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Saass Thesis Statements

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TITNF Comps Prep

*Almost everything here can be found on the SAASS Wiki or the O:Drive.

Note: None of these questions are right or wrong. None will be exactly what you are asked in comps. Each should be considered a vehicle for you to start a conversation. The test is to see how well you can avoid painting yourself in a corner during that conversation.


- Bring water, paper is provided, be confident but humble.

Study and prepare the ideas you want to discuss during your comps. This is your 2.5 hours to tell how you made this year your own. Demonstrate that you have something intelligent and relevant to SAASS to say.

Determine your safe ground and know those arguments cold (i.e., pick your 3-5 favorite themes and have memorized arguments for those themes). When all else fails, pull the conversation to your safe ground.

3 books per course is good, but not 3 books in the same camp. Find the tension between authors.

Be academically pretentious: Name check authors/book titles whenever possible when answering questions.

Questions to know cold:

- Define strategy? Best & worst definition of strategy and why

- How does strategy apply to airpower?

-What theorist do you like most/least with reasons?

- What are three enduring attributes/characteristics of airpower?

- What are your three favorite and three least favorite books from the curriculum?

- What is one book every officer should read? (Variation: If you could shrink one book, other than Clausewitz, and keep it in your pocket at all times, what book would you choose?)

- Give one example of a coercive air campaign that worked and a coercive air campaign did not work.

- Describe the difference between Pape's and Warden's approaches to coercive air campaigns? Pape and Douhet on strategic bombing? Big picture, be prepared for an airpower strategy question in historical context from SAASS.

- Know Allison and Zelikow's three models COLD. You will be asked about them.

- Describe the difference between Huntington's and the Nielson/Snider approaches to civil-military relations?

- Doctrine discussion: what does doctrine do for us and to us?

- I’m a taxpayer, why should the US spend money on teaching you strategy for a year?

- What would be a good comps question?

Shrek’s take on some themes. Consider how you might answer questions that combine multiples of the following themes. I broke them out by course, but arguably a good SAASS student would be able to describe how they arch throughout the entire year of study.

601 Foundations of Strategy: Strategy is an inter-disciplinary approach, and springs from a broad inquiry into politics, history, economics, science, culture, and ethics. How do you become a strategist? Who, and what, is a strategist? What do they do? How do they do it? Certain concepts endure: Independence and security, human dignity and equality, oppression and autocracy, and democracy and freedom are ideas with long pedigrees. Two broad schools of thought, Liberalism and Realism, can categorize and prioritize these ideas. Do ideas explain state actions? Do emerging ideas about complexity, economics and the pursuit of power explain reality better?

600 Foundations of Military Theory: Thought about the art and science of war. If you can argue who wins a royal rumble between Thucydides, Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Jomini, Moltke, Liddell Hart, Fuller, Tukhachevskii, Mahan, Corbett, Boyd, and Wylie then you are in the ballpark. Each theorist has strengths and weaknesses to talk to.

627 HISTORY OF AIR POWER I: Ideas about airpower development and employment through 1945. Know the airpower theorists and be able to compare and contrast.

632 STRATEGY AND COERCION: A discussion of contemporary theories of international politics and examines and compares key works that inform the study and practice of deterrence, compellence, and cooperation.

628 HISTORY OF AIR POWER II: A consideration of the interaction between air power and strategy, writ large. Discussion is dominated by Cold War, but limited wars of East Asia and Middle East also discussed.

660 Technology and Military Innovation: “How would you promote technological innovation in your service, and to what strategic end?” Theories of technological development and questions of where technology comes from, what underlying factors facilitate technological change, and how technology influences strategic decision making, if at all. Where is technology headed in the future? Which of the predictions are correct, close, or absurd? What should we encourage (as a society, as a military) in technological development? Where should we invest scarce taxpayer dollars for effective and efficient future military systems? And, what will the relationship be between technology and strategy? Are you a social constructivist or technological determinist and why?

