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Brigadier General George O. Squier to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker

Washington, D.C.

March 12, 1917.


From: Board of Army and Navy Officers relative [to] development aeronautical service.

To: Secretary of the Navy.

SUBJECT: Report of Board.

Reference: Secretary of Navy’s letter No.26983—663: 3 Op-17, HL, of February 1, 1917.

1.  The Board is of the opinion that the development of the aeronautical resources of the United States and their application in war to the maximum national advantage, can be accomplished best through the formulation of plans and regulations for the joint development, organization, and operation of the aeronautical services of the Army and the Navy, instead of by the separate development of each service within the limited exact areas of responsibility.1

2. While the operations of the aeronautical service of the Navy will be principally over the water, and those of the Army principally over the land, it may be said that a war with a first class power will find the two services constantly operating together. The coast line and the water areas adjacent thereto will become a theater of joint operations in which the naval aeronautical service will take precedence prior to the accomplishment of an invasion, and subsequently the Army aeronautical service will take precedence if the hostile landing be accomplished, but in either case each service will be supplemented and supported by the other.

3. For the above reasons the Board believes that pilots and observers for both services should be trained together, so that each service may effectively supplement the other in time of need; that joint training stations should be located on or near the coast; and that in the selection of sites for the establishment of the permanent coast stations, careful consideration should be given to their suitability for joint occupancy.

4. While there is an ample field for each service to proceed along its own line in the development of the types of aircraft best suited to meet its particular needs, the Board believes that the types adopted by the Army and Navy should be as nearly alike as may be consistent with the particular service required of each; that the motive machinery and control should be standardized; and that in this development there should be had the mutual interchange of ideas and joint cooperation that now obtain in the design and construction of the first Zeppelin.2 The Board believes, also, that if either service should establish a plant for the construction of aeronautical machines or accessories, the other service should be privileged to use it under such control as may be deemed necessary by the service constructing the plant.

5. It is believed to be neither practicable nor desirable to specify the exact line at which the operations of either service should begin or end, although such a line, if drawn, would coincide approximately with the coast lines of continental United States and of each of the oversea possessions; the Army operating over the land, the Navy over the sea, but each extending its operations locally into the other’s area as occasion requires. Keeping in mind, however, that the two services will be called upon in many cases to act conjointly, their responsibilities and spheres of action may be defined in general as follows:

Army Responsibility:-

        (a) Aircraft operating in conjunction with the mobile army.

        (b) Aircraft required for fire control for coast defenses.

(c) Aircraft required for the defense of fortifications, navy yards, arsenals, cities, shipbuilding plants, powder works, or other similar important utilities, whether public or private, that are located on shore.

Navy Responsibility:

(a) Aircraft operating in conjunction with the fleets.

(b) Aircraft operating from shore bases for oversea scouting.

(c) Aircraft operating under the commandants of naval districts and advanced bases.

6. In general it may be said that it is primarily the duty of the Army to defend harbors, cities, and all manufacturing or other utilities that are located on shore, and that it should be charged with the organization of the aircraft service for this purpose; and that the operations of the naval aeronautical service will be principally over the sea, although it will require bases on shore, probably under the commandants of naval districts. It should be the duty, however, of the army and naval commandants in coastal districts to familiarize themselves with the plans of each other, with a view to effective cooperation, both on land and on sea.

7. Replying more specifically to the several questions set forth in the letter of the Secretary of the Navy, and indented below, the Board is of the opinion:-

  (a) The respective areas of responsibility of the Navy Department and War Department in defense against air attacks of shore stations in general and naval shore stations in particular.

The general defense of these stations should be entrusted to the Army. The necessity and character of this general defense will differ in no essential respects from those required for the defense of any other important utility, whether public or private. The local defense, in so far as it includes anti-aircraft guns, should be entrusted to the local commander.

(b) To what extent the general defense renders local defense against air attack unnecessary.

    The more complete the general defense, the more secure will be the individual station or other similar utility. In general, however, such local defense should be confined to the provision of anti-aircraft guns. Aircraft, because of their mobility, should not in general be distributed and mobilized by assignment to the local defense of a particular utility.

(c) The methods of cooperation to be adopted by the Army and Navy in the development of general and local plans for this branch of defense, and for the exchange of ideas and reports on training of personnel and development of material for this purpose.

    Since this question refers exclusively to operations on shore, Army plans should take precedence, and naval plans should simply supplement Army plans when necessary for the defense of naval utilities. The local commanders should exchange data and plans. The Naval commanders should adjust their local plans to the general plan of the Army commanders for local defense.

(d) The advisability of standardizing material used by the Army and Navy respectively for defense against aircraft.

    The types of aircraft monitors, machinery, radio sets, bombs, and other accessories should be standardized to the greatest extent compatible with the particular service that will be required of them. Standardization of guns and ammunition for defense against aircraft is desirable, but homogeneity of guns and ammunition within each service is of more importance than homogeneity of guns and ammunition used by the Army and Navy in defense against aircraft onshore.

