March 1. 1935: U.S. Army Air Forces Reorganization

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  • US Army Air Forces

The Army reorganized its air arm, assigning all observation units and stations to Army Corps area commanders. The remainder—all tactical fighter and bomber units—were assigned to a newly-created General Headquarters Air Force, with Maj Gen Frank M. Andrews as commanding general. The new arrangement satisfied the Baker Board’s recommendation that the Army’s air units not be organized into a separate service. At the same time, it organized the operational units into a quasi-independent, coherent fighting force. Air activity at Muroc came under the cognizance of the new GHQ Air Force.

the Air Forces became the dominant factor in the drive toward reorganization. The idea of a service command fitted is particularly well with its aims. When, toward the end of October, writing for General Arnold, Brig. Gen. Carl Spaatz recommended the abolition of GHQ and the formation under the Chief of Staff of a small General Staff and autonomous air and ground forces, also he recommended a service force. Like the Harrison proposal, this recommendation was at the moment unacceptable. The War Plans Division continued to wrestle with the problem.  General Arnold broke the log jam in mid-November 1941. Emphasizing the importance of air power in modern war, he wrote directly to General Marshall and asked for a complete reorganization that would allow the air force to play its proper role. The Air Forces supported a plan providing for three separate commands air, ground, and service it a Chief of Staff and a small General Staff in top control. The War Plans division received the Arnold memorandum for comment and concurred with it in principle.  General Marshall was "favorably impressed" and directed that the WPD develop the proposal in sufficient detail to determine its practicability.  Thus the Army Air Forces became the champion of a thorough War Department reorganization which would include the creation of a Services of Supply. Remaining within the existing military framework meant it would need to work with the War Department supply bureaus. Since General McNair had already suggested that his own General Headquarters could not function effectively unless it were given greater control of supply matters, and since the Air Forces was unwilling to see supply activities turned over to GHQ, it could logically support a plan to establish a separate supply command for ground and air forces under War Department direction.
Another strong reason for reorganization, and one tied in with Air Force's pressure for change, was the fact that the administrative burden of the Chief of Staff was becoming increasingly heavy. This was a difficulty that had plagued generals and statesmen throughout history, and one that had become mom and mare burdensome with the growing complexity of modern armies. Brig. Gen. Robert L. Bollard during World War I had expressed the fear that the general staff system would break down because no one man could handle the details heaped on the Chief of Staff and still direct a war.

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