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ACE, MCA Case Studies: 1941 Philippines

  • Published
  • By Air Education and Training Command

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Education and Training Command is reviewing moments of aviation history to reflect the importance of Agile Combat Employment, in addition to the warrior mindset and multi-capability its Airmen must sustain while preparing for the future fight. Brig. Gen. Henry “Sue” Clagett, of the V Interceptor Command back in 1941, is unfortunately an example of the tangible repercussions that may occur when an Airman or leader is not prepared for the mission at hand.

In the face of dispersed basing, a concept employed by the Air Corps, and later Army Air Forces, in Hawaii and the Philippines prior to the start of World War II. Although the intent was to develop survivable bases from which to defend and counter-attack Japanese forces should the need arise, Clagett’s team at the dispersed V Interceptor was caught on the ground on Dec. 8, 1941.

Clagett’s health and leadership skills were not up to the task of preparing dispersed interceptors for the Philippines, despite having ample warning of impending attack.

Thus, the ACE concept was deprived of timely essential logistics, equipment, and strong leadership in the Philippines, and despite the presence of some of the most outstanding multi-capable Airmen in history, leadership, logistics, and general unreadiness led to the disaster that would force many Airmen into roles as improvised infantry and the Bataan Death March.