular misperceptions
is most controversial and
                                         that jihad is based on frustration
misunderstood: jihad.
                                         or anger that many non-Muslims
Interestingly, given that jihad is now   consciously reject the faith of Islam,
associated with extremists who are       the Qur’an is quite clear that Islam
full of hatred, like Osama bin Laden     can be embraced only by those
and other terrorists, the Qur’an does    who willingly come to accept it.
not allow hatred to form the basis of    Islam cannot be imposed upon
a military or other armed response       anyone who does not. Surah 2:256
to perceived injustices. It explicitly   is emphatic that there must be “no
states that the hatred of others must    compulsion in religion.” Truth is
not make anyone “swerve to [do]          self-evident, the verse adds, and
wrong and depart from justice. Be        stands out from falsehood. Those
just.”66 The Qur’an likewise praises     who accept the former grasp “the
those who “restrain their anger and      most trustworthy hand-hold that
are forgiving towards their fellow       never breaks.” Those who accept
men”.67 These and other verses           falsehood instead will go forth into
communicating the same message           “the depths of darkness”: the same
are clear enough to prevent crimes       hell that Christ had preached about.
perceived nowadays by Muslims from       The fate of individuals, based on
turning them into criminals.68 They      the choice they make, is therefore
certainly made an impact on Muslims      Allah’s alone to decide. The Qur’an
during Muhammad’s lifetime.              repeats in several other verses that
During the Battle of Khandaq in 627,     coerced religion would be pointless
for example, Ali ibn Abi Talib (who      because the submission of the heart
later served as Caliph) reportedly       wanted by Allah would be contrived
subjugated Amr ibn Abd al-Wud,           and thus not accepted as genuine.
a powerful warrior of the Quraysh.       When even Muhammad complained
Ali was about to deal a death blow       that he seemed to be surrounded
when his enemy spat in his face. Ali     by people who would not believe,
immediately released him and walked      a divine revelation clarified that
away. He then rejoined battle and        Muslims were merely to turn away
managed to slay his enemy. When          from the disbelievers after saying
later asked to explain why he had        “peace” to them “for they shall come
released his foe, Ali replied that he    to know.” 70 The Qur’an itself enjoins
had wanted to keep his heart pure        believers to invite disbelievers “to
from anger and that, if he needed to     the Way of thy Lord with wisdom
take life, he did it out of righteous    and beautiful preaching; and argue
motives and not wrath.69 Even if         with them in ways that are best and
the verity of this story is impossible   most gracious … if ye show patience,
to demonstrate (it is first found in     that is indeed the best (cause) for
a thirteenth-century Persian Sufi        those who are patient. … For Allah is
poem), its survival and popularity       with those who restrain themselves,
attest to the perceived importance       and those who do good.” 71 At no
within Islam of acting justly at all     point in Muhammad’s life did he
57
     give up hope that all peoples would       in a jihad against those unfortunate
     want to get along harmoniously.           weaknesses. In Surah 29:6 the Qur’an
     Despite his grave disappointment          explains this by pointing out that the
     whenever communities competed             striving (jihad) of individuals against
     instead of cooperated, in one of his      their personal ungodliness will bring
     later public sermons he revealed          personal, inner (that is, spiritual)
     the divine message that Allah had         growth. Yet the very next verse goes
     made all of mankind “into nations         further by exhorting believers not
     and tribes, that ye may know each         only to work on their personal faith,
     other (not that ye may despise each       but also to do “good deeds” to others.
     other).”72 This desire for tolerant       Devoting time and giving money to
     coexistence even included other           the welfare of the poor and needy (of
     faiths. Despite rejection by several      all communities, not just Muslims),
     powerful Jewish tribes, Muhammad          and to the upkeep and governance of
     remained convinced that the Jewish        the ummah, is mentioned in several
     and Christian faith communities (as       scriptures as this type of divinely
     opposed to individual tribes which        recommended effort (jihad). Winning
     acted treacherously) were eminently       souls to Islam through peaceful
     acceptable to Allah. A verse saying       preaching is likewise a worthy effort.
     precisely this was revealed very close    Muhammad himself revealed a
     in time to the verse of the sword 73 ,    divine exhortation to “strive” with
     which again undermines the thesis         “all effort” (in Arabic it uses two
     that the latter undid all of the inter-   forms of the same word jihad) using
     faith outreach that Muhammad had          the powerful words of the Qur’an to
     preached years earlier.                   convince unbelievers.75
     So what, then, is jihad and why does      Jihad is also used in the Qur’an to
     it seem so threatening? The answer        mean physical resistance to external
     is that jihad, far from meaning some      ungodliness. It appears in thirty
     type of fanatical holy war against all    verses, six of them revealed during
     unbelievers, is the Arabic word for       Muhammad’s years in Mecca and
     “exertion” or “effort” and it actually    twenty-four revealed during the years
     describes any Muslim’s struggle           of armed attack by the Quraysh tribe
     against the things that are ungodly       and its allies and then the protective
     within him or her and within the          wars to create security within and
     wider world. One major form of            around the Arabian Peninsula.76 All
     jihad is the Muslim’s struggle against    the verses mentioning armed struggle
     his or her “nafs”: an Arabic word         are exhortative in nature: with pleas
     that may be translated as the “lower      for effort, urgings of courage and a
     self” and refers to the individual’s      fighting spirit, assurances of victory
     carnal nature and the bad habits          and promises of eternal rewards for
     and actions that come from failure        those who might die in the service
     to resist temptation or desire.74 For     of their community. This emphasis
     example, a Muslim who consciously         reveals that Muhammad recognised
     strives to break the habit of telling     that wars were so unpalatable to
     white lies, or the drinking of alcohol,   his peace-loving community that,
     or who struggles against a bad            even though the causes of Muslim
     temper, is involved quite properly        warfighting (qital) were just, he had
                                                                                     58
to go to extra lengths — much as          innocent people, regardless of faith,
Winston Churchill did during the          and no verses encourage or permit
dark days of the Second World             war against other nations or states
War — to exhort weary people to           that are not attacking the Islamic
persevere, to believe in victory and to   ummah, threatening its borders or
fight for it. On 4 June 1940 Churchill    its direct interests, or interfering in
gave a magnificent speech to inspire      the ability of Muslims to practice
the British people to continue their      their faith. Armed effort against
struggle against the undoubted evils      any states that do those oppressive
of Nazism, even though the German         things is still permitted to this day,
armed forces then seemed stronger         at least according to a fair reading
and better in battle. His speech          of the Qur’an78 — just as it is within
includes the fabulous warlike lines:      western Just War. Yet such a situation
We shall fight on the seas and oceans     would involve a very different set of
                                          circumstances to those existing in the
We shall fight with growing confidence    world today; those which somehow
and growing strength in the air, we       wrongly prompted a very small
shall defend our Island, whatever the
                                          number of radicalised terrorists to
cost may be
                                          undertake aggressive and offensive
We shall fight on the beaches             (not justly motivated and defensive)
We shall fight on the landing grounds     struggles. Their reprehensible
We shall fight in the fields and in       actions, especially those that involve
the streets                               the taking of innocent lives, fall
                                          outside the behaviours permitted by
We shall fight in the hills
                                          a reasonable reading of the Qur’an.
We shall never surrender.77
                                          Conclusion
No-one would dream of calling
Churchill warmongering, much              This article is not an attempt at
less murderous. Muhammad’s                religious apologetics. It is written
exhortations for Muslims to do their      by a scholar of military strategy and
duty — a phrase used by Churchill         ethics for a military audience in an
in that speech and others — and to        endeavour to demonstrate that the
struggle against the threat of defeat     world’s second largest religion (only
at the hands of the Muslims’ enemies      Christianity has more adherents)
are best seen in the same light.          includes at its core a set of scriptures
Indeed, most of the verses which          that contains a clear and very ethical
urge struggle (jihad) against enemies     framework for understanding
relate to the self-defensive wars         war and guiding the behaviour
mentioned above, with the remaining       of warriors. That framework only
verses relating to the broader need to    supports warfare when it is based
protect the ummah from both the local     on redressing substantial material
spiritual pollution of intransigent       grievances (especially attack or
Arab polytheism and idolatry as           persecution), when it occurs after
well as the external threat to unsafe     other means of addressing the
borders around the perimeter of the       grievances have been attempted,
ummah. No verses in the Qur’an            and when it includes the cessation
encourage or permit violence against      of hostilities and the restoration of
59
     peace as soon as a resolution has         out religion. Fighting, as they imagine,
     been attained. It demands of              a battle for survival, fundamentalists
     warriors that they uphold the             often feel justified in ignoring the
     concepts of proportionality (doing        more compassionate principles
     no more harm than is necessary)           of their faith. But in amplifying
     and discrimination (directing             the more aggressive passages that
     violence only at combatants whilst        exist in all our scriptures, they
     minimising harm to civilians and          distort the tradition.” 79
     their possessions and infrastructure).
     That framework is very compatible         Notes
     with the western Just War philosophy      1
                                                 Two works are highly recommended
     that, for example, gave a moral           as a next step: Youssef H. Aboul-Enein
     underpinning to the United                and Sherifa Zuhur, Islamic Rulings on
     Kingdom’s war against Argentinean         Warfare (Strategic Studies Institute,
     troops occupying the Falkland             US Army War College: October
     Islands in 1982, the US-led Coalition’s   2004); Karen Armstrong, Islam: A
     eviction of Saddam Hussein’s troops       Short History (London: Weidenfeld &
     from Kuwait in 1991, and NATO’s           Nicholson, 2000. Orion edition, 2002).
     seventy-eight day air war against         2
                                                 Muslims make up 23 percent of the
     Slobodan Miloševic’s Yugoslavia in        world’s 6.8 billion humans. See the
     order to protect Kosovars from ethnic     Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life,
     violence in 1999.                         Mapping the Global Muslim Population:
     So, then, if the Qur’an itself condemns   A Report on the Size and Distribution
     any violence that exceeds or sits         of the World's Muslim Population
     outside of the framework for justice      (Washington, DC: Pew Research
     revealed within its verses, how           Center, October 2009), p. 1. Cf.: http://
     can we explain the barbarous 9/11         pewforum.org/Mapping-the-Global-
     attacks, the home-grown 7/7               Muslim-Population.aspx
                                               3
     attacks and other suicide-bombing           The King James Version of the Holy
     attempts within our country and the       Bible contains 788,280 words: 609,269
     murder of civilians by terrorists in      in the Old Testament and 179,011 in
     other parts of the world who claim to     the New Testament. Cf.: http://www.
     act in the name of Islam? British         biblebelievers.com/believers-org/
     scholar Karen Armstrong answered          kjv-stats.htm
                                               4
     this obvious question so succinctly         Mapping the Global Muslim Population.
                                               5
     in the days after 9/11 that her             The very first word revealed to
     words make a fitting conclusion to        Muhammad was Iqra, which means
     this article. During the twentieth        “recite” and the word Qur’an itself
     century, she wrote, “the militant         originates from the root word
     form of piety often known as              Qara’a, which means “to read out”
     fundamentalism erupted in every           or “to recite”.
                                               6
     major religion as a rebellion               The title of Spencer’s most
     against modernity.” Every minority        controversial bestseller is: The
     fundamentalist movement within            Truth about Muhammad, Founder of
     the major faiths that Armstrong           the World's Most Intolerant Religion
     has studied “is convinced that liberal,   (Washington, DC: Regnery Press,
     secular society is determined to wipe     2006). Spencer’s other books include:
                                                                                      60
Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions       “Wahhabi translation”: Interpretation
about the World's Fastest Growing Faith    of the Meanings of the Noble Qur’an in
(New York: Encounter Books, 2002);         the English Language: A Summarized
Ed., The Myth of Islamic Tolerance:        Version of At-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi and
How Islamic Law treats Non-Muslims         Ibn Kathir with Comments from Sahih
(New York: Prometheus Books, 2005);        Al-Bukhari: Summarised in One Volume
The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam   by Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan and
(And the Crusades), (Regnery, 2005);       Dr Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali
Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is     (Riyadh: Darussalam, 1996. Revised
and Islam Isn't (Regnery, 2007).           edition 2001). It must be pointed
7
  Cf. the published works, journalism      out, however, that this easy-to-read
and internet articles of Daniel Pipes,     translation has not been immune
Benny Morris, David Horowitz,              from criticism, particularly with
Bernard Lewis, Sam Harris, David           regard to many interpolations that
Bukay and David Pryce-Jones,               seem to provide a deliberately
among others. I need to make my            negative portrayal of Christians
position clear. As a liberal and an        and Jews. For that reason I do not
academic I strongly support the            use it, and I believe others should
liberal arts education model and           read it, should they wish, with
the enhanced societal contributions        this caveat in mind. Cf. Khaleel
made by critically educated minds.         Mohammed, "Assessing English
At the heart of my philosophy lies         Translations of the Qur’an," Middle
a passionate belief in the value of        East Quarterly, Volume 12 No. 2
dialogue and debate. I therefore           (Spring 2005), pp. 59-72.
                                           9
do not challenge the right of these          Cf. Spencer, The Politically Incorrect
scholars and pundits publicly to           Guide to Islam, p. 28. After negatively
express their concerns about Islam,        quoting a statement praising
even though I do not share them.           Muhammad as “a hard fighter and
8
  There are numerous English               a skillful military commander,”
language translations of the Qur’an        Samuel P. Huntington writes that
which give slightly different              “no one would say this about Christ
wordings, but the translation that I       or Buddha.” He adds that Islamic
consider easiest to read and closest       doctrines “dictate war against
to the meaning of the Arabic text          unbelievers … The Koran and
is: Tajweed Qur’an with Meaning            other statements of Muslim
Translation in English by Abdyllah Yusuf   beliefs contain few prohibitions
Ali & Transliteration by Dr Eng. Subhi     on violence, and a concept of
Taha (Damascus: Dar-Al-Maarifah,           nonviolence is absent from Muslim
2003. 2010 edition). All long quotes       doctrine and practice.” Huntington,
from the Qur’an in this article are        The Clash of Civilizations and the
from this excellent translation or,        Remaking of World Order (London:
where it aids my desire for maximum        Simon & Schuster, 1996), p. 263.
                                           10
clarity, from Maulana Wahiduddin              Jizya was a tax levied by the
Khan, trans., The Quran (New Delhi:        Islamic state on non-Muslims. In
Goodword, 2009). Another very              return they gained exemption from
popular modern translation that is         military service and guarantees of
even easier to follow is the so-called     safety within the state. This taxation
61
     arrangement, essentially a type of            Muhammad (London: Penguin,
     tribute, was a pre-Islamic practice           2007), p. 91.
                                                   24
     merely continued by the Muslims.                 Bashier, War and Peace, p. 284. An
     Cf. Majid Khadduri, War and Peace             interesting introductory book for
     in the Law of Islam (Baltimore: Johns         anyone unfamiliar with Islam is
     Hopkins Press, 1955), p. 178.                 Sohaib Nazeer Sultan’s amusingly
     11
        Cf. Ibid., pp. 96, 163; Majid              titled, The Koran for Dummies
     Khadduri, The Islamic Conception of           (Hoboken: Wiley, 2004). Sultan makes
     Justice (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins             the same point (pp. 278, 281) that
     University Press, 1984), p. 165.              the martial verse and the sword and
     Spencer, ed., The Myth of Islamic             those like it do not abrogate the more
     Tolerance, pp. 43-44.                         numerous peaceful, tolerant and
     12
        Joshua 6: 21.                              inclusive verses.
     13                                            25
        Deuteronomy 7: 1-3 and 20: 16-17.             Bashier, War and Peace, p. 288.
     14                                            26
        Polybius, Histories, XXXVIII.21.              Louay Fatoohi, Jihad in the Qur’an:
     15
        Sohail H. Hashmi, ed., Islamic             The Truth from the Source (Birmingham:
     Political Ethics: Civil Society, Pluralism,   Luna Plena, 2009). Email from Dr
     and Conflict (Princeton: Princeton            Louay Fatoohi to Dr Joel Hayward, 23
     University Press, 2002), p. 196.              August 2010.
     16                                            27
        Surah 34:28, Surah 39:41 and                  Muhammad Abu Zahra, Concept of
     Surah 81:27.                                  War in Islam (Cairo: Ministry of Waqf,
     17
        Spencer, The Politically Incorrect         1961), p. 18, quoted in Hashmi, ed.,
     Guide to Islam, pp. 24-26. Cf. also:          Islamic Political Ethics, p. 208.
                                                   28
     http://www.answering-islam.org/                  Sayyid Ameenul Hasan Rizvi,
     Bailey/jihad.html                             Battles by the Prophet in Light of the
     18
        Cf. David Bukay, “Peace or Jihad:          Qur’an (Jeddah: Abul-Qasim, 2002),
     Abrogation in Islam,” in Middle East          pp. 88-89. Bashier, War and Peace,
     Quarterly, Fall 2007, pp. 3-11, available     pp. 224-226.
                                                   29
     online at: http://www.meforum.                   Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 4 (Surat
     org/1754/peace-or-jihad-abrogation-           Al-A’raf to the end of Surah Yunus)
     in-islam                                      (Riyadh: Darussalam, 2003 ed.),
     19
        Zakaria Bashier, War and Peace             pp. 371-375; Safiur-Rahman Al-
     in the Life of the Prophet Muhammad           Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar:
     (Markfield: The Islamic Foundation,           Biography of the Noble Prophet (Riyadh:
     2006), pp. vii—viii; Khadduri, War and        Darussalam, 1979. 2002 ed.), pp. 351-
     Peace, p. 105.                                353; Lt. Gen. A. I. Akram, The Sword
     20
        Bukay, “Peace or Jihad,” cited above.      of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life
     21
        http://www.pbs.org/newshour/               and Campaigns (New Delhi: Adam,
     terrorism/international/fatwa_                2009), pp. 97-98; Bashier, War and
     1996.html                                     Peace, pp. 237-238, 241.
     22                                            30
        http://www.pbs.org/newshour/                  Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 4, p. 371.
                                                   31
     terrorism/international/fatwa_                   Ali Muhammad Muhammad As-
     1998.html                                     Sallaabee, The Biography of Abu Bakr
     23
        This is clearly the judgement              As-Siddeeq (Riyadh: Darussalam,
     of prominent intellectual Tariq               2007), pp. 150-151.
                                                   32
     Ramadan. Cf. his biography, The                  Surah 9:6.
                                                   33
     Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of           Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 4, pp. 369ff.;
                                                                                       62
Rizvi, Battles, pp. 126-130.               of Surat Al-Baqarah)), p. 528.
34                                         43
   As-Sallaabee, The Biography of Abu         Surah 2:192.
                                           44
Bakr, p. 150-151.                             Surah 2:193.
35                                         45
   Spencer, Religion of Peace?, p. 78.        Hashmi, ed., Islamic Political
36
   Although Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim,         Ethics, p. 204.
                                           46
as quoted by Isma’il ibn Kathir (Tafsir       Sahih Al-Bukhari, 3025, trans. Dr
Ibn Kathir, Volume 4, p. 377) — sees       Muhammad Muhsin Khan Vol.
this as a repudiation of Muhammad’s        4 Ahadith 2738 to 3648 (Riyadh:
pilgrimage agreements with all             Darussalam, 1997), p. 164.
                                           47
pagans, other early sources insist            Surah 2:216 and see Surah 42:41.
                                           48
that this was not the case and that           Surah 2: 217, 2:191 and 4:75-78.
                                           49
it would have reflected intolerance           Bashier, War and Peace, pp. 229-233.
                                           50
that Muhammad was not known to                Ibn Ishaq, p. 553; Ramadan, The
possess. Rizwi Faizer, “Expeditions        Messenger, p. 178; Al-Mubarakpuri,
and Battles,” in Jane Dammen               The Sealed Nectar, pp. 349-350.
                                           51
McAuliffe, ed., Encyclopaedia of the          Ibn Ishaq, p. 385.
                                           52
Qur’an (Leiden and Boston: Brill,             Ibid., p. 553; Lings, Muhammad, p.
2002), Vol. II, p. 151.                    303; Armstrong, Muhammad, p. 244.
37                                         53
   Surah 4:90.                                Surah 8.56.
38                                         54
   Fatoohi, Jihad in the Qur’an, p. 34.       Surah 5:45.
39                                         55
   Hashmi, ed., Islamic Political             Cf. Surah 2:194.
                                           56
Ethics, p. 201.                               Cf. Surah 42:40-43.
40                                         57
   Armstrong, Islam, p. 17.                   Cf. Khadduri, War and Peace,
41
   This is certainly the view of the       pp. 96-98.
                                           58
influential eighth-century biographer,        Ibid., p. 98.
                                           59
Ibn Ishaq: Alfred Gulillaume, trans.,         Imam Muhammad Shirazi, War,
The Life of Muhammad: A Translation        Peace and Non-violence: An Islamic
of Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah (Oxford   Perspective (London: Fountain Books,
University Press, 1955. 1967 ed.),         2003 ed.), pp. 28-29.
                                           60
p. 212. For modern writers who agree,         It even applied to the quarrels
see: Fatoohi, Jihad in the Qur’an, p.      that the Qur’an criticises most: those
31; Karen Armstrong, Muhammad:             between different Muslim groups. If
A Biography of the Prophet (London:        one side aggressively “transgressed
Phoenix, 1991. 2001 edition), p. 168;      beyond bounds,” the other side
Martin Lings, Muhammad: His Life           was permitted to fight back in self-
based on the Earliest Sources (London:     defence, but only until the aggressor
George Allen & Unwin, 1983. Islamic        desisted, at which point war was to
Texts Society edition, 2009), p. 135;      end and reconciliation was to occur.
Al-Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar,         Cf. Surah 49:9-10.
                                           61
p. 183; Sohail H. Hashmi, “Sunni              Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 1, p. 528.
                                           62
Islam,” in Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez,          Shirazi, War, Peace and Non-
ed., Encyclopedia of Religion and          violence, p. 29.
                                           63
War (London: Routledge, 2004),                Hashmi, ed., Islamic Political Ethics,
p. 217. Hashmi, ed., Islamic Political     p. 211; Tabari, Ta’rikh, I, 1850, quoted
Ethics, p. 198.                            in Khadduri, War and Peace, p. 102 and
42
   Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 1 (Parts 1    in As-Sallaabee, The Biography of Abu
and 2 (Surat Al-Fatihah to Verse 252       Bakr, p. 327.
63
     64
        Surah 6:151 and 17:33.
     65
        Surah 5:33-34.
     66
        Surah 5:8 (and see 5:2).
     67
        Surah 3:134.
     68
        Fatoohi, Jihad in the Qur’an, p. 73.
     69
        Mathnawi I: 3721ff. published
     online at: http://www.dar-al-masnavi.
     org/n-I-3721.html
     70
        Surah 43:88-89.
     71
        Surah 16:125-128.
     72
        Surah 49:13. The clause in
     parentheses is a contextual
     explanation by the translator.
     73
        Surah 5:69.
     74
        Fatoohi, Jihad in the Qur’an, pp. 25-25.
     75
        Surah 25:52.
     76
        Fatoohi, Jihad in the Qur’an, p. 87.
     77
        http://www.winstonchurchill.org/
     learn/speeches/speeches-of-winston-
     churchill/1940-finest-hour/128-we-
     shall-fight-on-the-beaches
     78
        Cf. Chapter V in Khadduri, War
     and Peace.
     79
        Karen Armstrong, “The True,
     Peaceful Face of Islam” Time, 23
     September 2001, available online at:
     http://www.time.com/time/magazine
     /article/0,9171,1101011001-175987,
     00.html
64
65




                Christianity, the West and
                     Just War in the
                  Twenty-First Century


                                  By Dr Peter Lee




     The past two decades have witnessed a number of military interventions by
     US, UK and other allied forces in theatres as diverse as Kuwait, the Balkan
     region of Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan. At different times over this period
     President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony
     Blair have made recourse to the vocabulary of just war in a bid to convince
     their respective peoples to support the deployment of military hardware and
     personnel in pursuit of political ends. Just war is characterised by a number
     of criteria that have been codified and embedded in Western war discourse
     over many centuries and are understood and spoken of beyond the abodes
     of the powerful and the planning rooms of the armed forces: just cause, right
     intention, last resort, legitimate authority, proportionality, discrimination of
     combatants and so on. This article explores early Christian influences on the
     just war tradition before discussing how the ongoing relevance of secularised
     versions of these ancient ideas is influencing why and how war is fought in the
     twenty-first century.
                                                                                     66
Introduction                               religion; while others appeared not to



