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Old 10-31-2007   #1
Rifleman
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Default An Airborne Expeditionary Unit?

This was posted by Ken White on another thread:

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I strongly agree with you the GP units can do much more than we ask of them; all that's required is proper training (and we do not yet have that right) for the job they're head for. That, as opposed to schools which should train to levels higher than the next job, is necessary due to unit turnover.. A decently trained Infantry Battalion can do anything a Ranger battalion can do -- and at far less cost; give any Battlion the training time, gear and money a Ranger Battalion has and he'll be close enough in capability for government work.
It caught my eye and started me wondering; however, I didn't want to hijack the thread it came from, so.....

Would creating a special mission task force from "regular" parachute infantry units have been a better long term option than the Ranger Battalions? I mean something similar to the Marine Corps MEU (SOC) concept for the Army: an Airborne Expeditionary Unit (Ranger Operations Capable), or whatever you'd choose to call it.

Would the capability to execute ranger-type missions have suffered if battalions from the 82nd had been detached from the division, assigned temporarily to a special task force headquarters, and trained up, tested, certified and put on standby to perform ranger-type operations?

After six months or so on standby they could stand down and another battalion could take over the role.

This would go way beyond the Division Ready Force that I remember. We weren't trained up and evaluated on a list of special operations missions before assuming DRF1 in my day.

It's sort of a pointless debate at this stage; it's not going to change now. It probably shouldn't change. After all, why disband a capability in one place only to re-create it in another form somewhere else? I'm just asking if this would have been a better option to begin with instead of forming the Ranger Battalions back in 1974?
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Old 10-31-2007   #2
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Rifleman, I think that creating new Ranger Battalions was probably unnecessary; with Ranger-type training and adequate resources, any regular infantry battalion can do the same thing.

We'll have to wait and see how Ken clarifies this when he posts, but I think that Ken seems to mean something more along German/Commonwealth lines rather than U.S. lines in this regard. What I mean is what Lord Slim said about any special operation requiring units larger than 5-man parties, that any properly-trained regular infantry unit should and can perform such operations. Slim was in favour of Special Forces like the SAS/SBS; he consciously rejected Commando Forces like the Army and Royal Marine Commandos, the Rangers, and their kind, considering them to be both unnecessary and a drain on the regular infantry battalions. He even believed that Parachute Operations should be a routine task for regular infantry battalions.

In short, I think what Ken is saying is that all regular infantry battalions should maintain Ranger Battalion-level standards, not just a select few. It must also be said that small Armies are often compelled by their small size to ensure that their regular units are capable of many "special operations" that larger armies can afford to have separate units for.

During the Second World War, the Imperial General Staff surveyed the CO's of the British and Commonwealth Infantry Battalions in the ETO about the acceptability of regular infantryman for Airborne Forces. The conclusion of the Infantry CO survey was that 2/3 rds of regular infantrymen would successfully pass Airborne Forces standards. Those standards included a 10-mile battle march within 2 hours with full kit, and a 20 mile forced march within 4 hours with full kit, amongst others. By comparison, the regular infantry were required to perform a 5-mile forced march within 1 hour, and a 20-mile route march within 5 hours, 20 minutes, both with full kit.

By the 1970's, the regular infantry battalions in Commonwealth Armies had taken over most of the tasks that formerly been the preserves of the Airborne and Commando Forces. Since then, the latter have been somewhat "heavied-up" and are used as much as elite shock troops as they are in their original roles. Although the British Airborne Forces have tweaked their standards in recent decades, and are now much closer to the Royal Marines in many ways than they used to be, those standards are hardly inaccessible to regular infantry. In any case, a 6-month basic infantry syllabus would be sufficient to achieve such standards without taking any "shortcuts". A 3- or 4-week Basic Parachute Course could be tacked on at the end. Basic Air Assault and Amphibious Assault training would be part of the aforesaid six months' basic infantry training.

I maintain some doubt that the standards of the Commando Forces would be quite so accessible, but Slim wrote that his own regular troops in India and Burma had been trained to the same high standards. Many Royal Marines instructors are of the view that a 9-month basic infantry and commando syllabus is necessary to bring select recruits up to such standards without either cutting some corners or losing trainees to injuries because they're being pushed too far too fast.

