restricted access V. How Should We Organize Our National Air Power? Make it a Main Force or Still an Appendage?
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v HOW SHOULD WE ORGANIZE OUR NATIONAL AIR POWER? MAKE IT A MAIN FORCE OR STILL AN APPENDAGE? "WIIERE there is no vision the people perish." This old Biblical quotation is more applicable to the development of aviation and air power than to any other undertaking. We are at the turning of the ways in the developtnent of our air power and the people, who are the judges of what should be done, should weigh the evidence on the subject carefully. In order to be successful in anything, it is necessary to concentrate one's mind, one's time and one's money on it in such a way as to get the greatest good with the least effort. In doing this with aviation, vision is a most important matter because its great possibilities lie ahead and not behind us. At this juncture, the United States is faced with the alternative ,of progressing in its aeronautical organization and consolidating its air activities under one responsible head, or going on with its effort split up between other services that have a major function apart from aeronautics. 97 Winged Defense Aviation is very different from either armies or na.. vies in its econon1ic aspect. Every military airplane can be used in time of peace for some useful undertaking not necessarily connected with war. Every pilot employed in civil aviation can be used in case of war and is ninety per cent efficient at least in time of peace. Every mechanic used in civil aviation is one hundred per cent efficient in time of war. In time of peace, the bulk of the effort and thought of a nation in an aeronautical way may be applied to civil and commercial development of aeronautics and this same effort and thought can be shifted at once to military purposes. There is no reason, for instance, why the air forces in time of peace should not be employed in mapping the country, patrolling the forests to prevent forest fires, carrying the mail, eliminating insect pests fr,om cotton, fruit trees and other vegetation, and in making an aeronautical commercial transportation survey of the country to determine what can be carried economically and at a profit through the air instead of on boats, railroads , and by automobiles, and in working out new commercial air routes throughout the world. The Government , f.or instance, in time of peace should maintain only a snlall percentage of its total aerial strength 011 strictly military duty; the rest could be used on civil work for the greater part of the time and assembled for a month or so each year to perform maneuvers and nlilitary training. The great countries of the world are using their vision and are straining every effort to establish their How Should We Organize? 99 aeronautical position so that the future will not see them hopelessly distanced by their rivals. So far as national defense is concerned, they have carefully studied the whole problem as affected by aviation , so that they will get a nlaximum benefit from each dollar of money expended and from each man hour of work put in. From a military standpoint, the airn1en have to study the effect that air power has on navies and what their future will be. They know that within the radius ·of air power's activities, it can completely destroy any surface vessels or war ships. They kn,ow that in the last war, surface ships, battleships, cruisers and other seacraft, took comparatively little active part except as transportation and patrol vessels. No battleship sunk another battleship and of the hundred and thirty-four warships sunk or destroyed during the war, the submarines sunk sixty-two British warships and eight large French and Italian ships. No Anlerican battleship saw any fighting in the last war, not even those in European waters. Aircraft have great difficulty in attacking and destroying submarines at sea. They are very hard to detect, dive with great rapidity and are very difficult to see under water. The effect of air power on submarines is probably less than on any other target, whether on water or land. The best offense against them is to destroy their bases and fuel stations. It is necessary to consult the best available information about them as they will be the future means of operating on the seas. Existing records show that submarines sunk, either by torpedoes or 100 Winged Defense mines, the battleship, Audacious; they sunk the cruiser, Hampshire...