667 Information, Cyber Power, and Intelligence: Cyberspace encompasses information operations that utilize information technologies, offensive and defensive computer operations, network operations, and the wider exploitation of the EMS. What is ‘information’? What is cyberpower? How do bits of information interact with other bits of information to create new information, in a form of creative destruction? How did we get from large transistors and Turing machines to an age where the modest I-Pod utilizes technologies based on quantum mechanics, all in the space of 60 years? What is the political and strategic context of cyberspace and cyberpower today? Where is the intersection of cyberspace and networks within the realm of intelligence? Read syllabus pg 4.

665 SPACE POWER AND NATIONAL SECURITY: Develop an integrated and comprehensive framework for understanding the interplay between strategy, history, technology, and defense policy. Read syllabus pg 4.

644 Irregular Warfare: What is irregular warfare? Are irregular conflicts fundamentally different from other types of conflicts? If not, why, and if so, what does this mean for the use of force and the application of military power? Who instigates irregular conflicts and how do they think they can win? What types of irregular adversaries do we face and how have they conceived victory against opponents with superior forces and resources? How are current irregular conflicts different from those of the past? How important are issues such as ideology, geography, time, and technology to victory? And how and under what conditions do irregular conflicts end? Another good syllabus.

643 Strategy and Campaign Planning and 670 Contemporary Defense Policy: How do you apply all of the above?

When they talk about gouge being useless, that starts here.

Once you determine what you want to talk about in comps, pick random questions from here and practice answering them. Researching answers to all these questions is probably a bad strategy. You probably won’t remember it and you won’t feel prepared for a discussion.


Dr. Tucci channeling Forsyth "Using the Powell Doctrine, discuss the highs and lows of American civil-military relations from World War II to the present."

Be ready to talk Allison's Decision Models from The Essence of Decision if you have him in comps.

Dr. Wright asked “How would you use Thucydides to support or dispute Huntington”.

If you have Doc Wright on your comps board, do not use the word "complexity" without being prepared to thoroughly unpack the term's meaning as it relates to your argument. It's a pet peeve of his that I learned about during and after Doc Holzimmer's class yesterday.

Dr Muller:

What do Clausewitz and Huntington have in common?

-They both have the letter "i" in their last name.

Did Clausewitz mean politics or policy in his famous quote?

Dr. Kiras:

What is theory and why is it useful?

- A codified systematic body of propositions regarding a field of knowledge. (Be careful not explain Kuhn's paradigm as they are different). According to Dr. Winton theory defines, categorizes, explains, connects, and anticipates.


Based on my airpower theory:

1) What makes airpower unique? (Kept coming back to this and ultimately he wanted to hear air superiority)

2) I said space was an enhancer – What impact will that have on space?

Other questions:

1) Using Clausewitz On War Book 1, what is his theory of war and why is it different in reality?

(I started with absolute war and why war never reaches absolute)

2) How do you define transformation? What has SAASS taught you about transformation? Is it transformation good or bad? (bad question – worse answer)

1) How does airpower work with insurgents? Can you use EBO? (kinetic/non-kinetic balance, interdependency)

1) What is the tension between politicians and military leaders in war? (Huntington’s normal v. Cohen’s “unequal dialogue”)

2) How would you design an air campaign against Iraq? (all IOPs, deterrence, coercion)

What is a theory? What is doctrine (difference between the two)

- Is it easier to coerce an enemy or a friend (I said that according to Shelling, the enemy has a higher expectation of threat carried out).

Define Victory in war.

Can someone be victorious without accomplishing their objectives?

What was Eisenhower’s nuclear policy and how did the theory of Nukes evolve to include tripwires and thresholds?

Discuss credibility of nuke threats; Schelling’s perspective on Nukes

Describe nuclear deterrence in both theory and practice

Describe Massive Retaliation and Mutually Assured Destruction

What were the tripwires to launching nuclear weapons according to Schelling

The US is constructing air bases in OEF. You are China. Using Allison’s models (first explain what they are), use each model to explain what China thinks the US is doing.

Nuclear coercion, especially with the Schelling twist – know about the elements of coercion. Is it plausible or credible that we would risk nukes to defend Europe? Korea?

