Veteran Population by State

Since 2000, the Predictive Analytics Service (PAS) has been producing the VetPop Projection Model to estimate and project the number and characteristics of the Veteran population. Based on the best available data as of September 30, 2015, the VetPop projections show a Veteran population that is both declining in number and becoming more evenly distributed in age (Figure 1).
The main data sources of VetPop are: Decennial Census (2000 and 2010); American Community Survey; United States Veterans Eligibility Trends and Statistics

Want to dig deeper? VA released Compensation and Pension by County 2018 This report shows the number of Veterans in each state and county who received monthly Disability Compensation and Pension payments during fiscal year 2018. It also includes breakdowns by disability rating groups, age groups, and gender.

Memorial Day 2019: VA Honors All Who Have Served and Died This Memorial Day infographic illustrates the sacrifice of America’s Veterans during the battle, other deaths while in service, and after leaving the military. The infographic also provides key statistics on how VA’s National Cemetery Administration memorializes Veterans.

 

 

More statistics available here

Quick Facts here

VBA Progress & Results Webcast Jan 31 2pm ET

Progress and Results Webcast, January 31 at 2pm

Don’t miss out on today’s VBA Progress & Results Webcast (1/31) at 2 p.m. ET, hosted by Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D., Under Secretary for Benefits. If you haven’t registered already, REGISTER NOW. This important live event will also be streamed on VBA’s Facebook and YouTube pages!

Hear Dr. Lawrence discuss key elements of VBA’s progress in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2019. Learn the latest information about appeals modernization and updates to the GI Bill with special guests Dave McLenachen, Executive Director of the Appeals Management Office, and Charmain Bogue, Acting Executive Director of Education Service. 

Find out about the latest updates on the new rule to protect Veterans from predatory, cash-out refinance loans, and hear Dr. Lawrence respond to questions from Disabled American Veterans and the Wounded Warrior Project.

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Vietnam War

Link to all related Vietnam War information on HadIt.com
For more information on the Vietnam War you may find this useful:
US Center of Miliatary History
Here are some of things I found there you may be interested in or go there and do a search yourself.

Airmobility 1961-1971

Allied Participation in Vietnam
Base Development in South
Vietnam, 1965-1970

Cedar Falls-Junction City: A
Turning Point

Command and Control,
1950-1969

Communications-Electronics,
1962-1970

The Development and
Training of the South Vietnamese Army 1950-1972

Division-Level Communication
1962-1973

Field Artillery, 1954-1973
Financial Management of the
Vietnam Conflict 1962-1972

Law at War – Vietnam 1964-197
Logistic Support
Medical Support of the U.S.
Army in Vietnam, 1965-1970

Mounted Combat in Vietnam
Reorganizing for Pacification Support
Riverine Operations 1966-1969
The Role of Military Intelligence,
1965-1967

Seven Firefights in Vietnam
Sharpening the Combat Edge: The
Use of Analysis To Reinforce Military Judgment

Tactical and Materiel
Innovations

U.S. Army Engineers,
1965-1970

U.S. Army Special Forces in
Vietnam: 1961-1971

The War in the
Northern Provinces 1966-1968

The U.S. Army in Vietnam:
Background, Buildup, and Operations, 1950-1967

(an extract from American
Military History, Volume 2
– revised 2005)
The U.S. Army in Vietnam: From
Tet to the Final Withdrawal, 1968-1975

(an extract from American
Military History, Volume 2
– revised 2005)

Archival Material:

Airmobile Operations in Vietnam, 1962-1965

Finding Aid for the CMH
Vietnam Interview Tape Collection (VNIT)
Guide to the Thomas Thayer
Collection
RENEGADE WOODS
Selections from the Vietnam
Interview Collection (VNI)

Selections from the CMH Vietnam
Interview Tape Collection (VNIT)

Service Manpower Drawdowns after Korean
and Vietnam Wars
Statistical Data on Strength and Casualties
for Korean War and Vietnam
 
 

THE BATTLE OF IA DRANG VALLEY by LTC Kenneth R Pierce

[one-half-first][embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlbEzzubDsc[/embedyt][/one-half-first][one-half]Source: “Military Review [MR]”, Vol LXIX, 1-89 Military Review is published monthly by the US Army Command and Gen’l Staff College. For subscription info contact MR, USACGSC, Ft Leavenworth KS 60627 [/one-half]
[one-half-first][/one-half-first][one-half][/one-half]

The battle of the Ia Drang Valley [IDV] was actually of series of engagements between the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and the B-3 Front, North Vietnamese Army (NVA) from 10-18 to 11-24-65.

