Cover image for Air power as a coercive instrument
Air power as a coercive instrument
Byman, Daniel, 1967-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Monica, CA : Rand, 1999.
Physical Description:
xviii, 174 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
UG633 .B94 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Coercion--the use of threatened force to induce an adversary to change its behavior--is a critical function of the U.S. military. U.S. forces have recently fought in the Balkans, the Persian Gulf, and the Horn of Africa to compel recalcitrant regimes and warlords to stop repression, abandon weapons programs, permit humanitarian relief, and otherwise modify their actions. Yet despite its overwhelming military might, the United States often fails to coerce successfully. This report examines the phenomenon of coercion and how air power can contribute to its success. Three factors increase the likelihood of successful coercion: (1) the coercer's ability to raise the costs it imposes while denying the adversary the chance to respond (escalation dominance); (2) an ability to block an adversary's military strategy for victory; and (3) an ability to magnify third-party threats, such as internal instability or the danger posed by another enemy. Domestic political concerns (such as casualty sensitivity) and coalition dynamics often constrain coercive operations and impair the achievement of these conditions. Air power can deliver potent and credible threats that foster the above factors while neutralizing adversary countercoercive moves. When the favorable factors are absent, however, air power--or any other military instrument--will probably fail to coerce. Policymakers' use of coercive air power under inauspicious conditions diminishes the chances of using it elsewhere when the prospects of success would be greater.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. iii
Figuresp. ix
Tablep. xi
Summaryp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xvii
Chapter 1 Introductionp. 1
Part 1 Definitions and Theoryp. 7
Chapter 2 How to Think about Coercionp. 9
Part 2 Successful Coercive Diplomacy: Lessons from the Pastp. 27
Chapter 3 Explaining Success or Failure: The Historical Recordp. 29
Part 3 Coercive Diplomacy Todayp. 57
Chapter 4 Domestic Constraints on Coercionp. 59
Chapter 5 Coercion and Coalitionsp. 87
Chapter 6 Coercing Nonstate Actors: a Challenge for the Futurep. 107
Part 4 Coercion and the U.S. Air Forcep. 127
Chapter 7 Implications and Recommendations for the USAFp. 129
Appendix A Cases Examined in This Studyp. 141
Appendix B Cases and Conditions for Successp. 149
Appendix C Coercive Attempts and Common Challengesp. 155
Bibliographyp. 161