Clean Bombs and Dirty Wars


Clean Bombs and Dirty Wars

Air Power in Kosovo and Libya

Robert H. Gregory Jr.

326 pages
2 photographs, 2 maps, 4 figures


October 2015


$26.50 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

October 2015


$26.50 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

October 2015


$26.50 Add to Cart

About the Book

After the United States, along with NATO allies, bombed the Serbian forces of Slobodan Milosevic for seventy-eight days in 1999, Milosevic withdrew his army from Kosovo. With no troops on the ground, political and military leaders congratulated themselves on the success of Operation Allied Force, considered to be the first military victory won through the use of strategic air power alone. This apparent triumph motivated military and political leaders to embrace a policy of using “clean bombs” (precision munitions and air strikes)—without a dirty ground war—as the preferred choice for answering military aggression. Ten years later it inspired a similar air campaign against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya as a groundswell of protests erupted into revolution.

Clean Bombs and Dirty Wars offers a fresh perspective on the role, relevance, and effectiveness of air power in contemporary warfare, including an exploration of the political motivations for its use as well as a candid examination of air-to-ground targeting processes. Using recently declassified materials from the William J. Clinton Presidential Library along with primary evidence culled from social media posted during the Arab Spring, Robert H. Gregory Jr. shows that the argument that air power eliminates the necessity for boots on the ground is an artificial and illusory claim.

Author Bio

Robert H. Gregory Jr. is a career soldier and scholar. He has served in a variety of armor, cavalry, airborne, and advisory units in the United States, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. His expert opinions have been published in Parameters and Small Wars Journal. Gregory is a graduate of West Point and the Naval Postgraduate School.


"The group that can benefit the most from this work includes White House fellows, congressional aides, political staffers, and anyone involved with politics and the use of the military."—David Grant, Air Force Research Institute

"Reflecting a variety of media and scholarly source material, this is the rare book that packs appeal for general and university readers, and professionals in government and the military."—F. S. Pearson, CHOICE

"Robert Gregory Jr. has produced a salutary, carefully researched study reminding us that war is not only a process, but a momentous and unpredictable effort to accomplish specific policy goals."—Michael E. Weaver, Michigan War Studies Review

"Clean Bombs and Dirty Wars is a well-written and necessary look at what air-to-ground capabilities bring to the joint fight."—Journal of Military History

“Robert Gregory’s discussions of Odyssey Dawn (Libya) and Allied Force (Kosovo) are of great value and cut away the myths surrounding these air campaigns. Most strongly recommended!”—John T. Kuehn, Major General William Stofft Professor of Military History, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

“This is essential reading for anyone attempting to understand how America makes war in the twenty-first century.”—Jonathan M. House, author of Combined Arms Warfare in the Twentieth Century

“A must-read for anyone interested in the use of airpower in the post–Cold War security environment.”—Sean N. Kalic, author of U.S. Presidents and the Militarization of Space, 1946–1967

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
1. Before the Bombing
2. The Bombing Begins
3. Protracted Bombing
4. After the Bombing
5. The U.S. Army Reacts to Kosovo
6. Spring in Libya
7. Bombing Libya
8. Clean Bombs and Dirty Wars

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