A Kernel of Air Force Strategy: Diagnosis, Guiding Policy, and Coherent Action in the Late 1940s
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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This thesis analyzes the Air Force s effectiveness in surviving the trough between World War II and the Korean War. This five-year period between 1945 and 1950 was turbulent for all military services, but was unique for the United States air-arm. In addition to enduring the same external pressures as the Army and Navy, the Air Force had to stand-up as an independent service. This thesis shows how the Army Air Forces AAF was destroyed by demobilization, then recreated as an independent Air Force, and finally fulfilled its obligations as the vanguard of defense. The AAF dropped from 218 combat effective groups to two in just over one year, but its leaders effectively fought to keep quality airmen. Generals Arnold and Spaatz then created an independent Air Force by successfully defeating external threats from General Marshall s Universal Military Training program and the Navy s bid for a strategic bombing force of its own. Finally, the Air Force fulfilled its new role as the primary keeper of national defense by effectively prioritizing its resources into a single mission. The Air Force endured this turbulent five-year period through an effective mix of prioritizing, competing, and compromising. This thesis highlights Air Force strategy, examining it through the lens of Richard Rumelt s three-part kernel of effective strategy an accurate diagnosis, an effective guiding policy, and a series of useful coherent actions. Although the Air Force stumbled in the early rounds of its fight with Korea in 1950, it went on to survive the fight and eventually win the title bout of the Cold War. The decisions made between 1945 and 1950 laid the foundation for victory in both fights. This story resonates today as the United States civilian leaders end two wars, constrain Air Force resources, impinge its structure, and rely on it as the backbone of national defense in an increasingly ambiguous world order.
- Humanities and History
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics