Billy Mitchell’s Legacy

Examine the life and military biography of William “Billy” Mitchell (1879-1936). How did Mitchell’s professional military career and experiences inform his views on the possibilities of American air power?  What is his legacy to American air power?

They cyclic nature of history provides an interesting look at the theories and warnings espoused by Mitchell in the 1920’s and modern day indicators which suggest that the lessons learned almost a century ago remain unheeded stories from the past. Mitchell’s career in the Army was one of unprecedented upward movement within the ranks – at the age of 18, he was the youngest officer, later to be the youngest captain at the age of 24.[1] It was his appointment to the Army General Staff by the time he was 33 that showed that his rise in the ranks was not merely one of connection, but of sheer ability and talent.[2] It could be suggested that such a rapid rate of advancement proved to be his later undoing regarding a temperament which was charismatic, yet demanding and unapologetic.[3]

“Demanding and unapologetic” could also be viewed as “non-regulation.”  (Source: wikimedia commons) 

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What Advice Would NCOs Like to Give to Unseasoned Officers?

This question originally came from Quora and, like others, I took it and ran with it a bit more than I could… and probably still missed some valid points. 

Oh, these topics really make me smile with all sorts of great answers from folks too numerous and well-spoken to list with any brevity.

Speaking from an aviation standpoint, I can offer my own perspectives and will break them down to both Warrant and Commissioned Officers with further points for Aviation Branch (AV) and Medical Service Corps (MSC) folks.

In general:

Fly the bird. Simple enough in theory, but more difficult in practice. To effectively “fly the bird,” one has to have the confidence in their own abilities, the situational awareness of their environment, and the desired end result. Getting “behind the bird” is a bad thing – you will know it, you will try to compensate, and you will exacerbate the problem to the point where the cycle will only end in flames, smallish pieces, and a vignette on what not to do. Not only that, those with experience will know the moment you are on the wrong side of the “curve of correctedness” and they will be watching to see how you are managing.

No, they are NOT about to crash. Oahu, 1997 (Source: author.)

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“What Made You Smile Today?”

A series of texts at12:23am:

Psst, got some news… I made the E7 list.”

“…I cannot thank you enough for writing the letter for me. Words just seem empty compared to how I am filled with gratitude… you have always believed in me. That helps make someone go a long way.”

The source of the texts was one of the crew chiefs I progressed (trained) back when I was 34. At the time, she was ancient in comparison to her peers – if memory serves me correctly, she was in her late 30’s when most of the guys were in their early 20’s. In true “Southern Girl” fashion, she played that off wonderfully:

“‘Cougar’ mah ass! I’m a saber-toothed TIGER! All ya’ll little boys might need to start sleeping on yer stomachs around the half-way point in the deployment!” Continue reading ““What Made You Smile Today?””

The Crimean War, the American Civil War… Clausewitz, Jomini, and Mahan

I have considered revising some of my academic submissions into long-form posts here, but in the meantime (and consistent with my recent post), I am going to leave this as largely as it was saved – with the question or comments in italics.

Of course, feedback – especially on readability – will always be appreciated.

Looking at the campaigns in the Crimean War and the American Civil War, why do many modern military historians believe that martial technologies outpaced military tactics? In the aftermath of the American Civil War, which of the prominent European military theorists, Jomini or Clausewitz, held more weight in strategic thinking moving forward into the nineteenth century? Why? Continue reading “The Crimean War, the American Civil War… Clausewitz, Jomini, and Mahan”

Influences of Interwar Doctrine and Training on the Successes of U.S. Submarines in the Pacific Theater of Operations During the Second World War

Photo caption: USS Harder (SS 257) off the coast of Woleai during the rescue of Ensign John Gavlin, April 1, 1944. (Source:


Current trends in leadership training often overlook historic examples of effective leadership – the developmental processes and the results of the professional background of leaders in an operational environment. The development of the submarine influenced the outcome of both the First and Second World War, but it was the leadership of the American submarine skippers in the latter conflict which provided examples of legendary and effective leadership. This thesis will address the question of how the interwar period influenced the doctrine and formal professional education of submarine skippers. Most importantly, however, will be the discussion of the contributing factors which combined to force a rapid evolution in leadership and employment of these submarines: technology, enemy, and internal bureaucratic resistance, to name a few factors. Continue reading “Influences of Interwar Doctrine and Training on the Successes of U.S. Submarines in the Pacific Theater of Operations During the Second World War”

Motivation and Ted Talks

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and we were discussing creative outlets. He’s a poet at heart and was a mariner by trade, and our conversations have ranged a wide variety of topics – from the evolution of leadership during the Second World War, to the source of inspiration, and finally – why we write.

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Turkey, Leadership, and the Fire Pit

Originally posted November 27, 2015.
A post-Thanksgiving dinner brought the topic of my paper on Charles A. Lockwood,’s leadership during the Second World War and the feedback of the host was especially appreciated due to his prior service as an officer in the U.S. Navy:
“You wrote that Lockwood had both ‘transactional’ and ‘transformational’ leadership skills. Do you think most leaders have both types of leadership skills? Do you think a good leader must have both?”

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