Airpower Theoristwilliam Billy Mitchell 2538

Question

William “Billy” Mitchell is considered to be an aviation pioneer by many. He recognized the potential of air power as an essential part of national defense. His strong beliefs led him to a court-martial for insubordination in the 1920s. To most, Billy Mitchel was a hero. Without his dire warnings, the United States may never have been able to field the largest air force in the world in time to do battle in World War II. To others, however, he was an ambitious zealot and egoist, who ran over anyone who did not agree with is views on air power. He was the first one to loudly proclaim the need for air defenses that were strong.

William was born in Nice, France, on December 28th, 1879. He was the oldest of then children, and when he was three the family returned to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his family was from. Growing up, he spoke French as fluently as English, and he and his siblings also learned Spanish, German, and Italian.

Mitchell enlisted into the military in the Army in 1898 at the beginning of the Spanish-American war. He quickly became a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps of the United States Army and advanced to first lieutenant in 1901, then captain in 1904. He was eventually introduced to aeronautics and sought to be in a more active role. He left the General Staff in 1916 so he could direct army aviation until the commander was able to take charge. The outbreak of World War 1 and internal fighting gave new opportunities in aeronautics for officers like Mitchell. He got promoted to major and after the commander arrived, he took the position of deputy.

The army informed him that he was past the age he could fly, and he spent his own money and time learning at a flying school for civilians. He became an advocate of military air power, but did not have a good relationship with his commander. He chose to go to France to observe in 1917 and reached Paris four days after the U.S. had entered the war.

When in France, Mitchell unsuccessfully tried to take control of American aeronautical planning in Europe. He was not easily deterred, however, and became qualified as a pilot in the U.S. Army. He studied the use of aviation on the western front and kept learning as much as he could. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and named air offices of the American Expeditionary Force.

Germans launched their last big attack in July of 1918. Mitchel discovered the strength and direction of the offensive. He commanded the biggest concentration of aircraft in September, almost fifteen hundred warplanes. Victory was certain, and when the war ended shortly after, Mitchell was a decorated war hero and brigadier general. He was also the senior American air combat office. He enjoyed his popularity after gaining the attention of the press. He also had his cause, because at the end of World War I, he predicted that the next war would arrive in the air. Planes would strike at factories and cities, not just at armies. Now, the air was the first line of defense. Without air power to shield them, navies and armies would be

helpless.

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