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Death Spiral: Luftwaffe Airlift Training, Operation Stosser, and Lessons for the Mordern U.S. Air Force

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Technical Report,24 Jun 2014,21 May 2015

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In the face of shrinking budgets and wartime mission demands, the United States Air Force USAF C-17 pilot force endured cutbacks to aircraft training and proficiency over the last fourteen years not unlike those the Luftwaffe endured as World War II progressed. In light of recent modifications to airlift training programs, this monograph analyzes a historical case study of the perils of such action to highlight the similarities between the present day training reductions of the USAF, and those of the Luftwaffe between 1939 and 1944 for the reference and consideration of Air Mobility Command. Comparing how the modern USAF airlift force trains C-17 pilots to the programs and results of the Luftwaffe during World War II reveals striking similarities in the methods both forces used to find efficiencies and cut costs. Furthermore, analysis of the results of these cuts reveals not only that the Luftwaffe destroyed their airlift training programs to the point of operational failure in the execution of Operation Stosser, but that the USAF is potentially on a similar path toward marginalizing its own airlift capabilities.

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