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Interservice rivalry is the rivalry between different branches of a country's armed forces, in other words the competition for limited resources among a nation's land, naval, coastal, air, and space forces. The term also applies to the rivalries between a country’s intelligence services and law enforcement agencies (e.g. CIA and FBI in the United States), or between the police and fire services of a city, such as the NYPD and FDNY.
Interservice rivalry can occur over such topics as the appropriation of the military budget, prestige or the possession of certain types of equipment. The latter case can arise, for example, when the navy operates an aircraft carrier, which may be viewed by the air force as an infringement of its traditional responsibilities.
Many military analysts consider the Wehrmacht, Nazi Germany's armed forces, pioneers of "jointness" (integrierter Kriegführung, in German). They point out that Blitzkrieg, the war-fighting style that brought the Wehrmacht stunning victories between 1939 and 1941, depended upon the close integration of ground and air (and sometimes naval) forces and that even after the Blitzkrieg campaigns gave way to a drawn-out war of attrition, the Wehrmacht routinely conducted operations in a way that would today be called "joint". That is, elements of two or more services participated in close cooperation with mutually agreed goals, relatively little inter-service rivalry, and a command structure that, at least at the "sharp end" of operations, promoted, rather than inhibited, a spirit of jointness. Consequently, the analysts assert, the Wehrmacht enhanced its capabilities and improved its combat effectiveness.
Adolf Hitler certainly understood the value of integrating his land, sea and air forces and placing them under a unified command, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (first under Field Marshal Werner von Blomberg's command; later his own). He also saw the benefit of placing them under operational commanders who possessed at least a rudimentary understanding of the tactics, techniques, needs, capabilities and limitations of each of the services functioning in their combat zone. Hitler was thus innovative and several years ahead of his peers in the democracies, Italy and the Soviet Union. Yet, largely because of Hitler's unusual and autocratic command style and difficulties with delegation, the Wehrmacht lacked elements that today's theorists consider essential to the attainment of truly productive jointness (a single joint commander or Joint Chief of Staff, a proper joint staff, a joint planning process, and an absence of inter-service rivalry) and that, as a result, it often suffered needless difficulties in combat.
The rivalries shaped between security organizations in Iran are as follows:
- Persian Cossack Brigade and Gendarmerie (1912–1921)
- Second Bureau of Imperial Iranian Army, SAVAK and Shahrbani (1957–1979)
- Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Islamic Revolutionary Committees and Shahrbani (1979–1991)
- Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Basij (1979–1981)
- Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Islamic Republic of Iran Army (1979–present)
- Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence (Intensified since 2009)
The long-term discord between the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy was one of the most notorious examples of inter-service rivalry. The situation, with its origin traced back to the Meiji period, came with both geo-political and military consequences leading to Japan's involvement in World War II. The IJA/IJN rivalry expressed itself in the early 1930s as the "strike north" (Hokushin-ron) and "strike south" (Nanshin-ron) factions. The goal of both factions was to seize territories which possessed the raw materials, especially petroleum, which Japan needed to sustain its growth and economy, but which it did not possess itself. The strike north faction advocated the taking of the natural resources of Siberia, by way of Manchuria, a scenario in which the prime role would be taken by the Army, the strike south faction advocated the taking of the oil-rich Dutch East Indies, a scenario in which the Navy would predominate.
In order to further their own faction, relatively junior officers resorted to the assassinations of members of the rival faction and their supporters in government. With both factions being opposed to the peace faction, this period has become known as the era of government by assassination. Insubordination by the Kwantung Army led first to the occupation of Manchuria, and later the Second Sino-Japanese War following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. However, at the Battles of Khalkhin Gol, any farther expansion northwards into Siberia was shown to be impossible given the Soviet superiority in numbers and armour.
With the loss of Army prestige that followed the failure of the Soviet–Japanese border conflicts, the Navy faction gained the ascendency, supported by a number of the powerful industrial zaibatsu, that were convinced that their interests would be best served fulfilling the needs of the Navy, and this paved the way to the Pacific War.
The IJA and IJN rivalry also saw both services developing air arms, the Army creating its own amphibious infantry units and running ships and submarines, including submarine chasers and aircraft carriers, the Navy meanwhile would create its own infantry and marine paratroopers.
Other examples of this rivalry include the Japanese Navy taking several weeks to inform the Army of the disastrous results of the Battle of Midway.
The Pakistani Armed Forces used to fight over a number of issues. One in particular was predominantly between the Navy and the Army over budget distribution. A key point of friction was the induction of the cruiser PNS Babur. This was resolved, however, when Pakistani think tanks realized the need for interservice harmony and established the Joint Services Headquarters. This unified headquarters has almost eliminated the friction between the services.
