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  • Does the Army need airborne?

    An actually decent article by the Army Times. I know this has been discussed here before but its nice to see the Army's gossip rag talking about it. A lot of sound tactical, strategic, political and logistical questions raised.

    Does the Army need airborne?
    By Kyle Jahner, Army Times
    2/29/2016

    ...does the Army need four-plus brigades — from combat troops to cooks to public affairs officers — training for low-altitude, low-speed static line jumps with ever-tightening budget restraints?... And given a paucity of use that spans wars and decades, what is that tactic’s true place in a modern battlefield?

    Getting military force into a territory where you’re welcome is easy enough. But crashing as an uninvited guest remains a fundamental military obstacle. The question facing the Pentagon: What’s the best way to achieve that mission?
    56
    Yes.
    60.71%
    34
    Yes. Keep the 82nd, but five brigades are too many.
    14.29%
    8
    Yes, but limit only to Rangers and Green Berets.
    16.07%
    9
    No.
    8.93%
    5
    The Europa Barbarorum II team [M2TW] needs YOUR HELP NOW HERE!

  • #2
    Actually, probably not. Some smaller battalion sized units, yes. A oversized division? No.

    It isn't the paucity of combat but rather the whole idea of needing to drop an huge airborne unit in somewhere when it would be easier to pull a "Crete" or a "Nadzab" today.

    That is, special forces, and smaller units drop in, take an airfield or other suitable location and then transports fly in reinforcements. There are far more airfields around the world today and civil engineering has advanced sufficiently to build an airfield literally overnight if necessary.

    Helicopters fill most of the shorter ranged options better than paratroops also.

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    • #3
      I'm glad you posted this instead of me, I would not have thought to put a poll on this.

      I will say this:

      As they are in the same category as the USMC in terms of forced entry, they both have the same issues.

      In the future, in a near peer conflict, EVERYTHING GOES WRONG.

      You cannot rely on just one branch, you will have to rely on planning and cooperation.

      Sure the GRF is a great idea against third world countries, but trying to invade against either Russian or Chinese airspace/sea territory without proper planning, and support results in a massacre.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
        Actually, probably not. Some smaller battalion sized units, yes. A oversized division? No.

        It isn't the paucity of combat but rather the whole idea of needing to drop an huge airborne unit in somewhere when it would be easier to pull a "Crete" or a "Nadzab" today.

        That is, special forces, and smaller units drop in, take an airfield or other suitable location and then transports fly in reinforcements. There are far more airfields around the world today and civil engineering has advanced sufficiently to build an airfield literally overnight if necessary.

        Helicopters fill most of the shorter ranged options better than paratroops also.
        There is now currently the issue of a proper two front war...

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        • #5
          Originally posted by BKnight3 View Post
          There is now currently the issue of a proper two front war...
          Doesn't change my assessment. An airborne division is too specialized to throw into general combat, too lightly equipped to stand up to heavier ground units, and too expensive to warrant the results they might get once in a blue moon.

          A few battalions of paratroops and special forces would be far more useful and cost effective. You need to bring in large numbers of infantry use aircraft that land them in the theater.

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          • #6
            If we are talking about three Infantry Battalion Airborne Brigades, yes we do. Only three Brigades are stationed in the CONUS. There is one in Italy and one in Alaska. I would assume some Brigades are not fully manned with Airborne qualified Paratroopers. One with the 82nd Div should be ready to go quickly, although the other two would need to wait on transport. With the Rangers and other Special Forces type troops, it may be hard to find enough transport to drop more than two Battalions quickly.

            I would not include all five Brigades under the 82nd Division.

            We used to have a two Battalion Brigade in Korea, but putting Light Infantry into Korea does not make sense. The ROK's have over one million reservists! It would be better to designate a Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis.

            What some bean counters forget is you need GOOD Infantry and Airborne Infantry qualifies. They are just not going to jump into many hot LZ's again soon. We need to work on the Mechanized Infantry and create some Motor Infantry in Trucks. The Mountain Division could certainly use a Transport Battalion of trucks! Light Infantry needs trucks to haul the men.

            Pruitt
            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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            • #7
              I do like how the article mention the Marines' amphibious capability as analogous to the Army's airborne capability. Does the Marines need amphibious troops? What are Marines without amphibious ability? Boat security guards? Seems Marines have gone air assault as their primary method of moving from a ship to land that has no port nearby. As far as assault goes. When was the last time we needed to assault a beach? Incheon? Were those "assaults" even contested? Any type of infantry can load onto a boat and walk off a boat onto a beach. Nothing special needed about that. Might as well get rid of Marines if thats all the Marine they get (BLASPHEMY!).
              The Europa Barbarorum II team [M2TW] needs YOUR HELP NOW HERE!

