SHORTLY AFTER the conclusion of World War I, German military leaders made a decision to base their military strategy on a brief, highly mobile, fast-paced, theater-level offensive. The Luftwaffe was built around this concept of operations. We can mea sure its effectiveness in how well it performed its most important task: the gaining of air superiority.
The Luftwaffe was organized, equipped, and successfully employed to gain air superiority in short-offensive cam paigns over continental Europe. This impressive of fensive air strategy featured all-out independent op erations against opposing air forces as the means to achieve air superiority. Many air forces have since attempted to emulate the Luftwaffe's early victories: impressive successes include Israel's defeat of the Egyptian air force in 1967 and the coalition's defeat of the Iraqi air force in 1991. German success, however, was context-dependent. The Luftwaffe was prepared to win air superiority within the framework of a short-offensive war. The air war over Europe became a protracted struggle on all fronts, and the Luftwaffe was forced onto the strategic defensive. Despite dra matic German adjustments, the Luftwaffe ultimately failed in its quest for air superiority. This failure may serve as a distant warning; the Germans devised a bril liant strategy that was forced into a context in which it could not succeed. Luftwaffe leaders sou