World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Interservice rivalry

Article Id: WHEBN0005048934
Reproduction Date:

Title: Interservice rivalry  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Army–Navy Game, Panzerjäger, Wing (military aviation unit), Commodore (United States), Devil to the Belt
Collection: Military Branches, Rivalry
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Interservice rivalry

US Naval Academy midshipmen taunt US Military Academy cadets before the 2008 Army-Navy college football game

Interservice rivalry is rivalry between different branches of a country's armed forces, in other words competition for limited resources among a nation's land forces (army), naval, and air forces.[1] The term also applies to the rivalries between a country’s intelligence services (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.[2]


  • Overview 1
  • Cases 2
    • United States 2.1
    • Japan 2.2
    • Germany 2.3
    • United Kingdom 2.4
    • Pakistan 2.5
    • India 2.6
    • Special forces 2.7
  • See also 3
  • References 4


Interservice rivalries occur at all levels of the military, from the vying for key posts such as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the United States, Chief of the Defence Staff in the United Kingdom, or Jefe del Estado Mayor de la Defensa in Spain.

Interservice rivalry can occur over such topics as the appropriation of the military budget, prestige or the possession of certain types of weapons.[1] 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. Another case was the dispute between the Indian Army and Indian Air Force erupted when these two branches fought over the ownership of AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters in 2012.[3]

Such rivalries are often seen as negative influences on the effectiveness of a country's armed forces. However, they also serve as a balancing factor, introducing some of the desirable effects of competition to an otherwise traditionally very closed and centralized institution.


United States

The U.S. Department of Defense was originally created to provide overall coordination for the various branches of the U.S. armed services, whose infighting 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:[4]

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.[4]

In some ways rivalries can encourage positive outcomes, such as improving the esprit de corps of a given branch of the military.

Marines and sailors compete in a Strong-Man Competition

Various mechanisms are used to manage or curb interservice rivalries. In the United States military, 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 General of the Army Omar Bradley, and Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson sought to strip the Navy of funds on its first Supercarrier, the United States, and to integrate the Marine Corps into the Army. The aftermath caused Congress to review and prevent the implementation of the Army and the secretary of defense's ideas, by continuing to fund the Navy's supercarrier and including a mandate protecting the Marine Corps in the National Security Act of 1947.

The case of the USMC is unique to the United States since it has always been a fully independent military service, although it is part of the Department of the Navy, compared to other marines of the world. The USMC is also unique in being the only military force in the world to be a combined arms force, as opposed to marines of European countries, that tend to have only a dedicated commando role, such as Pak Marines, the Indonesian Marine Corps, British or Dutch Royal Marines and all are subordinate to their respective Navies being commanded by a two-star general.


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 Meiji period, came with geo-political 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, namely 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 Indonesia, 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 Zaibatsus, 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 paratroop forces.

Other examples of this rivalry include, it is said, the Japanese Navy taking several weeks to inform the Army of the disastrous results of the Battle of Midway.

In his 1991 statement Shōwa Tennō dokuhakuroku (昭和天皇独白録), Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito) made a connection between the Army-Navy rivalry and the defeat of Japan.


In Nazi Germany there was constant rivalry between the Wehrmacht (the combined services of the Third Reich) and the Waffen-SS since they were often in parallel order of battle situations, particularly with regard to armored divisions. In part fueled by his own political differences with the Heer, Hermann Göring created the Luftwaffe Field Division a third parallel ground-fighting force under the command of the Luftwaffe. The German Fallschirmjaeger (parachutists) were also part of the Luftwaffe (Air Force) for most of the Second World War until they were finally subordinated to the Heer at the end of 1944. The Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine were also at odds over various issues throughout the war years, with such issues as the format for the Bordfliegergruppe air units that were to be based aboard the embryonic force of German aircraft carriers, with the never-finished twin carriers whose hulls had been laid down before the start of World War II.

Adolf Hitler actively encouraged interservice rivalries within Nazi Germany, due to a belief in a "survival of the fittest" principle that competition would result in weeding out the weaker elements. Generally this proved to be a disaster: with no clear chains of responsibility, contradicting orders were often given, and the different services were at odds when fast coordinated action was vital.

United Kingdom

A case in point is the rivalry between the Parachute Regiment and the Royal Marines, which are part of the Army and the Royal Navy, respectively, in the U.K. Since some of their capabilities overlap, pressure can be put on the political or civilian decision makers to choose one or the other.

Another form of rivalry within the United Kingdom is with certain forces of the Cadets, often being between other forces and the Sea Cadet Corps, as the SCC is generally viewed as being inferior to the ATC or the ACF. Other examples may be the Army Cadets and the ATC, the ATC and SCC against the ACF or the ACF and the CCF.


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 Heavy Cruiser PNS Babar. 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.


Infighting between the Indian Army and Indian Air Force (IAF) over armed helicopters has existed for a decade; this came to light during the Kargil War in 1999.[3]

In response to the request for Army-owned attack helicopters from General Bikram Singh, Chief of Army Staff, the Indian government made an agreement about the transfer of IAF AH-64D Apache Longbows to the Army in 2012. The IAF, however, acted stiff resistance against the decision, and insisted that all attack and medium-lift helicopters be under its control.

In 2013, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, who faced against the Army for the helicopter issue, said that the AH-4Ds would be kept in the Air Force.[5]

Special forces

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.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Interservice rivalry". The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military. Oxford Reference Online. Berkley Books. 2001. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  2. ^ National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (2006). 9/11 Commission Report. Barnes & Noble Publishing. p. 310.  
  3. ^ a b IAF, not Army, will get Apache attack helicopters: Govt - Times Of India
  4. ^ a b Davies, Steve (2012). Red Eagles: America's Secret Migs. Osprey Publishing. p. 205.  
  5. ^ Army Chief contests IAF’s claims over Apache helicopters Inter Services Rivalry
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.