Was the institution of he American military ready for the concept of Airborne troops/warfare in World War II?
I'm thinking airborne troops weren't used that effectively, and that maybe the military was resistant to the idea. Interested in what your thoughts are.
That's a great question, and my short answer would be yes. The Americans, the British, the Japanese, Russians and Germans all employed airborne troops to different degrees, and I would say the Germans were the most forward thinking as far as how they should be used, and the Americans near the bottom of the list.
The American military has always been a very conservative organization, resistant to change in both doctrine and tactics. The Airborne divisions the US created were cutting edge, very well armed and well trained, but rarely used in an airborne capacity.
The D-Day assaults in June of 1944 were a perfect demonstration of their military value, and of the elite class of troops the US had created. They were often used as a bludgeon after that, however, rarely jumping, and in the case of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge (perhaps their most heroic and effective moment) they didn't jump at all, but were rather trucked to the battlefield before they were surrounded.
In my opinion, the military leaders of the time tended to call on them as elite troops first, and consider where and how airborne troops might best have been employed last. This was one reason for the high rate of casualties and replacements they had (over 130% in the 101st Airborne).