If power in Washington is often thought of as a zero-sum game, success is best achieved by creating "win-win" propositions. The Secretary of the Air Force, placed at the nexus of several power centers and responsible for fashioning a consensus, reports to the Secretary of Defense, deals with various deputy secretaries as peers, and interacts with the Air Force Chief of Staff, who supervises the service. The Secretary has real but circumscribed influence, yet must, to be effective, move individuals and agencies, with little more than limited or indirect authority over them.This work traces the history of the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force from its formation in the 1920s (as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War for Air) through World War II, under Robert A. Lovett. It concentrates on the period from 1947, when the Air Force became independent of the Army, to 1965, when the United States became involved in the Vietnam War. During this time several laws significantly reshaped the U. S. military establishment: the National Security Act of 1947, its amendments of 1949, Reorganization Plan No 6 of 1953, and the Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1958. These laws gradually strengthened the Department of Defense and firmly established civilian control over the military services.Author George Watson details how these laws affected the functioning of the first seven Secretaries of the Air Force, from W. Stuart Symington to Eugene M. Zuckert. The Air Force and its Secretaries struggled over autonomy, roles, and missions; fought the Korean War and the Cold War; procured advanced aircraft, missiles, and other weapons; and wrestled with many issues involving budgets, force size and structure, racial integration, morale, and congressional and public relations.The Secretaries of the Air Force have each brought unique leadership styles to office.
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