Regarding nuclear thresholds, what are they, and are they viable?

What should the US Army look like in the future to contend with the threat?

-Hint: The Army may be fine the way it is.

How effective is strategic bombing?

What vulnerabilities does the US (or military, or USAF) currently have? How might a potential enemy exploit these? What can we do to mitigate?

Assuming “moderate” Islamic Arabs are the Middle East’s COG, how do we keep them on our side?

Which is harder to fix: strategy or tactics?

Who has the advantage: terrorists with nukes or the US with its nuclear dominance? What message does this have for the moderate Arabs?

According to Clausewitz, which is stronger, offense or defense?

Asked about the Halt Phase, the attack and its culmination, and Clausewitz’s idea of continuity and concentration

What did Clausewitz say the qualities of a good leader are?

Asked a lot about Clausewitz; know the leadership/genius question.

What quality might be required for airmen leadership/genius not discussed by Clausewitz?

Does Clausewitz apply to the war on terrorism?

Some questions on Battle of Britain; e.g., If the Germans had gained air superiority would Britain have been successfully invaded?

Discuss relative strengths and weaknesses of the USSBS vs. the GWAPS (Strategic bombing surveys). Discuss the differences between the USSBS and the GWAPS in terms of what we learned from them and how they focused on the lessons learned.

If people are COG in small wars, how does collateral damage influence targeting?

What was Fuller’s law of war?

Explain what Clausewitz meant by “war has a grammar all its own, but not its own logic.”

Explain why the oil targeting campaign worked in 1944. Would it have worked in 1942? Why didn’t the ball bearing approach work?

Airpower Theory Question: Military and Economic provide leverage. Does this occur in both war and peace?

Are we enamored with precision? How about in small wars?

Three most important reasons for success from Vietnam to Iraq?

Were more sorties flown in North or South Vietnam during Rolling Thunder?

In the interwar period following WWI, what drove the major air theorists to develop similar theories?

What were the assumptions underlying the ACTS theory of bombing?

Do you think Warden’s five-ring theory is new or repackaging of ACTS with newer technology?

As a strategist, what strategy would you devise to fight the war on terrorism?

If war is so economically driven (eased on cost/benefit), why did WWI occur?

Why did Douhet, Mitchell, and ACTS end up with a fairly similar view on airpower (i.e. strat attack)? How were they different?

Allison-based question: you’re Chinese. Explain in terms of Allison’s three models what the US is doing in central Asia, and should you be worried.

Was the cold war a war, and how did ISR play in it as a form of power/force?

According to Clausewitz war is a paradoxical trinity of which a primary component is violence.

Relate the role of air and land forces and their relative merits since WWII.

Why do you believe small wars resemble Corbett’s limited war theory? Give examples.

Discuss air warfare and the dominant indicators (student’s take was that this was in conjunction with Ehrhard not liking this student’s airpower theory).

What would Pape, Warden and Clodfelter say about the value of interdiction?

How would Schelling and Pape approach the idea of influencing the will of the enemy?

Compare and contrast Clausewitz and Jomini.

What was Douhet up to with his theory and why is he still brought up today?

What’s your favorite book? Book that had the most impact on your theory of warfighting? Provide a reading list for someone that comes to you as a recent SAAS grad and asks what’s worth reading and what’s not.

State your theory of airpower in a couple of sentences.

What was the impact of Clausewitz on your airpower theory?

Lots on Clausewitz; also in conjunction with Boyd.

Very particular about Clausewitz view of theory, strategy and war.

Asked about US/USAF fundamental principals of war and whether they are viable or just designed to comfort us (COG, surprise, etc)

What is the utility of doctrine at both the tactical and joint level

Why do we fight like Jomini?

Wanted to know about the tensions between strategy and tactics (vis-à-vis weapon acquisition)

Discuss (presumably similarities/differences) between Joint Command Commander and Roman Pro-Consul

What is the greatest limitation and weakness of your theory?

