Essential Conditions For The Successful Use of Airborne Operations


AvStop Magazine Online


(By Gen. Franz Halder, Chief of Staff of the German Army, 1938-42.)

I concur completely with the ideas of the principal author of this study, which are presented on the basis of his collaboration with the most experienced German specialists.

In view of the present state of technical development, I place a considerably higher estimate on the opportunities for airborne operations in a war between military powers than does the principal author. The latter considers that the essential conditions for the successful use of airborne operations-even on a large scale-exist only in close cooperation with the operations of ground troops.

Assuming that there are sufficiently strong air forces and air transport facilities, I believe that in the future airborne landings by large bodies of troops (several divisions under unified command) can also be used for independent missions, that is, for such military operations as are not closely related in place and time with other ground actions, but are only bound to the latter by the general connections existing between all military operations in the theater of war. It is precisely along these lines that I envisage the future development of airborne warfare. I am convinced that with the proper preparation and present-day technical facilities it is possible to form new military bases by means of large-scale airborne landings far in the enemy's hinterland, in areas where he expects no threat from ground troops and from which independent military operations of large scope can be undertaken. To supply by air such large-scale airheads for the necessary time is essentially a technical problem which can be solved. The independent commitment of large airborne forces seems to offer a present-day high command an effective means for suddenly and decisively confusing the enemy's system of warfare.

Future wars will not be confined to the customary military fronts and combat areas. The battle fronts of opposing ideologies (resistance movements, revolutionary partisan organizations, Irredentist elements), which today in an age of dying nationalism cut through all great powers and civilized nations, will be able to create favorable conditions for large-scale airborne landings deep in the enemy's country and for maintaining such bases of operation as have been won by airborne operations in the interior of the enemy's sovereign territory. To prepare the people in these territories in time and to make them useful in war will be the task of these forces, under a unified command, to which the language of our time has given the name of the "Fifth Column."