Battle of Ia Drang Valley LZ X-Ray 1965
Many considered the Battle of IA Drang Valley to be US Army’s 1st battle in Vietnam. It was certainly the 1st battle between of US division operating under of field force headquarters and 3 NVA regiments operating under a front headquarters. It may also have been the last battle between NVA and US forces of equivalent size.
The objective of this article is not to rehash all the details of the battle of the IDV but to conduct of battle analysis using the historic methodology. The battle analysis methodology is a systemic approach to research that uses of format which includes: defining the subject; reviewing the setting; examining the tactical situation; and assessing the significance of the action. It is ultimately in the assessment phase that the analysis takes place, and the analysis is expected to answer specific questions. In this particular analysis the questions center on the tenets of Air land Battle doctrine as defined in the 1986 edition of US Army Field Manual (FM) 100-5, “Operations”. Based on the tenets of Air land Battle, I will teach some conclusions about the battle of the IDV and provide some lessons learned.
Having defined the subject, the Battle of the IDV, the analysis must next examine the battlefield itself and also develop some description or comparison of opposing forces.
Starting with the battlefield, the IDV is the valley through which the river (Ia) Drang flows and is drained by the Ia Drang, Ia Puck and an extensive network of small streams flowing west and southwest across the Cambodian border into the Mekong River. The battlefield area covered 1,500 square miles of what appeared to be flat rolling terrain dominated by the Chu Pong Masaif, of rugged mountain 730 meters above sea level, in the southwestern corner of the area of ops (TO), straddling the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. The only passable roads traversed the eastern and northern fringes of the TO. Much of the valley was covered with thick jungle vegetation and trees as high as 100 feet. Even the “open” areas had shrubs and trees over 6 feet high. The sudden mists offered of sinister aura, where daily heat and nighttime cold kept you perpetually and increasingly on edge. The area was eerie – imagine the “Valley of Death,” and you picture the Ia Drang.
In this area, particularly at the base of the Chu Pong Masaif, the NVA had built a base camp sanctuary that was unknown to US forces and untouched by Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN ) forces. The primary NVA forces operating in this area were the B-3 Front commanded by Gen’l Chu Huy Man, with 3 regular regiments (the 32d, 33d and 66th) supported by local VC battalions as well as front-level mortar and anti-aircraft units. Each maneuver regiment numbered about 2,200 frontline infantrymen and sappers. Their primary weapon was the Soviet AK47 assault rifle.
The 32d and 33d regiments were vet fighters against the ARVN and Man was of vet of the 1st Indochinese War against the French. These units had been in the valley since early September, rehearsing, developing ambush sites, and pre-positioning and stockpiling ammunition, medical supplies and food. Their tactics were quite simple, Their 1st ploy was to “lute and ambush.” They would attack of small outpost or ARVN force and maintain pressure on it with one unit, while another unit waited in well-prepared positions to ambush the relieving force. Their other tactic was called “hugging”; that was to get as close to the opposing force as possible and rely on close-in, almost hand-to-hand fighting to negate their opposing force’s firepower advantage. They generally liked to fight at night and rehearsed at night before conducting ops. They always planned and rehearsed an organized withdrawal and would counterattack or leave stay-behind forces to permit an orderly withdrawal. The troops were highly disciplined, with excellent morale and esprit de corps, well fed, well supplied, and in excellent physical condition. Although Man expected to fight tanks with his light infantry, his forces had not fought Americans.
The Americans they would soon meet were in the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), commanded by Major Gen’l Harry Kinnard. The 1st Cavalry Division had been training for 2 years as the 11th Air Assault Division at Fort Benning under Kinnard’s direction. This new Army division was well trained and equipped upon activation as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) on 7-1-65. it arrived in Vietnam in increments during August and September 1965. The division had 3 brigade headquarters, 8 infantry battalions, an air cavalry squadron, an aerial rocket artillery battery, 3 direct support artillery battalions, an aviation company and the normal combat support and combat service support associated with the Reorganization Objective Army div’n. The division was authorized 10,000 troops, 435 helicopters, basic infantry weapons (M-16 rifle, M60 machinegun and M79 grenade launcher) and state-of-the-art communications equipment. This was clearly the US Army’s “high tech” division of the 60s.
The 1st Cavalry had some problems when ordered to deploy; it had 2,700 men not eligible for deployment, The division lost hundreds of pilots, crew chief and mechanics who could not easily be replaced in 1965. Additionally, the troops were issued the M-16 rifle only 10 days prior to departure and had a hurried familiarization with this new weapon. After arriving in country, the division was struck with of peculiar strain of malaria for which there was no known treatment at the time, costing 1,000 additional losses. And although well trained in airmobile tactics, the division had not trained for jungle-type warfare. However, by 9-28-65, the division was in its base camp at An Khe, less than 90 days after activation.
The initial mission of B-3 Front at the operational level was to cut South Vietnam in half. Operationally, it would defeat South Vietnamese and US forces that were in the way. The 1st please of the plan was to put pressure on of Special Forces camp with 1 regiment; then to defeat the anticipated relief forces in detail, expecting them to be employed piecemeal. This 1st phase failed miserably when an ARVN relief column was employed in force with tanks and armored personnel carriers, fully supported by US air and artillery, the “luring” force (33d Regiment) was seriously reduced by tenacious fighting on the part of the dependents coupled with American close air support. The “ambushing” force (32d Regiment) was also defeated by the strong relief column. Man was forced to withdraw and to determine how to reap some success (at least psychologically) from this initial failure.
Since there were insufficient ARVN forces to exploit their success, General William Westmoreland made the extremely risky decision to employ the 1st Cavalry Division on of classic exploitation and pursuit mission against what appeared to be 2 battered NVA regiments withdrawing to Cambodia. The 1st Cavalry’s mission was to search and destroy – find the 32d and 33d regiment and kill or capture as many as possible before they reached any sanctuary. The stage was set for the US Army’s first battle of the Vietnam War. It is also here that we can begin the analysis.
Man withdrew to his well-developed sanctuary in the Chu Pong Masaif. Here he regrouped, reorganized, reequipped and rested his troops, while he waited for the arrival of the fresh 66th Regiment and additional artillery and anti-aircraft units, Later assessment indicated that his new mission was relatively simple. 1st he was to destroy the much more lucrative Plei Me camp – now reinforced with more than 1,000 ARVN troops and many US advisers. Then he could return to North Vietnam a victor, with a better feel for how the Americans would support his war. In this planning phase, Man’s thought process can be examined in relation to the tenets of Air land Battle initiate. “Setting or changing the terms of battle by action.” Certainly, Man still had offensive spirit – he would attack. He was setting the terms of the battle and was not going to allow the defenders of Plei Me the opportunity to recover. He knew he was taking great risk to learn more about how Americans would fight in future ops. He was also considering the political and psychological implications requiring some type of victory – no matter how limited. He knew that he was capable of exploiting any breakthrough at the camp and was confident that his subordinate regimental commanders clearly understood his intent.
Agility. “The ability to act faster than the enemy.” It too the ARVN 4 days to relieve Plei Me in the earlier engagement. Man felt he could strike and withdraw much faster than any sizeable relief force could be mounted. He was now concentrating 3 regiments against a very vulnerable and isolated camp. By training and disposition, his forces were extremely agile, and he felt he could “read” the battlefield and exploit success quickly.
Depth. “Extension of ops in space, time, and resources.” Clearly, Man had pre pared his battleground. He knew how to maneuver to Plei Me and his withdrawal routes were well established. He had effectively cached his resources and he had more arriving with the 66th Regiment. His forces and resources were concentrating to sustain the momentum he needed to wipe out Plei Me. He would provide for air protection with additional anti-aircraft units and by his “hugging” tactical. He viewed his rear area in the Chu Pong Masaif as well concealed and well protected. Additionally, well-established sanctuaries were available in Cambodia and his lines of communication were generally safe.

D-Day June 6 1944

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.”

On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foothold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops. Source: Army.mil

Warning Triggers

 
D-Day June 6 1944 The Bakersfield Californian – on Newspapers

The Normandy landings (codenamed Operation Neptune) were the landing operations on 6 June 1944 (termed D-Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control, and contributed to the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on D-Day was far from ideal, but postponing would have meant a delay of at least two weeks, as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days in each month were deemed suitable. Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 British, US, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armored divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword Beach. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled using specialized tanks.

The Allies failed to achieve all of their goals on the first day. Carentan, St. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, andCaen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five bridgeheads were not connected until 12 June. However, the operation gained a foothold that the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day were around 1,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Museums, memorials, and war cemeteries in the area host many visitors each year.

Background

Between 27 May and 4 June 1940, over 338,000 troops of the British Expeditionary Force and the French Army, trapped along the northern coast of France, were evacuated in the Dunkirk evacuation.[12] After the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin began pressing for the creation of a second front in western Europe.[13] In late May 1942 the Soviet Union and United States made a joint announcement that a “… full understanding was reached with regard to the urgent tasks of creating a second front in Europe in 1942.”[14] However, Churchill persuaded Roosevelt to postpone the promised invasion as, even with American help, the Allies did not have adequate forces for such a strike.[15]

Instead of an immediate return to France, the Western Allies staged offensives in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, where British troops were already stationed. By mid-1943, the North African Campaign had been won. The Allies then launched the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and Italy in September 1943. By then, Soviet forces were on the offensive and had won a major victory at the Battle of Stalingrad. The decision to undertake a cross-channel invasion within the next year was taken at the Trident Conference in Washington in May 1943.[16] Initial planning was constrained by the number of available landing craft, most of which were already committed in the Mediterranean and Pacific.[17] At the Tehran Conference in November 1943, Roosevelt and Churchill promised Stalin that they would open the long-delayed second front in May 1944.[18]

Four sites were considered for the landings: Brittany, the Cotentin Peninsula, Normandy, and Pas de Calais. As Brittany and Cotentin are peninsulas, it would have been possible for the Germans to cut off the Allied advance at a relatively narrow isthmus, so these sites were rejected.[19] As the Pas de Calais is the closest point in continental Europe to Britain, the Germans considered it to be the most likely initial landing zone, so it was the most heavily fortified region.[20] But it offered few opportunities for expansion, as the area is bounded by numerous rivers and canals,[21] whereas landings on a broad front in Normandy would permit simultaneous threats against the port of Cherbourg, coastal ports further west in Brittany, and an overland attack towards Paris and eventually into Germany. Normandy was hence chosen as the landing site.[22] The most serious drawback of the Normandy coast—the lack of port facilities—would be overcome through the development of artificial Mulberry harbours.[23] A series of specialized tanks, nicknamed Hobart’s Funnies, were created to deal with conditions expected during the Normandy campaign, such as scaling sea walls and providing close support on the beach.[24]
The Allies planned to launch the invasion on 1 May 1944.[21] The initial draft of the plan was accepted at the Quebec Conference in August 1943. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed commander of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF).[25] General Bernard Montgomery was named as commander of the 21st Army Group, which comprised all of the land forces involved in the invasion.[26] On 31 December 1943, Eisenhower and Montgomery first saw the plan, which proposed amphibious landings by three divisions with two more divisions in support. The two generals immediately insisted that the scale of the initial invasion be expanded to five divisions, with airborne descents by three additional divisions, to allow operations on a wider front and speed up the capture of the port at Cherbourg.[27] The need to acquire or produce extra landing craft for the expanded operation meant that the invasion had to be delayed to June.[27] Eventually, thirty-nine Allied divisions would be committed to the Battle of Normandy: twenty-two American, twelve British, three Canadian, one Polish, and one French, totalling over a million troops[28] all under overall British command.[29]

