Title: Improving Navy and Air Force Tactical Air Forces Integration

Subject: Explore ways to increase the interoperability and integration of AF and USN TACAIR forces. This should result in force multiplication and synergies.

Author(s): Richard A. Forster; Donald R. McBrayer (Faculty Advisor)


Abstract: Air Force and Navy tactical air forces have historically had problems integrating well. These problems have resulted in part from inter-service rivalries, interoperability problems, differences in command and control structures, and confrontational mindsets of the services due to lack of understanding and trust between them. These frictions have caused problems during many of our countries wars, resulting in a less than ideal partnership for our common defense. This study was accomplished in an attempt to highlight some areas of friction between the services and to offer recommendations on ways of addressing those frictions. This study was accomplished using research of historical data, review of current literature, doctrinal analysis, and interviews of current aviators of both services. The emphasis was placed on the integration of the two services and how they have worked together in past combat situations. Joint doctrine and literature were reviewed to assess how they should work together versus how they do work together. Some limitations of the study were - the classification levels of some technical areas that prevented in-depth analysis, some socio-cultural aspects of the inter-service rivalries did not lend themselves to examination in this format, and little available written material on this specific subject area. Inadequate joint training is a problem area, which may be a result of the current operations tempo in both services. Problems with interoperability of equipment, especially data link equipment, and forces were identified as a source of friction. Navy procedures for limiting the use of essential training equipment such as chaff, flares, and radar-warning gear to only fleet assigned aircraft and those working up for sea duty was also identified as a problem. The two services different "languages" in the aviation community is a source of friction. And finally, the two services' mindsets are adversarial, not cooperative in nature. There are several recommended methods of addressing these problems. One recommended method is to stand up permanent Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) staff organizations on each of the regional Commander In Chief's (CINC's) staffs. Second, joint exercise programs should be revised to increase the quantity of joint training, preferably including the permanent regional JFACC staffs to fully integrate the air operations system during these exercises. Third, hardware interoperability problems need to be corrected, including data link systems, which need to be designed and implemented in cooperation instead of in isolation by each service. Fourth, the two services need to agree on a common aviation "language" to reduce a source of friction and confusion. Finally, each of the services needs to make significant strides towards honoring the intent and spirit of the Joint Publications series and the Goldwaters-Nichols act, which sought to improve inter-service relations and cooperation. This mindset change needs to start at the top of each service and work down to the lowest ranking serviceman/woman serving. Once attitudes change towards the "spirit" of jointness, then all of the other changes will be enabled and will have a much greater chance of succeeding.

Last updated 1999 Nov 17