What should the relationship dynamics be between civilian and military leadership? What should they communicate to each other?

Who were the major thinkers in airpower development from 1945 through the end of the cold war and what did they think? (Student thought Hughes felt the AF outsourced this to RAND)

What do you think a proper political-military conversation should sound like during the policy making process?

How far down into the military chain should the political side directly influence or control during a conflict?

Schelling et al and coercion. Wanted specific empirical cases of where coercion worked. His “school solution” was Kosovo, with the proximate cause of NATO attacks on Milosevic’s cronies who then saw continued support for him was going to cost them too much.

Also Linebacker I and II.

What did we target in Rolling Thunder, Linebacker I and Linebacker II? Student believed Morgan was looking for the mechanism discussion, and didn’t like his answer which entailed multi-causal views.

Is space power flexible? If so, is space flexible in the same manner as air power?

Compare and contrast the mechanisms the US applied in Rolling Thunder, Linebacker I and Line backer II. Were they successful uses of airpower? Why or why not?

You are on the Joint Staff, and an army guys says, “Why don’t you AF guys knock off this interdiction stuff. It didn’t work in Operation Strangle (Italy), nor in Korea, nor in Vietnam. Why don’t you concentrate on CAS instead?”

Gave several examples of AF dudes with innovative ideas who were ousted from the military (Jones, Tunner, Warden); is the AF more apt to require its members to tow the party line than are the other services?

This student’s Airpower Theory did not include space. Mets played “bad cop” and tried to convince him that his reasoning for that position is faulty. Student had to defend his paper’s position on space.

What is an RMA and what are its characteristics?

Why do actors go to war?

Discuss security dilemma in an airpower context

Is precision capability leading us down the wrong path in small wars?

How has airpower limited casualties over time?

Is today’s AF strategy accurate/effective? Why or why not?

If our strategy has to be modified so often, why do we even have it?

What insights would you apply in a future wargame based on this year’s SAAS experience?

Given your ideas about war and the future, how would you restructure the SAAS curriculum to better prepare those that follow you?

Is the use of airpower in OEF an anomaly? Defend your answer.

What is the best way to talk to your boss about a subject that requires analysis?

Explain to a skeptic how effectively airpower has been employed over the last decade, and did it have the right doctrine.

Is there a difference between the theory of airpower and the practice of airpower? Why or why not?

What is the definition and purpose of theory/doctrine/strategy?

How does JFC Fuller’s mental-physical-moral construct relate to the means-methods-ends of airpower employment in your theory?

What is the single most valuable insight as an airpower strategist you gained from Thucydides?

Compare and contrast Corbett and Mahan’s theory and state which has more relevance for you.

Does viewing war through the tactical/operational/strategic paradigm have utility for airmen? If yes, what criteria would you use to decide what level of war a given action fell into?

Having read Thucydides, what are the most important lessons you learned from it as a military strategist?

What do you think of the statement “To anticipate and shape the future, you must master the past”?

Application of airpower at both ends of the conflict spectrum

Direct vs. indirect airpower employment

Various airpower strategies

Various military and airpower theorists

Have some knowledge of historical airpower examples

Mahan, Corbett – compare and contrast

Billy Mitchell – was he a zealot, should he have been court martialed, what was the basis for his theory?

JFC Fuller, Clausewitz, Thucydides: Fuller’s obsession with 3s, and how fear, honor, and interest relate to both Fuller and Clausewitz.

Kitson/Trinquier – they came up as a reference to how to fight insurgents. Key phrase is “legitimacy.”

Lots of reports of questions on their TOAs (Theory of Airpower). Know the problems with your theory, maybe more so than the strengths, and be prepared to defend and parry.

How would you relate doctrine to strategy? Look at the last class of 600.

Relate airpower to the military theorists. For example, how do you explain the difference between Claus’s belief that defense is the stronger form of war and Douhet’s belief that airpower is and should be inherently offensive?

What was new about Warden? Did it work? Chef’s answer: nothing – it was all AirLand Battle, and no it did not work as Warden’s way didn’t compel Iraq to leave Kuwait.

