Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 16
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assumed, especially since cavalry troopers were still to be armed with the saber, and that there
were few alternatives in 1923 to horses. However, the descriptions of what the cavalry was
intended to accomplish in FSR 1923 do not limit them to merely equine transportation. In fact,
any platform that offered cavalry the same mobility and combat capabilities would suffice, when
the topic is viewed utterly dispassionately. Moreover, cavalry already assumed the use of
limited numbers of armored cars in larger formations, such as at the regimental and divisional
level. Thus, the great debate over retention of the horse throughout the 1920s and 1930s would
center upon what platform(s) or combination thereof, would provide the most efficient means of
accomplishing the cavalry's mission.
The U.S. Army began the 1920s with the National Defense Act of 1920 abolishing the
Tank Corps and placing all tank development under the auspices of the Infantry Branch.'8 The
U.S. armored forces were given two doctrinal missions. The first was to penetrate enemy lines,
and then to accompany infantry forces in order to prevent a reversion to positional warfare. Both
of these tasks are a direct reflection on the standard view of tanks held across Europe. Brigadier
General Samuel Rockenbach, the first commander of the American Tank Corps, and the first
commandant of the American Tank School, also insisted upon development of armored vehicles
that would serve multiple roles. While still acknowledging the tank as a support weapon,
Rockenbach started the American drive for a reliable medium tank in order to perform these two
doctrinal roles and thereby reduce the economic cost of maintaining a tank corps.19
Early in the 1920s, American officers began debating the appropriate role for the tank.
Although official doctrine tied the tank to the Infantry Branch, Cavalry officers viewed the tank
and other mechanized vehicles as an appropriate platform to enhance the abilities of the Cavalry.
18 Robert S. Cameron, Mobility, Shock, and Firepower - The Emergence of the U.S. Army's Armor Branch,
1917-1945 (Washinton D.C: Center of Military History, 2008), 21.
19 Ibid., 26.
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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/m1/22/: accessed February 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .