Thomas McInerney, Lieutenant General, USAF (ret) is a political commentator and a retired United States Air Force Lieutenant General, who served in top military positions under the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President of the United States. McInerney was a forward air controller and fighter pilot during the Vietnam War and had flown 407 combat missions during his four tours of duty. In addition to his Vietnam service, McInerney served overseas in NATO; Pacific Air Forces and as commander of 11th Air Force in Alaska.
After graduating from USMA in June 1959, McInerney was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He then joined the Air Force, and completed initial pilot training at Bartow Air Base, Florida, and Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, in November 1960. He participated in the Berlin and Cuban crises in 1962, flying escort missions in the West Berlin Air Corridor and escort reconnaissance missions over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In April 1963, he was one of the first forward air controllers assigned to South Vietnam with a Vietnamese army division. He participated in three additional Southeast Asia deployments.
After completing the Armed Forces Staff College in February 1970, he was transferred to the Directorate of Operational Requirements, Air Force headquarters. Upon graduation from National War College in July 1973, McInerney was assigned to the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing, Luke Air Force Base, as F-104 and F-5 director of operations. In August 1974, he became the air attaché to the U.S. Embassy in London. From November 1976 until October 1977, he was vice commander of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Station Upper Heyford, England. McInerney then became military assistant to Ambassador Robert W. Komer. In March 1979, McInerney became commander of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing, Clark Air Base, Philippines.
In February 1981, he became commander of the 313th Air Division, Kadena Air Base, Japan. McInerney then was deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence, Headquarters Pacific Air Forces, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, from June 1983 to July 1985, when he became commander of 3rd Air Force, Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, England. In October 1986, McInerney was assigned as vice commander in chief, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, West Germany. He became commander of Alaskan Air Command, Alaskan NORAD Region, and Joint Task Force Alaska in May 1988. McInerney assumed command of Alaskan Command upon its activation in July 1989 and became commander of 11th Air Force when Alaskan Air Command was redesignated 11th Air Force in August 1990.