Davis, Richard G. 1948-
Davis, Richard G. 1948-
National Archives, Washington, DC, former archivist; Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, DC, senior historian for the Air Force History Support Office.
Award of Excellence in nonfiction, Aviation/Space Writers' Association, 1994, for Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe, 1940-1945.
The 31 Initiatives: A Study in Air Force-Army Cooperation, Office of Air Force History (Washington, DC), 1987.
Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe, Center for Air Force History (Washington, DC), 1993.
Decisive Force: Strategic Bombing in the Gulf War, Air Force History and Museums Program (Washington, DC), 1996.
HAP, Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator, Air Force History and Museums Program (Washington, DC), 1997.
On Target: Organizing and Executing the Strategic Air Campaign against Iraq, Air Force History and Museums Program (Washington, DC), 2002.
Anatomy of a Reform: The Expeditionary Aerospace Force, Air Force History and Museums Program (Washington, DC), 2003.
Bombing the European Axis Powers: A Historical Digest of the Combined Bomber Offensive, 1939-1945, Air University Press (Maxwell Air Force Base, AL), 2006.
Historian Richard G. Davis is an authority on the U.S. Air Force from World War II through the war in Iraq. Considered an expert on World War II general Carl A. Spaatz, he won an award from the Aviation/Space Writers' Association for his book Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe. Davis has also been an enthusiastic believer in the importance of the role of the Air Force in deciding battles and wars. This is particularly evident in On Target: Organizing and Executing the Strategic Air Campaign against Iraq.
On Target concerns the Air Force's role in Operation Desert Storm, which was part of the first Gulf War that lasted from 1990 to 1991. As part of this operation, the U.S. military was sent to Kuwait to drive out invading Iraqi forces. The Americans used overwhelming aerial assaults on Iraq's ground forces, and afterwards it only took about five days to chase the remaining invaders out of the country. The strategies the Americans carried out were unprecedented at that time, as Air Power History critic Ronald H. Cole pointed out: "Davis called the air war a new synthesis of ideas and technology that maximized the destructive force of air power using non-nuclear weapons to devastate KARI and the Iraqi air force; cripple communications, oil, electrical facilities and the transportation infrastructure; and set the stage for subjugation within one hundred hours of a very large and well armed Iraqi army."
"Davis effectively presents both the situation in Iraq before the war and the convoluted planning process and backroom discussions that resulted in the air campaign plan," reported Merrick E. Krause in an Air & Space Power Journal review. Krause went on to praise the author's "easy-to-read style," but more importantly pointed out that it "is a stunningly well documented and detailed book." Although the critic did not completely agree with Davis that air power was the single most important factor in conclusively defeating the enemy, he asserted that On Target is a commendable effort because Davis "has a gift for capturing a wildly complicated plan and making sense of it on paper." Cole also observed how "Davis crows that the strategic air campaign was a decisive factor," but felt that the facts of the story are not commensurate with the "triumphalism" of this viewpoint. Still, the book is "well worth reading," according to Cole.
Davis is also the author of Anatomy of a Reform: The Expeditionary Aerospace Force, an attempt to explain how the U.S. Air Force is remaking itself to adapt for the future. Anatomy of a Reform is helpful in explaining all the problems the Air Force was having with such issues as equipment supplies, troop readiness, and forces that were being spread thin because of multiple overseas obligations. The book is likely more appealing to those in the military or who understand the military, for it goes into considerable detail about all the planning that has gone into creating an Expeditionary Aerospace Force (EAF), as well as how these plans are executed. While the work "provides a concise view of a very dynamic and highly-paced time in Air Force history," according to critic Robert A. Morris, writing in an Air Power History review, Davis was remiss in not mentioning the all the work from agencies outside the Air Force that went into the two-year process of the reform. Morris commented: "No fewer than ten non-government agencies and fourteen government analytic agencies provided direct support and studies for this effort, and they receive scant mention." The reviewer therefore believed that Anatomy of a Reform is a "good overview" of the subject, but urged Davis to write more on the topic in another book.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Air & Space Power Journal, spring, 2004, Merrick E. Krause, review of On Target: Organizing and Executing the Strategic Air Campaign against Iraq.
Air Power History, fall, 2004, Robert A. Morris, review of Anatomy of a Reform: The Expeditionary Aerospace Force; summer, 2006, Robert H. Cole, "Review of the Desert Storm Air War."
Air Power Journal, winter, 1997, Richard G. Davis, "Gen. Carl Spaatz and D Day."
American Historical Review, October, 1995, Alfred F. Hurley, review of Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe, p. 1330.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, June, 1994, R. Higham, review of Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe, p. 1645.
Journal of American History, June, 1995, Sam H. Frank, review of Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe, p. 336.
Journal of Military History, January, 1996, Kenneth P. Werrell, review of Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe, p. 182.