21 Facts About Army Air Forces


Army Air Forces was created in June 1941 to provide the air arm a greater autonomy in which to expand more efficiently, to provide a structure for the additional command echelons required by a vastly increased force, and to end an increasingly divisive administrative battle within the Army over control of aviation doctrine and organization that had been ongoing since the creation of an aviation section within the U S Army Signal Corps in 1914.

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Roots of the Army Air Forces arose in the formulation of theories of strategic bombing at the Air Corps Tactical School that gave new impetus to arguments for an independent air force, beginning with those espoused by Brig.

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Activation of GHQ Air Force represented a compromise between strategic airpower advocates and ground force commanders who demanded that the Air Corps mission remain tied to that of the land forces.

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GHQ Air Force organized combat groups administratively into a strike force of three wings deployed to the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts but was small in comparison to European air forces.

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Lines of authority were difficult, at best, since GHQ Army Air Forces Force controlled only operations of its combat units while the Army Air Forces Corps was still responsible for doctrine, acquisition of aircraft, and training.

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Marshall implemented a compromise that the Army Air Forces Corps found entirely inadequate, naming Arnold as acting "Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Air Forces" but rejecting all organizational points of his proposal.

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GHQ Air Force instead was assigned to the control of Army General Headquarters, although the latter was a training and not an operational component, when it was activated in November 1940.

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Less than five months after the rejection of Arnold's reorganization proposal, a joint U S -British strategic planning agreement refuted the General Staff's argument that the Air Corps had no wartime mission except to support ground forces.

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Arnold assumed the title of Chief of the Army Air Forces, creating an echelon of command over all military aviation components for the first time and ending the dual status of the Air Corps and GHQ Air Force, which was renamed Air Force Combat Command in the new organization.

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German invasion of the Soviet Union, occurring only two days after the creation of the Army Air Forces, caused an immediate reassessment of U S defense strategy and policy.

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Army Air Forces Corps operated 156 installations at the beginning of 1941.

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For instance, the Eighth Army Air Forces Force listed the VIII Bomber Command and the VIII Fighter Command as subordinate operational commands.

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The use of Roman-numeral commands was nonstandard within the AAF; the Tenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Air Forces did not field subordinate commands during World War II.

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The Army Air Forces fielded a total of 318 combat groups at some point during World War II, with an operational force of 243 combat groups in 1945.

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Army Air Forces ordered the revocation on 16 February 1944 of policies that arbitrarily set fixed "goals" for completion of combat tours and directed that the impression that no airman would be required to serve more than one tour of combat be "unmistakably corrected".

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Army Air Forces re-structured the reserve components to conform with Arnold's concepts, including creation of the Air National Guard in April 1946.

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Army Air Forces asserted that wartime expedients that had overcome these defects proved to be the difference between victory and defeat.

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The Army Air Forces Force was assigned the bulk of strategic, tactical, and transport aircraft, but the issue remained divisive well into the 1950s.

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Army Air Forces moved at the very highest levels of command in the wartime coalition with Britain.

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Army Air Forces exerted a powerful influence on the development of strategy, tactics, and doctrine wherever AAF units fought.

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Rank structure and insignia of the U S Army Air Forces was that of the United States Army of World War II.

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