The Wavell Room
Image default
Air Concepts and Doctrine Long Read Military History

An Air Force For ‘Actual Fighting’: General Weyland’s Vision for Tactical Air Command after the Korean War

Given the recent return to a focus on great power conflict in U.S. national strategy, it is illuminating to consider how one U.S. Air Force general thought about the character of Cold War conflict. In light of an ongoing discussion in the defense community about whether peer conflict will most likely be conducted peer-on-peer or in a more proxy fashion, it is important to highlight General O.P. Weyland, who commanded the Far East Air Forces during much of the Korean War.

In one of airpower history’s most literary and seductive analogies, Conrad Crane has claimed that after the Korean War, General O.P. Weyland and subsequent commanders at Tactical Air Command (TAC) “struck a Faustian bargain with the atomic Mephistopheles, transforming the organisation into a ‘junior SAC’ concentrating on the delivery of small nuclear weapons.”1 In doing so, Crane argued that Weyland “skewed the focus of USAF tactical airpower away from limited and conventional wars.” Having not been overturned, his characterisation of Weyland subsequently has been quoted in several recent works.2

Crane’s categorisation of General Weyland as bent on a kind of desperate nuclearised tactical airpower falls short in several ways, most notably by failing to appreciate how Weyland conceptualised airpower as highly flexible above all else. It also does not accord with how he viewed the Cold War as far more likely to be characterised by more wars like Korea—on the periphery and severely limited—than in direct conflict with the Soviet Union. And it similarly does not do justice to a professional officer who believed in service to his country above service to his more immediate institution.

As such, it is worth revisiting the lessons Weyland derived from his participation in the Korean War to understand how he viewed the Cold War and how he attempted to remake TAC. Weyland spent about four years at Far East Air Forces (FEAF) after arriving in Japan in 1951. First serving as Vice Commander for Operations for FEAF under Commander General George Stratemeyer, he subsequently assumed command after Stratemeyer suffered a heart attack, remaining at FEAF until 1954 before being assigned to TAC from 1954 to 1959.

Weyland’s experiences offer insights to today’s U.S. Air Force, which currently occupies a similar place as it prepares for future wars. Even as one foot remains in the quicksand of almost two decades of limited counterinsurgency, the other seeks a significant foothold on great power conflict. The question, however, is what great power conflict will look like.

This article focuses most closely on Weyland’s daily diary of his activities detailing his tenure at TAC as the best source to understand how he envisioned tactical airpower and how he sought to negotiate its place in the broader Air Force.3 His diary repeatedly insisted that future wars would be limited and that airpower revolved around the principle of flexibility.4 And the concepts he wrote daily align with what he wrote for broader Air Force consumption.5 It is unfortunate that flexibility, which perhaps should have been the greatest lesson airpower advocates learned during World War II, came to be eclipsed by a narrative dominated by dreams of decisive strategic bombardment.6 Weyland learned the lesson of flexibility in Europe, where he made a name for himself in World War II as the commander of XIX Tactical Air Command and received accolades from Army officers, including Lt Generals George S. Patton and Omar N. Bradley for his dedicated support of ground operations.7 Having provided superb close air support, however, did not mean that he equated tactical airpower with that particular mission alone.

Weyland tried to unpack airpower’s flexibility in his writing, often but not always equating it with centralised command of airpower. The basic idea of centralised command is that a single person makes every decision about how each aircraft should be used in theatre. In this way, aircraft can be diverted as necessary in quick response or be massed as needed. The opposite approach consists of what has often been called “penny packeting,” in which aircraft are parcelled out in small numbers to a number of commanders, who then make more localised decisions about how to use their aircraft. 8 Once command of these aircraft has been distributed to multiple commanders, it is difficult to redistribute them as needed, which works against economy of force. Weyland opposed such decentralised control, explained that he had “stressed the indivisibility of air power and the necessity of centralised control of air resources as much as any man alive.”9

