Ethics and Strategic Bombardment
Retired Chaplain Jon Tidwell leads a discussion as part of the Battle Field Ethics class at Fort Hood, Texas  (Photo: D. Myles Cullen)  



Raymond H. Willcocks
Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air National Guard

USAWC Class of 1998

The views expressed in the document are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Air National Guard, the U.S. Department of the Army, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.



This US Army War College student author looks closely at the events, doctrine, and technical developments of World War II that led to the destruction by area bombing of the city of Dresden and the deaths of 135,000 of its citizens.

Prior to U.S. entry into WW II American bombing strategy was intended to employ large numbers of high altitude bombers with heavy defensive firepower, flying in formation in order to accomplish precision daylight bombardment against specifically identified military-related targets. This ethical bombing technique was observed early on in the European Theater, but at some point the ethic changed.

The author analyzes why and how that change came about. This provides a useful case study for those attempting to determine and follow ethical approaches in warfare today.

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