Many of our leaders recognize the propensity to forget lessons from earlier battles. This is especially true of joint or integrated relations between ground and air support forces. One part of the problem is a lack of detailed history of integrated operations. Many claim that it is hard to find the details and historical context that can inform current operations. Another part of the problem is that integration is the continuing struggle between centralization for efficiency and mass versus decentralization for immediate responsiveness. This British historian, David Hall, found relevant cross-service problems in Afghanistan during recent British air-ground operations. He was stricken by the similarities with British airground operations during World War II when the Royal Air Force and the British Army first struggled with doctrinal air support practices. Forces are supposed to work together now in an integrated fashion, and while conditions are different between twenty-first century operations in Afghanistan and those of the European and North African theaters in World War II, the problems were and still are about relationships between members of air and ground services who have different points of reference. This is true of Americans as well as the British. During World War II, both British and American airmen were concerned about the independence and equities of their service. At the bottom of most air-ground coordination problems is the factor of personal relationships, existing at both the tactical and strategic levels. Dr. Hall, using historical examples, clearly illuminates this profound issue that will inform our current military.
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