Still, there were limits to Weyland’s conceptualisation of indivisible airpower. While he advocated for viewing airpower across a broad spectrum, he generally framed airpower to match the organisational framework of the newly-independent Air Force into three buckets: strategic assets, tactical assets, and air defence.10As he parsed it out in largely ignoring air defence, one “portion” of that spectrum was primarily “strategic” while the other was mainly “tactical,” yet a space existed in between that could be either “strategic” or “tactical.”11 Weyland, forced into budgetary competition with air defence as will be discussed shortly, made his greatest concessions to airpower’s flexibility in accepting the Air Force’s trifurcation of kinetic airpower even as he sought to provide a place of intersection for the Air Force’s offensive aspects contained in TAC and SAC (Strategic Air Command).12

One cynically might view Weyland’s emphasis on overlap between tactical and strategic air as evidence of Conrad Crane’s characterisation of him. It is important to note, however, that from 1955 to 1959 Weyland consistently and repeatedly stressed that limited wars would dominate future conflict. That meant tactical airpower, not strategic, would most likely be used while SAC continued serving in its deterrent role.13 As such, TAC required conventional weapons, not just nuclear ones; this view, of course, accorded with his emphasis on flexible airpower.14

As such, the last thing Weyland wanted to do was redirect TAC’s focus solely toward nuclear war. Any bargain that required chipping away at a range of airpower options undermined the strong sense of duty he had to the nation, which properly came before his allegiance to the Air Force. Weyland did pursue atomic capabilities, but he did not advocate for completely replacing conventional capabilities. As Robert Futrell compellingly explains, if Weyland had been: 

willing to think solely as an Air Force officer he could join in a policy of replacing conventional weapons because it would make the Air Force job so much easier, but as an individual charged with upholding national policy Weyland could not accept a course of action that could eventually undermine national policy.

Futrell, Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine, p. 462.

He arrived at this conclusion in part based on his participation in the Korean War, which shaped his understanding of the Cold War writ large. 

As Commander of FEAF from mid-1951through to 1954, Weyland balanced his operational responsibilities as the theatre air commander in Korea with his strategic priorities strung across the Far East from the Philippines to Thailand to Taiwan. Particularly in regard to Vietnam, Weyland quickly and accurately evaluated situations within the larger framework of the Cold War. Visiting Vietnam in February of 1954, for example, Weyland recorded a highly troubling situation. He found French officers disturbingly dismissive of their Vietnamese troops, he appraised General Navarre as underwhelming, and he described official French briefings as “snow job[s].” He also presciently anticipated the fall of Dien Bien Phu, viewing the new outpost not as the French did as evidence of “initiative” but as a serious error in placing a “sizeable segment of the French forces in an isolated area subject to attack.”15 The outpost, which he could not see due to bad weather, fell three months after his visit.

Weyland’s philosophical bent toward flexibility extended to his general understanding of the Cold War, often showing strategic sophistication by distinguishing between the goals and motivations of the Soviet Union and China. He viewed Chinese involvement in Korea as part of a larger pattern of Chinese expansion around the region, analogous to how he believed it had a significant role in furthering conflict in Vietnam, rather than as a kind of monolithic Communist front with the Soviets.16 As such, he believed that a world war was highly unlikely to break out between the Soviet Union and the US. While he did not advocate strongly for attacking China during the Korean War—in part because he did not believe FEAF had the necessary resources—he also did not believe that doing so would trigger World War III. Viewing the two nations as independent actors, he assumed that the Soviet Union would not intervene.17 Rather, limited war would predominate because “it poses the least threat directly to the Soviet Union. In other words, they can do as they did in the Korean War: let somebody else do the fighting.”18 In a similar vein, Weyland was not a dogmatic cold warrior. Shortly after the signing of the armistice in July of 1953, he displayed his pragmatic views of China when he advocated fostering trade relations between China and Japan if it would help Japan, even if he admitted such a change would require overcoming a general American dislike of Communist China.19 By implication, he had already arrived at this place.

