Air Force Roles and Missions: A History (1998) by Warren A. Trest

By Warren A. Trest

Lines the use of- and that means given to- the phrases "roles and missions" when it comes to the military and especially to the USA Air strength, from 1907 to the current.

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Example text

Before the development of military aviation, the armed forces had drawn clear lines of responsibility for national defense: the Army defended the shores from invasion and fought on land; the Navy patrolled the ocean approaches and defended the seas. The lines were not so clear after the air forces became active in coastal defense, prompting both services to become more territorial in preserving their traditional roles. The Army grew suspicious of naval aviation coming ashore; the Navy was wary of Army flyers encroaching over water.

Because of the newness of the air arm, ground commanders lacked sufficient understanding of the Air Service’s combat roles and capabilities. Young air officers were inexperienced in working with other Army branches. “There was throughout our experience a marked tendency on the part of commanders of the larger ground units and their staffs to regard the air force as a staff service rather than a combat arm,” Patrick wrote. ” The War Department ordered Foulois to Washington to oversee drafting the ambitious aircraft program while Congress authorized production of 22,625 planes, 45,000 aircraft engines, and training of 6,210 pilots.

Competition for scarce defense dollars was blamed for intensifying that rivalry, although the two air arms seem to have shared equitably in military spending, at least from 1923 until the creation of the GHQ Air Force in 1935. 11 As for arguments that roles and missions rivalry and duplication impeded the growth of air power between the wars, evidence shows that building competing air forces was not altogether counterproductive. Even those who deplored “the wasteful duplication” conceded some advantages to having two air arms, including the knowledge and benefits each service gained from the tactical and technical advancements of the other.

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