Merrill's Marauders:Combined Operations in Northern Burma in 1944:http://www-cgsc.army.mil/carl/resources ... BJORGE.asp
...The accomplishments of the 5307th, however, were achieved at a tremendous human cost. The total strength of the unit at the beginning of its operations was 2,997 officers and men. Because some of the men received rear-echelon assignments such as parachute riggers and "kickers" (i.e., men who kicked bundles of supplies out of transport aircraft during air drops), the actual number of men who set out on the first mission on 24 February was 2,750. After this operation ended with the capture of Walawbum on 7 March about 2,500 remained to carry on.The unit's second mission, from 12 March to 9 April, resulted in 67 men killed and 379 evacuated because of wounds or illness. Thereby reduced to about 2,000 men, the 5307th was augmented by Chinese and native Kachin soldiers for its third mission, the operation to take the Myitkyina airfield, which began on 28 April. Only 1,310 Americans reached this objective, and between 17 May and 1 June, the large majority of these men, most of whom were suffering from disease, were evacuated by air to rear-area hospitals. By the time the town of Myitkyina was taken, only about 200 of the original Galahad force was present. A week after Myitkyina fell, on 10 Aupst 1944, the 5307th, utterly worn out and depleted, was disbanded.
Why did the 5307th end up this way? Why was the first U.S. combat unit to fight on the Asian continent driven until it suffered over 80 percent casualties and experienced what an inspector general's report described as "an almost complete breakdown of morale in the major portion of the unit"? Colonel Charles N. Hunter, the second ranking (and sometime ranking) officer of the unit during its existence, expected heavy casualties from the start. In briefings at the War Department in September 1943, he was told that casualties were projected to reach 85 percent. But at the end of the 5307th's campaign, he still felt that the unit had been badly misused and had suffered unnecessarily. Years later, in a book about the 5307th titled Galahad, he placed the blame for what happened to the unit squarely on the personality and personal ambition of the campaign's commander, Lieutenant General Joseph W. Stilwell:
Galahad Force was the most beat upon, most misunderstood, most mishandled, most written about, most heroic, and yet most unrewarded regimental sized unit that participated in World War II. That it was expendable was understood from its inception; what was not understood and has never been adequately explained, is why it was expended to bolster the ego of an erstwhile Theater Commander such as "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell.
There is much to be gained by examining the experiences of the 5307th. The soldiers established an inspirational standard of endurance and courage in the face of an extremely harsh natural environment and a dedicated foe. The unit's long cross-country movements illustrate the innovative use of the new capabilities given military forces at the time by advances in communications technology and aerial resupply techniques. But no lessons to be learned are greater than those related to the conduct of combined or multinational operations. If, as Colonel Hunter asserts, "Galahad Force was the most beat upon regimental-sized unit that participated in World War II," the reason for this happening is to be found most of all in the combined nature of the northern Burma campaign. As the only American combat unit within the combined force, Galahad could not avoid being given the special burdens that came from being Americans. Their presence was required to form viable multinational task forces when the units of other countries could not or would not work together alone. Their participation in operations was necessary to encourage the units of other nations to stay in the struggle and to fight hard. The 5307th was the means by which the American field commander, General Stilwell, showed that he was not asking more of his coalition partners than he was asking of American soldiers. What was especially damaging to the 5307th was that it was a small unit and the only U.S. combat unit under Stilwell's command. It had to bear America's fighting burden alone. Eventually, and perhaps inevitably, it collapsed under the weight of its combined load.