Operations

Operation Overlord was the name assigned to the establishment of a large-scale lodgement on the Continent. The first phase, the amphibious invasion and establishment of a secure foothold, was codenamed Operation Neptune.[23] To gain the air superiority needed to ensure a successful invasion, the Allies undertook a bombing campaign (codenamed Operation Pointblank) that targeted German aircraft production, fuel supplies, and airfields.[23] Elaborate deceptions, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, were undertaken in the months leading up to the invasion to prevent the Germans from learning the timing and location of the invasion.[30]
The landings were to be preceded by airborne landings near Caen on the eastern flank to secure the Orne River bridges and north of Carentan on the western flank. The Americans, assigned to land at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, were to attempt to capture Carentan and St. Lô the first day, then cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and eventually capture the port facilities at Cherbourg. The British at Sword Beach and Gold Beach and Canadians at Juno Beach would protect the American flank and attempt to establish airfields near Caen. A secure lodgement would be established and an attempt made to hold all territory north of the AvranchesFalaise line within the first three weeks.[31][32]Montgomery envisaged a ninety-day battle, lasting until all Allied forces reached the Seine.[33]

Deception plans

Under the overall umbrella of Operation Bodyguard, the Allies conducted several subsidiary operations designed to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the Allied landings.[34] Operation Fortitude included Fortitude North, a misinformation campaign using fake radio traffic to lead the Germans into expecting an attack on Norway,[35] and Fortitude South, a major deception involving the creation of a fictitious First United States Army Group under Lieutenant General George S. Patton, supposedly located in Kent andSussex. Fortitude South was intended to deceive the Germans into believing that the main attack would take place at Calais.[30][36]Genuine radio messages from 21st Army Group were first routed to Kent via landline and then broadcast, to give Germans the impression that most of the Allied troops were stationed there.[37] Patton was stationed in England until 6 July, thus continuing to deceive the Germans into believing a second attack would take place at Calais.[38]
Many of the German radar stations on the French coast were destroyed in preparation for the landings.[39] In addition, on the night before the invasion, a small group of Special Air Service (SAS) operators deployed dummy paratroopers over Le Havre and Isigny. These dummies led the Germans to believe that an additional airborne landing had occurred. On that same night, in Operation Taxable,No. 617 Squadron RAF dropped strips of “window”, metal foil that caused a radar return which was mistakenly interpreted by German radar operators as a naval convoy near Le Havre. The illusion was bolstered by a group of small craft towing barrage balloons. A similar deception was undertaken near Boulogne-sur-Mer in the Pas de Calais area by No. 218 Squadron RAF in Operation Glimmer.[40][2]

Weather

The invasion planners determined a set of conditions involving the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that would be satisfied on only a few days in each month. A full moon was desirable, as it would provide illumination for aircraft pilots and have the highest tides. The Allies wanted to schedule the landings for shortly before dawn, midway between low and high tide, with the tide coming in. This would improve the visibility of obstacles on the beach, while minimizing the amount of time the men would be exposed in the open.[41] Eisenhower had tentatively selected 5 June as the date for the assault. However, on 4 June, conditions were unsuitable for a landing; high winds and heavy seas made it impossible to launch landing craft, and low clouds would prevent aircraft from finding their targets.[42]
Group Captain James Stagg of the Royal Air Force (RAF) met with Eisenhower on the evening of 4 June. He and his meteorological team predicted that the weather would improve sufficiently that the invasion could proceed on 6 June.[43] The next available dates with the needed tidal conditions (but without the desirable full moon) would be two weeks later, from 18 to 20 June. Postponement of the invasion would have required recalling men and ships already in position to cross the Channel, and have increased chances the invasion plans would be detected.[44] After much discussion with the other senior commanders, Eisenhower decided the invasion should go ahead on the 6th.[45]Subsequently a major storm battered the Normandy coast from 19 to 22 June, which would have made the beach landings impossible to undertake at that time.[42]
Allied control of the Atlantic meant German meteorologists did not have as much information as the Allies on incoming weather patterns.[39] As the Luftwaffe meteorological centre in Paris was predicting two weeks of stormy weather, many Wehrmacht commanders left their posts to attend war games in Rennes, and men in many units were given leave.[46] Field Marshal Erwin Rommel returned to Germany for his wife’s birthday and to meet with Hitler to try to obtain more Panzers.[47]

German order of battle

Nazi Germany had at its disposal fifty divisions in France and the Low Countries, with another eighteen stationed in Denmark and Norway. Fifteen divisions were in the process of formation in Germany.[48] Combat losses throughout the war, particularly on the Eastern Front, meant that the Germans no longer had a pool of able young men from which to draw. German soldiers were now on average six years older than their Allied counterparts. Many in the Normandy area were Ostlegionen (eastern legions) – conscripts and volunteers from Russia, Mongolia, and elsewhere. They were provided mainly with unreliable captured equipment and lacked motorized transport.[49] Many German units were understrength.[50]
German Supreme commander: Adolf Hitler

709th Infantry Division (Cotentin Peninsula)

Allied forces attacking Utah Beach faced the following German units stationed on the Cotentin Peninsula:

352nd Infantry Division (Grandcamps Sector)

Americans assaulting Omaha Beach were faced with troops of the 352nd Infantry Division under Generalleutnant Dietrich Kraiss, a full-strength unit of around 12,000 brought in by Rommel on 15 March and reinforced by two additional regiments.[53]

  • 914th Grenadier Regiment[54]
  • 915th Grenadier Regiment (as reserves)[54]
  • 916th Grenadier Regiment[54]
  • 726th Infantry Regiment (from 716th Infantry Division)[54]
  • 352nd Artillery Regiment[54]

Allied forces at Gold and Juno faced the following elements of the 352nd Infantry Division:

  • 914th Grenadier Regiment[55]
  • 915th Grenadier Regiment[55]
  • 916th Grenadier Regiment[55]
  • 352nd Artillery Regiment[55]

716th Infantry Division (near Caen)

Allied forces attacking Gold, Juno, and Sword Beaches faced the following German units:

21st Panzer Division (south of Caen)

Atlantic Wall

Alarmed by the raids on St Nazaire and Dieppe in 1942, Hitler had ordered the construction of fortifications all along the Atlantic coast, from Spain to Norway, to protect against an expected Allied invasion. He envisioned 15,000 emplacements manned by 300,000 troops, but shortages, particularly of concrete and manpower, meant that most of the strongpoints were never built.[59] As it was expected to be the site of the invasion, the Pas de Calais was heavily defended.[59] In the Normandy area, the best fortifications were concentrated at the port facilities at Cherbourg and Saint-Malo.[27] Rommel was assigned to oversee the construction of further fortifications along the expected invasion front, which stretched from the Netherlands to Cherbourg,[59][60] and was given command of the newly re-formed Army Group B, which included the 7th Army, the 15th Army, and the forces guarding the Netherlands. Reserves for this group included the 2nd, 21st, and 116th Panzer divisions.[61][62]
Rommel believed that the Normandy coast could be a possible landing point for the invasion, so he ordered the construction of extensive defensive works along that shore. In addition to concrete gun emplacements at strategic points along the coast, he ordered wooden stakes, metal tripods, mines, and large anti-tank obstacles to be placed on the beach to delay the approach of landing craft and impede the movement of tanks.[63] Expecting the Allies to land at high tide so that the infantry would spend less time exposed on the beach, he ordered many of these obstacles to be placed at the high tide mark.[41] Tangles of barbed wire, booby traps, and the removal of ground cover made the approach hazardous for infantry.[63] On Rommel’s order, the number of mines along the coast was tripled.[27]The Allied air offensive over Germany had crippled the Luftwaffe and established air supremacy over western Europe, so Rommel knew he could not expect effective air support.[64] The Luftwaffe could muster only 815 aircraft[65] over Normandy in comparison to the Allies’ 9,543.[66] Rommel arranged for booby-trapped stakes known as Rommelspargel (Rommel’s asparagus) to be installed in meadows and fields to deter airborne landings.[27]

Armoured reserves

Rommel believed that Germany’s best chance was to stop the invasion at the shore and requested that the mobile reserves, especially tanks, be stationed as close to the coast as possible. Rundstedt, Geyr, and other senior commanders objected. They believed that the invasion could not be stopped on the beaches. Geyr argued for a conventional doctrine: keeping the Panzer formations concentrated in a central position around Paris and Rouen and deploying them only when the main Allied beachhead had been identified. He also noted that, in the Italian Campaign, the armoured units stationed near the coast had been damaged by naval bombardment. Rommel’s opinion was that, because of Allied air supremacy, the large-scale movement of tanks would not be possible once the invasion was underway. Hitler made the final decision, which was to leave three Panzer divisions under Geyr’s command and give Rommel operational control of three more as reserves. Hitler took personal control of four divisions as strategic reserves, not to be used without his direct orders.[67][68][69]

Allied order of battle

Commander, SHAEF: General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Commander, 21st Army Group: General Bernard Montgomery[70]

American zones

Commander, First Army (United States): General Omar Bradley[70]
The First Army contingent totalled approximately 73,000 men, including 15,600 from the airborne divisions.[11]

British and Canadian zones

Commander, Second Army (Britain and Canada): Lieutenant General Sir Miles Dempsey[70]
Overall, the Second Army contingent consisted of 83,115 men, 61,715 of them British.[11] The nominally British air and naval support units included a large number of personnel from Allied nations, including several RAF squadrons manned almost exclusively by overseas air crew. For example, the Australian contribution to the operation included a regular Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) squadron, nine Article XV squadrons, and hundreds of personnel posted to RAF units and RN warships.[74] The RAF supplied two-thirds of the aircraft involved in the invasion.[75]

Some elements of the 79th Armoured Division (commanded by Major General Percy Hobart[79]) provided specialised armoured vehicles which supported the landings on all beaches in Second Army’s sector.

