World War II Vertical Envelopment: The German Influence on U.S. Army Airborne Operations
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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This study traces the development of the United States Armys airborne concept during World War II. More than any other precedent, German airborne operations against Crete influenced the evolution of U.S. Army airborne doctrine, organization and utilization. Consequently, this thesis adopts a comparative perspective, both direct and longitudinal to examine the U.S. and German airborne experiences, with an emphasis on the former. A series of concerns and issues, including doctrine, organization, technology, tactics, and procedures, focus comparative emphasis on the U.S. airborne from 1940 through July 1943. The formative period extended through May 1941, while the expansion years extended into 1943. A major point of departure and comparison is the German invasion of Crete in May 1941, which lent important impetus to U.S. airborne development. Without knowledge of German losses and shortcoming, U.S. planners accepted Crete as their model on which to base rapid airborne expansion. Subsequently, Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily, taught U.S. airborne planners how to evolve their own lessons learned in detail and in full context. Crete remained the inspiration, but not the roadmap.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics