Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 21
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existed a fundamental lack of understanding outside the branch of the difference between a
trooper dismounting a horse to fight on foot, and a vehicle mounted formation's need for
personnel to remain with their vehicles at all times. The Army had understood this concept as
evidenced in the 1941 version of FM100-5 in which it clearly states "large bodies of horse
cavalry usually maneuver mounted and fight dismounted."33 Cavalry Branch had accepted the
fact that the mechanized cavalry would be undermanned in dismounted combat, and so provided
these formations with an abundance of firepower - more so than provided a normal horse cavalry
regiment.34 Additionally, acknowledging the fact that full combat operations require more men
on the ground than a mechanized cavalry formation could muster, the branch emphasized the
mission of reconnaissance for these formations, leaving the primary fighting to the horse cavalry.
Despite growing evidence that mechanized formations were gaining in terms of reliability
and mobility, Cavalry Branch still persisted in its belief that the horse should remain the
dominant platform of the branch. As late as 1939, cavalry officers were still insisting that
although mechanized cavalry was important, it simply could not fulfill all the mission
requirements of the cavalry branch.35 These officers argued that the future of the cavalry lay in
the cooperation of horse and machine, with each element complementing the other. Considering
the actual limitations of mechanized cavalry equipment at the time, this argument made some
sense. Cavalry officers understood the dangers of enemy aircraft to mechanized columns and
realized that horse formations possessed greater stealth than these units, although at the cost of
firepower. Moreover, horses could operate across muddy or extremely broken terrain much
more effectively than the wheel-borne forces of the mechanized forces. Reports from the
33 Ibid., paragraph 1061.
34 Morton, 51.
35 LTC R. W. Grow, "New Developments in the Organization and Equipment of Cavalry," The Cavalry
Journal Vol. XLVIII, No. 3 (May-June 1939): 205.
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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/m1/27/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .