Airborne: a Guided Tour of An Airborne Task Force (Military Library)

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9780283072857: Airborne: a Guided Tour of An Airborne Task Force (Military Library)

They are America's front lines--serving proudly in forward areas around the world. Representing the very best from the Army and Air Force, the Airborne Task Force is an unstoppable combination of manpower and firepower. Now, Tom Clancy examines this elite branch of our nation's armed forces. With pinpoint accuracy and a style more compelling than any fiction, the acclaimed author of Executive Orders delivers an fascinating account of the Airborne juggernaut--the people, the technology, and Airborne's mission in an ever-changing world...*Two Tom Clancy "mini-novels"--real world scenarios involving the airborne task force*Airborne's weapons of the 21st century, including the Javelin anti-tank missile, the fiber-optically guided N-LOS fire support system, and the Joint Strike Fighter*18 weeks: Life in an Airborne Alert Brigade*Exclusive photographs, illustrations, and diagramsPLUS: An in-depth interview with the incoming commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, General John Keen

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About the Author:

A little more than thirty years ago Tom Clancy was a Maryland insurance broker with a passion for naval history. Years before, he had been an English major at Baltimore’s Loyola College and had always dreamed of writing a novel. His first effort, The Hunt for Red October, sold briskly as a result of rave reviews, then catapulted onto the New York Times bestseller list after President Reagan pronounced it “the perfect yarn.” From that day forward, Clancy established himself as an undisputed master at blending exceptional realism and authenticity, intricate plotting, and razor-sharp suspense. He passed away in October 2013.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page






Airborne 101

Dragon Leader: An Interview with Lieutenant General John M. Keane, USA

Fort Benning: The Paratrooper Factory

Tools of the Airborne Trade

The Air Force Contribution

1st Brigade/82nd Airbone: A Guided Tour of an Airborne Task Force

Division Ready Brigade: Eighteen Weeks in the Cycle

The 82nd Airborne in the Real World







The Hunt for Red October
Red Storm Rising
Patriot Games
The Cardinal of the Kremlin
Clear and Present Danger
The Sum of All Fears
Without Remorse
Debt of Honor
Executive Orders





A Guided Tour Inside a Nuclear Warship
Armored Cav:
A Guided Tour of an Armored Cavalry Regiment
Fighter Wing:
A Guided Tour of an Air Force Combat Wing
A Guided Tour of a Marine Expeditionary Unit





Tom Clancy’s Op-Center
Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Mirror Image
Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Games of State
Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Acts of War




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The views and opinions expressed in this book are entirely those of the author, and do not necessarily correspond with those of any corporation, military service, or government organization of any country.





This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.




A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with Rubicon, Inc.


Berkley trade paperback edition / November 1997


All rights reserved.

Copyright © 1997 by Rubicon, Inc.

Author photo by John Earle.
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eISBN : 978-1-101-00227-8


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are trademarks belonging to Berkley Publishing Corporation.


For Staff Sergeant William P. Tatum, III (Company E, 313th Military
Intelligence Battalion), who gave his life during the JRTC 97-1 Deployment
of the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division on October 8th, 1996,
at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He died as he had lived, doing the job for which
he had trained and prepared. Staying ready so that the rest of us might
go about our lives. His. friends, family, and fellow All Americans love and
miss him.


Once again, this is the place where I get to introduce you to some of the folks who made this book a reality. We’ll start with my long-time partner and researcher, John D. Gresham. Once again, John traveled the country, met the people, took the pictures, spent nights in the field losing sleep and eating MREs, and did all the things that ensure readers feel like they are there for all the action. Also, we have again benefited from the wisdom, experience, and efforts of series editor Professor Martin H. Greenberg, as well as Larry Segriff, and all the staff at Tekno Books. Laura Alpher is again to be praised for her wonderful drawings, which have added so much to this series. Tony Koltz, Mike Markowitz, Eric Werthiem, and Jerome Preisler all need to be recognized for the outstanding editorial support that was so critical and timely. Once again, thanks go to Cindi Woodrum, Diana Patin, and Roselind Greenberg, for their continued support in backing the rest of us in our many efforts.