Coordination with the French Resistance

Through the London-based État-major des Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur (French Forces of the Interior), the British Special Operations Executive orchestrated a massive campaign of sabotage to be implemented by the French Resistance. The Allies developed four plans for the Resistance to execute on D-Day and the following days:

  • Plan Vert was a 15-day operation to sabotage the rail system.
  • Plan Bleu dealt with destroying electrical facilities.
  • Plan Tortue was a delaying operation aimed at the enemy forces that would potentially reinforce Axis forces at Normandy.
  • Plan Violet dealt with cutting underground telephone and teleprinter cables.[80]

The resistance was alerted to carry out these tasks by messages personnels transmitted by the BBC’s French service from London. Several hundred of these messages, which might be snatches of poetry, quotations from literature, or random sentences, were regularly transmitted, masking the few that were actually significant. In the weeks preceding the landings, lists of messages and their meanings were distributed to resistance groups.[81] An increase in radio activity on 5 June was correctly interpreted by German intelligence to mean that an invasion was imminent or underway. However, because of the barrage of previous false warnings and misinformation, most units ignored their warning.[82][83]
A 1965 report from the Counter-insurgency Information Analysis Center details the results of the French Resistance’s sabotage efforts: “In the southeast, 52 locomotives were destroyed on 6 June and the railway line cut in more than 500 places. Normandy was isolated as of 7 June.”[84]

Naval activity

Naval operations for the invasion were described by historian Correlli Barnett as a “never surpassed masterpiece of planning”.[85] In overall command was British Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who had served as Flag officer at Dover during the Dunkirk evacuation four years earlier. He had also been responsible for the naval planning of the invasion of North Africa in 1942, and one of the two fleets carrying troops for the invasion of Sicily the following year.[86]
The invasion fleet was drawn from eight different navies, comprising 6,939 vessels: 1,213 warships, 4,126 landing craft of various types, 736 ancillary craft, and 864 merchant vessels.[11] The majority of the fleet was supplied by the UK and Canada, who provided 892 warships and 3,261 landing craft.[75] There were 195,700 naval personnel involved.[11] The invasion fleet was split into the Western Naval Task Force (under Admiral Alan G Kirk) supporting the American sectors and the Eastern Naval Task Force (under Admiral SirPhilip Vian) in the British and Canadian sectors.[87][86] Available to the fleet were five battleships, twenty cruisers, sixty-five destroyers, and two monitors.[88] German ships in the area on D-Day included three torpedo boats, twenty-nine fast attack craft, thirty-six R boats, and thirty-six minesweepers and patrol boats.[89] The Germans also had several U-boats available, and all the approaches had been heavily mined.[41]

Naval losses

At 05:10, four German torpedo boats reached the Eastern Task Force and launched fifteen torpedoes, sinking the Norwegian destroyer HNoMS Svenner off Sword beach but missing the battleships HMS Warspite and Ramillies. After firing, the German vessels turned away and fled east into a smoke screen that had been laid by the RAF to shield the fleet from the long-range battery at Le Havre.[90] Allied losses to mines included USS Corry off Utah and USS PC-1261, a 173-foot patrol craft.[91] In addition, many landing craft were lost.[92]

Bombing

Bombing of Normandy began around midnight with over 2,200 British and American bombers attacking targets along the coast and further inland.[41] The coastal bombing attack was largely ineffective at Omaha, because low cloud cover made the assigned targets difficult to see. Concerned about inflicting casualties on their own troops, many bombers delayed their attacks too long and failed to hit the beach defences.[93] The Germans had 570 aircraft stationed in Normandy and the Low Countries on D-Day, and another 964 in Germany.[41]
Minesweepers began clearing channels for the invasion fleet shortly after midnight and finished just after dawn without encountering the enemy.[94] The Western Task Force included the battleships Arkansas, Nevada, and Texas, plus eight cruisers, twenty-eight destroyers, and one monitor.[95] The Eastern Task Force included the battleships HMS Ramillies and Warspite and the monitor HMS Roberts, twelve cruisers, and thirty-seven destroyers.[6] Naval bombardment of areas behind the beach commenced at 05:45, while it was still dark, with the gunners switching to pre-assigned targets on the beach as soon as it was light enough to see, at 05:50.[96] Since troops were scheduled to land at Utah and Omaha starting at 06:30 (an hour earlier than the British beaches), these areas received only about 40 minutes of naval bombardment before the assault troops began to land on the shore.[97] Some of the landing craft had been modified to provide close support fire, and self-propelled amphibious Duplex-Drive tanks (DD tanks), specially designed for the Normandy landings, were to land shortly before the infantry to provide covering fire. However, few arrived in advance of the infantry, and many sank before reaching the shore, especially at Omaha.[98][99]

The landings

Airborne operations

The success of the amphibious landings depended on the establishment of a secure lodgement from which to expand the beachhead to allow the buildup of a well-supplied force capable of breaking out. The amphibious forces were especially vulnerable to strong enemy counter-attacks before the buildup of sufficient forces in the beachhead could be accomplished. To slow or eliminate the enemy’s ability to organise and launch counter-attacks during this critical period, airborne operations were used to seize key objectives such as bridges, road crossings, and terrain features, particularly on the eastern and western flanks of the landing areas. The airborne landings some distance behind the beaches were also intended to ease the egress of the amphibious forces off the beaches, and in some cases to neutralise German coastal defence batteries and more quickly expand the area of the beachhead.[100][101]
The US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions were assigned to objectives west of Utah Beach, where they hoped to capture and control the few narrow causeways through terrain that had been intentionally flooded by the Germans. Reports from Allied intelligence in mid-May of the arrival of the German 91st Infantry Division meant the intended drop zones had to be shifted eastward and to the south.[102] The British 6th Airborne Division, on the eastern flank, was assigned to capture intact the bridges over the Caen Canaland River Orne, destroy five bridges over the Dives 6 miles (9.7 km) to the east, and destroy the Merville Gun Battery overlooking Sword Beach.[103] Free French paratroopers from the British SAS Brigade were assigned to objectives in Brittany from 5 June through August in Operations Dingson, Samwest, and Cooney.[104][105]
BBC war correspondent Robert Barr described the scene as paratroopers prepared to board their aircraft:

Their faces were darkened with cocoa; sheathed knives were strapped to their ankles; tommy guns strapped to their waists; bandoliers and hand grenades, coils of rope, pick handles, spades, rubber dinghies hung around them, and a few personal oddments, like the lad who was taking a newspaper to read on the plane … There was an easy familiar touch about the way they were getting ready, as though they had done it often before. Well, yes, they had kitted up and climbed aboard often just like this – twenty, thirty, forty times some of them, but it had never been quite like this before. This was the first combat jump for every one of them.[106]