My principle objection to going this far is not that I don't believe regular infantry battalions are capaable of the same tasks and missions as Airborne Forces (or the Marines) with proper leadership and training. My principle objection is that most infantry battalions are (at least in my own experience) seriously under-funded for men and resources. Most units get by with just the minimum, if that. It is more "economical" in the view of planners for a few "elite" units to get the resources and funding that would give most regular infantry battalions (provided that they were on a German-style Divisional System or at least a British-style Regimental System, rather than an "individual"-based system) with proper leadership and training, the same capabilities. Otherwise, if I am reading Ken correctly, I quite agree with him.

At the very least, other than lack of resources, I see no good reason why the Airborne and Air Assault Divisions aren't all RIP-qualified, dispensing with the need for separate Ranger Battalions altogether. Same for the Marine Divisions; other than lack of resources, there seems little good reason for Marine Infantry Battalions to not all be SOC-capable - even the Marine Corps offically agrees on this point, theoretically. So, other than Special Forces, practically all other regular infantry units should be capable of what Marine-MEU-SOC and Ranger Battalions are capable of now.

Last edited by Norfolk; 10-31-2007 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 10-31-2007   #3
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Default Can't add much to that, Norfolk...

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"A decently trained Infantry Battalion can do anything a Ranger battalion can do -- and at far less cost; give any Battalion the training time, gear and money a Ranger Battalion has and he'll be close enough in capability for government work." (emphasis added / kw)
Your cite of Slim is apropos -- and that comment by him is one of the reasons I named him in my list on the Great Generals thread. Slim 'got it' -- pity about some of the others...

Only thing I'd add to your excellent post is that while some airborne capability is needed, most missions do not require that capability; what they do require are just well trained and competent units that are trusted to do missions without over supervision. The MEU(SOC) was a good start...
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Old 10-31-2007   #4
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Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Only thing I'd add to your excellent post is that while some airborne capability is needed, most missions do not require that capability; what they do require are just well trained and competent units that are trusted to do missions without over supervision. The MEU(SOC) was a good start...
Would it be fair to say then, Ken, that for strictly practical purposes, a smaller Commando Forces element (say Brigade Group/Separate Brigade-sized) would be (theoretically) more efficient than a pair of Airborne/Air Assault Divisions and a Ranger Regiment for Parachute Operations, and leave all the other conventional and special operations (excepting of course those that adhere to Slim's rule) to regular infantry formations and units?

Last edited by Norfolk; 10-31-2007 at 11:55 PM. Reason: Clarification
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Old 11-01-2007   #5
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Before the Ranger battalions were reformed the 82nd was already able to do those missions and a few others to boot. I am of the opinion that many of the so called special operations capabilities are nothing but good infantry training.
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Old 11-01-2007   #6
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Before the Ranger battalions were reformed the 82nd was already able to do those missions and a few others to boot. I am of the opinion that many of the so called special operations capabilities are nothing but good infantry training.
Totally agree slapout, and so true.
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Old 11-01-2007   #7
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Default We're going from idle conjrcture to real world?

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Originally Posted by Norfolk View Post
Would it be fair to say then, Ken, that for strictly practical purposes, a smaller Commando Forces element (say Brigade Group/Separate Brigade-sized) would be (theoretically) more efficient than a pair of Airborne/Air Assault Divisions and a Ranger Regiment for Parachute Operations, and leave all the other conventional and special operations (excepting of course those that adhere to Slim's rule) to regular infantry formations and units?
Heh. I can only give my opinion and not a definitive answer (obviously ). slapout has an excellent point -- the Eighty Twice did in fact train for and perform those missions -- as did the 101st when they were still on jump status. Units in Alaska, Panama and Germany or later, Italy, also trained for them. Got pretty good at them, too. The 1st Ranger Bn was activated because training two Divisions and three Bde sized elements to do those missions was deemed too expensive. The other two Bns were activated because one was not enough.