Unlike some of his counterparts in Strategic Air Command, such as General Emmett “Rosie” O’Donnell who dismissed the Korean War as “rather bizarre,” Weyland sought to understand it, in part because he expected limited conflicts to dominate future war.20 Observing the Korean War in depth as well as the French involvement in Vietnam more briefly, Weyland noticed a number of differences between the two conflicts, characterising French involvement in Vietnam as more “political” in nature than the actions he had helped oversee in Korea. Given that he espoused the flexibility of airpower above all else, it should not be terribly surprising that he similarly did not attempt to box in conceptualising future wars, arguing that no two such limited wars would “ever be exactly the same.”21 Yet Conrad Crane’s analogy to TAC and Mephistocles has led others to point to Weyland as part of the problem the US Air Force was not prepared for the Vietnam War.22

To turn TAC into a nuclear air force, then, would render it largely irrelevant. After all, the Soviets recognised U.S. “superiority in strategic air and our superiority in nuclear weapons.” As such, Weyland believed Soviets logically would choose to pursue “world domination through the least expensive procedures.”23 Thus TAC required conventional weapons, in part to keep from “destroying the country we are trying to help.”24

Envisioning future limited wars, Weyland expected more quick invasions in which the Soviets gambled that the US could not arrive in time. Weyland wanted to counter with speed more so than size. One could fault Weyland for attempting to fight the last war; or one could view him as presciently anticipating the kind of rapid deployment forces pursued in the late 1970s and early 1980s until today, assisting allies before they could be overrun.25 In a manner reminiscent of the Marine Corps’ culture of innovating amidst fiscal austerity, Weyland even turned to “hand-me-down” propeller bombers as refuelers. To solve the problem of jet fighters greatly outpacing these new tankers, TAC tacked excess jet engines onto their wings to help them fly higher and faster.26 In essence, Weyland envisioned TAC as providing expeditionary airpower in the form of “fast task forces.”27

While commanding TAC, Weyland faced increasing budgetary challenges that led him directly into conflict with General Curtis LeMay, who went from SAC Commander to Vice Chief of Staff in 1957.28 As FEAF Commander, Weyland had been responsible for the biggest game in town; as TAC commander, he was expected to be content with the budgetary dregs. Weyland had to tackle the widespread belief in the unlikelihood of limited war and, as a result, the ensuing notion that tactical airpower was largely irrelevant. SAC briefings on a direct confrontation with the Soviet Union, for example, made it sound as if it alone would provide airpower assets.29

Weyland responded with a number of creative solutions that had one thing in common: they did not abandon his flexible philosophy of airpower. For example, he borrowed a page from SAC’s responsibilities for nuclear deterrence to stress how TAC similarly could serve as the “principal deterrent to periphery wars.”30

He emphasised the deterrent role of tactical airpower far less than his vision for expeditionary airpower, however. Weyland consistently stressed his “new concept of global employment, which establishes requirements for high mobility and flexibility.”31 As such, the flexible nature of tactical airpower called for nuclear and conventional capabilities, not one or the other.32 In one meeting with a varied group of Air Force officers, for example, Weyland insisted that TAC be organised to “permit maximum flexibility to fit either a major war or a periphery war.”33

The Air Force, however, gave him limited control over the kind of aircraft TAC received. Unsurprisingly, when he did get to voice his opinion, Weyland sought flexible aircraft. In proffering his opinions to the Air Force regarding a tactical bomber, he made no steps to try to incorporate more strategic-type assets into his stable.34 He preferred smaller aircraft with less logistical requirements to suit his vision of a mobile, flexible TAC ready for anything. But he had to battle not only significant budgetary challenges but also Air Force Headquarters, which dominated decision making, seeking little to no input from him and ramming unwanted aircraft “down our throats.”35 36 He struggled in particular with the Air Council, which adamantly opposed making any changes to SAC’s tankers that might help TAC assets refuel.37 By contrast, Conrad Crane uses the example of the F-105 as a prime example of how Weyland sold out TAC, leaving it unprepared to provide tactical support in the Vietnam War.38 Weyland did work hard to get the F-105, but not because it aligned with his vision of an ideal aircraft for TAC. Rather, he considered it to be the best of a number of bad options, or as he described it the “only forward looking airplane which was left in the program at the present time.”39

