A Discourse is the result of a highly creative process, which has its roots in Boyd’s early career, his involvement with the design of fighter aircraft and his interest in military history that followed from research projects associated with designing fighters. His ideas flowered because of the fertile soil Boyd found when he developed his thoughts in increasingly coherent form. These three factors will be addressed in this chapter. As is evident from the chronology of key dates and events in Box 2.1, Boyd’s ideas materialized over the span of several decades and gained coherent conceptual form only after his retirement in 1975.2

Two decades separate his first and last presentation. The years following his retirement were marked by the aftershocks of the Vietnam War, which were felt throughout the US armed forces. But his formative period began with flying fighters in the US Air Force. His military career started in 1945, when at age eighteen he enlisted in the Army and served in the occupation of Japan. Shortly after getting out of the Army, Boyd attended the University of Iowa on the GI Bill and enrolled in Air Force ROTC. In 1952, after graduating from college, Boyd attended Air Force pilot training at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona. There air-to-air combat was an eye-opener and he managed to persuade his commander to change his posting from flying bomber aircraft to fighters. In the winter of 1952-53 he was subsequently assigned to Korea with the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing, which operated the F-86 Sabre. What Boyd learned and did there constituted the basis for nearly everything he thought and did later, not only in air-to-air tactics, energy maneuverability, and aircraft design but also in his development of OODA loops, his thinking on strategy and maneuver warfare, and ultimately his thought on time and thinking itself.3