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              • #8
                I think it is important to have an Airborne, Air Assault and an Amphibious capability. The mix ratio is for the Department of Defense to argue over. In the first Iraqi War, just the presence of a couple of Marine Expeditionary Brigades offshore required the Iraqis to post several divisions to guard against a landing. This war was not kind to the 82nd Airborne as they had to walk whenever they were landed. I think it is important to have some Reserve Transport Brigades to help out in these situations. How hard is it to raise a Truck Battalion?

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                • #9
                  I don't know. Airborne was an epic weapon in WWII because the helicopter wasn't available. But since the advent of the helicopter, dropping men out of airplanes no longer makes sense it used to make. Airborne troops will be perfectly happy to be delivered by helicopter assaults, which are terrifying to the enemy and can take him by surprise.

                  "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
                  --Frederick II, King of Prussia

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                  • #10
                    I voted no.

                    The US hasn't had a successful Airborne operation ever. Sicily was a bloody shambles, D-Day was no better but at least did cause some confusion. Market-Garden was an expensive failure. In Korea the ground forces reached the DZs with units still parachuting in.

                    Frankly, I can't think of a successful Airborne operation larger than battalion size except Crete, and Crete is debatable.
                    Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Frtigern View Post
                      Does the Marines need amphibious troops? What are Marines without amphibious ability? Boat security guards? Seems Marines have gone air assault as their primary method of moving from a ship to land that has no port nearby. As far as assault goes. When was the last time we needed to assault a beach? Incheon[sic]? Were those "assaults" even contested?
                      As Pruitt said, just having amphibious assault capability forces the enemy to defend his entire coastline. For countries with extensive shores, this threat will tie up considerable troops.

                      Surface ships are still the primary and most economical means of bringing in large quantities of supply, even if they must pass over an assault beach as opposed to an established port.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MonsterZero View Post
                        I don't know. Airborne was an epic weapon in WWII because the helicopter wasn't available. But since the advent of the helicopter, dropping men out of airplanes no longer makes sense it used to make. Airborne troops will be perfectly happy to be delivered by helicopter assaults, which are terrifying to the enemy and can take him by surprise.
                        Helicopters can't fly the distances that cargo planes can, helicopters are too noisy for a surprise and require a secure LZ, helicopters can't carry enough troops when a sizable unit is required such as a couple of Companies, a Battalion or even a Brigade, it would require multiple trips.
                        Airborne is the only way to get a lot of boots on the ground in a hurry when it becomes necessary!
                        Last edited by Trung Si; 02 Mar 16, 10:38.
                        Trying hard to be the Man, that my Dog believes I am!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                          I voted no.

                          The US hasn't had a successful Airborne operation ever. Sicily was a bloody shambles, D-Day was no better but at least did cause some confusion. Market-Garden was an expensive failure. In Korea the ground forces reached the DZs with units still parachuting in.

                          Frankly, I can't think of a successful Airborne operation larger than battalion size except Crete, and Crete is debatable.
                          Nadzab was a regiment-sized operation, a success, and a US airborne operation (with some Australians).

                          Varsity? The largest drop in one day? You could surely argue it was not strictly necessary, but not that it was small or a failure.
                          Michele

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Michele View Post
                            Nadzab was a regiment-sized operation, a success, and a US airborne operation (with some Australians).

                            Varsity? The largest drop in one day? You could surely argue it was not strictly necessary, but not that it was small or a failure.
                            Valid points.

                            But for fifty+ years of investment its an awfully small return.
                            Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Trung Si View Post
                              Helicopters can't fly the distances that cargo planes can, helicopters are too noisy for a surprise and require a secure LZ, helicopters can't carry enough troops when a sizable unit is required such as a couple of Companies, a Battalion or even a Brigade, it would require multiple trips.
                              Airborne is the only way to get a lot of boots on the ground in a hurry when it becomes necessary!
                              Exactly, helicopters are slow vulnerable targets and filling the sky with them is extremely dangerous unless the area is secure. Vietnam showed what can happen when you try to land in hostile LZs. Airborne forces are faster and safer. C-17s can fly above low and medium altitude air defenses, especially MANPADS, and with proper air cover and SEAD/ECM against high altitude SAMs can deploy troops with relative impunity. Just because we havent fought a war that requires that kind of large scale strategic mobility doesbt mean we never will again and you need to maintain that experience and capability. Its always better to have tools available and not use them than to need them and not have them.
                              Last edited by frisco17; 02 Mar 16, 11:13.
                              "Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl." - Frederick the Great

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