Should the US Air Force be abolished or substantially altered

The United States needs airpower, but does it need an air force? In Grounded, Robert M. Farley persuasively argues that America should end the independence of the United States Air Force (USAF) and divide its assets and missions between the United States Army and the United States Navy.

In the wake of World War I, advocates of the Air Force argued that an organizationally independent air force would render other military branches obsolete. These boosters promised clean, easy wars: airpower would destroy cities beyond the reach of the armies and would sink navies before they could reach the coast. However, as Farley demonstrates, independent air forces failed to deliver on these promises in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the first Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, and the War on Terror. They have also had perverse effects on foreign and security policy, as politicians have been tempted by the vision of devastating airpower to initiate otherwise ill-considered conflicts. The existence of the USAF also produces turf wars with the Navy and the Army, leading to redundant expenditures, nonsensical restrictions on equipment use, and bad tactical decisions.

War is Boring Interviews the author of Grounded

The case for an independent Air Force Service

War on the Rocks has the case for why the Air Force needs to be remain an independent service

Farley disregards what the Air Force does best—air domain dominance—and undervalues a key component of United States historical successes in combat.

Air domain dominance doesn’t just happen. The mission requires the right people, equipment, training and doctrine to succeed. Undertaking a Capability Based Analysis (CBA) offers a means of evaluating the potential impact of Farley’s recommendation on this fundamental Air Force mission. A thorough CBA takes into consideration the doctrine, organization, training, materiel, logistics, personnel and facilities required for a given mission.

Air Force doctrine prioritizes achieving command of the skies above the land and maritime battlespace first and foremost in any conflict.

The Air Force has five core missions:
(1) air and space superiority;
(2) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR);
(3) rapid global mobility;
(4) global strike; and
(5) command and control.

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NBF – Perhaps at least a sixth core mission could be added to the Air Force. Close combat air support of the Army and other services. Currently combat support for the army is not part of the five core missions of the Air force.

One Amazon commenter suggested that the Air Force become a department of the Army like the Marines are a department of the Navy.

The Department of the Air Force could be dissolved and the US Air Force become a part of the Department of the Army made to report to the US Army in the same way that the US Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department and reports to the US Navy. In this way, the US Air Force would still be a distinct service but the US Army would control the mission and budgets of the US Air Force so that the US Air Force would support the US Army and not the other way around.

SOURCES- Amazon, War is Boring, War on the Rocks