Mitchell Institute

General Billy Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies







Overview: The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is an independent, non-profit research, studies, and analysis organization founded by the Air Force Association. It takes its name from America’s most famous and arguably greatest airman, Brig. Gen. William Mitchell. The Institute seeks to carry on, in the modern day, General Mitchell’s tireless and dedicated effort to expand airpower thinking and increase public awareness of the need for this unique military instrument. The Institute is based in the Washington, D.C. area.

To carry out its educational mission, the Mitchell Institute:

► Hosts defense seminars that focus on the potential for airpower to meet the nation’s security needs in the world today and tomorrow.

► Organizes small, expert-based discussions among the nation's more creative and well-respected airpower thinkers, some of whom are serving on active duty.

► Publishes special reports on important defense and aerospace issues, as well as papers from emerging aerospace thinkers.


Dean of the Mitchell Institute

Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), serves as the Dean of the Mitchell Institute. He also serves as an independent consultant to leading aerospace companies; a guest at leading academic institutions around the world; a senior scholar at the US Air Force Academy; a board member on a variety of public, private, and think-tank institutions; and a sought-after commentator around the world as a thought leader on defense, strategy, and ISR. Transitioning from the Air Force in 2010 as the Air Force’s first Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR, he is a world-recognized pioneer in conceptualizing, planning, and executing national security operations from humanitarian relief to major combat operations. He has piloted more than 3,000 flying hours—400 in combat—and had multiple command assignments in the F-15. He was a distinguished Air Force ROTC graduate at the University of Virginia in 1974, remaining there to complete a master’s degree in systems engineering in 1976.

About General Mitchell

On Sept. 12, 1918, Col. William Mitchell, US Army Air Service, led a major force of some 1,100 Allied aircraft in a combined arms operation of air and ground forces during the American Expeditionary Force’s attack on the St. Mihiel salient in France under the command of Gen. John J. Pershing. This battle was the debut of the American army fighting as a single unit on European soil. Mitchell was promoted to Brigadier General by order of Pershing in recognition of his command accomplishments during the St. Mihiel offensive and the Meuse Argonne offensive.

After World War I, General Mitchell served in Washington and then became Commander, First Provisional Air Brigade, in 1921. That summer, he led joint Army and Navy demonstration attacks as bombs delivered from aircraft sank several captured German vessels, including the SS Ostfriesland.

His dedication to speaking the truth about airpower led to a court martial trial in 1925. Mitchell was convicted and resigned from the service in February 1926. Before retirement, through personal association and through his writing, he had inspired and encouraged a cadre of younger airmen including future General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold, Gen. Carl Spaatz, and Lt. Gen. Ira Eaker, who led the two million man Army Air Forces in World War II.

General Mitchell died in 1936, before he could see his conception of airpower vindicated in World War II. One of the pallbearers attending Mitchell’s funeral in Wisconsin was the then-unknown Col. George Catlett Marshall, who had been the Army’s chief ground-force planner of the St. Mihiel offensive.

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies seeks to honor the leadership of General William Mitchell through research and writing on airpower and its role in the security of America.