According to Forrestal, the joint team leaders reached a fundamental agreement that the Navy (including the United States Marine Corps) would maintain a separate naval aviation force, including 65,000-ton “super-carriers” and nuclear bombs that could be carried on Navy aircraft, provided the Navy did not develop separate strategic aviation. The Air Force recognized the right and necessity for the Navy to participate in an air campaign of all stripes and to strike enemy targets inside the country, for example, airfields from which enemy aircraft could be launched to attack a fleet. The formal agreements of the Joint Chiefs of Personnel were subsequently approved by President Truman on 21 April 1948 and published under the title “Functions of the Armed Forces and Joint Chiefs of Staff”.  The Minister of Defence, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, passed by on Saturday and I had the privilege of asking him a few questions. As for the Key West deal, Rumsfeld said the Pentagon people don`t operate under “obsolete deals.” The first consequence has been that, since then, the army has been complaining about not getting the quality of tactical air assistance it should. The Air Force, they complain, is full of so-called combat jocks that spend all their time and money on sexy new fighters to shoot down enemy planes, and less attentive to the relatively less romantic mission of dropping bombs on villains on the ground. The Key West Agreement is the colloquial name for the Policy Document Functions of the Armed Forces and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, written by James V. Forrestal, the first United States Secretary of Defense. Its most important feature was a project to share the air force between the army, navy and newly created air force, which, with modifications, still forms the basis for sharing these assets in the US army today.
For decades, that`s how it works: the Air Force pilots air support aircraft, and the army pilots air support helicopters. But during this decade, evidence is mounting that helicopter day on the modern battlefield could be over. During the invasion of Iraq, for example, the army`s 11th Combat Helicopter Regiment attempted to attack the Republican Guard`s Medina Division just to be repelled by the high volume of ground fire they encountered – a defeat that led to a revision of the army`s doctrine of using Chopper en masse to attack deep behind enemy lines. Similarly, during their invasion of Beirut this summer, the Israelis had serious difficulties in using helicopters. In exchange, President Truman revoked Executive Order 9877, in which he imposed the primary functions and responsibilities of the armed forces, and Minister Forrestal issued the “functional document” in his place on April 21. The document, known as the “Key West Agreement,” reaffirmed primary service obligations and provided secondary or “secure” missions.  A memorandum formally indicating these agreements was sent to the Minister of Defence by the joint chiefs of staff on 29 April 1948. . . .