Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 4
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reconnaissance-only doctrine that had been created for its experimental mechanized formations.
Unfortunately, this doctrine relied upon the presence of an organic robust combat element
working in close conjunction with the reconnaissance force. This formation would never be
created prior tol1945 due to the doctrinal confusion of the branch and the general apathy towards
cavalry present in Headquarters, AGF.
In a further dose of irony, the 1944 FM 100-5 Operations, the premier doctrinal capstone
of the U.S. Army in the Second World War, still provided for cavalry divisions conducting
operational counter-reconnaissance and security of corps-level organizations. It notes:
A Cavalry Division protects the disposition and other ground forces by counter-
reconnaissance or screening, which may be conducted either offensively or
defensively. In executing a counter-reconnaissance mission, the division seeks to
defeat or neutralize enemy ground reconnaissance forces.1
However, by June 1944 (the publication date of the manual) the only division designated as
cavalry was the 1st Cavalry Division, which was dismounted and fighting as infantry in the South
Pacific. Thus, doctrinally, the army understood the need for cavalry to perform security as well
as reconnaissance. Unfortunately, the reality was that AGF merely paid lip service to the idea,
continuing in its basic, albeit flawed, assumptions of how mechanized combat would proceed.
The mechanized cavalry deployed to western Europe were specifically designed only for
stealth reconnaissance without the survivability, firepower, or manpower to conduct sustained
combat operations. In mobile combat, they were intended to identify enemy locations, pass off
the information, then bypass these points and continue the mission. Hard won experience in
North Africa and Italy taught the army the importance of having fighting reconnaissance and
security formations. However, little was done other than noting that the groups would now have
'War Department, FM100-5. Field Service Regulations. Operations, 1944 (Washington, D.C.: GPO,
1944), paragraph 1026.
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Nance, William Stuart. Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army, thesis, May 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc68023/m1/10/: accessed August 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .