Quote of the Day: Curtis LeMay on Inter-Service Rivalry

 

“The Soviets are our adversary. Our enemy is the Navy.” — Curtis LeMay

Inter-service rivalries can be as vicious. The Navy and Air Force argue about the importance of aircraft carriers. Ground support planes such as the A-10 keep on being canceled and resuscitated because they are so effective (even though not sexy like fighter aircraft). All three services competed for dominance in space (McNamara gave it to the Air Force).

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There are 25 comments.

  1. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    “The Opposition aren’t really the opposition. They are only the government-in-exile. The civil service are the opposition-in-residence.” – Rt. Hon. Jim Hacker

    • #1
    • June 25, 2019, at 10:26 AM PDT
    • 21 likes
  2. Seawriter Member

    The irony is LeMay worked more closely with the Navy than many other Army Air Force and US Air Force generals. One example is Operation Starvation, a Navy-requested effort to blockade Japan by using B-29s to drop naval mines off the coast of Japan. Other AAF generals stonewalled the Navy. LeMay not only cooperated – he embraced it, dedicating a wing to dropping the mines. It was one of three things (including firebombing and night precision bombing) that brought Japan to its knees in 1945, even before the atomic bomb was dropped.

    • #2
    • June 25, 2019, at 10:40 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  3. Poindexter Member

    The X-15 program came to LeMay, then head of SAC, for funding. The Old Man chomped his cigar, looked at the blueprints, and asked: “Where’s the bomb bay?”

    No funding for the X-15 from SAC.

    • #3
    • June 25, 2019, at 11:04 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  4. Amy Schley Moderator

    Inter-service rivalry in musical form: 

     

    • #4
    • June 25, 2019, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Read about the RA-5 Vigilante. Beautiful aircraft, designed as a carrier based strategic bomber. Turned into a reconnaissance aircraft solely due to mission interservice squabbling.

     

    • #5
    • June 25, 2019, at 11:13 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. Seawriter Member

    Poindexter (View Comment):

    The X-15 program came to LeMay, then head of SAC, for funding. The Old Man chomped his cigar, looked at the blueprints, and asked: “Where’s the bomb bay?”

    No funding for the X-15 from SAC.

    Why would SAC be expected to fund the X-15? It was a pure research project. NACA issued the RFP in 1954, and they were not part of the Air Force.

    I think SAC kicked in some money for the original version of DynaSoar, but the contract was signed late in 1957 after LeMay left SAC. (In 1957 it was intended as a bomber.)

    • #6
    • June 25, 2019, at 11:17 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. EJHill Podcaster

    On June 7, 1944 (D-Day +1) there were 84 US Marines stationed on the USS Texas that were primed and ready to go to shore to help the Army Rangers that were bogged down just off the beach. Neither Gen. Eisenhower nor Bradley wanted headlines that said “Marines Rescue Rangers at Normandy,” so the order was given to stand down.

    Ike had Marines on his SHAEF staff in England and Marines had trained Eisenhower’s troops on the ins and outs of amphibious assaults prior to the North African landings in 1942 (and some went ashore with the Army) and again for Normandy in 1944.

    When the war in Europe began to wind down Gen. George Patton was chomping at the bit to get to the Pacific. “The quicker we clean up this g**damned mess, the quicker we can take a little jaunt against the purple pissing Japs and clean out their nest, too. Before the g**damned Marines get all of the credit.”

    Rivalry? What rivalry?

    • #7
    • June 25, 2019, at 11:32 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  8. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Poindexter (View Comment):

    The X-15 program came to LeMay, then head of SAC, for funding. The Old Man chomped his cigar, looked at the blueprints, and asked: “Where’s the bomb bay?”

    No funding for the X-15 from SAC.

    Why would SAC be expected to fund the X-15? It was a pure research project. NACA issued the RFP in 1954, and they were not part of the Air Force.

    I think SAC kicked in some money for the original version of DynaSoar, but the contract was signed late in 1957 after LeMay left SAC. (In 1957 it was intended as a bomber.)

    Huh. I never noticed until now the (perhaps superficial) similarities between SpaceShipOne and DynaSoar.

    • #8
    • June 25, 2019, at 11:35 AM PDT
    • Like
  9. Guruforhire Member

    All the other “branches” are merely support units of the Army.

    • #9
    • June 25, 2019, at 11:43 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Seawriter Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    Huh. I never noticed until now the (perhaps superficial) similarities between SpaceShipOne and DynaSoar.

    Not really an accident. Both were designed to operate at roughly the same environment at roughly the same speeds. It is the same type of dynamics leading to superficial similarities between commercial jet airliners today.

    • #10
    • June 25, 2019, at 12:36 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. Sabrdance Member

    I have always found the “me and my brother against my cousin, my cousin and me against the world” aspect of these rivalries to be quite amusing.

    As an Army Brat, I grew up knowing that the Air Force was a wayward younger brother, but you could basically work with them. The Navy was the enemy. The Marines were barely recognized as fellow combatants in the same military. So we would work with the Air Force to keep the Navy down, and with the Navy to keep the Marines down, and with all of them against any foreign force -more or less.

    And of course within the fold, the infantry hate the cavalry, and the cavalry hate the artillery, and the artillery hate everyone. The combatants hate the non-combatants, the Engineers hate everyone equally.

    I have since met sailors and submariners, and one aviator, and there’s a similar kind of relationship there, where the fleet hates the carriers, the carriers hate the subs, and the subs hate everyone. But all those differences are put aside to screw the Army.

    • #11
    • June 25, 2019, at 12:57 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  12. EJHill Podcaster

    The Marines don’t hate anyone. God loves all his children.