American airborne landings

The American airborne landings began with the arrival of pathfinders at 00:15. Navigation was difficult because of a bank of thick cloud, and as a result only one of the five paratrooper drop zones was accurately marked with radar signals and Aldis lamps.[107] Paratroopers of the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, numbering over 13,000 men, were delivered by Douglas C-47 Skytrains of the IX Troop Carrier Command.[108] To avoid flying over the invasion fleet, the planes arrived from the west over the Cotentin Peninsula and exited over Utah Beach.[109][107]
Paratroops from 101st Airborne were dropped beginning around 01:30, tasked with controlling the causeways behind Utah Beach and destroying road and rail bridges over the Douve River.[110] The C-47s could not fly in a tight formation because of thick cloud cover, and many paratroopers were dropped far from their intended landing zones. Many planes came in so low that they were under fire from bothflak and machine gun fire. Some paratroopers were killed on impact when their parachutes did not have time to open, and others drowned in the flooded fields.[111] Gathering together into fighting units was made difficult by a shortage of radios and by the bocageterrain, with its hedgerows, stone walls, and marshes.[112][113] Some units did not arrive at their targets until afternoon, by which time several of the causeways had already been cleared by members of the 4th Infantry Division moving up from the beach.[114]
Troops of the 82nd Airborne began arriving around 02:30, with the primary objective of capturing two bridges over the River Merderetand destroying two bridges over the Douve.[110] On the east side of the river, 75 per cent of the paratroopers landed in or near their drop zone, and within two hours they captured the important crossroads at Sainte-Mère-Église (the first town liberated in the invasion[115]) and began working to protect the western flank.[116] Because of the failure of the pathfinders to accurately mark their drop zone, the two regiments dropped on the west side of the Merderet were extremely scattered, with only four per cent landing in the target area.[116]Many landed in nearby swamps, with much loss of life.[117] Paratroopers consolidated into small groups, usually a combination of men of various ranks from different units, and attempted to concentrate on nearby objectives.[118] They captured but failed to hold the Merderet River bridge at La Fière, and fighting for the crossing continued for several days.[119]
Reinforcements arrived by glider around 04:00 (Mission Chicago and Mission Detroit), and 21:00 (Mission Keokuk and Mission Elmira), bringing additional troops and heavy equipment. Like the paratroopers, many landed far from their drop zones.[120] Even those that landed on target experienced difficulty, with heavy cargo such as Jeeps shifting during landing, crashing through the wooden fuselage, and in some cases crushing personnel on board.[121]
After 24 hours, only 2,500 men of the 101st and 2,000 of the 82nd Airborne were under the control of their divisions, approximately a third of the force dropped. This wide dispersal had the effect of confusing the Germans and fragmenting their response.[122] The 7th Army received notification of the parachute drops at 01:20, but Rundstedt did not initially believe that a major invasion was underway. The destruction of radar stations along the Normandy coast in the week before the invasion meant that the Germans did not detect the approaching fleet until 02:00.[123]

British and Canadian airborne landings

The first Allied action of D-Day was Operation Deadstick, a glider assault at 00:16 at Pegasus Bridge over the Caen Canal and the bridge (since renamed Horsa Bridge) over the Orne, half a mile (800 metres) to the east. Both bridges were quickly captured intact, with light casualties, by members of the 5th Parachute Brigade and the 7th (Light Infantry) Parachute Battalion.[124][125] The five bridges over the Dives were destroyed with minimal difficulty by the 3rd Parachute Brigade.[126][127] Meanwhile, the pathfinders tasked with setting up radar beacons and lights for further paratroopers (scheduled to begin arriving at 00:50 to clear the landing zone north of Ranville) were blown off course, and had to set up the navigation aids too far east. Many paratroopers, also blown too far east, landed far from their intended drop zones; some took hours or even days to be reunited with their units.[128][129] Major General Richard Gale arrived in the third wave of gliders at 03:30, along with equipment, such as antitank guns and jeeps, and more troops to help secure the area from counter-attacks, which were initially staged only by troops in the immediate vicinity of the landings.[130] At 02:00, the commander of the German 716th Infantry Division ordered Feuchtinger to move his 21st Panzer Division into position to counter-attack. However, as the division was part of the armoured reserve, Feuchtinger was obliged to seek clearance from OKW before he could commit his formation.[131] Feuchtinger did not receive orders until nearly 09:00, but in the meantime on his own initiative he put together a battle group (including tanks) to fight the British forces east of the Orne.[132]
Only 160 men out of the 600 members of the 9th Battalion tasked with eliminating the enemy battery at Merville arrived at the rendezvous point. Lieutenant Colonel Terence Otway, in charge of the operation, decided to proceed regardless, as the emplacement had to be destroyed by 06:00 to prevent it firing on the invasion fleet and the troops arriving on Sword Beach. In the Battle of Merville Gun Battery, Allied forces disabled the guns at a cost of 75 casualties. The emplacement was found to contain 75 mm guns rather than the expected 150 mm heavy coastal artillery.[133]
With this action, the last of the D-Day goals of the British 6th Airborne Division was achieved.[134] They were reinforced at 12:00 by commandos of the 1st Special Service Brigade, who landed on Sword Beach, and by the 6th Airlanding Brigade, who arrived in gliders at 21:00 in Operation Mallard.[135]

Utah Beach

Utah Beach was in the area defended by two battalions of the 919th Grenadier Regiment.[136] Members of the 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division were the first to land, arriving at 06:30. Their landing craft were pushed to the south by strong currents, and they found themselves about 2,000 yards (1.8 km) from their intended landing zone. This site turned out to be better, as there was only one strongpoint nearby rather than two, and bombers of IX Bomber Command had bombed the defences from lower than their prescribed altitude, inflicting considerable damage. In addition, the strong currents had washed ashore many of the underwater obstacles. The assistant commander of the 4th Infantry Division, Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., the first senior officer ashore, made the decision to “start the war from right here”, and ordered further landings to be re-routed.[137][138]
The initial assault battalions were quickly followed by 28 DD tanks and several waves of engineer and demolition teams to remove beach obstacles and clear the area directly behind the beach of obstacles and mines. Gaps were blown in the sea wall to allow quicker access for troops and tanks. Combat teams began to exit the beach at around 09:00, with some infantry wading through the flooded fields rather than travelling on the single road. They skirmished throughout the day with elements of the 919th Grenadier Regiment, who were armed with antitank guns and rifles. The main strongpoint in the area and another 1,300 yards (1.2 km) to the south were disabled by noon.[139] The 4th Infantry Division did not meet all of their D-Day objectives at Utah Beach, partly because they had arrived too far to the south, but they landed 21,000 troops at the cost of only 197 casualties.[140][141]

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc, a prominent headland situated between Utah and Omaha, was assigned to two hundred men of 2nd Ranger Battalion, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Rudder. Their task was to scale the 30-metre (98 ft) cliffs with grappling hooks, ropes, and ladders to destroy the coastal gun battery located at the top. While under fire from above, the men scaled the cliff, only to discover that the guns had already been withdrawn. The Rangers located the weapons, unguarded but ready to use, in an orchard some 550 metres (600 yd) south of the point, and disabled them with explosives. Under attack, the men at the point became isolated, and some were captured. By dawn on D+1, Rudder had only 90 men able to fight. Relief did not arrive until D+2, when members of the 743rd Tank Battalion and others arrived.[142][143] By then, Rudder’s men had run out of ammunition and were using captured German weapons. Several men were killed as a result, because the German weapons made a distinctive noise, and the men were mistaken for the enemy.[144]

Omaha Beach

Omaha, the most heavily defended beach, was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division and 29th Infantry Division.[145] They faced the 352nd Infantry Division rather than the expected single regiment.[146] Strong currents forced many landing craft east of their intended position or caused them to be delayed.[147] For fear of hitting the landing craft, American bombers delayed releasing their loads and, as a result, most of the beach obstacles at Omaha remained undamaged when the men came ashore.[148] Many of the landing craft ran aground on sandbars and the men had to wade 50 to 100 yards (46 to 91 m) in water up to their necks while under fire to get to the beach.[99] In spite of the rough seas, DD tanks of two companies of the 741st Tank Battalion were dropped 5,000 yards (4,600 m) from shore, and 27 of the 32 flooded and sank, with the loss of 33 crew.[149] Some tanks, disabled on the beach, continued to provide covering fire until their ammunition ran out or they were swamped by the rising tide.[150]
Casualties were around 2,000, as the men were subjected to fire from the cliffs above.[151] Problems clearing the beach of obstructions led to the beachmaster calling a halt to further landings of vehicles at 08:30. A group of destroyers arrived around this time to provide fire support so landings could resume.[152] Exit from the beach was possible only via five heavily defended gullies, and by late morning barely 600 men had reached the higher ground.[153] By noon, as the artillery fire took its toll and the Germans started to run out of ammunition, the Americans were able to clear some lanes on the beaches. They also started clearing the gullies of enemy defences so that vehicles could move off the beach.[153] The tenuous beachhead was expanded over the following days, and the D-Day objectives for Omaha were accomplished by D+3.[154]

