Happenings in Washington

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by Charles A. Wolverton

Separate Air Force

Introduction by Senator McCarran of a bill to create an independent air force co-ordinate with the Army and Navy as arms of defense, has served to revive a long and bitter controversy dating back to the stirring days of General William Mitchell, former head of the Army Air Corps. The fact that many of General Mitchell’s theories regarding the Importance of air power in modern warfare proved to be prophetic has strengthened the determination of his supporters and others to make a vigorous fight in the present Congress for the “Stormy Petrel’s” pet proposal, an aerial striking force wholly apart from the traditional land and sea forces.

Proponents of a separate air arm reinforce long-standing arguments, based on the Mitchell school of thought, with what they earnestly contend is new and convincing evidence presented by developments in the European war. They point to successes scored by Germany’s, Luftwaffe and by Britain’s Royal Air Force to prove that wars of today and those of the future will be won or lost in the skies by air forces functioning independently of, but in close co-ordination with, mechanized troops on the ground and naval units at sea.

Indications are that the administration will oppose any drastic statutory change in the present Air Corps setup on the ground that it would throw n monkey wrench into the national defense machinery at a critical time. Certainly no harm can come, however, from an impartial, thoroughgoing restudy of air strategy, tactics and administration in the light of the emergence of air power as a vital factor in the new order of warfare prevailing today.

Threatened on Shortage

The United States government is studying steps to end a threat of all shortage on the eastern seaboard. Secretary Ickes stopped shipment of oil to Japan, and later a ban was placed on all exports from Atlantic ports. Orders were given also for the switching of a number of tankers from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico to strengthen oil transportation to the eastern States.

These measures should prove beneficial. Obviously there is no sense in shipping oil from the east to Japan or anywhere else at a time when an oil shortage in the east is threatened. But such measures alone will not solve the problem.

Strong speeches in Congress have scored the administration for letting a situation arise where any part of the country was threatened with a shortage of oil solely from a lack of transportation.

There is no shortage in the oil supply. There is an abundance for both domestic needs and the demands of the defense program. If a shortage should arise in the east, it will be due solely to lack of foresight in the adjustment or creation of transportation facilities. This lack should be remedied at once.

Daylight Saving

The effort to enact national daylight saving is gaining more and more attention in Congress.

Daylight saving time originally enacted as a World War economy measure, does indeed promote conservation, a fact taken into due account when this country approved a nationwide observance, During our participation in the war, fuel economy was essential, just as it is now becoming necessary again in behalf of the national defense program. In fuel alone, according to the estimates of the United States Fuel Administration, 1,250,000 tons of coal were saved in 1918 by pushing the clocks ahead.

Other benefits, proponents of daylight saving emphasize, have to do with electric power conservation; with the morale of the people; with gardening, important in Increasing food production: and with reducing the highway and industrial accident toll.

Adherents of daylight saving know they have a fight on their hands. They succeeded in 1917, that is true, but their victory was not noted for its longevity, for in 1919 Congress repealed daylight saving over the President’s veto, Since then the plan has been a local and State issue. It is, however, rapidly becoming a national issue again. The OPM has been requested to make a study of it and report its findings preliminary to any congressional action.

Popular Pilots

While not generally known, Fort Monmouth. New Jersey, is the headquarters of one of our most remarkable military aviation units. Some 3600 fliers are attached to it, all in one company, each a natural born aviator who flies instinctively. They have never had a minute’s instruction, yet have managed to solo early in the game and carry on without a crash ever since. They are the Signal Corps carrier pigeons. The Air Corps likes them because at a negligible cost any number of fledgling pilots may be hatched. Furthermore, they maintain their own power plant without the use of overhaul shops or ground mechanics.


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