I'm not a fan of the Division, any Division, I think they're an anachronism retained to justify GO slots -- of whom we have too many -- but given the current state of the world, I'd be inclined to go with six Separate parachute Bdes answering to an Airborne Corps for most -- which is what we now have. However, I'd up them to three Inf Bns plus the Cav Sqn.

The remaining Light Inf (12 Bdes) would get the same training less the parachute and all 18 Bdes would be on the ground -- and for most missions -- totally interchangeable.

Nor am I a fan of the Ranger Regiment (with all due apologies to denizens thereof, including Jorge and a few other friends... ). In fact, if you took those guys and spread them around...

One caveat -- We need a SOCOM or something similar and their direct action capability and they need a significant deployable Intel and backup element. IMO, that should all be a joint operation and removed from the services -- who also need a direct action capability but on an operational rather than a strategic scale. Tactical DA capability should be at Corps level, OpCon to Bdes as required. I'm inclined to think the SF Gps should revert to the Army and concentrate on the UW / ID missions but some form of effort with that SOCOM would certainly be necessary -- that needs some thought and study. not by me, I can't affect anything; by the Army and SOCOM..

That'll probably fire up some people who'll say I don't understand. I do, been there done that. All of it -- the issue is political and parochial whereas it should be nothing but effectiveness. Sadly, my perception is that is not the case.
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Old 11-02-2007   #8
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[QUOTE=Ken White;29872]
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I'm not a fan of the Division, any Division, I think they're an anachronism retained to justify GO slots -- of whom we have too many -- but given the current state of the world, I'd be inclined to go with six Separate parachute Bdes answering to an Airborne Corps for most -- which is what we now have. However, I'd up them to three Inf Bns plus the Cav Sqn.
I think that's Col. MacGregor's idea. That's way above the level I knew anything about (the way things worked just got sort of hazy for a young E-5 when you got above battalion level ) but I think he makes a sensible argument. He certainly articulates his position well.

Quote:
Nor am I a fan of the Ranger Regiment (with all due apologies to denizens thereof, including Jorge and a few other friends... ). In fact, if you took those guys and spread them around...
I think your former Marineness is showing. Wasn't that the reason Raider Battalions were disbanded?

Quote:
One caveat -- We need a SOCOM or something similar and their direct action capability and they need a significant deployable Intel and backup element. IMO, that should all be a joint operation and removed from the services --
CIA controlled perhaps?

Quote:
I'm inclined to think the SF Gps should revert to the Army and concentrate on the UW / ID missions but some form of effort with that SOCOM would certainly be necessary -- that needs some thought and study. not by me, I can't affect anything; by the Army and SOCOM..
Again, it occurs to me that not all WWII OSS operatives were Army. Some were civilians. Should the CIA take over/handle all UW?
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Old 11-02-2007   #9
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Default Yea and nay...

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Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
I think that's Col. MacGregor's idea. That's way above the level I knew anything about (the way things worked just got sort of hazy for a young E-5 when you got above battalion level ) but I think he makes a sensible argument. He certainly articulates his position well.
Wasn't MacGregor's idea, that had been around since WW I; got greater emphasis after each succeeding war and MacGregor just stated it well, as you say. He also stated it at a time when it was feasible to implement it -- if only halfheartedly.

Quote:
I think your former Marineness is showing. Wasn't that the reason Raider Battalions were disbanded?
Maybe not -- I think there should be Raider Bns and no SEAL teams (different environment, parameters and training requirements than the Army, most notably a short notice employment probability); I do not think there should be a Ranger Regiment. I contend those missions can be done by a properly trained and resourced Infantry Bde. The mission in peacetime (fewer training dollars which is one factor that lead to the creation of the Ranger Bns) should be rotated among the Airborne Bdes which will improve the training and capability of all of them.

DoD needs to sit down and sort out the direct action and strategic recon missions and figure out what is entailed. I'd prefer a totally SOCOM DA outfit, no Army, no Navy, no AF, no Marines -- a true sixth service -- but I know that the Rice Bowl protection syndrome is unlikely to allow that. The down side of that is that SOCOM is already 'reluctant' to cooperate and share intel and that syndrome would be exacerbated (that is a generalization and there are exceptions); not good...

