This is coolbert:
From my original Ia Drang blog entry:
"* Those American soldiers at Ia Drang each and every one parachute qualified, paratroopers the finest and best and most prepared infantry the American army could deploy to Vietnam!"
A response and comment from a devoted reader regarding that "best and most prepared":
"? Are you sure? Coleman had a different opinion on this subject: 'The green troops expended a lot of ammunition early on, firing mostly at shadows. During the early days at An Khe, the saga of Maggie the mule ended tragically. She wandered too far outside the perimeter one cloudy night and was shot by a spooked picket guard. The flailing about on the perimeter revealed a fundamental truth about the division for someone who was perceptive enough to see it: the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) that had just arrived in Vietnam was not an elite unit. True, the concept of airmobility was elite, but the troopers who were to provide the sinew for making the concept a reality were typical of the American infantry, artillery, and engineer soldiers the U.S. Army was providing to all of its line outfits in 1965'"
"Are you sure?" And the answer is YES without qualification!
Vietnam was the FIRST WAR fought by the U.S. Army where instantly deploy able divisional sized and combat ready troops were at the disposal of the national command authority, ready to go as a unit NOT combat TESTED but nonetheless as prepared as they could be.
All combat paratrooper units by definition are ELITE units. Those individual soldiers of the highest physical capacity and brought to an extraordinary level of physical fitness, motivated volunteers possessing initiative, morale and esprit not ordinarily common having undergone a screening and FILTER mechanism of parachute qualification.
Those combat arms battalion, brigade and divisional commanders of the First Air Cav also having combat EXPERIENCE, combat TESTED!
"The green troops expended a lot of ammunition early on, firing mostly at shadows."
This is correct. American soldiers for better or worse had been trained to expend their ammo and in Vietnam did so quite often leveling entire areas of forest in the process, "spooked" is the term. NO targets or maybe probing in front of them and using an entire issue of small arms ammo in response to an erroneously perceived threat!!
Poor form YES but hardly not unique to any other military unit facing mortal combat for the first time.
Nonetheless: "the finest and best and most prepared infantry the American army could deploy to Vietnam" and the answer is once more YES!