O
                                           care much either way. What united
          n 12 August 1880, in a speech
                                           almost everyone I spoke to was a
          at Columbus, Ohio, General
                                           desire to understand whether Prime
          William Tecumseh Sherman
                                           Minister Tony Blair had been right
captured the essence of humankind’s
                                           in sending them to war and whether
fascination with war: “There is many
                                           they had conducted themselves
a boy here today who looks on war as
                                           properly or let down their comrades.
all glory, but boys, it is all hell.” No
                                           When discussing the justification
poet or philosopher – either before
                                           of the 2003 Iraq invasion or the
or since – has encapsulated in so few
                                           conduct of individuals involved, the
words what it means when people
                                           soldiers with whom I dealt, who had
or states seek political solutions         little or no philosophical schooling,
through the use of military force. We      instinctively resorted to ideas that
honour the heroes, avert our gaze          have been associated with just war
from the hideously wounded and             for many centuries. They asked
maimed, and speak, often too glibly,       questions and made statements like:
of the sacrifices made on the field        Did we go in for a good reason? I still
of battle. I have never experienced        think we went for the oil! We should
war first-hand: the gut-wrenching,         have waited. I don’t know why we’re
heart-pounding cocktail of fear and        here – it doesn’t make sense. My
exhilaration, tragedy and triumph          CO said we had to go in and that’s
that leaves its indelible mark on          good enough for me! In these and
those who have found themselves            other comments ancient just war
in the firing line. I have, however,       criteria were the subject of debate
glimpsed the hell that war brings.         once more, criteria that include just
In 2003 I was a military chaplain and      cause, right intention, last resort,
glimpsed that hell in the eyes of a        legitimate authority, proportionality
widow as she received the news of          and discrimination of combatants.
her fallen husband, and in the eyes        Not once did the notion of religious
of her children as they struggled to       war surface, yet the terms in which
comprehend that daddy would never          war was discussed have ancient roots
be coming home. I heard echoes of          in Christian thought.
hell in the wavering voice of a young
soldier who refused to believe that his    This article will provide an overview
new wife might still love him, having      of some early Christian ideas on
                                           just war and their subsequent
left half an arm in the sands of Iraq. I
                                           codification, before going on to
smelt the rancid stench of hell in the
                                           consider the ongoing relevance of
weeping bandages of the wounded
                                           these ancient concepts, for Christians
whose eyes had been searching for
                                           and non-Christians, in examining
the enemy one moment, only to re-
                                           why and how war is fought in the
open in the bed of a military hospital
                                           twenty-first century. The types of
in another country.
                                           war fought by UK and allied military
A number of these soldiers professed       forces over the past two decades,
some form of religious belief, Christian   and the reasons for fighting them,
or otherwise; some were implacably         have been different to many of those
opposed to any notions of God or           wars fought in the twentieth century:
67
     the two World Wars, the Falklands         will also be pointed out, based on
     War and even the Gulf War against         differences between past and present
     Iraq in 1991. Struggle for national       in the secularisation of just war and
     survival and defence of sovereign         way that the international political
     territory has been replaced recently      system is structured.
     by counter-insurgency wars far from
                                               The Old Testament and War
     home in Afghanistan and Iraq. These
     campaigns have been promoted by           War is one of the most ancient of all
     the British government as a means         human activities, with depictions
     of improving the security of the UK,      of battle being found in sources as
     whilst at the same time threats from      diverse as early cave paintings, stone
     international terrorist organisations     carvings and the tombs of Egyptian
     against the UK have increased:            Pharaohs. To that list can be added
     with those threatening the UK             the Old Testament: the books that
     blaming British military involvement      Jesus would have studied in scroll
     in Muslim lands as a primary              form throughout his life. He would
     motivation. In order to assess the        have been very familiar with the
     place of just war in today’s rapidly      history of Israel, built as it was on
     changing global security context the      many occasions at the point of a
     remainder of this article will take the   sword. Such was the emphasis on
     following shape. The first section will   the great battles and warrior kings
     look at the place of war and soldiering   of Israelite/Jewish history that the
     in the bible, drawing attention to        long-awaited Messiah was expected
     some practices that might still be        by many Jews of Jesus' day to be some
     relevant today and other practices        kind of freedom-fighter who would
     of war – particularly from the Old        use force to set them free from the
     Testament – that should not only be       yoke of Roman domination.
     abandoned but opposed. The second         Many of the wars recorded in the Old
     section will consider some ideas of       Testament, even those commanded
     the great theologians Augustine and       by God, do not always provide the
     Aquinas concerning the Christian          modern Christian, or anyone else,
     and war, showing how aspects of the       with the most helpful inspiration for
     just war tradition came to be codified    service in the armed forces. Take,
     in a way that is still recognisable       as an example, Joshua and the battle
     in its secular form today. The final      for Jericho. After the death of Moses,
     section will address the relevance        God commanded Joshua to take the
     of these ancient just war ideas in        Israelites across the Jordan River to
     the current national and global           the land that God was going to give
     security environment by analysing         them: ‘territory [that] will extend
     Prime Minister Blair’s justification      from the desert to Lebanon, and
     of military intervention and the          from the great river, the Euphrates –
     challenges facing those engaged in        all the Hittite country – to the great
     battle in Afghanistan. Not only will      see on the West’.1 The battle of
     key ideas from both the bible and         Jericho is recalled in a song that
     great Christian thinkers of the past be   was originally a Negro Spiritual
     applied to contemporary challenges,       sung by enslaved black Christians; a
     the limitations of some of these ideas    song that is still sung by children in
                                                                                          68
Sunday School and regular school              sometimes translated as ‘You shall
assemblies as a way of recalling the          not murder’ 4, clearly did not extend
suffering of caused by slavery, as            to killing in the course of battle
well as the ancient battle. The song          authorised by God. Yet if any army
includes the words:                           conducted an attack like Joshua’s
                                              on Jericho today, its Commanding
Up to the walls of Jericho                    Officer would be probably be
He marched with spear in hand;                regarded as insane and those
Go blow them ram horns, Joshua cried          involved would – should – find
'Cause the battle is in my hands.             themselves liable for prosecution at
Then the lamb ram sheep horns began           the International Criminal Court.
to blow,                                      As well as capturing numerous
The trumpets began to sound;                  examples of this kind of battle5
Old Joshua shouted glory                      the Old Testament also points to a
And the walls came tumblin' down.             future that is less bloody and more
Contrast this romanticised taking of          optimistic – though we may have to
Jericho with a few blasts of ram horn         wait a while before it arrives. Isaiah
and trumpet with the events recorded          writes: ‘In the last days ... Nation will
in the book of Joshua:                        not take up sword against nation, nor
                                              will they train for war any more’.6
About forty thousand armed for battle         The difficulty for the Christian today
crossed over [the river Jordan] before the    is that these last days marked by
Lord to the plains of Jericho for war ...     peace and tranquillity appear no
Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have    closer today than they would have
delivered Jericho into your hands, along      appeared to the Israelites more
with its king and its fighting men.” ... so   than two thousand years ago. For
every man charged straight in, and they       the non-Christian who does not
took the city. They devoted the city to       recognise either the authority of the
the Lord and destroyed with the sword         bible or the God that it represents
everything living in it – men and women,      these words read as little more than
young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.2    wishful thinking. A more accurate
                                              description of the circumstances
No matter how strong an attachment            in which we live, a description that
Christians today may have to their            would be recognised by most people
spiritual forebears at Jericho, the           regardless of their views on faith or
actions of Joshua’s army would now            religion, can be found in the poetic
be described as genocide or ethnic            words of Ecclesiastes: ‘There is a time
cleansing: exactly the kind of activity       for everything ... a time to kill and a
that UK and NATO forces opposed               time to heal ... a time for war and a
in Kosovo in 1999. Even more                  time for peace’.7 These can be read
mystifying, the mass killing of the           as simple statements of fact, unlike
people of Jericho – whilst following          the prophetic words of Isaiah that
God’s instructions – happened after           require a dimension of personal faith
God had provided Moses with the               or belief if they are to hold meaning
Ten Commandments: including,                  in the present: ‘For to us a child is
‘Thou shalt not kill’.3 The meaning of        born, to us a son is given, and the
this seemingly obvious commandment,           government will be on his shoulders.
69
     And he will be called Wonderful           not the words of Isaiah 2:4 that he
     Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting       claimed to fulfil but another, later
     Father, Prince of Peace’.8 The            prophecy recorded in Isaiah:
     promised Messiah would be a Prince
                                               “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because
     of Peace whose function would be to
                                               he has anointed me to preach good news
     usher in God’s kingdom on earth: at
                                               to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim
     which point nations would not stop
                                               freedom for the prisoners and recovery
     taking up arms against other nations.
                                               of sight for the blind, to release the
     Christians therefore find themselves
                                               oppressed, to proclaim the year of the
     in a far-from-perfect in-between
                                               Lord’s favour ... Today this scripture is
     place, believing that the kingdom
                                               fulfilled in your hearing.” 9
     of God has been promised in the
     Old Testament and subsequently            Given that the land of Israel was
     inaugurated on Earth by Jesus.            occupied by a foreign power and
     However, the perpetual peace that         controlled by the Roman Army, if ever
     has been promised will not be             there was a time for Jesus to provide
     finalised until some unspecified point    clear instructions on participation in
     in the future: the last days. In this     war, or the rejection of participation
     in-between place tyrants still inflict    in war, this was it. The priority,
     suffering on the innocent; nation still   instead, was to proclaim the year of
     makes war on nation; and numerous         the Lord’s favour and declare: “The
     groups resort to indiscriminate           kingdom of God is near.”10 As part
     violence as a means of influencing        of his bringing in of the kingdom of
     the political process and furthering      God, Jesus emphasised non-violence
     aims that can be driven by ideology,      on a number of occasions. For
     religion, or social and economic          example, he said: “Do not resist an
     marginalisation. What then are the        evil person. If someone strikes you
     implications for, and responsibilities    on the right cheek, turn to him the
     of, the person who would take up          other also.” 11 Again, like the Ten
     arms in defence of his or her country     Commandments, there is an elegance
     or the vulnerable citizens of the         about these words. However, like
     world? To begin to address some of        the brutal wars instituted by God
     the issues raised by this question let    after he gave his people the Ten
     us turn to the New Testament and the      Commandments to follow, things
     words of Jesus himself.                   are not as straight forward as they
                                               seem. For example, in advocating
     Jesus and the New Testament
                                               that resistance should not be offered
     The first difficulty anyone faces when    to evil people and the other cheek
     turning to the words of Jesus in the      turned instead, Jesus refers to
     gospels as a source of guidance on        individual actions and not to the
     war in the twenty-first century is that   assembled ranks of soldiers on the
     he did not even offer guidance on         field of battle. Should an individual
     war in his own century. Isaiah had        turn the other cheek when faced with
     prophesied that the Messiah would         the sword of a good and honourable
     come as a Prince of Peace, but when       soldier on the battlefield? Such an
     Jesus commenced his public ministry,      ethical choice appears to fall out with
     as recorded in Luke’s gospel, it was      the constraints set out by Jesus.
                                                                                          70
There are have always been a number            did not conform to the requirements
of Christians who have held the view           of the kingdom of God.17 Yet Jesus’
that the path of non-violence is the           encounter with the centurion
only ethical way to live and who would         resulted in only praise for the
not defend themselves, or others,              soldier’s great faith and no
with force when faced by personal              instruction to hang up his sword
attack or a rampaging enemy.                   or seek a new non-violent career.
Supporting this view is another
                                               The basis of the disparity in Jesus’
example of Jesus encouraging a non-
                                               response to the companion who
violent attitude; this time towards
                                               defended him with the sword and
the end of his life as he was being
                                               the centurion who wielded the
arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane
                                               sword professionally is found in
in the build-up to his crucifixion:
                                               his attitude to the authorities (civil
Then the men stepped forward, seized           authorities, not religious authorities).
Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of      Jesus – who on one occasion took a
Jesus’ companions reached for his sword,       whip and violently drove out traders
drew it out and struck the servant of the      and money-changers who were
high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your    desecrating the temple in Jerusalem –
sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him,   instructed that taxes should be
“for all who draw the sword will die by        paid to the authorities, saying, “Give
the sword.”12                                  to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and
                                               give to God what is God’s.” 18 The
The first thing to note is that the
                                               centurion bore his sword as a soldier
crowd that came for Jesus did not
                                               whose authority to do so was granted
represent the civil (that is, Roman)
                                               by Caesar himself. The individual
authorities: it was sent by the ‘chief
                                               rebuked by Jesus had no such right
priests and the elders of the people,’ 13
                                               to wield a sword. Jesus’ attitude
and the members of the crowd had
                                               to the legitimate and illegitimate
armed themselves with swords and
                                               bearing of arms is reinforced later
clubs. No one in this dispute had
                                               in the New Testament by the apostle
any right to take up arms, neither
                                               Paul, who also wrote about the
the individuals seizing Jesus nor the
                                               Christian’s responsibility to the
person who sought to protect him.14
                                               authorities: ‘Everyone must submit
Contrast Jesus’ stern rebuke of the
                                               himself to the governing authorities,
companion who tried to defend
                                               for there is no authority except that
him with a sword with Jesus’ attitude
                                               which God has established’.19
towards the centurion who came to
him on another occasion seeking                The linking of authority and
healing for his servant. Jesus said            legitimacy concerning the bearing
to the centurion: “I have not found            of arms is crucial, not only to Jesus
anyone in Israel with such great               and Paul in a Christian context
faith ... Go! It will be done just as          but to those who would take up
you believed it would.”15 Jesus had            arms on behalf of their states
called many of his disciples to leave          today. Furthermore, since the time
their previous careers and livelihoods         of Jesus the issue of legitimacy
to follow him,16 and he had also               and authority has been central to
called others to give up lifestyles that       debate surrounding when, and how, a
71
     Christian should serve as a soldier:      and her people, as well as addressing
     in what we now know as the just           the issue of whether or not Christians
     war tradition. It is to some of the       could serve in the army.
     key writers and ideas in the just war
                                               In his book City of God Augustine
     tradition that we now turn.
                                               addressed the challenge to God’s
     The Just War                              authority by those who accused God
                                               of being unable to protect the city and
     In the fourth century worship of
                                               people of Rome. Based on a biblical
     the Christian God replaced the
                                               understanding of the kingdom of
     traditional worship of Roman gods
                                               God, as well as Jesus’ statement that
     as Christianity became the official
                                               his followers ‘are not of the world,
     religion of the Roman Empire. This
                                               even as I am not of it,’20 Augustine
     prompted one practical difficulty for
                                               described the two cities that define
     the Roman emperors and those in
                                               human existence: the Earthly City
     authority: how to maintain the might
                                               and the City of God. These refer to
     of the Roman Army, upon which the
                                               an earthly, physical existence and
     security of the Empire depended
                                               an eternal life with God. He also set
     when many Christians would not,
                                               out how citizenship or membership
     or felt they could not, serve. In the
                                               of either city was to be determined:
     centuries since Jesus lived and died
                                               ‘I classify the human race into two
     the Roman army had been used on
                                               branches: the one consists of those
     a number of occasions as a tool with
                                               who live by human standards, the
     which to persecute Christians. Even
                                               other of those who live according to
     Christians who served as soldiers
                                               God's will.’ 21 The priority for the
     had been persecuted. Perhaps not
                                               Christian was to seek to belong to the
     surprisingly, the legacy of this abuse
                                               City of God through both faith and
     was reluctance on the part of many
                                               good action, while those who did not
     Christians to serve in the army. In
                                               know God, or rejected him, belonged
     addition, some of the early Church
                                               to the Earthly City. Christians were
     Fathers emphasised the aspects of
                                               therefore not to worry unduly about
     Jesus teaching that promoted non-
                                               the city of Rome but instead focus on
     violence (‘turn the other cheek’ and
                                               the City of God, the place where they,
     ‘put your sword back in its place’
                                               through faith, would ultimately reside
     already mentioned above), and many
                                               with God for all eternity.
     early Christians supported their
     views. Matters were complicated           Possibly the most important of
     even further when, in 410, Alaric         Augustine’s ideas for Christians
     and his army of Visigoths sacked          in both the fifth and twenty-first
     Rome: resulting in criticism by many      centuries, and for anyone else who
     citizens of the Christian God’s ability   would serve in the military today,
     to protect Rome as the traditional        is his argument that there is such a
     gods had in the past. In this complex     thing as a just war. The purpose of a
     political, military and cultural          just war, as opposed to an aggressive
     environment, Augustine – Catholic         war fuelled by greed or ambition,
     Bishop of Hippo and theologian –          is the pursuit of a better state of
     defended Christianity against charges     peace: ‘Peace is not sought in order
     that God was failing to protect Rome      to provoke war, but war is waged in
                                                                                         72
order to attain peace’.22 Such wars           responsibilities of the soldier.
are fought against tyrants or other           Firstly, Augustine was not primarily
power-hungry rulers that would                concerned with war per se, he was
threaten their neighbours:                    concerned with producing good
                                              Christians who would spend eternity
The desire for harming, the cruelty of
                                              with God and whose conduct on
revenge, the restless and implacable
                                              earth should reflect the values
mind, the savageness of revolting, the
                                              of God’s kingdom on earth.
lust for dominating, and similar things –
                                              Therefore, as a general principle,
these are what are justly blamed in wars.
                                              individuals could only be held
Often, so that such things might also be
                                              morally accountable, before God,
justly punished, certain wars that must
                                              for actions that they are directly
be waged against the violence of those
                                              and individually responsible for
resisting are commanded by God or some
                                              undertaking. Since the soldier
other legitimate ruler and are undertaken
                                              has no say, and this remains as
by the good.23
                                              much the case today as it was 1600
According to Augustine, the                   years ago, in whether or not a war
pursuit of a better state of peace            will be undertaken (because that
must therefore be for a good cause –          decision is taken by the ruler
such as overcoming the ruler with             or sovereign) the soldier cannot be
a savage lust for domination and a            held morally accountable for the
desire to harm others – and must              decision. It is only for actions on the
be authorised either by God or a              field of battle that the soldier will be
legitimate, and good, ruler. We can           judged by God. In the quote from
also see here the beginnings of an            Augustine here he goes further:
influential distinction Augustine             even if the decision to go to war is
makes in separating the moral                 wrong and taken by a sacrilegious
responsibility of the king or ruler           king, the soldier remains morally
who takes a nation or empire to               innocent because he has upheld
war from the responsibility of the            God’s civic order. This part of
soldiers who fight those wars. Of             Augustine’s argument is based
the moral responsibility of soldiers          on Paul’s command in his letter to
Augustine wrote:                              the Romans mentioned above:
                                              ‘Everyone must submit himself to
Therefore, a just man, if he should
                                              the governing authorities, for there
happen to serve as a soldier under a
                                              is no authority except that which
human king who is sacrilegious, could
                                              God has established.’ 25 While the
rightly wage war at the king's command,
                                              modern political structure of the
maintaining the order of civic peace,
                                              UK bears little resemblance to that
for what he is commanded to do is not
                                              of the Roman Empire in the fifth
contrary to the sure precepts of God ...
                                              century, the idea of submitting to
perhaps the iniquity of giving the orders
                                              the authorities is one that is still
will make the king guilty while the rank
                                              relevant to all soldiers. The United
of servant in the civil order will show the
                                              Kingdom’s armed forces do the
soldier to be innocent.24
                                              bidding of the civil authorities:
There are two aspects to                      the elected government of the day.
Augustine’s argument about the moral          In turn, junior ranks submit to the
73
     authority of senior ranks. Submitting       that the authority and deliberation for
     to authorities is not some ancient,         undertaking war be under the control of
     Christian, irrelevant notion, it is         a leader, and also that, in the executing of
     set out very clearly in the Queen’s         military commands, soldiers serve peace
     Regulations for the three Services:         and the common well-being.28
     as are the punishments to be handed
                                                 The most important of Augustine’s
     down for breaches such as desertion
                                                 ideas on the just war, which were
     or insubordination or refusing to           largely unstructured and scattered
     carry out a legal order. No matter          throughout his extensive writings,
     how strongly a serviceman or                were later taken, added to, and
     servicewoman feels about some               presented in a much more concise
     act of violent injustice, either in his     and coherent structure by Thomas
     or her own country or elsewhere,            Aquinas in the thirteenth century.
     that individual has no right to take
     up arms and intervene under their           Aquinas, like Augustine, was both
     own volition.                               a monk and a priest whose chief
                                                 concern was for Christians to live
     We should not think that Augustine          in a way that would honour God on
     happily tolerated those who made            earth and lead to an eternity with
     bad, or immoral, decisions to go            God in heaven. He wrote extensively
     to war. He was as concerned for             on how Christians should live and
     the soul of the ruler as he was for         conduct themselves, addressing
     everyone else’s souls. On making            a vast array of issues: from Christian
     the decision to go to war he writes:        doctrine to individual moral
     ‘But the wise man, they say, will wage      conduct. In his writings, Aquinas
     just wars. Surely, if he remembers          brought together ideas from a
     that he is a human being, he will           huge number of sources, the most
     lament that fact that he is faced with      important Christian influence being
     the necessity of waging just wars; for      Augustine and his most important
     if they were not just, he would not         philosophical influence being the
     have to engage in them.’26 Central to       Greek philosopher Aristotle: both of
     Augustine’s concept of the just war,        whom had written on the notion of
     an idea that remains as important to        the just war. It is worth noting that
     just war thinking today as it has in        Aquinas was only able to incorporate
     every century since, is the idea that a     Aristotle in his writings because
     war should only be pursued for a just       the works of Aristotle had been
     cause: the most important of which          preserved by scholars in the Middle-
     is defence of which Augustine calls         East and translated and brought to
     ‘the common well-being,’27 or what          Europe during the Crusades. Having
     we might refer to today as defence          weighed up the key arguments of
     of the realm or national self-defence.      the theologians and philosophers
     He wrote:                                   who had come before him, Aquinas
                                                 succinctly codified the conditions
     it makes a great difference by which
                                                 to be satisfied for a war to be
     causes and under which authorities
                                                 considered just:
     men undertake the wars that must be
     waged. The natural order, which is suited   In order for a war to be just, three things
     to the peace of mortal things, requires     are necessary. First, the authority of the
                                                                                       74
sovereign by whose command the war is      or not a particular war is legitimate or
to be waged ... Secondly, a just cause     justified in the twenty-first century.
is required, namely that those who are     Individual states still have the right to
attacked, should be attacked because       self defence: ‘Nothing in the present
they deserve it on account of some         Charter shall impair the inherent
fault ... Thirdly, it is necessary that    right of individual or collective self-
the belligerents should have a rightful    defence if an armed attack occurs
intention, so that they intend the         against a Member of the United
advancement of good, or the avoidance      Nations.’ 31 However, even that right
of evil.29                                 only applies until the UN Security
                                           Council decides how to respond to an
The just war criteria that Aquinas
                                           act of aggression against a member
set out – legitimate authority, just       state of the UN. The third of Aquinas’
cause and right intention – are still      criteria for a just war, right intention,
at the heart of just war debate in the     is very difficult to assess in a state-
twenty-first century. However, there       centric international system. With
are some important differences to          so many competing interests it is
be taken into account. One of the          difficult in most political settings to
differences between Aquinas’ time          determine the intentions of the actors
and the present is the relationship        involved. In reality there are usually
between political authorities and          multiple layers of motivations that
religious authorities. Aquinas wrote:      underpin the intentions of any state
‘The secular power is subject to the       that sets out to make war on another,
spiritual, even as the body is subject     even a defensive war.
to the soul.’ 30 It was important to him
that war should be authorised and          Aquinas’ emphasis on right intention
commanded by the sovereign (and            also has implications for soldiers
thus being granted legitimacy) as          who fight in battle. He took the
well as being fought for a just cause.     biblical view that killing is wrong but,
The sovereigns in Europe at that time      like Augustine, made an exception
were usually kings and princes who         when it came to the soldier taking
owed their religious allegiance to the     life in battle. Not only was killing in
Pope and the Catholic Church, and          war acceptable for Aquinas, in the
one of Aquinas’ reasons for trying         right circumstances it was positively
to limit when wars could take place        the ethical thing to do. He wrote:
was to preserve the life of Christians     ‘The common good of many is
                                           more Godlike than the good of an
who would therefore meet in battle.
                                           individual. Wherefore it is a virtuous
In contrast, there are few sovereigns
                                           action for a man to endanger even
in the modern world who could
                                           his own life, either for the spiritual
authorise war in the way that Aquinas
                                           or for the temporal common good
described, and even fewer, if any, who
                                           of his country.’ 32 In other words,
would submit to religious authority.
                                           the soldier who endangers his own
With regard to Aquinas’ second             life, or who takes the life of another
criteria, just cause, it is the United     in battle, is carrying out a virtuous
Nations (UN), and in particular the        act: as long as the killing is for the
UN Security Council, that assesses         common good, such as defence of the
the causes of war and decides whether      soldier’s country or those who cannot
75
     defend themselves. Even then,                 legally as well as ethically, are
     killing in battle is only justified if it     discrimination and proportionality.
     is absolutely necessary. The soldier          Discrimination, in the just war sense,
     must be committed to upholding                stresses the importance of targeting
     the common good by winning in                 only legitimate combatants and
     battle. If the soldier’s intention is         avoiding the killing of civilians or
     to kill as many people as possible,           noncombatants. This idea is captured
     regardless of whether they are                in the Geneva Conventions,34 non-
     combatants engaged in the war or              religious international humanitarian
     simply innocent bystanders, then that         law to which the UK is a signatory, as
     individual should be subject not only         well as individual combatants’ Rules
     to God’s eternal punishment but to            of Engagement. A noncombatant is
     legal punishment on earth as well.            anyone not legitimately engaged in
     Aquinas words on the use of force             war. So, for example, once a soldier
     are relevant to both soldiers and             has been taken as a prisoner of war
     civilians today:                              he or she is no longer a combatant.
     Wherefore if a man, in self-defense, uses     Similarly, a wounded enemy soldier
     more than necessary violence, it will be      who is disarmed and taken to hospital
     unlawful: whereas if he repel force with      for treatment is a noncombatant.
     moderation his defense will be lawful,        Yet it is clear that the kind of
     because according to the jurists ... "it is   interventionist war being fought
     lawful to repel force by force, provided      in Afghanistan, like the recent war
     one does not exceed the limits of a           in Iraq, is not between two armies
     blameless defense." 33                        whose soldiers are clearly identifiable
                                                   as such.
     Soldiers on the field of battle today
     will be held legally accountable              The final section of this article will
     if they exceed the level of force             examine some of the particular
     authorised in their Rules of                  ethical challenges surrounding war
     Engagement. Few will care about               in the twenty-first century by
     Aquinas’ notion of divine punishment          exploring Tony Blair’s justification
     but in the case of a war crime being          of the 2003 Iraq invasion, before
     committed an individual could be              going on to examine the ethical
     prosecuted at the International               implications for combatants fighting
     Criminal Court. British soldiers have         against a highly motivated insurgent
     stood trial in British courts in recent       enemy. What becomes apparent is
     years as a result of illegal actions in       that while some of the philosophical
     the face of the enemy in Iraq, such           underpinnings of just war remain in
     as the beating and even killing of            political and military discourse in
     prisoners. In the centuries since             the West (such as the pursuit of justice
     Aquinas wrote about just war, many            and the prevention of unnecessary
     other great thinkers have contributed         death or suffering), the theological
     to this tradition of thought. In recent       motivations that helped shape the
     centuries increasing emphasis                 tradition over many centuries are no
     has been placed on the conduct                longer applied and state policies are
     of soldiers in war and the two just           not dictated by a desire to enter the
     war terms that guide such conduct,            Christian’s heaven.
                                                                                       76
War in the Twenty-First Century              Blair’s internationalism was
                                             presented in terms that prioritised
To begin to understand Blair’s
                                             the protection and even enforcement
justification of Iraq in 2003 it is
                                             of individual human rights. On one
necessary to comprehend the
                                             level he could be commended for
moral implications of the almost
                                             adopting an ethical position that
aggressive internationalism he
                                             prioritises concern for the vulnerable
advocated at the conclusion of the
                                             and downtrodden of the world.
twentieth century. In April 1999, as
                                             Such an attitude reflects the biblical
NATO bombarded Yugoslavia with
                                             injunction: ‘Love your neighbour’.37
the intention of forcing Slobodan
                                             During his time as Prime Minister
Miloševic to stop his soldiers’ attacks
                                             Blair’s advisors sought to play down
on Albanian Kosovars, Blair set out
                                             any impact his Christian beliefs may
his internationalist credentials:
                                             have had on his decision making for
Globalisation has transformed our            fear of causing outrage or offence. Yet
economies and our working practices.         throughout his tenure he worshipped
But globalisation is not just economic.      in church regularly and was attended
It is also a political and security          regularly by a personal chaplain.
phenomenon. We live in a world where         Shortly after his resignation as Prime
isolationism has ceased to have a reason     Minister he converted to Roman
to exist. By necessity we have to co-        Catholicism. More recently Blair
operate with each other across nations ...   acknowledged: ‘I believe, as someone
We are all internationalists now, whether    of Faith that religious faith has a
we like it or not.35                         great role to play in an individual's
                                             life’.38 Despite this, he probably did
Blair did not simply want to
                                             not invoke internationalism as an
increase global trade or cultural
                                             expression of his own religious belief
exchanges and he did not seek to
                                             and practice but he did draw upon a
expand migration or make travel
                                             moral discourse – the responsibility
across borders easier. He sought to
                                             for the strong to look out for the
expand the concepts of globalisation
                                             weak and vulnerable – that has
and internationalism to include
                                             ancient Christian connections and
the strengthening or reforming of
                                             general acceptance in secular society.
international institutions so that the
                                             The difficulty of adopting such an
rights of oppressed peoples could be
                                             approach is that it contradicted
protected: by force where necessary.
                                             the rights of states to exist free
He continued:
                                             from external interference: rights
Many of our domestic problems are            which, according to international
caused on the other side of the world...     law enshrined in the Charter of the
These problems can only be addressed         United Nations, should be considered
by international co-operation ... We         inviolate: ‘All Members shall refrain
cannot turn our backs on conflicts and the   in their international relations from
violation of human rights within other       the threat or use of force against
countries if we want still to be secure      the territorial integrity or political
... We need new rules for international      independence of any state, or in any
co-operation and new ways of organising      other manner inconsistent with the
our international institutions.36            Purposes of the United Nations’.39
77
     Despite the constraints set out in             inspectors but, equally, it could not
     international law, Blair suggested new         be shown conclusively (and events
     rules that could govern intervention           subsequently proved opponents of
     in other states:                               the invasion correct) that he posed
                                                    a direct threat to the UK, the US or
     So how do we decide when and whether
                                                    even his neighbours. In addition,
     to intervene. I think we need to bear in
                                                    many people remained unconvinced
     mind five major considerations: First, are
                                                    that the intentions of the UK and US
     we sure of our case? … Second, have we
                                                    matched up to what was being said in
     exhausted all diplomatic options? ...Third,
                                                    public by senior government officials.
     on the basis of a practical assessment of
                                                    The publicly stated intentions of the
     the situation, are there military operations
                                                    UK and US leadership included the
     we can sensibly and prudently undertake?
                                                    following: to rid Iraq of weapons of
     Fourth, are we prepared for the long
                                                    mass destruction (WMD) and make
     term? ... And finally, do we have national
                                                    the world safer; regime change;
     interests involved? 40
                                                    getting rid of Saddam Hussein;
     The five criteria for military                 promoting democracy in Iraq; and
     intervention that Blair set out                keeping the people of Iraq safe from
     correspond remarkably with the jus ad          Saddam’s brutality. Even granting
     bellum criteria that had characterised         that Blair and Bush were genuine in
     the just war tradition for centuries:          their concern for oppressed Iraqis
     just cause, last resort, reasonable            in 2002/3 neither they nor previous
     chance of success, proportionality             administrations in the UK or US had
     and right intention.41 However,                shown the same degree of concern in
     no matter how commendable or                   1988 when the worst of the atrocities
     otherwise Blair’s internationalist             took place: the chemical bombing of
     aspirations were, he could only                Iraqi Kurds in Halabja. Adding to the
     achieve his aims if he ignored,                complexity of the issue of intention
     changed or somehow circumvented                was Iraq’s location above one of the
     international law. This, in turn,              biggest oil deposits in the world. As
     posed a significant dilemma for Blair          a result the accusation of ulterior
     when it came to justifying the UK’s            motives was, and still is, levelled
     involvement in the 2003 Iraq invasion.         against the Americans, the British
                                                    and their allies.
     One of the reasons the US/UK-led
     invasion of Iraq in 2003 caused so             Although Blair used ancient and
     much controversy around the world              widely accepted Western just
     is that it was not explicitly authorised       war ideas in his proposed new
     by the UN Security Council. It                 interventionism in 1999, the world by
     was not authorised because three               and large remained sceptical. Despite
     permanent members of Security                  his apparently well-intentioned plea
     Council, and some others, were not             and the seemingly sound moral
     satisfied that there was sufficient            arguments that it was based upon,
     cause to justify such action at the time       other Western states failed to rally
     it was taken: the only legal basis for         behind him. In addition, in many
     war in the UN Charter being national           non-Western states Blair’s ideas
     self-defence. Saddam Hussein was               were interpreted as a new form of
     not co-operating with UN weapons               Imperialism. This scepticism was
                                                                                           78
subsequently borne out in relation           who was similarly dissatisfied with
to Iraq when Blair failed to satisfy a       the legal basis action against Iraq.
number of the conditions he himself          She resigned over the issue on 18
had proposed in 1999:                        March 2003, the eve of the invasion,
                                             and in her resignation letter wrote:
First, are we sure of our case? … Second,
                                             ‘I regret that I cannot agree that it
have we exhausted all diplomatic
                                             is lawful to use force against Iraq
options? ...Third, on the basis of a
                                             without a second Security Council
practical assessment of the situation,
                                             resolution to revive the authorisation
are there military operations we can
                                             given in SCR 678 [for the 1991
sensibly and prudently undertake?
                                             military action against Iraq]’.44
Fourth, are we prepared for the long
term? ... And finally, do we have            The passage of time has not, however,
national interests involved? 42              altered Blair’s view of his approach.
                                             In a television interview on 13
Had Blair followed more stringently
                                             December 2009 he was asked:
his own guidelines here for military
intervention he may have had                 Britton: If you had known then that
to either cancel or postpone the             there were no WMDs, would you still
UK’s involvement in the March                have gone on?
2003 invasion. The UK’s two most
                                             Blair: I would still have thought it
senior international lawyers at
                                             right to remove him. I mean, obviously,
that time were Sir Michael Wood
                                             you would have to ... deploy different
and Elizabeth Wilmshurst, Legal
                                             arguments about the nature of the threat.45
Adviser and Deputy Legal Advisor
to the Foreign and Commonwealth              This line of reasoning is echoed by
Office. Appearing before the Chilcot         Blair in his autobiography where he
Iraq inquiry in 2010 they have both          concludes his account of the 2003 Iraq
been critical of the government’s            intervention as follows:
approach to the legal basis of the 2003
                                             All I know is that I did what I thought
intervention. The Inquiry received
                                             was right. I stood by America when it
a Minute to the Foreign Secretary’s
                                             needed standing by. Together we rid the
office dated 23 January 2003 and
                                             world of a tyrant.46
written by Sir Michael Wood:
                                             Blair clearly considers the removal
a further decision of the Security Council
                                             of Saddam Hussein as his key
is necessary if the use of force is to be
                                             achievement in relation to Iraq.
lawful ... I hope there is no doubt in
                                             However, he was advised by the
anyone's mind that without a further
                                             Attorney General in July 2002 ‘that
decision of the Council, and absent
                                             regime change was not a basis for
extraordinary circumstances (of which,
                                             legal – for lawful use of force’. 47
at present, there is no sign), the United
                                             The matter is complicated further
Kingdom cannot lawfully use force
                                             by his evidence to the House of
against Iraq to ensure compliance with
                                             Commons Liaison Committee in July
its S[ecurity] C[ouncil] R[esolution]
                                             2003 where he stated unequivocally:
WMD obligations.43
                                             ‘I accept entirely the legal basis for
Sir Michael’s position was reinforced        action was through weapons of
by his deputy Elizabeth Wilmshurst           mass destruction’.48 Such a change in
79
     emphasis over time by Blair – from          other NATO forces that entered
     ridding the world of WMD to ridding         Afghanistan in 2001/2 was
     the world of Saddam Hussein (when           overwhelming. As with the
     regime change runs contrary to              subsequent invasion of Iraq the
     international law) – has done little        conventional war was won in a
     to allay concern amongst the British        matter of weeks. In both Iraq and
     public and many members of the              Afghanistan short, sharp conventional
     armed forces that the 2003 Iraq             wars gave way to lengthy counter-
     intervention was not justified as           insurgency wars against highly
     satisfactorily as it could have been.       motivated enemies who were, and
     One consequence is that it will be          are, determined to remove what
     more difficult for a future Prime           they see as occupying powers from
     Minister to take the UK into even           their lands. All of the military
     the most just and justified of wars.        advantages provided by aerial
     Regardless of the outcome of the            reconnaissance, precision guided
     ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the 2003       missiles and other high-powered
     Iraq War history is unlikely to be          airborne weapons, tanks and heavy
     kind to Blair on the matter. This will      armour, count for very little against
     not be a consequence of the failure         an enemy that is hard to find and
     of just war ideas in the twenty-first       expert at laying well hidden and
     century: it will be a consequence           highly effective roadside bombs. In
     of Blair’s failure to satisfactorily        Afghanistan, more than 1800 coalition
     apply just war principles that he had       military personnel have been killed
     previously advocated.                       to date, with numbers continuing to
                                                 rise quickly. Complicating the matter
     Moving on from ad bellum concerns           further for the allied combatant
     to in bello challenges, the final section   in 2010 is the uncertain nature of
     of this article now examines some           the mission in Afghanistan. If the
     of the ethical difficulties facing US,      initial invasion was a reaction to the
     UK and other NATO combatants                9/11 attacks on the US and a denial
     in their long campaign against a            of training grounds to Al-Qaeda,
     highly motivated insurgent enemy            recent reasons given by the UK
     in Afghanistan. Alongside Iraq, the         and US governments for continued
     war in Afghanistan has defined the          engagement in Afghanistan include:
     early years of the twenty-first for         support of a fledgling democracy;
     the British and allied armed forces.        making Europe safe from terrorist
     UK forces entered Afghanistan as            attack; promotion of human rights,
     part of a collective NATO response          especially for women and girls;
     to the attacks on the United States         reduction of the export of heroin; and
     in September 2001. These attacks,           advancement of regional stability. In
     in turn, were planned by Al-Qaeda           the midst of this political uncertainty
     cells that had been allowed to freely       members of the British armed forces
     operate training camps by the Taliban       are asked to expose themselves to
     regime at that time, at least partly        considerable risk.
     motivated by an extreme, anti-
                                                 So what is the relevance, if any, of just
     Western version of Islam.
                                                 war principles to British combatants
     Militarily, the might of the US, UK and     serving in a campaign that looks
                                                                                      80
increasingly unwinnable, against the        methods, war games including
backdrop of public opinion that is          questions and answers etc’.52 The
increasingly opposed to their ongoing       British armed forces, like many
involvement and a government                others around the world, use such
whose support appears fragile, time-        techniques to ensure that their
limited and cash poor? The first            combatants are familiar with the law
answer to this question can be found        and know how to act in conformity
in the written guidance on the law          to it. As a result, the soldier emerges
of armed conflict that is issued to         as just through adherence to the law,
every combatant:                            reinforced by disciplined repetition
                                            and training.
All personnel must be aware of the
basic rules of the law of armed conflict,   The aspects of law with which
including the practical application of      combatants must be concerned
the principles of military necessity,       include: ‘the practical application of
proportionality, distinction and humanity   the principles of military necessity,
... [And] Comply with the law of armed      proportionality, distinction and
conflict and with Service law.49            humanity’.53 These principles can
                                            all be found in the just war tradition
These instructions provide explicit         and their meanings have remained
guidance on how combatants                  reasonably stable over the centuries.
emerge as just in the conduct of            However, closer examination of one
war: ‘Comply with the law of armed          of these factors will be sufficient to
conflict’.50 Such legal requirements        show how the ideas that underpin
include the responsibilities of             just war have changed. Take, for
combatants set out in the Geneva            example, ‘military necessity’. For
Conventions to which the UK is              Augustine, 1600 years ago, the
a signatory. I want to consider             just warrior would only carry out
two aspects of this instruction: the        such actions on the battlefield as
means by which such compliance is           are required by ‘stern necessity’.54
achieved and the just war discourses        However, it is not the execution
that this instruction draws upon.           of ‘necessary’ actions in war that
The Geneva Conventions stipulate            constituted Augustine’s soldier as
that combatants should be taught            ethical. Augustine’s primary concern
the law of armed conflict as part of        was for the soul of the Christian,
the requirements of international           in this context the soldier. He
humanitarian law. Conformity to             encouraged the Christian to live a
the Geneva Conventions should,              good life on earth with the aim of
according to the guidance provided          achieving eternal life in the heavenly
by the International Committee of           City of God. In contrast, British
the Red Cross, be enforced through          Rules of Engagement no longer
military instruction based on military      have a religious basis: they are based
manuals and informed by ‘military           on the requirements of secular law.
pedagogy’: ‘in exactly the same way         While modern notions of necessity,
as the preparation for combat’.51           proportionality, distinction and
A number of supplementary                   humanity owe their heritage to
instructional methods are specified:        Christian just war writers over the
‘lectures, films, slides, audio-visual      centuries in the West, their current
81
     framework is non-religious and               temptation must be resisted because
     law oriented.                                it would simply ensure a bigger loss
                                                  for the UK and its allies. The loss
     It is easy to demand that combatants
                                                  would take a number of forms. I
     exercise proportionality and
                                                  suggest that the first loss would
     discrimination when they are
                                                  be military defeat, which may
     engaged in war fighting but the
                                                  still happen anyway. If the UK
     nature of war so far in the twenty-first
                                                  knowingly unleashes a brutal war
     century has made this increasingly
                                                  fighting machine on the civilians of
     difficult. In Afghanistan, like Iraq,
                                                  Afghanistan, some of whom might
     it is almost impossible to tell friend
                                                  be Taliban fighters and some not,
     or foe because of a lack of military
                                                  the remaining fragile support for
     uniforms. The insurgents are
                                                  the campaign by the British public
     civilians, members of Afghan society,
                                                  would evaporate. With the UK being
     and they launch attacks on NATO
                                                  a signatory to the International
     forces from amongst their fellow
                                                  Criminal Court British politicians
     civilians. Yet soldiers are still required
                                                  and military commanders who
     to distinguish between legitimate
                                                  advocated such an approach would
     targets and innocent bystanders.
                                                  leave themselves open to prosecution.
     Furthermore, such tactics by Taliban
                                                  As Carl von Clausewitz, the great
     or Al-Qaeda fighters can only be
                                                  Prussian strategic theorist, pointed
     successful if UK and other NATO
                                                  out two centuries ago in his book On
     personnel are restrained in their
                                                  War, the military needs the moral
     responses and not indiscriminate in
                                                  and material support of the people
     reprisal attacks. Those who choose
                                                  and the political support of the
     to delay, even slightly, before
                                                  government if it is to successfully
     returning fire, dropping a bomb or
                                                  engage in war. The second loss that
     launching a missile, in order to
                                                  the unrestrained use of force would
     protect the innocent, may well
                                                  incur would be the loss of British
     increase the risk to themselves.
                                                  self-identity that for most citizens
     However, that is what just war and
                                                  is characterised by a sense of justice
     international humanitarian law
                                                  and fair play. For the British
     demands: combatants should accept
                                                  people to have to see themselves
     additional risk to reduce the danger
                                                  as deliberate purveyors of
     to the noncombatant.
                                                  indiscriminate destruction would
     Conclusion                                   be a demand too far. Finally, any
                                                  claim that the UK could make to
     As a result of the tactics adopted
                                                  being a force for good, particularly
     by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda some
                                                  in Afghanistan, would be ridiculed
     would argue that ‘the gloves need to
                                                  around the world. The long-term
     come off’, suggesting that increased
                                                  consequences for a country that
     aggression and less discrimination
                                                  is rich in history but small in size
     by NATO forces would be more
                                                  and poor in natural resources could
     militarily effective. On the surface
                                                  be severe.
     such an approach is appealing,
     especially for combatants who stand          The only practical option, therefore,
     in the firing line and politicians           for the UK in making war in the
     who want quicker results. Such a             twenty-first century is to engage with
                                                                                     82
just war principles. One consequence      7
                                            Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3, 8.
of the ongoing doubts about Prime         8
                                            Isaiah 9:6.
Minister Blair’s justification of the     9
                                            Luke 4: 18-19, 21, quoting Isaiah
2003 invasion of Iraq is a sense          61:1, 2.
among the British people that they        10
                                             This declaration is also found in
were somehow misled. If or when           Mark 1:15 and Luke 10:11, though in
the time comes that the present, or       Matthew’s gospel Jesus is recorded
a future, Prime Minister believes it      as referring to the kingdom of heaven,
to be essential for the UK to go to       rather than the kingdom of God. A
war again it is likely that the British   difference usually attributed to the
people will demand a higher burden        cultural and religious differences
of proof than might previously have       in the audiences for which the
been the case. In the execution of        respective gospels were intended.
war, especially interventionist wars      11
                                             Matthew 5:39.
like Afghanistan, proportionality         12
                                             Matthew 26:50-52.
and discrimination will be essential      13
                                             Matthew 26:47.
if support for war is to be maintained    14
                                             That the crowd had no legitimate
and a positive outcome achieved.          authority for their actions is
If the constraints of engaging an         evidenced by what happened after
enemy in a just manner results in a       Jesus had been brought before the
sense of fighting with one hand tied      religious authorities: he had to be
behind our backs so be it. This is a      taken before the Roman governor
price that must be paid if the values     Pilate who, alone, could authorise
that Britons claim to cherish are         punishment for his alleged crimes.
not to be sacrificed on the altar of      15
                                             Matthew 8:10, 13.
military expediency.                      16
                                             See Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 2:14;
                                          John 1: 35-51.
Notes                                     17
                                             The rich young ruler in Matthew
1
  Joshua 1:4. Unless otherwise stated,    19:16-30, and the Samaritan woman
all bible references are taken from the   he encountered at the well in John
New International Version.                4:1-26.
2                                         18
  Text from Joshua 4:13; 6:2; 6:20, 21.      Matthew 22:21.
3                                         19
  Exodus 20:13, King James Version.          Romans 13:1.
4                                         20
  For example, the New International         John 17:16.
                                          21
Version.                                     Augustine, City of God, Trans. Henry
5
  See also 1 Samuel 15: ‘This is what     Bettenson (London: Penguin Classics,
the Lord Almighty says: “I will punish    2003) XV.1, p. 595.
                                          22
the Amalekites for what they did to          Augustine, Letter 189 to
Israel when they waylaid them as          Bomiface, in Fortin, E.L. and Kries,
they came up from Egypt. Now go,          D. (Eds.) Augustine: Political Writings,
attack the Amalekites and totally         Trans. Tkacz, M.W. and Kries, D.
destroy everything that belongs to        (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994) p. 220.
                                          23
them. Do not spare them; put to              Augustine, Against Faustus the
death men and women, children and         Manichean, Ch. XXII.74, in Fortin,
infants, cattle and sheep, camels and     E.L. and Kries, D. (Eds.) Augustine:
donkeys.”’                                Political Writings, Trans. Tkacz, M.W.
6
  Isaiah 2:4.                             and Kries, D. (Indianapolis: Hackett,
83
     1994) p. 221/2.                           Bellamy, A. J., Just Wars: From Cicero to
     24
        Augustine, Against Faustus the         Iraq (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2006)
     Manichean, XXII, Ch.74 in Reichberg,      p. 121–3; McMahan, J., 'Just Cause
     G.M., Syse, H. and Begby, E. (Eds)        for War', Ethics & International Affairs,
     The Ethics of War (Oxford: Blackwell      Volume 19, No. 3 (Fall 2005) p. 5;
     Publishing, 2006) p. 82.                  or Rengger, N., ‘The Ethics of War:
     25
        Romans 13:1.                           The Just War Tradition’, in Bell,
     26
        Augustine, City of God, XIX.7,         D., (Ed.) Ethics and World Politics
     p. 861/2.                                 (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
     27
        Augustine, Against Faustus the         2010) pp. 296-298.
                                               42
     Manichean, p. 81.                            Blair, 1999, op cit.
     28                                        43
        Id.                                       Wood, Sir Michael, 23 January
     29
        Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.   2003, cited in evidence to the Chilcot
     40, A. 1, p. 1813/14.                     Inquiry 26 January 2010, located
     30
        Ibid., II-II, Q. 60, A. 6, p. 1934.    at http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/
     31
        Charter of the United Nations,         media/44205/20100126am-wood-final.
     Chapter 1, Article 51, located at         pdf, accessed 10 September 2010.
                                               44
     http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/           Wilmshurst, Elizabeth,
     10 March 2010.                            18 March 2003, Resignation
     32
        Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.   Letter, located at http://www.
     31, A. 3, p. 1762.                        iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/43719/
     33
        Ibid., Q. 64, A. 7, p. 1961.           document2010-01-27-100908.pdf,
     34
        The full text and history of the       accessed 10 September 2010.
                                               45
     Geneva Conventions can be found              Blair, Interview with Fern Brittan,
     at http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/           Broadcast Sunday 13 December 2009,
     siteeng0.nsf/html/genevaconventions,      BBC 1 TV.
                                               46
     accessed 23 August 2010.                     Blair, Tony, A Journey (London:
     35
        Blair, 24 Apr 1999, Speech at the      Hutchinson, 2010) p. 479.
                                               47
     Economic Club, Chicago.                      Rt Hon Lord Goldsmith, Evidence
     36
        Id.                                    to the Iraq Inquiry, located at
     37
        Matthew 5:43.                          http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/
     38
        Blair, Speech to launch the Faith      media/45317/20100127goldsmith-final.
     Foundation, 30 May 2008, from:            pdf, accessed 10 September 2010.
                                               48
     http://tonyblairoffice.org/speeches/         Select Committee on Liaison
     entry/tony-blairs-speech-to-launch-       Minutes of Evidence. From
     the-faith-foundation/accessed 10          http://www.publications.parliament.
     December 2009.                            uk/pa/cm200203/cmselect/
     39
        Charter of the United Nations,         cmliaisn/334-ii/3070805.htm Accessed
     Art. 2, Para. 4, located at http://       3 July 2006.
                                               49
     www.un.org/aboutun/charter/, 4               Aide Memoire on the Law of Armed
     December 2008.                            Conflict, JSP 381, Revised February
     40
        Blair, op cit.                         2005, Ministry of Defence, located at
     41
        For further explication of just        http://www.mod.uk/NR/rdonlyres/
     war criteria see Norman, R., Ethics,      749088E6-E50A-470E-938D-
     Killing and War (Cambridge:               459A74481E88/0/jsp381.pdf , Para. 4,
     Cambridge University Press, 1995)         accessed 10 January 2009.
                                               50
     p. 118. For similar summaries see            Id.
                                            84
51
   Programmes of military instruction,
Protocol Additional to the Geneva
Conventions of 12 August 1949,
and relating to the Protection of
Victims of International Armed
Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.
Part 5, Section 1, Article 83, Para.
3376, located at http://cicr.org/ihl.nsf/
COM/470-750108?OpenDocument,
accessed 15 January 2010.
52
   Id.
53
   Aide Memoire, op cit.
54
   Id.
85




          Prevention is better than Cure:
          What is the Utility of Air Power
              in Conflict Prevention?


