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Most strategies have to be proven in combat. And more often than not, these strategies do not survive the realities of contact with the enemy. How do strategic leaders deal with this? What is their role in implementing the strategy and when do they face the inevitable and adapt their original strategy?
A vital component of the United States' strategy at the outbreak of World War II was a bombing offensive against Germany. It was assumed that unescorted but heavily armed bombers could find their way to specific industrial targets, and could bomb these with great accuracy. However, in 1943 this strategy was proven to be untenable. With rapid adaptations not only to its strategy but also within its operational and tactical domains, the Eighth Air Force overcame the problems, managed to continue its daylight campaign and achieved success. This paper will look at the leadership displayed at the strategic level by Brigadier General Ira C. Eaker during the vital first eighteen months of combat operations. It will examine the agility and adaptability of Eaker and his organization as they gained experience and will focus on Eaker's prime areas of interest: leadership, public relations and the availability of resources.