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5 Post Vietnam Military Reformers

October 7, 2007

Often referred to as the “late Cold War”, the period during and after America’s draw down from the Vietnam War to the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union saw a renaissance of military theory and practice in the armed forces. Though by no means a complete list, here are the most notable who fostered change within the armed forces during this exciting period in our history:

  1. Gen. W.L. “Bill” Creech-He brought a fighter pilot mentality to the bomber dominated US Air Force. As commander of Tactical Air Command in 1978, he instituted many reforms including decentralizing authority as well as creating a stringent testing process to create future leaders. His precepts were soon adopted by the entire Force, the same which later led to US to victory in the Cold War and beyond.
  2. Gen. William E. DePuy-His tenure as head of the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, starting in 1973, led to a rebirth in tactics and training within the service. Eventually this brought about the adoption of the AirLand Battle theory of warfare, that gave us the brilliant US victory during Operation Desert Storm.
  3. John F. Lehman, Jr.-He was the principle driving force of the “600 ship Navy” as Secretary of the Navy from 1981-87. He also advocated a more aggressive role for that force such as attacking Soviet Pacific bases in case of war as well as the controversial plan for sailing carriers into the Murmansk region. Most of his plans for rebuilding the fleet were followed through, including the continued building of large Nimitz carriers and the reactivation of the Iowa class battleships.
  4. Gen. Creighton Abrams-A former tank commander under George Patton at the Battle of the Bulge, he was Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1972-74, at a critical time following the Vietnam Conflict. He oversaw the Army’s transition to an all-volunteer force and was a major advocate for the “Big 5” weapons procurement, which also included his namesake, the M-1 Abrams tank.
  5. Colonel John (Richard) Boyd-Former Air Force fighter pilot, his revolutionary theories on warfare has had more effect outside his chosen service. Boyd’s genius was behind the creation of top jet fighters like the F-16, the F/A-18 and the F-15, all of which personify his “energy-maneuverability” concept. His principles of war, amazingly adopted by business as well as the military, was presented in a popular series of lectures titled “Patterns of Conflict” and is often sighted as behind the brilliant US victory of Desert Storm.

Other notable reformers of the era include Senator Gary Hart, General Bernard Trainor, Caspar Weinberger, Admiral James L. Holloway, Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, General Donn A. Starry, and so on…

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