Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force. By Robert M. Farley. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2014. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. 264. $26.95 ISBN: 978-0-8131-4495-5.
It isn't often that a scholar steps in with half an argument to debate the utility of a military service, but that is what happens in Robert Farley's book. As an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, Farley has pursued the abolishment of the Air Force via blogs and interviews for nearly a decade, culminating in this book. Unfortunately, he fails to make the case for why an independent U.S. Air Force has capably provided airpower for the nation and offers to abolish it only on its failure to prove the claim of independent decisiveness.
Farley believes that the only reason for an independent Air Force is decisive effect. He further believes the Air Force's failure to have decisive effect makes independence unnecessary and distracts from its support role. "If an air force cannot provide independent decisive effect, and instead exists only to support other services in their aims, then it becomes harder to justify the organization's independent existence." This line of argument, while provocative, fails to recognize independent contributions made by the Air Force over the past six decades.
You don't have to know history to have an opinion, but history should help inform that opinion. Had Farley recognized how the Air Force has adapted since 1947, particularly since the end of the Cold War, he might have had a different conclusion. After a few chapters reviewing Clausewitz and Air Force culture, Farley tells his story of the Air Force. Farley follows the path to independence for the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Air Force and the basis for each...