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Allied and Soviet Air Forces Please use this forum to discuss the Air Forces of the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.

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Old 20th August 2007, 15:16
tcolvin tcolvin is offline
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Replay of WWII debate: army vs air force.

It is instructive for historians that an almost exact replay of the fierce arguments between the RAF and the British army made before Churchill in cabinet, and between the strategic and tactical factions within the USAAF, is recurring today over whether the USAF or the USArmy or USMarine Corps should be the 'executive agent' for drones (UAVs) over 3,500 feet. See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/78317cc4-4...0779fd2ac.html

In particular, the arguments in the following extract put forward by Deptula (Air Force) and Aboulafia (Army) are the same as those between Portal and Brooke in WWII over force responsiveness (centralised versus dispersed control) and aircraft specification (in WWII it was armoured vs unarmoured, gun versus rocket, level versus dive bombing, while today the specs are classified) that resulted in the establishment of the TAFs, as follows;

“I am forced to conclude that the army’s plans for their use dooms them to sub-optimal employment,” says Gen Deptula.
“I am not suggesting the air force be given the army’s theatre-effects-capable UAVs [such as the Sky Warrior]. What I am suggesting is that rather than tethering such high-value assets to ground forces that may not be in the hottest part of the fire, such UAVs should be available to the Joint Force Commander who needs them most, wherever that might be.”
The army argues that it is important to keep drones such as the Sky Warrior “organic” to the units that are deploying them for tactical missions. It says army commanders would not get sufficient UAV resources because there are more requirements for drones at the theatre level.
“The army wants to put assets where they are most responsive to make sure the capability is available and versatile,” says Col Burke.
Army officials also argue that operating drones from the battlefield reduces communications problems, and they balk at suggestions that they should be operated from the US. The air force operates many of its drones from Nevada, which it says reduces the number of troops placed in danger on the battlefield.
“Why does the army have to have organic control [leaving] a large footprint in harms way?” says Col Bartlett. “[The air force] can provide the same combat capability from Nevada that the army can provide on the battlefield.”
Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace expert at the Teal Group, says the debate poses a real dilemma.
“What the army suspects, rightly or wrongly, is ‘thank you for filing your flight access request. We will get back to you within a 48-72 hour period and make certain that there are no air assets. Thank you and this is not a recording,’” says Mr Aboulafia.
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