Silk canopies would continue to blossom across the sky during the Cold War. The French conducted numerous small paradrops in Indochina and Algeria in the 1950s. In 1956, Anglo-French paratroopers landed at Suez, as did Israelis in the Sinai. The U.S. 187th Regimental Combat Team dropped twice in Korea, while a battalion of the 503rd jumped over South Vietnam. U.S. Rangers paradropped into Kandahar during the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
Yet there would never again be another airborne assault like Operation Market-Garden. Probably the postwar battle closest to Market-Garden was Dien Bien Phu in 1954. The French parachuted and airlifted 20,000 paratroopers, Foreign Legionnaires, and ten light tanks into that isolated Vietnamese village 300 miles from the main French base at Hanoi. Like the Germans at Arnhem, the Viet Minh responded with unexpected speed, strength and far more artillery than the French outpost could muster. The result was a fifty-five-day siege that saw the French survivors march off to Communist prison camps.
For all the surprise and terror of airborne landings, and the remarkable feats accomplished by elite troops, ultimately they are lightly armed forces that are highly vulnerable to counterattacks by enemy units well armed with armor and artillery.
It is hard to imagine any nation today—except perhaps North Korea—that would willingly drop 35,000 soldiers 60 miles behind enemy lines, in the hopes that they would be relieved before being destroyed.
Market-Garden would the first—and last—army to drop from the skies.