Naval War College Review


The issue of strategic bombing’s effec- tiveness is vitally important to political and military leaders. U.S. Air Force doc- trine has argued for decades that airpower’s ability to operate directly and immediately at the strategic level of war is its unique and defining characteris- tic—a characteristic that must be ex- ploited. Many disagree, so the debates have been long and heated. Gian Gentile, a serving Army officer, now adds to the literature on this important subject. Unfortunately, he never really comes to grips with the key issue of effec- tiveness implied by the title of his book. Rather, he has chosen to replow some old ground, looking anew at the U.S. Strate- gic Bombing Survey (USSBS), chartered by President Franklin Roosevelt to exam- ine and report on the effects of strategic bombing in World War II. Measuring bombing’s effectiveness and examining the workings of the USSBS that studied bomb effects are two different things.