Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. History Dept.


Robert S. Weisbrot

Second Advisor

Paul Josephson


One of the greatest military inventions to come from World War II, a war unprecedented in casualties, geographic scale, and technology, was the addition of Special Forces to the military. As a pioneer of Special Forces in the United States, the airborne proved to be one of the most unique, dangerous, and expensive Special Forces in the war. By the end of 1940, many belligerent countries had airborne units, including Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, Japan, France, and the United Sates. American Chief of Air Service William Mitchell came up with the idea at the end of World War I, and countries employed it throughout World War II. Paratroopers jumped behind enemy lines via parachute and wreaked havoc on the enemy rear by cutting telephone lines, destroying supplies, blocking roadways, breaching headquarters to obtain sensitive information, and evading capture in order to take enemy troops away from the front.


parachutes, special forces, warfare

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