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U.S. Marine Corps - Small Wars Manual (1940 Edition)




General considerations			9-32
Troop transportation			9-33
Transportation of supplies		9-34
Dropping of supplies			9-35
Evacuation of sick and wounded		9-36

9-32. General considerations.-a. The transportation of troops and supplies becomes of increasing importance as the ground forces in a small wars campaign work inland, away from the navigable waters and railroads usually found in the coastal regions of tropical countries. Roads for wheeled transport are apt to be poor or nonexistent, and dependence for supply of certain units may have to be placed on slow animal transport. As distances from the base of operations increase, this form of supply tends to break down, especially during rainy seasons, and the most advanced of the ground forces may be partially or altogether dependent upon air transport for months at a time. The air force, then, should include a much greater percentage of transport aircraft than is required for the normal needs of the air units themselves.

b. Air transportation is justified only when more economical forms of transport will not serve; it should be considered only as an emergency supplement for land transportation, and its use rigidly controlled by Force Headquarters. Factors which may influence the decision to use air transport are: unfavorable condition of roads and trails; long distances through hostile territory necessitating the provision of strong escorts for land transport; and emergency situations requiring immediate action. When air transport is planned, the air force will usually establish regular schedules for transport airplanes. Force Headquarters will arrange for routine and priority listing of supplies and replacements to be forwarded to outlying stations. Routine evacuation of the sick and wounded is accomplished on the return trips, and only occasionally should the necessity for emergency flights arise. The air force should generally have priority in the use of air transport for its own requirements. Where small air units are maintained and operated on outlying auxiliary fields, the problem of supplying fuel, ammunition, bombs, and other supplies becomes a considerable task.

9-33. Troop transportation.-a. Possibilities for the transportation of troops in airplanes are limited only by the number of transport aircraft available and the existence of suitable landing fields. In small wars operations, the ability to concentrate forces quickly in any part of the theater, through the medium of air transport, may materially influence the planning of the campaign, and offers a solution to the grave difficulties of moving forces through a country devoid of communication facilities. Small forces, not to exceed a battalion, can be transported and supplied by air everywhere within the operating radius of the aircraft, provided landing facilities are available. The utility squadron of eight transports will carry approximately one rifle company per trip, including combat equipment. While these figures indicate the maximum troop movement possible with the amount of air transport normally provided, they by no means imply that movements on a larger scale are impractical. In the typical campaign of this nature, the movement of a force larger than a company will be exceptional.

b. Troop commanders of units ordered to move by air should be advised in advance of the weight limitations per man, in order that excess equipment may be stored before embarkation. Movement orders should be specific as to time of arrival on the airdrome; details of loading will be supervised by a representative of the air operations officer, who will be guided, insofar as possible, by the principle of tactical unity in the assignment of troop spaces. On outlying airdromes, the senior aviator present is charged with these details and is responsible that safety limitations are observed. While in flight, the regularly assigned pilot of the aircraft exercises command analogous to that of the commander of a surface vessel on which troops are embarked.

c. A general policy classifying persons and articles considered eligible for air transport, with priority ratings, should be adopted and published by Force Headquarters. Permits for air travel should be issued by Force and Area Commanders, and passages coordinated with scheduled or emergency movements of transport airplanes. Requests for special airplanes should be rigidly controlled by Force and Area Commanders.

9-34. Transportation of supplies.-a. Generally speaking, the transportation of bulky supplies by air is economical only for long hauls in regions of poor communication. Questions of tactical expediency will often outweigh those of economy, however, and where air transport is available it will normally be used to capacity.

b. In order to handle properly the many calls for air transportation of supplies, regulate priority, and expedite the more urgent shipments, a special shipping office, under the control of the air commander, should be maintained at the base airdrome. This agency acts as a regulating depot between the rear echelon and the units in the field. It receives and prepakes shipments, loads and unloads the airplanes, and arranges for the storage and delivery of incoming shipments. Adequate storage ancd transport at ion facilities should be made available. Shipping agencies should also be provided at the more important auxiliary airdromes if the volume of supplies appears to warrant such installations, Personnel for these regulating stations is supplied by the Force Quartermaster, as requested by the aviation supply officer who is responsible for the preparation and loading of all air shipments. The air operations officer is kept informed at all times regarding amounts and priorities of shipments, and will issue the necessary instruct ions for the actual loading of the airplanes.

9-35. Dropping of supplies.-a. Supplies transported by air may be delivered by landing, or by dropping from the airplane while in flight at low altitude. To avoid undue loss by breakage, articles to be dropped must have special packing. Skilled personnel can wrap almost any article so that it will not be injured by contact with the ground after being dropped. Explosives, detonators, liquid medicines, etc., may be swathed in cotton and excelsior and dropped safely; water in half-filled canteens may be dropped from low altitudes with no protection other than the canvas cover; dry beans, rice, sugar, and similar supplies may be dropped by enclosing a half-filled sack in larger one. The governing principle in packing is to arrange for cushioning the impact and for expansion within the container. Machine guns and similar equipment should be disassembled prior to packing for air drops,, although in emergencies such loads could be dropped intact by using parachutes. In short, it is possible to drop safely any article of supply provided it is properly packed.

b. The dropping ground should have a clear space at least 100 yards in diameter, with no obstructions which could prevent the airplane from approaching at low altitude and minimum speed. An identification panel should mark the center of the area, or casualties will occur from men being struck by heavy falling articles.

c. Emergency supplies of medicines, food, small arms ammunition, clothing, money, and mail are usually transported to detached units in the field by the daily air patrols. The observers stow the articles in their cockpits and drop them when contact is established. The standard scouting airplane will safely handle an overload equivalent to the weight of an extra man, provided room can be found for stowage near the center of gravity of the plane. Unless a landing can be made, however, the load is limited to what the observer can stow in his cockpit.

9-36. Evacuation of sick and wounded.-The evacuation by air of the sick and wounded personnel reduces the percentage of permanent casualties, relieves the units in the field of responsibility for their care, and enhances the morale of troops engaged in patrolling or garrisoning remote areas. Air ambulance service should have priority over all utility missions, and should be second only to urgent tactical requirements. The normal flow of sick and slightly wounded personnel are handled on the return trips of regularly scheduled transports, or by smaller airplanes from the more remote districts where no transport fields exist. When it is known in advance that casualties are to be evacuated, a medical attendant should accompany the transport or ambulance plane on its outbound trip in order that medical escort will not have to be provided by the unit in the field. Emergency cases will be handled by the senior aviator present without waiting for formal authority for the flight. Stretcher cases can be moved only by transport or ambulance planes; the patient must be able to sit up if evacuation is to be effected from a small field by a two-seater scout.

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