Exercise Swarmer

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Exercise Swarmer (Operation Swarmer)
Exercise Swarmer is located in the United States
Exercise Swarmer
Southeastern United States
ObjectiveTraining exercise
DateApril 24-May 8, 1950 (UTC-5)

Exercise Swarmer (also known as Operation Swarmer[1]) was a military exercise conducted in the spring of 1950 by the United States Air Force, United States Army and United States Navy in the southeastern part of the United States, headquartered at Fort Bragg in the state of North Carolina. Starting on April 24 and running through May 8,[2] the exercise was intended to apply lessons learned during the Berlin Airlift to battlefield logistics;[3] the exercise took place over ten days and involved over 60,000 personnel.[3]


The scenario for Exercise Swarmer involved a mock invasion of the eastern coast of the United States, with defending forces counterattacking the 'enemy incursion' via a massive airlift behind enemy lines.[3] The counterattack involved establishing an airhead, involving over six hundred transport and fighter aircraft,[4] and airdrops of over 3900 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 11th Airborne Division.[5]


Although the achievements of the airlift were initially considered disappointing as opposed to projections, by the time four days of the exercise had passed the results were considered to be "the biggest step forwards since World War II" by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[3] However, the United States Air Force determined that existing transport aircraft were inadequate for the cargo needs of the Army,[6] General James Gavin calling for an increase in the supply of C-119 cargo aircraft.[7]

Exercise Swarmer also saw the service introduction of the first Parachute Rigger Badge, used by the 11th Parachute Maintenance Company, although the badge would not become official until 1986.[8]


  1. ^ Hagerman 1990, p. 247
  2. ^ MAC 1991, p. 73.
  3. ^ a b c d Life, May 15, 1950, p. 42
  4. ^ Newsweek, Volume 35, Issues 14-26.
  5. ^ Hagerman 1997, p. 379.
  6. ^ New York Times, May 2, 1950
  7. ^ Woodring and Woodring 1997, p. 61.
  8. ^ "Parachute Rigger Badge". Airborne & Special Operations Insignia. Fort Lee, VA: U.S. Army Quartermaster Museum. 2009. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
  • The Editors (May 15, 1950). "Airpower Becomes Supply Power". Life. Retrieved 2010-11-27.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Hagerman, Bart, ed. (1990). USA Airborne - 50th Anniversary. Nashville, TN: Turner Publishing. ISBN 978-0938021902.
  • Stevens, Austin (May 2, 1950). "Planes Fall Short of Airlift Needs - Leaders of Exercise Swarmer Say United States Craft Cannot Haul Modern Army Cargoes". The New York Times.
  • Hagerman, Bart, ed. (1997). USA Airborne: 50th Anniversary. Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing. ISBN 978-0-938021-90-2. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
  • Military Airlift Command Office of History (1991). Anything, Anywhere, Anytime: an Illustrated History of the Military Airlift Command, 1941-1991. Scott AFB, IL: Headquarters Military Airllift Command. ASIN B001H0B0GK.
  • Woodring, Frank; Suanne Woodring (2007). Images of Aviation: Fairchild Aircraft. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-4439-7.