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After the Storm: The Growing Convergence of the Air Force and Navy

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Journal article

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Over the last decade, military reformers have argued that when it comes to developing joint warfare capabilities, the U.S. military services have routinely substituted overblown rhetoric for heartfelt commitment. The services may have redundant capabilities, critics complain, but they continue to stage knife fights over doctrine they still have problems communicating with each other during actual operations and they continue to squabble--quietly or not--over their fair shares of the defense budget. There have been, however, few acknowledgements that the ability of U.S. forces to operate jointly is better now than it was a generation ago, when joint operations were rarely on anyones radar screens. In fact, it took the Desert One disaster, the resulting Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, and the ongoing debate over the current revolution in military affairs to lead us up to two fundamental questions. Are the four services trying to improve their joint operational abilities fast enough How will their ability to operate jointly evolve over the next several years The answer to the first question, as this historically based article will demonstrate, has its roots in an expanding technological base the centrifugal, go-it-alone behavior of the services in the late 1970s and 1980s and the eventual march toward convergence, especially by the Navy and Air Force, since DESERT STORM. The answer to what happens in the future may be a bit trickier, but we offer a hypothesis joint operational capabilities will accelerate dramatically, because of ever-expanding technological capabilities, and because of the growing convergence between service visions and doctrines, particularly in the case of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy.

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

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