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Hoyt S. Vandenberg, The Life of a General

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In this insightful consideration of General Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Colonel Phillip Meilinger describes the career of one of the major leaders of the U.S. Air Force. Born in 1899, General Vandenbergs career spanned the interwar years, World War II, the tumultuous postwar years, and the Korean War. Vandenberg served in a variety of important operational as well as staff posts, providing him with an ideal background for positions of great responsibility. In World War II, as chief of staff of the 12th Air Force, and then the Northwest African Strategic Air Force, Vandenberg directed crucial air campaigns. In early 1944, Major General Vandenberg went to Europe as deputy air commander-in-chief of the Allied Expeditionary Forces and commanding general of the American air component. Subsequently, as commanding general of the 9th Air Force, he was involved in planning the Normandy invasion. Late in the war, he returned to Army Air Forces AAF headquarters as assistant chief of the Air Staff. In this capacity, he played a leading role in organizing the postwar Air Force. After an interlude in 1946 as the first director of central intelligence for the Secretary of War, Vandenberg returned to AAF headquarters. In October 1947, he was appointed vice chief of staff of the newly independent U.S. Air Force and in April 1948, he succeeded General Carl A. Spaatz as USAF chief of staff. Vandenberg made the decision in late 1948 that the Air Force would emphasize a buildup of its nuclear deterrent forces. Vandenberg was instrumental in bringing General Curtis LeMay back from Europe to head the Strategic Air Command, thus initiating decades of SAC as the nations premier nuclear deterrent force. Vandenberg also led the Air Force during the Korean War, when he had to balance needs dictated by that conflict against the requirement to sustain the Air Forces strategic deterrent to counter the Soviet threat. General Vandenberg was the Air Forces first Cold War leader.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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