Air University Press


The Icarus Solution: The Lure and Logic of Airmindness

  • Published
  • By Jason Michael Trew

In 1990, the think tank RAND assessed the professionalism of United States Air Force officers at Air University. The study’s author, Carl Builder, concluded they lacked allegiance to air power theory and instead were enamored with the excitement of flight. He labeled this institutional crisis, and titled his book, The Icarus Syndrome (1994). The boy who flew too close to the sun was fitting for the context: the myth is commonly mentioned in aviation histories and references to the story can be found throughout the service. Yet, neither the metaphor nor the USAF’s relationship with technology are as simple as Builder portrayed. Airmen may “worship at the altar of technology,” but that does not necessarily mean they pathologically “substitute technology for strategy.” To understand why, this book applies insights from the history of technology, strategic theory, narrative intelligence, and Greek mythology. The result challenges the orthodox assessments of USAF culture, revealing an undulating tension between political, pragmatic concerns with more inspirational—even playful—tendencies. No longer a syndrome to avoid, Icarus becomes a solution to embrace.


AuthorDr. Jason M Trew
AU Press CodeB-174
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