    • #12
    • June 25, 2019, at 1:32 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  13. Stad Thatcher

    The rivalries among services only exist when it comes to funding. In war, we are all brothers . . .

    • #13
    • June 25, 2019, at 1:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Seawriter (View Comment):
    LeMay not only cooperated – he embraced it, dedicating a wing to dropping the mines. It was one of three things (including firebombing and night precision bombing) that brought Japan to its knees in 1945, even before the atomic bomb was dropped.

    LeMay may not have know what it was but he found the jet stream which prevented the B 29 high altitude bombing mission. That program cost more than the atomic bomb yet LeMay was willing to throw the plan out and go to low altitude incendiaries.

    • #14
    • June 25, 2019, at 1:53 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. Tex929rr Coolidge

    “The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.” [James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy; 23 February 1945

    • #15
    • June 25, 2019, at 2:12 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. EJHill Podcaster

    As my son reminds me constantly, this is what passes for Marine Corps modesty…

     

    • #16
    • June 25, 2019, at 3:32 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Seawriter Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    LeMay may not have know what it was but he found the jet stream which prevented the B 29 high altitude bombing mission. That program cost more than the atomic bomb yet LeMay was willing to throw the plan out and go to low altitude incendiaries.

    Actually his predecessor was the one who discovered the effects of the Jet Stream on bombing accuracy, but he refused to change strategy. It was dogma. LeMay did throw the book out, thought. You can read about it here. (I have no shame in plugging the books I have written.)

    • #17
    • June 25, 2019, at 4:05 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. Vance Richards Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    As my son reminds me constantly, this is what passes for Marine Corps modesty…

     

    And the Marine Corp hymn has this line . . . 

    If the Army and the Navy
    Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
    They will find the streets are guarded
    By United States Marines

    • #18
    • June 25, 2019, at 4:24 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. The Reticulator Member

    The only thing worse than inter-service rivalry is lack of inter-service rivalry.

    • #19
    • June 25, 2019, at 6:50 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Songwriter Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    The Marines don’t hate anyone. God loves all his children.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

    • #20
    • June 26, 2019, at 6:46 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. SkipSul Moderator

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):
    LeMay may not have know what it was but he found the jet stream which prevented the B 29 high altitude bombing mission. That program cost more than the atomic bomb yet LeMay was willing to throw the plan out and go to low altitude incendiaries.

    Actually his predecessor was the one who discovered the effects of the Jet Stream on bombing accuracy, but he refused to change strategy. It was dogma. LeMay did throw the book out, thought. You can read about it here. (I have no shame in plugging the books I have written.)

    LeMay though later tried to take most of the credit for the Berlin Airlift, which he did not deserve to do. That Laurel rests on General Lucius Clay, whose entire career had been spent in logistics including airfield design and operations. Rivalries can sometimes be funny, but also irksome.

    • #21
    • June 26, 2019, at 8:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    LeMay though later tried to take most of the credit for the Berlin Airlift,

    That I had never heard. Lucious Clay was the obvious origin of the concept although the AF exceeded hopes, let alone expectations. There was a movie made about it at the time called “The Big Lift.”

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042249/

     

    • #22
    • June 26, 2019, at 3:56 PM PDT
    • Like
  23. SkipSul Moderator

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):
    LeMay though later tried to take most of the credit for the Berlin Airlift,

    That I had never heard. Lucious Clay was the obvious origin of the concept although the AF exceeded hopes, let alone expectations. There was a movie made about it at the time called “The Big Lift.”

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042249/

     

    If you want a really in depth study, the book The Candy Bombers is a great place to start. Puts the entire operation in its full context, including, for instance, that the US military presence in Europe in 1948 was inadequate, and the Marshall Plan was not yet even in existence. LeMay had but 1 card to play against the Soviets until Clay figured things out, and that was the atom bomb. It is an amazing book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    I’d also suggest Berlin 1961, which I’ve reviewed her on Rico before, for (as Paul Harvey might have said) “the rest of the story”.

    https://ricochet.com/222988/archives/heroes-september-6-general-lucius-d-clay/

    https://ricochet.com/222655/archives/book-review-berlin-1961-kennedy-khrushchev-and-the-most-dangerous-place-on-earth-frederick-kempe-g-p-putnam-and-sons-2011-isbn-978-0-399-15729-5/

    • #23
    • June 26, 2019, at 8:36 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge

    Amy Schley (View Comment):
    Inter-service rivalry in musical form:

    Another inter-service rivalry in musical form (Disclaimer: foul language)… RLTW!

    • #24
    • June 28, 2019, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • Like
  25. Richard Easton Member
    Richard Easton Post author

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    If you want a really in depth study, the book The Candy Bombers is a great place to start. Puts the entire operation in its full context, including, for instance, that the US military presence in Europe in 1948 was inadequate, and the Marshall Plan was not yet even in existence. LeMay had but 1 card to play against the Soviets until Clay figured things out, and that was the atom bomb. It is an amazing book, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    I’d also suggest Berlin 1961, which I’ve reviewed her on Rico before, for (as Paul Harvey might have said) “the rest of the story”.

    https://ricochet.com/222988/archives/heroes-september-6-general-lucius-d-clay/

    https://ricochet.com/222655/archives/book-review-berlin-1961-kennedy-khrushchev-and-the-most-dangerous-place-on-earth-frederick-kempe-g-p-putnam-and-sons-2011-isbn-978-0-399-15729-5/

    Here’s a conversation with the candy bomber.

    https://coldwarconversations.com/episode56/

    I will be on coldwarconversations in early August talking about (what else) the early space program and GPS.

    • #25
    • June 28, 2019, at 2:29 PM PDT
    • 1 like