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By William Carrington Sherman; Wray R Johnson; Air University (U.S.). Press

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This condition at least holds true at the present time, and seems likely to remain so for an indefinite period into the future. It would, of course, be confusion of cause and effect to assert that design of aircraft necessitates offensive action; rather is it true that the pursuit airplane is so designed because the importance of the principle of the offensive is accurately appreciated. But, in order to insure that pursuit aviation may assume the offensive whenever it desires, it is necessary to strip it of practically all defensive power.

But another incident in his career beings out even more clearly his views on the subject. It is related that in reply to the question of a colleague, who was seeking to discover the reasons for Napoleon’s brilliant successes, he answered that victory is achieved by numbers. This called forth an expression of surprise, as it was common knowledge that Napoleon has almost invariably contended against numerical odds, in spite of which he remained master of the field. In explanation of the seeming paradox, Napoleon then pointed out that, while he may have had an inferior force on the field of battle as a whole, he had so disposed them that at the decisive time and place, he possessed a marked superiority.

Realizing to the full the enormous physical power of this weapon on the defensive, and desiring to reap the benefit of their advantage in this respect, the French permitted the gradual development of a cult of the defensive. They began to place their hope of victory in destroying the offensive power of the Germans, while the latter were yet too distant to make reply with their inferior small arms. Such a doctrine, while quite plausible, either ignores or minimizes the lesson of that the essential prerequisite of victory in land warfare is to implant in the heart of every soldier an ardent desire to close with the enemy.

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Air warfare by William Carrington Sherman; Wray R Johnson; Air University (U.S.). Press


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