The Assault Follow-On Echelon, in amphibious operations, is that echelon of the assault troops, vehicles, aircraft equipment, and supplies which, though not needed to initiate the assault, is required to support and sustain the assault. In order to accomplish its purpose, it is normally required in the objective area no later than five days after commencement of the assault landing.
The Beach Jumpers began as a naval task group under the direct control of the fleet commander. The group consisted of specialists, officers, and men, trained to conduct tactical cover and deception missions, to include radio and radar countermeasures. The program was initiated by Douglas E. Fairbanks, Jr., the movie actor and son of the silent-screen star. Their top-secret mission was to create and sustain the illusion that a military landing was imminent at Beach "A" when in fact US/allied troops would hit the beaches 100 miles away at Beach "X". During World War II, their tactics were extremely successful in Sicily, Salerno, Southern France, and the Philippines. In addition, the Beach Jumpers conducted operations in the Pacific theater of operations. The Beach Jumpers and their descendants operated in in Vietnam, where Beach Jumpers served both ashore and afloat in Vietnam. Their descendants, called "Fleet Tactical Deception Groups," continue their important, highly classified work today.
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