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FM 100-20 the Path to an Independent Air Force?
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL
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The nature of close air support CAS operations with airmen has always, and to an extent, continues to be, an uncomfortable mission. The fear is that air power will be constrained by this mission, subordinated to the role of extended artillery and doctrinally tied by the whim of a ground commander. The sensitivity of this issue was recently highlighted by the heated debate between advocates of the overall use of air power during Desert Storm. Airmen have frequently been accused of possessing an overall vision of the primacy of air power that has failed to live up to its expectations. There is no doubt that this was a valid criticism in the past, and that only now, with the advent of smart weapons, are capabilities matching the promise. However, on a par with an over optimistic vision that has always been a mistrust that if air power was seen just as another weapon system, its inherent flexibility would not be exploited, and it would suffer from poor strategic utilization. This fear is most acutely felt in the use of air power in direct support of ground operations. Only be fuller exploration of the Air Force Operations in Joint Military Activities with the other service branches in such tactical applications as close Air Support along with the traditional role of a Strategic Bomber and missile force, can a distinctive Air Force Doctrine be developed.
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