Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace.

Author:Cirafici, John
Position:Book review

Air Power in UN Operations: Wings for Peace. By A. Walter Dorn, Ed. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, 2014. Illustrations. Tables. Photographs. Notes. Index. Pp. xxxvi, 350. $49.95 paperback ISBN: 1-4724-3549-1

A United Nations (UN) Air Force? The UN, of course, has no air force to call its own. With that as a starting point, this book makes interesting reading. In a collection of case studies written for the most part by participants in UN operations. The different authors explore the use of air power in peacekeeping/peacemaking and humanitarian efforts over six decades of operations.

Seventeen essays present the different roles aircraft have played during UN mandated operations: airlift, aerial reconnaissance, air defense, close air support, aeromedical evacuation, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Early on, the UN discovered that it could be much more effective if it employed supporting aviation assets. Thus the use of aircraft began in the late 1940s with a minuscule presence of cargo and liaison aircraft supporting peacekeeping in Kashmir. From that small beginning the role of air power took on greater and greater importance. It may come as a surprise to some readers that the UN first employed fighter aircraft in the early 1960s during combat in the Congo's breakaway province of Katanga. The UN continues to use combat aircraft during its current peacekeeping operations in eastern Congo.

Where have the aircraft come from? The UN is totally dependent upon assets provided by member nations and upon contracted airlift. In the earlier Congo operation, most aircraft, aside from those provided by the Canadians, came from neutral countries such as India, Sweden, and Ethiopia. In addition, the United States provided inter-theater airlift when the capability was otherwise unavailable. Several of the essays make it clear that the politics of the Cold War exacerbated already difficult operational limitations. The Soviets would often protest the inclusion of aircraft from NATO members. This impacted major contributing countries such as Canada. It also made the UN...

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