chapter  4
19 Pages

The Us Air Force

Social origins A genealogical analysis of the US Air Force reveals an organisation that emerged from within a long-established military institution, the US Army, and one that only received independent status after prosecuting and winning its most successful military campaigns during World War II. As such, the US Air Force is a scion, and as with all types of offshoots, it retains attributes and qualities that can be traced back to its progenitor. Moreover, it is a service whose finest hours to date occurred while its personnel were dressed in a different uniform; in cultural terms, this generates a degree of disharmony in terms of identity formation, adherence and empathy with the past glories of US airmen. It is an institution whose history has been interrupted, through no fault of its own, by the vagaries of service parochialism that delayed the inevitable and logical step to independence, with significant social implications for the future organisation. It is surprising that the nation-state that witnessed the first powered flight in the history of human evolution, by the Wright brothers in 1903, should be so slow to develop its potential in the military sphere. As Tami Biddle argues, ‘despite the Wright Brothers’ achievements, the Americans took a leisurely approach to developing and exploiting the military possibilities for aircraft’.6