                       By Group Captain Clive Blount




     Against the aspiration for an ‘adaptable Britain’ and a need to get maximum
     value from a taut force structure, the flexibility and adaptability of air power
     provides decision-makers with a key crisis management tool – across the
     whole spectrum of conflict. In this article, Gp Capt Blount examines this
     utility, asking how air power can be used to prevent recourse to war to solve
     conflict. After first describing the range of conflict prevention, from upstream
     engagement - such as defence diplomacy or security sector reform - to
     deterrence and coercion, he then goes on to describe the attributes of air power
     that make it uniquely suited to support conflict prevention activity. Using
     historical examples, he demonstrates that air power provides decision makers
     with strategic choices unavailable from the deployment of other force types.
     Blount then summarises with a list of the key properties of air power as a
     conflict prevention tool.
                                                                                          86
Introduction                                  build UK influence, through an entire



T
                                              spectrum of engagement in, and
       he National Security Strategy
                                              national commitment to, the region,
       clearly states1 why the UK
                                              to actions just short of full military
       must attempt to influence
                                              intervention in a war. It should
events abroad in order to safeguard
                                              always be remembered however, that
its security at home. This policy,
                                              prevention has its practical limits and
combined with such liberal
                                              is very much enabled by a credible
interventionist strategies as ‘A Force
                                              threat… traditional ‘hard power’.4
for Good’ 2 , has led to a series of
                                              Air power, with its inherent strengths
major expeditionary operations
                                              of speed and reach, has a flexibility
by British forces in recent years,
                                              and agility that gives it wide-ranging
several of which have led to long-
                                              utility across the whole spectrum
term commitments from which
                                              of conflict and is likely to play a full
disengagement has been increasingly
                                              part in any future conflict prevention
difficult. As the character of conflict
                                              activity. My intent in this article is to
has changed - from that of wars
                                              look first at the spectrum of activity
between opposing armies, fighting
                                              involved in preventing a possible
for their respective national wills and
                                              conflict, and then describe some of
seeking destruction of the opposing
                                              the stages that may be followed in
army, to that of ‘War among the
                                              an attempt to contain an emerging
People’ where the aim is to influence
                                              crisis. I will then examine each stage
the will of those people in the
                                              in turn to establish possible roles
national interest - the outcome of
                                              that air power may play in support
intervention has become indecisive,
                                              of that activity. I will conclude by
generally resulting in a change
                                              summarising the key properties of air
of conditions whilst leaving the
                                              power as a conflict prevention tool.
underlying conflict and fundamental
causus belli intact; this is illustrated by   The aim of conflict prevention activity
the fact that of the 39 current conflicts,    must ultimately be containment of an
31 are re-emergences of previous              emerging crisis before it becomes
conflicts.3 Whilst the UK Military            conflict. However, early engagement
Instrument should always be ready             by the UK in a region may be
to fight for our National Interest, and       effective in influencing regional
indeed a high-end combat capability           tensions at an even earlier stage.
must absolutely remain our raison             Generally, early engagement should
d’etre, the old adage ‘Prevention is          be driven by UK Foreign and Security
better than Cure’ suggests that use           objectives (ie. the national interest)
of military capability to prevent             and should be co-ordinated activity
conflict is a preferable option.              across government, including such
Conflict Prevention in the national           departments as the FCO, DfID and
interest is a strategic level activity        the DTI, as well as the MOD. Early
that must, by its very nature, involve        engagement visibly demonstrates
all elements of national power to             the UK’s interest in the region and
engage in a region and to bring               could send early deterrent messages
influence to bear. It will range from         to a potential aggressor. Activities
early engagement, to develop an early         in which Defence capabilities may
understanding of the region and to            play an effective role include capacity
87
     building, (including training and         more acceptable course of action. As
     support to Defence Sales) key             both these activities are essentially
     leadership engagement, security           targeted at the decision-making
     sector reform and support in              apparatus of the adversary in an
     developing key infrastructure. The        attempt to manipulate his will, the
     UK has a history of being widely          methods used must be agile enough
     respected for excellence in the           to adapt as the adversary reacts,
     defence arena, both in equipment          either turning the ‘heat’ up or down
     terms and with a reputation for being     as required, and should ideally be
     a ‘fighting nation’, so any offer of      scaleable to allow varying levels
     UK military capabilities in support       of commitment on behalf of UK
     of engagement activities would            decision-makers. The aim must be to
     doubtless be most attractive. It must     control the process - which is rarely
     be noted, however, that reputations       as linear as providing a straight
     can be fragile, and credibility must      forward threat/consequence calculus
     be protected if engagement is to          (the adversary ‘has a vote’) – we
     form part of national strategy. In        must ensure that our use of power is
     addition to these focussed activities,    intelligent in order to avoid unwanted
     engagement in a region enables            escalation or circumstances that allow
     us to be immersed in the local            the other side to manipulate our
     culture, environment and politics,        decision processes. It is very much
     enabling a much more in-depth             a dynamic process, the aim of which
     understanding. Even if engagement         has been described as escalation
     activity does not prevent a conflict,     dominance and defined as ‘The ability
     this understanding will be key to         to increase the threatened costs
     effective crisis management and           to an adversary while denying the
     would enable us to be much more           adversary the opportunity to negate
     effective if intervention is eventually   those costs or to counter-escalate’.6
     required. Finally, trust and co-          Finally, as containment activities
     operation amongst friends and allies      approach the more aggressive end of
     cannot be surged in time of crisis -      the spectrum and the possibility of
     they need to be nurtured in advance;5     conflict increases, the use of military
     mutual understanding, friendship          power in coercive activities may also
     and partnership building are central      be used to provide a ‘shaping’ effect
     to this early engagement.                 in preparation for future conflict.
     As a crisis develops, our involvement     Air power has a number of unique
     will turn from that of building           attributes that provide strategists
     influence to the aforementioned           and policy-makers with a flexible
     containment of the growing situation.     engagement tool which can easily
     Given that our engagement activity        be scaled, both in terms of ‘military’
     has, hopefully, enabled us to             effect and level of commitment.
     influence allies and partners not         Let us now discuss the utility of air
     to escalate any disagreement, our         power at several points in the crisis
     aim must be to deter or dissuade a        management spectrum in an attempt
     potential adversary from taking an        to establish the particular attributes
     escalatory path or, indeed, to coerce     of air power that make it useful in
     or persuade him to change course to a     conflict prevention.
                                                                                      88
The first area in which brings a          infantry section-level exercise for
unique capability is that of early        NATO and partner nations but
engagement. The speed and reach           became more strategically significant
of air power enables it to be used in     as the crisis in Kosovo to the North
a scaleable fashion across the crisis     began to escalate. SACEUR, General
spectrum. The deployment of small         Wesley Clark, directed that measures
numbers of aircraft, ‘flying the UK       should be taken to develop the
flag’ in support of diplomatic or         exercise in order to declare NATO
economic activity, could be achieved      interest in the region and to reassure
quickly and with a small host nation      Macedonia and neighbouring
support (HNS) requirement or              countries of NATO resolve. Air
logistic footprint. Scale can easily      power was the chosen instrument
be increased to larger deployments        and, within a number of weeks, an air
- such as squadron exchanges              display was arranged for the opening
or exercises - or, perhaps just as        of the exercise with a small number
usefully, can be scaled back rapidly      of fast jet flypasts, a parachuting
in the event that political direction     display and a demonstration of a
requires it. The influence effect of,     NEO 8 operation by the US 22nd
for instance, a deployment of fast jets   Marine Expeditionary Unit. The
to a country unused to such aircraft      event was widely publicised and
can far outweigh the small cost of        covered by the regional media. While
such a deployment. Air power can          it is difficult to assess the direct
be employed rapidly, in a militarily      effect of this action, as it was just one
low-key fashion, but can achieve          of many airpower demonstrations
significant effect. In 1988 a unique      and several ongoing diplomatic and
operation, EXERCISE GOLDEN                military activities aimed at coercing
EAGLE, was undertaken by 29(F) Sqn        Milosevic but, by the end of October,
from RAF Coningsby. The exercise,         large numbers of Yugoslav forces has
spread over 11 weeks, involved flying     been withdrawn, an OSCE mission
four of the recently introduced to        had been deployed, and SACEUR
service Tornado F3s 26,500 miles          claimed victory for coercion by air
around the world via Malaysia,            power.9 The events of the following
Thailand, Singapore, Australia and        year perhaps subsequently proved
the USA. The event was principally        otherwise, nonetheless the utility of
designed to prove the long range          air power to provide rapid influence
reinforcement capability of the           effect is unquestioned. Furthermore,
Tornado F3 by deploying in support        the subsidiary effect of exposing
of the Malaysian Peninsular Five          the somewhat basic Macedonian
Power Defence Arrangement but also        ATC services and armed forces to
provided a demonstration of Royal         the issues involved in co-ordinating
                                          NATO air power undoubtedly paid
Air Force planning, airmanship and
                                          dividends a year later during OP
logistics support. More recently, in
                                          ALLIED FORCE and during the
Autumn 1998, NATO was holding
                                          country’s eventual accession process
a Partnership for Peace Exercise,
                                          to NATO.
EXERCISE CO-OPERATIVE BEST
EFFORT 98 in Macedonia.7 The              As the last example has shown, a key
exercise was intended to be a tactical    part of early engagement is that of
89
     building indigenous capability. In         force to deploy to austere operating
     capacity building, and in developing       strips with no control infrastructure,
     broader wider influence, air power         and to develop these as capable
     can again provide an agile tool.           operating bases, is a unique
     Unlike other forms of military power,      capability existing in very few
     there is a subtle difference between       non-military organisations. Whilst
     military aircraft and military air         a dedicated deployable airfield
     power. Many people are interested          activation party, along the line
     in military aircraft without being         of the RAF Construction Wings
     particularly interested in warfare;        and Servicing Commandos of the
     most aviation magazines cover,             Second World War,10 is likely to be
     equally, military and civil topics. It     uneconomic, military skills in this
     is possible therefore for air power        area, such as those now provided by
     to have a positive effect without          the Royal Engineers and such units as
     necessarily appearing overtly              Tactical Comms Wing, may prove to
     combative in nature, and this may          be a key means of building influence
     be a useful property for strategists       in a region. Again, it is clear that
     to exploit. For example, the training      air power provides scaleable
     of military pilots from other nations      effect; assets can be deployed to
     in elementary and advanced flying          immediately boost indigenous
     has long been a UK strength, most          capability by adding that ‘Air Power
     recently evinced by the training of        Advantage’ to less developed or
     Afghan helicopter pilots at Boscombe       militarily capable countries. It was
     Down, but the development of               to achieve this effect that the USAF
     deployable military experts to             provided air power support to South
     develop indigenous civil aviation          Vietnam in the early stages of John
     capability – in the absence of a local     F Kennedy’s presidency in 1961
     aviation authority or ‘deployable          under such auspices as Operation
     CAA’ – provides a valuable option          FARM GATE. Under such schemes,
     for the diplomatic and economic            squadrons were specifically trained
     lines of operation. The role of RAF        to fill the role of providing air power
     Gibraltar, whilst a key part of the        support to developing nations,
     PJHQ-run Permanent Joint Operating         in order to counter the perceived
     Base established for contingency           threat from communism under
     operations, uses spare capacity to         Khrushchev’s ‘Wars of National
     provide a vital service to the Colony      Liberation’.11 Known colloquially as
     as ‘Gibraltar Airport’. A Colony of        ‘Jungle Jims’ these forces consisted
     less than 30,000 persons would be          of a number of bespoke mobility,
     unable to afford to run a civil airport,   attack and specialist COIN aircraft
     without which its independent status       and had personnel capable of
     would be much undermined. The              operating alongside, or training,
     presence of an RAF airfield provides       indigenous forces. They were used
     the UK Government with a useful            overtly to send a message of US
     tool to influence diplomatic, military     intent by equipping and training
     and economic affairs in the region.        indigenous forces or, as in 1961,
     Along the same lines, but in less-         relatively covertly as ‘advisers’ to
     established areas, the ability of an air   the South Vietnamese military.12
                                                                                    90
Strategically, however, the perception    military aircraft can have much utility
that the crisis was largely communist     in non-military roles; ISR support
in nature – rather than nationalist and   of border and customs authorities
anti-colonialist – and the behaviour      by patrol aircraft and disaster
of the government in Saigon               relief and support to development
undermined any conflict prevention        agencies by mobility platforms,
activity. As the crisis in Vietnam        are but two examples of how air
deepened, so did US commitment,           power can reassure and support a
and there was a move from conflict        foreign government under pressure.
prevention to counter-insurgency -        Furthermore, air power may be the
with advisors being cleared to take       only way to rapidly deliver aid to a
a gradually more aggressive role,         starving population on the verge of
eventually participating in combat        revolution, as part of a comprehensive
operations. On a less ambitious           approach to supporting a regime
level, and rather more commonplace,       and maintaining regional influence.
the provision of loan service             The strategic effect of the Berlin
personnel has always been a cost-         Airlift in demonstrating intent and
effective measure of building             providing succour to the starving,
capability, reassurance, influence        besieged, West Berliners is well
and, indeed, understanding.               documented;13 in more recent times,
                                          the rapid use of air power to reassure
As a threat begins to emerge, it
                                          was evinced by the deployment of
becomes important to provide
                                          Tornado F3s to Lithuania to fill a QRA
reassurance to our Allies in the region
                                          role in 2004 - demonstrating NATO
– both to send a message of UK
                                          resolve to protect the newly acceded
intent to potential adversaries, but
                                          Baltic States. Indeed, Control of the
also to influence our friends’ policy
                                          Air is likely become of increasing
choices. (For instance, to prevent our
                                          importance as it is a key enabler to
allies from taking precipitate steps
                                          many of the activities that follow,
out of fear or for self-preservation).
                                          should the crisis develop, so early
As stated previously, deployments
                                          deployments of Air Defence aircraft
of military aircraft are a quick and
                                          and battlespace management assets
straightforward way of demonstrating
                                          are highly likely, and have much
intent and, again, provide policy-
                                          utility, in many scenarios.
makers with flexibility; the effect may
range from the totally unthreatening      The deployment of air power can
- such as the Red Arrows (a clear         aid the development of a regional
demonstration of Britain’s skill and      ‘picture’ to build understanding of
airmanship) - to an obvious signal        the area and the issues surrounding
of intent sent by the arrival of a        the crisis. Deployment of air ISR
package of armed fighters; multi-role     assets enable early intelligence
capability enables aggressive intent      picture building and have great
to be rapidly adjusted from, say, the     utility in providing information
defensive posture of Typhoons in the      to aid strategic decision-making.
Air Defence-role, to an aggressive        The deployment of Canberra
stance by arming the same aircraft        PR9 ac to Central Africa in 1996
with attack weapons. In a broader         provided early indications that a
sense of multi-role capability, many      feared resurgence of the Hutu/Tutsi
91
     massacres - much predicted by the            power was clearly demonstrated
     media and accompanied by heavy               in 1991 when, within 48 hours of
     public pressure that the UK ‘must do         Saddam Hussein’s invasion of
     something’ - was actually not taking         Kuwait, in an attempt to show
     place, enabling UK decision-makers           support for Saudi Arabia and to
     to hold back from commitment                 deter Saddam Hussein from driving
     until confirmation proved that UK            his forces further south, Tornado
     troops were unnecessary.14 The               F3s were patrolling in support of
     operation of even non-specialist ISR         the air defence of Saudi Arabia in
     capabilities add a deal to the wider         conjunction with US aircraft, followed
     understanding of a region and is             into theatre some 24 hours later by
     invaluable in partnership building –         Jaguars attack aircraft. Again, this
     particularly if conflict prevention fails.   rapid effect was built on to eventually
     As stated in the introduction, once          provide a robust air power force for
     a threat becomes clearly apparent,           the subsequent liberation of Kuwait,
     conflict prevention activity naturally       although it could just as easily have
     turns to containing that threat.             been scaled back quickly if the
     Thinking on the use of military              political situation had so demanded.
     power in activity such as this,              This illustrates a unique advantage
     particularly outside of the traditional      of air power over other military
     nuclear arena, is still very much in         capability; the time that it would
     development but the potential of the         take to deploy a land battle group by
     use of co called soft national power         sea does not afford decision-makers
     is clearly recognised. This paper            the agility to be able to recall, and
     will now discuss the utility of air          maybe, redeploy as a situation rapidly
     power in deterrence and coercion             changes over time. Once deployed in
     activity. Whilst military power can          theatre, the level of air power activity
     play a significant role in both of these     can be controlled to, again, achieve a
     activities, it should be remembered          scaleable effect. This enables policy-
     that the ‘target’ is essentially the         makers to control and direct the
     mind of an adversary. The aim is             development of a burgeoning crisis.
     to influence the decision-making             Exercises, patrolling and firepower
     process and to manipulate the will           demonstrations can all be conducted
     of an opponent and, as such, must            at varying levels of visibility.
     remain firmly in the realm of a              Furthermore, air power can be used
     comprehensive approach using all             to support cross-government activity
     the components of national power.            ranging from MACP-type activities,
     However, as will be shown, air               or in support of NGOs, through
     power’s unique attributes enable it to       parades and other diplomatic activity
     contribute in many areas.                    in order to demonstrate UK intent
                                                  and support.
     Deterrence represents the effort to
     dissuade an adversary from taking            The psychological effects should
     an escalatory path. Again, high              not be discounted, particularly
     profile air deployments might                in less technologically-inclined
     quickly, and relatively cheaply,             nations or nations not used to large
     demonstrate intent. The speed at             deployments of military air power,
     which this can be achieved with air          and again speed, reach and ubiquity
                                                                                      92
enable an early psyops campaign            Iraqi nuclear programme. However,
to be heavily supported from the           the clear demonstration that Israel had
air – which, as demonstrated by the        the ability to strike at will, deep in
use of airborne broadcast speakers         Iraqi territory, probably influenced
during the Malaya campaign15 and           Saddam Hussein’s decision-making
again by the psyops assets of the          processes in the following years.
FARM GATE deployment, can                  The BLACK BUCK16 raids on
be particularly effective in areas         the airfield at Port Stanley, whilst
where accessibility by other means         designed to deny the runway to
is limited (by terrain, for example).      Argentinian reinforcements, had
The psychological effects of the use       a significant coercive effect on
of air power as the crisis develops        Argentinian decision-makers by
should also not be overlooked; we are      demonstrating that Britain had
becoming increasingly familiar with        the capability to strike at extreme
the tactical use of air power in shows     range - particularly targets on the
of force etc, but the ability to operate   Argentinian mainland. Likewise,
at will over enemy territory and to        although the US struck a range of
strike ground targets, seemingly           political and military targets during
without counter, has a significant         ELDORADO CANYON 17 which
effect on enemy morale and will            doubtless hindered President
to fight. Conversely, we must be           Gaddafi’s ability to exercise regional
cognisant of the potential negative        power, the success of the operation
effects of air power, particularly         was really demonstrated by the
unmanned systems, and specifically         change in his subsequent behaviour
the risk of appearing as a ‘hi-tech        and his ceasing to sponsor terrorism
bully’ - giving the enemy military,        (although relatives of the victims
and populace, a rallying point against     of Flight Pan Am 103, may disagree).
a distant enemy, unwilling to face         Much has been made previously
an ‘honourable’ death. Inability to        of air power’s speed and reach,
counter the ‘cowardly threat’ that         but it is as a crisis develops that
modern air power presents is likely        another fundamental characteristic
to become the key driver for an            of air and space power comes into
asymmetric response - which may            the equation; namely, height. Air
change the nature of the conflict and      power can look ‘over the wall’ into
certainly complicates the policy-          a potential enemy’s territory and can
makers’ problem.                           be used both to gather information
Coercion is often seen as the harder       and, in due course, to deliver selective
end of containment but, even though        effects at range as part of a coercive
kinetic effect may play a key part in      strategy. Space, obviously, provides
coercive activity, it should still be      the ultimate high ground, with little
remembered that the target is the          restriction on overflight and the
opponent’s mind. It is often difficult     ability to gather information about
to distinguish between pure brute          an adversary with minimal political
force operations to destroy a target       risk of escalation. Developments of
and coercive attacks. For instance, the    a future ability to attack targets on
Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor       the ground from space, whilst subject
was intended simply to destroy the         to serious legal debate, take this
93
     capability to the ultimate coercive        also have utility if it is required to
     tool.18 It should not be forgotten,        suppress enemy air defences as part of
     however, that air power was effectively    war-fighting operations if prevention
     the sole military tool used to coerce      fails. Again, any ISR effort to develop
     Saddam Hussein’s Iraq for over 10          understanding during prevention
     years during Operations NORTHERN           operations will be key to planning
     WATCH and SOUTHERN WATCH.                  future war-fighting campaigns.
     In addition to providing a range
     of scaleable effects both in terms         Summary of the Properties
     of footprint and military effect, air      of Air Power as a Tool in
     power can also provide scaleable           Conflict Prevention
     effect in terms of political visibility.   So then, air power has inherent
     For example, Unmanned Aircraft             qualities that make it a unique
     are being used to kill key Al Qaeda        instrument that strategists and
     foreign fighters in Northern Pakistan,     policy-makers can deploy in order
     where a land force to achieve a            to influence future events, manage
     similar effect would be politically        crises and potentially prevent
     unpalatable. Similarly, it is widely       conflict as part of a comprehensive
     thought that, in 2007, Israeli air power   UK response. This utility can be
     intercepted and destroyed convoys          summarized as a number of key
     of arms shipments in Somalia19 that        ‘headlines’; they are:
     were destined for Hezbollah, and was
     also responsible for the destruction       Agile Commitment. Air power
     of nascent Syrian nuclear facilities 20    provides an agile instrument that may
     – although Israel has never publicly       be applied in a controlled manner by
     accepted responsibility for these          policy makers. Its effect is scaleable, in
     actions. Intriguingly, the Syrian          that a wide range of military (and other)
     attacks were most probably aided           effects may be delivered as size, type,
     by significant cyber operations,           basing and support options are highly
     which rendered the Syrian IADS             flexible. This allows rapid adjustment
     impotent, an early indicator of how        and strategists are able to ‘turn the
     important such activities may become       volume knob’ either up or down to control
     in the future.21                           the degree of effect and thereby control
                                                escalation. Its effect is rapid, in that the
     Finally, In addition to deterrent or       inherent properties of speed and reach
     coercive effect, air power actions
                                                enable air power to be brought to bear
     can be used to shape the battle
                                                rapidly, thus allowing more decision
     space to prepare for war in the event
                                                time – the commitment decision can be
     that conflict prevention fails. Targets,
                                                delayed until the last safe moment.
     kinetic or otherwise, chosen to
     produce a coercive effect may also         Freedom of Political Choice. The
     be key in preparing for any future         inherent agility of air power described
     campaign, so consideration should          above keeps political options ‘open’.
     be taken to the wider campaign             Decisions may be taken late and it is
     when planning the early stages.            possible to ‘turn up’, ‘turn down’ or
     Attacks on air defence systems,            ‘turn off’ with relative ease. Scale and
     for instance, as a show of kinetic         effect of air power contribution can
     intent during a coercion effort, will      be rapidly varied and can be both
                                                                                         94
military in nature or can support the          key to this activity, a strategic level
other lines of operation.                      activity that must, by its very nature,
                                               involve all elements of national
Effects at Range. Air power can
                                               power. Such actions could range
provide a range of kinetic and non-
                                               from early engagement, perhaps
kinetic effects and, if necessary can
                                               with an emphasis on diplomatic and
be available at range. Air power can
                                               economic activity, in order to develop
therefore influence a potential opponent
                                               an early understanding of the region
from afar and without crossing sensitive
                                               and to build UK influence, through
borders. Emerging technology and
                                               an entire spectrum of engagement
space capability will extend influence
                                               in, and national commitment to,
and understanding over the horizon and
                                               the region, potentially escalating
could be selective in terms of visibility to
                                               to actions just short of full military
further aid the strategists.
                                               intervention in a war. Air power,
Wider Effects. Air power used in               with its inherent strengths and
conflict prevention activity may also          supported by emerging technology,
have the secondary effect of preparing         has a flexibility and agility that
the battlespace. The whole range of            gives it wide ranging utility across
conflict prevention activities will build      the whole spectrum of conflict. It
understanding, as previously discussed,        provides effects that are scaleable -
but assets can be used for contingency         in terms of military effect, logistics
planning purposes whilst engaged in            footprint, and host nation support
wider deterrence or influence activities.      requirements - and is relatively
ISR assets, for instance, could be tasked      cheap to deliver. Above all, air
for specific surveying or reconnaissance       power maintains political freedom of
tasks for contingency purposes or, more        choice as, not only can it be deployed
traditionally, kinetic effect delivered        rapidly, its effects can be readily
as part of a coercive campaign could           adjusted as the crisis waxes and
be so targeted to ‘write down’ enemy           wanes. The wide – ranging utility
capability in the event of a failure to        of air power is therefore likely to
prevent conflict. Air power also delivers      guarantee it a key role in any future
a series of psychological effects, either      conflict prevention activity.
by its inherent nature or with specific
                                               Notes
technical capabilities, which must not
                                               1
be discounted.                                   National Security Strategy 2, Dated
                                               Jun 2009.
Supports Cross-Government                      2
                                                 The Defence Vision, www.mod.
Activity. In addition to military effect,
                                               uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/
air power can provide support to all
                                               Organisation/Defence Vision/,
the major lines of operation as part of a
                                               accessed 12 May 10.
comprehensive approach.                        3
                                                 ‘The distinction between inter-state
It makes sense that emerging                   war and intra-state war, and between
crises should be tackled as early as           regular and irregular warfare, will
possible and that the UK should                remain blurred and categorising
bring its influence to bear rapidly            conflicts will often be difficult.’
and sensitively to prevent conflict.           [DCDC Global Strategic Trends IV,
Early and flexible engagement is the           p.84(Available through www.mod.
95
     uk/dcdc)]                                 pa/cm199697/cmhansard/vo 970206/
     4
       DCDC ‘Future Character of               debtext/70206-10.htm
                                               15
     Conflict’ p36 (Available through www.        Brian J Hunt, ‘Air Power and
     mod.uk/dcdc)                              Psychological Warfare Operations –
     5
       US Maritime Strategy, ‘A Co-            Malaya 1948-1960’ RAF Historical
     operative strategy for 21st Century       Society Journal No 47, pp44-45
                                               16
     Seapower’, 17 Oct 07, p11                    Attacks by Vulcan B2s against Port
     6
       Daniel Byman and Matthew                Stanley Airfield and adjacent Radars,
     Waxman, ‘the Dynamics of                  carried out between 30 Apr and 12
     Coercion:American Foreign Policy          Jun 82 as part of the Falklands War
     and the Limits of Military Might’         against Argentina.
                                               17
     (CUP:Cambridge, 2002),p 38                   US Air Operation against Libya
     7
       Generally referred to in NATO           mounted largely from US carriers and
     at the time as the ‘former                airfields in the UK on 15 Apr 96.
                                               18
     Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’              ‘Air Force Seeks Bush’s Approval
     but recognised by Turkey by its           for Space Weapons Programs’,
     constitutional name, ‘Macedonia’.         www.nytimes.com/2005/05/18/
     8
       Non-Combatant Evacuation                business/18space.htm. Accessed 12
     Operation.                                May 10
                                               19
     9
       Tony Mason, ‘Operation Allied Force’       Discussions with DDefS(RAF), 21
     in John A Olson(ed), ‘The History         Apr 10
                                               20
     of Air Power’ (Potomac:Dulles, VA,           ‘Israelis Blew Apart Syrinan
     2010), p228                               Nuclear Cache’, www.timesonline.
     10
        Hilary St George Saunders, The         co.uk/tol/news/world/middle-east/
     Royal Air Force 1939-1945, Vol III,       article2461421.ece Accessed
     The Fight is Won, (HMSO: London,          12 May 10
                                               21
     1954) Ch 6.                                  Richard A Clarke and Robert K
     11
        Report of the November 1960            Knake, ‘Cyber War: The Next Threat
     Moscow Communist Conference,              to National Security and What to Do
     given by Khrushchev to the                About it’,(Harper Collins: New York,
     Higher Party School, Academy              2010), pp 6-11
     of Social Sciences, Moscow, 6 Jan
     61. A detailed analysis from a US
     perspective can be found in Foreign
     Relations of the United States,
     Vol V, doc15.
     12
        John Napier, ‘The Air Commandos
     in Vietnam’ , MA thesis at www.afsoc.
     af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-
     051228-001.pdf last accessed 21 Jan 10.
     13
        David Reynolds, ’One World
     Indivisible: A Global World History
     since 1945’,(Penguin:London,2000),
     p30,31
     14
        House of Commons Hansard
     Debate for 6 Feb 1997(Pt10). Available
     at www.publications.parliament.uk/
96
97




               ‘Pink’s War’ – Applying the
                 Principles of Air Control
                  to Waziristan, 9 March
                      to 1 May 1925


                    By Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Roe




     In March 1925 the R.A.F. was presented with a unique opportunity of testing
     the utility of air control against the mountain strongholds of Mahsud
     tribesmen in South Waziristan. The successful 54 day operation, under the
     command of Wing Commander Richard Charles Montagu Pink, was the only
     independent air campaign on the North-West Frontier of India, despite a
     number of ambitious schemes for the fledgling Service to take full control of
     the region. Known simply as ‘Pink’s War,’ this article overviews events prior
     to the start of operations, and offers a detailed account of R.A.F. bombing and
     strafing activities from 9 March to 1 May 1925. It concludes by analysis the
     outcomes of the mission, which ultimately resulted in the tribal leaders seeking
     an honourable peace, with the loss of only two British lives.
                                                                                          98
Don’t you worry there’s nought to tell         mountainous locations. Even the most
’Cept work and fly and bomb like hell          isolated tribes could now be reached
With hills above us and hills below            with relative ease. The employment
And rocks to fill where the hills won’t go     of aeroplanes – with their speed
Nice soft sitting for those who crash          over great distances, complete
But WAR you call it? – don’t talk trash        indifference to the state of ground
War’s a rumour, war’s a yarn                   communications and detachment
This is the PEACE of Waziristan                from prying war correspondents
                                               – was to secure a ‘change of heart’
             Wing Commander R.C.M. Pink,
                                               with the minimum amount of force.
                 chorus to ‘Waziristan 1925’
                                               By reacting selectively and without
Introduction                                   procrastination to tribal disturbances,
                                               it was hoped that operations could


