On September 12, 1918 at St. Mihiel in France, Col. Wil-liam Mitchell became the frst person ever to commanda major orce o allied aircrat in a combined-arms opera-tion. This battle was the debut o the US Army fghtingunder a single American commander on European soil.Under Mitchell’s control, more than 1,100 allied aircratworked in unison with ground orces in a broad oen-siveone encompassing not only the advance o groundtroops but also direct air attacks on enemy strategic tar-gets, aircrat, communications, logistics, and orces beyond the ront lines.Mitchell was promoted to Brigadier General by order o Gen. John J. Pershing,commander o the American Expeditionary Force, in recognition o his com-mand accomplishments during the St. Mihiel oensive and the subsequentMeuse-Argonne oensive.Ater World War I, General Mitchell served in Washington and then becameCommander, First Provisional Air Brigade, in 1921. That summer, he led jointArmy and Navy demonstration attacks as bombs delivered rom aircrat sank several captured German vessels, including the SS
His determination to speak the truth about airpower and its importance toAmerica led to a court-martial trial in 1925. Mitchell was convicted, and re-signed rom the service in February 1926.Mitchell, through personal example and through his writing, inspired and en-couraged a cadre o younger airmen. These included uture General o the AirForce Henry H. Arnold, who led the two million-man Army Air Forces in WorldWar II; Gen. Ira Eaker, who commanded the frst bomber orces in Europe in1942; and Gen. Carl Spaatz, who became the frst Chie o Sta o the UnitedStates Air Force upon its charter o independence in 1947.Mitchell died in 1936. One o the pallbearers at his uneral in Wisconsin wasGeorge Catlett Marshall, who was the chie ground-orce planner or the St.Mihiel oensive.
ABOUT THE MITCHELL INSTITUTE FOR AIRPOWER STUDIES:
The Mitchell Institute orAirpower Studies, ounded by the Air Force Association, seeks to honor theleadership o Brig. Gen. William Mitchell through timely and high-quality re-search and writing on airpower and its role in the security o this nation.
Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell
Published by Mitchell Institute Press© 2010 Air Force AssociationDesign by Darcy Harris
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Rebecca Grant is an airpower analyst with 20 years o experience in Washington, D.C. She is President o IRIS Independent Researchand serves as director, Mitchell Institute, or the Air Force Association. She haswritten extensively on airpower and among her most recent publications areseveral Mitchell reports, including
The Vanishing Arsenal of Airpower
The Tanker Imperative
Airpower in Afghanistan