Quote:
CIA controlled perhaps? . . . Again, it occurs to me that not all WWII OSS operatives were Army. Some were civilians. Should the CIA take over/handle all UW?
Some were also Marines and Navy. Langley needs to keep its covert DA capability but they should not take over all UW -- or DA msns (or even many missions in either domain). The nation also needs a military DA capability. I think UW and ID should be an Army Mission, strategic DA, recon and direct support intel for that DA a SOCOM mission. Others will differ.

Last edited by Ken White; 11-02-2007 at 05:57 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 11-03-2007   #10
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Default At the very least, reform the Airborne.

At the very least, tasking the 82nd Airborne Division as the sole Airborne Forces Formation in the US Army would be much more sensible. Keep the 4 PIR-based BCT's that the Division has now, and bring those BCT's up to full strength by amalgamating the Ranger Regiment with them. Re-assign the Pathfinder Company of the 101 Airborne Division to the 82nd along with most of its Aviation troops and equipment, and convert the 101st back to a regular infantry division.

This way, the 82nd Airborne Division, the only Airborne Formation in the US Army that has had an unbroken existence as an Airborne Division (the 17th Airborne Division was converted into the 101st Airborne Division back in the mid-1950's, the 101st having been disbanded right after WWII), would have the full range of Airborne tasks and capabilities in a single Formation. It would be trained, TOE'd, and tasked for Parachute Operations, Airmobile Operations, Commando Operations, etc. Clearly, such a Formation would be ideal for both Rapid-Reaction and Strategic Reserve roles.

Given the the expense of having not less than five Airborne Formations at present in the Army (the 82nd/101st Abn Divs, the 4th BCT/25th Inf Div, 173rd Abn Bge, and the 75th Ranger Rgt), it would make sense to economise where possible and consolidate training and equipment as much as possible in a single Formation. The 82nd Airborne Division is the senior Formation in this regard with an unbroken operational status as an Airborne Formation; it is located at Fort Bragg, where it can work with the Special Forces and provide them with support in DA operations and close to Camp Lejeune where it can participate in Amphibious Training and Operations (as the Rangers do) as well as Joint Operations with the USMC; it already works with the Air Force at Pope AFB on practically a daily basis anyway; and Fort Bragg is a much larger training area than Fort Campbell.

The Army needs regular infantry divisions: convert all the Light Infantry Divisions (and the 101st Airborne Division - let them keep their Airborne title just like the 1st Cav Div keeps its Cavalry title, even though it's formally an Armored Div) back to regular Infantry Divisions (except for the 10th Mtn Div - make it a real Mountain Division infact, not just name), run everyone in the 82nd through RIP and give them the resources the Rangers now get, and let the 82nd Airborne Division handle most of the rapid-reaction Light Formation role stuff. Organize Airborne Infantry Battalions and Brigades for Expeditionary Operations, much as the Marines do, and especially like the MEU-SOCs. Good stuff, and it would make for a more effective and efficient Army, and Airborne, than exists now.

Last edited by Norfolk; 11-03-2007 at 03:08 AM.
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Old 11-03-2007   #11
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Default Couple of minor points, Norfolk.

The 17th was not "converted into" the 101st. Both Divisions were inactivated after WW II (fall of '45 for both). The 17th has never been reactivated. The 101st was reactivated in 1948 and again in 1954, both times as a Training Division (not airborne). It was transferred to Fort Campbell and reorganized as an airborne division in 1956-57. In 1968 it was removed from parachute status and became an Airmobile division. It still bears the title Airborne but it is not parachute qualified; it is effectively a light infantry division now and has been since '68.

Most of what you suggest for the 82d has been in place and operational for some time. All US Divisions have an Aviation Bde and the Division Aviation Bdes are now standardizing so the 82d doesn't need aircraft from the 101st. Tenth Mountain does a lot of real mountain training at several locations. Bragg is larger than Campbell but it also has environmental constraints that Campbell does not and both Divisions normally do a lot of off-post training in any event.

Experience has shown that the strategic and rapid reaction missions can often conflict. Thus I think that both PaCom and EuCom would object to your stealing 4/25 and the 173d from them.

