Lieutenant General David A. Deptula (Ret.) is a highly decorated military leader, transitioning from the U.S. Air Force in 2010 after more than 34 years of distinguished service. He is one of the world’s foremost experts on military aerospace issues—a pioneer in conceptualizing, planning, and executing national security operations from humanitarian relief to major combat. Featured in the book Airpower Pioneers: From Billy Mitchell to Dave Deptula, he accomplished several “firsts” in the command of joint forces, planning and execution of aerospace power, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and improved international relationships. He has taken part in operations, planning, and joint warfighting at unit, major command, service headquarters and combatant command levels. He also served on two congressional commissions on America’s future defense.
General Deptula has significant experience in combat and leadership in multiple major joint operations. He was the principal attack planner for the Desert Storm coalition air campaign in 1991. He has twice been a Combined/Joint Task Force Commander—in 1998/1999 commanding the No-Fly Zone over northern Iraq where he flew 82 combat missions as a general officer, and for Operation Deep Freeze conducting operations in Antarctica. In 2001, he led the Combined Air & Space Operations Center in the Mideast where he planned and orchestrated America’s response to the 9/11 attacks. In 2005, he was the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) for the South Asia tsunami relief effort, and in 2006 he performed the same duties for Pacific Command as the warfighting headquarters commander for the Pacific Air Forces.
General Deptula was the first U.S. Air Force Chief of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. Responsible for leadership of AF ISR and remotely piloted aircraft (drones), he transformed those enterprises setting a standard emulated by services and nations around the world. He has piloted more than 3,000 flying hours (400 in combat) to include multiple operational fighter command assignments in the F-15, and also performed as an international air show pilot in the F-15.
General Deptula has received numerous awards to include the Air Force Association’s highest honor in the field of national security, the H.H. Arnold Award, and Defense News named him one of the 100 most influential people in U.S. defense.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, he earned his B.A. in 1974 and M.E. in 1976 both at the University of Virginia where he was a distinguished graduate from Air Force ROTC. He is a graduate of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School (81DIN), Air Command and Staff College, and the Armed Forces Staff College. He also holds a M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National War College.
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