B
       efore the arrival of the                occur without the loss of life, through
       aeroplane in India, there               continuous and even prolonged
       was only one method of                  air activity.
applying armed force on the
North-West Frontier when political             This outcome was achieved by
initiatives or the threat of force             interrupting the normal pattern of
failed: the employment of ground               life of the tribes to such an extent
forces, either temporarily or                  that a continuance of hostilities
permanently, in tribal territory to            became intolerable.4 Known as ‘air
restore order or to inflict a sharp            control,’ in which the tribesmen
lesson on the tribesmen.1 These                were often blockaded out of their
so-called ‘punitive expeditions’ –             territory instead of into it, the tactic
referred to as ‘Burn and Scuttle’ or           aimed to compel a tribe to abandon
‘Butcher and Bolt’ operations –                their grazing grounds and villages.5
killed innumerable tribesmen and               This forced them to hide in caves or
sort to achieve a considerable                 relocate themselves (and their herds)
amount of damage: villages were                as unwanted guests in a neighbouring
burnt or razed to the ground;                  village, preventing harvesting
cattle were confiscated or killed;             and other work, until a volte-face
and in some cases fruit trees,                 occurred. Unlike a traditional
irrigation channels and wells were             retaliatory army expedition, the R.A.F.
destroyed or poisoned. This was                hoped that operations would be
an unsophisticated, protracted                 conducted against an empty village
and expensive means of                         or vacated area. Such an approach
enforcing discipline.2                         also prevented the tribesmen from
                                               having a fight on equal terms; the
The emerging technical capabilities
                                               only truly honourable occupation
of the aeroplane, for the first time,
                                               of a tribesman. It also negated
enabled the government the
                                               the prospect of loot, particularly
potential to enforce compliance
                                               capturing a good British service
upon the tribesmen in a timely,
                                               rifle, or replenishing their supply of
inexpensive, comparatively humane,
                                               accurate ammunition.6
and relatively safe manner from
the air.3 This was especially true             Unsurprisingly, the employment
against law-breakers in remote or              of airpower in this manner was not
99
     without its critics, limitations or          strafing activities from 9 March to 1
     challenges.7 It was, however, an             May 1925. It concludes by analysing
     attractive option and an intelligent         the outcomes of the 54 day mission,
     way of securing the R.A.F’s future           which in due course became known
     against a backdrop of a post-war             simply as ‘Pink’s War.’
     struggle for resources between the
                                                  Events Prior to the Start of
     three services. Moreover, at a time
                                                  R.A.F. Operations
     when the military defeat of the
     tribesmen was the principal objective        The Mahsuds were a constant
     of army operations, the R.A.F.’s goal        source of turbulence and unrest
     of attacking the morale of those who         to the Government of India,
     had disturbed the peace to hopefully         primarily due to the inaccessibility
     secure long-term political stability         of their country and their insolent,
     and pacification was exceedingly             aggressive and warlike behaviour.
     attractive in some quarters. Air             Prior to 1919, their territory had not
     Commodore C.F.A. Portal D.S.O.,              been visited since 1901-02, when a
     M.C. points to the apparent subtlety         series of military operations against
     and dexterity of the air method:             the tribes for raiding and murder
                                                  resulted in the subjugation of the
     The problem, then, is to get this change
                                                  tribe, the restoration of order and
     of heart without occupying the country of
                                                  the construction of new motorable
     the delinquent tribe, and indeed without
                                                  all-weather connecting roads.9
     having any physical contact with them
                                                  Although unsettled by these events,
     at all. If you can avoid even temporary
                                                  the resulting ‘peace’ remained largely
     contact, which means fighting, your
                                                  unchanged until the outbreak of the
     remedy has the great advantage that it
                                                  Third Afghan War of 1919,10 when
     does not in itself inflame passions and
                                                  the somewhat hasty evacuation of
     obscure reasons, nor does it extend the
                                                  most of the forward militia posts in
     original trouble to tribes that may have
                                                  the Gomal and Tochi areas, especially
     had nothing to do with it in the first
                                                  in Wana,11 resulted in over a 100
     instance, and the whole basis of this
                                                  well-planned raids and offences
     police method is that the idea of military
                                                  being conducted by the tribesmen.
     occupation and, if you like, of military
                                                  With authority in Waziristan – lying
     supervision, rankles much more with a
                                                  on the western border of the Indian
     proud and independent people than does
                                                  Empire, and forming the connecting
     the idea of observing the Government’s
                                                  link on the Afghan frontier between
     standard of law and order, and that if you
                                                  the districts of Kurram and Zhob –
     can avoid the former you will more easily
                                                  increasingly tenuous, the situation
     achieve the latter. 8
                                                  looked bleak for the government.
     In March 1925 the R.A.F. was                 As a result of the deteriorating
     presented with a unique opportunity          security situation it was deemed
     of testing the utility of air control        necessary to undertake punitive
     against the troublesome Mahsuds              operations against the Mahsuds
     in South Waziristan. This article            to restore order. These occurred
     overviews events prior to the start          throughout 1919, 1922 and the
     of operations, and offers a detailed         beginning 1923 resulting – after some
     account of R.A.F. bombing and                extremely bitter fighting – in peace
                                                                                    100
terms with the majority of the tribal     of the Bahlolzai meant that the jirga
sections, but not the intractable Abdur   had little control over the hot-headed
Rahman Khel; the last remaining           elements and therefore was not
pocket of tribal resistance. The R.A.F.   truly representative of tribal
took an active part in all operations     opinion. Regrettably, the gathering
over the period, not only in direct       was unsuccessful. On 16 January,
action against the tribesmen, but also    a group of Abdur Rahman Khel
in raising Army morale and lowering       representatives was interviewed.
that of the tribes.12                     The deputation demanded an
                                          official pardon for recent offences,
The Abdur Rahman Khel, therefore,
                                          an increase in allowances from Rs.
became the chief section against whom
                                          3,000 to 6,000 and unconstrained
most R.A.F. activities of 1925 were       access to their tribal share: these
directed in South-East Waziristan.        demands were dismissed outright.
A turbulent sub-section of the Nana       Thereafter, the Abdur Rahman Khel,
Khel Bahlolzai tribe, the Abdur           assisted by the Guri Khel, Maresai
Rahman Khel included a significant        and Faridai sections of the Manzai
proportion of young hotheads              Mahsuds, committed further offences
ineligible to receive government          and outrages. The first occurred
allowances – determined to make           on the night of 24/25 January, when
mischief and almost professional          four Hindus were kidnapped from
trouble-makers – as well as a number      Manzai. This was followed by a
of bothersome fugitives, known            second incident during the hours of
as hamsayas, who had committed            darkness on 1/2 February, when two
crimes inside the administered            more Hindus were abducted from the
districts bordering tribal lands.13       coolie (unskilled labour) camp at Spli
Of significance, many of the              Toi. Eighteen days later, the Gomal
tribesmen possessed grazing land in       Post was raided by a gang containing
Afghanistan, and summer migration         members of the hostile tribes. During
across the permeable international        the initial break-in, 27 European .303
border was commonplace.                   Lee Enfield service rifles belonging
On 27 December a full Bahlolzai jirga     to the police were stolen and taken to
(assembly or parliament of tribal         the Spli Toi area.
representatives) was held at Tank         Prior to these events, on 16 December,
to make clear government terms to         the Resident in Waziristan asked
the tribesmen. This sought to obtain      the government to sanction the
compensation for offences committed       employment of airpower against
and for the ‘exaction of promises to      the intractable sections.15 Keen to
prevent further offences.’14 Used         establish the R.A.F.’s credentials, the
as a means to resolve civil, criminal,    request was reinforced by Air Vice-
and intertribal conflict, a jirga         Marshal Sir Edward Ellington K.C.B.,
possesses neither a dominant leader       C.M.G., C.B.E. who had recently
nor chairman; participants sit cross-     become the Air Officer Commanding
legged in a circle in order to avoid      (A.O.C), India, and who was a strong
a prominent position and decisions        advocate of Sir John Salmond’s
are reached through dialogue and          policy of ‘air control’ and wider
consensus. The democratic character       R.A.F employment on the frontier.16
101
      He believed that, if properly used,       report notes:
      the squadrons on the frontier could
                                                Explosives were forwarded from the
      achieve results out of all proportion
                                                Ordnance Depot, RAWALPINDI;
      to numbers and to effort expended.
                                                petrol, oil and other supplies came from
      The official account of events recalls
                                                the Depots at PESHAWAR, KOHAT,
      the growing necessity of the request
                                                RAWALPINDI and LAHORE. All
      and initial moves: ‘By the end of
                                                supplies for both MIRAMSHAH and
      this month it appeared probable
                                                TANK [the two main operating stations]
      that operations would be necessary;
                                                were delivered at MARI INDUS,
      a plan was therefore drawn up by
                                                transported across the river INDUS to
      No. 1 Wing, and the force to be
                                                KALABAGH and forwarded by rail
      employed was decided on.’ 17 Jirgas
                                                either to TANK direct or to BANNU
      with the affable sections of the
                                                for MIRAMSHAH. The average time
      tribes were undertaken, but despite
                                                taken for the delivery of supplies by
      demonstrations conducted by R.A.F.
      units on 7 and 24 February, outrages      this route was 14 days for TANK and
      continued, and the hostile elements       21 days for MIRAMSHAH.18
      still persisted in unrealistic demands    On 2 March the advanced parties
      and bargained for time.                   moved to Tank and Miramshah.19
      On 1 February the Resident applied        Although some 60 miles apart,
      for the go-ahead to warn the Guri         resulting in certain administrative
      Khels that, unless they agreed and        difficulties, it was deemed necessary
      complied with the terms to be stated,     to employ two airfields as there was
      air action would be undertaken            insufficient room for the number of
      against them. Judging that hostilities    aircraft required for the operations
      were now inevitable, Headquarters,        at either location. The squadrons
      R.A.F. approved the use of airpower       selected moved to their respective
      and allocated the force to be             operating stations on 3 March. This
      employed. Following two further           consisted of three squadrons:20 one
      outrages, the government sanctioned       Bristol F.2 B Fighter and two de
      the issue of a final warning to the       Havilland D.H. 9A’s.21
      sections concerned by coloured            On 5 March Pink’s Operational
      warning leaflets on 25 February;          Headquarters was established at
      these were printed in the tribal          Tank. The establishment of the
      language – Pashtu. Only five days         aviation headquarters coincided with
      before, Wing Commander R.C.M.             the issue of demands to the tribes in
      Pink C.B.E., the officer commanding
                                                the clearest possible terms.22 The
      No. 2 (India) Wing, had flown to
                                                alternatives to being bombed were:
      Rawalpindi for a conference with the
      Northern Command Headquarters’            	 •	 Abdur	Rahman	Khel	–	a		 	
      Commanders to discuss the nature               complete jirga of Abdur
      of independent air operations. As              Rahman Khel, including
      the appointed commander, and with              hostile tribesmen, as well as
      operations at least agreed in principle        the Jalal Khels and others, who
      with the army commanders, Pink set             lived with the Abdur Rahman
      about re-deploying his forces and              Khel, was to gather at Jandola
      forward based supplies. The official           at 12:00 hours on 7 March,
                                                                                     102
    bringing the two captive Hindus.     committed. The rationale behind this
    In the event of nonconformity        approach was that each tribe, sub-
    disciplinary measures would          tribe, village, malik (a tribal leader or
    start after sunrise on 9 March.      elder) or mullah (a religious leader
                                         who takes prayers) was responsible
	 •	 Guri	Khel	–	the	Guri	Khels	were		
                                         for its own people and for what
     required to comply with the
                                         went on in its area. There was no
     terms already announced to
                                         distinction between combatants and
     them. For the Karim Khel
                                         non-combatants or those who were
     sub-section, this was: Rs. 1,600;
                                         guilty or innocent.
     two government rifles; the return
     of three bullocks and seven         Area of Operations and Tactics
     camels; and the deposit of
                                         The planned area of operations
     eight country rifles as security.
                                         was circa 50-60 square miles of wild
     For the Biland Khel sub-section
                                         mountainous terrain, precipitous
     eight government rifles and
                                         gorges and isolated small valleys,
     the deposit of four tribal rifles
                                         including approximately 40 targets
     was demanded as security.
                                         varying in height from 3,000 to 6,000
     In both cases, compliance was
                                         feet above sea level. This necessitated
     demanded by 12:00 hours on
                                         aircraft with full war-loads to limit
     7 March. In case of disobedience,
                                         fuel loads to approximately 60 per
     punitive measures would start
                                         cent in order to attain bombing
     after first light on 9 March.
                                         heights.24 The targets varied from
	 •	 Faridai	–	a	complete	jirga of       good-sized villages consisting of
     Faridais was to assemble at         mud-built flat-roofed houses and
     Jandola at 12:00 hours on           fortified watch-towers, relatively
     7 March. In the event of            susceptible to bomb attacks, of
     non-compliance retaliatory          the Faridai and Maresai, to the
     measures would start after          inaccessible cave homes of the
     daybreak on 9 March.                Abdur Rahman Khel, furnished
                                         with personal belongings, food and
	 •	 Maresai	–	a	complete	jirga
                                         water, and the distributed huts and
     of Maresais was to convene at
                                         enclosed compounds of the Guri
     Jandola at 12:00 hours on
                                         Khel.25 Most sections lived by
     7 March. In the event of non-
                                         necessity as independent economic
     cooperation castigatory
                                         units. Tribesmen in the open or
     measures would also start after
                                         their livestock were equally fair
     dawn on 9 March.23
                                         game. However, as was customary
As no reply was forthcoming from         in Waziristan, all villages possessed
the Abdur Rahman Khel, and the           access to a protective cave system
Faridai, Maresai and Guri Khel           nearby, where tribesmen and their
simply attempted to negotiate, it        families could live in comparative
was decided on 8 March to begin          comfort for long periods.26
air action against all sections          Furthermore, all tribes possessed a
concerned at sun-up on 9 March,          sizable head of livestock. Throughout
based on the tribal principle of         the hostilities these were mostly
communal responsibility for crimes       secured in the surrounding caves
103
      during daylight hours and watered              attack on targets.
      and fed under the cover of darkness.
                                                 	 •	 Air blockade consisted of
      At the headquarters in Tank, all
                                                      deploying aircraft over the target
      objectives were carefully numbered
                                                      area at irregular intervals
      on a master map, with specific targets
                                                      during the hours of daylight
      allocated to the squadrons. For the
                                                      to attack certain objectives, or to
      air staff, this proved to be a primary
                                                      assault any target which might
      means of recording and conveying
                                                      present themselves with 112 lb
      information, calculating moves and
                                                      and 20 lb high explosive anti-
      directing action. Pink quickly knew
                                                      personnel bombs.27 The raison
      every inch of the map as if he had
                                                      d’être behind this method
      been flying over it daily for weeks.
                                                      was to harass the tribes
      The tactical unit employed against              constantly, thus creating a
      the tribesmen was a ‘flight’ of three           general feeling of uncertainty,
      machines, as the targets were so                insecurity and apprehension.
      small that it was often not economical          Such activities sought to
      to attack with anymore than three               encourage the tribesmen to
      aircraft at a time, with bombing                capitulate by causing intolerable
      normally occurring at a height of               inconvenience to their daily
      3,000 feet over the target on a signal          lives, cutting off communication,
      from the formation commander. The               and preventing them from
      tactics employed could roughly be               cultivating their crops or grazing
      divided into: intensive air attack, air         their flocks for an indefinite
      blockade and night bombing. In each             period. Routes were carefully
      case, every effort was made to avoid            planned so that tribes with a
      setting patterns, in order to keep the          history of trouble making were
      tribes in a constant state of insecurity        also covered; aircraft often
      and apprehension. Taking tactic each            descended over them to leave
      in turn:                                        the villagers in no doubt that
                                                      they were being watched.28
      	 •	 Intensive air attack was
           regularly conducted by a series       	 •	 Night bombing (30 March
           of coordinated flight raids. The           onwards), although limited, was
           hours of daylight were divided             undertaken by individual aircraft
           into periods and these periods             employing moonlight to enable
           were allocated to squadrons                pilots to fix their positions
           in rotation. This form of attack           accurately. Attacks took place
           varied by directing more than              either against an observed
           one squadron on a selected                 target, or on localities where
           target during a defined                    it was advantageous to enforce
           period, thereby increasing the             the blockade. Reconnaissance
           intensity of the attack by                 flares were used to assist the
           concentrating all available                pilot in identifying targets,
           force at a predetermined time              but it was recognised that ‘no
           and place. Attempts were made              great material damage’ could be
           to achieve tactical surprise by            expected from night bombing.29
           altering the times and order of            To be effective, night bombing
                                                                                          104
     had to be continuous. However,          mutilation, followed by death;
     the tactic prolonged the blockade       although more routinely pilots
     into the hours of darkness, and         were held for ransom. The prospect
     in consequence disorganised the         of being found or rescued was
     normal pattern of life of               negligible; aircraft carried bedding,
     tribesmen still further. On             emergency rations and water.
     nights when bombing was not             Moreover, ‘every officer-airman
     viable, the R.A.F. relied on            carried a letter in Pashtu [and Urdu],
     delay-action bombs dropped              signed by the Chief Commissioner,
     during the previous day.                … offering a reward of Rs. 10,000
                                             to any tribesmen who brought the
To prevent pattern setting, a
                                             bearer to safety in the event of his
number of variations to the above
                                             having to make a forced landing
methods were introduced during the           in tribal territory.’31 These safety
campaign. For example, ‘desultory’           certificates were known commonly
bombing was carried out for a                as ‘gooli chits,’ as castrations without
number of days, followed by an               the benefit of anaesthetic was not
intensive and focused assault.30             unheard of. However, the actual
Orders were also given to stop all           treatment of the captured aircrew
raids at a set hour, in order to give        depended greatly on individual
the impression that attacks for the          circumstances and particularly on the
day had ceased, before a resumption          role they had just been undertaking.
of activity prior to last light. Moreover,
the times of attack were continually         Behind the scenes, preparations for
varied, as were the type of bombs            the forthcoming operations continued
employed, the time of delay-action           apace. Chaz Bowyer recalls in RAF
fuse used, and the number of aircraft        Operations, 1918-38 that:
selected. Night bombers were                 Pink wasted no time, and once
ordered to attain maximum height             Miramshah [Fort] had received its
over the aerodrome and then to               squadrons he flew to the fort from Tank
‘throttle down’ their engines in             to brief all personnel on the imminent
order to appear over the target as           operations – in itself a somewhat novel
silently as possible and a reserve           procedure at the time. Seating all
was always maintained at high                crews, air and ground, in a semi-circle
readiness to permit a heavy attack           around him Pink proceeded to explain
against an identified target. In             in detail the tactics and objectives
addition, and to help negate any             intended – to such good effect that on
forced landings in tribal territory,         concluding his talk the whole audience,
raids were carried out at sufficient         quite spontaneously rose to their feet and
height to allow pilots a realistic           actually clapped their applause! 32
chance of being able to reach one of
                                             Bowyer goes on to recollect that:
the three emergency landing grounds
                                             ‘This unprecedented gesture of
adjoining the operational area, should
                                             appreciation momentarily took
they encounter engine failure.
                                             Pink aback – in the words of
Forced landings in tribal territory          one NCO present, “Pink became
were something to be feared.                 scarlet – but I don’t think he was
Capture by the tribesman could entail        displeased really ...”’ 33
105
      The Terror that Flies:                    and specifically the tenet of nanawatai,
      Operations Commence                       the obligation to offer open-handed
                                                sanctuary without thought of reward,
      As the government was absolutely
                                                it was found that various friendly
      sure of the culpability of the tribes,
                                                villages were giving shelter to the
      activities began on 9 March with
                                                hostile tribesmen and their flocks;
      heavy attacks against all sections
                                                these villages were promptly warned
      concerned; any movement, human or
                                                by the Resident to cease such support.
      animal, seen within the proscribed
      area was liable to be bombed or           During the following days, the
      machine-gunned from the air without       friendly section of the Abdur
      warning. As expected, the main focus      Rahman Khel departed the Spli Toi
      of activity during the initial stage of   area altogether, convincing various
      the operation was directed against        hostile sections to return to their own
      the Abdur Rahman Khel, who had            tribal areas. R.A.F. operations had
      sensibly taken to the hills, moving       by this point forced the majority of
      everything they could. A number           unreceptive tribesmen into hiding
      of villages in Dre Algad were set         and completely upset their routine
      ablaze and a fortified watch-tower        pattern of life.
      was completely destroyed in the Spli      On 21 March, Flying Officer N.C.
      Toi area. Four days’ later operations     Hayter-Hames and E.J. Dashwood,
      came to a temporary halt, as various      while carrying out a bombing raid
      hostile sections, after expressing        in a D.H. 9A biplane from No. 27
      contempt for the effects of the           (B) Squadron, were forced to crash
      bombings, promised to comply with         land in hostile tribal territory from
      government demands. This was              an unknown cause; most probably
      a ruse by the defiant tribesmen to        accurate rifle-fire, although The Times
      buy time, and air attacks reassumed       reports simply that the ‘machine
      on 14 March.                              caught fire.’37 Flying Officer Hayter-
      The following day two captured            Hames, 23, was killed during the
      Hindus were brought into Spli Toi         heavy landing, which completely
      Post, and on 17 March the Abdur           destroyed the aircraft. Flying Officer
      Rahman Khel jirga arrived at Jandola      Dashwood, 22, the youngest son of Sir
      for negotiations.34 As was normal,        George and Lady Mary Dashwood,
      operations against this section were      who was thrown clear, fell into the
      immediately suspended to allow            hands of Guri Khel friendlies and
      negotiation to take place. During the     died shortly afterwards.38 Chaz
      ensuing jirga, the Resident announced     Bowyer recounts the incident:
      the terms to the tribesmen, ‘and an       Dashwood immediately went into the
      agreement was in sight when internal      burning wreck attempting to extricate
      dissentions caused a breakdown of         his pilot [Hayter-Hames] but suffered
      negotiations.’35 Operations against       serious burns. Dashwood was then taken
      the Abdur Rahman Khel were                in hand by some friendly Guri Khel who
      immediately reinstated and those          lavished elaborate care on the mortally
      against the remaining intractable         injured man, even slaughtering several
      sub-sections continued.36 However,        of their precious goats and using the
      under the tribal code of pashtunwali,     goat fat and skins to wrap the dying
                                                                                     106
Dashwood – an example of a form of       the tribe for one day to allow their
chivalrous mercy for any brave man       jirga to appear at Jandola. However,
sometimes displayed by the mountain      despite some positive signs of a
tribesmen even to his foes.39            breakthrough, nothing came of the
                                         meeting and operations resumed.
Flying Officer Dashwood’s body was
brought into Sorarogha on 22 March,      On 30 March a single Bristol Fighter
despite considerable opposition from     from No. 31 Squadron, Ambala,
the Karim Khel. Three days later, the    commanded by Flying Officer
Karim Khels, after serious haggling,     Reginald Pyne and fitted out for
recovered Flying Officer Hayter-         night-time flying, arrived at Tank
Hames’s body with a number of            to carry out night bombing raids.
rifles. Subsequently, a jirga occurred   With ground crew despatched to the
at Jandola, where the Karim Khels        landing grounds at Sorarogha and
surrendered their leading malik          Khirgi, employing searchlights and
as security for the payment of the       paraffin landing flares, the first flight
money fines.                             occurred on 4 April with notable
                                         results. Prior to this attack, the
Despite a number of small successes,
                                         tribesmen had considered themselves
it became clear that operations were
                                         relatively safe under the cover of
likely to become drawn-out. Social
                                         darkness, and the discovery that the
fragmentation and economic
                                         R.A.F. could operate effectively at
backwardness made the efficient
                                         night proved alarming, playing on the
imposition of collective punishment
                                         minds of the tribesmen. Confident
difficult. It was, therefore, deemed
                                         by the success of this new tactic, two
prudent to restrict the intensity
                                         more Bristol Fighters were flown
of the attacks in case further
                                         from Ambala to Tank for further night
operations became obligatory, or
                                         sorties. The arrival of these machines
that the present operations had to be
                                         resulted in a partial re-organisation of
conducted for an indefinite period.
                                         the operational force.41
Attacks on the tribes now developed
into an air blockade, conducted by       To achieve a greater effect and to
a pair of aircraft patrolling a          give evidence of the force which lay
designated area. However, the            behind the government’s word, the
Abdur Rahman Khel remained a             government decided to launch a large
 focus of activity, particularly as      offensive on 4 April immediately
rumours suggested that they were         prior to the first hours of darkness
planning on migrating across the         raid. Accordingly, 38 aircraft raids
Afghan border for safety.40 In           were coordinated during the hours of
addition, routine activity continued     daylight, totalling 52½ hours flying.
unabated against all hostile sections,   The combined action resulted in
but often with only limited short-       numerous tribal casualties, with the
term success. For example, the           night-time raid killing an infamous
R.A.F. destroyed a prominent fortified   Faridai, named Tormarchai. However,
watch-tower in a Maresai village,        the attack occurred with one incident
which proved to be a catalyst for        of note involving Squadron Leader
negotiations. As was customary,          T.F. Hazell, who had only recently
bombing was suspended against            been appointed Officer Commanding
107
      60 (B) Squadron.                           of friendly tribes were beginning
                                                 to refuse refuge to the radical
      … shortly after taking off from
                                                 tribesmen and their flocks, but some
      Miramshah he [Squadron Leader T.F.
                                                 still persisted in offering sanctuary,
      Hazell] noticed the engine cowling of
                                                 despite the dangers. As a result of
      his [de Havilland] DH9A coming loose.
                                                 multiple source information received
      Jettisoning his two 230 lb bombs – which
                                                 from the political authorities,
      landed near an army scout post to the
                                                 warnings were issued to the following
      alarm of its troops – Hazell decided to
      land as quickly as possible and chose      villages: Galli Punga, Pasti Khan,
      Sorarogha where its sloping landing        Jullamdar Pari Khel, Jemadar Didai’s
      strip ended abruptly in a sheer drop       village, Shinkai and Wazirgai.
      into a deep nullah (valley). With no       Intelligence reports also suggested
      option but to land down the sloping        that a large number of hostile Abdur
      strip Hazell skilfully ran his Ninak       Rahman Khel were sheltering with
      into a stone breastwork on the very        friendly tribesmen in the Sarela, and
      edge of the precipice. The DH9A was        a warning was issued to the district
      a write-off but Hazell and his petrified   on 12 April. At about this time
      gunner walked away from the wreck          information came to light to suggest
      with minor bruises.42                      that hostile families were sheltering
                                                 in the Barwand area, and that the
      In addition, the official report           Abdur Rahman Khel were likely to
      recalls that on 4 April: ‘A friendly       move to the Baddar Algad en route to
      ABDUR RAHMAN KHEL jirga                    Afghanistan. Authorisation to extend
      appeared at TANK on this day               the operation to all these areas was
      with various irrelevant suggestions        requested in writing; however, this
      which were rejected.’43                    was approved for the Baddar area
      Five days’ later an afternoon patrol       only on 20 April.
      sighted a large gathering of Faridai       With operations continuing at a
      tribesmen moving up the Dre Algad          brisk pace, representatives from
      in open country. This slow-moving          the Abdur Rahman Khel proposed
      target was immediately engaged             a peaceful conclusion to events
      by bomb and strafing machine-              on 12 April. These proposals were
      gun fire, with additional aircraft         considered to be genuine by the
      from Miramshah reinforcing the             Resident and, as a result, bombing
      ongoing assault. With numerous             of the Spli Toi area was stopped from
      casualties inflicted on the dispersing     14:00 hour on 13 April to midnight
      tribesmen, and the opportunity for         on 14 April. A jirga subsequently
      a rout at hand, the weather took
                                                 appeared, but no agreeable outcome
      an unexpected turn for the worse,
                                                 was obtained, despite extensive
      making it impossible to press home
                                                 negotiations; calculating the
      the attack. The circling aircraft
                                                 tribesmens’ bluff and sifting the
      reluctantly returned to base. This
                                                 wheat from the chaff during a jirga
      was the only reported gathering of
                                                 was a trying experience. Operations
      hostile tribesmen encountered in the
                                                 resumed the following day, with 57¾
      open during the entire operation.44
                                                 flying hours expended. Two more
      By this stage in the operation, a number   night raids were also undertaken.
                                                                                        108
Around this time contradictory              time allocated, and bombing was begun
reports were being received of              again, only to be suspended the same
the proposed intentions of the              evening on the receipt of the rifles.45
Faridai and Maresai sections.
                                            This was followed by a preliminary
To clarify matters and to avoid
                                            meeting with both hostile and
unduly prolonging operations, the
                                            friendly members of the tribe at
political authorities despatched a
                                            Sarwekai on 23 April, followed by
representative to Ahmedwam to
                                            a representative jirga on 28 April
attend a tribal jirga. A brief message
                                            at Jandola. After three days’ of
was received on 15 April from the
                                            prolonged and exhausting discussion,
envoy that the jirga would only
                                            due to the conflicting interests of
convene under certain conditions,
                                            all parties, terms were agreed on 1
which were immediately dismissed.
                                            May in Jandola, with practically
However, on the morning of 18
                                            no ill-will.46 The full fine of 16 rifles
April, the fine of seven government
                                            was accepted and guarantees for
rifles was met and three rifles
                                            payment within a practical timeframe
looted from the Gomal Police Post
                                            given. An honourable – if fragile –
were then turned in. At this point,
                                            peace ensued.
operations ceased against these
sections. Meanwhile, a constant             After 54 days of unremitting air
reconnaissance was maintained               action, and with all government terms
over the Baddar area to identify            accepted, except for one rifle which
signs of tribal migration. Constant         was remitted to the Biland Khel
bombing of the Abdur Rahman Khel            as a reward for their assistance in
hostiles continued.                         recovering Flying Officer Dashwood’s
                                            body, R.A.F. operations ceased against
On 17 April, a deputation of Abdur
                                            all hostile sections. Having barely
Rahman Khel mediators presented
                                            covered the campaign, The Times
peace terms to the authorities,
                                            reported: ‘The operations of the Royal
but their proposals were deemed
                                            Air Force in Waziristan have been
unrealistic and, therefore,
                                            crowned with complete success.’47
unacceptable. They returned at
                                            The total number of casualties
night-time on 20 April, this time was
                                            inflicted on the tribesmen was never
an agreeable promise of security, and
                                            officially quantified, not least as
they were granted a 24-hour lull in
                                            tribal losses were usually concealed
operations. The official report notes:
                                            and there were no reliable means of
It was now discovered that the hostiles     confirming rumours. However, in a
had actually left the SPLI TOI for          despatch from the government to the
BADDAR, but had been turned back by         Secretary of State from India dated 15
sections living en route who were afraid    October 1925, it was ‘estimated’ that
of being bombed. This forced them to        there were ‘11 human casualties only,
return either to SPLI TOI or BARWAND,       killed and wounded, caused by 154
and it was reported that, if peace was      tons of bombs and 100,000 rounds of
not concluded, they intended to go direct   ammunition,’ as most tribesmen left
to AFGHANISTAN via KHAISORA,                their villages and took shelter, with
to avoid further bombing. The three         their livestock, in caves, only allowing
security rifles were not produced by the    their cattle to graze under the cover of
109
      darkness.48 Additionally, there was        handing over 13 rifles as well as
      considerable damage to tribal flocks,      paying an outstanding fine. Therefore,
      but only moderate harm to houses;          there appeared little doubt in the
      although constructed only of mud           effectiveness of becoming subject
      brick, tribal homes were remarkably        to air operations. In summarising
      resilient against even the heaviest        the R.A.F. operations of 1925, the
      bombs. In comparison, The Times            Official History of Operations on the
      report of a routine punitive reprisal in   N.W. Frontier of India, 1920-35 notes:
      1922 notes: ‘On the 17th [December] a      ‘They were an instance of complete
      column of ground troops from Kotkai        success being achieved in securing
      attacked a hostile Mahsud gathering        submission of N.W. Frontier hostiles
      two hundred to three hundred               by air action alone, thus achieving the
      strong. At least eight Mahsuds             desired result at very small cost in
      were killed and twelve wounded.            casualties and money by comparison
      Our casualties were six killed and         with a punitive expedition carried out
      twenty-eight wounded, all Indian.’49       by the Army ...’ 53
      The contrast was stark. Moreover,
                                                 As was to be expected from an
      operations in Waziristan over six-
                                                 operation of this magnitude,
      months in 1919-1920 alone cost
                                                 a number of gallantry and
      the government 1,800 lives, 3,675
                                                 distinguished service awards were
      wounded and 40,000 sick casualties.50
                                                 approved by the King and officially
      The wider psychological effect of          gazetted. Squadron Leader A.J.
      the action on the tribesmen was            Capel, later to reach the rank of
      also difficult to determine, but the       Air Commodore, was awarded the
      inconvenience of denied access to his      Distinguished Service Order. Flight
      villages was great, ‘especially when       Lieutenants J.W. Baker, already in
      some vigorous and unforeseen allies        receipt of a Military Cross, W.N.
      of the Raj, myriads of fleas, made         Cumming, and Flying Officer R. Pyne
      life in the caves unendurable.’ 51         all received the Distinguished Flying
      A feeling of helplessness and an           Cross.54 Three sergeants, of whom
      inability to reply effectively to the      two were pilots, a corporal, and a
      constant attacks was particularly          leading aircraftsman, were awarded
      soul-destroying. Moreover, the official    the Distinguished Flying Medal. In
      report notes with some assurance:          addition, 14 R.A.F. personnel were
      ‘The moral effect of the bombing on        mentioned in dispatches, including
      tribesmen not included in the actual       Wing Commander R.C.M. Pink
      area of operations has also been           C.B.E. In addition, he was granted
      considerable: various fines which          accelerated promotion to Group
      were imposed before and during the         Captain as a reward for his skilful
      present operation have been paid           handling of the campaign,55 ‘apart
      up, and the decision of the Political      from being accorded a form of
      Authorities have been carried out          immortality in RAF annals by having
      with exemplary promptitude.’ 52            these operations thereafter referred
      This included the Bahadur Khel             to as ‘Pink’s War.’’ 56 Moreover, all
      and Shabi Khel paying outstanding          those who had served under Pink
      fines, and a section of Malikdinai,        during the period 9 March to 1 May
      led by an infamous outlaw, Shamdai,        1925 inclusive became entitled to wear
                                                                                               110
the India General Service Medal, 1908               open, those who owned land or had
with a clasp imprinted ‘Waziristan,                 somewhere to stay in Afghanistan
1925.’ 57 This was by far the rarest                could simply leave the area in
clasp given with the medal and was                  question uncontested.
only awarded after Sir John Salmond
                                                    However, there were more profound
succeeded in overturning the War
                                                    challenges with the timing of
Office decision not to grant the                    operations. By early March the R.A.F.
decoration. Forty-seven officers and                was nearing the end of a particularly
214 airmen received the award.                      busy training season, which had
Events in Perspective                               made considerable demands on
                                                    aircrew and on the reserves of ageing
Although the campaign was a                         fabric-covered machines, engines and
success, it was not without its lessons.            technical stores. The official report
The first important deduction was                   notes poignantly: ‘This [the training
that the period of time over which                  season], combined with an under-
the campaign was conducted was                      estimate of the financial requirements
unfavourable. Final approval for                    of the R.A.F. in India for the year
the start of operations was issued                  1924-25, resulted in a shortage in
by the government on 25 February,                   the necessary number of serviceable
with the first attacks against the                  aeroplanes and engines: on the eve
tribesmen occurring on 9 March. By                  of the operations this amounted, for
early March the worst of the cold                   the R.A.F. as a whole, to 27 aeroplanes
weather was over, and flying had to                 and 40 engines, the former being
be undertaken in ever-increasing                    due to the latter.’ 59 Cannibalisation
temperatures (April was unusually                   and local improvisation were
hot) and seasonable storms added                    commonplace in order to bring a
considerably to the strain on the                   single aeroplane up to flying standard
aircrew and supporting ground                       for operations, and workshop shifts
personnel.58 The timing also made                   were kept going day and night to
the blockade more bearable for the                  enable the squadrons to have aircraft
tribesmen and their families, as daily              available. Despite these challenges,
conditions were ever more pleasant                  2,700 hours were flown during the
and agreeable. Likewise, as the                     campaign over a demanding 54 day
passes into Afghanistan were now                    period; a significant achievement by


                                   Operational Statistics60
     Squadron             Total hours flown           War flying including   Machine flights
                      inclusive, plus one hour to      travelling flights
                          operating stations
                        Hours         Minutes         Hours        Minutes      Number
         5               671             5             463           20           363
         20               558            35            405            55          139
  31 (night flying)       97              0             46            20           29
         27               661            45            554            50          333
         60               724            45            600            30          358
       Totals            2713            10            2070           55          1222
111
      any standards.61 Nevertheless, by        landing at Sorarogha on 8 April,
      1 May this shortage had increased        while on 15 April a third aircraft
      to 85 aeroplanes and 44 engines. A       force-landed with engine trouble in
      breakdown of flying hours over the       open country. Although exclusively
      period of operations by squadron is      referring to death of Flying Officers
      shown in the table on page 110.          Dashwood and Hayter-Hames,
                                               the official report notes positively:
      Equally, there were challenges           ‘… previous experience of frontier
      with the number and experience           fighting shows that this is a small
      of available aircrews. All the           price to pay for enforcing our will
      knowledgeable pilots due to be           on such hardy mountaineers as the
      rotated out of India in the trooping     tribes concerned, living in the difficult
      season of 1924-25 had departed,          country of WAZIRISTAN. Nor do I
      and those who had replaced them          believe that the cost would have been
      were not available to take part in the   less had any other method of coercion
      operations, ‘since they had not had      been employed, indeed I think it must
      time to complete their training under    have been much more.’ 63
      Indian conditions, which differ from
      those at Home on account of the low      In spite of the impressive tally of
      density of the air and the height of     flying hours, on several occasions
      the landing grounds.’62 For those        during the campaign, bombing was
      travelling by troopship to India a       temporarily stopped to conduct
      flying break of over two months          peace jirgas or to allow property to
      needed rectifying. This initially        be collected as security; primitive
      occurred at the Aircraft Depot at        methods of tribal communication
      Karachi, before transferring to the      and transport often resulted in
      squadrons and the mentorship of          significant breaks in operations to
      an experienced pilot, enabling the       permit effective dialogue with tribal
      aircrew to become familiar with the      emissaries. In a number of these
      aircraft, local conditions and the       instances, the sections failed to
      unusual layout of the frontier           comply with the stated conditions
      stations. This could take up to a        within the specified timeframe and
      month to complete, including a           attacks resumed. The official report
      series of solo flights, until deemed     notes: ‘The disadvantages of such
                                               respites are obvious; they enable the
      ready for operations.
                                               enemy to recover from the strain
      Despite such practical challenges,       which the bombing attacks inflict,
      a total of 2,700 flying hours in         they facilitate the removal of valuable
      antiquated aircraft only resulted        property [and flocks to a place of
      in one fatal incident on 21 March,       safety], they give the tribesmen the
      resulting in the death of Flying         impression that our resolution is
      Officers Dashwood and Hayter-            weakening and provide opportunities
      Hames. However, there were a             for those who wish to do so, to slip
      number of recorded crash landings.       away out of reach of further attacks.’ 64
      In addition to Squadron Leader           Of significance, on more than one
      Hazell’s heavy landing on 4 April        occasion the tribes came to terms
      at Sorarogha, Flight Lieutenant          without any initial break in activity,
      R.C. Savery also made an emergency       or after bombing had been resumed
                                                                                       112
on the cessation of a respite. For           practicable in the future.’66 However,
example, between 15-18 April the             the reality was that the well-disposed
Faridai and Maresai complied with            elements of the tribe suffered
government terms without a pause of          by necessity with those whose
operations against them. Similarly,          transgressions had brought about the
the Abdur Rahman Khel surrendered            operations in the first instance. This
three rifles required as a guarantee of      was despite a perceived familiarity of
peaceful behaviour on 21 April after         the terrain and tribesmen. The Times
bombing had recommenced against              notes optimistically: ‘In consequence
them. These examples demonstrated            of the detailed knowledge of
to the authorities that a lull in activity   the country acquired since the
was not always necessary and,                occupation, it has been possible to
whenever possible, that operations           isolate the offending tribes, and the
should continue unabated, until the          result has been greatly to increase the
initial terms had been complied with         effect of the operations.’ 67 However,
in whole or adequate security for the        this was not always true. A lack of
fulfilment of the conditions given.          information was an important factor
However, as soon as the period of            in prolonging operations. As this was
apprehension and the initial shock           the first time that independent air
waves are over, evidence suggested           action was used on the frontier, the
that it was not the way force was            inadequacy of the R.A.F. intelligence
applied but its effectiveness that was       structure and poor mapping and
feared the most.                             photographic intelligence played a
As to be expected ‘with a method             major role in the extended duration
that was often criticized on the score       of operations.
that it was brutal …,’ 65 the thorny         Conclusion
issue of the delineation between
hostile and friendly tribesmen reared        In 54 days the R.A.F. demonstrated
its head in the official report. This        that a proven alternative to costly,
was noteworthy as the operations             protracted and elaborate punitive
appeared to have few constraints             expeditions existed to control the
placed upon them; the idea was               frontier tribes: no ground troops
simply to get the tribesmen to               were used. Against a particularly
come to terms in the quickest time           intractable section of the Mahsuds,
possible. Pushing the issue firmly to        the continuous operations of the
one side with a preamble that states:        air arm, despite severe aircraft and
‘It is unnecessary to deal at length         engine shortages, also secured
with the difficulties which are created      considerable respect from the army
for the Royal Air Force by the division      and the civil authorities. This was
of the MAHSUD tribes into hostile            particularly noteworthy as air control
and so-called friendlies,’ the official      was often opposed in that it was
report notes, ‘all are agreed that           thought to be solely punitive and
such differentiation is undesirable,         contrary to a policy that aimed to
and that full tribal responsibility          ‘civilize’ the tribes through personal
should be enforced.’ The issue is            contact.68 Many senior British
concluded simply by saying: ‘It is           officers, including some viceroys,
hoped that such a policy will prove          disliked the concept of airpower
113
      for this reason alone.69 Moreover,          the army high command never again
      the lessons learnt from operations          gave the R.A.F. responsibility for an
      against the Abdur Rahman Khel and           independent air campaign on the
      other Mahsud tribes ensured that            frontier, confining Pink’s War to the
      the technique of air control in the         chronicles of history.
      future would be even more effective
                                                  Notes
      and efficient. The official report
                                                  1
      concludes by stating:                         A.M. Roe, “Friends in High Places:
                                                  Air Power on The North-West Frontier
      This is the first occasion in INDIA that
                                                  of India,” Air Power Review, vol. 11, no.
      the R.A.F. has been used independently
                                                  2 (summer 2008): 31.
      of the Army for dealing with a situation    2
                                                    H.L. Nevill, North-West Frontier:
      which has got beyond the resources of the
                                                  British and Indian Army Campaigns on
      political officers. It is at present too
                                                  the North-West Frontier of India, 1849-
      early to judge how lasting will be the
                                                  1908 (London: Donovan Publishing,
      effect or how permanent will be the
                                                  1912), 21; A.M Roe, Waging War in
      impression of this display of air power
                                                  Waziristan: The British Struggle in
      on the stubborn tribesmen of the North-
                                                  the Land of Bin Laden, 1849-1947
      West Frontier, but it is claimed that the
                                                  (Kansas: University Press of Kansas,
      operations prove that in the R.A.F. the
                                                  2010), 71-75.
      Government of INDIA have a weapon           3
                                                    Hostilities against aircraft were poor
      which is more economical in men and
                                                  sport, resulting in few casualties.
      money and more merciful in its action
                                                  Although one flying officer wrote in
      than other forms of armed force for
                                                  1928 that ‘their [Mahsud] rifle fire
      dealing with the majority of problems,
                                                  … was uncomfortably like that of a
      which arise beyond the administrative
                                                  machine-gun, and almost as effective.’
      frontier. That they have not been
                                                  _____, “The Mahsud Operations,
      without effect on sections of the
                                                  1920 (No. 31 Squadron),” The Hawk:
      MAHSUDS who were not included
                                                  The Annual Journal of the R.A.F. Staff
      in the area of operations is shown by
                                                  College, vol. 1, no. 1 (1928): 127.
      a number of settlements which have          4
                                                    This generally followed a predictable
      been effected during the progress of
                                                  pattern. Initially the tribesmen were
      the operations, notably the case of the
                                                  excited, defiant and boastful of the
      surrender of the rifles looted from the
                                                  revenge they would take afterwards.
      GOMAL Police Post.70
                                                  Next came internal quarrels, blaming
      It is significant that during the next      each other for having caused the
      eleven years, a combination of regular      trouble in the first instance, and
      troops, scouts, kassadars (tribal           fierce protests at the injustice of
      policemen) and the R.A.F. succeeded         the government. This was followed
      in substantially reducing the violence      by boredom and frustration as the
      in Waziristan, with only minor tribal       tribesmen watched their homes being
      raids to upset the peace. The political     destroyed and crops deteriorate from
      authorities realised that air power,        the relative safety of their caves.
      when properly employed, provided            Finally came the stage of reluctant
      an effective means of helping control       – but often good-natured – peace
      the tribesmen. However, despite a           offers, generally by sections in order
      number of well-argued proposals,            to save face and avoid complying with
                                                                                    114
government terms.                          (London: Spellmount Ltd., 2004);
5
  As a means of controlling the            G. Molesworth, Afghanistan, 1919
Empire’s outer reaches within the          (London: Asia Publishing House,
economic constraints of the day, air       1962); and The Third Afghan War,
control became the system by which         1919: Official Account (Calcutta:
an area was dealt with primarily by        Government of India Central
air action, in which the R.A.F. was the    Publishing Branch, 1926).
                                           11
predominant arm and the responsible           The British were compelled to
commander an airman. This method           retire from Wana Fort, where a small
was honed over time in response to         element of the South Waziristan
complex situations on the frontier,        Militia mutinied and seized the
disorder and banditry in Iraq,             armoury, capturing 1,200 rifles
disturbances in Aden, and uprising in      and approximately 700,000 rounds
Palestine and Transjordan.                 of ammunition.
6                                          12
  C.J. Mackay, “The Influence in the          Official History of Operations on
Future of Aircraft upon Problems of        the N.W. Frontier of India, 1920-35
Imperial Defence,” Journal of the Royal    (Manager of Publications, Delhi,
United Service Institution, vol. LXVII     1945), 33-35.
                                           13
(February to November 1922): 299;             Of note, during 1910 1,000 Mahsuds
Roe, Waging War in Waziristan, 23-28.      were allowed to enlist in the Regular
7
  For example, consecutive British         Army and in 1911, owing to a drought
Ministers in Kabul disputed the            that resulted in the failure of the
effectiveness of air control and           autumn harvest, 2,000 Mahsuds were
questioned the morality of its             given work on the construction of the
employment. Sir Francis Humphrys           Pezu-Tank branch of the Kalabagh-
believed that aerial attack would          Bannu railway.
                                           14
increase the extreme dislike and              E. Ellington, The London Gazette,
bitterness of the British amongst          supplement, 17 November 1925, 7596.
                                           15
the tribes. Sir R. Maconachie,                The head of the political hierarchy
Humphry’s successor, believed              on the frontier resided in Peshawar.
that the R.A.F. was simply unable          He wore two hats: he was Chief
to distinguish from the air between        Commissioner (in 1932 upgraded
friendly and unfriendly villages.          to Governor) of the cis-frontier
8
  C.F.A. Portal, “Air Force Co-operation   districts, but in his dealings with
in Policing the Empire,” Journal of the    Tribal Territory he was Agent to the
Royal United Service Institution, vol.     Governor General (AGG), having
LXXXII, no. 526 (May 1937): 350.           under him the Resident, Waziristan
9
  To open up the country a central         (Waziristan had been under military
road was built from Bannu to               command since 1919 but on 31
Razmak, headquarters of a brigade          March 1924 a political resident was
group; then to Wanna on the west           appointed), established in Dera Ismail
of the Mahsud territory, and from          Khan, and Political Agents for North
Wanna a circular road to connect up        Waziristan in Miramshah, South
with the Derajat frontier.                 Waziristan in Tank, and the Kurram in
10
   See B. Robson, Crisis on the            Parachinar. Under the Political Agents
Frontier: The Third Afghan War and         were Assistant Political Agents in
the Campaign in Waziristan 1919-20         Wana, Sararogha and Miramshah.
115
      16
         A. J. Young, “Royal Air Force          single-engined fighter and
      North-West Frontier, India, 1915-39,”     reconnaissance biplane powered by
      Journal of the Royal United Services      a 400 horse power Liberty engine.
      Institute 127 (1982), 61.                 In contrast with its predecessor, the
      17
         Ellington, The London Gazette, 7596.   D.H. 9, the D.H. 9A had an enviable
      18
         Ibid., 7596-7.                         reputation for reliability. The aircraft
      19
         Built at the end of 1924 as an         had a maximum speed of 123 miles
      extension to a scouts’ fort, Miramshah    per hour and could carry up to 740
      was to become a favourite outpost         pounds of bombs on under-wiring and
      with the air and ground crews. A fort     fuselage racks. It also had one Vickers
      strongly reminiscent of the film ‘Beau    gun facing forward and a Lewis gun
      Geste,’ with strong outer walls and       mounted aft.
                                                22
      battlements, it had an inner ‘keep’          This included a warning that long-
      into which aircraft were wheeled          delay action bombs would be used
      at night and secured. The ground          (set to explode at uncertain intervals),
      outside the fort was levelled on the      and that it was advisable to remove
      north and west to give an L-shaped        woman and children from tribal
      landing area, the surface being fines     villages should operations commence.
                                                23
      stones on rock.                              Ellington, The London Gazette, 7596.
      20                                        24
         The force was located as follows:         C. Bowyer, RAF Operations, 1918-38
      No. 5 (A.C.) Squadron – Bristol           (London: William Kimber & Co., Ltd.,
      Fighter – Tank (10 airplanes, 14          1988), 172.
                                                25
      officers and 69 airmen); No. 27 (B)          “The Air Campaign in Waziristan,”
      Squadron – D.H. 9A – Miramshah            The Times, 21 November 1925.
                                                26
      (8 airplanes, 15 officers and 58             Roe, Waging War in Waziristan, 37.
                                                27
      airmen) and; No. 60 (B) Squadron –           After a number of experiments,
      D.H. 9A – Miramshah (8 airplanes,         the best bomb-load for the purpose
      13 officers and 67 airmen). Including     on the D.H. 9A was found to be eight
      the Headquarters in Tank (5 officers      20 lb bombs under each plane and
      and 20 airmen) the total force            two 112 lb bombs under the centre
      consisted of 26 airplanes, 47 officers    section. The 20 lb bombs were used
      and 214 airmen.                           for harassing action generally, and
      21
         The Bristol F.2 B Fighter was          the 112 lb bombs against any major
      a two-seat biplane fighter and            targets observed.
                                                28
      reconnaissance aircraft, which had           Blockade action was frequently
      seen service on the Western Front.        extended to include ‘wireless
      Often referred to as the ‘Brisfit’ or     telegraphy’ patrols, which signalled
      ‘Biff,’ the F.2 B proved to be an agile   back news of any important activity to
      and manoeuvrable aircraft, with a         reinforcing flights standing by at ten
      maximum speed of 123 miles per            minutes notice to move.
                                                29
      hour. It was capable of carrying             Ellington, The London Gazette, 7597.
                                                30
      240 pounds of bombs and had a                Ibid.
                                                31
      forward-firing Vickers .303 machine-         H.C. Wylly, The Green Howards in
      gun and a movable Lewis gun in the        The Great War (London: Butler and
      observer’s cockpit. The de Havilland      Tannes Ltd., 1926), 26.
                                                32
      D.H. 9A, also known as the ‘Ninak’           Bowyer, RAF Operations, 1918-38, 171.
                                                33
      (from the designation ‘nine-A’), was a       Ibid.
                                                                                      116
34
   This was relatively unusual             Searchlight Party – Sorarogha; and
occurrence, but it was far from            Searchlight Party – Khirgi.
                                           42
unique. Frank Baines recalls a more           Bowyer, RAF Operations, 1918-38, 175.
                                           43
common outcome: ‘And then there               Ellington, The London Gazette, 7598.
                                           44
was the story of the Hindu baniya             Ibid., 7599.
                                           45
who was caught outside Mirali …. He           Ibid.
                                           46
had the skin from the soles of his feet       The tribesmen regarded the
slit off, and, having been deprived        aeroplane as an impersonal agent of
of his sandals, was sent back sixteen      government. It is worthy of note that
miles into camp where he arrived           throughout the campaign the attitude
after two days, covered in flies, having   of the jirgas was relatively friendly,
crawled every inch of the way, in a        and for officers of the R.A.F. the
temperature of 105° in the shade, on       Mahsuds showed a marked respect
his hands and knees and his belly.’        based on admiration for the work
F. Baines, Officer Boy (London: Eyre &     they conducted.
                                           47
Spottiswoode, 1971), 145.                     “Pacification of Waziristan,” The
35                                         Times, 4 May 1925.
   Ellington, The London Gazette, 7598.
36                                         48
   One flight from No. 20 (A.C.)              Air Historic Branch, Principles to
Squadron was sent to Tank on               be adopted in flying on the frontier,
18 March to reinforce No. 5                Despatch from the Government
(A.C.) Squadron.                           of India (Foreign and Political
37                                         Department), (No. 11 of 1925), to
   “Two R.A.F. Officers Killed,” The
Times, 24 March 1925.                      the Secretary of State for India, 15
38                                         October 1925, 1.
   The R.A.F. made it a principle
                                           49
‘never to relax pressure’ against a           “Sharp Fight with Mahsuds,” The
wayward section just because they          Times, 23 December 1922.
                                           50
had hostages in tribal territory. J.          J. Slessor, The Central Blue:
Slessor, The Central Blue: Recollections   Recollections and Reflections (London:
and Reflections (London: Cassell & Co.     Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1956), 54.
                                           51
Ltd., 1956), 67.                              ‘The Looker-On,’ “The North-West
39
   Bowyer, RAF Operations, 1918-38, 172.   Frontier in the Thirties–I,” in The Army
40
   The international border, marked        Quarterly (January 1969): 253.
                                           52
along its length by infrequent white          Ellington, The London Gazette, 7599.
                                           53
stone markers, was inviolate to               Official History of Operations on
government troops or aircraft, except      the N.W. Frontier of India, 1920-35
in an emergency.                           (Manager of Publications, Delhi,
41
   The redistribution was as follows:      1945), 34.
                                           54
Operational Headquarters – Tank;              Baker performed 69 hours of war
1 Flight – No. 31 (A.C.) Squadron          flying, including 35 bombing raids;
– Bristol Fighter (for night flying) –     Cumming undertook 72 hours of
Tank; 1 Flight – No. 5 (A.C.) Squadron     war flying, including 41 bombing
– Bristol Fighter – Miramshah; 1           raids; and Pyne conducted 9 night-
Flight – No. 20 (A.C.) Squadron            time raids.
                                           55
– Bristol Fighter – Miramshah; 2              In July 1931 Pink was promoted
Flights – No. 27 (B) Squadron – D.H.       to Air Commodore but was taken ill
9A – Miramshah; 2 Flights – No. 60         shortly after and eventually died of
(B) Squadron – D.H. 9A – Miramshah;        cancer on 7 March 1932.
117
      56
         Bowyer, RAF Operations, 1918-38,          E. Ellington, The London Gazette,
      178; G. Torpy, “Counter-Insurgency:          supplement, 17 November 1925, 7597.
                                                   59
      Echoes from the Past,” in Journal of The        Ibid., 7600; Philip Towle recalls:
      Royal United Services Institute, vol. 152,   ‘One officer who arrived in India
      no. 5 (October 2007): 20.                    about this time found that tyres,
      57
         The British Government awarded            inner tubes, shock absorbers and
      a campaign medal, or a ‘clasp’ to            other essential spares were all in
      an existing medal, for the following         short supply. He also noted with
      campaigns: Waziristan, 1894-95;              indignation someone from another
      Chitral, 1895; Malakand, 1897;               squadron trying to steal wheels
      Samana, 1897; Tirah, 1897-98;                from one of his aircraft.’ P.A. Towle,
      Waziristan, 1901-02, Mohmand,                Pilots and Rebels: The Use of Aircraft
      1908; Third Afghan War, 1919;                in Unconventional Warfare, 1918-
      Mahsud, 1919-20; Waziristan, 1919-           1988 (London: Brassey’s Defense
      21; Waziristan, 1921-24; Waziristan,         Publishers, 1989), 40.
                                                   60
      1925; North-West Frontier, 1930-                Ellington, The London Gazette, 7601.
                                                   61
      31; Mohmand, 1933; North-West                   Captain J.B. Glubb notes that
      Frontier, 1935; Waziristan, 1936 and;        ‘…. like all mechanical devices,
      Waziristan, 1937-39. The Waziristan          aeroplanes require a certain amount
      campaign of 1925 was the only one            of time for overhaul or repair. Should
      to be conducted solely by the R.A.F.,        the minimum time necessary for
      without army participation.                  such attention not be allocated to
      58
         Except in the morning and evening,        the machine, their efficiency very
      atmospheric turbulence made                  rapidly decreases.’ J.B. Glubb, “Air
      accurate bombing problematic. The            and Ground Forces in Punitive
      official report notes: ‘MIRAMSHAH            Expeditions,” in Journal of the Royal
      is 3,000 feet high and is surrounded         United Service Institution, vol. LXXI
      by hills. It is liable to very sudden        (1926): 779.
                                                   62
      and serve storms, which, when                   Ibid.
                                                   63
      accompanied by hail, made flying                Ibid.
                                                   64
      both difficult and dangerous. These             Ibid. However, breaks in
      storms usually came up about 12              operations also allowed the
      noon and lasted until 3 p.m.                 squadrons to: conduct necessary
      The aerodrome was rendered                   aircraft maintenance, complete a
      unserviceable for a long or short            multitude of routine – but important
      period after such storms according           – administrative tasks and; bring their
      to their intensity and endurance.            intelligence up-to-date.
                                                   65
      TANK was not affected by these                  Slessor, The Central Blue, 66.
                                                   66
      storms, but was very much hotter                Ellington, The London Gazette, 7601.
                                                   67
      than MIRAMSHAH, recording                       “Pacification of Waziristan,” The
      shade temperatures over 100 degrees          Times, 4 May 1925.
                                                   68
      during part of March and April.                 Slessor, The Central Blue, 54.
                                                   69
      Operations were interfered with on              Towle, Pilots and Rebels, 40-43.
                                                   70
      6 occasions by rain and hail storms.            Ellington, The London Gazette, 7600.
      Atmospherics interfered considerably
      with the W/t communications
      between MIRAMSHAH and TANK.’
118
119