Gold Beach

At Gold, high winds made conditions difficult for the landing craft, and the amphibious DD tanks were released close to shore or directly on the beach instead of further out as planned.[155] Three of the four guns in a large emplacement at the Longues-sur-Mer battery were disabled by direct hits from the cruisers Ajax and Argonaut at 06:20. The fourth gun resumed firing intermittently in the afternoon, and its garrison surrendered on 7 June.[156] Aerial attacks had failed to hit the Le Hamel strongpoint, which had its embrasure facing east to provide enfilade fire along the beach and had a thick concrete wall on the seaward side.[157] Its 75 mm gun continued to do damage until 16:00, when a modified Armoured Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) tank fired a large petard charge into its rear entrance.[158][159] A second casemated emplacement at La Rivière containing an 88 mm gun was neutralised by a tank at 07:30.[160]
Meanwhile, infantry began clearing the heavily fortified houses along the shore and advanced on targets further inland.[161] The No. 47 (Royal Marine) Commando moved toward the small port at Port-en-Bessin and captured it the following day in the Battle of Port-en-Bessin.[162] Company Sergeant Major Stanley Hollis received the only Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day for his actions while attacking two pillboxes at the Mont Fleury high point.[163] On the western flank, the 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment captured Arromanches(future site of Mulberry “B”), and contact was made on the eastern flank with the Canadian forces at Juno.[164] Bayeux was not captured the first day due to stiff resistance from the 352nd Infantry Division.[161] Allied casualties at Gold Beach are estimated at 1,000.[11]

Juno Beach

The landing at Juno was delayed because of choppy seas, and the men arrived ahead of their supporting armour, suffering many casualties while disembarking. Most of the offshore bombardment had missed the German defences.[165] Several exits from the beach were created, but not without difficulty. At Mike Beach on the western flank, a large crater was filled using an abandoned AVRE tank and several rolls of fascine, which were then covered by a temporary bridge. The tank remained in place until 1972, when it was removed and restored by members of the Royal Engineers.[166] The beach and nearby streets were clogged with traffic for most of the day, making it difficult to move inland.[92]
Major German strongpoints with 75 mm guns, machine-gun nests, concrete fortifications, barbed wire, and mines were located atCourseulles-sur-Mer, St Aubin-sur-Mer, and Bernières-sur-Mer.[167] The towns themselves also had to be cleared in house-to-house fighting.[168] Soldiers on their way to Bény-sur-Mer, 3 miles (5 km) inland, discovered that the road was well covered by machine gun emplacements that had to be outflanked before the advance could proceed.[169] Elements of the 9th Canadian Infantry Brigadeadvanced to within sight of the Carpiquet airfield late in the afternoon, but by this time their supporting armour was low on ammunition so the Canadians dug in for the night. The airfield was not captured until a month later as the area became the scene of fierce fighting.[170]By nightfall, the contiguous Juno and Gold beachheads covered an area 12 miles (19 km) wide and 7 miles (10 km) deep.[171]Casualties at Juno were 961 men.[172]

Sword Beach

On Sword, 21 of 25 DD tanks of the first wave made it safely ashore to provide cover for the infantry, who began disembarking at 07:30.[173] The beach was heavily mined and peppered with obstacles, making the work of the beach clearing teams difficult and dangerous.[174] In the windy conditions, the tide came in more quickly than expected, so manoeuvring the armour was difficult. The beach quickly became congested.[175] Brigadier Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat and his 1st Special Service Brigade arrived in the second wave, piped ashore by Private Bill Millin, Lovat’s personal piper.[176] Members of No. 4 Commando moved through Ouistrehamto attack from the rear a German gun battery on the shore. A concrete observation and control tower at this emplacement had to be bypassed and was not captured until several days later.[177] French forces under Commander Philippe Kieffer (the first French soldiers to arrive in Normandy) attacked and cleared the heavily fortified strongpoint at the casino at Riva Bella, with the aid of one of the DD tanks.[177]
The ‘Morris’ strongpoint near Colleville-sur-Mer was captured after about an hour of fighting.[175] The nearby ‘Hillman’ strongpoint, headquarters of the 736th Infantry Regiment, was a large complex defensive work that had come through the morning’s bombardment essentially undamaged. It was not captured until 20:15.[178] The 2nd Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry began advancing to Caen on foot, coming within a few kilometres of the town, but had to withdraw due to lack of armour support.[179] At 16:00, the 21st Panzer Division mounted a counter-attack between Sword and Juno and nearly succeeded in reaching the Channel. It met stiff resistance from the British 3rd Division and was soon recalled to assist in the area between Caen and Bayeux.[180][181] Estimates of Allied casualties on Sword Beach are as high as 1,000.[11]

Analysis

The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history, with nearly 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating.[182] Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on D-Day,[29] with 875,000 men disembarking by the end of June.[183] Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.[184] The Germans lost 1,000 men.[185] The Allied invasion plans had called for the capture of Carentan, St. Lô, Caen, and Bayeux on the first day, with all the beaches (other than Utah) linked with a front line 10 to 16 kilometres (6 to 10 mi) from the beaches; none of these objectives were achieved.[32] The five bridgeheads were not connected until 12 June, by which time the Allies held a front around 97 kilometres (60 mi) long and 24 kilometres (15 mi) deep.[186] Caen, a major objective, was still in German hands at the end of D-Day and would not be completely captured until 21 July.[187] The Germans had ordered French civilians, other than those deemed essential to the war effort, to leave potential combat zones in Normandy.[188] Civilian casualties on D-Day and D+1 are estimated at 3,000 people.[189]
Victory in Normandy stemmed from several factors. German preparations along the Atlantic Wall were only partially finished; shortly before D-Day Rommel reported that construction was only 18 per cent complete in some areas as resources were diverted elsewhere.[190] The deceptions undertaken in Operation Fortitude were successful, leaving the Germans obligated to defend a huge stretch of coastline.[191] The Allies achieved and maintained air superiority, which meant that the Germans were unable to make observations of the preparations underway in Britain and were unable to interfere via bomber attacks.[192] Transportation infrastructure in France was severely disrupted by Allied bombers and the French Resistance, making it difficult for the Germans to bring up reinforcements and supplies.[193] Some of the opening bombardment was off-target or not concentrated enough to have any impact,[148] but the specialised armour worked well except on Omaha, providing close artillery support for the troops as they disembarked onto the beaches.[194] Indecisiveness and an overly complicated command structure on the part of the German high command was also a factor in the Allied success.[195] 
Source: Wikipedia

 

Battle of Ia Drang Valley [IDV] by LTC Kenneth R Pierce from “Military Review [MR]”, Vol LXIX, 1-89

The Battle of Ia Drang Valley, 1965

ARC Identifier 653177 / Local Identifier 263.2408. This film is about the First Cavalry Division in Vietnam. National Security Council. Central Intelligence …

