Accession Number:



The Roots of the Command and Control of Air Power: An Appraisal of Three Air Forces Through 1945

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Technical Report

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School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Air University MAXWELL AFB United States

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To paraphrase Martin van Creveld, commanding and controlling forces has been around since time immemorial and a failure to have effective command and control is to court disaster. It is no different for warfare in the third domain. Effective command and control of air forces improves a commanders ability to make and execute good decisions in a timely manner. It provides unity of effort, massing of forces as necessary, and flexibility to react to battlefield dynamics. Nations, and specifically their military services, continuously evaluate their environment and make strategic decisions regarding force composition. In the next decade, the United States Air Force USAF will face many challenges. One is ensuring an appropriate command and control system for a changing and evolving Air Force. Command and control of air forces is seldom thought of or discussed until needed, and then usually as an afterthought. Unlike aircraft, which are the highly visible symbols of airpower, command and control is generally unseen. It operates in the background, ignored until it is unavailable or fails. Two exceptions in history are the Battle of Britain and the USAF since 2002 when General John P. Jumper formally designated the Air Operations Center a weapons system. In the former case, command and control was at least as important as the aircraft involved. In the latter instance, making a command and control center at the operational level of war a weapon system, equivalent to fighters or bombers, highlights the importance, centrality, and criticality of command and control in modern warfare. In the current fiscal environment, a mission not as glamorous as flying is easily neglected in the search for savings. History suggests this would be inadvisablecommand and control is airpowers sinew. Without it the structure has no connectivity.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Humanities and History
  • Command, Control and Communications Systems

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