I suspect the answer from the airborne Mafia would be "we don' need no steenkin' reform..."

That doesn't address the 75th which has morphed into something other than the original intent, a necessary mission -- though I could quibble about the details, somone has to do it. They will fight to stay as they are because SOCOM picks up the not inconsiderable bill.
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Old 11-03-2007   #12
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I stand corrected. Thanks Ken.

I thought the 101st's Aviation Brigade was much larger and more capable than the 82's - that the 101st was able to lift an entire brigade (hence the 101st's only Parachute Unit being an entire company of Pathfinders) at a time while the 82nd was only able to lift a battalion at a time. I may be mistaken in that regard apparently, too.

I'm sure the Lawndarts really would object to many of the "reforms" I propose, especially junking the Parachute Brigades in Alaska and Italy - and there is quite some merit in that. I was envisioning (though I neglected to put pen to paper here) that Fort Bragg would be the Divisional Home Station, but 3 of its 4 organic Parachute Brigades would be located at other Brigade Posts across the country. Each Parachute Brigade would be operationally attached to one of the active Army Corps.

Besides, I'm pretty sure the squaddies in the 82nd would be quite happy to take RIP.

And it was the 11th Airborne Division, not the 17th, - my mistake, I apologize - that served alongside the 82nd as one of the Army's only two permanent Parachute Divisions after WWII (until converted into the 24 th Infantry Division in Germany in 1958) - and brief re-activation in the mid-sixties being converted once again and of course this time, it was as the 1st Cav Div (Airmobile) with an organic Parachute Brigade.

Last edited by Norfolk; 11-03-2007 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Corrections and clarifications.
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Old 11-03-2007   #13
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Default Nit Pickin Stuff

This is nit pickin,but the 101 is now 101 Air Assault they are rahter proud of that distinction. The 11th was reactivated as the 11th Air Assault Division (Test), then abosorbed into the 1st Cav(Airmoble) Division. One of my 1st Squad leaders SSGT Dickey Flett was from the Air Cav which had one Brigade Airborne when they were first created.
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Old 12-20-2007   #14
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All these large airborne formations are of no use in a real war.
How do you deploy them? Parachuting into a SAM infested red zone? Got some airlifters too many?
Once they jumped they are just light infantry, since no U.S. airborne unit has BMD style vehicles to make the final dash to the objective.

And I don't even start talking about supplying a brigade from the air ...

Air-transportable yes (as much as possible).
Airborne only up to battalion level (mechanized airborne = cavalry, if possible).
Airmobile - fancy word. Every light infantry unit should be capable of that. Own dedicated formations? No. And why? Airbornes don't have C-17 attached to them, either.


@ all this "Special" forces thing: What about getting regular infantry units into shape, instead of creating the fifth or six service branch?
But isn't it, that everybody tries to get away from dirty and dangerous and into more technicalized units, and those who can't make it end up in infantry? Negative selection. And then if you need infantry units that really do the job you have to start anew (and pin SOCOM on them)?
SOCOM should be really limited to politically/diplomatically/militarily "toxic" missions.
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Old 12-20-2007   #15
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Default Oh? you basis for this is?

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All these large airborne formations are of no use in a real war.
How do you deploy them? Parachuting into a SAM infested red zone? Got some airlifters too many?
That would be sort of dumb. Why would one do that? Why not go where the SAMs are not?

Quote:
Once they jumped they are just light infantry, since no U.S. airborne unit has BMD style vehicles to make the final dash to the objective.[
One presumes you've never fought good light infantry. They can really ruin your day and contrary to many myths, they do not end up being speed bumps for tanks. As for BMDs, a really poor little vehicle that offers great mobility and little else. I suppose what and where the objective was might determine ones need to dash...

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And I don't even start talking about supplying a brigade from the air ...
Why not; with air superiority, it can be done easily today and has been done with difficulty in the past with smaller birds. Though I don't think anyone really contemplates that at this time.

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Air-transportable yes (as much as possible).
Bad idea -- then you have the minuses of 'light infantry' and none of the pluses of Armor nor the flexibility of parachutes. Plus, how are you going to initially seize that airfield for your air trans troops to land?

