William "Billy" MitchellEdit
-Son of an influential congressman from Wisconsin - learned from his father how the 'political system' works
- First CFACC - Commander of 1,000+ aircraft at the St Mihiel Offensive during WWI
-Conducted offshore bombing tests to demonstrate that aircraft could fill the coastal defesne role - most famous was the sinking of the Ostfriesland
-His crusade to prove that the navy was mis-using airpower got him courtmartialed - nail in the coffin was his critique of the Navy's handling of the Shenandoah airship crash
-Contender for father/husband of the year - shot his wife at close range with a pistol - fortunately she lived
Airmindedness / The Air Going Nation
ix the future of our nation is indissolubly bound up in the development of airpower. Not only will it insure peace and contentment throughout the nation . . . it can be used in time of peace for some useful purpose.
x Air power in the future will be a determining factor in international competitions, both military and civil. American characteristics and temperament are particularly suited to its development
3 The world stands on the threshold of an aeronautical era. During this epoch the destinies of all people will be controlled through the air.
6 We have an entirely new class of people that we may call "air going people"
24 Not every nation is capable of developing an efficient air force. To creat one two things are necessary. First, a strong national morale. . . The second important element is the industrial condition of the country and its supply of raw materials.
122-3 A striking thing about air power is that in time of peace military air power may be employed for useful purpose . . . No other military formations which the countries possess have such an economic application.
198 Constant development and experimentation must go on to keep up with the nations most rapidly gaining in the art and science of flying.
Air Power in General
xii Air power may be defined as the ability to do something in the air
6 A new set of rules for the conduct of war will have to be devised and a whole new set of ideas of strategy
9 How can a hostile air force be forced to fight? By finding a location of such importance to the enemy that he must defend it against a bombardment attack by airplanes
14 What will this new element in warfare result in? Unquestionable the amelioration and bettering of conditions in war because it will bring quick and lasting results. It will require much less expense as compared with that compared of the great naval and land armies
16 Aircraft will attack centers of production of all kinds, means of transportation, agricultural areas, ports and shipping; not so much the people themselves. They will destroy the means of making war.
20 In the development of airpower one has to look ahead and not backward and figure out what is going to happen, not too much what has happened. That is why the other services have been psychologically unfit to develop this new arm.
113 As important as anything else is the placing of one man in charge of aviation who can be held directly responsible for the aeronautical development of the whole country, and next an air representative on councils of national defense, who has coequal power with that of the representatives of the Army and the Navy.
122 Air power holds out the hope to the nations that, in the future, air battles taking place miles away from the frontiers will be so decisive and of such far reaching effect that the nation losing them will be willing to capitulate without resorting to a further contest on land or water on account of the degree of destruction which would be sustained by the country subjected to unrestricted air attack.
126-7 To gain a lasting victory in war, the hostile nation's power to make war must be destroyed . . . not only must these things be rendered incapable of supplying armed forces but the people's desire to renew the combat at a later date must be discouraged.
131 As physical means are employed by nations to impress their will on an adversary only when other means of adjusting a dispute have failed, air power will be called on as the first punitive element.
140 It was definitely established during the war as an absolute principle that if you did not have sufficient control of the air to be able to operate, your ground force could not carry on against the enemy who had supremacy of the air.
163-71 Three great branches of an air force. Pursuit aviation - designed to pursue hostile aircraft, catch them, force them to combat and destroy them; Bombardment aviation - destroy objects on the ground or water by hitting them with projectiles; Attack aviation - designed to act close to the ground
182 The principles of the use of aircraft, their characteristics and their strategical handling must be decided upon entirely according to the situation the country finds itself in.
Air Power in the Defense Role
9 No missile throwing weapons or any other devices yet created or thought of which can actually stop an air attack, so the only defense against aircraft are other aircraft which will contest the supremacy of the air by air battles . . . Once supremacy of the air has been established airplanes can fly over a hostile country at will
73 Thus ended the first great air and battleship test the world has ever seen. (bombing of the Ostfriesland) It conclusively proved the ability of aircraft to destroy ships of all classes on the surface of the water.
102 Only when complete dominion of the air is established can a war of invasion across the seas be prosecuted under present conditions. Air power, therefore, has to be employed as a major instrument of war, no matter whether a land or sea force is acting on the surface of the earth.
215 Air power, however, must be assigned a particular mission in its particular sphere of activity. This mission should be the responsibility for the complete air defense of the nation.
Civil and Commercial Aviation
77 Transportation is the essence of civilization. The more rapid the intercourse between people, the more highly what we call "civilization" will be developed.
78-9 air is common medium all over the world. . . positive gain in dollars and cents must be shown over the competing carriers on land and water
95-6 The substantial and continual development of air power should be based on a sound commercial aviation. America is in a better position than any other nation to develop commercial aeronautics than any other nation in the world.
98 Aviation is very different from armies and navies in its economic aspect. In time of peace the bulk of effort and thought of a nation in an aernautical way may be applied to civil and commercial development of aeronautics and this same effort and thought can be shifted at once to military purposes.
Mitchell's ideas fall into several of the traps of the early airpower theorists. He undersells the capability of ground based defesnes. His ideas about the self defending battle plan prove wrong during the CBO. He is also overally optimistic on the decisive effect air power will have on the next war (force capitulation, expedite victory, etc)
However, Mitchell has several unique ideas compared to the other air strategists that prove to be fairly prophetic. The importance of being air minded and developping an air going nation proves to be important in WWII and subsequently. The use of aircraft of defense of a nation is unique to Mitchell's work (Douhet and Trenchard discount it).
In sum while many of his ideas prove to be as short sighted and ungrounded as the other early air power theorists, his unique focus on airmindedness and commercial aircraft development have enduring value.