Looking Back

Branchhood: Part III: Completing the Circle

Looking Back, April 2023 By Mark Albertson Branchhood: Part III:  Completing the Circle As with many of Man’s distinguished endeavors, success is attained most always with a decision that is hardly unanimous.  Why should the quest for branchhood be any different?  And so it was not.  Many had concerted opinions for; with others expressing convictions against; while there were some, such as Major General Robert L. Wetzel, commandant of Infantry at Fort Benning who, in Part II of this series, seemed to be mired in No Man’s Land.  Yet branchhood was coming, despite the contrarian viewpoints of the naysayers.  For...

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Branchhood: Part II: Discourse and Debate

Looking Back / Army Aviation, March 2023; By Mark Albertson   Branchhood Part II: Discourse and Debate Within a three-and-a-half-year study conducted by the Officer of Personnel Management System in the seventies, Major General George Putnam, Director of Military Personnel Policy, recommended that Army Aviation should be organized as a branch.  Such was disapproved by General Bernard Rogers, then Chief of Staff.  “Aviation is an ‘entry specialty’ within a combat arms affiliated ‘carrier’ branch, stressing that aviators, . . . ‘must be experts in aviation.’”[1] Yet, even among the Aviation community, opinions varied with regards to branchhood.  For instance, Brigadier General...

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Branchhood: Part I: Technology, Command and Control

Looking Back / Army Aviation, February 2023; By Mark Albertson   Branchhood, By Mark Albertson Part I: Technology, Command and Control Army Aviation breaks friction with the ground, operates in the ground regime, and greatly enhances the capability of the force. . . [1] ***** The remarkable evolution of aerial observation, together with the aerial direction of artillery fire within the United States Army, began with the War Between the States and a military application known to history as the Balloon Corps. The suitable starting date is June 18, 1861, when Thaddeus Lowe lifted off from the Columbia Armory[2] and from the...

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Women in Aviation: Celebrating the Past, Building the Future

Looking Back / Army Aviation, January 2023; By Mark Albertson   Branch Update, By Major General Ronald E. Adams Women in Aviation: Celebrating the Past, Building the Future The U.S. Army Aviation Warfighting Center hosted a Women in Army Aviation Symposium in Late February. Over 90 aviation soldiers of both genders and all ranks traveled to the conference representing DOD-wide backgrounds and experiences. The goal of our symposium was twofold: First, to recognize and celebrate women’s 21 years of service within Army Aviation and second, to identify and discuss current “gender issues” within the branch. There are differing, sometimes contentious, opinions as...

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80th Anniversary of Army Aviation, Operation: TORCH: Grasshoppers Earn Their Wings

Looking Back / Army Aviation, December 2022; By Mark Albertson   80th Anniversary of Army Aviation: Operation: TORCH Grasshoppers Earn Their Wings The lack of success of Army Aviation in its first time at bat against the Germans at Fedala, fueled Hap Arnold’s aversion to seeing Cubs in a combat zone, and, certainly inflamed the AAF’s desire to abort the Air Observation Post program. Work horse of the Air OPs, the Piper L-4 Cub.  This plane established itself in a combat theater with the aerial direction of artillery fire, observation and reconnaissance, photo reconnaissance, route column control, light transport, air...

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80th Anniversary of Army Aviation, Combat Debut: Operation: TORCH

Looking Back / Army Aviation, November 2022; By Mark Albertson   80th Anniversary of Army Aviation: Combat Debut: Operation: TORCH It was agreed between London and Washington that the Third Reich posed the greatest threat among the Axis Powers.[1]  Yet it was Japan which attacked the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.  Hitler solved a potential dilemma by declaring war on the United States on December 11, 1941.  Therefore what had been, for the most part, a European war was now a global conflict, December 1941, then, is the turning point of what we call the Second World War. ...

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Sixty Years Ago: The Howze Board Part III

Looking Back / Army Aviation, October 2022; By Mark Albertson Sixty Years Ago: The Howze Board Part III By Mark Albertson * * * * * 1961, Clifton von Kann, recently named Director of Army Aviation, scheduled a briefing with Secretary McNamara on Army Aviation and the importance of tactical aerial assets for the Ground Forces.  “McNamara indicated that the briefing helped him to see Army Aviation in a new light and he requested additional paperwork.”[1] A mover and shaker behind the scenes was Robert R. Williams, a West Point grad and member of the Class Before One and, the...

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Sixty Years Ago: The Howze Board Part II

Looking Back / Army Aviation, September 2022; By Mark Albertson Sixty Years Ago: The Howze Board Part II By Mark Albertson * * * * * 1957, General Hamilton H. Howze, then Director of Army Aviation, in concert with Colonel Claude Sheppard, attempted to sell the Sky Cavalry idea, as put forth by Brigadier General Carl Hutton, General James Gavin and other practitioners of Airmobility. This effort was to impress upon the military and civilian planners at the Pentagon, the benefits of Airmobility as a counterweight to the Soviet preponderance in tank armies in Eastern Europe that had been massed...

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80th Anniversary of Army Aviation, Reflections in North Africa

Looking Back / Army Aviation, August 2022; By Mark Albertson   For the 80th Anniversary of Army Aviation: Reflections in North Africa “Air Danger Zone of Friendly Artillery”By Lieutenant Colonel F.A. Bardo, Field Artillery When air units are working in close support with ground troops the trajectory of the ground weapons creates a problem. Once incident (from World War I) is on the records: a plane and a 155 mm projectile met en-route to their respective objectives; result, no damage to the enemy. From the pilot’s point of view, enemy aircraft and ack-ack are his chief worries while on a...

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80th Anniversary of Army Aviation, Part IV

Looking Back / Army Aviation, June 2012; By Mark Albertson For the 80th Anniversary of Army Aviation: Class Before One, Part IV “The Charter of the Air Observation Post” By Mark Albertson John J, McCloy, Assistant Secretary of War, 1942, supported Danford and L-4 Cubs for the Field Artillery in the face of Army Air Forces resistance.  And to Hap Arnold’s chagrin, Mr. McCloy even ordered Cub aircraft for the Ground Forces.  John J. McCloy, together with Charles Bohlen, Robert Lovett, Averell Harriman, Dean Acheson and the incomparable George Kennan, are considered the Wise Men of American Policy.  McCloy will...

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