Air Force

September 13, 2013

This Week in History: September 13

Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell

1918: Battle of Saint-Mihiel Salient

Between Sept. 12 and 15, 1918, Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell led 1,482 aircraft, the largest combined air armada to date, in World War I during the first U.S. air campaign. Since July 28, 1914, the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary fought the Allies of United Kingdom, France and the Russian Empire. The United States declared war on Germany April 6, 1917. Once the U.S. joined the war effort, it took another 18 months to expand its small army, train it and get to Europe.

The war devastated its participants. Just in military dead, wounded and missing, the Central Powers lost more than 16 million military members and the Allies lost over 22 million military members. By contrast, the United States lost 323,000 military members. Due to their losses, the Allies wanted to use the newly arriving Americans piecemeal to fill the gaps in their lines. Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing, the American Expeditionary Force commander, refused. He wanted American military members to fight under American commanders.

During the Summer Counteroffensive of 1918, Pershing began planning to reduce the St. Mihiel Salient. The salient was approximately a 35 by 40-mile bulge in the German lines southwest of Metz, France. It was a leftover from the battle of Verdun four years earlier, and the Germans knew it was a weak point.

Mitchell was given the task to create the air campaign in support of the ground assault. Doctrinally he concentrated his forces on air superiority and the air protection of the infantry. Mitchell set out with three objectives: destroy the enemy air forces, scout enemy positions and destroy enemy ground forces.

To meet those objectives, Mitchell’s planners broke their missions into three types: bombardment, pursuit and reconnaissance. The First Army and First Army Air Service staffs, along with subordinate corps commanders, selected the targets. Bombardment targeted enemy flying fields and, in close coordination with the army, troop concentrations. But, if the fliers saw better targets in the immediate area, the flight commanders could decide to attack the new targets.

Mitchell assigned more than 400 aircraft to work with ground commanders and protect them. He used the combined force of more than 1,000 aircraft to knock the enemy out of the air. Against them, the Germans had only about 500 machines.

One of Mitchell’s major concerns was Allied Airmen had problems flying in six-ship formations. For the campaign, they would be flying in formations of 60 or more.

Even with all of the secrecy the Allies could muster, the Germans knew they were going to attack, but miscalculated by a day. As a result, initially the Allies saw great success on the ground. For his part, Mitchell successfully rendered the Luftwaffe ineffective, achieved air ascendancy, and the German Army received a mauling. The campaign proved massed air formation principles worked.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
DT_JTC0216

Supreme allied commander comes home

Gen. Philip Breedlove, left, NATO supreme allied commander, Europe, visited Luke Air Force Base Sept. 12. Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, right, 56th Fighter Wing commander, briefed the general on Luke’s evolving mission to train F-3...
 
 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

Command post chief averts potential disaster

Senior Airman Grace Lee Capt. George Normandin, 56th Fighter Wing Command Post chief, received the Aviation Safety Well Done Award Sept. 2, presented by Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th FW commander. Normandin took control of an F-...
 
 

You are what you eat

“You are what you eat.” This is a generic statement or a notion. It implies that if you eat healthy, you will be healthy. But how true is this in the world today? What we eat, drink, wear, drive and buy is often an attempt to construct a social identity. It lets others know who...
 

 

Knowledge equals power

The phrase “knowledge is power” is said to originate from Sir Francis Bacon in 1597. Personally, I remember learning the phrase from the old television show “School House Rock” theme song. The key idea behind the phrase is the more knowledge you accumulate, the more “power” you will have. Here is a simple breakdown: knowledge...
 
 
Senior Airman
MARCY COPELAND

EOD Airman changed for good by life experiences

Senior AirmanMARCY COPELAND Tech. Sgt. David Gerig’s, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team chief, first assignment after technical school was Kadena Air Base, Japan. The challenges in life are often w...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

CFC kick-off The 56th Fighter Wing Combined Federal Campaign kick-off charity fair is 9 a.m. Monday in Bldg. 1130 auditorium. Learn about the 2014 campaign ‘Serving Our Country. Supporting Our Community.’ and visit with local charities. For more information, call Maj. Jennifer Preyer-Bonton at 623-856-7144. Hispanic Heritage Month National Hispanic Heritage Month began Monday and...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin