JOURNAL OF DEFENCE STUDIES

Changing the Course of War through Targeted Aerial Strikes: Afghanistan 2008–09

Mayank Bubna is Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
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  • January 2013
    Volume: 
    7
    Issue: 
    1
    Focus

    Targeted air strikes remain a cornerstone fighting technique in modern counter-insurgency and other military operations. Yet, scholars and practitioners remain divided on the question of the efficacy of this battle mechanism. This article examines some of the underlying assumptions made in their previous analyses, and serves to nuance those approaches. Specifically, it looks at war, not as a static phenomenon but rather as a constantly evolving environment—one where such aerial campaigns affect insurgent counter-strike capabilities and decisions. Using the USled war in Afghanistan in 2008–09, the article discovers that air strikes limit non-sophisticated counterattacks but are unable to reverse a growing of sophisticated insurgent activity—a discovery that has academic and policy relevant implications.

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