Accession Number:



Army - Air Force Cooperation: Looking Backward to Move Forward

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Integration of airpower in the Armys predominant domain of land warfare has always been and remains a tricky business that requires compromise and tough choices. From the introduction of the airplane in 1907 until 1947 the US Army was the master of its own destiny. Evidence and lessons learned during combat in World War II led to the creation of a separate and equal branch of the armed forces, the US Air Force. Overnight, the Army found itself reliant on air support capabilities wholly contained in a separate service with its own ideas on how airpower is best utilized. This dependency and the resulting friction resulted in the start of a competitive symbiotic relationship characterized by power struggles for missions, compromises over roles and responsibilities and never enough resources to make either side content. Todays rapidly changing strategic environment, limited resources, and diverging service strategies mean that Army - Air Force competition will increase requiring even more compromise in the future. This monograph examines the relationship and spirit of cooperation between the Army and the Air Force over the years to uncover a framework for compromise based on historical precedence that can be used today to ensure sound initiatives that bolster national security, maintain service specific strategies and ensure the gaps and seams that exist between the air and land domains are not a US vulnerability. Following the Armys shift to its Air Land Battle doctrine in 1982 the Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Air Force created a small group of Army and Air Force Officers charged with achieving service level compromise wherever the Army and Air Force missions intersected or overlapped. The group produced thirty one proposed initiatives that remain the single largest and most successful service compromise to date.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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