Airpower Pioneers: From Billy Mitchell to Dave Deptula

Edited by John Andreas Olsen

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“Olsen has produced a timely and well-researched compendium of short biographies of the airpower pioneers who made the most significant contributions to the development of airpower in the United States. I recommend this book be part of any serious professional reading list for airmen and other military professionals.”

—Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, 1994–1997

All air forces need visionaries whose reach exceeds their grasp, who are determined to adapt to new security and defense realities rather than adhere to romanticized ideas of yesteryear, and whose organizational skills ensure successful implementation of new ideas despite inevitable resistance to change.

Airpower Pioneers studies twelve especially influential airmen, detailing their impact on the evolution of the United States Air Force (USAF). Rather than focus on command in a series of air campaigns, this book describes the personal qualities and careers of people who distinguished themselves first and foremost by advancing airpower theory, doctrine, and strategy, and in certain cases by implementing significant organizational changes in the USAF structure. Some held important positions during wartime, but other than a few who excelled in both combat and peace, those selected for inclusion in this volume made their main contributions to advancing aerospace power away from the front line as planners, organizers, educators, and strategists.

Edited by John Andreas Olsen

John Andreas Olsen is a colonel in the Royal Norwegian Air Force assigned to NATO headquarters. He is a professor at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies, a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences. He has published a series of books on airpower, NATO, and defense policy.


List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations


Airpower Profiles
John Andreas Olsen

1. Brigadier General William “Billy” Mitchell Visionary Firebrand
Richard P. Hallion

2. General of the Air Force Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold Airpower Architect
Dik Alan Daso

3. Major General Haywood S. “Possum” Hansell Jr. Planner, Commander, and Historian
Richard R. Muller

4. General Hoyt S. Vandenberg Building the Air Force
Phillip S. Meilinger

5. General Curtis E. LeMay Operator, Organizer, and Commander
Paul J. Springer

6. General Bernard A. Schriever Guiding the Air Force to New Frontiers
Karl P. Mueller

7. Lieutenant General Glenn A. Kent Analyst Who Put Rubber on the Ramp
David A. Ochmanek

8. General David C. Jones Modernizer and Reformer
Brian D. Laslie

9. General Wilbur L. Creech Transforming the Combat Air Forces
Benjamin S. Lambeth

10. Colonel John A. Warden Strategist, Innovator, and Educator
John Andreas Olsen

11. General Merrill A. McPeak Reorganizing the Air Force
Heather P. Venable

12 Lieutenant General David A. Deptula Airpower Advocate and Visionary
Christopher J. Bowie

The Importance of Vision
John Andreas Olsen
About the Contributors



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