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Airborne only up to battalion level (mechanized airborne = cavalry, if possible).
That's the doctrine; higher formations exist for training control, a godfather role (to protect little battalions from those in the system who would hurt them -- or don't know what they can do... ) and limited tactical employment when feasible.

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Airmobile - fancy word. Every light infantry unit should be capable of that...
Agreed.

Quote:
Own dedicated formations? No. And why? Airbornes don't have C-17 attached to them, either.
I have no idea what you meant there.

Quote:
@ all this "Special" forces thing: What about getting regular infantry units into shape, instead of creating the fifth or six service branch?
That's happening here; how about yours?

Quote:
But isn't it, that everybody tries to get away from dirty and dangerous and into more technicalized units, and those who can't make it end up in infantry? Negative selection...
Once upon a time; pretty much passe now. We finally realized that Infantry takes as much skill as most; more than many. Your info seems dated in this as well as the foregoing.

Quote:
...And then if you need infantry units that really do the job you have to start anew (and pin SOCOM on them)?
SOCOM should be really limited to politically/diplomatically/militarily "toxic" missions.
That effectively is the case with only slight exceptions. Most of those exceptions are due to interservice / intraservice turf and political battles more than operational concerns or TODAYS infantry capability. I don't know any Armed forces that escape that foolishness...
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Old 12-21-2007   #16
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Plus, how are you going to initially seize that airfield for your air trans troops to land?
Ken,

For what its worth.... Early Entry slash Dynamic Entry slash Forced Entry was a theoretical doctrine possibly/probably implemented by the 173rd during OIF-I.

The genesis of this type of op was the concept behind the EMPRS (Enroute Mission Planning Rehearsal System) being tested/developed by Army PEO C3T in conjuction with the 82nd (MG Vines) and possibly the 18th Abn Corps just prior to Millenium Challenge 02 and OIF in 2003. It was a follow-on to the AWE of the Y2K timerame.

EMPRS as an experimental program/system of the vision of Force XXI was nixed just prior to MC-02, but I do believe the overall concept did have life after "death" and was executed by the 173rd in OIF-I.
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Old 12-21-2007   #17
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Err... Patrol based Infantry

So called Elite formations are usually based on a fitness test. Not military skills tests.

I submit if you can run 3,200m in 16 mins carrying a 22kg ruck sack, and then climb a 7m rope, with the 22kg ruck, you are fit enough for purpose.

Testing determination/guts/staying power is a different thing and need to be tested separately.
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Old 12-21-2007   #18
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I think I posted this a bit over a year ago somewhere on the board, but I figure it also fits here as a bit of a reference piece in this discussion:

General Orders No. 10
Headquarters, Department of the Army
Washington, DC, 25 September 2006

UNITS CREDITED WITH ASSAULT LANDINGS

Quote:
II—LIST. The following units were designated by the Senior Army Commander in the theater of operations as having participated in a parachute (to include freefall), amphibious, or helicopter assault landing.

......

b. Helmand Desert, Afghanistan (Parachute), 1845Z-0014Z hours, 19 October 2001 to 20 October 2001.

75th Ranger Regiment, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Detachment
75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Detachment
75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Battalion, Company A, Detachment
75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Battalion, Company C, Detachment

c. In the vicinity of Alimarden Kan-E-Bagat, Afghanistan (Parachute), 1800Z-2334Z hours, inclusive, 13 November 2001.

75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Battalion, Company B, Detachment

d. Near Chahar Borjak, Nimruz Province, Afghanistan (Parachute), 1345Z-1445Z hours, inclusive, 25 February 2003.

75th Ranger Regiment, 2d Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Detachment
75th Ranger Regiment, 2d Battalion, Company A, Detachment
75th Ranger Regiment, 2d Battalion, Company C, Detachment
504th Infantry, 3d Battalion, Company B, Detachment

.......

w. Bashur Drop Zone in Northern Iraq (Parachute), 1700Z to 1737Z hours, inclusive, 26 March 2003.