From an airman’s perspective, what are the roles of land forces?

· They can hold ground

· In most conflicts their actions can lead to decisive victory

· They are a great coercive tool UNTIL THEY ARE DEPLOYED. Once deployed, the hand is played. You can’t “ratchet up” the coercion once the land forces have deployed.

· MOST IMPORTANTLY: they force entrenched enemies to move and concentrate, making them vulnerable to air attack

· Oh and they hang around a long time after the fighting and provide insurgents with targets

What’s the role of airpower in IW?

Across the mediums – land to sea to air to space to cyber – the common goal is to attain the ability to control, which is an ability that rapidly erodes across the mediums.

What does airpower bring to the joint campaign plan? Strengths, Weaknesses. Persistence is not a strength.

Describe the effects of politics and economy on the future of US airpower.

Which 3 readings most affected my airpower theory (first question)

Analyze Pape’s Statement, “What nearly all suicide terrorist attack actually have in common is a specific secular goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.”

If I were to go teach at India’s SAASS, which two of the three theorists would I choose to teach, Fuller, Mahan, Clausewitz.

How do we fight convince Iran to give up its nuke program without getting mired with a large peacekeeping force like in Iraq? Tell me what will and won’t work. I said crony attack. Follow-on question, will it work? No, without and international coalition and DIME. Is the coalition feasible? No.

Use theorists and examples to explain why attacking leadership is good and bad? Is it practical?

Allison Model 1,2,3 and Morgan’s analogies of Machine, Organism…) and why it was important to strategy. He also asked the pro’s cons of treating the AOC as a weapon system.

Argue for and against why Thucydides is important to strategists.

-For: -Against:

Is Warden ACTS repackaged or not.

What is most powerful: institutions, ideology, or agency?

What was the "Vietnam Syndrome" and how has it shaped civil-military relations since?

There is an underlying tension between material and non-material factors. Which is most important?

Does the US need NATO? What are alternatives?

What are the complications of establishing international norms of preemptive use of force?

Which metaphor best illuminates the process of defense transformation?

The open system is the organism.

How will privatization impact American defense policy in the near future?

Is surprise/catastrophe inevitable? Can uncertainty be erased?

Explain US and USSR nuclear strategy from Massive retaliation to today.

Using Erhard's framework (target, third party, domestic audiences) to explain the unintended consequences that resulted from the Al Firdo's bunker attack in Gulf War 1.

Using a decision making framework of my choice (Allison) explain why Iraq didn't blowup key bridges during OIF to impede the US' advance.

Using that same framework to analyze the US' decision to start the ground campaign before the air campaign in OIF.

What strategy would you recommend to coerce Iran into stopping its nuclear weapons program that doesn't include a messy phase IV like we currently see in Iraq.

Defend the following two statements: 1) The airpower is 1000 times more effective than any other time in its history due to the current RMA (as a starting point you have to explain what you think constitutes this RMA). (2) Airpower is no more effective than it has been in the past, and in fact, is less so due to the way the enemy is fighting.

Your boss wants you to develop a strategy to deal with the insurgency. What do you recommend?

Some authors argue that the Berlin Airlift allowed the US to slow time down to its advantage. Do you agree? Why or why not?

What lessons did the US Army Air Corps learn from its experiences in the North Africa Campaign?

RAND is working on a study to defend or repudiate the following statement: The US has such an overwhelming advantage in the air, that in the future, no other group or state will challenge the US in the air or on the ground in a conventional force on force fight. The only wars the US will be left to fight are nuclear wars and insurgencies. How do you think RAND answered the question?

Overall, pretty low threat. Chiabotti pretty much kept it focused on my airpower theory and my thesis, with few exceptions. Chiabotti and Gorman are 600 guys, so the theorists are their cup of tea. Know them cold. Mortensen focused on current things and personal opinion stuff.

There were several branches/sequels from this relating to Clausewitz and Warden, COGs, Clausewitz's thoughts on defense v offense, culminating point definition (both O and D), and JFC Fuller.

