Air University Review, May-June 1986
Colonel Thomas A. Cardwell, III
It is true that there are deep-rooted interservice differences that break out occasionally in seemingly bitter exchange. But they are the product of honest convictions by honorable men of deeply justifiable pride in all that their respective Services have contributed to the growth and security of our country. 1
General Matthew B. Ridgway
Each of the military departments and services are assigned, by law, certain taskscalled functionsto perform. These functions are described for the most part in Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 5100.1, Functions of the Department of Defense and Its Major Components (sometimes called the "Functions Paper"), and in joint Chiefs of Staff Publication 2 (JCS Pub 2), Unified Action Armed Forces.
In these documents, three kinds of functions are described: common, unique, and collateral.2
Since the unique (primary) and collateral functions are the foundation from which each of the services establishes its positions, a summary of each of the military departments' functions is in order.
The Department of the Army's primary function is to organize, train, and equip Army forces for the conduct of prompt and sustained combat operations on landspecifically, forces to defeat enemy land forces and to seize, occupy, and defend land areas. Additionally, the Army organizes, trains, and equips air defense units for the defense of the United States against air attack; formulates doctrine for land deployment; and performs other activities such as civil works, beach erosion control, and Army intelligence. The Army's collateral functions are to train forces to interdict enemy sea power, air power, and communications through its operations from or on land.
The primary function of the Department of the Navy (including both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps) is to organize, train, and equip Navy and Marine Corps forces for the conduct of prompt and sustained-combat operations at sea (including sea-based and land-based naval air components)specifically, forces to seek out and destroy enemy naval forces and to suppress enemy sea commerce, as well as to gain and maintain general naval supremacy, maintain the Marine Corps; formulate doctrine for naval forces employment; and provide intelligence for the Navy and the Marine Corps. The Navy's collateral functions are to train forces to interdict enemy land and air power through its operations at sea, conduct close air support and naval support for land operations, and be prepared to participate in the overall air effort.
The Department of the Air Force's primary function is to organize, train, and equip air forces for the conduct of prompt and sustained combat operations in the airspecifically forces to defend the United States against air attack, to gain and maintain general air supremacy, to defeat enemy Air forces, to control vital air areas, to establish local air superiority, and to conduct strategic air warfare. Additionally, the Air Force is tasked to furnish close air support, airlift, tactical reconnaissance, interdiction, and logistics air support for the Army; provide air transport for the armed forces; formulate doctrine for air forces employment; and provide aerial cartographic photography and Air Force intelligence. The collateral functions of the Air Force are to train forces to interdict enemy sea power through air operations, conduct aerial mine laying, conduct antisubmarine warfare, and protect shipping.
One notes that the Army functions are oriented to the terrain (land); the Navy and the Marine Corps functions, to the sea; and the Air Force functions, to the air. And in DOD Directive 5100.1, there is guidance that primary functions are to be the basis for force building (force levels, budgets, and hardware), while collateral functions cannot be used as the sole basis to justify force requirements. Understanding these facts, one can easily see why the services guard their functions carefully and why roles and missions that derive from these functions are so central to the issues that arise between the services.
When issues arise in the joint arena, the four services tend to "take sides" according to the type of issues discussed. Most issues can be categorized as strategy, tactics or organizational issues.3 (See Figure 1.)
When issues are those of strategy, the Air Force and the Army are usually in agreement, opposing the Navy and the Marines. This alignment occurs because, in these issues, the services are oriented to the medium (land or sea) more appropriate to each. The Air Force and the Army are concerned with continental strategyincluding the airspace over the land, while the Navy and the Marines focus on maritime strategysea control and sea-based activities such as amphibious assault.
When force employment or tactics are discussed, the Air Force and the Navy are usually allied, while the Army and the Marine Corps join together. Here, the Air Force and the Navy focus on the delivery of firepower, while the Army and the Marine Corps concern themselves with physical objectivesgaining and holding terrain.