            False Start: the Enduring Air
           Power Lessons of the Royal Air
            Force’s Campaign in Norway,
                  April-June 1940


                       By Group Captain Alistair Byford




      2010 marks the seventieth anniversary of the expeditionary campaign that
      was fought in Norway in the spring and early summer of 1940. Although
      the operation was eclipsed at the time by the Blitzkrieg in France and then
      subsequently by the Battle of Britain, it is worthy of study as a significant
      milestone in the development of air power; the Luftwaffe demonstrated, for the
      first time in modern warfare, how all four air power capabilities – control of the
      air, intelligence and situational awareness, air lift and attack – could be brought
      together to influence a joint campaign decisively. In contrast, the RAF’s
      activities were much less successful, primarily because it was neither organised
      nor equipped to undertake expeditionary warfare, but it still contributed more
      to the campaign than is generally acknowledged. In particular, air operations
      around Narvik played a part in the Allies’ relative success in the far north,
      and act as a useful point of comparison with the disastrous experience in
      south-central Norway. This essay argues that considered analysis of Norway
      1940 highlights many lessons that are still of real contemporary relevance; in
      particular, the critical importance of control of the air in enabling all other
      activities; the psychological impact of air power; and air power’s potential as a
      force multiplier, providing mobility and firepower to small bodies of troops in
      extremely difficult terrain. But the limits of the air weapon were also evident,
      especially its dependence on force protection and secure basing in a campaign
      that was dominated by range and distance, time and space, and the paucity of
      useable airfields.
                                                                                                  120
                                                       of British arms in modern warfare
                                                       since 1918, and also as the RAF’s first
                                                       attempt to influence the outcome of
                                                       a truly joint, tri-service campaign.
                                                       Yet in the historiography, analysis
                                                       of the RAF’s contribution tends to
                                                       be superficial, and is coloured by a
                                                       pervasive impression of hopeless
                                                       gallantry in a lost cause: of outdated
                                                       biplanes flown from frozen lakes in
                                                       the face of overwhelming German
                                                       air superiority; or the tragedy of the
                                                       loss of two fighter squadrons when
                                                       the aircraft carrier evacuating them
                                                       was sunk, a particular irony after the
                                                       triumph of the unrehearsed deck
                                                       landings that seemed to have
                                                       guaranteed their unlikely escape.3
                                                       In reality, the RAF’s experience
                                                       in Norway was far more complex
                                                       and nuanced, and the campaign
                                                       highlights many lessons that are
                                                       still of real contemporary relevance;
                                                       indeed, few operations demonstrate
The failure of the RAF as an expeditionary air force   the enduring verities of air power
in Norway in 1940 is poignantly captured by this       with quite such stark clarity.
image of a wrecked Gladiator, still visible seven      Furthermore, the Luftwaffe’s activities,
years later at Lake Lesjaskog. 1
                                                       if not always the RAF’s, marked a
Introduction                                           step change in the development
                                                       of air power, presaging the way in


I
    n 2010, historic commemoration                     which the collective employment
    within the Royal Air Force has                     of the whole panoply of air power
    focused almost exclusively on the                  capabilities can be employed to
seventieth anniversary of the Battle                   generate decisive effects that can
of Britain. This is understandable,                    fundamentally influence the outcome
because as John Terraine notes,                        of an entire campaign.4
this iconic event remains ‘the one
indisputable victory in a recognizable                 Strategy and Plans
air battle of decisive importance.’ 2                  Following the outbreak of war, Britain
But celebration of the Battle of Britain               and France had sensibly adopted a
has eclipsed another important                         posture of strategic defence while
anniversary: the much less successful                  they continued to mobilized and
but nonetheless noteworthy part                        rearm. But as the ‘Phoney War’
that the RAF played in the disastrous                  dragged on through the winter of
Allied expedition to Norway in the                     1939, pressure began to mount for
spring of 1940. This campaign is                       some sort of initiative to be taken,
significant, both as the first real test               although there was absolutely no
121
      appetite for any action on the            approval for the less than inspiringly
      Continental mainland that might           named Operation Wilfred. This was
      precipitate a reprise of the horror       a scheme to mine the Leads and
      of the trench warfare of 1914-18;         thus force the iron ore ships out into
      instead, a limited, expeditionary         international waters, where they
      adventure to a remote theatre seemed      could be engaged and destroyed
      to be a far safer and more palatable      by the Royal Navy. As this would
      alternative, and the ‘Winter War’,        almost certainly provoke a German
      which had broken out between              reaction, a contingency plan (‘R.4’)
      Finland and Germany’s then ally, the      was developed to accompany Wilfred.
      Soviet Union, focused attention on        This aimed to shore up Norwegian
      Scandinavia in general and Norway         resistance to any attempted German
      in particular. At one level, this was     occupation by deploying a British
      simply a case of access to resources.     Expeditionary Force to hold a number
      Over two-thirds of the iron used          of key ports. But R.4 was purely
      by Germany’s armaments industry           reactive, the allocation of forces was
      originated in Scandinavia and             pitifully small - and the Wehrmacht
      although it was mined in Sweden,          acted first.
      it had to be shipped through the
                                                The German operation was prompted
      ice-free Norwegian port of Narvik.
                                                initially by the Altmark incident. On
      This meant that German cargo
                                                16 February, the destroyer HMS
      vessels could then take advantage of
                                                Cossack had intercepted the Graf
      Norway’s strict neutrality by making
                                                Spee’s supply ship deep in Norwegian
      passage down the coast through the
                                                territorial waters, liberating the 300
      Norwegian Leads, effectively free of
                                                British prisoners carried aboard to
      the fear of British attack. But more
                                                the famous cry “the Navy’s here!”
      fundamentally, Norway’s geographic
                                                This convinced Hitler that Britain
      position meant that it dominated the
                                                was ready to flout international law
      North Sea, and this imbued it with
                                                whenever it suited her to do so,
      huge strategic significance: either as
                                                and reinforced his instinct that he
      a potential base for British attempts
                                                needed to move quickly to forestall
      to blockade Germany, or for German
                                                any larger-scale Allied encroachment
      attempts to sever Britain’s supply
                                                on Norwegian neutrality. His
      routes. Consequently, both Germany
                                                response was Operation Weserübung
      and the Allies developed plans to
                                                (the ‘River Exercise’), which aimed
      secure Norway, either to promote
                                                to secure Norway once and for all.
      their own strategic interests directly,
                                                This was the first genuinely joint air,
      or to counter any potential move by
                                                land and maritime operation to be
      their opponents.
                                                attempted in modern warfare, with
      Winston Churchill, the First Lord         each component depending totally
      of the Admiralty, was the most            on the others to achieve operational
      vociferous advocate of intervention       success. Quite correctly, the German
      in Scandinavia. Despite Finland’s         planners assessed that the outcome
      eventual defeat in the Winter War, he     would depend on the huge distances
      continued to champion the idea of         involved, the difficulty of the terrain,
      an expedition to Norway throughout        and the paucity of suitable airfields
      the spring of 1940, eventually gaining    and ports. They concluded that a
                                                                                       122
closely coordinated joint assault was       Liability decreed that there would be
required, not just on Norway, but also      no large-scale commitment of ground
on Denmark, to secure mounting              forces to any future continental war;
bases and the lines of communication        instead, the British contribution
into the operational theatre. The           would be confined to the RAF and
power of the Luftwaffe would be             Royal Navy, operating from secure
used as an antidote to British              bases in Great Britain itself. Although
naval supremacy, and shock and              this policy was abandoned in March
surprise (subsequently described            1939 - when the German invasion
by the British as ‘gangster tactics’ 5 )    of the rump of Czechoslovakia
would be employed ruthlessly to             finally demonstrated that a British
mitigate the very real risks involved.      Expeditionary Force would have to
Grossadmiral Raeder, commander-in-          be established to support the French
chief of the Kriegsmarine, summarised       on the Continent - by this stage it was
the intention in his Operational            simply too late to alter the priorities
Instruction: ‘The prerequisites for         that had been set in the rearmament
success are surprise and rapid action       programme, or to restructure the RAF
executed with boldness, tenacity            for a different sort of war to the one
and skill.’ 6 The aim was to use            that had been anticipated during pre-
overwhelming force to complete the          war expansion.
mission as quickly as possible, so
that the forces employed could be           One consequence of Limited Liability
made available as soon as possible for      was the RAF’s decision (implemented
Fall Gelb (‘Case Yellow’), the Blitzkrieg   in 1936) to structure itself into
on France; the key to success would         three, mono-functional, commands:
be the seizure of the few available         Fighter, Bomber and Coastal. This
ports and airfields at the outset, as       created a framework that was ideal
this would then make it extremely           for managing single-role campaigns
difficult for the Allies to mass            fought from well-found, permanent
sufficient combat power to mount            bases in the metropolitan homeland,
an adequate response. The first             where little inter-command
German naval units sailed on 7 April,       cooperation was required: examples
and Weserübung itself was launched          were to include the Battle of Britain,
on 9 April 1940, forestalling Wilfred       the RAF’s contribution to the Battle
just as the British operation was           of the Atlantic and the Strategic
about to begin.                             Bombing Offensive against Germany.
                                            But as events in Norway and then
Policy and Force Structure:                 France were to demonstrate, the
the RAF in 1940                             single-role command model did not
The RAF’s organisation in 1940              provide a structure that could be
demonstrates the impact of policy           readily used to deploy and support
on strategy, doctrine and force             an expeditionary air component in
structure. British inter-war policy         the field, or integrate the balanced
was based on the concept of                 mix of air power capabilities required
‘Limited Liability’. Driven by              by a joint force – a requirement that
the imperative to avoid the mass            had never been envisaged in the era
casualties of the Great War, Limited        of Limited Liability. It is telling that
123
      when British forces again engaged                      to the interceptor fighters and long-
      the main force of the enemy by land,                   range bomber aircraft required for
      multi-function air commands (such                      a strategic air force intended to fight
      as the Western Desert Air Force in                     from Great Britain. There seemed to
      North Africa and 2 ATAF (Allied                        be little point in investing in air lift,
      Tactical Air Force) for the north-west                 when policy dictated that there would
      Europe campaign) had to be created;                    be no expeditionary force requiring
      but these had no equivalent in 1940,                   this capability. Consequently,
      and this meant that the organisation                   other than a few obsolete Bristol
      of the RAF’s expeditionary capability                  Bombays, there was no British
      in Norway would inevitably be                          counterpart to the cheap and reliable
      extemporised and ad hoc.                               German Ju 52/3m tri-motor transports
                                                             that were to have a huge influence
                                                             on the campaign.
                                                             In contrast to the RAF’s structure,
                                                             the Luftwaffe was organised into
                                                             balanced, multi-role air fleets or
                                                             Luftflotten, which were ideal vehicles
                                                             for the delivery of tactical air power, if
                                                             less effective for conducting strategic
                                                             air campaigns. Luftflotte 5 was
                                                             created specifically for Weserübung:
                                                             it was allocated over 500 combat
                                                             aircraft for the operation, including
                                                             50 reconnaissance aircraft, 150 single
                                                             and twin-engine fighters, and 330
                                                             medium and dive-bombers. 571 Ju
                                                             52 transports were also included as
                                                             organic elements of its battle order,
                                                             and these were to fly 3,018 sorties,
                                                             carrying vital supplies and 29,280
                                                             troops over Norway’s difficult terrain
                                                             and endowing the Wehrmacht with a
                                                             tempo and flexibility that the Allies
      Although this Ju 52 transport met a premature end at
                                                             never came close to matching.
      Trondheim, air lift was critical for the Wehrmacht,
                                                             The German Assault
      not just in supporting land operations, but also in
      seizing and then supplying the captured air bases      At dawn on 9 April, Ju 52s transported
      that underwrote the Luftwaffe’s ability to control
                                                             paratroops and air landing battalions
      the air. 7
                                                             to assault the three most significant
      The lack of an air transport fleet was                 Norwegian airfields: Stavanger-Sola,
      another example of the way that                        Oslo-Fornebu and Oslo-Kjeller. The
      Limited Liability had skewed the                       slow and highly vulnerable transports
      RAF’s force structure. With limited                    operated with relative impunity
      time and resources available for                       thanks to the escorting long-range
      rearmament, priority in the pre-war                    Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighters,
      expansion plans was naturally given                    which quickly overwhelmed the tiny
                                                                                   124
Norwegian air defence force of            of the Kriegmarine’s destroyer force
just one squadron of nine Gloster         in two separate battles around the
Gladiator biplanes.8 At Fornebu, the      key strategic port of Narvik, although
Gladiators managed to shoot down a        not before the German occupying
Ju 52 and two Bf 110s before they were    force had already been landed.
destroyed, an early indication of the     Meanwhile, the bloodless occupation
vulnerability of these unwieldy twin-     of the Danish peninsular secured the
engine fighters, even to obsolescent      strategic air and sea supply routes
biplanes. However, the airborne           into theatre. This meant that despite
troops were still able to secure all      the Royal Navy’s overwhelming
three airfields quickly. German air       numerical superiority, by noon on
superiority was then reinforced by        the first day of the operation the
further judicious employment of the       Wehrmacht had occupied every air
air transport fleet, which was used to    or sea port of any consequence
fly fuel, weapons and servicing crews     in Norway itself, and had also
into the captured bases immediately,      established a secure mounting base
permitting short-range tactical           only 200 miles away. These were
aircraft to be refuelled and rearmed      critical successes in a campaign that
                                          was to be dominated by range and
as close to the fighting as possible.
                                          distance, and the Germans were
Highly capable Messerschmitt Bf 109
                                          now free to start the process of
single-engine fighters and Ju 87 Stuka
                                          consolidation by beginning to link up
dive-bombers were flying out of the
                                          the bridgeheads.
Norwegian airfields within six hours
of the start of the operation, reducing   The Allies’ response to the invasion
mission times and increasing sortie       was to create an ad hoc expeditionary
generation rates in a model that was      force based on the British units
repeated to similar effect a month        already allocated to Plan R.4, but
later in the Blitzkrieg in France. The    including significant French and
net result was that control of the        Polish elements: the battalion
air had been achieved throughout          of Chasseurs Alpins were later
southern Norway at the very outset of     acknowledged as the most effective
the campaign; the whole range of air      Allied troops in Norway. But from
power effects could now be exploited      the outset, as Terraine laments,
to the full.                              Allied operations displayed ‘an
                                          amateurishness and feebleness which
Simultaneously, a series of               to this day can make the reader
amphibious landings (escorted by          alternately blush and shiver.’ 9 The
virtually all of Germany’s small          putative objective was Trondheim
surface fleet) successfully occupied      in south-central Norway, because
Norway’s six most important ports,        this was a natural choke-point
although not without loss: Norwegian      and communications hub at the
coastal defences sank the heavy           narrowest part of the country, where
cruiser Blücher at Oslo, while the        any further German advance to the
Royal Navy used its freedom of            north could be easily blocked. But in
manoeuvre in the far north - where        reality, the location was determined
it could operate beyond the range of      by German air power, as a landing
Luftflotte 5’s bombers - to sink much     further south would have exposed
125
      the Allied expedition to the full force     was not shared by the Chief of the
      of the Luftwaffe bombers now firmly         Air Staff, who intervened to force his
      established around Oslo.                    peers to acknowledge the difficulty of
                                                  maintaining an expeditionary force
      A twin-pronged advance on
                                                  in Norway if the Germans could
      Trondheim was planned from the
                                                  establish airfields in the country
      small ports of Åandalsnes and
                                                  first. Although the full significance
      Namsos, but whereas the Germans
                                                  of air power may well have escaped
      fielded seven divisions, the Allied
                                                  at least some of the decision-makers,
      Expeditionary Force was of only
                                                  it is likely that the failure to provide
      divisional strength, split into three
                                                  adequate air support was a result of a
      weak, roughly brigade-sized groups.
                                                  recognition of the practical difficulties
      This was typical of a piecemeal
                                                  involved in supporting a capability in
      approach where no main effort was
                                                  theatre, given the distances involved
      ever apparent: it was planned that
                                                  and lack of suitable airfields, and
      two of the brigade-groups would
                                                  an acknowledgement that scarce air
      secure the ports, while the third
                                                  assets would have to be conserved for
      would be deployed ‘somewhere else
                                                  greater tests ahead. The Joint Chiefs
      to forestall the Germans.’ Meanwhile,
                                                  noted that ‘air support for such an
      a separate and subsidiary operation
                                                  expedition could only be provided
      codenamed Rupert aimed to retake
                                                  at the expense of our Metropolitan
      Narvik, where the small German
                                                  Air Force. The allocation of fighter
      landing force had been cut off
                                                  squadrons would be a particularly
      following the naval actions. Although
                                                  serious commitment and we could
      earlier plans for Norway had
                                                  not afford more than a token
      included a significant air component,
                                                  protection of the land forces.’ 13 It
      amazingly enough, in mountainous,
                                                  is clear, however, that the planners
      snow-covered country where land
                                                  recognised that it was absolutely
      movement was extremely difficult,
                                                  critical to forestall the Germans, as
      it was decided that ‘with regard to
                                                  it would be impossible to dislodge
      air forces…none should accompany
                                                  them once they dominated the lines
      the expedition in the first instance.’ 10
                                                  of communication, the ports and
      This curious decision may have
                                                  the airfields. In particular, it was
      been due to a lack of appreciation
                                                  understood that ‘German aircraft
      of the significance of air power in
                                                  operating from Norwegian airfields
      modern warfare, notwithstanding
                                                  would be the most serious threat.’ 14
      the example of Poland, as although
                                                  The wisdom of continuing with the
      the Chiefs of Staff acknowledged
                                                  operation must, therefore, be open
      that ‘the German air threat is great,’
                                                  to question, once the Germans had
      they still downplayed its importance.
                                                  established exactly those conditions
      The Navy was particularly confident
                                                  that the progenitors of the expedition
      about the efficacy of the fleet’s anti-
                                                  had predicted would lead to its
      aircraft fire,11 and it was therefore
                                                  ultimate failure.
      decided that the risk of deploying
      an expeditionary force to Trondheim         The problems of distance and
      without air cover was acceptable.12         basing became abundantly clear
      Unsurprisingly, this rose-tinted view       as the British attempted to cut the
                                                                                                 126
Wehrmacht’s lines of communication        fighters with his service revolver
in advance of the Allied landings.        before he received the inevitable
Whereas the Germans were now              ‘machine-gun serenade in the face.’ 16
operating over short, secure and          The chastened survivors eventually
easily defensible supply routes,          managed to escape into a cloud-bank.
the RAF and Royal Navy were
                                          The Second Phase: Allied Landings
faced with a contested transit of
                                          in Central Norway
between 600 and 1000 miles to
reach the scene of action.
Although Coastal Command
Sunderland flying boats
located the heavy units of the
Kriegsmarine as they returned
from the landings, subsequent air
attacks achieved little in return
for heavy losses. Fleet Air Arm
Skua dive-bombers sank the light
cruiser Königsberg on 10 April
(the first occasion that a major
warship was sunk by air action
in combat), but RAF’s Bomber
Command suffered terribly. The
German warships were difficult
and highly mobile targets. This
meant they had to be attacked
in daylight, and the distance
from British airfields meant
there could be no fighter escort.
Nos. 44 and 50 Squadrons were
subject to a particularly grisly
ordeal, graphically recounted
by Guy Gibson in Enemy Coast
Ahead.15 Their turret-less
                                          Geographic realities (1): with no bases available in
Hampdens had no beam defences,
                                          Norway, Bomber Command had little opportunity to
so Luftwaffe Bf 110s were able to take    influence operations further north than Trondheim.17
position at co-speed just outside
the bombers’ formation, using their       Following the failure to destroy the
wireless operators’ sideways firing       German fleet on its return voyage,
machine-guns to pick off the bomber       British air operations switched to
pilots at point-blank range as they       attacks on the captured airfields
sat helplessly in their cockpits. Half    in a forlorn attempt to write-down
of the Hampdens were ‘hacked down         the Luftwaffe’s control of the air in
from the wingmen inwards’ in what         preparation for the Allied landings.
was little more than a process of         The most important German bases
cold-blooded execution. In an act of      were at Oslo-Fornebu, the key to
desperate defiance, one pilot slid back   any German advance northwards,
his canopy and shot at the German         and Vaernes, near Trondheim itself.
127
      However, these airfields were between       push on from Åandalsnes. The
      580 and 760 miles from the nearest          brigade consisted of a high
      bomber bases in Great Britain,              proportion of raw troops and was
      and only the slow and vulnerable            ‘ludicrously short’ of anti-aircraft
      Whitleys of No.3 Group could operate        guns. In unusually fine weather,
      over these sorts of ranges. Whitleys        the British soldiers were peculiarly
      could not fly in daylight with any          vulnerable to air attack as they
      hope of survival, but were unlikely         struggled up the narrow, snow-bound
      to be able to find the landlocked           valleys with no air defences, sparse
      enemy airfields - located deep in the       cover and little room to manoeuvre.
      mountains - at night. Consequently,
                                                  By now it was abundantly clear
      raids were concentrated against
                                                  that the position was completely
      Stavanger-Sola, which was a much
                                                  untenable unless fighter protection
      less significant airfield in operational
                                                  could be provided, but no RAF units
      terms, but could be reached by all
                                                  had been nominated to deploy, all
      of the British bomber types and was
                                                  known airfields were held by the
      easier to identify, as it was situated
                                                  Germans, and it would be very
      on the coast. Stavanger was first
                                                  difficult to find a useable landing
      attacked on 11 April and bombed
                                                  ground in mountainous terrain
      regularly thereafter, with little overall
                                                  covered almost entirely in snow. But
      effect on the campaign.
                                                  patently, something had to be done,
      German control of the air therefore         and the aircraft carriers Glorious and
      remained largely unchallenged,              Ark Royal were sent north to mount
      and the Luftwaffe was free to take          a number of fighter patrols over
      prime responsibility for thwarting          both Namsos and Åandalsnes, while
      the British advance on Trondheim            Fleet Air Arm Skuas and Swordfish
      following the Allied landings at            attacked targets around Trondheim,
      Namsos and Åandalsnes. The                  including Vaernes aerodrome, on
      reconnaissance aircraft and bombers         25 April. However, it was clear
      of Luftflotte 5 were able to identify       that shore-based fighters were also
      and attack targets at their leisure,        required if German control of the air
      and there were ample resources              was to be seriously contested, and
      available to provide close air support      Glorious had hastily embarked the
      for the German army units advancing         eighteen Gladiators of the RAF’s No.
      north against the Allied lodgement.         263 Squadron (from RAF Filton) as
      Within five days of the initial             she sailed. The squadron had only
      landings on 14 April, Namsos had            been formed in December 1939 and
      been virtually destroyed by aerial          still lacked its full complement of
      attack, forcing Major General Carton        ground crew, but was selected for the
      de Wiart V.C, the British commander         task on the basis that its obsolescent
      (and legendarily brave Boer War             biplanes would be easier to operate
      veteran), to signal the War Office ‘that    from rough landing grounds than
      there was no alternative to evacuation      more modern fighters. But the
      unless German air operations could          squadron was completely unprepared
      be restricted.’ 18 The second prong         for expeditionary operations; its
      of the British force came under             personnel had no inkling that they
      similarly intense pressure as it tried to   were due to deploy until the day
                                                                                     128
before embarkation, when they were       and sorties would be purely reactive,
told to find some warm clothing and      flown in response to the arrival of
the pilots were issued with pistols.19   Luftwaffe aircraft overhead.21
A potentially suitable landing site      Given the scale of these problems,
was identified at a frozen lake, Lake    the commanding officer, Squadron
Lesjaskog, but because Fighter           Leader Donaldson, decided that he
Command was configured to operate        could not provide any support for
from well-found, static bases and not    the Army, but ‘that squadron aircraft
for mobile operations, the support       must be used solely for the defence
equipment was inadequate, there          of its very existence.’ 22 Thus far from
was no establishment of M/T (motor       contributing in any material sense to
transport) and no means of preparing     the joint campaign, the air component
a runway surface on the lake – in the    would be employed purely in a battle
end, a passing Lapp herdsman was         for its own survival. Donaldson’s
co-opted into using his reindeer to      bleak analysis proved to be well-
trample the snow flat in exchange        founded, because German bombers
for a bottle of naval rum.20 The         began to attack the landing ground in
squadron’s servicing party arrived on    relays from dawn onwards.
the cruiser HMS Arethusa with fifty
tons of high-octane aviation fuel as     Donaldson later claimed the raids
deck cargo. This meant the warship       began so early because of poor
could not fire its anti-aircraft guns    operational security, as he had
because of the danger of flash-fire,     overheard Wing Commander
and the captain was – unsurprisingly     Keens, who was responsible for
– eager to see the back of the RAF       the administration of the small air
contingent as soon as possible,          component, using an open telephone
particularly as Åandalsnes was           line to report the Squadron’s
now under almost continuous air          arrival, numbers and location the
attack. In the absence of M/T, horse     previous evening. He was also not
sleighs were commandeered to move        surprised that the air headquarters
supplies from the shore-line of the      at Åandalsnes was bombed, as it was
lake through half a mile of deep snow    un-camouflaged and marked ‘RAF
to the landing strip, and the squadron   HQ’ in large white letters.23 The
tradesmen had to work entirely in        Gladiators’ carburettors had iced up
the open, fully exposed to both the      and the flying controls frozen solid
elements and enemy attack, after the     overnight, so only two aircraft could
fighters arrived on the evening of 24    be scrambled initially when the
April. The lack of spares and proper     Luftwaffe began to attack at first light.
equipment meant the Gladiators had       Despite the servicing problems and
to be refuelled by hand, using milk      constant raids, nearly forty sorties
jugs borrowed from local farmers,        were flown on 25 April, but only
and the starter carts were unusable,     five aircraft survived the day. A few
because no acid had been brought         missions were flown on 26 April, but
for the batteries. Additionally, there   only one damaged Gladiator with no
was no observer screen or means          fuel was left by the evening; this was
of communication, so effective           burned and the remaining personnel
command and control was impossible       evacuated on 27 April. The Squadron
129
      had been destroyed after just two         sitting at cockpit readiness, but
      traumatic days of operation; forty-       refusing treatment, he insisted on
      nine missions had been flown and          staying to help service and start up
      six kills claimed (post-war analysis      two other aircraft while the ground
      indicates that two Heinkel He 111s        crew ‘crouched in the woods.’ 26 He
      were destroyed),24 but little had been    then manned an abandoned machine-
      achieved other than the diversion of      gun to provide covering fire as the
      some of the Luftwaffe’s bomber effort     Gladiators took off in the teeth of
      away from the British forces in the       another German raid. The historian
      field. The Squadron’s withdrawal          Bernard Ash excuses the ground
      was equally dramatic, as the ship         crews’ behaviour on the basis that:
      evacuating it was repeatedly bombed       They were not truly even soldiers at
      and strafed, and one of the pilots was    all: they were tradesmen, theirs was the
      badly wounded by bomb splinters as        problem the R.A.F. has had to face as the
      he helped man an anti-aircraft gun.       only one of the three services in which
      By now, German air power had              only a small elite go into battle.27
      achieved a psychological dominance        The premise that the bulk of the RAF
      that repeatedly shattered the moral       is effectively composed of civilians
      cohesion of the British force. This       wearing a blue uniform has been
      aspect of air power is a subject of       an enduring source of frustration to
      real contemporary interest, with          generations of the RAF’s leadership,
      ‘shows of force’ by fast jets proving     and is clearly unsustainable in the
      their value as a means of coercion        current operational context, where
      or deterrence in recent operations        there may be no obvious front-line or
      in both Iraq and Afghanistan.25 In        safe rear areas. The ‘war-fighter first,
      Norway, British soldiers and airmen       specialist second’ philosophy (initially
      were completely unprepared for the        adopted following experiences in
      effects of concentrated bombing and,      Bosnia in the 1990s, and subsequently
      as in Poland, the Ju 87 Stuka, with       reinforced by the need to meet
      its wailing air siren, was particularly   the greater demands of Iraq and
      effective in generating an impact         Afghanistan) is a recent effort to
      on morale out of all proportion to        address this problem; it explicitly
      the actual physical damage it was         acknowledges the requirement in
      able to inflict.                          contemporary, non-linear battle-
      For example, on 25 April many of          spaces for all personnel to be trained
      No.263 Squadron’s ground crews            and psychologically prepared to
      abandoned their posts following the       be able to defend themselves and
      raids at Lake Lesjaskog, and could        continue to operate, even in the most
                                                hostile of environments.
      not be induced to return to duty
      despite the example set by the pilots,    In Norway, the problem was
      who had to refuel and rearm their         magnified by the decision to send
      own aircraft between sorties. Pilot       non-formed unit personnel to
      Officer Purdy’s experience was            act as squadron tradesmen. The
      typical. His face and hands were          ground crews were ‘strangers to the
      badly burned when his aircraft was        squadron’,28 and this denied No. 263
      bombed and strafed while he was           Squadron the spirit and unit ethos
                                                                                        130
that might have acted as an antidote         exposure as the novelty of air attack
to the shock of combat. Wing                 wears off: Terraine comments that
Commander Keens acknowledged                 ‘before the year was out, airmen,
this in his after-action report:             sailors , soldiers and civilians would
‘instead of sending a ‘scratch’              all display a fortitude far beyond what
servicing party, it would be better if       the squadron leader predicted.’31 It
the squadron provided its own key            would appear, therefore, that non-
servicing personnel and equipment,           kinetic air power effects can be
to be augmented according to                 overplayed, unless the fear of air
the particular requirements of               attack is leavened with periodic
its destination.’29 The current              demonstrations of its actual physical
‘Expeditionary Air Wing’ construct           lethality; and there is no reason to
is a contemporary response to the            assume that the human psychology
enduring problem of integrating non-         underpinning this phenomenon has
formed unit personnel into composite         changed fundamentally across the
formations, and seeks to reinforce           intervening seventy years.
overall cohesion by providing
a tangible operational focus for             The Commander-in-Chief of the
disparate force elements lacking their       Expeditionary Force, Lieutenant
own unit identities.                         General Massy, considered the
                                             destruction of No. 263 to be decisive.32
The Army was equally prey to                 The deployment of the fighter
panic induced by aerial attack. The          squadron had represented the only
RAF liaison officer at Åandalsnes,           realistic prospect of preventing the
Squadron Leader Whitney-Straight             total destruction of Namsos and
(ironically, himself later seriously         Åandalsnes by the Luftwaffe, and
injured in a bombing attack),                there was now a real danger that if
observed that ‘to begin with, the            the ports were rendered unusable,
braver British officers and men made         his lines of communication would be
an attempt to carry on, despite the          cut completely, making evacuation
bombs. This was soon abandoned,              impossible and total surrender
and all ranks took to the woods              inevitable. Massy therefore
and cellars as soon as any aircraft          recommended immediate withdrawal
approached…I would say that the              to the Chiefs of Staff as soon as he
average man can stand no more than           heard of the fate of the Gladiator
one week’s bombing, as experienced           squadron. With their approval, the
at Åandalsnaes, before his nerves are
                                             evacuation began the next day, just
affected.’ 30 The British experience
                                             two weeks after the first naval party
at Åandalsnes demonstrates that the
                                             had landed.
psychological domination imposed by
air power is potentially at the heart of     The RAF attempted to mitigate
its utility as a tool of coercive military   enemy air activity during the
force; yet subsequent events in              evacuation by bombing the German-
Norway, and later in France, indicate        held airfields, but the results were
that this effect may quickly evaporate.      negligible. Stavanger-Sola was
The first experience is visceral, but        attacked regularly, while a few
the target audience may quickly              sorties were also flown against Oslo-
become desensitized with increasing          Fornebu and the Danish airfields of
131
      Aalborg and Rye. The heaviest raid       Unsurprisingly, the Germans
      was on 30 April, when twenty-eight       inferred that if Åandalsnes had
      Wellingtons and Whitleys bombed          been evacuated, withdrawal from
      Stavanger at a cost of five aircraft.    Namsos would follow, so the port
      This did have some sort of effect, as    was subjected to intense air attack.
      by 1 May Stavanger was being used        This forced the two aircraft carriers to
      for emergency landings only, but the     withdraw, depriving the force of any
      Luftwaffe was still operating from       air cover whatsoever. In the event,
      its most important bases at Fornebu      the Allies were probably lucky to lose
      and Vaernes as it pleased. The RAF       only two destroyers (the French Bison
      also sought to provide a measure of      and British Afridi) to air attack during
      long-range fighter cover, but the only   the evacuation.
      aircraft available were one squadron
      of Blenheim Mk1Fs, a lashed-up and       The Third Phase: Narvik
      not particularly successful conversion   The disaster at Lesjaskog had
      of the light bomber, and these would     underlined the critical importance
      have to stage through Setnesmoen to      of control of the air, and the British
      refuel. However, this airfield was put   sought to address this as a priority
      out of action by the Luftwaffe before    for Operation Rupert at Narvik. A
      it could be used, so the sweeps had      substantial land-based air component
      to be flown from bases in Britain.       of four squadrons was originally
      This meant that patrol times over        planned, with support including a
      Åandalsnes were strictly limited, and    balloon squadron, an air-stores park,
      Namsos was completely out of range,      repair and supply units and the
      so protection here would depend on       protection of over 200 anti-aircraft
      the Sea Gladiators and Skuas carried     guns.35 The initial Allied landings
      by Ark Royal and Glorious, which were    at Narvik took place on 14 April, but
      due back on station on 1st May.33        operations only began in earnest on
      At Åandalsnes, the evacuation            24 April, and continued for more
      proceeded as planned, although this      than a month after the withdrawal
      was more a function of the Luftwaffe’s   of the Allied forces further south. In
      inactivity rather than Bomber            the interim, the German attack on
      Command’s ineffectual attacks on         France began, and it was apparent
      its airfield or the scant protection     that a long-term occupation of
      offered by the few Blenheim sorties;     northern Norway was untenable
      the Germans were apparently              when every ounce of military effort
      simply caught by surprise. But in        would be needed to shore up the
      a breach of operational security         Western Front. It was decided that
      strangely reminiscent of the BBC’s       Narvik should still be retaken, but
      announcement of the attack at Goose      Allied forces would then be evacuated
      Green before it had taken place in the   after destroying the port facilities to
      1982 Falklands Conflict,34 the British   end the iron-ore trade. Clearly, the
      Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain,     air effort would have to be scaled
      announced the successful withdrawal      back commensurately, but it was
      from Åandalsnes in parliament on         determined that No. 263 Squadron,
      2 May, before de Wiart's force at        which had quickly been reformed after
      Namsos had even begun to embark.         the debacle in the south, and No.46
                                                                                    132
Squadron, with its more modern            together and filled with concrete.
Hurricanes, could still be spared. The
                                          The Air Ministry was determined
thirty-six aircraft detachment was to
                                          to avoid a repeat of the fiasco at
be known as the RAF Component
                                          Lesjaskog, so Atcherley had been
of the North-Western Expeditionary
                                          warned that force protection was
Force and put under the command
                                          a priority. He directed that taxy
of Group Captain Moore. He
                                          lanes be cut into the heart of the
initially established his headquarters
                                          woods, so that the aircraft could be
alongside the new joint force
                                          properly dispersed in blast-proof
commander, Lieutenant General
                                          pens built from tree trunks and filled
Auchinleck, on the SS Chrobry, and
                                          with gravel, while ample numbers
later collocated with him on arrival
at Harstad.36 Meanwhile, Moore’s          of even stronger underground
senior staff officer, Wing Commander      shelters were built across the site
Atcherley, was despatched by              for the personnel. Everything was
Sunderland flying boat to establish a     carefully camouflaged, twenty miles
landing ground near Narvik.               of road to the nearest fjord was
                                          cleared and repaired to guarantee
Atcherley’s arrival in theatre was        the logistics supply line, and eighteen
inauspicious. He found the existing       3.7-in heavy anti-aircraft guns and
commander, General Mackesy, in            twenty-two 40mm Bofors cannon
a half-dressed state retrieving his       provided protection.38 This was
possessions after his headquarters        all accomplished in less than three
had been destroyed by a Luftwaffe         weeks, despite the food occasionally
raid, while the local Norwegian           running out and a lack of tools.
commander had just heard about            Emergency strips were also prepared
the evacuation of Åandalsnes, and         at Skaanland and Banak (where
indignantly demanded that Atcherley       ‘1,000 Lapp labourers worked under
sign a formal undertaking that the RAF    the inspired direction of one British
would not 'cut and run' before he         able seaman’);39 however, the rough
would speak to him.37 Undaunted,          surface at Skaanland proved to be
Atcherley pressed on with his             unsuitable for the Hurricanes, and
reconnaissance, identifying the           Banak was too far away to be used
existing Norwegian airfield at            by short-range fighters, so Bardufoss
Bardufoss as the best location. After     remained the locus of the RAF effort.
a broadcast appeal, some 1,000
Norwegians civilians volunteered          Meanwhile, the pilots of No. 263
their services as labourers, and in the   Squadron, with a fresh supply of
almost perpetual arctic daylight, two     Gladiators, had been waiting aboard
existing landing strips were cleared      Furious for work on the airfield to
of snow five feet deep and extended       be completed. They were finally
in length, requiring trees to be felled   cleared to fly in on 21 May, but
and the tundra bush cleared. Next,        visibility was less than three
the six-inch ice-layer beneath was        hundred yards and two of the
blasted away with gelignite so that       Gladiators crashed when the
drains could be dug, before the           Swordfish that was navigating led
surface was flattened by a roller made    the first section straight into the
from forty-gallon drums welded            side of a mountain. As the weather
133
      worsened, the remainder of the          the observer screen with radar, but
      Squadron turned back and was            this was abandoned because of the
      forced to undertake an unplanned        lack of suitable sites and the number
      deck landing. Fortunately, they         of stations that would have been
      were able to find the carrier despite   required to provide coverage in the
      the mist and rain, and all of the       mountainous terrain.
      survivors managed to land safely.
      The weather improved the next
      day, and the Squadron successfully
      established itself at Bardufoss,
      flying nearly fifty sorties before
      the brief Arctic twilight halted
      operations. Fortuitously, another
      spell of bad weather deterred
      immediate Luftwaffe intervention,
      and on 26 May the more capable
      Hurricane fighters of No. 46
      Squadron were flown in from
      Furious, which had returned to
      Britain to pick them up after
      disembarking the Gladiators four
      days earlier.
      The RAF had learned from the
      experience at Lesjaskog that
      an early warning network was
      essential, otherwise inefficient
      standing patrols would have to
      be flown, or fighters scrambled
      late in response to the arrival of
      the Luftwaffe overhead. Provision
      was therefore made to deploy an
      observer screen, but it was found
      that the Norwegians already had an      Geographic Realities (2): The Luftwaffe’s ability
      effective network in place; what was    to influence the battle at Narvik was severely
                                              constrained by the distance to its base at Vaernes,
      required was the radio equipment to
                                              near Trondheim41
      enable communications. Problems
      were initially experienced in           Subsequent events at Bardufoss
      supplying this, because of the lack     demonstrated the threat that a
      of M/T and the inadequacy of the        well-established RAF airfield on
      standard-issue radio in Norway’s        Norwegian soil posed to German
      iron-bound mountains, but by the        operations.42 In twelve days of
      end of Rupert, enemy air movements      combat, the two fighter squadrons
      were being reported to the squadrons    flew over 500 sorties and claimed
      through the air headquarters at         thirty-seven kills, threatening
      Harstad within two minutes of being     German control of the air for the first
      detected by the observers.40 Some       time and prompting real anxiety and
      thought was given to supplementing      debate within the Luftwaffe about the
                                                                                       134
correct employment of air power. At         untenable after the arrival of the RAF
one level, this was a simple function       fighters at Bardufoss. Although ten
of geography determining the force-         Ju 52s landed on a frozen lake, nine
space ratio.43 The Germans were             were lost through damage or air attack.
facing exactly the same problems - a        Air dropping was an alternative, and
lack of bases and the range to the          387 missions were flown to drop
operating area - that had neutered          supplies and 600 paratroops to
British air operations in the south.        reinforce the garrison, but another
The nearest German-held airfield            thirteen of the vulnerable transports
was at Vaernes, and this was small,         were shot down. Bomber attrition
congested and nearly 400 miles              was also becoming unsustainable,
distant, which meant that only the          and it was finally obvious that control
Luftwaffe’s medium bombers and Bf           of the air would have to be regained
110 long-range fighters could reach         before the Army could be supported
the Narvik area, in limited numbers         effectively. The apportionment and
only, and for short periods of time.        allocation of the air effort was altered
Furthermore, the 110s lacked the            accordingly, but Bardufoss was never
performance to compete effectively          completely neutralised. Although
with the RAF fighters – even the            the RAF could not achieve more
Gladiators - especially as they had to      than temporary air parity above
be fitted with heavy and vulnerable         Narvik, this was sufficient to deny
belly fuel tanks.                           the Luftwaffe the freedom of action
But at another level, the Luftwaffe         it had enjoyed in the south, and
did not help itself. An enduring air        enabled the Allied operation on the
power lesson is that achieving control      ground to continue to an eventually
of the air is not enough; it must be        successful conclusion.
constantly maintained after it has          The Final Phase: Evacuation
been initially attained, and Luftflotte 5
was guilty of failing to obey this          Although the outnumbered and
precept after the RAF had established       isolated German garrison was finally
itself at Bardufoss. Instead of             pushed out of Narvik on 28 May,
concentrating attacks against the           by now events in Norway had been
airfield, the Luftwaffe continued to        completely overtaken by the disaster
give priority to direct support for the     enveloping the Allies in France and
Wehrmacht. This is not surprising,          the Low Countries. With Operation
because after the success of the            Dynamo, the Dunkirk evacuation,
initial amphibious landing, the             already in progress, the Chiefs of
small German force at Narvik had            Staff confirmed their decision to
effectively been cut off by land and        withdraw from Norway as soon as
sea, so it was utterly reliant on air       the port facilities at Narvik had
power for both its logistics life-line      been demolished, as ‘we need to
and its heavy firepower, especially as      assemble every available destroyer,
it was primarily composed of lightly        fighter squadron and anti-aircraft
armed mountain troops. However,             battery for the defence of the
air lift missions were hindered by          United Kingdom.’44 Furthermore,
the lack of suitable landing grounds        they acknowledged that the costs of
at Narvik, and became completely            the operation were outweighing the
135
      benefits, because Rupert had ‘not
      obliged the Germans to disperse
      their forces more than we have
      dispersed ours.’ 45
      The evacuation was marked
      by the tragedy for which
      the campaign is now best
      remembered, at least by the
      RAF. No. 46 Squadron had
      been ordered to burn its ten
      surviving Hurricanes, as it was
      deemed impossible to land
      high performance fighters
      on an aircraft carrier’s deck
      without arrestor gear, especially
      as none of the pilots had received
      any training. However, conscious
      of the desperate need for modern
      fighters to defend Britain, every        probably engendered a degree of
      pilot volunteered to make the            complacency within the Royal Navy.49
      attempt, and ‘against all chances        Certainly, Captain D’Oyly Hughes,
      and predictions,’ all ten successfully   commanding Glorious, made no
      landed on HMS Glorious on the            attempt to use the carrier’s Swordfish
      morning of 8 June.46 They joined         to scout ahead and did not even
      their comrades of No. 263 Squadron,      bother to post lookouts,50 so it came
      who had flown their Gladiators onto      as a total surprise when the German
      the carrier the previous evening,        battlecruisers Scharnhorst and
      a slightly less daunting prospect        Gneisenau suddenly appeared over
      given the biplanes’ more pedestrian      the horizon at 1600 hours. With
                                               its torpedo-bombers struck below,
      landing speed and the deck-landing
                                               the carrier was defenceless, and
      experience the pilots had gained
                                               despite the gallant self-sacrifice
      following the abortive attempt to fly
                                               of the two escorting destroyers,
      into Bardufoss on 21 May. Although
                                               Ardent and Acasta, Glorious was
      the Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet
                                               quickly sunk by accurate salvoes
      subsequently opined that ‘We have
                                               from the battlecruisers’ 11-inch
      made a “false god” of the business of
                                               guns. 1,474 sailors and 41 airmen
      flying on and off a carrier but now it
                                               died in the tragedy, including Group
      has been done by four R.A.F. pilots
                                               Captain Moore, the air component
      in Gladiators at their first attempt
                                               commander, and all but two of the
      and ten Hurricanes have been flown
                                               fighter pilots who had fought and
      on to a carrier, the matter should
                                               flown so bravely and skilfully: the
      be reconsidered,’ this remains an
                                               survivors were Squadron Leader
      outstanding feat of airmanship.47
                                               Cross, the commanding officer of No.
      The Kriegsmarine’s surface fleet had     46 Squadron, and Flight Lieutenant
      not intervened in Norwegian waters       Jameson, who were both picked up
      for almost two months, and this had      by a destroyer the next morning after
                                                                                     136
clinging to Carley floats throughout       control of the air would now be
the night.51                               absolutely critical for any putative
                                           operation against England, because
Poor air-maritime cooperation also
                                           the Luftwaffe would have to take
contributed to the disaster. Following
                                           sole responsibility for protecting an
the security breach that had alerted
                                           invasion fleet from the Royal Navy,
the Germans to the evacuation at
Namsos, the Admiralty wanted to            as the post-Norway Kriegsmarine was
keep the withdrawal from Narvik            clearly now incapable of doing so.
as secret as possible; but this was        Whether an invasion was feasible or
taken to such extremes that Coastal        not would therefore depend totally
Command was not informed that              on the outcome of the impending
the operation was in progress until        Battle of Britain.
after Glorious had been sunk, when         In the air, Luftflotte 5 lost about 100
it had Hudson and Sunderland               combat aircraft and 80 transports,
maritime patrol aircraft available         or about 15% of the total force
that could have detected the German        committed to battle. This was
battle squadron. Roskill comments          unwelcome wastage, given the
that ‘not for the first time does          greater importance of Fall Gelb, but
excessive secrecy appear to have           at this stage of the war, sustainable.
hampered efficiency,’52 and getting        The RAF lost 112 aircraft in total,
this balance right proved to be an         including the fighters that went down
enduring problem that the British          with Glorious and the thirty-one
found peculiarly difficult to resolve in   aircraft lost by Bomber Command
subsequent operations.53                   from the 782 sorties flown in the
The Reckoning                              Scandinavian theatre before it was
                                           diverted to support the battle in
The Germans forces lost 3,800 killed       France after 10 May; the results of
and 1,600 wounded in Weserübung,           these raids were negligible.54
light losses in the course of a highly
risky endeavour that achieved an           Positive outcomes were few. The
important strategic advantage. The         aim had been to demolish Narvik
Allies (Norwegian, British, French         so comprehensively that the port
and Polish) lost a total of 3,500 men      would be unusable for at least a year,
in the land fighting and another 2,500     but in the event, the Germans made
at sea, and 400 Norwegian civilians        the first iron ore shipments through
also died. The Royal Navy’s losses         the harbour within six months.
were significant but sustainable,          However, an unforeseen bonus of
given its overall strength; in contrast,   real strategic significance was the de
Weserübung was a pyrrhic victory for       facto acquisition of the Norwegian
the Kriegsmarine. The surface fleet        merchant marine - then the second
never recovered from the losses            largest fleet in the world - and this
it experienced, and this had two           proved to be a key factor in providing
consequences: first, in the absence of     a bare margin of numerical strength
a credible surface capability, large-      during the Battle of Atlantic. At the
scale submarine warfare was adopted        grand-strategic level, the campaign
whole-heartedly, intensifying the          had immediate and important
Battle of the Atlantic; and second,        ramifications. Terraine notes that
137
      ‘Churchill’s predilections for forlorn   completely conclusive employment
      endeavours in remote places were         of air power. As the RAF’s official
      high among his weaknesses as a           history comments, while ‘the primary
      war leader,’ 55 and the fiasco of the    and overriding importance of air
      British campaign, ‘with its missed       power was not new as a conception…
      opportunities and squandered             it was new as a fact,’ 56 and a fact
      victories’ might reasonably have been    that was so plain that for the first
      laid at his door. But in the famous      time, it was properly understood
      ‘Norway Debate’, Conservative MPs        and acknowledged by both the Army
      refused to back Neville Chamberlain,     and the Navy. The Commander-
      leading to his resignation and,          in-Chief Home Fleet wrote in his
      ironically, Churchill's appointment      post-action report that his ‘ships
      in his stead. Serendipitously for the    could not operate in proximity to
      new prime minister, the full political   shore bases operating air forces
      consequences of the debacle in           virtually unopposed in the air…as
      Norway were masked by the disaster       the campaign progressed, the counter
      in France that began to unfold on        became apparent, viz., the presence
      the very same day, 10 May, and in        of friendly fighters’,57 while even
      the developing crisis of the summer      before the evacuation of south-central
      of 1940, the mismanagement of            Norway, General Massey reported
      the Norwegian operation did not          that ‘the dominating factor in this
      attract the critical scrutiny it would   campaign has been air superiority.’ 58
      otherwise have merited.                  What was abundantly clear was that it
                                               was the Luftwaffe’s control of the
      Enduring Air Power Lessons?
                                               air that had permitted it to dictate
      Few operations illustrate with quite     the course of the campaign other
      such precision the strengths and         than at Narvik, where two squadrons
      attributes of air power: the absolute    of RAF fighters had held the line
      and fundamental importance of            against an opponent operating at
      control of the air; the peculiar         long range.
      psychological dominance it can
                                               This emphasises a point that is
      impose; the ability to decisively
                                               particularly timely, because in
      influence the joint campaign through
                                               the current defence debate, a line
      the integration of all four air power
                                               of thinking has developed that
      roles; and its function as a force
                                               assumes Western air superiority
      multiplier, providing the mobility
                                               as a free good that will somehow
      and firepower to enable small forces
                                               be provided as part of the global
      to generate much greater effects.
                                               commons.59 Sacrificing the RAF’s
      However, the Norwegian campaign
                                               ability to gain control of the air would
      also highlights the constraints on
                                               be a highly risky strategy based on
      air power, and its dependencies:
                                               this dangerous assumption, and
      particularly the tyranny of distance
                                               the Norwegian experience clearly
      and time, the need for adequate
                                               demonstrates the acute vulnerability
      force protection, and the absolute
                                               of a joint force without air cover -
      requirement for appropriate logistics
                                               even to relatively unsophisticated air
      support and suitable basing.
                                               weapons. This lesson was reinforced
      Arguably, Norway witnessed the first     during the Falklands Conflict in 1982,
                                                                                           138
which shares several other features           communication were at their mercy; and
with Norway 1940, not least the risk          they put two of our bases virtually out
that was accepted in mounting an              of action. A more novel employment of
operation in the knowledge that               aircraft was their use to drop paratroops,
the level of air support was, at best,        though this was done only on a small
marginal. In Norway, this fatal               scale in Norway; to land reinforcements
disadvantage was acknowledged                 on captured or improvised landing
explicitly; indeed, this gives the            grounds or by seaplane on the fjords; and
campaign its special interest, for            especially to supply food and munitions
as the Air Historical Branch                  to troops in forward areas, notably the
narrative notes, ‘it is rare in war           garrison of Narvik.62
that dangers that have been
                                              Here, the genesis of many of the key
anticipated correspond so exactly
                                              attributes of air power that are prized
to the dangers that eventuate.’ 60
                                              so highly today is clear: the ability to
But with the strong political
                                              act as a force multiplier par excellence,
imperative to mount the operation
                                              creating tempo by providing mobility
in any case, an unrealistically
                                              and firepower to small or isolated
optimistic view was taken of the
                                              forces; the psychological domination
available palliatives, particularly the
                                              imposed, so that even the presence
fleet’s ability to defend itself with
                                              of aircraft may achieve an effect; the
anti-aircraft fire, and the effects that
                                              importance of reconnaissance in
Bomber Command might achieve
                                              building situational awareness; and
against enemy-occupied airfields.61
                                              when necessary, the unparalleled
Again, there are clear parallels with
                                              generation of destructive force,
the Falklands, where there was
                                              both in direct support of the Army,
misplaced confidence in the fleet’s
                                              and in shaping the battle-space,
anti-aircraft missile systems and
                                              through interdiction of bases and
an expectation that bomber sorties,
                                              supply routes.
conducted in small numbers and at
extreme range, might render enemy             The RAF was not disposed to
airfields unusable.                           introspection in 1940. With the
                                              disaster in France and the drama of
Once control of the air had been
                                              the Battle of Britain totally eclipsing
achieved, for the first time in modern
                                              the end of the Norwegian campaign,
warfare the Germans demonstrated
                                              there was little time and absolutely no
how each of the other three air power
                                              appetite for a formal enquiry. Clearly,
roles – intelligence and situational
                                              lessons were learned within the
awareness, air lift and attack – could
                                              campaign, as a comparison between
be exploited to the full, decisively
                                              the approaches adopted at Leskajog
influencing the outcome of events.
                                              and Bardufoss demonstrates, but
Richards charts the range of kinetic
                                              there is little evidence that experience
and non-kinetic effects generated
                                              was assimilated and applied to other
by Luftflotte 5:
                                              campaigns. Norway forms the left-
They influenced the battle by                 hand panel in a triptych of disastrous
reconnaissance activities, by bombing         expeditionary operations, followed
and machine-gunning, and even by the          by France 1940 and Greece 1941,
mere threat of their presence; our lines of   which all share common features: an
139
      inadequate organisational structure         the successful delivery of tactical air
      that did not provide the necessary          power in joint operations. This slow
      logistics support to enable an air          progress may be because air forces
      component to operate effectively            are unusually prone to what may be
      in the field, particularly during           described as an anti-doctrinal bias,64
      mobile operations; the employment           manifest in a reluctance to formally
      of second-line equipment, such              codify operational experience. In
      as Gladiators, Hurricanes, and              this respect, the RAF of today cannot
      Tomahawks, for the critical control         afford to be complacent, and arguably
      of the air task, rather than the RAF’s      more could - and should - be done
      best fighter, the Spitfire; 63 the          to capture the lessons of recent
      failure to establish a deployable air       operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
      defence system to control fighters          more rigorously, as the validity
      on expeditionary operations; and            of current doctrine in changing
      the mono-functional command                 conditions cannot be assessed
      structure, which meant there was no         unless it is tested against a baseline
      ready-made organisation available           of historical experience. It may be
      to integrate fighter, bomber and            invidious to cherry-pick lessons from
      reconnaissance operations coherently,       history, but while the character of
      or to provide a focal point for the         warfare may change, human nature –
      air-land and air-maritime cooperation       and therefore the essential nature of
      necessary in a joint campaign.              warfare itself – arguably does not.65
                                                  The Norwegian campaign may have
      It is no coincidence that these failures    been fought seventy years ago, but
      abroad straddle Fighter Command’s           when Terraine asserts that ‘brutal
      shining success in the Battle of Britain    reality would teach that in a large
      in the high summer of 1940, as this         country with poor communications
      was exactly the single-role, strategic      and notorious weather, air power
      air operation that the RAF had been         was decisive,’ 66 he could equally be
      led by interwar policy to expect, plan      writing about current operations in
      and prepare for. It was therefore able      Afghanistan. The final word may,
      to fight with its best equipment, from      perhaps, best be left to Lieutenant
      well-found, permanent bases with            General Auchinleck, whose
      a secure logistics chain, benefiting        summation of the Norway campaign
      from a sophisticated command and            is pertinent and equally timeless:
      control network to direct its activities,
                                                  The predominant factor in the recent
      and with no requirement to cooperate
                                                  operations has been the effect of air
      either with the other commands, or
                                                  power … the first general lesson to
      indeed the other fighting services.
                                                  be drawn is that to commit troops to
      With hindsight, it is easy to criticise     a campaign in which they cannot be
      the RAF of 1940 for learning too            provided with adequate air support is to
      slowly, and replicating the mistakes        court disaster.67
      that were made in Norway in France
                                                  Notes
      and then later in Greece; indeed, it
                                                  1
      took Tedder’s empirical work with the        Denis Richards, Royal Air Force
      Western Desert Air Force to finally         1939-45 Volume 1: The Fight at Odds,
      establish the precepts required for         (London: HMSO, 1953), 77.
                                                                                        140
2                                            23
  John Terraine, The Right of the Line,         II/H5/1/96.
                                             24
(London: Spectre), 684.                         Christopher Shores, Fledgling Eagles,
3
  See, for example Joseph Kynoch,            (London: Grub Street, 1991).
                                             25
Norway 1940: The Forgotten Fiasco,              CAS RUSI speech.
                                             26
(Shrewsbury: Airlife, 2002).                    Bernard Ash, Norway 1940, (London:
4
  Illuminatingly, The RAF currently          Cassel, 1964).
                                             27
defines air power in terms of                   Ibid.
                                             28
‘influence’ and identifies the four             Ibid.
                                             29
air power roles as control of the               II/H5/1/96.
                                             30
air, intelligence and situational               AHB/11/117/4, 68.
                                             31
awareness, air lift, and attack, with           Terraine, 116.
                                             32
control of the air as the essential             Richards, 93.
                                             33
perquisite; this provides a useful              Ibid.
                                             34
framework for analysis of the                   ‘How the Falklands War was won’,
Luftwaffe’s contribution in Norway.          The Daily Telegraph, 27 March 2007.
                                             35
AP 3000: British Air and Space Doctrine,        Norman MacMillan, The RAF in
(London: MOD, 2009).                         the World War, Volume 1 1919-1940
5
  David Brown (ed.), Naval Operations        (London: Harrap, 1942), 196.
                                             36
of the Campaign in Norway, (London:             Didley, p.77.
                                             37
Frank Cass, 2000).                              Richards, 96.
6                                            38
  Quoted in Douglas Dildy, Denmark              Macmillan, 208.
                                             39
and Norway 1940, (Oxford: Osprey,               Richards, 98.
                                             40
2007),30.                                       AHB/11/117/4, 87
7                                            41
  Image courtesy of Norwegian                   Derry.
                                             42
government archives.                            Adam Claason, Hitler’s Northern
8
  Dildy, 35.                                 War, (Kansas: University Press,
9
  Terraine, 115.                             2001), 125.
10                                           43
   Richards, 78.                                Philip Sabin, 'The Counter-Air
11
   Roskill, The War at Sea, Volume 1         Contest', in Andrew Lambert &
(London: HMSO, 1952), 98.                    Arthur Williamson (eds.), The
12
   COS (40)304(S) 25 Apr.                    Dynamics of Air Power, (Bracknell: RAF
13
   COS (40)304(S) A Review of the            Staff College, 1996)
                                             44
Campaign in Norway, 12.                         COS (40)304(S).
14                                           45
   AHB/11/117/4, The Campaign in                Ibid.
                                             46
Norway.                                         Terraine, 78.
15                                           47
   Guy Gibson, Enemy Coast Ahead,               Letter from C-in-C Home Fleet to
(London: Crecy, 2006), p.63.                 Secretary of the Admiralty, 15 June
16
   Ibid.                                     1940, TNA ADM 199/479.
17                                           48
   T K Derry, The Campaign in Norway,           Picture courtesy of www.royalnavy.
(London: Naval and Military                  mod.uk
                                             49
Press, 2004).                                   Roskill, 195.
18                                           50
   Richards, 86.                                Didley, 84.
19                                           51
   II/H5/1/96, Report on the Activities of      Ibid.
                                             52
263(F) Squadron.                                Roskill, 198.
20                                           53
   Richards, 89.                                See, for example, Alistair Byford,
21
   Dildy, 69.                                ‘Executive Fuller: The RAF in the
22
   AHB/11/117/4, 63.                         Channel Dash’, Air Power Review,Vol 12,
141
      No 3, Spring 2009.
      54
         J.L.Moulton, The Norweigan
      Campaign of 1940, (London: Eyre and
      Spottiswood, 1966), 260.
      55
         Terraine, 79.
      56
         Richards 105.
      57
         Brown, 134.
      58
         COS (40)304(S) 25 Apr.
      59
         See for example, Sir Stephen
      Dalton’s lecture Dominant Air Power
      in the Information at the International
      Institute for Strategic Studies, 15
      February 2009.
      60
         AHB/11/117/4, 101..
      61
         Richards, p.98.
      62
         Ibid.
      63
         Robin Higham and Stephen Harris
      (eds.), Why Air Forces Fail: the Anatomy
      of Defeat, (Lexington: University of
      Kentucky Press), 335.
      64
         Bruce Curry, ‘Turn Points in Air’
      (Unpublished thesis, Air University,
      Maxwell Alabama, 1997), vii.
      65
         The Future Character of Conflict,
      (London: Ministry of Defence, 2009), 2.
      66
         Terraine, 78.
      67
         Richards, 93.
142
143