Any book like Airborne would be impossible to produce without the support of senior service personnel in top positions. In this regard, we have again been blessed with all the support we could have needed. Again we must thank Dr. Richard Hallion, the Chief Historian of the Air Force and an old friend. Greatest thanks for two senior Army officers, Generals Gary Luck and Lieutenant General John Keane. Both of these officers gave us their valuable time and support, and we cannot repay their trust and friendship. Down at Fort Bragg, the home of the 82nd Airborne Division, Lieutenant General George Crocker and Major General Joseph K. Kellogg, Jr., were kind enough to open up the 82nd for our research, and even took us along for the ride a few times. Our home-away-from-home in the 82nd was made for us by the wonderful folk of the 1st Brigade, and they really took us to some exciting places. Led by the incomparable Colonel (and Dr.) David Petraeus, this unit, like the other two brigades of the 82nd, is always ready to be “America’s Honor Guard,” and helps keep us safe in an uncertain world. Supporting him were two extraordinary Command Sergeant Majors, Vince Meyers and David Henderson, who took us under their wings, and kept us warm and fed. Thanks also to Majors Sean Mateer and Captain Rob Baker, who contributed so much to our visits. And for the many other unnamed “All Americans” who took the time to show us the vital things that they do, we say, “Airborne!” We need also to acknowledge the vital support of folks out at the supporting bases who gave us so much information. These included Major General Michael Sherfield and his entire JRTC staff at Fort Polk, and Major Rob Street at Fort Benning. Thanks also to Brigadier General Steven A. Roser, who opened up the 437th Airlift Wing’s aircraft, personnel, and facilities for our inspection.

Another group that was vital to our efforts, less well known but equally important, were the members of the various Army and Air Force public affairs and media offices (PAOs) who handled our numerous requests for visits and information. Tops on our list were Lieutenant Colonel Ray Whitehead, Majors Stan Heath and Steve Shappell, June Forte, Carol Rose and Jim Hall at the Pentagon. Down at XVIII Airborne Corps, there was Lieutenant Colonel Tim Vane and Joan Malloy, who coordinated our interview requests. On the other side of Fort Bragg, Major Mark Wiggins from the 82nd PAO made us “feel the burn” of the airborne experience. Captain Tyrone Woodyard at Pope AFB was a wealth of information on composite wing operations, as were the fine folks at the C-130 Schoolhouse at Little Rock AFB. At Fort Benning, Monica Manganaro helped us stand up to the August heat of Georgia. Then there were the folks at the Charleston AFB PAO led by the outstanding Major Tom Dolney. Along with Tom, an excellent young crew of media relations specialists took us on some adventures. Special mention must go to Lieutenants Glenn Roberts and Christa Baker, who rode with us for our rides described in the book. Finally, there was the wonderful staff at Fort Polk, who took care of us on our JRTC visit. Major Jim Beinkemper and the superb Paula Schlag run a media relations shop that has no equal anywhere in the military today. As friends and professionals, we thank them for their efforts.

Again, thanks are due to our various industrial partners, without whom all the information on the various aircraft, weapons and systems would never have come to light. At the aircraft manufacturers: George Sillia, Barbara Anderson, and Lon Nordeen of McDonnell Douglas; Joe Stout, Karen Hagar, and Jeff Rhodes of Lockheed Martin; and finally, our old friend Jim Kagdis and Foster Morgan of Boeing Sikorsky. We also made and renewed many friendships at the various missile, armament, and system manufacturers including: Tony Geishanuser and the wonderful Vicki Fendalson at Texas Instruments; Larry Ernst at General Atomics; Tommy Wilson and Carig Van Bieber at Loral; and last, but certainly not least, the eternal Ed Rodemsky of Trimble Navigation, who again spent so much time and effort to educate us on the latest developments of the GPS system.

We must again extend thanks for all of our help in New York, especially Robert Gottlieb, Debra Goldstein, and Matt Bialer at William Morris, as well as Robert Youdelman and Tom Mallon who took care of the legal details. Over at Berkley Books, we bid a fond farewell to John Talbot, who has been with us for five fruitful years. At the same time, our highest regards to our new series editor, Tom Colgan, as well as David Shanks, Kim Waltemyer, Jacky Sach, and Jill Dinneen of Berkley. To old friends like Matt Caffrey, Jeff Ethell, Jim Stevenson, Norman Polmar, and Bob Dorr, thanks again for your contributions and wisdom. And for all the folks who took us for rides, jumps, shoots, and exercises, thanks for teaching the ignorant how things really work. For our friends, families, and loved ones, we once again thank you. You’re what we dream of coming home to.


