Authored by Air Command and Staff College
This research project studies the employment of airpower by the Fifth Air Force, under Gen George C. Kenney, in the Southwest Pacific Theater during World War II. The research began with two basic assumptions. First, it assumed that the strategic bombardment theory developed by the Air Corps Tactical School in the 1930s was the definitive doctrine of the Air Corps upon entry into World War II. Second, it assumed that General Kenney and his staff were required to develop a new doctrine for airpower employment since the situation in the Southwest Pacific did not lend itself to strategic bombardment of the Japanese industrial web. The research process proved both of these assumptions invalid. Study of historical records, personal accounts, and subsequent historical writings in several areas revealed that there was no clear and consistent doctrine for the employment of airpower. The views of the War Department General Staff were divergent from the strategic bombardment doctrine developed within the Air Corps. There were influential individuals within the Air Corps itself who did not agree with the degree of subordination of all other forms of aviation to bombardment. These facts created the situation where published regulations concerning airpower were inconsistent and incomplete in their statement of doctrine. General Kenney assumed command of the Fifth Air Force with a clear vision of how to employ air forces to defeat the enemy. His diverse background gave him a balanced view of the roles airpower should play, and he was not convinced by the strategic bombardment theory that claimed invincibility for the bomber. His World War I experiences and teachings at the Air Corps Tactical School provided a strong belief in the importance of air superiority and attack aviation. He was innovative in modifying tactics and equipment, and in developing new roles for airpower as the situation dictated. General Kenney and his staff did not need to develop a new doctrine for use in the Southwest Pacific. He simply applied the experiences of a diverse career and organized an effective, balanced weapon to wage war. This study surveys the development of airpower doctrine beginning with World War I, followed by major developments during the interwar period in several arenas. It then looks at the varied aspects of Gen George C. Kenney’s career which prepared him to command the Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific Theater during World War II. Finally, it considers General Kenney’s employment of airpower in light of the prewar doctrine development.
Jul 01 2014
1500373389 / 9781500373382
US Trade Paper
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
History / Military / World War II