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 leaves AF to pursue college B-ball career

Courtesy Photo Senior Airman Patrick Paul, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron, shoots a jump shot during a game against the 56th Security Forces Squadron at the Bryant Fitness Center. Paul is finishing out his Air Force commitme...
 
 
140307-F-CB366-007

Airmen shave heads for pilot’s son battling cancer

Senior Airman David Owsianka Airmen from the 62nd Fighter Squadron recently shaved their heads to support a deceased officer’s son who is battling with cancer. Second Lt. Dave Mitchell, former 62nd FS pilot, lost his life dur...
 
 

Three steps to avoid ‘toxic leadership’

Toxic leadership. Sadly, this term has recently become vogue in the lexicon of the Defense Department to describe leaders possessing unfavorable leadership characteristics and whose actions eventually rot an organization from the inside out. Examples of these leaders drape across the weekly headlines and sound bites of newspapers, radio and television. “Leaders” who become drunk...
 

 

Personal improvement, goal setting all part of leadership

In preparation for the changes in regard to officer and enlisted performance reports, and force management issues, it is important to reflect on personal improvement and goal setting. This topic is close to my heart and revolves around leadership. As officers, leaders and mentors, we can all benefit from refreshing our vigilance and attention to...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Instructor pilot selected as Olmsted scholar

Courtesy photo Capt. Daniel Wynn, 56th Operations Support Squadron operations flight commander, prepares to refuel in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a combat mission over Afghanistan in August 2011. For many U.S. military membe...
 
 

News Briefs April 11, 2013

Base-wide exercise The 56th Fighter Wing will conduct a natural disaster exercise today, which will include military, local, county and state law enforcement, and fire departments. Those traveling on base should expect traffic disruptions, gate closures or delays, and interruptions of customer service operations. Expect to see simulated explosions, smoke, role players depicting individuals with...
 




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