Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 14
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protected force."12 Note how reconnaissance can be included in this doctrinal task, but the
primary mission under security operations is protecting the 'main body,' not finding the enemy.
John Buford's division at Gettysburg conducted a security operation by allowing the main Union
army time to mass under favorable circumstances. If Stuart had been conducting offensive
security operations, it is highly likely that the battle would have unfolded much differently.
Security missions are further broken down into the tasks of screen, guard, cover, and area
security. Screen protects the main body from observation by hostile forces. Guard protects the
main body against direct fire, whilst cover protects against indirect fire as well. Thus, the
distance from the security force to the protected force increase with each mission, with cover
requiring it to be beyond friendly artillery support, thereby necessitating it having its own
artillery. Traditionally, cavalry performed all of these roles for the United States Army at the
operational level from before the Civil War to the beginning of the Second World War.13
The First World War began what many in the United States cavalry viewed as a struggle
for no less than the survival of their profession. The Western Front had quickly demonstrated
the alleged futility of horses on the modern battlefield. Although the British kept large mounted
reserves to exploit a breakthrough, this was impractical considering the extreme vulnerability of
horse-mounted troops to machine guns and artillery, as well as the nature of the trench
battlefield. Additionally the invention and use of tanks and armored cars promised a new form
of warfare that beckoned away from the use of the horse. However, despite the difficulties of
open warfare throughout World War One, American military leadership still believed in the
12 Department of the Army, FM 1-02. Operational Terms and Graphics, 1-168.
13 Albeit not necessarily under these precise terms, and also understanding that prior to the invention of
indirect fire, a cover was essentially a guard.
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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/m1/20/: accessed February 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .