What would happen to Billy Mitchell in today's military?

US Army Brigadier General Billy Mitchell famously demonstrated air power by sinking old battleships in 1921. He had ignored orders to use smaller bombs dropped from higher altitudes. The orders were designed to support assertions from the Navy that bombers were not a serious threat to their ships.

He was later court-marshalled on charges not directly related to the demonstration. During the 1925 trial, Mitchell was cross-examined about his predictions that detailed how a Japanese attack from the carrier-launched bombers could destroy the US naval base at Pearl Harbor. He warned that serious changes were necessary to defend against such an attack. Mitchel did not survive to see his predictions fulfilled with amazing accuracy 16 years later.

A 1955 movie created a dramatization of the trial. See 10:30 for an excerpt related to the Pearl Harbor attack.

The size of US military and associated defense industry as grown enormously since the 1920s.

If another Billy Mitchell were in the military today would the outcome be any better?

Or is the system even less receptive to contrarians than it was a hundred years ago?

…he’d again have to kiss his career good-bye?


I believe we’ve already seen what would happen as ranking Conservative members of our military have been purged and replaced with people more interested in proper gender pronouns than in national defense.

The dude wanted the US Government to drop bombs on West Virginia coal miners in the Battle of Blair Mountain.

He really was a forward looking thinker.

They actually did.


Yes, I expect that Michell would be expelled long before he had any real authority. Failure to use the right pronouns or some other excuse could be used to end his career. Given the huge military spending, any evidence that they weapons are ineffective or vulnerable would be suppressed.

It has been 70 years since the US has fought a war against a near-peer adversary. I suspect there is a lot of panic inside the Pentagon these days that the proxy war in Ukraine is not going to plan.

The commentary below that explains how the US military seems to have assumed that Ukrainian fortifications in eastern Ukraine built over the last eight years would destroy the Russian Army. Instead the Russians are using massive amounts of drone-targeted artillery to defeat the entrenched Ukrainian forces. Approaches that may have worked in Iraq or Afghanistan are not working against Russian forces in Ukraine.

Yes, since the Ukrainian government has adopted similar approaches its attacks on civilian targets in Donbas. Mitchell was way ahead of his time.

So this was a back door way to talk about Ukraine.

Well done

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I see parallels between what happened with Billie Mitchell and what is going in the military in recent years.

In both cases, contrarian views that threatened the official narrative have been suppressed. If anything a massive growth in bloated bureaucracy means suppression is much more effective now than it was 100 years ago.

Can the US recover from a military defeat in Ukraine the way it recovered from the destruction of the US fleet at Pearl Harbor?

Or does the loss of western industrial capacity imply domination by Russia and China?

I knew you were going to link this to Ukraine.

All your Ukraine threads amount to the same thing. Russia is the good guy here and Ukraine bad with a dash of how America is losing which is weird cos no US troops are involved but hey ho.

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What I see is a massive campaign of disinformation and censorship coming from NATO governments.

Prosecuting journalists who present information that is contrary to state-approved narratives is not going to help us in the long run.

Germany is prosecuting a journalist who reported on civilian casualties from Ukrainian strikes in eastern Ukraine.

The Biden administration has paused its Disinformation Governance Board. Meanwhile it has passed red-flag laws that could be used to attack political opponents. What could go wrong?

Contrarian views will be punished. It is even more true today than it was for Billy Mitchell.

It’s not American troops that are being defeated in the Ukraine but rather the Biden Administration.
When you defeat the plan, you defeat the man. Once again, Democrats thought the answer to a problem was to throw money at it. They never learn.

I’d like to think that another Mitchell would get a fair hearing precisely because he predicted Pearl Harbor.

With a dash of gay bashing. Hooray.

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What would happen to a soldier who disobeys orders?

I guess the same thing then as now.

Well it’s not MacArthur trampling fellow veterans with horses to death but that’s pretty good.


Yes, that part of the problem. It is very easy to predict what happened at Pearl Harbor in retrospect, but that was not the case in the 1920s.

There is a saying that generals always fight the last war. Mitchell’s ideas about aircraft carriers and air power proved to be keys to the American victory in WWII. Recent wars have shown they continue to be very effective in places like the Middle East. The critical importance of air power has been dogma in the US military since WWII.

In contrast, the Russians are winning the war in Ukraine without the use of aircraft carriers and with only relatively limited use of their air force. Instead, they are using far larger numbers of cruise missiles than western analysts thought was possible. They have used artillery ammunition in quantities that are more than ten times what are available to US forces. The projections are that the NATO would exhaust its stocks of artillery shells within a couple of weeks based on Russian usage rates. What has worked in Iraq would not work in a major war with Russia or China.

The dogma from the Pentagon is not working, and the Russian strategies would be difficult to adapt quickly in the US.

Will the US quickly adapt like we did after Pearl Harbor?

Or will we continue to push failed approaches?

Yes, unless you are the General Milley.

They sent aid to Ukraine much preferable to sending troops. Dis Biden say the aid would guarantee success of Russia being pushed out of Ukraine? No he did not.

I know you want to spin this as Bidens war but its not.

I suspect is very grateful for the aid.

My gosh this thread is all over the place, the OP started with a discussion of a historical event viewed through todays prism. Then linked it to Ukraine, then bought in domestic red flag laws now I see 01/06 has now been pulled into it.

Not sure what we are discussing here or what the actual topic of the thread is.