We have all seen pictures of the “Big Three” (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin) at their historic meeting Yalta in February 1945. The three leaders command the viewer’s attention, naturally, but in the background of the various versions of that photo are other important figures. One can glimpse George Marshall in some. Foreign ministers Eden and Molotov appear in others. American Admirals King and Leahy are there. And so is a U.S. Army Air Force general named Larry Kuter. Not exactly a household name, Kuter was an enormously influential figure, who richly deserves this excellent biography written by airpower expert, Brian Laslie
: Architect of Air Power: General Laurence S. Kuter and the Birth of the U.S. Air Force
(University Press of Kentucky, 2017).
Dr. Laslie is the Deputy Command Historian at NORAD and US Northern Command and the author of another noteworthy book on the U.S. Air Force: The Air Force Way of War: U.S. Tactics and Training after Vietnam
(2015), which I can also recommend. Laslie kept encountering Kuter’s name or photo as his work took him to Air Force bases and installations around the world and began to ask questions. Kuter was the co-author of AWPD-1, the first American plan for air war and a strong proponent of daylight, precision strategic bombing. He commanded American forces all over the world, served immediately under Harold George in the postwar Air Transport Command, which gave him responsibility, among other things, for the Berlin Airlift in 1948. He set up the United States Air Force Academy; he commanded NORAD; in retirement, he worked with Pan Am on the 747 project. And there was much more to Kuter’s story, as you can read in Laslie’s book after you enjoy our conversation here.
Listeners might also be interested in the author’s blog, Balloons to Drones.