Military Review is published monthly by the US Army Command and Gen'l Staff College. For subscription info contact MR, USACGSC, Ft Leavenworth KS 60627
The battle of the Ia Drang Valley [IDV] was actually of series of engagements between the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and the B-3 Front, North Vietnamese Army (NVA) from 10-18 to 11-24-65, Many considered it to be the US Army's 1st battle in Vietnam. It was certainly the 1st battle between of US division operating under of field force headquarters and 3 NVA regiments operating under a front headquarters. It may also have been the last battle between NVA and US forces of equivalent size.
The objective of this article is not to rehash all the details of the battle of the IDV but to conduct of battle analysis using the historic methodology. The battle analysis methodology is a systemic approach to research that uses of format which includes: defining the subject; reviewing the setting; examining the tactical situation; and assessing the significance of the action. It is ultimately in the assessment phase that the analysis takes place, and the analysis is expected to answer specific questions. In this particular analysis the questions center on the tenets of Air land Battle doctrine as defined in the 1986 edition of US Army Field Manual (FM) 100-5, "Operations". Based on the tenets of Air land Battle, I will teach some conclusions about the battle of the IDV and provide some lessons learned.
Having defined the subject, the Battle of the IDV, the analysis must next examine the battlefield itself and also develop some description or comparison of opposing forces.
Starting with the battlefield, the IDV is the valley through which the river (Ia) Drang flows and is drained by the Ia Drang, Ia Puck and an extensive network of small streams flowing west and southwest across the Cambodian border into the Mekong River. The battlefield area covered 1,500 square miles of what appeared to be flat rolling terrain dominated by the Chu Pong Masaif, of rugged mountain 730 meters above sea level, in the southwestern corner of the area of ops (TO), straddling the Cambodian-Vietnamese border. The only passable roads traversed the eastern and northern fringes of the TO. Much of the valley was covered with thick jungle vegetation and trees as high as 100 feet. Even the "open" areas had shrubs and trees over 6 feet high. The sudden mists offered of sinister aura, where daily heat and nighttime cold kept you perpetually and increasingly on edge. The area was eerie - imagine the "Valley of Death," and you picture the Ia Drang.
In this area, particularly at the base of the Chu Pong Masaif, the NVA had built a base camp sanctuary that was unknown to US forces and untouched by Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN ) forces. The primary NVA forces operating in this area were the B-3 Front commanded by Gen'l Chu Huy Man, with 3 regular regiments (the 32d, 33d and 66th) supported by local VC battalions as well as front-level mortar and anti-aircraft units. Each maneuver regiment numbered about 2,200 frontline infantrymen and sappers. Their primary weapon was the Soviet AK47 assault rifle.
The 32d and 33d regiments were vet fighters against the ARVN and Man was of vet of the 1st Indochinese War against the French. These units had been in the valley since early September, rehearsing, developing ambush sites, and pre-positioning and stockpiling ammunition, medical supplies and food. Their tactics were quite simple, Their 1st ploy was to "lute and ambush." They would attack of small outpost or ARVN force and maintain pressure on it with one unit, while another unit waited in well-prepared positions to ambush the relieving force. Their other tactic was called "hugging"; that was to get as close to the opposing force as possible and rely on close-in, almost hand-to-hand fighting to negate their opposing force's firepower advantage. They generally liked to fight at night and rehearsed at night before conducting ops. They always planned and rehearsed an organized withdrawal and would counterattack or leave stay-behind forces to permit an orderly withdrawal. The troops were highly disciplined, with excellent morale and esprit de corps, well fed, well supplied, and in excellent physical condition. Although Man expected to fight tanks with his light infantry, his forces had not fought Americans.
The Americans they would soon meet were in the US 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), commanded by Major Gen'l Harry Kinnard. The 1st Cavalry Division had been training for 2 years as the 11th Air Assault Division at Fort Benning under Kinnard's direction. This new Army division was well trained and equipped upon activation as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) on 7-1-65. it arrived in Vietnam in increments during August and September 1965. The division had 3 brigade headquarters, 8 infantry battalions, an air cavalry squadron, an aerial rocket artillery battery, 3 direct support artillery battalions, an aviation company and the normal combat support and combat service support associated with the Reorganization Objective Army div'n. The division was authorized 10,000 troops, 435 helicopters, basic infantry weapons (M-16 rifle, M60 machinegun and M79 grenade launcher) and state-of-the-art communications equipment. This was clearly the US Army's "high tech" division of the 60s.
The 1st Cavalry had some problems when ordered to deploy; it had 2,700 men not eligible for deployment, The division lost hundreds of pilots, crew chief and mechanics who could not easily be replaced in 1965. Additionally, the troops were issued the M-16 rifle only 10 days prior to departure and had a hurried familiarization with this new weapon. After arriving in country, the division was struck with of peculiar strain of malaria for which there was no known treatment at the time, costing 1,000 additional losses. And although well trained in airmobile tactics, the division had not trained for jungle-type warfare. However, by 9-28-65, the division was in its base camp at An Khe, less than 90 days after activation.
The initial mission of B-3 Front at the operational level was to cut South Vietnam in half. Operationally, it would defeat South Vietnamese and US forces that were in the way. The 1st please of the plan was to put pressure on of Special Forces camp with 1 regiment; then to defeat the anticipated relief forces in detail, expecting them to be employed piecemeal. This 1st phase failed miserably when an ARVN relief column was employed in force with tanks and armored personnel carriers, fully supported by US air and artillery, the "luring" force (33d Regiment) was seriously reduced by tenacious fighting on the part of the dependents coupled with American close air support. The "ambushing" force (32d Regiment) was also defeated by the strong relief column. Man was forced to withdraw and to determine how to reap some success (at least psychologically) from this initial failure.
Since there were insufficient ARVN forces to exploit their success, General William Westmoreland made the extremely risky decision to employ the 1st Cavalry Division on of classic exploitation and pursuit mission against what appeared to be 2 battered NVA regiments withdrawing to Cambodia. The 1st Cavalry's mission was to search and destroy - find the 32d and 33d regiment and kill or capture as many as possible before they reached any sanctuary. The stage was set for the US Army's first battle of the Vietnam War. It is also here that we can begin the analysis.
Man withdrew to his well-developed sanctuary in the Chu Pong Masaif. Here he regrouped, reorganized, reequipped and rested his troops, while he waited for the arrival of the fresh 66th Regiment and additional artillery and anti-aircraft units, Later assessment indicated that his new mission was relatively simple. 1st he was to destroy the much more lucrative Plei Me camp - now reinforced with more than 1,000 ARVN troops and many US advisers. Then he could return to North Vietnam a victor, with a better feel for how the Americans would support his war. In this planning phase, Man's thought process can be examined in relation to the tenets of Air land Battle.
initiate. "Setting or changing the terms of battle by action." Certainly, Man still had offensive spirit - he would attack. He was setting the terms of the battle and was not going to allow the defenders of Plei Me the opportunity to recover. He knew he was taking great risk to learn more about how Americans would fight in future ops. He was also considering the political and psychological implications requiring some type of victory - no matter how limited. He knew that he was capable of exploiting any breakthrough at the camp and was confident that his subordinate regimental commanders clearly understood his intent.
Agility. "The ability to act faster than the enemy." It too the ARVN 4 days to relieve Plei Me in the earlier engagement. Man felt he could strike and withdraw much faster than any sizeable relief force could be mounted. He was now concentrating 3 regiments against a very vulnerable and isolated camp. By training and disposition, his forces were extremely agile, and he felt he could "read" the battlefield and exploit success quickly.
Depth. "Extension of ops in space, time, and resources." Clearly, Man had pre pared his battleground. He knew how to maneuver to Plei Me and his withdrawal routes were well established. He had effectively cached his resources and he had more arriving with the 66th Regiment. His forces and resources were concentrating to sustain the momentum he needed to wipe out Plei Me. He would provide for air protection with additional anti-aircraft units and by his "hugging" tactical. He viewed his rear area in the Chu Pong Masaif as well concealed and well protected. Additionally, well-established sanctuaries were available in Cambodia and his lines of communication were generally safe.
Synchronization. "The arrangement of battlefield activities in time, space, and purpose to produce maximum relative combat power at the decisive point." NVA tactical doctrine in the attack of fortified position lent itself ideally to synchronization. [Man's] felt that he could determine the time of attack. He would begin with probing tactics, then increase the pressure until he found of weak link in the defense. He would then pour through that weak point, overrun the camp and kill or capture everyone in it. He was prepared to combat air power with the arrival of additional front-level assets under his operational control. His intent was absolutely clear to his subordinate commanders, and his units had carefully rehearsed such operations. Clearly, there was unambiguous unity of purpose throughout his force. Unfortunately, Man made 1 critical error - he did not know the capabilities or intention of his enemy. In fact he did not know that his opponent would be Kinnard, who had an entirely different mission than defense.
After searching due west of the Plei Me camp and not finding the elusive NVA forces, Kinnard decided to shift his ops to the southwest - right into the Chu Pong Masaif. He had replaced his 3d Brigade with the 1st Brigade and was hoping to find the battered remnants of the 2 NVA regiments, licking their wounds and withdrawing into Cambodia. In this initial phase, we can examine Kinnard's thought process in relation to the tenets of Air land Battle.
