Opportunity missed: congressional reorganization of the Army Air Service 1917-1920
Tretler, David Allan
Vandiver, Frank E.
Master of Arts
Army aviation was at a crossroads immediately after World War I. Congress could either allow the Army Air Service to revert to its prewar status as a subdivision within the Army Signal Corps, make permanent its wartime status as a separate combat branch of the Army, or establish it as part of an independent air department. When Army reorganization hearings opened in both houses of Congress after the Armistice, a proposal for a separate air department was one of the bills tinder consideration. The dramatically increased size of the Army's and Navy's aviation branches, the phenomenal technological advances in the science of aeronautics brought about by the war, and the airplane's potential for both military and commercial operations argued strongly in favor of a separate air department. But the air department bills were defeated, and, when the Array Reorganization Act passed in June 192, the Air Service was retained as an integral combat branch of the Army. As a result, military aviation was to suffer from the apathy of Army officials throughout the early interwar years.