Author & Context

Colonel Thomas E. Griffith (ret.), Jr. is a former Commandant of the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He has also served as commander of the 39th Support Group, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey and as flight evaluator and flight commander at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC. In 1990, Colonel Griffith was deployed for Operation DESERT SHIELD and flew in the initial air strikes of Operation DESERT STORM before his F-15E was shot down over Iraq.


The work is a biographical examination of George Kenney used by Griffith to tell the story of airpower in the Pacific theater in WWII. The start of the Pacific war was a fight for survival, Kenney had to use whatever he had at his disposal. Used his limited resources offensive, took a calculated risk (lost some A/C) on less DCA. Low level bombing=higher accuracy=fewer A/C to get same result as high level bombing=more resource friendly and possibly led to less loss too. Worked to be use B-29 to bomb oil tgt, not necessary (sub had taken out JP oil tankers), but maybe he was motivated by a strive for air being decisive?


- Extremely effective as MacArthur’s air leader; understood his first task was to win MacArthur’s confidence

- Dogmatic on airpower and its role, but very flexible in implementation

- Superior innovator

- Valued intelligence

- Sought operational unpredictability to keep adversary off-balance

- Got bogged down to an extent in competition between carrier-based and land-based air forces, but consistently found ways to get his assets involved in the fight

o Held up by Griffith as an example of a leader who understood jointness

Applications to Strategy

- Leadership matters, jointness is a critical tool to success, and adaptations in strategy and operational design are founded on intelligence, innovation, and a leader willing to embrace them

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