COMBAT PAIR: The Evolution of Air Force-navy Integration in by Benjamin S. Lambeth

By Benjamin S. Lambeth

This file records the outstanding cross-service concord that the U.S. Air strength and U.S. army have gradually built of their behavior of built-in strike operations because the first Persian Gulf battle in 1991. That shut concord contrasts sharply with the location that prevailed all through lots of the chilly battle, while the 2 prone maintained separate and distinct working mindsets and lacked any major interoperability positive aspects.

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16 One of NSAWC’s early deputy commanders, Captain John Worthington, similarly recalled that “with the stroke of a pen, we took three strong legacies and organizations and turned them into one. The transition was difficult at first, but the organization has come together beautifully. ”17 TOPGUN, now a newly constituent part of NSAWC, continued its air-to-air focus and retained its widely respected culture of worldclass professionalism. Once the F/A-18 multirole fighter began arriving in the Navy’s air wings, however, the scope of training concern at TOPGUN was expanded to include ground-attack operations.

During the initial planning workups before the start of Operation Desert Storm, some senior naval aviators sought for a time to push for a distribution of route packages between the Air Force and the Navy along familiar Vietnam-like lines. However, the designated joint-force air component commander (JFACC) for the impending campaign, Air Force then-Lieutenant General Charles Horner, rejected that proposal as an unacceptably suboptimal use of American air assets in joint warfare. Although Horner did not exercise formal command over the air assets of the Navy and Marine Corps that were deployed to the Gulf, he did wield operational control over them to an extent that empowered him to task them as he deemed appropriate to support the jointforce commander’s air apportionment decisions.

For its part, the F-14 involved in the incident was operating from the carrier USS Saratoga in the central Mediterranean Sea. One goal of the exercise was to test the ability of the Air Force TEREC system to locate naval battle groups by their radar emissions. As the incident unfolded, the RF-4 was detected by the carrier battle group’s surveillance radar while it was refueling from an Air Force KC-135 tanker. The F-14 was then vectored by its carrier-based controller to investigate the contact.

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