Academic journal article Military Review

Divisional Air Defense 1945-Present

Academic journal article Military Review

Divisional Air Defense 1945-Present

Article excerpt

SHOULD THE US ARMY retain a short-range air defense (SHORAD) battalion in the division structure, or would some other, less resourceintensive expedient be just as suitable? Planners and policy makers have struggled with this question since the end of World War 11 but never devised a consistent approach. In the process, depending on perceptions of enemy air threats, Air Defense Artillery (ADA) units made a full circle, going from a nonconstituent of the division to an organic status twice over the past half-century.

This article takes up the question once again. Beginning with a review of ADA's origins within the Coast Artillery Corps on the eve of World War I and continuing through World War 11, it details the process and reasoning that-led the Army to make antiaircraft artillery(AAA)-organic to the division. It then addresses the PENTANA em between 1955 and 1962 -,lo,determine why the Army excluded AAA from@"-atomic battlefield. Finally, it explores the pro.. that led from a force structure in which AAA was considered nonessential to one that came into being during the Vietnam period, when AAA once more became organic to the Army's divisions. This article also addresses current and future concepts for ADA force structure to determine whether the air defense battalion should remain as part of the division structure or revert once more to a less integral role or even excluded.

The Early Years

Economy of Force and unity of command go together. You get little of either ifyou get a lot of attached units at the last moment. Team play comes only with practice. '

Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers

In the summer of 1917, when US involvement in World War I was imminent, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker realized that the Army lacked sufficient current information witk which to organize an expeditionary force that'@N4& defeat, Germany's forces. Secretary Baker 'sentboard of officers, under direction of Colonel Chauncey B. Baker, to France for six weeks tQ serve-French and British forces and recommend a', r6f6e structure for the Army that could fight and win in France. Baker and his officers, using guidance from the officer appointed to lead the American Expeditionary Forces, Major General John J. Pershing, and the secretary of war, recommended a plan which included employment of two antiaircraft battalions per army corps and 20 antiaircraft platoons per field army in response to the aerial threat2

Until 1917, the Coast Artillery Corps (CAQ mission was clear: protect the shores of the Continental United States (CONUS) from the threat of an invading armada and provide a safe haven for US naval vessels from an enemy navy. A perception existed that CAC was not part of, and did not train with, the rest of the Army. Its reputation was that of being different and not part of the ground forces.3 Members of the mobile forces Army did not want to associate with CAC soldiers for fear that they would somehow debilitate their fighting spirit and skills.4

During World War L CAC's mission changed significantly and expanded. In addition to manning all mobile, heavy (8-inch and above) artillery in support of the Army in the field, CAC assumed responsibility for defending US assets against air attacks.

To execute its primary coastal defense mission, CAC developed a system for firing at maritime targets that moved from side to side or directly toward CAC positions. Ships did not make radical course change, s; predicting and firing at predetermined intercept.points were not difficult. CAC and Army tercept points were not difficult. CAC and Army leaders presumed that CAC units could accomplish the mission of defeating aerial threats as well.5 Demobilization occured following World War I, as in every conflict in which the United States participated. In 1924, Major General Leslie J. McNair conducted studies, know as the "McNair Boards," concerning worldwide contingency missions. In the field of antiaircraft defenses, the board recommended the formation and deployment of six to nine AAA regiments. …

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