We talked about Boyd and the OODA loop and its applicability to the 3 levels of war (They don't think it applies to strategic level). We did the same with EBO (It applies to all three).

We spent quite a bit of time discussing 670 and how the military and its generals relates to the political process. Chiabotti thinks its imperative that the military strategist be concerned with policy (why else would we have SAASS?). This led to a discussion about Cohen and Supreme Command and his thoughts about the subject.

What metaphor would you use to describe your airpower theory? What are some metaphors other theorists have used? (used Morgan’s book and Fuller-human body)

1) Thinking about the OODA loop, is speed always good? (mostly yes, but higher order effects aren’t know right away and enemy might not know they’re defeated)

2) Follow-on to Dolman’s transformation question: How does transformation apply to the current context? What in the environment has changed? (uncertainty after cold war, capability not platform)

3) What is the biggest lesson I learned form the war game?

4) What is biggest thing I took out of SAASS?

Big on the central proposition of theory.

- Per Doc C., Mahan’s central proposition is that sea lines of communication are the most important. Therefore, the theory that Naval Power = Great nation status. He disagrees with the proposition (by 1850’s the railroad made Mahan’s assertion wrong); nonetheless, the trick is to identify it.

- Corbett: Central proposition: that man occupies land, this doesn’t necessary subordinate sea power to the Army; it does, however, subordinate naval strategy to considerations on the ground.

Clausewitz’s C.P.: He’s taking on those who see the science of war. War is in the psyche – that’s why it must support policy, why it requires military genius, and why the enemy responds in a number of ways.

Likes Morgan’s Images of Organizations. Specifically asked what I had read this year that examined organizations; followed up with a question related to my thesis (civil mil relations). How should the AF act on the issue of wpns in space today? Answer in civ-mil context and organizational theory.

Org – we look more like the brain than the machine on this one, because we’re mindful of politics, funding, our independence, control of space, etc. A machine would be more objective, based upon natl security concerns alone.

Civ Mil: Clausewitz says the soldier can act like a statesman-OK to engage politically on the issue. Huntington says don’t, or you’ll lose your military identity and professionalism. Eliot Cohen says uneven dialogue—I’ll have the final say, but you can make your opinion known to me directly (the politician), not so much publicly.

Kiras asked how coercion / deterrence relate to on-going war in Iraq. Also asked 1 question on my own view of organizations and its implications for strategy development / execution. Had several piggy backs on this from Griffith.

L. Griffith wanted to know how airpower relate to coercion / deterrence. Also wanted to know which theories I would use if I were teaching a class at a foreign air war college and why.

Holzimmer kept his questions centering around my airpower theory and the various concepts that he could pull out of it to expand…

For example, “How would your airpower theory contribute to the counterinsurgency operation in Iraq?”

“Has airpower really changed the nature of war or has it just increasing the speed and precision of destruction?”

Schaub was a little more about asking a specific academic question that centered on some part of the curriculum: for example, “What are the various theories on civil-military relationships and where do you sit with regards to that issue?” and “What are the various theories on coercion and which one does your airpower theory lean towards?”

Forsyth was more about big picture issues and “tensions” between various issues regarding the military. “How do we reconcile our overwhelming military power and the need to show restraint in a counter-insurgency?” How do policy-makers change course when they don’t get the results they expect?” He also asked me what I would tell the CSAF if he asked me what the three key issues facing the AF were?

Bottom line where you can it helps to specifically reference an author and book to bolster your assertions and don’t let them exaggerate your point to an extreme such that you end up arguing the wrong message. (Don’t let them choose your words…)

I mention the balance of readiness and modernization in my theory—he asked to explain, address what risks are associated with both, and how to balance those risks.

I recommend reviewing his questions from the 2002 comp questions guide—he asked, “Why did the early airpower theorists come to the same observations/recommendations (Douhet, ACTS, Mitchell)?” I started with WWI context, influence, interwar stuff, addressed their theories and strategic bombing, etc… He followed on with, “How well did strategic bombing do in WWII?”

