By Michael Ritz, Air University Public Affairs
/ Published November 03, 2020
In this historical image, officers take part in a map reading exercise in the 1930s at the Air Corps Tactical School, Maxwell Field, Alabama. The school moved from Langley Field, Virginia, to Maxwell Field in 1931. With its first class starting on Nov. 1, 1920, at Langley Field, it was first called the Air Service Field Officers School then Air Service Tactical School before being renamed Air Corps Tactical School in 1926, five years before its move to Maxwell. (Courtesy photo)
One hundred years ago, on Nov. 1, 1920, the United States Army Air Service opened a highly unique educational institution that has served as a model for virtually all the follow-on educational units and institutes in the United States Air and Space Forces.
On Oct. 31, 2020, Air Command and Staff College military leaders, students and faculty celebrated Air Corps Tactical School’s centennial with cake and good cheers in remembering those who went before in carrying the torch of air power.
The founding unit was named the Air Service Field Officers School, based at Langley Field, Virginia. The education it initially provided included tactical and practical aviation instruction, as well as operational, strategic and theoretical analysis of air power.
According to Dr. John Terino, ACSC associate dean for strategy and policy, “From this humble beginning with eight students grew the institution that was later known as the Air Corps Tactical School in 1926. Five years later, the ‘TAC School,’ as it was called, moved here to Maxwell Field, Alabama, and became the forerunner of Air University.”
The school was housed in Austin Hall, what is now the Air University headquarters’ building.
ACTS’ primary purpose was to prepare officers for field service. The school also developed early doctrine and a host of concepts for the application of future air power and aerial warfare.
“At Maxwell, in the 1930s, the TAC School reached the height of its influence by developing the Industrial Web Theory of strategic bombing, sponsoring one of the first Air Corps aerial demonstration teams, testing tactical concepts for pursuit and attack aviation and founding the fraternal and professional order of military pilots, the Daedalians,” he said.
ACTS was committed to advancing new thoughts and ideas for moving forward and understanding warfare in a new domain. Air Command and Staff College and Air University have demonstrated how they carry the movement forward into the future. The development of the first Department of Space Power at ACSC is a prime example of that forward thinking.
“Today, ACSC, an heir to the ACTS tradition, is directly involved in developing war plans for a command in the Middle East, pushing the development of innovative command and control concepts, advancing the study of nuclear deterrence through the SANDS program and developing the future leaders of the Space Force through the Schriever Space Scholars program,” said Col. Heather McGee, ACSC vice commandant.