When organizational issues arise among the services, we find that, as a general rule, the Army and the Navy are in opposition to the Marines and the Air Force. This alignment of the services is especially likely in decisions regarding command and control of joint commands. If one thinks this matter through, one observes that the owners of the primary mediumsthose having primary functions on land and seaare in natural opposition to those who do not "own" such substantive mediums (unless you argue for the qualities of air or the substance of an amphibious objective area). And unified commands are usually established on a geographic (land or water) basis. In addition, the Air Force and the Marines do not have the historical precedence of the other services. Both are offspring of Army and Navy parentage. The Marines have an additional stimulus for organizational feistiness because they are a relatively small service and therefore have comparatively more at stake in any organizational issue.
Just some of the issues that have been discussed and worked among or between the various services are airspace control, sea control, battlefield air interdiction, centralized control, "in support of" assignments, control of tactical air assets, suppression of enemy air defenses, Pershing IIs, battlefield surveillance, airlift, and fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft. Not all of these issues have been fully resolved.
Several factors precipitate joint issues. The most common of these are interpretation of functions, technology, service doctrine, and service priorities.
Interpretation of service functions is usually the main stimulus for issues. Although DOD Directive 5100.1 and JCS Pub 2 are relatively specific on the subject of service functions, these are open to interpretation, and they have been amended several times as well. An example of difficulties in interpreting service functions is shown in the issues that arise periodically concerning naval aviation support of land and air forces over land areas. The Navy in recent years has postulated that a task called "power projection" most clearly describes what the Navy role is in support of land area operations. The issues are how the "function" of power projection is related to primary Navy functions and whether this new function intrudes on primary Air Force functions. Although the matter was worked at low joint levels, it has not been addressed (or decided) by the Joint Chiefs, and the term is still used by the Navy.
Technological advances can stimulate issues. Improvements to a system that is owned by one service may extend that service's employment capability into another service's primary function. Such an outcome could result, for example, from the advances in communications and sensor technology that can provide ground commanders the capability to view terrain and enemy movements well beyond the range of Army-owned weapons and systems. This capability could stimulate issues of control of the weapons that can strike into these deep areas, in addition to creating issues regarding funding for other weapons to be owned by the Army for such purposes. These potential issues could become actual ones if other services perceive that the advanced technology provides a capability (arguably) beyond the Army function to conduct land operations. But like the previous example illustrating interpretation differences, matters related to this technological improvement have not yet been addressed directly by the services.4
Service doctrine, too, can create the potential for issues. The services naturally differ regarding how forces should be employed, what tactics should be used, and how joint organizations should be structured. A continuing example of this difference is shown in the discussions between the Air Force and the Navy regarding the use of naval aviation in support of the land battle, with commensurate use of Air Force assets in support of naval activitiesconducting antisubmarine warfare, for instance. Issues related to these functions were recently discussed, and the services agreed that operational control of Navy aviation assets would not pass to the component commander being supported but would remain under the operational control of the naval component commander and would operate in support of the land campaign. Air Force assets would operate similarly under the operational control of the air component commander.
Service priorities can create issues; that is, two services may have the same objective, but one service may place a higher priority on that objective than another. This area of service differences was revealed in discussions concerning the development of the Army attack helicopter. The objective of providing close air support to ground troops is the same for both the Army and the Air Force. But the Army puts a high priority on the air support of ground forcesexemplified in its programs for the attack helicopter. The Air Force has multimission aircraft to perform the close air support mission and therefore did not think that the attack helicopter warranted such a high priorityespecially if procurement of such aircraft would come at the expense of Air Force aircraft programs. The issue was resolved by design of a concept that integrated both Army and Air Force aircraft into a mutually supporting teamintegrating the best features of each aircraft into the concept. This example further illustrates how technology and doctrine can compound compound issues of service priority, creating issues with many facets for the services to consider.
