Air Supremacy II: Re-learning Asymmetry

Air Supremacy II: Re-learning Asymmetry

This recalls my old post, but more detailed and better explained:

War is all about counters and counter-counters. It is fought by people, not machines, and people will do everything to avoid being killed. As a result, any kind of attrition-based, symmetric warfare scenario is flawed. Training is paramount, to allow soldiers knowledge necessary to adapt to changing circumstances.

Leading Edge

[This is a continuation of a previous article in a series]

There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

b17 B-17 Flying Fortresses Over Germany in April 1945
(USAF Photo)

The founding fathers of military aviation had an uphill battle in advocating the value of airpower to their doubtful Army and Navy counterparts. Though their approaches (and successes) varied, all of these advocates shared a common underlying theme: airpower, operating in the third dimension, provides an asymmetric advantage in warfare. Almost a century later, have we forgotten this keystone principle?

Joint US doctrine defines asymmetric as “the application of dissimilar strategies, tactics, capabilities, and methods to circumvent or negate an opponent’s strengths while exploiting his weaknesses” (JP 3-15.1). Doctrine covers all types of warfare: nuclear warfare, conventional warfare, irregular warfare, and even hybrid warfare. Interestingly, the only references to asymmetric warfare…

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3 thoughts on “Air Supremacy II: Re-learning Asymmetry

  1. Yep, going through the old article, even asymmetric counters may be flawed.

    I think though that one fascinating thing about organizational culture is that often, militaries never expect that the enemy might counter asymmetrically.


    1. That is because militaries are bureocracies (leadership), and bureocracies are inherently inflexible, out of touch with reality, and inward-oriented – everything that military should not be.


    2. The thing is, even if the asymmetric counter itself has weak points, the enemy might not respond effectively. They may be stuck in the symmetric thinking to think of a creative solution. Or those who could think will never be promoted.

      In other cases, the solution was to avoid the war to begin with. An example is the Iraq War – the US had already lost when it invaded in 2003. It was a blow to America’s reputation and ultimately set things in motion for the rise of ISIS.


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