If Weyland could not influence technological procurement greatly, he could control ideas. As such, Weyland pushed tactical capabilities toward the strategic along the spectrum of airpower. In a briefing to the Special Weapons Center—to include members of the Sandia Corporation and the Atomic Energy Commission—he provided an expanded role of what tactical airpower could do while continuing to highlight its traditional responsibilities to provide air superiority, interdiction, and close air support.40 Because of his audience’s interest in nuclear weapons, Weyland perhaps tailored his statements for them. In doing so, he came the closest to Crane’s characterization of him when he stated that, if war broke out, he anticipated using more nuclear weapons than conventional ones for reasons of efficiency.41 He also laid claim to strategic targets in limited wars. TAC, he claimed, should serve as the “principal strategic weapon of a theater commander.” Two years after the Korean War, Weyland envisioned waging a war with SAC on the sidelines. Whereas SAC had participated in a range of roles in the Korean War, it had not been able to strike the most strategic targets since they had been located in China and the Soviet Union.42 Still, it had been used in a variety of important roles.43 In effect, now Weyland used SAC’s own argument that it should not be wasted on wars that were not existential crises against it. 

Simultaneously, he intimidated that SAC’s approach to airpower was antithetical to basic airpower principles when he delineated characteristics commonly thought of regarding all airpower—namely “mobility, flexibility, and fire power and centralised control”—as central to tactical airpower. In other words, if the idea of flexibility characterised tactical airpower, then it did not apply to strategic airpower, located at the other end of his airpower spectrum.44

As Weyland expanded his vision for TAC, LeMay began pushing back, most noticeably in 1957 when SAC took the surprising step of claiming it should be responsible for limited wars. In an environment in which many civilians and Air Force officers alike believed only in preparing for “major war,” Weyland had continued to refine his arguments for TAC, a voice in the wilderness seeking to carve out a place for it because he believed that the US must continue to be prepared for a range of military actions. While continuing to believe that future wars would be limited ones, a role he believed to be TAC’s “peculiar mission,” he also reasonably stressed that TAC must be prepared for “major war” as well.45

By 1957, however, Air Force leaders with close connections to SAC began to discuss the likelihood of limited war, as occurred at a Cold War Symposium initiated by General Thomas S. Power.46 Power was a SAC acolyte, having spent six years as LeMay’s vice commander. At the time, he commanded Air Research and Development Command, but three months after the symposium he returned to SAC to take command. During the Symposium, Weyland made a plea for TAC’s relevance as well as the need for “conventional capability,” seeking to convince his audience that giving up these capabilities would open the door for another service to claim them, resulting in a marginalised and weak Air Force. LeMay and others countered, arguing not only for solely nuclear weapons but also—in a surprising turn of events—that SAC “should be given the job” of waging limited wars. Vice Chief of Staff General Thomas D. White wryly observed to LeMay that he always had claimed just the “opposite.”47

Becoming Chief of Staff in July of 1957, General White, who was neither a bomber pilot nor a fighter pilot but an observation pilot, sought to manage TAC and SAC’s tug-of-war over limited war, as SAC increasingly claimed that it, not TAC, should wage limited war.48 After all, forces prepared for “general war” surely could “handle limited wars,” or so LeMay argued.49 Still, LeMay continued to insist that a US-Soviet Union confrontation had a greater chance of breaking out than a limited one, charging that Air Force officers who believed the opposite were guilty of spouting the “Army line.”50 CSAF White set down his decision in November of 1957 that TAC should stay out of the business of doing “strategic” missions while SAC should focus on its primary responsibility of nuclear delivery in case of a major war.51

Conrad Crane’s characterisation of Weyland as having sold out TAC is highly undeserved. In a case of a major war, Weyland wanted TAC to have an important role to play and envisioned possibly using more nuclear than conventional weapons. He even went so far as to argue that TAC could hit 50% of the targets SAC could in a war against the Soviet Union and at far less cost.52 Still, he made such comments rarely.

