Air War Over Korea: Lessons for Today’s Airmen

Arlington, VA | February 22, 2022 — The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce a new entry in its Policy Paper series, Air War Over Korea: Lessons for Today’s Airmen by Douglas A. Birkey, Executive Director at the Mitchell Institute.

Often lost between WWII and Vietnam, the air war over Korea holds particular relevance for members of today’s Air Force as they seek to address a strikingly similar set of challenges—everything from a small, old aircraft inventory to factors like air base availability and defense, logistics under attack, lack of training capacity, and disagreement with joint counterparts about how best to employ airpower.

This report assesses these factors and fills a key void regarding how we understand the realities facing airmen at the operational and command levels in the first major conflict of the Cold War, and then overlays these experiences with current challenges facing today’s Air Force. Airmen and defense professionals will benefit from studying these experiences and applying the lessons learned.

As Air Force General William Momeyer, a veteran of multiple conflicts including the Korean War, explained, “We mustn’t rely entirely upon yesterday’s ideas to fight tomorrow’s wars, after all, but I hope our airmen won’t pay the price in combat again for what some of us have already purchased.”

The Mitchell Institute Policy Papers is a series presenting new thinking and policy proposals to respond to the emerging security and aerospace power challenges of the 21st century. These papers are written for lawmakers and their staffs, policy professionals, business and industry, academics, journalists, and the informed public.

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