Asked me to defend why the development of airpower was the most important change in military affairs in the 20th Century. I went down the path of RMA, not what he was looking for but he let me go for awhile, and he gave me a hint about how the US built up a standing military. I eventually addressed the speed, range, endurance of airpower and how it could impact the US across the oceans (& vice versa), impact on geopolitics and the military, and that finally answered the mail.

In reference to airmen and leaders, asked who was a great role model and why—I picked Kenney. He followed on with, “Why didn’t he do a better job with SAC?” I contrasted Kenney with LeMay which led to some discussion about LeMay.

Several follow-ons to others questions, but all were straight forward. Did try to talk me out of something in my theory, but I stuck to my guns & that worked well.

Discussed Navy’s air superiority efforts in Korean war, led to F-4. USAF air superiority efforts with F-86 and asked me to explain those with my theory’s adaptability. (theory stuff)

Discussed USSBS and WWII (Bradley’s writing/comments on air support) and then said, “You’re next assignment is in the CAOC and Bradley #2 (an Army guy) comes up to tell you what’s wrong with the USAF—what does he say? How would you answer him?”


  • What drives airpower [development]? (Technology? Organization? Requirements?)
    • What drove it in the “early” (interwar) years?
    • In the past 20 years, what has dominated/determined USAF capability…Tech or Org [i.e. Stealth vs. AOC]?
  • Regarding the concept of Full Spectrum Dominance [from my airpower theory]
    • Why does the concept of “dominance” ‘dominate’ military doctrine?
    • What about sufficiency? (Cold War discussion followed)
  • What are the main lessons from Thucydides?
    • Did the war change, or did the war change the Athenians?
  • Summarize the essential ideas of Douhet, Warden, and Pape.
    • Briefly discussed Pape’s 4 types of coercion
    • How would Gulf War (1991) end state be different had we gone for a more thorough denial strategy against Saddam’s fielded forces?
    • Who is your favorite air theorist? Why?
  • Be ready for “Giant vs. Pygmy” discussion [Forsyth peeve]. I.e.—would it have mattered what strategy we employed during OIF?
  • Intel: What would Wohlstetter tell the 9/11 commission? How much will reorganization fix?
  • Freedman: Can terrorists be deterred? How?
  • Barnett: What are the major flaws in his assumptions? Are there historical examples where an “integrated” international community went to war?
  • [Within the context of cultural education/awareness discussion] Regardless of cultural differences, are there universal values that every human understands? I.e., Mao says “diplomacy comes from the barrel of a gun.” Does everyone understand force the same way?
  • Got into a discussion about the biggest threat to US survival and/or security.
    • Was looking for probability estimates in addition to magnitude of threat.
    • What should US prepare for and how much weight of effort should be given to worst-case vs. most-likely?
      • Corresponding budget allocations
    • Discussed tactical aviation shortfalls in Vietnam
      • TAC postured for nuclear war
      • Within the context of the Cold War, was this a bad strategy?
  • Pol-Mil Affairs (with pile-ons from all)
    • (Springing from previous Vietnam discussion), who was responsible for the priority given nuclear vs. tactical capability? Was it LeMay or national leadership? Did capability/strategy drive policy or did policy drive capability/strategy?
    • What are the “normal” theory of civ-mil control (Huntington)
      • Where does it stem from?
      • Explain it. What makes military unique (according to Hungtington)?
    • What are the alternate views according to Cohen and O’Hanlon?
    • How do these theories relate to the current administration, especially OSD? What about preparation for Iraq and Phase IV planning?
  • Outsourcing…effect on military culture and operations
    • Especially PMFs…what are the challenges of control and accountability?

What is the effectiveness of a nuclear counter-value strategy? And Who did it favor in the cold war?

Is Net-Centric Warfare a theory? Why or why not?

Lots of Comparing and contrasting theorists. Jomini and Corbett, Claus and Jomini. And the airpower theorists as well, Douhet, Mitchell, Slessor, Warden.