While serving as head of TAC until his retirement in the summer of 1959, Weyland continually insisted that the Air Force must be prepared to fight limited wars.53 To do so successfully, it needed to draw upon tactical airpower’s mobility and flexibility. Weyland demonstrated consistent interest in preparing for limited wars with both nuclear and conventional capabilities, as opposed to SAC’s insistence on solely nuclear weapons. Shortly before his retirement, for example, Weyland described the lack of “modernised, non-nuclear weapons” as one of TAC’s main challenges.54

He also did his best to adhere to his principles and his allegiance to his nation. In a conversation with CSAF White in June of 1959 concerning the possibility of Weyland replacing him,  Weyland bluntly explained that his conscience would not allow him to “go along and be a rubber stamp” to approving decisions that had resulted in a drastically out-of-balance Air Force.55 In effect, SAC’s vision of future warfare had led the Air Force to “paint itself into a corner.”56 White politely replied that maybe Weyland would have a different perspective if he walked in his shoes. With the heavy burden of responsibility for making choices about how much to invest in the nation’s most important strategic assets, White chose to make budget cuts that limited preparations for the most likely wars so that he could be assured the Air Force was ready to fight the most dangerous ones.

No doubt Weyland would have much advice to offer to today’s Air Force. If asked to weigh in on the recent debate over whether the Air Force should acquire a light attack aircraft, for example, he probably would advise against it. He believed, as has been the general trend in Air Force history since the Korean War, that aircraft must be survivable in order to be flexible.57

His insights are equally timely given the recent return to a focus on great power conflict in U.S. national strategy. In light of an ongoing discussion in the defense community about whether peer conflict will most likely be conducted peer-on-peer or in a more proxy fashion, it is important to highlight one Air Force officer who has been unfairly categorised as selling out when, in reality, he attempted to do exactly the opposite amidst drastic budget cuts. While further research might determine more conclusively how budgetary realities forced Weyland to make pragmatic and painful decisions, Weyland’s own records written during and just after the Korean War reveal an officer who thought carefully about great power conflict. Based on empirical evidence and logic rather than dogmatism, he ultimately drew conclusions not that that the Korean War was an aberration, but that it provided key insights into the future of war in which the Soviet Union would fight wars on the cheap through others. It is a lesson that the current Air Force should consider carefully. The U.S. might not like the frustration of small wars, but that is precisely what its potential opponents find so appealing. 

Header photo shows General Otto Weyland (National Museum of the United States Air Force)

About the author

Dr Heather Venable

Dr. Heather Venable is an assistant professor of military and security studies at the U.S. Air Command and Staff College and teaches in the Department of Airpower. She has written a forthcoming book entitled How the Few Became the Proud: Crafting the Marine Corps Mystique, 1874-1918. The views expressed are the author’s alone and do not represent the official position of the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.