                                      Viewpoints
                      After the Surge: Implications of Strategic
                          Shift in Afghanistan and Beyond

                             By Flight Lieutenant Alexander McKenzie


      ‘Mobilise it is urged a nice field force,    sceptical commentators.3
      and operate at leisure in the frontier       Highlighting the folly of Hitler, in
      valleys, until they are as safe and          opening a disastrous second front
      civilised as Hyde Park…Only one real         in 1941 with myopic faith in the
      objection has been advanced against          ubiquitous virtue of Blitzkrieg,
      this plan. But it is a crushing one, and     Professor Huw Strachan recently
      it constitutes the most serious argument     warned of the dangers associated
      against the whole “forward policy”. It       with the assumption that success in
      is this: we have neither the troops or the   one theatre can easily be transposed
      money to carry it out.’ 1                    to another.4 Afghanistan is not Iraq.5



      T
                                                   Of course, the Afghanistan campaign
             he typically sage words of Sir
                                                   plan is more nuanced than a simple
             Winston Churchill reflect the
                                                   replication of 'what worked' under
             persistent policy conundrum
                                                   General Petraeus' tutelage in Iraq.
      posed by the ‘frontier valleys’ that
                                                   Nonetheless, it would be misleading
      span the Durrand Line, dividing
                                                   to mistakenly invest in linear and
      the tribally heterogeneous Pashtun
                                                   paradigmatic visions of future
      populations of contemporary
                                                   defence requirements based on the
      Afghanistan and Pakistan. The latest
                                                   contextually unique tactical effects
      iteration of the policy dilemma in
                                                   of one campaign. Especially so given
      the region, the much lauded US led,
                                                   the apparently paradoxical logic that
      NATO surge in southern Afghanistan
                                                   equates short term tactical gain with
      will largely be complete by this time
                                                   longer term strategic uncertainty.
      next year. Naturally, it is too early
                                                   Despite the ‘Petraeus effect’, ‘a stable
      to begin to assess the extent to which
                                                   and secure Iraq remains a difficult
      it has succeeded in terms of clearing
                                                   and perhaps distant goal’.6 Indeed,
      populated areas of Taliban influence
                                                   there is a wider, strategic, relevance
      and replacing it with a degree of
                                                   to this, largely operational, debate
      governmental control directed,
                                                   that is germane to the British military
      however nominally and temporarily,
                                                   community and is the focus of this
      from Kabul. Predictably and indeed
                                                   article. That question is as follows:
      commendably, there are the optimists
                                                   whilst the counterinsurgency (COIN)
      among us who sense a tipping point
                                                   campaign in Afghanistan is rightly
      in the campaign.2
                                                   the MODs 'main effort'7 , the looming
      At the same time there are more              change in focus of the US, and
      cautious judgments to be found               therefore NATO, mission doesn't
      amongst seasoned and justifiably             necessarily support the current force
                                                                                      144
posture in Afghanistan as a sound           considerations that necessarily
foundation for our future financially       condition governments. Given such
constrained armed forces.’ 8                fiscal and political constraint this
                                            analysis suggests that any future
We Are Where We Are                         Afghan commitment will have
The assessment of this paper                to eschew extant COIN mantras
reflects the apparently prescient           and entrust legacy operations to
thoughts of our own Service chief.9         mentored indigenous forces whilst
It is based, inter alia, on political       a combination of airborne capable
noises in Washington concerning             Special Forces and combat ISTAR
the strategic direction of the US           will focus on gathering intelligence
military10 and more fundamental             on and interdicting any Taliban and
questions about the efficacy of             Al Qaeda nexuses that are deemed
Western COIN approaches against             a threat to the Afghan government,
contemporary insurgency and takfiri         specifically, and wider region,
extremism.11 Indeed Alex Marshall           implicitly. Of course this should be
has recently questioned the utility         no surprise given how the threat of
of Western COIN operations from             'takfiri terror' and broader, possibly
a historical perspective, arguing           related radical Insurgency is currently
with some conviction that modern            dealt with in Pakistan, the Horn of
COIN doctrine is predicated on a            Africa and now Iraq not to forget
‘liberal lie’ that fosters a ‘comfortable   the IDF and Mossad’s protracted
but dangerous intellectual                  efforts in the Levant.15 Indeed whilst
illusion’ amongst policy makers             'victory' is a misleading and unhelpful
with little practical experience of         term when evaluating the success
such endeavours.12 Highlighting             of such a strategy it nonetheless
the Russian rediscovery of ‘less            could reasonably be described
constrained’ COIN principles from           as adequate in providing a more
the 19th century, Marshall reminds          advantageous outcome than would
us that effective local administrators      otherwise be the case: in other words
supported by an inflow of federal           by doing nothing or by sustaining
cash and local combat fatigue               unaffordable regional policemen
associated with significant levels of       and large COIN footprints.16
repression has been successful in
                                            Importantly, the debate has never
the respect that it achieves all COIN
                                            been more topical as we approach
doctrine can ever achieve.13 In
                                            the publication of the new Strategic
contrast, in the case of Afghanistan,
                                            Defence and Security Review
Western liberal restraint divorces the
                                            (SDSR). The SDSR is scheduled to
grammar of COIN doctrine from its
                                            be published at the zenith of the
inescapable political logic. Indeed it
                                            campaign effort in Afghanistan,
creates the ‘postmodern challenges
                                            specifically in the south of the
for modern warriors’ that General
                                            country. Consequently the defence
Kiszely so convincingly articulates.14
                                            community, in the widest sense,
Such challenges to Western policy           must guard against the association
appear to be compounded by the              of the contemporary image of the
looming age of austerity and the            Afghan campaign with the likely
understandable domestic political           requirements of future contingencies
145
      both in Afghanistan and other areas       technology, as an integral part of joint
      of the world, wherever our parochial      forces in a combined environment.
      or communal interests are threatened.     As Michael Evans notes, war is likely
      Technology, when sensibly employed,       to retain ‘chameleon’ like qualities,
      remains our comparative advantage.        manifesting itself in ‘inter-state,
      Whilst it is no panacea it may turn out   trans-state and non-state modes
      to be a more effective and necessary      – or as a combination of these’.19
      long term investment than enduring        Nonetheless, it is worth considering
      and equally expensive COIN forces:        two competing alternatives to the
      more so if we can't afford to resource    broad question posed by the title
      a full range of capabilities. Indeed      of this paper. Helpfully, these
      despite the significant expense           alternatives have been illuminatingly
      involved in sustaining sizeable           described by Michael Codner as the
      COIN forces, an understandable            Land focused, manpower intensive
      lament by commanders in the field         ‘Global Guardian’ model, consistent
      is that they could always do with         with contemporary COIN doctrine;
      ‘more’. Mass is critical to such          and the technology enabled, globally
      endeavours and, as CDS informs            mobile ‘Strategic Raider’ model,
      us, comes at a premium.17 This            consistent with more discretionary
      paper will invest in the notion that      offshore balancing.20
      a flexible and adaptable military
      instrument, judiciously employed,         Global Guardians
      will offer greater strategic utility to   Proponents of 'new war' theory, and
      policy makers than a bespoke COIN         the term is as widely inconsistent as
      construct, particularly if the efficacy   it is deeply contentious, see little role
      of the latter option is questionable.     for technological solutions to political
      The aim of this paper is not to provide   problems.21 This is axiomatic,
      a polemic, even less to provoke           however the corresponding argument
      either inter or intra service debate      that manpower intensive, COIN
      (indeed given the breadth of the air      focused 'global guardians' are an
      components employment, the intra          efficacious alternative is not as sound
      service debate stands to be just as       a premise as some have suggested.22
      fierce) instead it is to propose cold     Whilst the political nature of the
      headed consideration of how the           Afghan insurgency is enduring, its
      Afghanistan campaign may look in          post Maoist character may well be an
      the future and what the implications      unsuitable structure for neo-classical
      are for the British military. From        COIN forces to counter.23 The post-
      the outset it should be noted that        modern difficulties encountered by
      there will inevitably remain a            ‘modern warriors’ in such profoundly
      requirement for capabilities that         pre-modern environments are
      in Secretary Gates words, ‘can kick       well documented. Indeed recent
      in the door, clean up the mess and        commentary has identified the
      rebuild the door.’18 Moreover, the        irreconcilable ‘trilemma’ of Western
      complexity of the future global (in)      COIN approaches as a theoretical
      security environment is likely to         flaw at the heart of contemporary
      require simultaneous employment           doctrine.24 There is, it is argued,
      of light and heavy forces, mass with      an intractable inability to reconcile
                                                                                     146
force protection with discrimination      at worst to generally illicit economic
between non combatants who need           activity predominantly associated
to be protected and combatant             with opium production and
insurgents who need to be                 trafficking. Against such a reality,
eliminated. This is compounded            any investment in political ‘solutions’
by the effects of necessarily short       in the Afghan capital run the risk
tour lengths, the inherent difficulty     of being peripheral to real centres
of large and unwieldy coalitions to       of regional power in the country.
operate with any sense of conceptual      Furthermore, hopes for reconciliation
and physical manoeuvre, and a             and reintegration appear to be a non
fundamental domestic aversion to a        starter, in strategic terms at least.
continual flow of blood and treasure      Sensing that the political clock ticks
in the direction of what is regarded      ever faster in Washington the Taliban
in some circles as a ‘residual            have no interest in negotiating from a
problem’.25 Naturally, the lack of        position of relative weakness.28
tangible progress in Afghanistan
                                          In any case, returning to the example
and the prospect of an unravelling
                                          of Iraq, it is clear that COIN centric
security situation in Iraq serve to
                                          ground forces are, like their antithesis
augment such perceptions. Indeed
                                          in the guise of the Revolution in
they serve to make the prospect of
                                          Military Affairs, no ‘magic bullet’.29
future intervention along similar
                                          The old Iraq hand Tom Ricks identifies
lines in say Somalia or Yemen, not to
                                          the de facto ethnic partition of
mention Pakistan, as unpalatable as
                                          Baghdad, a cease fire with radical
they are unlikely.
                                          Shia militias, increased US military
Moreover, as the doyens of COIN           unity of effort and the critical ‘Sunni
theory and practice contend military      awakening’ as being at least as
force can only succeed in creating        significant as the ‘surge’ in troop
the space and providing the time          numbers.30 This is not to underplay
for a political solution to emerge.26     the utility of force demonstrated
Afghanistan, like Iraq before it, lacks   by the 18 month surge in 2007/2008,
security because it lacks consensus.      quite the opposite. However it is to
The critical problem in Afghanistan       remind ourselves that force can only
is fundamentally political but an         have utility if it is conformal with
inclusive solution remains elusive.       the context in which it is employed.
The ineluctable reality remains that      Indeed in the absence of an
President Karzai is perceived to be       achievable and identifiable political
little more than an emasculated           solution in Afghanistan, or a truly
‘unicorn’ of Kabul.27 In Iraq, the        broad based and sizeable International
central reality of power was that         coalition, a strategy of containment
Baghdad mattered, not least for           might make strategic sense as well
control of oil revenues, the life         as offering a default solution.31 Even
blood of the economy. Without it          more critically the external financial
there was no incentive for Sunni          and internal political constraints
involvement in an inclusive, if           that afflict the West may render the
fragile, accommodation. In contrast,      mere concept of 'global guardianship'
Kabul represents a bureaucratic           as deeply hubristic. This is a moot
obstacle at best and rubber stamp         point, of course, if such hegemony is
147
      simply unaffordable.                      RAF of the 21st Century.
      Strategic Raiders                         An immediate advantage of such a
                                                posture lies in the smaller deployed
      Whilst this phrase may purloin
                                                footprint. This not only reduces the
      strategy's core meaning it conveys
                                                burden on hard pressed ground
      an ability to be fast on ones feet,
                                                units but allows for a longer term
      able to respond to rapidly unfolding
                                                commitment. Whilst the future
      scenarios on a global scale. The
                                                of 10,000 troops in Afghanistan is
      comfortable criticism of it will point
                                                already subject to vociferous cries of
      to Clintonian attempts to 'rearrange
                                                ‘bring them home’, a more selective
      rubble' or run away from a fight as
                                                approach will potentially allow for an
      was arguably the case with responses
                                                enduring and dispersed commitment
      to security dilemmas in Afghanistan
                                                measured in decades rather than
      and Somalia during the 1990s.
                                                years. Indeed progress will similarly
      Similarly, isolationist responses that
                                                have to be framed in generations
      glibly talk of ‘fortress Britain’ are
                                                rather than electoral cycles. Above all
      vulnerable to the inescapable reality
                                                such a strategy embraces the fact that
      of a globalised, connected and deeply
                                                realistic, persistent and meaningful
      multicultural Britain. Indeed these
                                                change will only emerge from within
      criticisms are valid and deserve to
                                                a society. And it won’t emerge
      be incorporated into what must
                                                overnight. However well intentioned
      amount to a more harmonious form
                                                they are cosmopolitan, pluralistic,
      of 'selective engagement' or 'offshore
                                                perhaps even post modern normative
      balancing' to coin the popular
                                                values and models of governance are
      phrase. Heeding such criticisms,
                                                often resisted by fiercely conservative
      and respecting the enduring quest
                                                societies precisely because they
      for answers, even if only partial
                                                appear to be neo-Imperial. This can
      answers, to political problems such
                                                have the kind of counter productive
      a strategy must amount to much
                                                response that leads to perpetual and
      more than provision of long range,
                                                self defeating cycles of violence in
      precision guided kinetic effects.
                                                which force becomes synonymous
      Media images of the ‘Jolly Rodger’
                                                with both means and ends. With
      flying on returning submarines with
                                                notes from several fields of conflict,
      empty TLAM tubes simply won’t
                                                Kilcullen emphatically associates
      suffice. Diplomatic savvy, supported
                                                these second and third order effects
      by discrete and realistic deployed
                                                with the ‘accidental guerrilla’
      military advisors, flexible bilateral
                                                syndrome.32 More radically,
      partnerships and global reach will be
                                                according to John MacKinlay there
      the key enablers. Military capability,
                                                is even the danger that a corollary
      people and equipment, that is
                                                effect involves the cultivation and
      truly expeditionary and focused on
                                                radicalisation of a global ‘insurgent
      being able to contribute to aiding
                                                archipelago’, able to strike at will
      understanding, rather than more
                                                wherever it chooses.33
      traditional functions of force, will be
      critical. In this respect the ubiquity    Whilst the threat posed by such a
      of the air and space environment will     theoretical global web of terror is
      place significant demands upon the        difficult to quantify, it demonstrates
                                                                                       148
two critical requirements that reflect     in twenty-first century conflict.’ 34
our increasingly problematic global
                                           Moreover, the 4th edition of AP 3000
(in)security environment. First the
                                           elucidates that:
flip side of the economically attractive
aspects of globalisation, the tangible     ‘The challenge is to develop situational
and virtual, transparent and opaque        understanding from the situational
connections between Britain and the        awareness created by the technological
wider world presents policy makers         exploitation of the intelligence provided
with a geographical challenge.             by air and space capabilities.’
Second, the varied disposition of
                                           Naturally there remain significant
such adversaries and their reluctance
to confront Western militaries on          challenges. Not least with respect
our own terms poses significant            to the ‘requirement to integrate and
limitations on our ability to accurately   synchronise’ the vast amounts of
assess and identify the fundamental        multi spectral information collected
intelligence requirements of ‘who,         in order to produce meaningful
what, where, when and why’. This           intelligence product.36 Indeed the key
water is muddied further when              will be the integration of air breathing
we consider the requirement in             SIGINT and IMINT with judiciously
contemporary COIN to provide               gathered HUMINT from military and
accurate answers to these questions        security agencies. Technology can
on potential adversaries as well as        help us, but human interaction and
local populations and indigenous           the value of our people will remain
security forces. Indeed attempting         the critical ingredient. Nonetheless,
to understand the complexity               the challenge is indicative of the
associated with such an operational        centrality of the air and space
environment in an increasingly             component in future joint endeavours
uncertain world reflects the broader       and undoubtedly offers opportunity.
challenge posed to all elements of the     If it is to succeed, such a strategy
21st century UK military. Nonetheless,     must answer the criticisms fairly
whilst the demands placed by               levelled at earlier manifestations
Government and consequent                  of it. Lawrence Freedman reminds
responsibility to deliver will be high,    us of the pitfalls associated with
such a requirement to ‘understand’         long range, time delayed, limited
presents a significant opportunity to      payloads launched on the basis of
the RAF specifically and the wider UK      uncorroborated intelligence that lacks
air and space component in general.        veracity and exhibits the limits of
Unsurprisingly this is reflected in        western ‘understanding’.37 Indeed
doctrine and in word at the highest        we could do worse than invest in
level within the service. The Chief of     the political and military agents so
the Air Staff (CAS) reflects this with     evocatively described by Winston
his emphasis on:
                                           Churchill in his account of the
‘Using air power to dominate the           Malakand Field Force, quoted at the
timely acquisition of the information,     top of this paper. Such expertise
the knowledge of every aspect of           will enable air power which in turn
the operational environment that is        will offer exploitable capability to
increasingly becoming the ‘vital ground’   the deployed experts with their
149
      unparalleled understanding of the          strategic options and AP 3000 is as
      ‘ground truth’. As Paddy Ashdown           adaptable and flexible as it should be
      suggests, the services work best when      in this respect. As ‘global guardians’
      they work together.38                      the air component is required to
                                                 enable the necessarily land heavy
      A Third Way?                               joint force, via the four air and space
      In reality, and embracing the logic        power roles, as is in evidence in
      of Lord Ashdown, both approaches           contemporary Afghanistan.40 As
      are not mutually exclusive. In our         ‘strategic raiders’ it offers the same
      non linear strategic experience            functional utility but with different
      there will be occasions where              emphasis and priorities at the heart
      containment will not only follow           of a more discretionary, patient
      COIN, but will perhaps even run            and selective strategy. It is true, as
      parallel to it Nonetheless given the       some will counter, that capability
      practical constraints outlined above       offering ‘asymmetric advantage’
      and the looming fiscal constraints         one day can ‘contain the seeds of
      over the horizon it appears to be self     our own destruction the next.’ 41 Of
      evident that the West will have to         course utility can only be derived
      prioritise qualitative over quantitative   from military force if the capability
      capabilities. This applies to well         deployed is harmonious with the
      educated, broadened and ‘invested in’      context in which it is employed.
      Army officers and flexible multi-role      This paper suggests that a future
      maritime platforms as much as it does      predicated on contemporary COIN
      to cutting edge SIGINT technology          doctrine is contextually inappropriate
      in the latest UCAVs. As Trevor             and in itself nurtures and feeds the
      Taylor reminds us the wider and            very seeds of our own destruction.
      indeed perennial question remains          The redoubtable Edward Lucas has
      geo-strategic.39 In order to retain a      taken this argument to the core of
      degree of access to the full spectrum      his theorising on future US grand
      of expeditionary requirements do           strategy. Better, he contends, for Pax
      we swap the ‘special relationship’         America to resemble a cerebrally
      with a more binding commitment             active and discerningly committed
      as a client ‘51st state’ in spite of       Byzantium than a bone-crushing
      drifting trans Atlantic geo-strategic      and over-extended Rome.42 Indeed
      priorities? Alternatively, does the UK     as the consequences of intervention
      risk ignominy in becoming another          in Iraq and Afghanistan become
      piece of the, increasingly peripheral,     increasingly evident, it is clear that
      European jigsaw? Or do we indeed           the International order of the future
      wave goodbye to memories of empire         may be based less on ‘unipolar
      and global status becoming in the          fantasies’ or ‘multipolar rhetoric’
      process 'little Britain’? Arguably         than on ‘prudent interest’ and an
      elements of all 3 options have been        understanding that Western ideas
      evident in the past 20 years, but how      and ideals are not necessarily
      long this can remain the case for is an    universally aspired to.43
      open question.
                                                 Returning to the question of
      Where does this leave the RAF? Air         Afghanistan, Luttwack would find
      remains a central component of both        a Byzantine legacy in Churchill’s
                                                                                    150
remark that ‘silver made a better         important to abandon.
weapon than steel’ in the frontier
                                          Notes
provinces.44 The current strategic
outlay in the country could fairly be     1
                                            Winston Churchill, The Story of the
described as a costly combination         Malakand Field Force, Ark Manor,
of both silver and steel. Such a          Rockeville, 2008, p.195.
profligate policy option appears          2
                                            General Sir Richard Dannatt,
to be both unaffordable and of            ‘Afghanistan, can the war be won?’,
questionable utility.45 Our national      The Telegraph, 13 Jun 2010. http://
silver deserves to be used to more        www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/
advantageous effect. In deciding          personal-view/7823555/Afghanistan-
on what to invest it in the words         can-the-war-be-won.html; Farrell, T,
of Clausewitz are typically adroit        ‘Appraising Moshtarak: The
when he reminds us that ‘the              Campaign in Nad-e-Ali District,
maximum use of force is in no way         Helmand’, RUSI Briefing Note, 24
incompatible with the simultaneous        June 2010.
use of intellect’.46 Investing in         3
                                            Most recently see, Warren
Combat ISTAR at the heart not just        Chin, 'Colonial Warfare in a Post-
of future RAF capability, but also as     Colonial State: British Military
an integral part of the UK’s future       Operations in Helmand Province,
military contribution in Afghanistan      Afghanistan', Defence Studies, 10: 1,
offers to combine force and intellect     2010, pp.215-247
                                          4
in line with the national interest. In      Huw Strachan, Closing Address to
the realm of security we cannot be        ‘Afghanistan’s Next Crossroads: Ten
selective about where we engage,          Years of International Intervention
but we have to be judicious in            2001-2011’ Conference, Glasgow
selecting how we engage. Such             University, 16 Mar 2010. Available at:
selective engagement may not              http://130.209.8.65/tcs/?id=03606F37-
turn Helmand into Hyde Park, but          F4BC-402A-8F3B-CE4B0090056D
                                          5
it represents reality and reflects          For a succinct account see,
the contextual limitations on what        Charles Krauthammer, ‘Afghanistan:
is achievable. Particularly if we         The 7/11 Problem’, The Washington
consider the wider context in which       Post, 25 June 2010. Available at:
Afghanistan sits. The combined            http://www.washingtonpost.com/
population of the Af-Pak region is        wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/24/
dwarfed by the ‘bottom billion’ from      AR2010062404870.html
                                          6
which security challenges emerge            David Hastings Dunn and Andrew
across the global commons.47 The          Futter, 'Short-Term Tactical Gains
requirement has therefore never           and Long-Term Strategic Problems:
been greater to access, understand        The Paradox of the US Troop Surge
and generate positive influence           in Iraq', Defence Studies, 10: 1, 2010,
over global and diverse security          pp.195-214.
                                          7
challenges. Combat ISTAR, within a          For example see: MoD Green Paper,
mobile joint force, will be central to    ‘Adaptability and Partnership: Issues
this and will offer a policy option for   for the Strategic Defence Review’,
challenges, like Afghanistan, that are    TSO, Feb 2010, p.5.
                                          8
too costly to fully resource but too        This question is at the heart of the
151
      contemporary debate on defence.            17
                                                    General Sir David Richards, ‘Future
      See ‘Defence Review Doesn’t Add            Conflict and Its Prevention: People
      up’, BBC Radio 4, Today Programme,         and the Information Age’, address to
      21 June 2010, available at: http://        IISS, 18 Jan 2010.
      news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/             18
                                                    Robert Gates, ‘A Balanced Strategy’,
      newsid_8751000/8751063.stm                 Foreign Affairs, 88:1, 2009, p.31.
      9
        Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen           19
                                                    Michael Evans, ‘From Kadesh
      Dalton, ‘The Future of British Air and     to Kandahar: Military Theory and
      Space Power: a Personal Perspective’,      the Future of War’, in Mahnken &
      Air Power Review, 12:3, 2009.              Maiolo ed, Strategic Studies a Reader,
      10
         Robert Gates, ‘Helping Others           Routledge, London, 2008, p.385.
      Defend Themselves’, Foreign Affairs,       20
                                                    Michael Codner, ‘A Force for
      89:3, May/June 2010, pp.2-6. The           Honour?’ RUSI Future Defence
      widely respected US SECDEF is              Review Working Paper No.2, 2009.
      regularly quoted about his desire          21
                                                    On ‘New Wars’ see Mary Kaldor,
      for a ‘balanced’ US military. His          New and Old Wars, 2nd ed, Polity,
      most recent article reminds us of the      Stanford, 2007. For a broad critique
      limits of US power and of what COIN        see essays contained in Isabelle
      can realistically achieve; sensibly        Duyvesteyn, & Jan Angstrom ed,
      proposing ‘strong doses of modesty         Rethinking the Nature of War, Frank
      and realism’ across the spectrum of        Cass, London, 2005.
      defence and foreign policy.                22
                                                    A major and commendable
      11
         David Kilcullen himself contends        proponent is John Nagl, See Nagl, J,
      that COIN is a game the West should        ‘Lets Win the Wars We’re In’, Joint
      ‘avoid if possible’. David Kilcullen,      Forces Quarterly, 52:1, 2009, pp.20-26.
      The Accidental Guerrilla, Hurst & Co,      23
                                                    Frank Hoffman, ‘Neo-Classical
      London, 2009, p.268.                       Counterinsurgency?’, Parameters,
      12
         Alex Marshall, ‘Imperial Nostalgia,     37:2, 2007.
                                                 24
      the liberal lie and the perils of             Lorenzo Zambernardi,
      postmodern counterinsurgency’,             ‘Counterinsurgency’s Impossible
      Small Wars and Insurgencies, 21:2,         Trilemma’, The Washington
      June 2010, p.244.                          Quarterly, 33:3, 2010, pp.21-34.
      13                                         25
         Ibid, p.250.                               Of course a 6 month tour in
      14
         Sir John Kiszely, ‘Post Modern          Helmand is perceived as anything but
      Challenges for Modern Warriors’, The       ‘short’ by the average infantryman.
      Shrivenham Papers, number 5, 2007.         Even if doubled, tour lengths would
      15
         On the disputatious but forcefully      do little to counter ineluctable
      argued linkages between disparate          cultural differences and may serve
      global insurgencies see John               to significantly undermine the
      MacKinlay, The Insurgent Archipelago,      overall effectiveness of soldiers. On
      Hurst, London, 2009.                       coalition warfare and its limitations
      16
         On the question of strategy, relative   see Wg Cdr Alistair Monkman, The
      power and ‘victory’ see Lawrence           Manoeuvrist Approach and Coalition
      Freedman, ‘Strategic Studies and the       Warfare: a Re-examination, Air
      Problem of Power’, in Mahnken ed,          Power Review, 5:2 (Summer 2002)
      Strategic Studies a Reader, Routledge,     pp 12-41. On Afghanistan as a
      New York, 2008.                            ‘residual problem’ see, Steven Simon
                                                                                      152
& Jonathan Stevenson, 'Afghanistan:        35
                                              AP 3000 4th ed, p.46.
How Much is Enough?', Survival,            36
                                              Ibid. p.47
51:5, 47 – 67.                             37
                                              Lawrence Freedman, A Choice
26
   ‘Assessing the Surge: a RUSI            of Enemies: America Confronts the
Interview with Ambassador Ryan             Middle East, Public Affairs, New York,
Crocker’, in Terrence Mcnamee, ed,         2008, pp.368-9.
War Without Consequences, RUSI,            38
                                              Comments made by Air Chief
London, 2008, pp.39-44.                    Marshall Sir Stephen Dalton,
27
   George Will, ‘Unicorns in               ‘Dominant Air Power in the
Kabul’, The Washington Post, 29            Information Age: The Comparative
Nov 2009. Available at: http://            Advantage of Air and Space Power
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-                 in Future Conflict’, IISS Address, 15
dyn/content/article/2009/11/03/            Feb 2010.
AR2009110302925.html                       39
                                              Trevor Taylor, ‘The Essential Choice:
28
   On the likelihood of reconciliation     Options for Future British Defence’,
with the Taliban, see Fotini Christia      RUSI Journal, 155:2, 2010 pp.14-19.
and Michael Semple, ‘Flipping the          40
                                              See comments made by Air
Taliban’, Foreign Affairs, 88: 4, 2009,    Commodore Stuart Atha, ‘Operations
pp.34-45 and the online response by        in Afghanistan: the contribution of
Barbara Elias, ‘Know Thine Enemy:          UK Air Power’, address to IISS, 21
Why the Taliban Cannot be Flipped’,        May 2010. Available at: http://www.
2 Nov 09, available at: http://www.        iiss.org/programmes/afghanistan-
foreignaffairs.com/articles/65639/         security/events/operations-in-
barbara-elias/know-thine-enemy             afghanistan-the-contribution-of-uk-
29
   Tim Benbow, The Magic Bullet?           air-power/
Understanding the Revolution in Military   41
                                              ‘US Tightens Airstrike Policy in
Affairs, Brasseys, London, 2004.           Afghanistan’, New York Times, 21
30
   Tom Ricks, The Gamble, Allen Lane,      June 2009, available at: http://www.
London, 2009, pp.200-202.                  nytimes.com/2009/06/22/world/
31
   Steven Metz, ‘New Challenges and        asia/22airstrikes.html
                                           42
Old Concepts: Understanding 21st              ‘What would Byzantium
Century Insurgency’, Parameters, 37:4,     do?’, Prospect Magazine, 27 Jan
2007-2008, pp.20-32.                       2010. Available at: http://www.
32
   Kilcullen, Accidental Guerrilla,        prospectmagazine.co.uk/2010/01/
p.xiv. ‘The local fighter is therefore     what-would-byzantium-do/
                                           43
often an accidental guerrilla – fighting      Adam Roberts, ‘Doctrine and
us because we are in his space, not        Reality in Afghanistan’, Survival, 51:1,
because he wishes to invade ours’.         2009, p.51.
33                                         44
   John MacKinlay, The Insurgent              Winston Churchill, The Story of
Archipeligo, Hurst & Co, London,           the Malakand Field Force, Ark Manor,
pp.221-236.                                Rockeville, 2008, p.196.
34                                         45
   Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen             Most recently see Steven Metz,
Dalton, ‘Dominant Air Power in the         ‘America’s Flawed Afghanistan
Information Age: The Comparative           Strategy’, Strategic Studies Institute,
Advantage of Air and Space Power           op-ed, August 2010.
                                           46
in Future Conflict’, IISS Address,            Quoted in David Lonsdale, ‘Strategy’
15 Feb 2010.                               in Jordan et al, Understanding Modern
153
      Warfare, Cambridge, 2009, p.28.
      47
       Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion,
      Oxford, OUP, pp.124-134.
154
155

