Army Aviation as a Branch, Eighteen Years After the Decision
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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This monograph gives the historical background to the creation of Army aviation as a separate branch of the U.S. Army. The branch was created in April of 1983 after a series of exhaustive studies and numerous general officer debates. Ultimately, the decision to create the branch was made on the basis of training, doctrine, and organizational shortcomings that were systematically created by the absence of a branch. This decision was not without controversy and detractors. Many senior officers feared that pure aviation officers would lose touch with the demands of the ground fight and move away from the close fight to pursue other missions as the Army Air Corps had done. There was also a fear that an aviation branch would make a nice neat package for takeover by the Air Force. A review of the past eighteen years of Army aviation reveals that both proponents and opponents of the branch were correct. Army aviation has largely fixed or at least improved all of the systematic problems that lead to its creation. Conversely, Army aviation has in fact moved away from the close fight in the past 20 years in pursuit of deep battle glories and status as a maneuver branch on par with Infantry and Armor. Aviation officers have lost some of their understanding of the ground fight and therefore are often reluctant to participate in it directly as a member of the combined arms team. Army aviation as a branch has largely been a success story but after eighteen years it is time for another detailed study of the branch to determine shortcomings and make changes to correct them. Dramatic changes such as assessing officers into aviation only after they have served four years in another combat arms branch similar to Special Forces should be considered. Aviation officers must regain their understanding and appreciation of the ground fight. They must be soldiers first.
- Military Aircraft Operations
- Humanities and History
- Military Forces and Organizations