David A. Deptula is the Dean of the Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Power Studies. He transitioned from the U.S. Air Force in 2010 at the rank of Lieutenant General after more than 34 years of service. General Deptula was commissioned in 1974 as a distinguished graduate from The University of Virginia Air Force ROTC program, and remained to complete a master's degree in 1976. During his military career he took part in operations, planning, and joint warfighting at unit, major command, service headquarters and combatant command levels, and also served on two congressional commissions outlining America’s future defense posture. He was a principal author of the original Air Force White Paper "Global Reach—Global Power."
In the early 1990s he was instrumental in the formation and development of the concept later known as "effects-based operations," having successfully applied it in building the attack plans for the Operation Desert Storm air campaign. He has been cited as having "... fostered the most significant change in the conduct of aerial warfare since Billy Mitchell... Deptula’s framework influenced the successful air campaigns in Operations Allied Force, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom. Today, joint targeting cells and Air Force doctrine reflect Deptula's theory of airpower and the changing nature of warfare.“
Deptula began his USAF career as a pilot earning his wings in 1977. Upon graduation, he was assigned an F-15C air superiority fighter, and went on to serve in a number of fighter squadrons in a variety of roles to include duty as an F-15 aerial demonstration pilot. He attended the USAF Fighter Weapons School, and became a squadron, and then wing weapons officer. His first staff assignment was in USAF Legislative Liaison. The remainder of his career he spent alternating between operational assignments commanding fighter units and in joint operations, with staff assignments at Headquarters USAF, Major Air Force Commands, and with the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Notable assignments included: Policy and issues analyst, Secretary of the Air Force Policy Group; Principal offensive air campaign planner for Operation Desert Shield, and Director, Iraq Target Planning Group, Operation Desert Storm; Commander, Combined/Joint Task Force for Operation Northern Watch (ONW), U.S. European Command; Director, 2001 Air Force Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR); Director, Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) 2001; Commander of the General George C. Kenney Warfighting Headquarters, and Vice Commander, Pacific Air Forces; Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC)—Operation Unified Assistance—the South Asia tsunami relief effort; and Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS) for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Headquarters USAF.
Deptula’s post-military retirement life involves research, education, and advocacy on matters relating to national security. He has served as a senior scholar at the U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development; on the Defense Science Board task force on innovation for the future; participated in the crafting of "A New Defense Strategy for a New Era" as a member of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Defense Advisory Committee; as a senior adviser to the Gemunder Center for Defense & Strategy; and as an adviser to the NATO Joint Air Power Competence Center future vector project. He has been a speaker at events hosted by the USAF; the Air Force Association; the Council On Foreign Relations; the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Affairs; the Center for a New American Security; the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Congressional Staff; the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; The National Security Roundtable; the Bipartisan Policy Center; the U.S. Peace Institute; several universities; international security events, and testified to Congress as a defense expert.
In addition to his primary occupation as the Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Deptula is a board member at a variety of institutions; an independent consultant; and is a commentator around the world on military issues; strategy; and ISR. He has appeared in numerous publications, on national and international television and radio, and authored articles in public, and professional magazines, journals, and books. Defense News magazine named Deptula one of the 100 most influential people in U.S. defense for 2014.