Initiate. Clearly, Kinnard intended to set the terms of the battle, He was on the offensive and felt he could destroy the enemy with his superb division. lf he could find the enemy forces, he had the mobility and firepower to fix and destroy them, He was taking great risk and knew that the unit which made initial contact would be seriously outnumbered, but felt he could reinforce with fire almost immediately and then pile on troops before the enemy could react.
Agility. The helicopter gave Kinnard the ability to act faster than the enemy. He could shift forces and combat power at almost mind-boggling speed. He could put both field artillery and aerial rocket artillery with great accuracy anywhere on almost of moment's notice. He could reinforce with troops faster than anyone ever experienced in the history of modern warfare. He had the communication capability and the troops trained in calls for fire. He could quickly concentrate on this weak and battered enemy and exploit his vulnerabilities. Cavalry tactics were such that they considered "friction'! the accumulation of chance errors, unexpected difficulties and the confusion of battle. Kinnard, by nature, disposition and training, knew that he had to continuously "read the battlefield," decide quickly and act without hesitation.
Depth. Here again the helicopter and the cavalry's training in its use naturally extended ops in space, time and resources. The helicopter gave him extended range of vision for reconnaissance, allowed him to provide accurate aerial rocket artillery, adjust fire from the air, reposition his field artillery, re-supply his troops and reinforce with maneuver forces almost anywhere on the battlefield. His plan called for fixing the enemy and forcing of commitment, as well as interdicting uncommitted forces en-route to Cambodia. His rear areas were relatively safe, but he still provided an infantry battalion to secure his artillery and his forward command post. He had airstrips built so that he could be re-supplied from Saigon by the Air Force to his base at An Khe, and he also maintained sufficient helicopter lift assigned to move those supplies to the frontline troops. He was mentally prepared for bold and decisive action, and he had personally trained his handpicked brigade and battalion commanders with these same qualities.
Synchronization. 2 years of training together with all the modern technology had taught the cavalry how to arrange activities in time, space and purpose. Kinnard had the forces and combat power to produce maximum results at the decisive point. Synchronization for the cavalry did not depend on explicit coordination. Their training and communications capability were such that synchronization could take place during heavy conflict. Additionally, the commander's intent was clear - find the NVA regiments and destroy them. Clearly, the concept itself of searching with a battalion - piling on of brigade and supporting at the decisive time and place with the entire division, field force and Army fire support was an economy-of-force type operation.
It can be argued that in planning, each opposing commander was well within the umbrella of the tenets of Air land Battle. There was no apparent violation or misuse of initiative, agility, depth and synchronization. However, as the battle develops, some things become very evident. Man did not expect to fight the battle in his own sanctuary - nor did he expect to fight an American division. Additionally, he knew nothing of how the of Americans would fight. On Kinnard's part, he expected to be facing two beaten-up NVA regiments conducting a withdrawal. He did not expect to face more than 4,200 frontline troops, supported by mortars and anti-aircraft batteries, well supplied and not withdrawing but moving to attack. It is at this stage that the "fog of war" reigns supreme. Here the commander with the best agility gains the initiative. It is the commander who can fight his fight - that is, setting the terms of battle and not allowing the enemy to recover - who will be the winner. Both Man and Kinnard exercised great mental agility as they attempted to gain the initiative. As the battle unfolded, the unexpected took over.
1st, 1 battalion-size unit of the division, 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry (17) airlifted in landing zone (LZ) X-Ray and made almost immediate contact with advance elements of the NVA force moving on Plei Me. Lt Col Harold G. Moore (the squadron commander) at 1st thought this was of stay-behind force of about 1 battalion, covering the enemy withdrawal. Man immediately saw an opportunity to gain an immense victory by quickly annihilating an American unit that he significantly outnumbered, with the additional possibility of defeating in detail any relieving forces that would have to arrive piecemeal. In this he exercised great agility and took the initiative by accepting risk, the risk due to the fact that his entire force, especially his front-level mortar and anti-aircraft units, were not in of position to support the attack on X-Ray.
The brigade commander, Col Thomas Brown, and Kinnard quickly sensed that this was much more than a battered stay-behind force and recognized that the enemy intent was not to delay but to annihilate the 1-7th Cavalry. All available firepower was quickly reoriented to X-Ray and available forces began moving air and ground assets to support that fight. The ability of this small force to hold, and the tremendous and immediate firepower brought to beat was of shock to Man. The agility of Kinnard's thought process and the agility of the cavalry organization itself quickly gave him the initiative. He reinforced 1-7 Cavalry with 2-7 Cavalry and elements of 1-5 Cavalry. The enemy had seen enough, and began relocating. Kinnard ordered 2-7 Cavalry to pursue. The pursuing unit fought another battle that took place at LZ Albany as Man was attempting to cover his withdrawal. The fight at LZ Albany was bloody, as the United States suffered 151 dead and 121 wounded, while the enemy lost about 450 killed. Kinnard then ordered the 2d Brigade to relieve the 3d Brigade and to continue to pursue. Over the next few days the 3d Brigade mopped up of few battered remnants of the 32d, 33d and 66th regiments as they were withdrawing into Cambodia Although Kinnard wished to continue the pursuit, he was ordered to hold. By 11-24 -65, the battles of the Ia Drang were over. The 1st Cavalry killed as many as 3,000 NVA regulars, with an unknown number of wounded, and, in fact, decimated the NVA force.
Clearly, Kinnard used the agility of the cavalry and his own ability to synchronize both combat power and logistic support (550 tons of supply of day and 50,000 gallons of aviation fuel) to seize and maintain the initiative on the battlefield. Additionally, he never had to commit more than 1 brigade at a time, thus exercising wisely the economy of his force. The agility of his forces and his ability to synchronize combat power allowed his units to fight outnumbered at least 7-to-1 overall and much greater at both X-Ray and Albany and win.
Green, untested American soldiers fought outnumbered against what Bernard Fall called "the best light infantry in the world," and won. The mental agility of Kinnard, the ability to synchronize combat power, and the agility in organization of the cavalry gave him the initiative, allowed him to fight his battle on his terms and win. He searched and he destroyed - and that was his mission. The training, discipline and leadership of both the 1st Cavalry Division under Kinnard and NVA forces under Man had been outstanding. But in the final analysis, organization and air mobility gave Kinnard the agility necessary to wrest the initiative from Man. And it was the initiative that ultimately made the difference.
What then do we learn from this 1st battle in Vietnam 1st and foremost, of commander must be capable of gaining and maintaining the initiative, for without it he cannot win. To gain the initiative, the commander must have both the mental and organizational agility to gain an advantage in relative combat power in depth, (time, space and resources), at the decisive point. In the battle of the Ia Drang, it was the great agility provided by the 1st Cavalry's organization that gave them the edge Kinnard needed.
It is also evident from of study of this battle that the tenets of Air land Battle doctrine are clearly interdependent, with gaining and maintaining the initiative clearly the most important tenet. An edge or advantage in 1 or all of the other tenets may give you that initiative as did the 1st Cavalry's agility and ability to synchronize its actions. Man had the ability to synchronize his combat power and he had great depth in time, space and resources. He was willing to take risks and had great mental agility. The physical agility advantage, however, went to the cavalry and that was enough to gain the initiative.
We also learned that technology can provide just the edge in agility that is needed. However, technology is not enough. Commanders at ever level must be confident and trained to know how and when to apply that technology. If Kinnard had not been absolutely confident in his ability to rapidly reinforce with both firepower and troops, his actions would have been closer to stupidity than acceptable risk. Such was the case with Man, who was ignorant of the capabilities of the American forces. His willingness to take risks without knowing those capabilities was, in fact, foolish and cost him 3 1st-rate regiments. Thus, 1 suggest that while initiative, agility, depth and synchronization characterize successful ops, there are other key operations requirements. FM 100-5 calls them "Air Land Battle Imperatives." The imperative that seriously affected Man is stated as "Concentrate combat power against enemy vulnerabilities."
FM 100-5 further explains, "to know what his vulnerabilities are, the commanders must study the enemy, know and take into account his strengths, find his inherent vulnerabilities, and know how to create vulnerabilities which can be exploited to decisive effect." This was Man's great failure and can be considered the cause of his defeat.
This article illustrates the analysis of a battle within the framework of the tenets of Air land Battle. Of series of facts such as composition of opposing force, geography and environment, missions of each force, dates and times, were examined using the FM 101-5 definitions of the tenets of Air Land Battle. This method then allowed for some conclusions to be drawn. Ultimately, the question of why the US forces won and NVA forces lost was answered to of certain degree. Such analyses, done in even greater depth, offer the potential to answer many more questions. The point here is that the professional soldier can conduct continuous study of current doctrine by reading and analyzing battles of the past, thus continuously reinforcing the understanding of current doctrine. My conclusions from the study of this battle find that initiative is the critical tenet of Air Land Battle, and that agility, depth and synchronization are the means of gaining the initiative. It is my opinion that the study of other battles, using the analysis method, will also point to initiative as the most vital tenet of Air land Battle.