Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 15
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concept and the inherent superiority of this type of warfare. This conviction resulted from the
successes of open maneuver warfare at the end of the war.14
The result of American military leadership's trust in movement over positional warfare is
summed up in the 1923 Field Service Regulations (FSR 1923), the U.S. Army's capstone
doctrinal statement that would stand until 1939. In this document, cavalry is noted as a highly
mobile force that "executes the missions of reconnaissance, counter-reconnaissance, and security
in the service of large units and delivers combat in the execution of these missions and in
combination with the operations of other elements of the large units to which it is assigned."15
Furthermore, the authors of FSR 1923 argue that cavalry screening operations are "most
effective when the cavalry is employed as a mass to engage and defeat the hostile cavalry."16
Note how the Army expected its cavalry to not only find the enemy, but expected it to fight in
order to gain information and prevent enemy reconnaissance efforts. Finally, cavalry was
expected to conduct offensive operations against targets of opportunity, as seen from the
following excerpt from FSR 1923:
Cavalry constitutes a mobile fire element in the hands of higher commanders. It is
especially adapted to combat missions requiring rapidity of attack and delaying action.
Rapidity of movement enables cavalry to take advantage of opportunities to strike a
sudden blow at weak points in the hostile dispositions. It may thus be employed to
attack hostile forces in process of concentration, to operate against exposed enemy
flanks or rear, and to exploit by pursuit the successes obtained by other arms. Its
rapidity of movement enables cavalry to meet critical situation arising in the course of
Nowhere throughout the entire portion on cavalry does FSR 1923 insist that horses are
the only means for cavalry to accomplish its mission. The inclusion of horses was probably
14 William O. Odom, After the Trenches - The Transformation of U.S. Army Doctrine, 1918-1939 (College
Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1999), 25.
15 U.S. War Department, Field Service Regulations 1923 (Washington D.C.: GPO, 1923), paragraph 80.
16 Ibid., paragraph 81.
17 Ibid., paragraph 82.
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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/m1/21/: accessed May 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .