…who was extremely strong-willed in his belief of airpower requiring its own service arm separate from the others and connecting it directly to matters of in national defence. Mitchell first laid out what was obvious to him and his contemporaries that ‘Only when complete dominion of the air has been established can a war of invasion across the seas be prosecuted’ and by employing air power ‘as a major instrument of war, no matter whether a land force or a sea force is acting on the surface of the earth’ can the U.S. both protect its coastline and invade enemy territories across vast distances.
Mitchell in his arguments for an independent air service in the U.S. methodically linked its importance in its rapid creation and growth in WWI to a matter of national defence and by default, a necessity. He would go on to state that ‘future contests will depend primarily on the amount of air power that a nation could produce and apply’ thereby equating a strong, organized, and trained air service to that of national security thereby playing to the notions of deterrence through strength.
Conversely, both Douhet and Mitchell had their philosophical differences as to their airpower doctrines with the application of how airpower should be applied chief among them. Put another way, Douhet was strategic in his philosophy while Mitchell was more tactical. Breaking this down further, Douhet envisioned huge fleets of bombers that would fly over and past fixed, static defences on the ground and take the war directly to the enemy and its population centres. It was here in the strategic bombing of population centres that Douhet saw total war where ‘citizens will become combatants, since all of them will be exposed to the aerial offensives of the enemy.’ In Douhet’s mind, airpower was the future of warfare, effectively negating or at the least, greatly mitigating the necessity of the army and navy, as airpower alone could cross untold distances faster than ever before possible, rain deadly bombs on enemy positions and population centres and destroy the will of the enemy and thereby securing victory.