Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 18
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In 1931, the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Douglas MacArthur ordered that the
Army would not have a single unified mechanization doctrine, but rather that the branches would
study the problem independently and create their own unique solutions to the issue. At this
juncture, the Cavalry Branch did not view mechanization as a full-bore threat to the use of the
horse. Rather, as seen by its interest in cavalry tanks, the branch viewed these vehicles as a way
in which to augment their combat power. As noted in the Cavalry Journal, motorized vehicles
would allow the cavalry to carry more firepower and equipment, while simultaneously reducing
the load upon the cavalry's pack horses.23
The chief arguments against the full-scale mechanization of the United States Cavalry
revolved primarily upon the alleged superior mobility, sustainability, and reliability of the horse.
An infantryman writing in the Cavalry Journal summed these arguments neatly in an article
where he challenged the reader to imagine the battle of Eylau fought with motorized vehicles.
He asked "would the engines have started on this bleak February morning, and if so would they
have any place to go?"24 He additionally noted the large amount of rough terrain abounding in
the world and how current vehicles are unsuited to traverse them, whilst horsed cavalry can
manage these challenges. Despite these difficulties, the Cavalry decided upon a limited test for
The 7th Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized), comprised of a combination of light tanks and
armored cars, was formed in 1933 and served as a test bed for Cavalry mechanization. Due to
legal restrictions emplaced by the 1920 National Defense Act restricting tank development to the
Infantry Branch, Cavalry tanks could not be designated 'tanks' but rather 'combat cars', though
23 MSG John J. Reardon, "The Evolution of Transportation," The Cavalry Journal Vol. XLIV, No. 187 (
Jan-Feb, 1935): 46.
24 LTC Bernard Lentz, IN, "A Justification of Cavalry," The Cavalry Journal Vol. XLIV, No. 187 (Jan-Feb
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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/m1/24/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .