Mon Aug 18 10:34:07 2008
My argument against Mitchell is based on the need to construct a “dependent” Air Force that was closely tied to existing military branches. This would have been necessary to fight an overseas war due to the short ranges of the planes and limited refueling options. We tend to focus on this because the next major conflict for the US would be their involvement in World War II.
However, if you look beyond the 1928 version of the Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan—Orange, our early planning for a war with Japan in the Pacific, there were many other “colored” war plans of the 1920’s and 1930’s that show a variety of alternative strategies. Many of these might have provided a rational for Mitchell’s plan for an independent Air Force. There is a possibility that some of these could have been implemented with available technology. War Plan Black looked at a German encroachment into the Caribbean. Red considered British aggression through Canada and along the Atlantic coast. Green speculated on an alliance and possible invasion by Japan through Mexico. Red-Orange attempted to deal with a two front war against both the Japanese and British. The defense of the coastal and territorial U.S. was paramount in these plans. An independent Air Force could have been an important asset in many of these situations as the ranges would have been much smaller. Had we followed through with these plans Mitchell’s ideas might have proved more practical.
However, our next war would be with Japan in the Pacific and overseas in Europe and so historians comb the archives for the various versions of Plan Orange, in hindsight largely forgetting the many “colorful” alternatives.