Jungle Skippers: The 317th Troop Carrier Group in the Southwest Pacific and Their Legacy
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIR AND SPACE STUDIES
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This study examines the 317th Troop Carrier Group s experience in the southwest Pacific during World War II to identify its long-term impacts. The work focuses on the 317ths role in two specific events, the Battle of Wau in January 1943, and the airborne assault at Nadzab the following September. Each event highlights a specific half of the combat airlift dichotomy of airland and airdrop. In airland, troops are moved by aircraft, and disembark after the aircraft reaches the ground. In airdrop, troops are moved by air transport and landed by means of parachutes. The author assesses how the convergence of opportunity, capability, and conditions enabled the 317th Troop Carrier Group to employ airland and airdrop to make a successful contribution beyond the immediate battlefield. This study demonstrates that the 317th s actions in both the Battle of Wau and the assault at Nadzab directly contributed to success at the engagement, campaign, theater, and institutional levels. Failure or limited success in similar, contemporaneous operations in the European theater allowed the actions at Wau and Nadzab to hold lasting significance. The troop carriers performance at the Battle of Wau and the assault on Nadzab represents the first truly successful execution of combat employment via airland and airdrop respectively. Together, they represent the point of origin of today s combat-employment mission. From here, we can see the doctrinal persistence and recurring themes of this application of airpower.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics