Is It Time to Abolish the U.S. Air Force? | Flight Today | Air & Space Magazine

Air & Space: Do you think there was ever a time when we needed an independent Air Force?

Farley: No. I think it was a serious mistake to give the Army Air Force its independence in 1947, just as it was a mistake to make the Royal Air Force independent in 1918. The experience of the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II demonstrated that American airpower could win decisive victories as a part of pre-existing military organizations.

What do you think the Air Force has gotten right?

The Air Force has gotten a lot right. Especially in the period between 1972 and 1991, when it identified many of the internal problems that had caused difficulties in Vietnam, and engaged in the slow, hard process of reform that was necessary to create an organization that could act as a partner for the Army and the Navy. This included training reform, procurement reform, and doctrinal reform.

Source: Is It Time to Abolish the U.S. Air Force? | Flight Today | Air & Space Magazine

This is probably Quartermaster’s favorite subject.

14 thoughts on “Is It Time to Abolish the U.S. Air Force? | Flight Today | Air & Space Magazine”

    1. SAC was USAF’s greatest glory, and most troublesome problem. Bomber Generals became ascendant and put their fingerprints all over the USAF. It led to aircraft that cost the lives of many men in Vietnam. While it wasn’t really LeMay’s fault, the USAF suffered from the result of the SAC mentality taking over much of the AF, with TAC even being headed by a bomber General for awhile. TAC reached its nadir during his time.

      The mentality required of a tactical air force is much different than that of a strategic air force. Spinning off the bomber force and strategic transports still makes sense. But all TacAir needs to be returned to the Army and the AAF reestablished. The performance of the TACs in WW2 was superb, with the basic problems of TacAir being ironed out by people like Weyland and Quesada. The mentality has been pretty much lost and it will probably take a war to iron it out again.

      Functions that should be left to an independent air force would be the strategic functions: Inter-theater transport, ICBMs, strategic bombers, operational control of the SSBNs, and what used to be Air Defense Command (my father’s favorite bunch). I’m of several minds on who would man and command such a strategic command. It could be a joint command with AAF alternating command with the Navy, or have it’s own manning and command. i think the alternating command and making it a regular assignment for AAF and Navy pilots maybe the more cost effective way of manning, and also giving the service a less parochial outlook, which is currently a problem for the USAF.

      Fortunately Goldwater didn’t get his way and succeed in placing all air assets in the USAF. That would have been a true cock up.

  1. Even as the son of a USAF officer and having served in the USAF myself during the Viet Nam War and the USAR Reserve during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, I agree with this idea. Make the USAF part of the US Army again.

    Paul

  2. Won’t reduce redundancy, or create manpower savings, or solve any problems/disputes, it will just end up with the same issues being rehashed inside the Army, and between the Army and Navy.

    We’d be better served by focusing on growing better uniformed leadership and total overhaul of ALL service procurement.

  3. The problem with the arguements to cut the airforce is they have no basis in reality
    The United States Army Airforce was utterly useless at Close Air Support and the Luftwaffe were undisputed masters of it. Strategic Bombing and Transport however the Luftwaffe never got but its head around either.

    Nor would cutting the USAF resolve the huge airforces held by the USN and USMC.
    Who would get what? Would the army take responsibility for providing tankers to the USN in the pacific, is that an improvement?

    The airforce is a weird organisation, but no weirder than the Army, Navy or Marine Corps.

    1. The problem with the USAF is they still operate on the rules of toddlers – If it looks like mine – its mine. Building a service around nothing but hoarding every aircraft in the inventory is, was, and forever will be, stupid.

      They need a grownup service to pound some sense back into them, starting at commissioning. If we can’t get rid of the USAF, I would be happy to see the USAFA and AFROTC go away, with the Army taking over all initial officer training. Hopefully that would put some perspective in future Air Force officers that their job is *supporting* all the other services, not subverting them. It would be a good start.

    2. I’d go one step further, eliminate all the service academies. They simply aren’t cost effective. AFROTC and AROTC should be combined, as should the OCS of both AF and Army, which is pretty much what you are saying they should do.

