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Air Co-operation in Hill Fighting

Air Co-operation in Hill Fighting

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Published by Christopher Watt

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Published by: Christopher Watt on Oct 09, 2013
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This article was downloaded by:
[King's College London] 
On:
22 December 2009 
Access details:
Access Details: [subscription number 912004837] 
Publisher
Routledge 
Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
The RUSI Journal
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t777285713
Air Co-Operation in Hill Fighting
G. P. MacClellan
To cite this Article
MacClellan, G. P.(1927) 'Air Co-Operation in Hill Fighting', The RUSI Journal, 72: 486, 318 — 326
To link to this Article: DOI:
10.1080/03071842709423370
URL:
Full terms and conditions of use:http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdfThis article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial orsystematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply ordistribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contentswill be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug dosesshould be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss,actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directlyor indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
 
AIR CO-OPERATION
IN
HILL FIGHTING
KURDISTAN,
1923
By
LIEUT.-COLONEL
.
1'.
MACCLELLAN,
.S.O.,
O.B.E.,
R.A.
DURING
the
last
few years the advantages of employing aeroplanesin unciviliscd hill warfare to do
work
hitherto performed by the Arniyhave been urged with considerable energy in some quarters. The advocatesof such
a
policy have, nevertheless, not yet apparently succeeded inconvincing thc military mind of the soundness of their views.It is put fonvard
as
an argument in favour of this policy that itcombines efficiency with economy, since hostile villages and townshipscan
bc
destroyed by bombs, hostile personnel can
be
attacked bybomb. and machine-gun, andhabitations
or
crops can be fired
by
incendiary bombs.
All
this can be done from the air,
as
effectively
as,
much quicker, and with the employment of an infinitely smaller forcethan, when the operations are entrusted to ground troops alone.
It
haS
also
been claimed that, when an uncivilised hilly districtis to
bc
occupied, the operation can
be
carried
out with
a
minimumof troops if they are supported by
a
force of aeroplanes which will whollyor in part perform the duties of reconnaissance, protection on the march,collection and dissemination of information, supply, and the
work
ofthe lincs of communications, a11 of which tasks have up to .now beenpart
of
thc dutics of the troops tliemselves. In short,
a
comparativelysmall body of troops can
be
committed to
a
campaign in hostilemountainous country without its commander having to trouble abouthis communications, or to weaken his force by guarding them on theground.
It
is
understood that operations from the
air
alone have beencarried out recently on the Indian Frontier.
It
is not proposed, however,to deal with such Operations, but with the second variety, i.e., operationsby
a
small military force backed up by an air force, or conversely byan air force supplemented by
a
small military force. The home of thislatter form of warfarc in the British Empire is at present on theborderlandofIraq, namely, in Kurdistan; and it must be clearlyunderstood that operations in Iraq itself are not referred to. The greaterpart of
Iraq
is
in no sense
a
mountainous country; it is, in fact, theexact reverse
;
and'the policing of that region
by
an air force, which
 D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ Ki n g' s  C oll e g e  L o nd o n]  A t : 08 :07 22  D e c e mb e r 2009
 
3x9
can, as a last resort only of course, bomb the habitations, flocks, andencampments of recalcitrant tribesmen is an operation entirely differentto that of occupying and pacifying
a
rcally mountainous country,almost destitute of roads, or at best posscssing tracks fit only for packtransport,
as
is often the case along the Turkish and Persian frontiers.The
writer
commanded
a
battery
in
what are bclievcd to ‘havebccn the first combined operations of this naturc, namely. those inKurdistan in
1923.1
The
impressions received as
a
result of thatexperience, impressions which, from conversations held both
at
the timeand since with officers who took part in the operations, he has everyreason to believe were shared by those officers, may conceivably
be
ofintercst to others.
AIR
CO-OI’ERATIOS
IS
HILL
FIGHTING
The operations resulted in the permanent re-occupation
of
Rowanduzby the British, and the temporary re-occupatiqn of Sulamania.
The
latter district.
was,
however, again temporarily abandoned, not, be itunderstood, under pressure. It is not proposed to attempt to give anaccount of the operations, which have been fully described in tlic oficialdespatches, but merely to consider certain ‘aspects of the combinationbetween the Army and the Air Force.The offensive function of an air force in such operations dividcsitself into two parts: firstly, independent air action, such
as
bombinghostile villages and personnel at
a
distance from the military force,with
a
view to intimidating the enemy and to discourage them fromopposing the troops; secondly, actual tactical co-operation with themilitary force.The first, carried on as it is out
of
sight
of
the soldier, is probablyto
a
considerable extent overlooked by him when he
is
estimating therelative effect of his
own
efforts
as
compared
with
those
of
the airmen.It must, of course,
be
extremely disconcerting to
a
tribe which is thinkingof going out to war to find itsclf bombed when its intended enemy
is
still miles away, separated from it, pcrhaps, by nearly impassable moun-tain ridges; and it may very well
be
that
a
wavering enemy maythereby have his mind made up for him on the side of peace. On theother hand,
a
high-spirited race may
be
spurred on
to
retaliation bysuch action.
Wiat
the effect may
be
in any particular
casc
probablylargely depends on the amount of damage done by the bombs. Droppingbombs from the air in mountains
is
undoubtedly an uncertain business,and reports from the bombers often appear to
err
on the side of optimism.This is easily understandable
;
many
a
shell which appcars to drop inexactly the right place is innocuous, and many
a
bomb which =ems toland on the right spot, also often fails to
do
damage. Since againstsmall targets the percentage of bombs which fall in exactly the right
It
should
be
understood
that the
writer served with
the
column known
as
Koicol. and that hc docs
not
pretend
to
deal
with anything
that
happened
to
thcother column, Lcvicol, which
\ms
cmploycd in thc snmc opcmtion.
 D o w nl o ad ed  B y : [ Ki n g' s  C oll e g e  L o nd o n]  A t : 08 :07 22  D e c e mb e r 2009

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