Got into a discussion about cost of airpower? Is it worth it? And then he asked which theorist addresses this issue (how much money to spend on defense?). I was stumped but he was looking at Fuller’s Economy of Force.

Is airpower persistent? Why or why not?

Can airpower target will in conventional conflict? If so how?

Can airpower target capability during an insurgency?

What does time mean to a strategist? (He’s looking for both conventional and unconventional strategists here.) Talked Boyd’s OODA loop and MAO’s use of time after he gave me a hint it was where he wanted to go.

What would you tell the President to do with regards to Iraq/AFG?

Name a good air strategist and defend your answer (Spaatz in WWII using oil campaign to achieve air superiority to enable Normandy) Name a bad one (Goering – didn’t stick to initial strategy in BoB, overspent on V1/V2, etc).

Why is the list of air strategists so short?

Will net centric warfare evolve quickly or rapidly?

Got into a long discussion on centralized control and how it relates to NCW? My take is the standards for NCW need to be implemented and enforce by senior leadership to enable decentralized execution.

What airpower theorist do you like the most? Dislike the most? Why?

Let’s pick apart your definition of airpower

Use of terms throughout my theory…what does that word mean to you

What theories contribute to how you would employ airpower?

Schelling—deter, compel, defend…what do they mean how are they different

I said Airpower is inherently offensive but Clausewitz says defense is the stronger form…why? What does he mean by that?

Looking at my future of airpower, if the AF continues on its current path, what are the implications for budgets and technology?

n I talked about Kenney, the Luftwaffe, and Slessor and integrating with ground forces in showing flexibility

n What about inflexibility? WTF? I’m sorry…the answer we were looking for was…the French Air Force between wars

Col Griffith gave me an extract from a Thomas Freidman article that the war in Iraq is unwinnable. What’s the problem in Iraq? What’s the Solution? How do we measure our success? Is it an insurgency? If not, what is it?

Civil-military relations stuff. LBJ picking targets during Vietnam. Is micromanagement necessarily bad? Why?

Follow on civil-military relations question: Based on the current standing of the AF (in hot water over tanker deal, etc), what does AF leadership have to do to get back into good graces with the civilian?

Discussion of Theory took a little over an hour with piggy back questions leading down random rabbit trails. After a ten minute break I was only left with approx 40 minutes for Part II.

-Pursued Definitions of Deterrence, coercion, and compellence, asked for historical examples where they worked failed.

Schaub: Quoted Napoleon's statement that an Army marched on its stomach and asked me to demonstrate how that was done.

-Mostly piggy backed off of other questions. I got a lot of questions on how something fits into Luttwak's view of paradox of strategy, but that was central to my paper so I invited it.

Dolman: Asked me to detail US nuclear strategy throughout the Cold War. I was ready with Massive Retaliation, Flexible Response, MAD, and SDI, but didn't have their nuances and connection to historical events down to the detail that he was looking for. He completely stumped me by asking what Carter's contribution to Nuclear Strategy was. The correct answer is the Neutron Bomb which kills people but leaves the real estate intact. This was considered a big failure, its increased utility made it destabilizing (Luttwakian paradox again).

-Asked if we are following a good strategy in Iraq. How can we deter terrorism, and other questions to tie theoretical principals to Current Events.

Westermann- questions right out of 627 and 600- Sherry and morality in air warfare. AAF and RAF, jus in bellum.

Civ Mil: Clausewitz, Cohen and LBJ, discuss.

Jpan and problems in Sunburst (I, unfortunately brought up Japan)

Chiabotti- Carl and attk v def and culminating point with historical examples

central proposition of airpower theory

If you were jihadist what would your strategy be to defeat the US? How do we counter?

Mahan, Corbett (he loves corbett)

Drew- AF should be independent and run by airmen- discuss.

Measure of Merit for GWOT

How to shift muslim support to more moderates

Name a good air strategist- I used Kenney (easy) then name another (not easy) I started with Warden git sucked down that hole and someone (not me) brought up Lemay and the Pacific (Iguess I was sick that day cuz I knew very little).