Congratulations to Joseph C. Cyrulik for debunking a myth that the air-power community has fostered {"So We Control the Air," op-ed, Feb. 3}. His rarely heard reminder that the NATO air strikes in the summer of 1995 against the Bosnian Serbs did not compel the Serbs to negotiate is critical as we debate the future of our armed forces in the wake of the Quadrennial Defense Review and the National Defense Panel reports and consider our options with Iraq's refusal to allow weapons inspectors to move freely about the country.

Mr. Cyrulik correctly notes that a Croatian ground offensive smashed the Bosnian Serbs and made moot their refusal to negotiate about what the map of Bosnia should look like. Indeed, negotiations at that point may simply have prevented the Bosnian Serbs from losing more land if the Bosnian Muslims or the Croats had struck a further blow.

Inasmuch as this myth shapes our debate on what we can accomplish with our military, the air-power community does a disservice to our nation. The ability to kill people and break things does not control the actions of those on the ground and almost certainly will not if the United States strikes Iraq. We must either use the Army to control the ground (and gain the necessary international support to carry out such a policy) or avoid the temptation to use our military power in a counterproductive manner. Our military may be a splendid tool, but no hammer -- however good -- can tighten a screw.

We must keep our eyes on the ball and tighten the screws on Saddam Hussein. More broadly, we must balance our armed forces with an appreciation that bloodless air-power victories exist only in computer simulations. Armies may bleed, but they also provide victory. BRIAN J. DUNN Ann Arbor, Mich.