The Army and other groups used such antennas long before the term NVIS came into
prominence. High angle radiation as obtained by laying an antenna on the ground (or
mounting it at a low height) has a number of advantages for military applications:
1) more difficult for the enemy to DF signals
2) easier to set up and less noticeable under hostile conditions
3) less ground wave propagation that may cause interference at short distances
compared to higher antennas
The downside is lower efficiency, but if you have enough power available and
choose the proper operating frequency it can work fairly well. Over some poor
soils such as sand the effective ground may be well below the surface, and such
antennas will work like a higher dipole.
The resonant frequency depends a lot on the earth conditions, so most antennas
are used with a built-in antenna tuner anyway.
So, yes, it can be done, especially on bands below the Critical Frequency (typically
160m to 40m, depending on current conditions) for relatively short range paths.
But mounting the antenna higher in the air nearly always improves signals.
And it isn't just the US that uses such antennas: here is a Russian version, called
a "spreading antenna", used to restore communications following damage to an
antenna structure or during repairs, etc.:http://www.antentop.org/008/files/sas008.pdf