There are three possible outcomes to the resolution of any joint issue: take no action (don't resolve it), resolve the issue in favor of one position, or reach a compromise. Historically, the Joint Chiefs usually have chosen compromise. For example, the services addressed issues relating to tactical operations during sustained operations ashore, concluding these with a compromise (called the Omnibus Agreement), which contained the Air Force position in one paragraph and the Marine Corps position in another. But the wording in the collective position accounted for the unique air power requirements of the Marine Corps on the one hand, while accommodating the Air Force concepts requiring a single manager responsible for overall employment of air resources. Another example from the past was the 1967 compromise agreed to by the Joint Chiefs, in which all air assets operating in South Vietnamexcept Army aviation assets and bombers belonging to Strategic Air Commandwere placed under the operational control of the air component commander of the Vietnam subunified combined commandMilitary Assistance Command, Vietnam.
Even for those involved on a daily basis with joint issues, it is difficult to try to make sense out of what causes disagreement between the services. It does help, though, to try to go back so that the issue can be more clearly understood. One must recognize that in areas of mission similarity, where service functions overlap, issues will arise. It is important to remember, too, that the functions established in the Functions Paper and JCS Pub 2 do serve, overall, as a reasonable basis for describing how the services organize, train, and equip their forces to fight in joint operations. In this regard, service rivalry can be healthy because it serves to illuminate difficult issues, providing a forum for airing of different views, yet operating within a structure that leads to their resolution. This process gets people involved so that the solution can be based on the collective wisdom and expertise of all the services, not just one. It particularly strengthens the U.S. unified structure, where each of the services brings its particular expertise (exercising its primary functions) to the unified commands, together providing a collective warfighting capability that is certainly greater than the sum of its component parts.
History has shown that joint issues will arise. How they are handled will help determine the direction that the U.S. military establishment will take in the future. We need to understand the functions of each of the services, becoming familiar with their views of how their forces should be trained, equipped, and employed. The message to officers assigned to joint headquarters or involved in working joint issues should be clear: You must understand JCS Pub 2!
1. As quoted in Gordon W. Deiser, The US Marine Corps and Defense Unification 1944-47 (Washington: National Defense University Press, 1982), p. 115.
2. JCS Pub 2, Unified Action Armed Forces (UNAAF), (Washington: Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, October 1974), p. 16. Sections 1 through 4 in this publication outline the common and specific functions of the services.
3. See Lieutenant Colonel Thomas A. Cardwell, USAF, "Service IssuesHow They Arise," Doctrine Information Publication (DIP) Number 4 (Washington: Hq USAF/XOXID, 1979). A very perceptive Marine officer developed this concept on how issues arise. The concept was further refined by Lieutenant Colonel Willard E. "Bill" Naslund, USAF, now retired, during 1975-77. Colonel Naslund was kind enough to teach me "how issues arise" and how to "work them." He was also kind enough to review this article and provide much-needed editorial comments.
4. This is not to say that they will not be discussed. When one views the new initiatives of the U.S. Army (and those of NATO) regarding new doctrines for deep attack and attack of the enemy's second echelon, it becomes clear that the Air Force may have to stand on such functional ground to maintain its primacy in control of operations deep in enemy territory; otherwise, such missions as interdiction may become missions for Army commanders to control, and weapon systems for deep strikes may be developed, procured, and employed by the Army. These emerging issues are focused particularly in the new concepts for AirLand Battle and Follow-on Forces Attack (U.S. Army and SACEUR concepts, respectively). Both of these concepts not only require deep attack but also tie such attacks to geographic bands located at distances relative to the line of ground contact. Further, within these bands, there are functional requirements to destroy enemy forces, disrupt them, or delay them as the distance increases from the line of contact. The issues here are centered on how this disrete range of weapons effect is to be achieved, by what service or control agency, and under the auspices of what primary (or collateral) function it is to be funded.
Colonel Thomas A. Cardwell, III (B.B.A., Texas A&M University; M.S. University of Southern California) is Commander of the 601st Tactical Control Wing, Sembach AB, West Germany. He has served as chief of the Strategy Division, Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the Air Staff, Hq USAF; and in flying assignments in TAC, PACAF, USAFE, ADCOM, and ATC. Colonel Cardwell is a graduate of Squadron Officer School, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and Air Command and Staff College, as well as a Distinguished Graduate of Air War College. He is author of Command Structure for Theater WarfareQuest for Unity of Command (1984) and numerous articles.
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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