A retired Air Force general who was known as the father of “strategy to task,” and was instrumental in the development and implementation of new weapon systems during the last half of the 20th Century passed away April 25, at the age of 96.
Retired Lt. Gen. Glenn A. Kent spent more than three decades as an Army Air Corps and Air Force officer, becoming influential in the development, analysis and implementation of new weapons systems for the Department of Defense. He retired from the Air Force in 1974 as the director of the Weapon Systems Evaluation Group, Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering, with the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Kent was considered to be one of the premier analytical thinkers of all time and considered a visionary of defense analyses still in use today. In his memoir “Thinking about America’s Defense,” Kent provided a summary of national security issues he personally engaged over his career.
In addition to creating the concept of a single integrated operation plan, Kent also led DoD’s official assessment of strategic defenses throughout the 1960s and helped bring new weapon systems to life. He also developed and analyzed strategic nuclear arms control agreements that did much to lead to the end of the Cold War.
Kent began his military career in 1941 when he joined the Army Air Corps as a cadet and completed training in meteorology at the California Institute of Technology in 1942. His first assignment took him to Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, as a weather officer, and later during World War II was assigned to Greenland in a similar capacity.
Over a career spanning more than 33 years, Kent had numerous assignments in the weapons field with positions that ranged from research and development to planning, strategy and policy-making at the Headquarters, U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense levels.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Western State College of Colorado, Gunnison, in 1936, Kent went on to earn degrees from the Naval Post Graduate School in Annapolis, Md., and the University of California at Berkley.
After his retirement from the Air Force, Kent spent more than 20 years as a defense analyst for the Rand Corp.
Kent’s legacy continues today with the Lt. Gen. Glenn A. Kent Leadership Award, which recognizes leadership for the analytic community.
According to a senior Air Force official, while our nation was facing the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict, General Kent contributed critical thought and sound analysis to help convince leaders that a single command with an integrated operations plan should be responsible to organize and employ our strategic forces. His visionary concepts laid the way to the end of the Cold War two decades later.
“General Kent compels us to think logically as well as to study the lessons experienced by those before us –how they prevailed, adapted and modernized. These insights can help us maintain a competitive edge over our foes now and in the future.”