1st Cavalry Division's Effectiveness In Conducting Airmobile Operations During Operation Pegasus
US Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth United States
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During the Vietnam War, the use of the helicopter as a means to maneuver an infantry force rapidly over restrictive terrain became common practice and enhanced the efforts of the US military to conduct combat operations in mountainous and jungle environments. As the war progressed, the capacity to conduct larger-scale airmobile operations advanced from simple company movements, to complex movements of entire divisions. From April 1 to April 15, 1968, 1st Cavalry Division successfully conducted Operation Pegasus which was the first such division level operation. This monograph investigates why the 1st Cavalry Division was so effective in Operation Pegasus. It does so by examining the structure of the division and the development of airmobile doctrine used in the operation. It also examines the assisting standard operating procedures. As a result of the divisions integral helicopters, it was capable of transporting itself effectively in combat. The aviation units were fully capable of continuously moving each of the brigades within the division against an enemy force. The methods to successfully maneuver in this manner resulted of stateside testing and early war experiences that together combined into one battle tested doctrine. As the division gained experience in Vietnam, the repetitive conduct of airmobile operations built effectiveness through the use of detailed and complete standard operating procedures. The rapid success derived of these efforts culminated in division level maneuver demonstrated during Operation Pegasus.