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Historical Study of Some World War II Airborne Operations

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World War II saw the development of airborne operations and airborne warfare to the point where an airborne operation-- that is, the forces and techniques of which it is composed and their use could be looked upon as an additional weapons system of the armed forces or at least as a highly specialized task force combining both ground forces and air forces in a joint operation. As used in this report, an airborne operation is defined as an operation involving the movement of armed forces by air into an objective area for ground combat. The definition included the action of these armed forces on the ground as long as they are in no other contact with friendly forces except by air. During World War II airborne operations were employed on both sides in a variety of situations and with varying degrees of success. The U.S. Airborne forces in particular, experienced a considerable development both in size and technique. Like any new development in military thought and technique, the idea of the airborne assault has much appeal to the imagination. It is easy for enthusiasts in this direction to envisage the transport by air of entire army in the field of battle. There are others who believe that the overall cost of operations of this type, particularly on a very large scale, is out of proportion to the results that can be achieved. It would be most desirable and valuable indeed to have an accurate evaluation of military worth and effectiveness of an airborne assault. The Weapons Systems Evaluations Group has undertaken the study and evaluation of airborne operations from the standpoint of their use in a possible future war. A very specific question to be answered in this regard is the efficiency of which present airborne units can implement their portion of the current war planes.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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