Airborne Warfare

“It was 2,200 yeas later when sea power reached its full potential. Then, in the battle of Normandy, the Allied powers, using hundreds of seacraft of all types, invaded the Continent of Europe. The sea was used to its fullest. It is significant, however, that part of the invading forces were transported by AIR. It was significant because that battle saw sea power at its peak. AIR power was just beginning. And this is the critical point that we have arrived at, and this is the competition we are in. This media that envelops us we must use. We must imagine, design, and develop the means and methods of using it. We must–if our people and our institutions are to survive. For the people with their institutions who best learn how to use this media will survive in this highly competitive world.
AIR power is now the decisive element in modern war. And by AIR power is meant every contribution to waging war that man has created and that can be flown. Men, weapons, ammunition, food, bombs, missiles, and all that it will take to fight a future war must FLY. Clearly, therefore, in the development of our AIR power and Airborne potential changes must be made in our ground force equipment as well as in our Air Force equipment.

The conventional type steel and cast iron earth-bound tank cannot in its present form win the battle with air-transported shaped-charge weapons. In its present form it is as exctinct as the elephants of Zama and the heavily armed knights of Agincourt. The entire Airborne-armored problem must be viewed in the light of the capabilities of modern shaped-charge [RPGs] and rocket weapons. The same is true of our communications equipment, trucks, reconnaissance vehicles, artillery, food, and in fact, everything must be flown.

Organizations created to fight the last war better are not going to win the next. Nor is building an airplane around the ground weapons that won the last war an assurance that we will win the next. Keeping foremost in our minds the functional purposes of our means of ground combat, these means must be developed and produced so that they can be delivered to the battlefield in sufficient quantity to gain the decision. Not only must our airplanes, ‘chutes, developed but our ground fighting weapons and equipment as well. Only thus, will we attain a position of dominance in Airborne Warfare.

The nation that in the future has the best trained and equipped Airborne Forces has the best chance of survival. Indeed, more than this, only by having such security forces can any nation survive. For as long as these means of waging modern war are available to us, they are available to aggressor nations. And modern Airborne Forces of aggressor nations cannot be fought successfully with the weapons that fought past wars. Not if they are to be engaged at parity and beaten.

Airborne troops are our best national security and the world’s most promising hope for international security.

The knowledge of the existence of a well trained Airborne Army, capable of moving anywhere on the globe on short notice, available to an international security body such as the United Nations, is our best guarantee of lasting peace. And the nation or nations that control the AIR control the peace.” – General James M. Gavin in Airborne Warfare, 1947

The truth of his words shown true today by the deeds of the U.S. Airborne in Korea, the Congo, Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Shield/Storm, Haiti and Bosnia…….

“In reviewing these actions it is apparent that some military capabilities have been quite useful while others have assumed a much more modest role. In Panama, Haiti and Somalia the principal instrument of American power was its light infantry divisions. Secretary of State Warren Christopher noted that, ‘despite the threat of air and naval attack, it was only when the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division was in the air that the Haitian government of General Cedras stepped aside and agreed to the restoration of power to President Aristide.'” – Colonel M. Thomas Davis, USA