The U.S. Department of Defense was originally created to provide overall coordination for the various branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, whose infighting, particularly between the Army and Navy, was seen as detrimental to military effectiveness during World War II.
The rivalries are also based on services' individual philosophies for rules and behavior. An author wrote in 2012 about the differing cultures of the United States Navy and United States Air Force's pilots:
There was some truth in the old saying that the Air Force had a book for all the things you were allowed to do in the air, and anything not specifically written down was prohibited; whereas the Navy's rule book contained all the things you were not allowed to do, and anything not written down was perfectly legal.
Various mechanisms are used to manage or curb interservice rivalries. In the United States Armed Forces, for example, an officer must complete at least one joint tour in another service to reach the level of Flag or General Officer. Such officers may be described as "wearing purple," a reference to the Army's green, the Marines' navy blue, the Air Force's blue, the Navy's white, and the Coast Guard's blue uniforms.
One well-known encounter, the Revolt of the Admirals, took place after the end of World War II. The newly-created United States Air Force sought to create a doctrine which relied heavily on strategic long-range bombing and the Army a large number of reservist troops. Both the Air Force and the Army claimed that the future of warfare depended on the issue of nuclear deterrent, and as such the use of naval gunfire support, as well as the amphibious assault doctrine of the U.S. Marine Corps, was outdated and would never be used again. The Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson proceeded to strip the Navy of funds on its first supercarrier, the United States. This cancellation caused multiple high ranking Navy personnel to resign. The aftermath backfired against the Navy, and caused Congress to review, and after investigation enabled the implementation of the creation of a Strategic Air Force supporting a nuclear mission.
Previously, during the presidencies of Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff position rotated between armed forces service branches. However, in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy appointed General Maxwell Taylor to replace the incumbent, General Lyman Lemnitzer who had been the Chairman since 1960, the rotation between the Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Army was broken as both Taylor and Lemnitzer served in the Army. When General Earle Wheeler was appointed as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, it resulted in Army generals holding the Chairman position for three consecutive terms, from 1960 to 1970. Army generals again served as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman for three consecutive terms from 1989 to 2001, when President George H.W. Bush appointed Army general Colin Powell as Chairman in 1989, and when Powell retired in 1993 he was replaced by another Army general, John Shalikashvili, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton, and when Shalikashvili retired in 1997 he was again replaced by an Army general, Hugh Shelton, until finally, when Shelton retired in 2001, he was replaced by non-army officer, Air Force general Richard B. Myers, who succeeded Shelton as Chairman in October, 2001.
In December 2018 with the incumbent Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford schedule to retire in the following year 2019, Secretary of Defense James Mattis recommended President Donald Trump to pick the incumbent United States Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein to be Dunford's successor as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which Dunford himself also agreed with Mattis choice as his successor, especially due to the 13 years hiatus of Air Force General from the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff position since General Richard B. Myers retired back in 2005. However due to the recent conflict that occurred between Trump and Dunford and Mattis, instead of picking what was recommended by Mattis and Dunford, Trump pick Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley to be Dunford's successor as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman. The nomination sparked a controversy due to previous Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman before Dunford, General Martin Dempsey was from the Army and if Goldfein had been selected, he would have been the Air Force's first chairman since 2005. Many believed that Trump picked Milley due to both Milley and Trump has formed a close and personal friendship since early the beginning of Trump Presidency. By the time Milley assumed the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman position in October 2019, exactly half of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman—10 out of 20—has been filled by Army generals.
The United States Unified Combatant Command was also dominated by Army officers. One Combatant Command, Indo-Pacific Command (previously known as Pacific Command) throughout history was led by Navy officers and has never been led by officers other than Navy, while literally any qualified officer in the U.S. Armed Forces can be appointed as commander of Indo-Pacific Command. There has been an attempt to place other than Navy officers to lead the Indo-Pacific Command, but the attempt eventually failed. Air Force officers rarely get the position as combatant command commanders and other important specific commands.
Interservice rivalries are often played out at divisional or regimental level or between special forces that are part of different services. The rivalry between special-forces units led to the creation of United Kingdom Special Forces in the United Kingdom, and SOCOM in the United States to put them all under a unified command, putting an end to the "rice-bowl" doctrine which created absurd situations in Iran, Grenada and Panama in the 1980s. In the United Kingdom it has put an end to members of the Special Boat Service being recruited solely from the Royal Marines, and it is now a tri-service branch.
- Army–Navy Game
- National Security Act of 1947
- Goldwater-Nichols Act
- Revolt of the Admirals
- Joint warfare
- Essence of Decision
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