billy mitchell thesis paper

billy mitchell thesis paper - Bobby Sessoms PWAD 213...

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Bobby Sessoms PWAD 213 Caddell September 22, 2008 Billy Mitchell: Martyr for Air Power It is only fitting that General William “Billy” Mitchell would become enthralled with the possibilities of aviation. Mitchell learned to fly from Orville Wright himself. Mitchell developed a love for aviation and its possibilities as the chief of the US Air Service in France during WWI. Mitchell had no idea that his passion for aviation would lead to such turmoil. To many, General Mitchell is considered to have been the biggest advocate of the development American aviation. Oppositely there are some who feel that he was an obstacle to overcome in the advancement of American aviation. So which is it? Did Billy Mitchell do more to advance or hinder the development of aviation in the United States? His push for an air force independent of the Army, his realization that the airplane could and should be used an offensive weapon, in addition to his stress on the advancement of aviation in general is cause to see Billy Mitchell as one of the biggest advocates of aviation in America. As WWI progressed, Mitchell came to understand the sheer importance of air power and, therefore, encouraged that more emphasis be placed on this sector. He argued that if the air force continued to be an arm of the Army that its advancement would be severely restricted. The Army doctrine put much more emphasis on ground troops than the fledging American aviation sector, which most officers were still somewhat skeptical about. As a result, Mitchell’s number
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one priority as an air power advocate was to establish a unified, independent air service. He felt that WWI had proved that there were things that only an air force could do, and therefore, an entirely new strategy was required. As General Mitchell said, “‘The ultimate solution of the air defense of this country is a united air force’” (Levine 305). This air force should have its own head that is accountable only to a secretary of defense. “Detachments of such an air force could and should be sent to the aid of both Army and Navy” (Burlingame 110). The authoritative powers of the Armed Forces, however, had very different views on air power than did Mitchell.
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