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  • 1st Cavalry Divisions Effectiveness in Conducting

    Airmobile Operations during Operation Pegasus

    A Monograph

    by

    LTC Karl M. Wojtkun United States Army

    School of Advanced Military Studies United States Army Command and General Staff College

    Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

    2016

    Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited

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    1. REPORT DA TE (DD-MM-YYYY) 12. REPORT TYPE 3. DATES COVERED (From - To)

    SAMS Monograph 4. TITLE AND SUBTITLE 5a. CONTRACT NUMBER

    1st Cavalry Division's Effectiveness in Conducting Airmobile Operations during Operation Pegasus 5b. GRANT NUMBER

    5c. PROGRAM ELEMENT NUMBER

    6. AUTHOR(S) 5d PROJECTNUMBER

    LTC Karl M. Wojtkun

    5e. TASK NUMBER

    5f. WORK UNIT NUMBER

    7. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION NAME(S) AND ADDRESS(ES) 8. PERFORMING ORGANIZATION

    US Army Command and General Staff College REPORT NUMBER ATTN: ATZL-SWD-GD Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2301

    9. SPONSORING/MONITORING AGENCY NAME(S) AND ADDRESS( ES) 10. SPONSOR/MONITOR'S ACRONYM(S)

    Advanced Military Studies Program CGSC

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    12. DISTRIBUTION/AVAILABILITY STATEMENT

    Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

    13. SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES

    14. ABSTRACT

    The Vietnam War saw an expanded use of helicopters, which developed the doctrine of airmobility into an effective means of conducting operations. Through rapid expansion and lessons learned, airmobility switched from utilization with small units to being able to conduct division level operations by 1968 due to the 1st Cavalry Division. 1st Cavalry Division's Operation Pegasus conducted an airmobile operation with over 30,000 soldiers transported via helicopter in fifteen days and readily defeated the enemy. What made 1st Cavalry Division effective in Operation Pegasus? Its unique mix of aircraft and infantry, the doctrine it employed, and the ability to execute a thoroughly developed standard operating procedure.

    15. SUBJECT TERMS

    Airmobile Operations, Army Aviation, Vietnam, 1st Cavalry Division, Air Assault, Operation Pegasus

    16. SECURITY CLASSIFICATION OF:

    a. REPORT b. ABSTRACT c. THIS PAGE

    (U) (U) (U)

    17. LIMITATION OF 18. NUMBER ABSTRACT OF

    PAGES

    (U) 46

    19a. NAME OF RESPONSIBLE PERSON

    LTC Karl M. Wojtkun 19b. TELEPHONE NUMBER (Include area code)

    315-771-6793

    Standard Form 298 (Rev. 8/98) Prescribed by ANSI Std. Z39.18

  • Monograph Approval Page

    Name of Candidate: LTC Karl M. Wojtkun

    Monograph Title: 1st Cavalry Divisions Effectiveness in Conducting Airmobile Operations during Operation Pegasus

    Approved by:

    __________________________________, Monograph Director Stephen A. Bourque, PhD

    __________________________________, Seminar Leader Dyrald J. Cross, COL

    ___________________________________, Director, School of Advanced Military Studies Henry A. Arnold III, COL

    Accepted this 10th day of May 2016 by:

    ___________________________________, Director, Graduate Degree Programs Robert F. Baumann, PhD

    The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the student author, and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College or any other government agency. (References to this study should include the foregoing statement.)

    Fair use determination or copyright permission has been obtained for the inclusion of pictures, maps, graphics, and any other works incorporated into this manuscript. A work of the United States Government is not subject to copyright, however further publication or sale of copyrighted images is not permissible.

    ii

  • Abstract

    1st Cavalry Divisions Effectiveness in Conducting Airmobile Operations during Operation Pegasus by, LTC Karl M. Wojtkun, 46 pages.

    During the Vietnam War, the use of the helicopter as a means to maneuver an infantry force rapidly over restrictive terrain became common practice and enhanced the efforts of the US military to conduct combat operations in mountainous and jungle environments. As the war progressed, the capacity to conduct larger-scale airmobile operations advanced from simple company movements, to complex movements of entire divisions. From April 1 to April 15, 1968, 1st Cavalry Division successfully conducted Operation Pegasus which was the first such division level operation.

    This monograph investigates why the 1st Cavalry Division was so effective in Operation Pegasus. It does so by examining the structure of the division and the development of airmobile doctrine used in the operation. It also examines the assisting standard operating procedures.

    As a result of the divisions integral helicopters, it was capable of transporting itself effectively in combat. The aviation units were fully capable of continuously moving each of the brigades within the division against an enemy force. The methods to successfully maneuver in this manner resulted of stateside testing and early war experiences that together combined into one battle tested doctrine. As the division gained experience in Vietnam, the repetitive conduct of airmobile operations built effectiveness through the use of detailed and complete standard operating procedures. The rapid success derived of these efforts culminated in division level maneuver demonstrated during Operation Pegasus.

    iii

  • Contents

    Figures ..............................................................................................................................................v

    Acknowledgements .........................................................................................................................vi

    Introduction ......................................................................................................................................1

    The Structure of 1st Cavalry Division..............................................................................................7

    The Development of an Effective Airmobile Doctrine for 1st Cavalry Division...........................18

    Standard Operating Procedures and Liaisons.................................................................................30

    Conclusion......................................................................................................................................36

    Bibliography...................................................................................................................................41

    Appendix A- Operation Pegasus Aviation and Ground Maneuver Sketch April 1, 1968..............44

    Appendix B- Operation Pegasus Aviation and Ground Maneuver Sketch April 3, 1968 ..............45

    Appendix C- Operation Pegasus Aviation and Ground Maneuver Sketch April 5, 1968 ..............46

    iv

  • Figures

    Figure 1. Major Aviation Units within First Cavalry Division ......................................................14

    Figure 2. Timeline of Experience Groupings in the Development of Airmobile Doctrine ...........30

    Figure 3. 11th Aviation Group (1968) versus Combat Aviation Brigade (2015)...........................38

    Figure 4. 3rd Brigade Air Assault on April 1, 1968.......................................................................44

    Figure 5. 2nd Brigade Air Assault on April 3, 1968 ......................................................................45

    Figure 6. 1st Brigade Air Assault on April 5, 1968........................................................................46

    v

  • Acknowledgements

    I would like to thank my wife, Mrs. Melissa Wojtkun, for her encouragement, dedication,

    and support during the creation of this monograph. Her first look at everything I wrote saved me

    vast amounts of time in needless revisions and set me straight as I veered off course on numerous

    occasions. Her mental and physical support as always is my rock. I also owe a special thanks to

    Major Charles Flores who read my work and provided enormous amounts of feedback in

    countless discussions on the topic. Additionally, I would like to thank Mr. John Dubuisson and

    Mr. Russell P. Raferty at the Combined Arms Research Library who went to great efforts to make

    sure my research was as extensive and complete as it could be in the time afforded. Lastly, but

    certainly not least, I would like to thank Colonel Dyrald Cross and Dr. Stephen Bourque for their

    guidance, recommendations, and mentorship during the writing process.

    vi

  • Introduction

    As a morning fog reluctantly gave way to a low gray haze on Ap

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