(e) The mission of Army aircraft operating over the sea. 

For the service of security and information for the territorial commander, and for fire control purposes for the local Coast artillery commanders, and for affording aid and assistance to both the Army and the Navy in scouting and offensive measures when operations of the enemy are in the immediate the sanity of the coast.

(f) What is the mission of Navy aircraft operating from shore stations?

    To scout for report movements of enemy forces at sea; to attack enemy forces at sea: and to assist the Army when operations of the enemy are in the immediate vicinity of the coast.

(g) Rules for the cooperation of Army and Navy aircraft when their missions overlap when the situation requires cooperation either in offense or defense.

     (1) When it appears that any local commander, either Army or Navy, that the assistance of local aircraft of the other service is needed, he should communicate in the most direct manner possible with the local commander of the other service, and the two commanders should arrange for action by the local aircraft so as best to advance the general situation the armed forces of the United States.

    (2) Both commanders should accept as the basis of their decision in all matters, the general military situation rather than the special situation of either the Army or Navy.

    (3) In cooperation in the performance of duties assigned to the Army, the Army should control the flights.

    (4) In cooperation in the performance of duties assigned to the Navy, the Navy should control the flights.

 (h) The respective areas of responsibility of the Army and of the Navy in defense against land attacks on shore stations in general and naval shore stations in particular.

    The defense of all stations on shore against land attack should rest with the Army, except that measures taken within the limits of a naval station for the security of that station should be controlled by the Navy.

(i) The methods of cooperation of local Army and Navy commanders:

(1) In joint plan making.

(2) In joint formulation and solution of problems.

(3) In local maneuvers.

(4) In operations.


    (1) A permanent joint planning committee should be organized within the geographical limits of each naval district, which committees should propose and solve comprehensive problems of local defensive requiring cooperation of the military and naval forces within such limits.

    (2) All problems in cooperation that may arise from time to time should be submitted to this joint planning committee. The joint planning committee should be governed by the joint plans for war. The members of the committee should consult on all questions with their commanding officers in order that the views of responsible officers shall receive expression in the preliminary plans. Local plans formulated by the joint committee should be revised as necessary and adopted by the senior local commanders of the two services.

    (3) Joint plans for local maneuvers which will simulate actual war conditions, and which will involve the cooperation of the two services, should be frequently planned and carried into execution.

    (4) The joint plans prepared as above, and perfected as a result of the experience gained in maneuvers, should form a basis for joint operations in war.

    8. In order to insure effective cooperation in the development and standardization of material, the board recommends:

(a) That the Army and Navy cooperate under the Navy Department in the development of types of hydroaeroplanes after the manner already prescribed for the construction of the first Zeppelin.

(b) That, similarly, the Army and Navy cooperate under the War Department in the development of types of land aeroplanes.


(SGD) George O. Squier          (SGD) GEO. R. MARVELL

Brig. Gen., Chief Sig.Officer,U.S.A.     Captain, U.S. Navy

    (SGD) HUGH RODMAN              (SGD) Stanley D. Embick

  Captain, U.S. Navy.                    Major C.A.C.

      (SGD) J.S. McKEAN5           (SGD) DAN A.MOORE

  Captain, U.S. Navy.                    Major, Gen. Staff.


APPROVED.                        APPROVED.

   (SGD) Josephus Daniels            (SGD) Newton D. Baker

Secretary of the Navy.           Secretary of War.

Source Note: CyS, DNA, RG 225, M1421. At top center of the first page: “(COPY).”

Footnote 1: This board was created to consider methods of organizing a lighter-than-air service. While the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William S. Benson referred to them as the “Joint Board, Army and Navy, re Division of Aeronautic Cognizance,” their formal designation was the Joint Army and Navy Board, Aeronautic Cognizance Division. This group was different from the already-existing Joint Army and Navy Board, which focused on questions of grand strategy. The new board quickly decided that the lighter-than-air (dirigible) question could be better handled by men who understood it. The Cognizance Board then addressed other issues, including which service, Army or Navy, should be responsible for various kinds of air missions and where the lines of demarcation should be. This report is the first product of their deliberations. On 24 June 1919, it was re-designated the Joint Army and Navy Board on Aeronautics and from December 1919, until it disbanded in 1948, was known as the Aeronautical Board. Turnbull & Lord, Naval Aviation: 75-76.

Footnote 2: The first take-off of a lighter-than-air craft was on 2 July 1900. It was designed by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. Lutz Tittel, Graf Zeppelin−His Life and Work, trans. by Peter A. Schmidt (Friedrichshafen, Ger.: Zeppelin Museum, 1995), 270.

Footnote 3: Capt. Josiah S. McKean.

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