Airborne ... all the way!” This is both a greeting and a response that you often hear in and around XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. There’s a lot more in this simple phrase than meets the eye. It’s an insight into what I like to call the “Contingency Culture,” inherent in being a member of the XVIII Airborne Corps. More on that later, but first let me say some things about our past. The history of the Corps is replete with examples of courage, dedication, and professionalism. The saying above was born in the tradition of its Airborne leaders. In particular, their personal high standards of duty, dedication, and the Airborne spirit itself. These were men with a vision for what airborne forces could do for America, as well as how they could help free half a world that was then enslaved under the rule of a handful of ruthless dictators and warlords.

These were truly extraordinary men. The great leaders that started the XVIII Airborne Corps back in World War II are names that ring through the history of our Army and history itself. Included were the likes of General Bill Lee (the father of the Airborne forces and first commander of the 101st Airborne Division), General Matthew Ridgway (the first commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps), General James “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin (the legendary wartime leader of the 82nd Airborne Division), and General Anthony McAuliffe (the on-scene commander of the 101st Airborne during the “Battle of the Bulge”—“Nuts!” was his answer to a German demand for his unit’s surrender). They, and many others like them, were there at the very beginning, and started the long, proud tradition that you hear ringing through the greetings from various units of the XVIII Airborne Corps. Cries like: “Air Assault, sir!” (from the 101st Airborne Division [Air Assault]); “All the Way, sir!” (the 82nd Airborne Division’s greeting); “Climb to Glory, sir!” (for the 10th Light Division [Mountain]); and “Rock of the Marne!” (the battle cry of the 3rd Infantry Division [Mechanized]). There is a ton of tradition in these phrases to be sure. The men and women who utter those battle cries today are even more impressive.

The leadership of our military for many years has been rooted in the duty, honor, and devotion of officers produced by the Airborne. Names like Palmer, Westmoreland, Wickham, Lindsay, Stiner, Foss, Shelton, and so many, many others. They set the standards that made airborne forces something our national leaders could trust, and were leaders in whom soldiers could believe. Just how those young troopers felt is shown in a personal memory of mine. Recently, while rummaging through some of my late father-in-law’s (H. R. Patrick) personal possessions, I came across a Bible that he had kept as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. Issued to troops prior to entering combat, there was a place in the center of these Bibles where one could keep important information, both personal and professional. In one section, there was a place for unit information. One spot asked for the company clerk’s name. My father-in-law listed (I believe) a Technical Sergeant Hill. It then asked for his commander’s name, which clearly meant his company commander. However, PFC Patrick had penned in “Gen. Gavin.” Think about that. This means that a soldier at the bottom of the 82nd’s organization felt a direct connection to his division commander. I am told that the entire division felt that General Gavin was their “personal” commander, such was his leadership style, and such was their trust and confidence in him. These are the types of leaders that this unit and others in the XVIII Airborne Corps have continued to produce. Men and women with the vision to see the future, but the personal integrity and leadership to touch the individual soldier in the field.

These standards of duty and dedication continue today in all the units of XVIII Airborne Corps. Certainly the original Airborne spirit lives on. However, that spirit has been transformed into a broader definition which for lack of a better term I refer to as the “Contingency Culture.” This term fits today’s XVIII Airborne Corps in every way imaginable. What this implicitly means is if you are in one of the units of the Corps, and there is a crisis somewhere in the world, then you will be one of the first to deploy in defense of America’s national interests. In addition, you must be ready. Intense and rigorous training is the lot of an XVIII Airborne Corps soldier, whatever his or her specialty. It also means that your rucksack is always packed and you are man or woman enough to carry it whenever called. Since the end of the Vietnam and Cold wars, this response to crisis has included such places as Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, and many others that never made the evening news. Life in the XVIII Airborne Corps is tough and demanding with a lot of time away from home and loved ones. However, the “Contingency” lifestyle also provides much in the way of satisfaction and pride for those who choose to embrace it fully. It is this pride in doing a hard job well that keep standards high and morale rock-solid in our Corps.

The units of XVIII Airborne Corps are wide and varied. This variety insures that the Corps can rapidly embark on almost any kind of operation r...

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