                                   Viewpoints
                          The Current and Future Utility of
                               Air and Space Power

                                Reviewed by Professor Philip Sabin




      T
             his article addresses its topic      before they are overtaken by events. I
             in four parts. First, it shows       am reminded of a book chapter which
             from past experience how             I wrote in 2001 about the future of
      difficult predicting the future is,         air power, which was not published
      and assesses whether the UK’s               until six months later, by which
      recent National Security Strategy           time the September 11th attacks had
      and Strategic Defence and Security          transformed the strategic landscape.1
      Review take adequate account of             In such frustrating circumstances,
      this unpredictability. Second, it           it is very tempting to leave current
      discusses the key characteristics           affairs to journalists and to seek
      of air and space power relative to          refuge in the relative certainties of
      land and naval power, by boiling            the past, and it is no accident that
      the essential differences down to           my own two most recent books have
      just four basic factors, and assessing      focused on the very different field of
      the implications for the aerospace          ancient Greek and Roman warfare! 2
      contribution to joint campaigns.            However, it is still worthwhile to
      Third, it examines the very difficult       seek more enduring insights than
      trade-off between the flexibility of        are contained in the latest headlines,
      aerospace capabilities (in terms of         and aerospace power now has a
      geographical application, operational       sufficiently long history that one
      utility across the spectrum of conflict,    may identify fundamental patterns
      and adaptability of effects) and the        and characteristics which seem likely
      high costs and lead times which such        to persist in some form, whatever
      flexibility normally requires. Finally,     surprises the future may hold.
      it analyses the human dimension of          Although I am writing this article
      air and space power, by assessing           in the immediate aftermath of the
      how advances in simulation, UAV             UK’s long-awaited Strategic Defence
      technology and computer networking          and Security Review (SDSR), I will
      are changing the roles of human             resist the temptation to dwell on the
      operators, and what this means for          detailed outcomes of that review,
      the future of aerospace power as a          and I will focus instead on broader
      distinctive specialism within military      and more enduring considerations
      power as a whole.                           which seem likely to determine the
                                                  current and future utility of air and
      Introduction                                space power.3
      Articles on contemporary defence            I will structure my remarks under
      issues have a very short shelf life,        four headings. First, I will build on
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the points I have just made by             a rich tapestry of experience about
discussing the sheer difficulty of         how conflicts can actually unfold,
‘Predicting the Future’, and the           whereas theoretical speculations
implications this has for policy           about possible future clashes like
formulation. Second, I will assess         the one now simmering over Iranian
what is really distinctive about ‘Air      nuclear activities inevitably tend to
and Space Power’, and hence what its       be dominated by technical military
continuing contribution is likely to       considerations such as targets, ranges
be within military power as a whole.       and air routes rather than by less
Third, I will examine the common           quantifiable human aspects.5 Not
suggestion that ‘flexibility’ is a key     until a conflict is actually under way
aerospace attribute by addressing          does this broader dimension become
‘The Benefits and Costs of Flexibility’.   fully apparent (as happened in both
Finally, I will discuss ‘The Human         Iraq and Afghanistan), so vicarious
Dimension’, which remains all-             understanding of past conflict
important even though air and space        dynamics is a key way of preparing
power is so intrinsically bound up         ourselves for the inevitable shock and
with technology. As British airmen         surprise. Bismarck put it very well
and airwomen adapt to bruising force       when he remarked that, ‘Fools say
reductions and draw breath after an        that they learn by experience. I prefer
often bitter struggle for survival over    to profit by others’ experience’.
the past few years, I hope that this       The second invaluable contribution of
article will help to refocus attention     historical awareness is that it reminds
away from battles over particular          us of the sheer complexity of warfare,
systems and facilities and back            and shows how apparent patterns
towards the overall contribution and       and trends can reverse themselves
successful application of aerospace        with alarming frequency. The history
power as an integral element of the        of the Arab-Israeli conflict over
UK’s security policy.4                     the past fifty years is a particularly
Predicting the Future                      telling illustration. In the wake of
                                           the 1967 Six Day war, it looked as
Attempts to foresee what might             though Israeli air and armoured
happen in the months and years             forces enjoyed complete dominance
ahead are routinely prefaced by            over their more numerous Arab
disclaimers about the enormous             opponents, but in the Yom Kippur
uncertainties inherent in such an          war of 1973 these forces received
enterprise, and a common joke is           a very bloody nose at the hands of
that, ‘Predictions are very difficult,     Arab missile defences. Just a few
especially about the future!’. This        years later there was another stark
joke actually captures an important        reversal as the Osirak raid of 1981
truth, since I would argue that the        and the incredibly one-sided air and
best way to look when trying to            air defence battle over Lebanon in
predict the future is not forward at       1982 suggested that Israeli air power
all, but rather backwards into the         was more dominant than ever, but
past. This is for three principal          very quickly the picture changed
reasons. First (as I discuss in my next    yet again as guerrilla tactics first in
book, Simulating War), the past offers     Lebanon and then in the successive
157
      Palestinian intifadas altered the rules   renewed ethnic strife in the Balkans,
      and inflicted severe setbacks despite     the September 11th attacks, the
      Israel’s apparently unchallenged          continuing insurgencies in Iraq and
      conventional superiority.6 In 2006,       Afghanistan, or the recent disastrous
      the IDF proved shockingly unable to       financial crash should make us very
      assert its dominance even in a fairly     humble indeed in our efforts to
      ‘conventional’ war with Hizbollah         predict how the world might look in
      in Lebanon, but more recently the         2030 and beyond. Nicholas Taleb’s
      conflict in Gaza and the long-range       2007 book The Black Swan suggests
      IAF strikes against a Syrian nuclear      that the world is so complex that any
      cache and an arms convoy in Sudan         kind of prediction is a mug’s game,
      have shown that the Israeli military is   and recent ‘left-field’ shocks such as
      still very much a force to be reckoned    the BP oil spill and the tragically early
      with.7 Clearly, any assumption that       death of Air Chief Marshal Sir Chris
      recent experience is a reliable guide     Moran are a terrible illustration of
      to what we can expect in the future is    the force of his remarks.10 One can
      shaky to say the least.                   quite understand why Macmillan
                                                reportedly identified as the biggest
      The third, and perhaps the most
                                                challenge of his premiership the
      sobering, way in which looking
                                                single word, ‘Events’.11
      backwards can enlighten our efforts
      to predict the future is by reminding     Judgements about what kind of
      us of how blinkered and flawed our        conflicts the future might hold
      similar predictions have been in the      became a very live political issue
      past. Just over 20 years ago, I edited    during the recent defence review
      a full-length book on The Future of UK    process, because of their direct
      Air Power, and re-reading that book       implications for the kind of forces
      today is a very salutary endeavour        which Britain most needed to
      as we try to peer forward a similar       maintain. Future Chief of the
      distance into our own future.8 As         Defence Staff General Sir David
      I said when addressing this same          Richards made an especially bold
      topic in the RUSI Journal a year ago,     and challenging speech at the
      ‘Who in 1988, after years of Cold         International Institute for Strategic
      War confrontation, would have             Studies in January 2010, in which he
      dared to suggest that British aircrew     argued that, ‘We have traditionally
      would spend almost all of the next        viewed state-on-state conflict through
      two decades engaged in active             the prism of putative tank battles
      combat operations over Iraq, or that      on the German plains or deep strike
      a bloody and frustrating counter-         air attacks against strategic sites.
      insurgency campaign would still           While these are still possibilities,
      be being waged in Afghanistan in          they are increasingly unlikely –
      the first decade of the twenty-first      certainly at any scale... State-on
      century, but with the NATO alliance       state warfare is happening and will
      as the protagonist rather than the        continue to happen but some are
      USSR?’.9 Our lamentable failure           failing to see how. These wars are
      to foresee in advance such seminal        not being fought by a conventional
      events as the end of the Cold War,        invasion of uniformed troops, ready
      Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait,      to be repulsed by heavy armour or
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ships, but through a combination of      Front, the Warsaw Pact and the USSR
economic, cyber and proxy actions.       itself all disappeared just a few years
Modern state-on-state warfare looks      after these words were written, and
remarkably like irregular conflict’.     the strategic environment which had
General Richards went on to argue        seemed so predictable underwent
that, ‘Hypothetical situations have      a revolutionary upheaval. Without
been outlined to demonstrate this        similar hindsight, it is impossible
is not so. One such is a possible        as yet to confirm or refute General
attack on Middle Eastern nuclear         Richards’ more recent vision, but past
sites. They don’t. While an initial      experience clearly shows how wrong
attack may be conventional, lessons      our images of the future tend to be,
from Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon          and the more certain that people are
and other places have shown us           of what the future holds, the more
that the response would most likely      worried and critical a response they
include the sponsoring of proxies        should receive.
and terrorists wherever they could be
                                         The British Government as a
found. Nations will do their utmost
                                         whole has now produced its own
to bleed their enemies’ morale for
                                         rather more nuanced visions of
the lowest economic, political and
                                         future security challenges, as in the
military cost as we have come to
                                         detailed and thoughtful efforts by
expect from non-State actors’.12
                                         the Development, Concepts and
Only time will tell whether General      Doctrine Centre (DCDC) to predict
Richards’ very clear prediction is       the Future Character of Conflict and
borne out by events. It certainly fits   Global Strategic Trends out to 2040.14
closely with recent experience, but as   These have fed into the latest edition
I have just shown, recent experience     of the National Security Strategy, which
is a very weak reed on which to rely,    ranks future threats into three tiers
and confident assertions about what      of priority. In the highest tier come
the future holds are often proved        four sets of risks – terrorism, cyber
to be disastrously misplaced. I          attack, natural disasters, and an
cannot help citing what another          international crisis between states.15
very clever soldier, General (now        The thrust of the document is very
Lord) Charles Guthrie, predicted         different from the Cold War emphasis
in his contribution to my own 1988       on a single overriding threat from
book. General Guthrie began his          the Warsaw Pact, and also from the
chapter on ‘The Future of Battlefield    1998 Strategic Defence Review with its
Air Support’ with a ringing assertion    focus on ‘discretionary’ intervention
that, ‘After the year 2000, much on      operations overseas.16 The new
the Central Front will be similar to     strategy is much more focused
today. The conventional threat facing    on mitigating direct threats to the
the Allied ground forces will be from    UK from a wide range of potential
mass: superior numbers of tanks          challenges, on the grounds that,
and helicopters, supported by guns,      ‘Britain today is both more secure
rockets and aircraft, whose aim would    and more vulnerable than in most
be to roll over NATO forces and their    of her long history. More secure, in
reserves as quickly as they could’.13    the sense that we do not currently
In the event, of course, the Central     face, as we have so often in our past, a
159
      conventional threat of attack on        continue to depend on air support
      our territory by a hostile power. But   even after Western ground forces
      more vulnerable, because we are         have been withdrawn, the precedent
      one of the most open societies, in a    of US air support for South Vietnam
      world that is more networked than       in the Nixon and Ford eras may
      ever before.’17 However, intervention   become highly relevant.21
      operations to tackle these globalised
                                              It is all too easy to become fixated
      challenges at their source remain a
                                              on actual current challenges rather
      key leitmotif of the new strategy, as
                                              than more serious potential ones,
      is clearly illustrated in the SDSR,
                                              so a welcome feature of the National
      which assumes that Britain needs
                                              Security Strategy is its explicit and
      to be capable of conducting one
                                              detailed articulation of the principle
      enduring stabilisation operation
                                              that risks must be prioritised
      with up to 6,500 personnel, as well
                                              according to the product of their
      as two non-enduring intervention
                                              likelihood and relative impact –
      operations with up to 3,000 personnel
                                              hence, even a low risk of chemical,
      between them.18
                                              biological or nuclear attack or of
      This Defence Planning Assumption        renewed conflict with Russia or
      shows how the continuing conflict       China is a very serious concern
      in Afghanistan inevitably exerts        because of the gravity of the potential
      a massive influence over our            consequences.22 During the Cold
      thinking about future defence           War, I am glad that the UK deterred
      needs. The unforeseen occurrence        a Warsaw Pact attack on NATO while
      of the Falklands and first Gulf         failing to deter an Argentinean attack
      wars made it politically difficult      on the Falkands, rather than vice
      to carry through some of the force      versa! The new strategy acknowledges
      adjustments planned in the defence      that deterrence is still a key function
      reviews conducted a few months          of military forces, and that certain
      earlier in 1981 and 1990, but this is   capabilities may serve a very valuable
      nothing compared to the political       deterrent purpose even if they are not
      untouchability of forces needed         routinely used in anger.23 However,
      for the ongoing Afghan conflict,        there is also the opposite mechanism
      whatever hypothetical arguments         of a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’, in which
      may be made about how strategic         specialising in a particular form of
      needs may change in the future.19       warfare may make it hard to avoid
      The very longevity of recent military   taking a lead in tackling such conflicts
      commitments in the Balkans, Iraq and    should the need arise. Britain has
      Afghanistan is a major factor in its    traditionally seen itself as good
      own right, and suggests that (barring   at counter-insurgency operations
      ignominious withdrawal) it is much      based on experience in Malaya and
      harder to get out of modern conflicts   Northern Ireland, but its recent
      than to get into them.20 Air power      involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan
      is just as affected as surface power    has been much more traumatic, and
      by this ‘stickiness’ of commitments     it is by no means clear that the UK
      (which is awfully reminiscent of Brer   will want to focus on further such
      Rabbit’s famous duel with the ‘Tar      operations in the future, as General
      Baby’), and since client regimes will   Richards’ vision seems to imply.24
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Even if Britain does find itself fighting   in space the virtual absence of
more such irregular conflicts, a further    atmospheric resistance allows
key point is that ‘asymmetry’ cuts both     vehicles to move at least an order
ways. Not only are today’s ‘hybrid’         of magnitude faster still (28,000 km
wars ones in which adversaries are          per hour for satellites in low earth
very willing to engage in intense           orbit). The third inherent strength
stand-up fights (as recent experience       of air and space power is overflight,
in Lebanon and Afghanistan shows)           since aerospace platforms can move
if we do not maintain clear ‘escalation     freely in three dimensions rather than
dominance’, but allowing the enemy          being confined to the land or sea or
to shape the nature of the fighting         constrained by terrain obstacles to
is a sure route to defeat, and we must      follow specific linear routes, making
be prepared to seize the initiative         it much harder than with surface
and fight wars on our own terms,            forces for an adversary to block their
especially by employing our distinctive     progress. The one big offsetting
advantages in aerospace power.25            weakness of aerospace vehicles is
                                            energy needs, since overcoming
Air and Space Power                         gravity without resting on land
The recent fourth edition of British        or water requires large energy
Air and Space Power Doctrine (AP 3000)      expenditure per unit of payload,
lists various strength and limitations      either constantly (to maintain the
of air and space power in turn.26           necessary airflow over wings or
In an article a year ago on the             rotor blades) or in the initial surge
Strategic Impact of Unmanned                to give missiles or satellites the
Air Vehicles (UAVs), I decided to           enormous height and speed required
start off by going back to basics           for sub-orbital or orbital flight.28
and distilling the fundamental              Compounding this weakness is the
distinctive characteristics of air and      fact that the fuel needed to provide
space platforms down to just three          the energy is itself heavy, and thereby
strengths and one weakness which            creates a vicious circle of escalating
the two forms of power share due            energy needs.
to their common attribute of ‘flight’,      From the three basic strengths of
and from which other consequent             air and space power flow several
characteristics flow.27 The first basic     consequent advantages. In particular,
strength of air and space power is          the combination of speed and
perspective, since the height which         overflight gives aerospace vehicles
flight makes possible allows direct         the reach to cover large distances
lines of sight over a very wide area        and the penetration to fly deep over
(extending to a third of the Earth’s        enemy territory. Air vehicles also
surface for a satellite 36,000 km up in     have the agility to reach a crisis
geosynchronous orbit). The second           point quickly and to be re-tasked
fundamental advantage of aerospace          anywhere across a wide area, while
vehicles is speed, since the lower          spacecraft, though lacking in agility
frictional resistance of the air enables    because of the vast energy costs of
air platforms to attain speeds around       changing an established orbit, have
an order of magnitude higher than           the persistence to remain in flight
their land or naval counterparts, while     for years on end due to the lack of
161
      frictional resistance. An interesting     of warfare – hyperwar. It has seen
      alternative capability may be offered     air power become dominant. It has
      in future by long endurance airships      seen unequivocally how defenseless a
      or solar powered UAVs such as             state becomes when it loses control of
      Zephyr, which sacrifice speed in          the air over its territories and forces.
      order to minimise energy needs and        It has seen the awesome power
      maximise persistence, hence allowing      of the air offensive – and the near
      a more constant and focused air           impossibility of defending against
      presence over a given area than low       it... We have moved from the age of
      orbit satellites are able to provide as   the horse and the sail through the
      they flash across the heavens.29 More     age of the battleship and the tank to
      traditional air vehicles suffer from      the age of the airplane’.32 Operation
      a greater degree of impermanence          Deliberate Force in Bosnia in 1995
      and base dependence because of the        seemed to confirm the potential of
      need for constant replenishment of        aerial coercion, and the success of
      their fuel and ammunition (though         the similar air campaign during the
      these limitations have been eased         Kosovo crisis in 1999 prompted even
      significantly in recent decades by        the sceptical John Keegan to admit
      the advent of air-to-air refuelling       that, ‘A war can be won by air power
      techniques). Meanwhile, all aerospace     alone’.33 When the Taliban regime
      vehicles are afflicted by cost and        in Afghanistan was overthrown in
      fragility, due to the advanced            2001 by a combination of precision
      technology which flight requires and      air power and special forces and local
      the difficulty of providing protective    allies on the ground, this appeared to
      armour because of the excess weight       endorse once again the dominance of
      it would involve.                         Western aerospace capability.34
      By the 1990s, advances in micro-          However, a less flattering image of
      electronics were offsetting these         air power was also developing, and
      inherent weaknesses of aerospace          this image has assumed greater
      power, by giving Western air forces       prominence in recent years. Already
      the network capabilities to take full     during the Kosovo campaign and
      advantage of aerospace surveillance,      Operation Enduring Freedom, there
      the electronic countermeasures            were concerns about the ability of
      needed to overcome enemy air              air power to find and destroy enemy
      defences, and the precision attack        ground forces taking advantage of
      capabilities needed to increase the       terrain cover, and these concerns
      efficiency of their bomb loads by at      came to a head after the Lebanon
      least an order of magnitude.30 In 1991,   war in 2006 when the IAF proved
      the US-led coalition overwhelmed          signally unable to stop the rain of
      Iraqi air and surface forces in an        short range rockets launched by
      aerospace-led ‘blitzkrieg’ which          Hizbollah.35 Still more significant
      mirrored on a larger scale the one-       was the revival of air power’s image
      sided triumph which the Israelis had      as an indiscriminate and politically
      initially achieved in Lebanon a decade    counterproductive weapon, as even
      earlier.31 US air theorist Colonel        precision air power routinely inflicted
      John Warden proclaimed that, ‘The         numerous civilian casualties through
      world has just witnessed a new kind       ‘collateral damage’ and poor target
                                                                                        162
intelligence.36 General McChrystal          within the overall joint effort, while at
in Afghanistan told his officers in         other times it will play a more
June 2009 that, ‘Air power contains         supporting part.40 The recent
the seeds of our own destruction if we      controversy over the utility of
do not use it responsibly’, and three       air power has focused on air
months later, Prime Minister Gordon         bombardment of surface targets,
Brown said that, ‘what separates            which in fact constitutes only one
successful counter-insurgency from          aspect of the multi-dimensional
unsuccessful counter-insurgency is          contribution which aerospace
that it is won on the ground and not        power as a whole makes to modern
in the air’.37 General Richards has         military operations. Nobody
frequently echoed these thoughts            disputes that air transport and
on the limited utility of air power,        aerial surveillance and intelligence-
as in his IISS speech in January when       gathering play an invaluable role
he argued that, ‘Hi-tech weapons            in all conflicts, or that satellites
platforms are not a good way to help        have transformed everything from
stabilise tottering states – nor might      navigation and communications
their cost leave us any money to            to reconnaissance and targeting.
help in any other way – any more            Control of the air and suppression
than they impress opponents with            of enemy surface-to-air and missile
weapons costing a fraction. We must         capabilities are more easily taken for
get this balance right’. He went on         granted during counter-insurgency
to explain that, ‘We need to right the      campaigns like those in Iraq and
                                            Afghanistan, but one need only
balance in favour of unglamorous
                                            look back to British experience in
technology: protected transport,
                                            the Falklands, Soviet experience
communications and intelligence;
                                            against the Mujahideen, and Israeli
technology that allows the Armed
                                            experience against Hizbollah and
Forces to get closer to the people
                                            Hamas to recognise the damage
and that gets an understanding
                                            which can occur when opponents
of the battlefield directly to the
                                            are able to use or contest the
commanders. The technology that
                                            airspace over the theatre of conflict,
puts the influencers in touch with
                                            even to a limited extent.41 The
those they seek to influence’.38
                                            reality is that aerospace power
The truth is, of course, that these         forms an increasingly integrated
opposing images of aerospace                and indispensable element within
power as a dominant independent             military power in general, and that
presence and as a costly liability          there is no question of British or other
are both deeply flawed. Thoughtful          Western surface forces deploying or
commentators have long recognised           operating effectively without a very
that the utility of air power varies        prominent air and space component
hugely with factors such as the             to provide the crucial edge over less
geographical and political context          fortunate adversaries.
of each specific conflict, as in Air Vice
                                            The Benefits and Costs of Flexibility
Marshal Tony Mason’s notion of an
‘Air Power Pendulum’.39 Sometimes           Two years ago, I took the risk of
air power will play a leading role          suggesting in a Staff College lecture
163
      that aerospace power, while               allows a given military capability to
      undoubtedly flexible, was not uniquely    handle multiple challenges, instead
      flexible compared to surface forces,      of requiring separate capabilities
      as air power advocates sometimes          to deal with each one. Flexibility
      tend to claim.42 Flexibility has since    is an inherently multi-dimensional
      become the central issue in debates       concept, and I will now discuss three
      over the future of air power, and Air     of these dimensions in turn. The
      Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton          first is geographical flexibility,
      laid great stress on this aspect in his   which involves being able to operate
      own address to the International          in diverse locations and to move
      Institute for Strategic Studies in        swiftly between them. As I pointed
      February, arguing that fast jets          out in the previous section, this is
      such as Tornado have proved their         where aerospace power really shines
      flexibility over the past two decades     because of its twin characteristics
      and offer a better way forward            of speed and overflight. Satellites
      than ‘to go down the route of low         provide intrinsic global coverage,
      capability, niche specialisation,         while aircraft (especially fast jets)
      optimising our force structure            have the responsiveness to reach a
      purely for the war we’re fighting         given crisis point rapidly, regardless
      now’. In Sir Stephen’s words, ‘real       of the surface terrain, and then
      flexibility will be provided by a         to be re-tasked elsewhere just
      sensible capability-mix, giving us        as quickly over a very wide area.
      the combat power we need now in           Range and basing matter just as
      Afghanistan, but future-proofed – as      much as speed in underpinning
      far as possible – by adaptability and     this responsiveness.46 The more
      judged by consideration of through-       deployable a given air capability
      life capability and cost-effectiveness,   is to bare bases, the more that
      not simply the spot purchase price’.43    transit times can be reduced during
      This builds on the 2006 RAF strategy,     operations in a given region, while
      which focuses on achieving ‘An agile,     the longer the range of an asset, the
      adaptable and capable Air Force that,     wider the area it can cover from a
      person for person, is second to none,     given base. Sea-basing of air assets
      and that makes a decisive air power       offers valuable flexibility in the
      contribution in support of the UK         positioning of bases at optimum
      defence mission’.44 The recent SDSR       points across two-thirds of the
      asserts similarly that capabilities       Earth’s surface, and it also helps
      must be ‘flexible and adaptable,          to evade political sensitivities and
      to respond to unexpected threats          base-loading constraints affecting
      and rapid changes in adversaries’         nearby land airfields. If geographical
      behaviour’.45 Flexibility is clearly      flexibility were the only aspect which
      highly desirable, but it has costs as     mattered, then aerospace power
      well as benefits, and achieving the       would indeed be a uniquely flexible
      best balance in the face of the current   form of military might.
      appalling resource pressures is the
                                                The second important dimension
      most difficult single challenge facing
                                                is operational flexibility, by
      defence planners.
                                                which I mean the ability of forces
      The essence of flexibility is that it     to operate across the spectrum of
                                                                                     164
conflict, despite opponents’ efforts      use of both fast jets and UAVs such
to counter them. The fragility of         as Predator as ‘combat ISTAR’
aerospace platforms is a liability in     platforms which can conduct detailed
this regard, especially for helicopters   surveillance and then use their own
and UAVs, but this is offset for fast     weapons to attack any targets which
jets and satellites by the ability to     might be found.48 A lot of thought
exploit speed and height to stay out      has also gone into tailoring air effects
of reach of low technology threats        through developing smaller and
such as guns while using electronic       more precise munitions and through
countermeasures to defeat high            the use of ‘non-kinetic’ means such
technology threats like surface-to-       as fast fly-bys to intimidate those
air missiles. The impermanence of         on the ground.49 However, it is in
air power is actually an advantage        this area where aerospace power is
in terms of survivability, since air      inevitably most limited compared
vehicles are vulnerable only when         to surface forces. If one leaves
they appear over the conflict zone        aside for a moment inherently joint
from the safety of distant bases, while   activities such as transporting troops
surface forces (especially on land)       or supplies or providing networked
have a more permanent presence            communications, all that air and
in the combat zone and so need            space platforms can really do to affect
to be constantly on guard against         a situation on the ground or sea is
enemy attack. The more detached           to observe it from overhead or to
and evanescent nature of aerospace        threaten or carry out an armed attack.
power has real benefits also at lower     Only surface forces not detached
levels of conflict, since satellites      from the situation by height and
enjoy untrammelled overflights even       speed can conduct more subtle and
in peacetime, and since it is more        discriminate interactions such as
politically acceptable to employ air      searching inside woods, buildings,
power in ambiguous situations than        caves or boats, conversing with
to deploy ground combat forces (as        people, taking prisoners and so on.
in the No-Fly Zones over Iraq before      In terms of flexibility of effect, air
2003 and the ongoing UAV operations       and space platforms are at a clear
over Pakistan).47 Hence, at least for     disadvantage compared to land
Western nations with their political      and sea forces, and this is why I
sensitivities and their preponderance     questioned the idea that aerospace
in electronic warfare, air and space      power is uniquely flexible overall.
power do currently provide rather
                                          An equally serious problem is that
greater operational flexibility than
                                          the undoubted flexibility which air
surface power.
                                          and space power currently enjoy
The third key dimension is flexibility    in geographical and operational
of effect. Air planners have put a        terms has three significant costs.
lot of emphasis on this area in recent    First, there are frustrating trade-
years, as in the evolution of multi-      offs among some of the component
role platforms such as the F-15E, F-18    elements of flexibility – for example,
and JSF which can switch seamlessly       speed increases responsiveness
between air-to-air and air-to-ground      and survivability but limits basing
engagements, and as in the growing        options, decreases endurance, and
165
      makes it even more difficult to engage      build both vessels while not being
      ‘with’ a particular situation on the        able to afford the aircraft to make full
      surface. Second, making a given             use of them.52
      aerospace capability more flexible
                                                  It is frustrations such as these which
      and capable (such as by building
                                                  prompted General Richards to
      aircraft carriers to provide a sea-
                                                  advocate a very different approach.
      basing option) also makes the force
                                                  In his words, ‘Technology designed to
      cost even more to build and operate
                                                  take on putative first world enemies is
      than it would otherwise have done,          hugely expensive. Whilst accepting,
      hence further reducing the number           with Allies, the need to retain these
      of platforms which can be afforded          capabilities to deter and contain,
      within a shrinking budget. Third,           the cost of equipment most relevant
      larger and so more capable and              to population centric asymmetric
      adaptable platforms also tend to have       conflict is much cheaper and one
      very long procurement lead times, as        can afford many more of them. By
      illustrated by the fact that Britain’s      so prioritising, we will also find the
      current Typhoon and aircraft carrier        resources to spend more on the
      programmes already featured heavily         technology and equipment needed
      in the conference on the future of          in all forms of conflict, whether state-
      UK air power which led to my 1988           on-state or with non-state actors:
      book! 50 These problems interact to         C-IED systems, UAVs, precision
      produce a classic vicious circle, with      attack, or stabilisation forces’.53
      more and more of the defence budget         Some of the same concerns were
      being pre-committed on projects             echoed last year in the DCDC’s Future
      begun long ago, leaving very little         Air and Space Operational Concept,
      scope to exploit new technological          which highlighted the need for
      opportunities or to react to new            investment in UAVs, directed energy
      strategic requirements, and so              weapons, space and cyber warfare as
      making it even more important that          well as in air transport and combat
      existing platforms be made as               ISTAR, and which concluded with
      adaptable as possible so that they          a warning that, ‘Fewer and more
      may be modified to cope with                expensive platforms, the present
      whatever unforeseen challenges              trend, is approaching the point of
      the future may hold. The Typhoon            diminishing returns, lacks resilience
      programme illustrates the resulting         and suggests that we should also
      dilemmas very well, since contractual       seek to rediscover the advantages
      commitments make it hard to save            of numbers and mass’.54 The SDSR
      money by cancelling outstanding             adopts a more equivocal response to
      orders, and since turning what was          this dilemma, and has been accused
      originally conceived as a Cold War          of simply continuing the traditional
      dogfighter into a flexible combat           ‘salami-slicing’ approach.55 With
      ISTAR platform involves significant         budgets increasingly tight, and with
      extra expenditure in itself.51 Similarly,   air planners understandably reluctant
      the crippling contractual penalties         to accept radical reductions in their
      for cancelling one of the two aircraft      ability to conduct high intensity
      carriers have played a key role in the      combat, how far and by what means
      much-criticised recent decision to          to maintain flexibility in aerospace
                                                                                      166
capabilities will remain very difficult     Defence Planning Assumptions
and contentious issues well after           around Army deployments ‘with
the immediate decisions reached in          maritime and air support as required’
the SDSR.                                   indicates where priorities currently
                                            lie.60 The early departure of Air
The Human Dimension                         Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup as
My remarks about the characteristics        Chief of the Defence Staff, and his
and flexibility of air and space power      replacement by General Richards
have been based mostly on the               who said recently that ‘Conflict has
technology involved, but as in all          moved on from the era of the tank
aspects of conflict and military force,     and aircraft’, show that established
it is actually the human element            air power arguments can no longer be
which dominates. The role of humans         taken for granted.61
in aerospace power is now being             I explored the pros and cons of
rethought as fundamentally and              increased virtualisation of the flight
emotively as it was during the bitter       experience in my articles a year ago
inter-service disputes of the 1920s         about UAVs and about the future
and the Sandy’s defence review in           of UK air power.62 The biggest
1957.56 At the tactical level, aircrew      advantage of such a move is that
numbers will diminish still further         it reduces the proportion of costly
under the SDSR, while UAVs and              live flying which must be devoted
improving simulation technologies           to aircrew training, and so makes it
raise the prospect of a progressive         possible to deploy a larger proportion
‘virtualisation’ of the flight experience   of aircraft fleets on actual operations
to match that already in place with         like those currently under way.63
space satellites.57 At the strategic        Going beyond simulation and relying
level, it has become common for             more on remotely-piloted UAVs
pundits to advocate the reintegration       has the further benefit of defusing
of the RAF with the other services          political sensitivities over the
as a source of efficiency savings.58        potential death or capture of aircrew,
In June, a TV show on the budget            though it does make the aircraft
crisis found 65% support among              themselves more vulnerable to
the studio audience for merging the         accidents, air defences and cyber
services and cutting £9 billion from        warfare.64 If these problems can be
defence spending, and in August,            overcome, the spare capacity aboard
BBC Radio devoted an entire half-           Britain’s aircraft carriers may offer
hour programme to asking ‘What’s            an important opportunity to boost
the Point of the RAF?’, with several        the unmanned element within
commentators urging a similar               naval aviation. Despite Iran’s recent
organisational solution – journalist        trumpeting of its own new unmanned
Sam Kiley, for instance, argued             aircraft, UAVs are unlikely to become
that, ‘They work for the Army, they         a classic ‘underdog’ weapon as
might as well be in it’.59 Although         happened with V-1s, V-2s, Scuds,
the SDSR takes a more traditional           Katyushas and the like – their
approach by retaining capable               dependence on a comprehensive
manned fast jet fleets and laying little    network infrastructure makes
stress on UAVs, the structuring of the      them too vulnerable to disruption by
167
      electronically superior opponents.65     the main motor causing nations
      The real downside of the increasing      to rethink their interventions and
      prominence of UAVs is not that it        withdraw, as happened to the US
      risks undermining Western aerial         in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia,
      dominance (rather the reverse),          the Israelis in Lebanon and the
      but that it reinforces a growing         Occupied Territories, and the USSR
      ‘dehumanisation’ of aerospace            in Afghanistan.67 Aerospace power
      power and a distancing of Air Force      may be detached and ‘unfair’, but
      personnel from the human dimension       by minimising the losses of its own
      of combat.                               operators and by providing the
                                               intelligence, firepower and transport
      Current Western perceptions of           (including aeromedical evacuation)
      warfare, as embodied in images from      needed to safeguard friendly ground
      Afghanistan and elsewhere, are very      forces, it plays a major role in limiting
      much that ‘Aircraft observe and kill,    the potential for such casualty-driven
      while soldiers fight and die’. Apart     demoralisation.68 The dominant
      from helicopter crew, who are lauded     issue in Western military operations
      for sharing the same risks as the        ever since the 1991 Gulf war has
      troops they transport and supply, the    been where to strike the balance
      Western exercise of aerospace power      between air and surface power, so
      is no longer viewed as a particularly    as to achieve the desired strategic
      ‘heroic’ endeavour.66 The pervasive      effect while reducing exposure to
      image of the soldier as hero and         friendly casualties. Suggestions that
      martyr helps to explain why the          aerospace capabilities are merely
      conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are    a supporting adjunct to ground
      so commonly perceived as ‘ground         forces are a gross caricature, as is
      wars’ rather than as quintessentially    illustrated by air-led campaigns
      joint campaigns. Although the            like those in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2001,
      greatest experts on local patterns       and over Pakistan today. The blood
      of life are often the UAV operators      price paid recently in Iraq and
      who watch given regions day in and       Afghanistan gives soldiers powerful
      day out on their screens in Nevada,      political weight in the current defence
      the complete physical separation         debate, but it is far from clear that the
      of these observers from the conflict     eventual outcome of these traumatic
      theatre makes it very hard for them      conflicts will be worth the sacrifice
      to ‘keep in touch’ either with locals    involved, and to make them into the
      or with their Army colleagues            dominant model for future planning
      on the ground. Even in our               requires an almost Nietzschean
      increasingly networked and virtual       assurance that ‘What does not kill us
      age, humans are tactile mammals          makes us stronger’.
      for whom real human contact is
                                               As in the 1920s, calling into
      important, especially in the traumatic
                                               question the very existence of
      environment of deadly conflict.
                                               a separate Air Force is likely to
      The other side of the story, is, of      prove counterproductive, by
      course, that losses suffered by          increasing inter-service tensions
      troops on the ground for unclear         and jeopardising the joint thinking
      strategic ends have historically been    which is now more necessary than
                                                                                     168
ever. Military service is a highly         radical restructuring of aerospace
emotive profession rooted in               capabilities. As we move from an
culture and tradition, and too much        entangling current conflict into
focus on impersonal calculations           a fundamentally unpredictable
and theoretical efficiency risks           future, air and space power will
undermining the unquantifiable             play an increasingly integrated and
human strengths on which British           indispensable role in our overall
military excellence ultimately             defence effort, based on the unique
rests. The challenge for airmen and        strengths which flight brings. In the
airwomen is to move away from the          face of unprecedented budgetary
flight experience itself as the defining   constraints, defence and aerospace
qualification for air leaders, and         planners will continue to face some
to build a more enduring identity          nightmarish dilemmas about how
around expert employment of the            best to maintain real flexibility
distinctive strategic characteristics      and cost-effectiveness, and how
of air, space and cyber capabilities.      the human dimensions of air and
Rather than inspiring subordinates         space power should evolve to adapt
to risk (and often sacrifice) their own    to technological possibilities and
lives as in the gruelling attritional      to the challenges from adaptive
engagements of the past, airmen            opponents (especially in the cyber
must shift their focus towards other       field).70 The dilemmas have triggered
human dimensions of conflict, in           some significant inter-service
particular the discriminate use of         disagreements over the best way
aerospace intelligence and firepower       forward, but now that the SDSR
to safeguard friendly surface forces       has been conducted, it is vital for
and to reduce the will and ability         the different services to reconcile
of opponents to resist, without            their differences and to cooperate
creating martyrs and so triggering         even more closely in delivering joint
politically counterproductive effects.69   military capability. If the services
Although aerospace power will              do not hang together, they will
remain inextricably bound up with          most assuredly hang separately in
technology, its successful exploitation    whatever difficult and unpredictable
requires a deep understanding of           conflicts the future may hold.
human psychology, since it is in the
minds of men and women that wars
                                           Notes
are eventually won and lost.               1
                                             Philip Sabin, ‘Western Strategy
                                           in the New Era: the Apotheosis of
Conclusion
                                           Air Power?’, in Andrew Dorman,
The SDSR has been a traumatic              Mike Smith & Matthew Uttley (eds.),
process for UK air power, with several     The Changing Face of Military
programmes and bases being cut,            Power, (Basingstoke: Palgrave,
and with further personnel reductions      2002), pp.91-110.
                                           2
on top of those already suffered             Philip Sabin, Lost Battles:
over the past two decades. However,        Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the
the outcome has not been all bad,          Ancient World, (London: Hambledon
and the SDSR has clearly rejected          Continuum, 2007), Philip Sabin, Hans
the more extreme suggestions for           van Wees & Michael Whitby (eds.),
169
      The Cambridge History of Greek and          pp.1-12, Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, ‘The
      Roman Warfare, 2 vols., (Cambridge:         Israel-Hamas War: A Preliminary
      Cambridge University Press, 2007).          Assessment’, RUSI Journal, 154/1,
      3
        HM Government, Securing Britain           February 2009, pp.24-8, ‘Israelis “blew
      in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic     apart Syrian nuclear cache”’, Sunday
      Defence and Security Review, (Norwich:      Times, September 16th 2007, ‘Israeli
      The Stationery Office, 2010).               jets strike arms smugglers’ convoy in
      4
        ‘RAF to have wings clipped in             heart of enemy territory’, The Times,
      defence budget assault’, The Times,         March 27th 2009.
      October 6th, 2010, ‘Aircrew morale          8
                                                    Philip Sabin (ed.), The Future of UK
      shot by fear of cuts that also harm         Air Power, (London: Brassey’s, 1988).
      community’, The Times, October 19th,        9
                                                    Philip Sabin, ‘The Future of UK Air
      2010, ‘Pilot puts Cameron on the spot       Power’, RUSI Journal, 154/5, October
      over loss of Harrier fleet’, The Times,     2009, pp.6-12.
      October 20th, 2010.                         10
                                                     Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The
      5
        ‘Israeli bombers offered clear skies      Impact of the Highly Improbable, (New
      for attack on Iranian nuclear sites’,       York: Random House, 2007).
      The Times, June 12th, 2010, ‘Final          11
                                                     ‘As Macmillan never said, that’s
      countdown begins for shield to              enough quotations’, Daily Telegraph,
      protect West from Iran missiles’, The       June 4th, 2002.
      Times, August 2nd 2010, Philip Sabin,       12
                                                     David Richards, ‘Future Conflict
      Simulating War: Studying Conflict           and its Prevention: People and the
      through Simulation Games, (London:          Information Age’, an address at the
      Continuum, 2011). For an attempt            International Institute for Strategic
      to predict political factors, see ‘Israel   Studies, London, January 18th 2010.
                                                  13
      loses in war game over nuclear raid’,          Charles Guthrie, ‘The Future of
      The Times, December 23rd, 2009.             Battlefield Air Support’, in Sabin,
      6
        Chaim Herzog, The Arab-Israeli            op.cit., 1988, pp.153-8.
                                                  14
      Wars, (London: Arms and Armour,                Development, Concepts and
      1985), Lon Nordeen, Fighters over           Doctrine Centre, Future Character of
      Israel, (London: Guild, 1991), Ahron        Conflict, (Shrivenham: Ministry of
      Bregman, Israel’s Wars: A History since     Defence, 2010), and Global Strategic
      1947, (London: Routledge, 2002).            Trends - Out to 2040, (Shrivenham:
      7
        Neville Parton, ‘Israel’s 2006            Ministry of Defence, 2010).
                                                  15
      Campaign in the Lebanon: a failure             HM Government, A Strong Britain
      of air power or a failure of doctrine?’,    in an Age of Uncertainty: The National
      RAF Air Power Review, 10/2, Summer          Security Strategy, (Norwich: The
      2007, pp.80-91, Stephen Biddle &            Stationery Office, 2010).
                                                  16
      Jeffrey Friedman, The 2006 Lebanon             Philip Sabin, ‘Memorandum on
      Campaign and the Future of Warfare,         the Strategic Defence Review’, in
      (Carlisle PA: Strategic Studies             the House of Commons Defence
      Institute, 2008), Alistair Byford,          Committee’s report on The Strategic
      ‘Network Enabled Capability, Air            Defence Review, (London: HC-138-III,
      Power and Irregular Warfare: The            1998), Appendix 13.
                                                  17
      Israeli Air Force Experience in the            National Security Strategy (2010), p.3.
                                                  18
      Lebanon and Gaza, 2006-2009’, RAF              Strategic Defence and Security Review
      Air Power Review, 13/1, Spring 2010,        (2010), pp.18-19.
                                                                                      170
19
   Michael Clarke & Philip Sabin (eds.),   ch.14, Kurt Hall, Near Space, Maxwell
British Defence Choices for the 21st       Paper 38, (Maxwell AL: Air University
Century, (London: Brassey’s, 1993).        Press, 2006).
                                           30
20
   Rupert Smith, The Utility of Force:        Philip Sabin, ‘The Counter-Air
The Art of War in the Modern World,        Contest’, in Andrew Lambert &
(London: Allen Lane, 2005).                Arthur Williamson (eds.), The
21
   Joel Chandler Harris, The Tar-Baby,     Dynamics of Air Power, (Bracknell: RAF
and Other Rhymes of Uncle Remus,           Staff College, 1996), pp.18-39, Richard
(Ohio: Forgotten Books, 2010), René        Hallion, ‘Precision Air Attack in the
Francillon, Vietnam Air Wars, (London:     Modern Era’, in Richard Hallion
Hamlyn, 1987), John Smith, The             (ed.), Air Power Confronts an Unstable
Linebacker Raids: The Bombing of North     World, (London: Brassey’s, 1997), Tony
Vietnam, 1972, (London: Cassell, 1998).    Mason, The Aerospace Revolution: Role
22
   National Security Strategy              Revision & Technology – An Overview,
(2010), Annex A.                           (London: Brassey’s 1998).
                                           31
23
   ‘Forces’ future priority shifts to         Richard Hallion, Storm Over Iraq: Air
deterrence’, The Times, July 13th, 2010,   Power and the Gulf War, (Washington
Strategic Defence and Security Review      DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1992).
                                           32
(2010), p.10.                                 John Warden, ‘Employing Air Power
24                                         in the Twenty-First Century’, in Richard
   David Ucko, ‘Lessons from Basra:
The Future of British Counter-             Shultz & Robert Pfaltzgraff (eds.), The
Insurgency’, Survival, 52/4, August-       Future of Air Power in the Aftermath of
September 2010, pp.131-57.                 the Gulf War, (Maxwell AL: Air
25                                         University Press, 1992), pp.81-2.
    ‘Americans outgunned by Taliban’s
                                           33
AK 47s’, The Times, May 25th, 2010.           Robert Owen, ‘The Balkans Air
26                                         Campaign Study’, Airpower Journal,
   RAF Centre for Air Power Studies,
British Air and Space Power Doctrine,      11/2, Summer 1997, pp.4-25, and
AP 3000, 4th edition, (London: Air         11/3, Fall 1997, pp.6-27, Tim Ripley,
Staff, Ministry of Defence 2009)           Operation Deliberate Force: The UN
pp.16-21.                                  and NATO Campaign in Bosnia, 1995,
27
   Philip Sabin, ‘The Strategic Impact     (Lancaster: Centre for Defence
of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’, in           and International Security Studies,
Owen Barnes (ed.), Air Power: UAVs,        1999), John Keegan, ‘Please, Mr Blair,
the Wider Context, (Swindon: RAF           Never Take Such a Risk Again’, Daily
Directorate of Defence Studies, 2009),     Telegraph, June 6th 1999.
                                           34
pp.97-115.                                    Benjamin Lambeth, Air Power
28
   By my calculations, a satellite         against Terror: America’s Conduct of
in orbit 300 km up has around 10           Operation Enduring Freedom, (Santa
times as much kinetic as potential         Monica CA: RAND, 2005).
                                           35
energy compared to its launch                 Benjamin Lambeth, NATO’s Air War
position, so the rocket is needed          for Kosovo: A Strategic and Operational
far more for speed than for height.        Assessment, (Santa Monica CA: RAND,
See Wayne Lee, To Rise From Earth:         2001), Stephen Biddle, Afghanistan
The Complete Guide to Spaceflight,         and the Future of Warfare: Implications
(London: Cassell, 2000).                   for Army and Defense Policy, (Carlisle
29
   Laurence Newcome, Unmanned              PA: US Army War College, 2002),
Aviation, (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 2004),   Sarah Kreps, ‘The 2006 Lebanon War:
171
      Lessons Learned’, Parameters, Spring        (op.cit., 2009) is more circumspect,
      2007, pp.72-84.                             and emphasises Agility rather
      36
         ‘Deadly airstrike on civilians sours     than Flexibility.
                                                  43
      Obama’s Afghan unity summit’, The              Stephen Dalton, ‘Dominant Air
      Times, May 7th, 2009, ‘Drones take a        Power in the Information Age: The
      heavy toll on hearts and minds’, The        Comparative Advantage of Air and
      Times, March 10th, 2010. Air power          Space Power in Future Conflict’, an
      was not, of course, the only culprit –      address at the International Institute
      see ‘Nato commander reins in special        for Strategic Studies, London,
      forces after night raids kill civilians’,   February 15th, 2010.
                                                  44
      The Times, March 17th, 2010.                   Directorate of Air Staff, Royal Air
      37
          ‘US Commander in Afghanistan            Force Strategy, (London: Royal Air
      to Order Limits on Air Strikes’, The        Force, 2006).
                                                  45
      Guardian, June 22nd, 2009, Gordon              Strategic Defence and Security Review
      Brown, ‘Afghanistan – National              (2010), p.18.
                                                  46
      Security and Regional Stability’, an           ‘US builds hyperspeed missile
      address at the International Institute      that can strike anywhere in an hour’,
      for Strategic Studies, London,              Sunday Times, April 25th, 2010.
                                                  47
      September 4th, 2009.                           Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War:
      38
         Richards, op.cit., 2010.                 Kosovo and Beyond, (New York:
      39
         Tony Mason, Air Power: A Centennial      Metropolitan Books, 2000), ‘Obama
      Appraisal, (London: Brassey’s,              steps up “black ops” to strike at heart
      1994), p.xiii.                              of terror forces’, The Times, June 5th,
      40
         Philip Sabin, ‘Air Power in Joint        2010, ‘Silent war on militants to be
      Warfare’, in Stuart Peach (ed.),            extended with drones’, The Times,
      Perspectives on Air Power: Air Power        August 27th, 2010.
                                                  48
      in its Wider Context, (London: The             Gerard Keijsper, Joint Strike
      Stationery Office, 1998), pp.239-65.        Fighter: Design and Development of
      41
         Anthony Cordesman & Abraham              the International Aircraft, (Barnsley:
      Wagner, The Lessons of Modern               Pen & Sword, 2007), Dalton, op.cit.,
      War, Vol.III: The Afghan and Falklands      2010. ISTAR stands for ‘Intelligence,
      Conflicts, (Boulder CO: Westview,           Surveillance, Target Acquisition
      1990), ‘Hezbollah threat to rain            and Reconnaissance’.
                                                  49
      rockets on Tel Aviv as it rearms for           Harry Kemsley, ‘Combat Air Power
      fresh war’, The Times, August 5th, 2009.    in Irregular Warfare’, RAF Air Power
      42
         Sabin, in Barnes, op.cit., 2009, p.99.   Review, 10/2, Summer 2007, pp.14-49.
                                                  50
      The first three editions of AP 3000            Sabin, op.cit., 1988.
                                                  51
      all listed Flexibility as a key attribute      Sabin, op.cit., RUSI Journal, 2009.
                                                  52
      of air power, with the first edition in        ‘HMS Ignominious: £5bn
      1991 claiming that, ‘The height, speed      carrier fiasco’, The Times, October
      and reach of air power allow aircraft       19th, 2010, ‘Revealed: truth about
      to perform a wide variety of actions,       the aircraft carrier deal’, The Times,
      produce a wide range of effects and         October 22nd, 2010.
                                                  53
      be adapted with comparative ease to            Richards, op.cit., 2010, ‘Top general
      meet changing circumstances and             calls for new cyber-army’, Sunday
      situations. As a result air power is        Times, January 17th, 2010, ‘RAF urged
      uniquely flexible’. The fourth edition      to cut its Cold War jets in favour of
                                                                                       172
cheaper propeller aircraft’, The           63
                                              ‘More Helicopters in Hampshire
Times, January 22nd, 2010. C-IED           than Helmand, but No Pilots to Fly
stands for ‘Counter Improvised             Them’, The Times, July 17th, 2009.
Explosive Device’.                         64
                                              ‘Battlebots rewrite the rules of
54
   Development, Concepts and               war as humans take back seat’,
Doctrine Centre, Future Air and Space      The Times, May 21st, 2010, ‘Islamic
Operational Concept 2009, (Shrivenham:     insurgents hack into CIA state-of-
Ministry of Defence, 2009).                the-art Predator drones’, The Times,
55
   ‘After the review, can Britain          December 18th, 2009.
still defend itself?’, The Times,          65
                                              ‘Tehran raises nuclear stakes
October 20th, 2010, ‘Our wars need         by revealing its “messenger of
command, not committee’, The Times,        death”’, The Times, August 23rd, 2010,
October 26th, 2010.                        Philip Sabin, ‘Air Strategy and the
56
   Brian Bond, British Military            Underdog’, in Peter Gray (ed.), Air
Policy Between the Two World Wars,         Power 21: Challenges for the New
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980),           Century, (London: The Stationery
David Omissi, Air Power and                Office, 2000).
Colonial Control: The Royal Air            66
                                              For non-Western aircrew, it is of
Force, 1919-1939, (Manchester:             course a very different story. See ‘So
Manchester University Press, 1990),        much owed by so many regimes in
Ministry of Defence, Defence:              the Afghan conflict to so few...’, The
Outline of Future Policy, Cmnd.7590,       Times, May 29th, 2010. Despite the
(London: HMSO, 1957).                      welcome infrequency of casualties,
57
   The only growth area in human           Western jet crews do display great
spaceflight is in space tourism.           skill and daring, as reported in ‘“Top
See ‘Beam us up, Scotty: Virgin            Gun” takes on Taliban upside down’,
astronauts could be launched from          Sunday Times, May 31st, 2009.
                                           67
Lossiemouth’, The Times, June 12th,           Charles Hyde, ‘Casualty Aversion:
2010, and ‘Boldly going nowhere:           Implications for Policy makers and
Nasa ends plan to put man back on          Senior Military Officers’, Aerospace
moon’, The Times, June 14th, 2010.         Power Journal, 14/2, Summer 2000,
58
   ‘Where should the axe fall on the       pp.17-27, ‘Toll of wounded reaches
Forces?’, The Times, July 21st, 2010.      1,000 in the most deadly year for
59
   Dispatches: How to Save £100 Billion,   British troops’, The Times, October 31st,
(Channel 4, June 21st 2010), What’s        2009, ‘Campaign must not be
the Point of the RAF?, (BBC Radio          judged on casualties alone, says
4, August 17th, 2010), Sam Kiley,          army chief’, The Times, December 8th,
‘Goodbye, Armed Forces. One force          2009, ‘Grim milestone as 1,000th US
will do’, The Times, February 4th, 2010.   soldier is killed by bomb’, The Times,
60
   Strategic Defence and Security Review   May 29th, 2010.
                                           68
(2010), p.19.                                 ‘Cold War spy plane on new
61
   ‘Lame duck defence chief “must          mission to spot Taliban bombs’, The
go now”’, The Times, June 14th, 2010,      Times, March 24th, 2010.
                                           69
‘New chief faces fight to win the             Philip Sabin, ‘Why the Allies Won
trust of RAF and Navy’, The Times,         the Air War, 1939-1945’, in Claus-
July 15th, 2010.                           Christian Szejnmann (ed.), Rethinking
62
   Sabin, op.cit., 2009.                   History, Dictatorship and War, (London:
173
      Continuum, 2009), pp.145-59, ‘Taliban
      “hurting” as Nato takes out 130
      leaders’, Sunday Times, August 8th,
      2010, ‘Taliban on verge of collapse
      after surge success, allies insist’, The
      Times, October 8th, 2010.
      70
         Iain Lobben, ‘Cyber: Threats
      and Security’, an address to the
      International Institute for Strategic
      Studies, October 12th, 2010, ‘Cyberwar
      declared as China hunts for the
      West’s intelligence secrets’, The Times,
      March 8th, 2010, ‘Worm of war cripples
      Iranian nuclear plant’, The Sunday
      Times, October 10th, 2010.
174
175

