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Born May 30, 1869, in Caserta; died Feb. 15, 1930, in Rome. Italian fascist military theoretician; general.
Douhet was an artillery officer by training. He served in the air force from 1912 to 1915, when he was discharged for criticizing the command. He returned to the army in 1921 and aligned himself with the fascists. Until 1930 he was commander of the Italian Air Force. In 1910, Douhet stressed the leading role that aviation would play in a future war, a contention that was not borne out by the course of World War I. In Domination in the Air (1921; Russian translation, 1935) and The War of 19… (1930; Russian translation, 1936) he developed the theory of “independent air forces,” supposedly capable of determining a war’s outcome. It was his opinion that an air force, having gained domination in the air, could by itself secure victory in a war with strikes against the political and economic centers of the enemy. The army and navy were assigned an auxiliary role. Douhet’s theory was a reflection of the imperialists’ striving for a method of warfare that would require comparatively small forces, not mass armies. World War II proved the complete groundlessness of Douhet’s theory.