Courtesy Reuters

Against a Separate Air Force: the Record

AGITATION for the creation of a separate air force as an in-dependent arm of the defense forces of the United States, divorced from the Army and Navy, is again coming to a boil under the pressure of current events. No less than three bills have been introduced in Congress seeking in one way or another to effect this change, and it is probable that public hearings will soon begin on one or more of them -- may, indeed, have begun by the time these words are in print. The subject is of such importance to the public security that there ought to be wide and sober public discussion of it. Otherwise our citizens may be led astray by emotional appeals or plausible special pleading. The purpose of this article is to enumerate the advantages claimed for a separate air force for this country, and as far as possible to examine them in the light of actual experience in this war. War is the final test of all military policies. Against its verdict no mere theory, however ardently presented, can stand.

The proposal for a separate air force takes two general forms. One suggests the formation of a Department of National Defense, headed by a Secretary of National Defense, with under-secretaries for Army, Navy and Air. The other suggests the formation of a separate Department of Air, co-equal with the existing Departments of War and Navy, and like them responsible directly to the President.

Boiled down, the essential difference between the proposals is merely that the first would interpose an additional echelon of authority between the Commander-in-Chief and the fighting services, while the second would not. Both would create a separate fighting service, the Air Force. There is some confusion of thought amongst proponents of these ideas as to how this Air Force is to be organized; some would have it include all military and naval aviation; others would leave the naval air arm as it is now, and also allow the

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