                              Book Reviews
         ‘The Cinderella Service: RAF Coastal Command 1939-1945’
                                    By Andrew Hendrie


                            Reviewed by Group Captain Clive Blount




      N
                o official history has ever     made to the Allied war effort.
                been devoted to RAF Coastal
                                                The book looks first at the aircraft and
                Command and its activities
                                                armament available to the Command
      during the Second World War despite
                                                and describes the development of
      its vital role in keeping open the sea
                                                operational capability as the war
      lines of communication - particularly
                                                progressed – and that development
      the Atlantic bridge for vital supplies
                                                was from a pretty parlous start. In
      and reinforcements from the USA.
                                                addition to a steady improvement
      ‘The Cinderella Service: RAF Coastal
                                                in aircraft and weapons, it is clear
      Command 1939-1945’ goes some way
                                                that emerging technology was a
      to rectifying that omission. This book
                                                key driver of mission success and
      was derived from the Author, Andrew
                                                the value of the ‘boffins’ - in close
      Hendrie’s PhD thesis and, as such,
                                                contact with the front line - is made
      is a sound traditional academic text,
                                                very clear. He then progresses to
      extensively researched and footnoted.
                                                discuss the main roles of Coastal
      However, it is also unusual in that it
                                                Command, particularly anti-
      is also part memoir, drawing on the
                                                submarine warfare and anti-surface
      author’s own operational experience;
                                                shipping operations against enemy
      Andrew Hendrie served in Coastal
                                                warships and merchant vessels.
      Command from 1939 and flew
                                                Hendrie’s extensive research and
      operationally from 1942 to 1945. He
                                                first hand knowledge ensure that
      completed his PhD just before his
                                                all his main assertions are well-
      death on 1st April 2004.
                                                supported and referenced. He is
      Hendrie paints an interesting and         able, for instance, to support his
      very full picture of the Second World     somewhat surprising conclusion that
      War from the Coastal Command              small-scale strikes on enemy surface
      perspective, the name of the book         shipping were more effective than
      coming from the fact that the             the massed attacks of the well-known
      Command was often referred to as          strike wings, which often suffered
      the 'Cinderella Service' - as it was      disproportionately high losses for
      often overshadowed by Fighter and         the results they achieved. The minor
      Bomber Commands and was not               tasks performed by the Command,
      given priority in terms of aircraft       which were no less important,
      and equipment. Its wartime record,        included photo-reconnaissance,
      however, was second to none and ‘The      meteorological flights and air-sea
      Cinderella Service’ reveals the vital     rescue, and the author covers these
      contribution that Coastal Command         well in a later chapter before drawing
                                             176
some general conclusions and paying
tribute to his fallen colleagues in a
moving retrospective. Lengthy and
comprehensive appendices then
follow, covering Orders of Battle at
various stages of the war, notable
Commanders, achievements in terms
of U boats and ships sunk, and details
of aircraft losses and casualties.
Whilst now fully recognised as key
players performing a vital role that
ensured, directly, the survival of our
Nation, the personnel of Coastal
Command often felt unappreciated
and unsupported, but, as Hendrie
points out, morale was usually very
high. The author uses a poem by Sqn
Ldr Tony Spooner, DSO DFC, to sum
up this spirit:
‘Fighter or Bomber?’ his friends used
to ask;
But when he said ‘Coastal’ they’d turn
half away....
.....‘Fighter or Bomber?’ his friends
used to ask;
‘Coastal’ he’d say, his face a tired mask;
Though not in the spotlight where
others may bask,
We’ve a tough job to do and I’m proud
of the task.
This book forms a valuable reference
for anyone interested in RAF Coastal
Command from an academic
perspective but also provides much
food for thought for the general
reader interested in Air Power, and
Airmen, at war.
177

                                Book Reviews
                  Back Bearings: A Navigator’s Tale 1942 to 1974
                               By Group Captain Eric Cropper


                              Reviewed by Group Captain Clive Blount




      E
            ric Cropper’s military career         He spent several tours in the trials
            started in late 1940 when he          and evaluation world and saw the
            joined the Local Defence              advent of the current General Duties
      Volunteers at the age of 17. Accepted       Aerosystems Course, as it developed
      for Aircrew training in 1943, he had        from the ‘spec n’. Colleagues who
      a short period of pilot selection flying    have attended Aries Association
      on the Tiger Moth before starting           dinners in the last few years will
      what was to be a long and varied            recognize many of the cast of
      career as an RAF Navigator. After           ‘Back Bearings’ as stalwarts of such
      training, he was posted to Lancasters       events… albeit, I suspect, vaguely
      and completed a tour with 103 Sqn -         through a hangover! Ironically, the
      which included operations over the          very success of the developments in
      D-Day beachheads. It was over Caen          avionics, in which Cropper played
      that the aircraft in which he was           a part, soon called into question
      flying was hit by another Lancaster,        the need for a specialist navigator,
      a harrowing experience that is              with the eventual demise of the
      described well in the book.                 profession being discussed very soon
                                                  after he left the service. Away from
      ‘Back Bearings’ is so much more than
                                                  mainstream flying, Cropper filled
      a wartime memoir, however. After
                                                  a number of staff posts, served at
      his operational tour, Cropper
                                                  the RAF College, Cranwell, enjoyed
      was posted to a training role and
                                                  an exchange posting in Alaska
      completed the staff navigator course
                                                  serving with the USAF, and also
      just before the end of hostilities.
                                                  spent a year in command of the
      Cropper then embarked on a 30 year
                                                  RAF airfield on Gan in the India
      career in the peacetime RAF and
                                                  Ocean. His description of these
      this book provides rare insights
                                                  tours provides a fascinating insight
      into the life and challenges facing
                                                  into life in the RAF during the
      officers in the fast-developing service.
                                                  period and, although the service
      Cropper's post-war career was quite
                                                  was much bigger and had a more
      varied. As a specialist navigator,
                                                  global outlook, the reader is able to
      he saw the development of the
                                                  draw many parallels with today.
      science and art of navigation from
      drift sight, dead reckoning and             Although far from the usual ‘blood
      astro-compass, through several              and guts’ wartime autobiography,
      iterations of electronic navigation         this book is quite compelling. Told
      aid, to early inertial systemsand the       with feeling and a touch of humour,
      eve of ubiquitous satellite navigation.     it encapsulates the 'feel' of life as a
                                           178
post-war RAF officer. The mundane
details of staffwork, married quarters
and the ordinary day-to-day gripes of
a regular officer add colour and shade
to the historiography of the period
and, for most of us currently serving,
is sufficiently recent for the reader to
be able to empathize with the author
and make interesting comparisons
with service today. Cropper writes
with honesty and openness and
quickly draws the reader in; his light
touch keeps non-specialists interested
and engaged without patronizing
those with more experience in the
field of navigation technology. This
is an excellent memoir by an RAF
navigator that describes both the
revolution in navigation technology
during the post war period but also
the everyday life and career of an
‘ordinary’ RAF officer.
179

                                Book Reviews
                                    Counterinsurgency
                                       By David Kilcullen


                             Reviewed by Group Captain John Alexander




      C
      ‘       ounter-insurgency is                a reprint of Kilcullen’s Twenty-eight
              fashionable again: more has         Articles: Fundamentals of Company-
              been written on it in the           level Counterinsurgency, written in
      last four years than in the last four       2005 for US Army company officers
      decades’.1 So wrote David Kilcullen         struggling to adapt to the Iraq
      in 2006, at the low point of the US-        insurgency.2 The second chapter,
      led coalition’s counter-insurgency          written in late 2009 and aimed at
      in Iraq. He has since become one            ISAF, lists suggested measures of
      of the foremost counter-insurgency          effectiveness for counter-insurgency,
      ‘soldier-scholars’. A former                concerning the population, the host-
      Australian infantry officer with a          nation government, the security
      PhD in Anthropology, he has played          forces, and the enemy. Next there are
      a leading role in making population-        two case studies. First, a previously
      centric counter-insurgency                  published summary of his doctoral
      orthodox, advising both the US              thesis which traces the development
      State Department and General                of Indonesian counter-insurgency
      Petraeus. Furthermore, Kilcullen has        techniques, from success in the 1960s,
      published widely on the subject: his        using population-control against
      The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small    communist insurgents, to failure in
      Wars in the Midst of a Big One is on        East Timor in 1999.3 This is followed
      the CAS’s 2010 Top 10 Reading List.         with an account of an engagement
      His latest book, Counterinsurgency, is      between Kilcullen’s infantry company
      intended both for counter-insurgents        and Indonesian forces in East Timor.
      – civilian and military students            Chapter Five is a broad ranging
      and practitioners – and also for the        study of Al Qaeda, Somalia and
      general reader interested in ‘today’s       Afghanistan emphasising counter-
      conflict environment’. Like all his         insurgency as a competition for
      work, Counterinsurgency is very well        governance and legitimacy. In the
      written but, in his own words, it is ‘far   shorter Part Two, Kilcullen posits the
      from a definitive study’ and is instead     so-called Global War on Terror as a
      ‘an incomplete collection of tentative,     defensive global campaign against
      still developing thoughts'.                 a Takfiri insurgency which seeks to
                                                  recreate the Caliphate. He argues
      This collection is in two parts. Part
                                                  the solution is the employment of
      One, entitled ‘A Ground-level
                                                  counter-insurgency principles on a
      View’, emphasises the local and
                                                  global scale.
      temporal character of effective
      counter-insurgency. It starts with          The book’s main strength is the clarity
                                                                                          180
and accessibility of Kilcullen’s            reliance on air power to make the
writing. For example, the                   adversary fight as a guerrilla, for
introduction summarises in thirteen-        the fire support to enable dispersed
pages why population-centric                operations, for ISR, and for mobility
counter-insurgency is more effective        to avoid IEDs is at best taken for
than an aggressive enemy-centric            granted. Also Kilcullen does not
approach. Kilcullen stresses two            really challenge the population-
fundamentals - local solutions and          centric doctrine. He compares it
respect for non-combatants. He              only with the extreme ‘kill them all’
neatly explains the challenge of            approach of the Romans and
expeditionary counter-insurgency            Nazis, when critical analysis of
in a third-country and therefore the        more recent alternative approaches,
need to understand the country,             such as the 2009 Sri Lankan defeat
secure it, and build viable local allies.   of the Tamil Tigers, may have proved
Successful counter-insurgency, he           more insightful.
concludes, demands knowing what
                                            Overall Counterinsurgency is a curate’s
kind of state we are trying to build
                                            egg. The book is published in map-
or assist, what has proved viable
                                            pocket size and is ring-bound to
previously, and the compatibility
                                            make it look like a Field Manual,
of its government with our own. In
                                            which it is not, and the chapters on
other words, for counter-insurgency
                                            Indonesia add marginal value only.
tactics to work the strategy has to be
                                            Nevertheless, most of the book is well
right. Counterinsurgency also provides
                                            worth reading for its valuable insight
an interesting perspective on the US
                                            on countering insurgency.
Army’s struggle to adapt in contact
and Kilcullen’s part in it.4 Kilcullen’s    Notes
Twenty-eight Articles, probably his         1
                                              David Kilcullen, 'Counterinsurgency
most widely-read work, was written
                                            Redux', Survival, 48. 4 (2006), 111-130
one night in Baghdad, and then
                                            (p. 111).
published almost immediately by the         2
                                              David Kilcullen, 'Twenty-
influential online Small Wars Journal.
                                            Eight Articles: Fundamentals
The Twenty-eight Articles’ title and
                                            of Company-level Insurgency'
format were a crib from T E Lawrence
                                            (<http://smallwarsjournal.com/
and it has since been published as
an annex to General Petraeus’ Field         documents/28articles.pdf>: Small
Manual 3-24 Counterinsurgency, which        Wars Journal, March 2006, accessed 29
Kilcullen helped write.5                    June 2010).
                                            3
                                              David Kilcullen, 'Globalisation
One obvious weakness is the book            and the Development of Indonesian
mentions air power only once                Counterinsurgency Tactics', Small
when it states that, according to           Wars and Insurgencies, 17. 1 (2006), 44-64.
Kilcullen, over reliance on air (or         4
                                              See for example Brigadier Nigel
artillery) support is an indicator          Alwin-Foster, 'Changing the Army
of a unit’s failure to engage with          for Counterinsurgency Operations',
the local population – caused by            Military Review (2005), pp. 2-15.
under confidence or because it is           5
                                              T. E. Lawrence, 'Twenty-seven
overmatched. As in the Petraeus             Articles', Arab Bulletin, 20 August 1917.
Field Manual, the counter-insurgent’s
181

                               Book Reviews
                     Night Fighters - Luftwaffe and RAF Air
                         Combat over Europe 1939-45
                        By Colin D. Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis

                     Reviewed by Rev Dr (Squadron Leader) David Richardson




      S
            eventy years ago, the 'Dowding       outstanding example. There are
            System' of aerial defence            numerous factual inaccuracies;
            played a vital role in Britain's     doubling the number of engines
      survival; this volume seeks to analyse     on the Avro Manchester being one.
      the analogous and less celebrated          The reader may also be surprised
      systems developed by the Luftwaffe         to find that Dowding and Trenchard
      during the Allied bombing offensive.       were both still actively directing air
      The underlying thesis of the book is       operations in 1943!
      that mid-level Luftwaffe commanders
                                                 Beside these flaws, there is a deeper
      developed a highly capable array of
                                                 weakness within the book - a
      equipment and techniques and were
                                                 willingness to make some superficial
      largely let down by poor strategic
                                                 judgments on a paucity of evidence.
      leadership. Heaton and Lewis have
                                                 For instance, Heaton and Lewis
      obviously amassed a considerable
                                                 caricature the Royal Air Force as a
      degree of knowledge in studying this
                                                 class-ridden organisation, which
      area, and the volume is replete with
                                                 'in typical RAF fashion' was slow
      technical information.
                                                 to respond to new intelligence,
      The authors rightly highlight the role     'illustrating Bomber Command's
      of emerging technology in the duel         penchant for oversight'. Although the
      between Bomber Command and the             authors do have some useful insights
      Luftwaffe, most notably the varying        into the changing patterns of the
      electronic systems such as Naxos and       nocturnal air war, and an engaging
      H2S, and point to its legacy in the        sympathy for the human cost of
      current conduct of air operations. The     conflict, their analysis is frequently
      description of the evolving German         clouded by generalisation and
      'wild boar' and 'tame boar' systems is     confused chronology.
      especially interesting.
                                                 The real origins - and potential
      However, it is difficult to recommend      - of the book can be gleaned by
      this book as a useful purchase except      examining the photographic pages.
      to the most ardent devotee of this         There, amongst the expected images
      subject. In the first place, there are     of aircraft and weapons, are pictures
      a large number of egregious errors,        of Heaton quaffing drinks with
      such as the ascription of a peerage        German night fighter veterans,
      to 'Lord Winston Churchill', and           most notably Hajo Herrmann
      some bizarre nomenclature; 'Air            and Wolfgang Falck. Although
      Vice Sir Hugh Montague Viscount            probably a misguided move by the
      Marshal Trenchard' being the most          publisher's photographic editor (it
                                         182
hardly enhances the appearance of
academic impartiality), it reveals the
real strength of the book: Heaton's
personal links with Luftwaffe
survivors. These two men in
particular loom large in the index and
it is probably best to read this book
as a record of their initiatives and
observations. Had Heaton and Lewis
chosen to create the volume as edited
memoirs, rather than attempting an
overall history of the air campaign,
it would have made a more useful
contribution to the field.
183

      Notes

				
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Description: Joel Hayward, "The Qur'an and War: Observations on Islamic Just War", Air Power Review, Vol. 13, No. 3 (2010), pp. 41-63.