Hahn's ensuing discussion of World War II and Cold War-era US government activities lead the reader through a number of security systems, treaties, and alliances that ultimately set the stage for or helped preclude future conflicts in the region. [...] readers desiring deeper analysis and perhaps even recommended courses of action for American foreign policy in the region may desire to seek alternate texts.
of all-around knowledge about the capabilities of written, and effectively illustrated with good airpower on the part of both politicians and maps. The role of the IAF in peacekeeping mis- ground commanders. The author devotes much sions has been highlighted only in recent years, space to jointness in the various conflicts that and the author reinforces this with some ex- India has fought. How many of us knew that in tremely interesting extracts from his brother’s May 1948, when Air Commodore Mehar Singh diary that describe the peace-enforcement mis- made his historic landing at Leh in a Dakota (a sion in the Congo during 1961, when IAF Can- DC-3, in common US parlance), Maj Gen K. S. berras performed magnificently. The last few Thimayya—then a divisional commander—was chapters offer some extremely good ideas on on board, along with his troops, in a display of lessons from the past, our desire for self-reliance, brave jointness? That Pakistan launched a pre- and airpower’s coming of age in the 1990s. A emptive air strike in 1965 is common knowl- passionate believer in the strategic capabilities of edge. Until this book came out, however, it was airpower, Air Commodore Jasjit spares no effort also widely accepted (even by our own Ministry in suggesting doctrinal changes that would en- of Defence archives) that beyond an air stale- able the IAF to cope with the challenges of fu- mate, the IAF did not dent the Pakistani Air ture warfare. He is also quite critical about the Force’s (PAF) capability. Armed with telling sta- lack of understanding of airpower and its capa- tistics, Air Commodore Jasjit has embarked on a bilities on the part of politicians through the spirited rebuttal of the common perception that years and counters the myth that only airpower the PAF emerged as a victor in the 1965 air war. is escalatory. In fact, airpower de-escalated the The fact of the matter is that the bulk of IAF situation during the Kargil conflict. losses occurred as a result of the opening days’ I wish that the author had thrown some light preemptive strikes on both the western and east- on the Karachi air strikes of 1971, as it may have ern theaters in the form of aircraft parked on the put to rest the ongoing debate over who hit Karachi ground. A comparison of aerial losses thereafter first—the IAF or the Indian Navy. The expand- shows that the IAF suffered much lower attrition ing role of airpower in subconventional warfare than did the PAF. So much for perceptions. The also would have added value to the doctrinal sec- author is very candid about the total lack of syn- tion. The layout of the book, which features ex- ergy between the IAF and the Indian Army dur- cellent photographs, is aesthetic and appealing. ing the 1965 war, attributing it to a mind-set that Unfortunately, the stiff price tag will make it looked at the IAF as merely a tactical air force—a primarily a library acquisition. A paperback edi- holdover of World War II. Shifting to analysis tion, however, would find its place at the bedside assessment, did anyone realize that the Israeli of every discerning airpower enthusiast. All in Air Force drew a page out of the PAF’s tactics all, Defence from the Skies is a superb book and a and launched its stunning preemptive strike in must-read for anyone who wants to enrich his or 1967, decimating the Arab air forces before they her knowledge about the IAF in particular and
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