  1. Conrad Crane, American Airpower Strategy in Korea(University of Kansas Press, 2000), p. 172.
  2. See Brian D. Laslie, The Air Force Way of War: U.S. Tactics and Training after Vietnam (University Press of Kentucky, 1915), p.26  and Adrian R. Lewis, The American Culture of War: A History of U.S. Military Force from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom, second edition (New York: Routledge, 2012)p. 168. The limited published work on O.P. Weyland focuses on close air support as the dominant and somewhat problematic focus because it tends to lead to a narrow focus on tactical airpower. See, for example, David N. Spires, Air Power for Patton’s Army: The XIX Tactical Air Command in the Second World War (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015).
  3. The interpretation that most closely follows this one does not rely on these diaries and also ends two and a half years before Weyland’s retirement, thus it does not allow for the testing of Crane’s argument over the entirety of Weyland’s time at TAC. See Jerome V. Martin, Reforging the Sword: United States Air Force Tactical Air Forces, Air Power Doctrine, and National Security, 1945-1956, dissertation, Ohio State University, 1988. 
  4. For his general emphasis on flexibility, see Weyland, Memoranda, 20 June 1952 and26 June 1952, Vol III and Weyland, Memoranda, 20 May 1954 and 28 Dec 1954, Vol VI. For how he applied the concept of flexibility, see, for example, Interview with Gen. Otto B. Weyland, 1 June 1960, p. 71, K146.34-105, AFHRA. For how he desired flexibility in aircraft, see Weyland, 3 June 1955, 29 June 1955, and 27 Oct 1055, Memoranda, Vol VII.
  5. See, for example, Gen. O.P. Weyland (ret)., “the Tactical Air Command” Air Force Magazine, Sept. 1959, pp. 118-123. In it he explained in the second paragraph that one of its “prime” roles had been since 1954 to be ready for the “countering” of limited aggression through a “highly mobile self-sustained fighting machine.”
  6. For flexibility’s key role in World War II, for example, see Robert F. Futrell, Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine: Basic Thinking in the United States Air Force, 1907-1960 (Maxwell Air Force Base: Air University Press, 1989), p. 176 and p. 309.
  7. Lt Gen G.S. Patton, Jr., Commendation, 12 Aug 1944, 168.7104-38, AFHRA.
  8. See, for example, Lt Col Clint Hinote, Centralized Control and Decentralized Execution: A Catchphrase in Crisis? (Maxwell Air Force Base: Air Force Research Institute, 2009), p. 8.
  9. Quoted in Futrell, Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine, p. 442.
  10. Weyland waged against how the Air Force tended to prioritize TAC as least important. For his opposition to air defense coming before TAC, see Weyland, Memoranda,1 Jan 1959-31 July 1959, 14 Jan 1959, 168.7104-13, AFHRA. Also see 16 April 1959. 
  11. Weyland, Memoranda, 30 Nov 1954, Vol VI.
  12. For others who more loudly espoused the artificiality of the divide between strategic and tactical air, for example, see Futrell, Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine, p. 381.
  13. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VI, 13 Aug 1954 and 17 Sept 1954.
  14. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VI, 20 Aug 1954; Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 5 Feb 1957 and 7 Feb 1957.
  15. O.P. Weyland, 8 Feb 1954, Vol V, COMFEAF Memoranda for Record, 1 Aug 1953-4 Apr 1954, 168.7104-6, AFHRA.
  16. Weyland, 20 Dec 1951, Memoranda, Vol. II.
  17. O.P. Weyland, 13 Nov 1952, Memoranda, Vol. III, 1 June 1952-31 Dec 1952; Interview with Gen. Otto B. Weyland, p. 62.
  18. Interview with Gen. Otto B. Weyland, p. 39. 
  19. Weyland, 15 Aug 1953, Memoranda, Vol. V.
  20. Quoted in Crane, Airpower Strategy in Korea, p. 60.
  21. Interview with Gen. Otto B. Weyland, p. 61.
  22. Lewis, American Culture of War, 165 (2007 edition).
  23. Interview with Gen. Otto B. Weyland, p. 62. 
  24. Notes for General Ginsburgh’s story . . .” in Weyland, Volume IX, Memoranda, 1 Jan 1957-31 Dec 1957, 5 March 1957. Also see Volume IX, 14 Aug 1957. 
  25. See, for example, David A. Quinlan, The Role of the Marine Corps in Rapid Deployment Forces (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1983). For Weyland, see Interview with Gen. Otto B. Weyland, p. 64. 
  26. Interview with Gen. Otto B. Weyland, p. 66. 
  27. Weyland, Memoranda, 25 May 1955 and 9 June 1955.
  28. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VI, 17-19 Jan 1955. For his budgetary challenges, see Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 28 June 1955 and Volume IX, 26 Mar 1957. The fact that he believed SAC’s bombers and tankers never received budgetary cuts, only his aircraft, only increased his frustration. See Weyland, Memoranda,Volume VII, 19 Aug 1955 and 30 Aug 1955. By 1959, he believed the cuts had reduced TAC to a “dangerously low level.” See Weyland, Memoranda, 23 Feb 1959. 
