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.


 
 

 
Courtesy photo

Airman changes lanes in life

Courtesy photo Airman 1st Class Kelton Rall Those who have had a hard life often say it is hard to overcome the past. “It’s almost like climbing out of a dark hole – one mistake and you fall deeper into the abyss,” said...
 
 

People First – October 31, 2014

AF adjusts enlisted retention results Air Force officials announced an adjustment to the Junior Enlisted Retention Board which convened in June at the Air Force Personnel Center. Fifty Airmen who were not selected for retention during the FY14 force management ERB were offered the opportunity to remain on active-duty following identification of an issue in the...
 
 

Air Force News – October 31, 2014

Chile After flying more than 50 sorties, participating in two community relations events, entertaining multiple media events and being visited by the president of Chile, U.S. Airmen partaking in Chile’s SALITRE 2014 exercise are returning home. The purpose was to conduct military-to-military engagements in support of defense security goals. Germany As service members travel to...
 

 

Air Force News – October 24, 2014

Hawaii Survival, evasion, resistance and escape instructors at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam conduct combat survival training once a month, 12 months a year, to ensure aircrew members are qualified and better prepared for combat survival. Greenland A biannual resupply mission to sustain the inhabitants of CFS Alert and Eureka Research Station, Nunavut, Canada, was completed...
 
 

People First – October 24, 2014

Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story. Air Force...
 
 

Air Force News – October 17, 2014

Germany Airmen with the 37th Airlift Squadron at Ramstein Air Base loaded a C-130J Super Hercules with needed supplies Oct. 7 and launched their first mission to West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance. The team of Airmen flying with the aircraft made stops in Spain, Senegal and Liberia, an area heavily affected by...
 




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