Germany’s highly successful use of airborne troops to capture Belgian forts in 1940 and to seize the British-held island of Crete in 1941 encouraged the U.S. Army and Marine Corps to develop airborne forces. These efforts included both services establishing glider landing forces.1
In October 1940, shortly after the German assault against Belgium and France, the Marine Corps Commandant Major General Thomas Holcomb directed that one battalion of each Marine regiment be designated as “air troops,” to be transported by aircraft. Within each air battalion there would be one company of paratroops; the remaining companies would be air-landed. For the latter companies, using gliders could be cheaper than using only powered aircraft, and gliders could land troops on terrain unsuited for conventional landing operations.