Thursday May 09, 2024

Episode 69 - Influencers #11 - Brigadier Billy Mitchell

In this episode of "Battling with Business," Chris and Gareth explore Brigadier Billy Mitchell, a controversial figure in the history of US airpower and naval warfare. As part of their "Influencer episodes" series, they analyse Mitchell's pioneering yet often contentious approach to military innovation and how his vision for airpower shaped modern warfare.

The hosts discuss Mitchell's experiences during the First World War, which led him to believe that a future Great Power War was likely and that airpower would play a critical role. Mitchell's advocacy for airpower resulted in significant clashes with military and political leaders, culminating in a court martial and eventual demotion.

Chris and Gareth examine Mitchell's bold approach, focusing on his advocacy for bombing trials on large naval battleships. They discuss the resulting political backlash, the challenges posed by leadership, and the role of hubris in stalling military progress. Through these discussions, they question whether Mitchell's experiences offer parallels to modern issues, such as the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), and consider the fine line between a visionary and a crank.

Overall, the episode offers valuable insights into how innovation and change can face resistance, especially within traditional institutions. The story of Brigadier Billy Mitchell becomes a reflection on the importance of vision in driving progress, despite opposition, and what it takes to challenge the status quo. Chris and Gareth conclude by considering how today's military and business leaders can learn from Mitchell's journey and whether his legacy resonates with current trends in warfare and technology.

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