John Boyd: Erieite and Enduring American Hero
Dec 18, 2019
Brian Lasher
John Boyd: Erieite and Enduring American Hero

Brian Lasher is a retired Navy pilot and strategic planner. He flew helicopter logistics missions in the Persian Gulf, Mediterranean and North Atlantic in the 1980s and early 90’s, and after leaving active duty he served eighteen years in the Naval Reserves. He was recalled to active duty three times following 9-11, including with the European Command’s Africa Division, at the Pentagon as part of the CNO’s crisis action team, and as a member of the Strategic Engagements Division of Multi-National Forces Iraq. Mr. Lasher earned a Master of Arts in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master of Strategic Studies from the Army War College. He also completed courses at the National Defense University, the Naval War College and the Joint Forces Staff College. He is a national board certified social studies teacher and he currently teaches advanced placement courses in government and history at the Collegiate Academy in Erie. Mr. Lasher will present a program about John Boyd.

John Boyd is arguably the most consequential military strategist of the Cold War period. Indeed, some believe he is one of most influential military strategists of all time. He was truly extraordinary and his exploits are legendary and he was born and raised in Erie!

He served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and his ideas influenced strategy for the Gulf War in 1991. Known as “40-Second Boyd,” he was considered the best fighter-pilot in the United States military, able to defeat any opponent in simulated air-to-air combat in less than 40 seconds. While just a captain, he wrote the “Aerial Attack Study” which became the first, official Air Force doctrine for air combat. He once snapped the tail off an F-86, and when investigated he was able to prove it was due to a design flaw in the aircraft.

As only a major at the Pentagon, he went toe-to-toe with colonels and even generals, out-maneuvering them to influence the design of the F-15, the F-16, the F-18 and the A-10, and his “Patterns of Conflict” briefs provided the theoretical foundation for the defense reform movement in the 1970s and 1980s.  After retiring, he worked in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Program Analysis and Evaluation, developing a work on the essence of creativity and ultimately his OODA-Loop Theory, which has been used in the fields of military strategy, sports, business and litigation.

Most people in Erie have never heard of him. Nevertheless, as Justice Felix Frankfurter once said, “wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.” It is high-time we remember and celebrate the remarkable contributions of John Boyd.

Brian Lasher will be introduced by Rotarian Mark Louis.