Lieutenant General David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret)

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies
JADC2 & All Domain Warfare Symposium

Lieutenant General David A. Deptula (Ret.) is a highly decorated military leader, who transitioned from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in 2010 after more than 34 years of distinguished service. He is a world-recognized leader and pioneer in conceptualizing, planning, and executing national security operations from humanitarian relief to major combat operations. He has 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, and also served on two congressional commissions outlining America’s future defense.


General Deptula has significant experience in combat and leadership in several major joint contingency 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 for Operation Northern Watch where he flew 82 combat missions as a general officer, and for Operation Deep Freeze conducting operations in Antarctica. In 2001, he served as Director of the Combined Air Operations Center for Operation Enduring Freedom where he orchestrated air operations over Afghanistan. In 2005, he was the Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC) for Operation Unified Assistance, the South Asia tsunami relief effort, and in 2006 he was the standing JFACC for Pacific Command.


General Deptula was the first U.S. Air Force Chief of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). Responsible for policy formulation, planning, and 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.


In 2010, General Deptula received the Air Force Association’s highest honor in the field of national security. Defense News magazine 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, 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. 


General Deptula is currently the Dean, Mitchell Institute of Aerospace Studies; the Risner/Perot Senior Military Scholar at the U.S. Air Force Academy Center for Character and Leadership Development; and the Grand Paramount of the Military Order of the Carabao. He is also a board member at a variety of institutions; an independent consultant; and a commentator world-wide on military issues; aerospace; strategy; and ISR.