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The ACSC Vietnam research seminar curriculum had its students read a multitude of books on that conflict. They were encouraged to read about all aspects of the war including problems within the military and how and why it fought the way it did. We found many books/papers deriding US policy, faulting the application of both ground forces and air power. Over the course of the seminar, it was clear that a large body of work existed singling out Air Force doctrine and capabilities as unable to meet the challenge of bombing North Vietnam into surrender. Less was found about Air Force successes over South Vietnam, perhaps because South Vietnam was seen as a lower threat environment, with an unseen enemy and no Rolling Thunder scale campaigns. After reading the volumes of work criticizing the Air Force, its officer corps, national defense policies, etc., this student decided to seek out examples of success, of transformation and adaptation. FARM GATE came up often, as did Army Special Forces. But the Air Force's shift from high speed nuclear bombers, to slow, low flying counterinsurgency aircraft, and it's corresponding (albeit slight) shifts in doctrine became fascinating topics--inspiration to write how the Air Force, as institution, changed. The conclusion, then, is that Air Force leadership, and the institution itself, did adapt and succeed in missions it never thought it would fly. The sources for the shift seem unlikely: small groups of officers and men dedicated to building new capability, General Maxwell Taylor, General Curtis LeMay, and an administration looking to move away from the paradigm of Massive Retaliation.
  • ISBN13: 9781288280421
  • Publisher: Biblioscholar
  • Pubilcation Year: 2012
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 00040
Publication DateNovember 1, 2012
Primary CategoryEducation/General

From Hustler to Mach Turtle: Air Force Transformation in Vietnam, 1961-1966

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