A US General Accounting Office (GAO) study of Task Force Hawk's performance during Operation Allied Force in 1999 reveals shortcomings in the extent to which the US Army and the US Air Force were able to operate together as a joint force.

Twenty-four Boeing AH-64A Apache attack helicopters, 31 support helicopters, a Multiple Launch Rocket System battalion and ground troops were deployed to Albania to conduct deep attacks against Yugoslav forces in Kosovo.

The attack helicopters, however, were not used because the Apache pilots were undertrained and ill-equipped to go to war. The GAO says: "The army and air force experienced significant problems in their ability to work together and in the interoperability of the command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence equipment used during the operation."

The GAO report says the USAF had difficulty in integrating the attack helicopters into the air tasking order (ATO). There were no formalised procedures for how to include army aviation into the battle planning system. The US Army and USAF are developing joint procedures for integrating the US Army into the joint ATO.

The attack helicopters were used to locate targets for USAF tactical aircraft, but US Army analysts had little or no training in joint targeting operations. Initially, criteria required by the USAF for attacking mobile targets were not reached. As the operation progressed, the two services worked better together. They are now refining the joint process that is used.

The report also says the army requires a self-contained lethal and non-lethal suppression of enemy air defences capability.

Source: Flight International