  29. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 26 Apr 1955 and 16 July 1955. For Weyland’s determined efforts not to give SAC the same treatment, see Weyland, Memoranda, Vol VII, 1 Dec 1955.
  30. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 1 Apr 1955-10 Dec 1955, 168.7104-10, 16 Apr 1955.
  31. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VI, 6 Jan 1955, 4 Feb 1955, 28 Apr 1955. 
  32. He planned to have his newest pilots deliver conventional weapons and leave “special weapons delivery” to more experienced pilots. Weyland, Memoranda, Vol VII, 19 May 1955. Also see Weyland, Memoranda,Vol IX, 9 April 1957.
  33. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 8 Aug 1955.
  34. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 27 Oct 1955. Also see Volume IX, 28 July 1957. 
  35. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 29 June 1955.
  36. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 1 Sept 1955. In some cases, he made the conscious choice not to “fight” decisions coming from above. SeeWeyland, Memoranda, 6 Mar 1957, Vol IX. For some changes in this approach under CSAF White, see Weyland, Memoranda,Vol IX, 11 Oct 1957. 
  37. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 27 Oct 1955. The Air Council became a thorn in Weyland’s side in the fall of 1955. Also see Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 19 Oct 1955. 
  38. Crane, American Airpower Strategy, 172.
  39. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 14-16 June 1957. Elsewhere he made the “case” for the F-105 in that it was “designed as a fighter-bomber; was just about proved out; appeared to have no bad bugs or characteristics; and could be procured within the present budget.” Weyland, Memoranda, Vol IX, 22 July 1957. See Futrell, Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine, p. 526 for an overview of the Air Force’s challenges in developing the F-105.
  40. For a fascinating history of how atomic bombs came to be seen as “special,” see Michael D. Gordin, Five Days in August, How World War II Became a Nuclear War (Princeton University Press, 2007). 
  41. At a later date, he differentiated between TAC’s nuclear weapons to be used against “military targets” as opposed to SAC’s against “mass” ones. Weyland, Memoranda,Volume VII, 26 Oct 1955. 
  42. For SAC’s involvement in the Korean War, see Wayne Thompson and Bernard C. Nalty, Within Limits: The U.S. Air Force and the Korean War (Washington, D.C.: Air Force History and Museums Program, 1996), pp. 10-15. 
  43. He did not go as far as the LeMay briefings he described, however, since he discussed TAC’s “relationship” with SAC. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 25 May 1955. 
  44. For a negative appraisal of SAC culture highlighting inflexibility, see, for example, Marshall L. Michel III, The 11 Days of Christmas: America’s Last Vietnam Battle (New York: Encounter Books, 2002).
  45. Interview; Weyland, Memoranda, Volume VII, 27 Oct 1955. 
  46. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 9 Apr 1957.
  47. Also see Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 14-16 June 1957 and 7 Aug 1957. When White became Chief of Staff, he sought out more advice from commanders, to include discussions on “small wars.” Weyland, Memoranda,Volume IX, 17-30 June 1957.
  48. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 27 Aug 1957. Some SAC forces, such as the 506thFighter Bomber Wing, recently had been transferred into TAC. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 25 July 1957. 
  49. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 10 Oct 1957.
  50. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 11 Sept 1957. Similarly, Weyland disagreed with officers who believed that “any force designed for all-out war could handle any of the facets of limited war.” Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 9 Oct 1957. For a recent and more sympathetic account of SAC and LeMay, see Melvin G. Deaile, Always at War: Organisational Culture in Strategic Air Command, 1946-62(Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2018). 
  51. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 4-7 Nov 1957. That did not prevent Tommy Power from giving a presentation entitled “SAC in Limited War” the following month. See Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 5 Dec 1957. 
  52. Weyland, Memoranda, 23 June 1959.
  53. Weyland, Memoranda, Volume IX, 16 Dec 1957.
  54. Weyland, Memoranda, 3 April 1959. 
  55. Weyland, Memoranda, 1 June 1959. For some of White’s views, see Futrell, Ideas, Concepts, Doctrine, p. 432.
  56. Weyland, Memoranda, 1 June 1959. 
  57. For an outlier in this regard, see Warren A. Trest, Air Commando One: Heinie Aderholt and America’s Secret Air Wars (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books, 2014). 

Related posts

Army Aviation – Ready for the Deep? Or out of it’s Depth?

Ian A

The Case for Innovation

British Army Innovation Team

A New Approach to Command Post Training

Steve B