      I have no trouble with the Naval Air Forces. The service that employs the aircraft really needs to control the training and commissioning of its officers. The Naval Air Forces are a tactical Air Force, although the Navy can carry nukes. I don’t think the Marines ever trained for it, although I may be wrong. Putting a nuke on a Marine AC doesn’t make sense however.

      The strategic functions of USAF, I think, should remain independent.

    3. TrT:

      :The United States Army Airforce was utterly useless at Close Air Support…”.

      I would like you to expand on that, things I’ve read don’t support that statement.

      Paul

    4. I would think the Tactical ground support aircraft and mission would belong to the Army Air forces.
      Anything that involves Strategic bombing, missiles and air to air combat is the realm of the Air Force as a Separate large Unit.
      Rotors could be flown by both Army and Air Force.

      QUARTERMASTER: “I don’t think the Marines ever trained for it, although I may be wrong. Putting a nuke on a Marine AC doesn’t make sense however.”
      Not to start a fight Pal but just to inform and enlighten. ;^D

      Be Advised, US Navy CVA/CV of the cold war had the capability to carry, store, load and deploy Nuclear weapons. This task has since ended Officially. Every Navy/Marine Attack Pilot was capable to fly and attack enemy forces and positions.
      Some specially designated and trained USN/USMC Attack pilots and their aircraft were certified to carry and deliver nuclear weapons.
      US Marine attack Squadrons were routinely assigned missions aboard CVA/CV’s. Vietnam saw many Marine squadrons sent to ground bases in country. Some especially the VMCJ units were embarked aboard Fleet CVA/CV Lant, Pac and Med and a part of the carrier CAW.
      Regardless of being US Navy or US Marine Aviators those assigned the Nuclear attack mission and specially trained, certified and designated could fly nuclear attack missions in aircraft of the US Navy or US Marine squadrons so designated and certified.
      The F4 Phantom II and the A-7 Corsair, the A-4 Sky hawk, The A6/EA-6 Intruder all for instance could be specially set up, certified and designated delivery aircraft for nuclear weapons and the US Marines operated these aircraft as well as the Navy.
      To say officially that US Marine Pilots and aircraft flew or did not fly Aircraft designated and certified to fly nuclear strike missions while armed with Nuclear weapons is classified.
      All that can be said is the Embarked Attack Squadrons in the CAW aboard CVA/CV had the capability to Store, carry and deliver nuclear weapons.
      Hope this clears things up Buddy.

  4. The army (as represented by me…) doesn’t want strategic bombing, lift, SAR, etc. It wants CAS and it wants it right now. The fix is already in place, with a task organization change. Every major Army installation has an ASOS or air support operations squadron associated with it. The TACPs, ALOS, JTACS, etc are all assigned to these, from which they parcel out airmen to support Army units. Let’s get crazy and assign actual A10 squadrons to the ASOS and put the aircraft and pilots in direct support at the division and/or brigade level. Then Army planners allocate sorties to Army units, and USAF planners execute the tasking.

    1. That still leaves the weakness of USAF controlling assets they won’t wish to relinquish. USAF has always been problem in that regard. A re-established AAF would cure that problem.

    2. Not really. Call it fire and forget for the USAF. They put these squadrons down on Army bases with all supporting requirements and make them self sufficient. Army guys control them, tell them who they are flying for, and when, etc. Army guys write their evaluations. AF guys do what they are told and when, but plan the details of execution and deconflict with external USAF agencies as necessary. Would it take a huge change in mind set? Sure. But pilots at the point of the spear probably wouldn’t mind, and the mid- and Senior AF guys get to wash their hands of the mission. Army guys are happier at receiving responsive CAS. AF guys are happier because they can focus on bombers and fighters. It’s a win-win. Eventually, we do the obvious and the guys in blue start wearing green…

    3. ” It wants CAS and it wants it right now”

      But an army that wants (and gets) an A10 Squadron assigned to every BCT isnt going to leave much left for the other tasks.

    4. Assigned at division, allocated to BCT’s as available or necessary. I should have clarified divisions with a pending mission, as opposed to all divisions, until we have built sufficient attack squadrons. Not sure how many exist right now.

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