1st Special Forces, 10th Special Forces Group, 2d Special Forces Battalion, Detachment
74th Infantry, Detachment
173d Airborne Brigade, Headquarters and Headquarters Company
173d Support Company
250th Medical Detachment
319th Field Artillery, Battery D
501st Support Company
503d Infantry, 2d Battalion
508th Infantry, 1st Battalion
4th Air Support Operations Squadron (United States Air Force)
86th Contingency Response Group (United States Air Force)

x. Northwestern Desert region of Iraq, in the vicinity of the town of Al Qaim, near the Syrian boarder (Parachute), 1830Z to 2230Z hours, inclusive, 24 March 2003.

75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Battalion, Company C
75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Detachment
24th Special Tactics Squadron, Detachment (United States Air Force)

y. At H1 airfield in western Iraq, west of the Haditha Dam and the town of Haditha (Parachute), 1835Z to 1200Z hours, 28 and 29 March 2003.

27th Engineer Battalion, Detachment
75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Battalion, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Detachment
75th Ranger Regiment, 3d Battalion, Company A
24th Special Tactics Squadron, Detachment (United States Air Force)

z. Southeastern region of Afghanistan (Free Fall), 1735Z to 1800Z hours, inclusive, 3 July 2004.

75th Ranger Regiment, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment, Team 3
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Old 12-21-2007   #19
Ken White
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Talking Heh, you screwed up my ambush

S'okay, I forgive you.

You're right on all that. To add to it, airfield seizure used to be a Ranger Regiment primary mission long time ago, they've moved on to other things and the 82d and the two forward deployed airborne brigades have the mission -- and the training to go with it. They always had it as a METL task before there was a Ranger Regiment.

The 173d (a plain old airplane infantry battalion, no SOF outfit) did indeed do that and the single battalion of theirs that had the airfield mission was followed quickly by a dozen C17s with an M1 tank apiece. The other Battalion (-) did other things. Nothing really new, the Oil Slick concept included that and dates from the fifties.

The death of parachute troops has been predicted by many since 1940. Every time a non-airborne CoS Army gets in, destruction on the "Airborne Mafia" is wrought. Fred Weyand, when he took over as Chief of Staff at the death of Abrams called in almost all the Airborne Major Generals and fired 'em. Six years later there were just as many as there had been earlier.

Airborne troopies are sort of like aircraft Carriers; nobody likes the Airborne due to cost and arrogance -- until they need it. That will remain true until we find a better way to transport a large body of troops 5,000 or so miles and put it on the ground ready --and willing -- to fight anything. We will do that someday but not just yet...
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Old 12-21-2007   #20
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Default I respectfully disagree

Distiller,

Take this with a grain of salt, since I readily confess to being branch biased. I think most people are biased though. Sometimes it comes down to which bias is the best bias to be biased with.

Moving on.....

I fail to see how air assault and airlanding operations are any safer than a parachute assault if a SAM threat is present. Either way you've got troops in an aircraft flying through a SAM threat.

Sure, transport aircraft are vulnerable to SAMs; and ships are vulnerable to anti-ship missiles; and tanks are vulnerable to anti-tank missiles; and convoys are vulnerable to IEDs and RPGs; and troops are vulnerable to small arms fire.....

Even if SAMs are not present airlanding operations are not without problems: bottleneck comes to mind, and aircraft make a big targets for guerrillas with RPGs while unloading on the ground. Also, I think the Germans lost a lost of Ju52s at Maleme airfield on Crete due to beginning airlanding operations too soon.

All things considered, if the operation requires moving large numbers of troops long distances by fixed wing aircraft I think it makes sense to drop at least a brigade combat team before beginning airlanding operations.

Consider this: Point Salinas airstrip in Grenada was a cluster; Panama, while not without mistakes, generally went a lot smoother. In Panama the Army parachuted a reinforced brigade combat team from the 82nd and three Ranger Battalions; six infantry battalions, plus support. It made for a rapid build up of combat power.

I don't know about the logistics of supplying a brigade from the air but people more experienced than me don't see it as a problem if the aircraft are available. Does the Berlin Airlift not provide any lessons?
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