Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 24
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In April of 1941, Cavalry Branch published FM 2-10 "Mechanized Elements ". This
manual emphasized the need for mechanized cavalry to conduct stealth reconnaissance, speaking
only of aggressive action against enemy scouts in the counter-reconnaissance role.41 Combat is
mentioned in the manual, but it specifies that the mechanized cavalry should avoid fighting if at
all possible, and that it should be reinforced prior to engaging anything more than minor enemy
forces. The extremely limited roles given to mechanized cavalry in this manual speaks to the
branch's insistence on the prevalence of its horse formations.
The 1941 FM 100-5 still noted the unique niche cavalry played on the modern battlefield.
It stated that the armored division's "primary role is in offensive operations against hostile rear
areas."42 Cavalry divisions still retained their roles from FSR 1923 of reconnaissance, counter-
reconnaissance (essentially security), and economy of force.43 Thus, as late as 1941, the United
States Army still viewed cavalry as a vital member of the total army on the battlefield. Although
the Armor Force had consumed some of the cavalry's missions, the two performed in different
manners, doing very different things against the enemy. Although not the subject of this work,
the armor branch's mission reflected confusion within the American Army over the best
utilization of this new unit. Unfortunately, for Cavalry Branch, many senior officers, notably
General Leslie McNair, viewed armor as simply cavalry on tanks instead of horses. Although
this comparison could hold true, it depends greatly upon how these units are used on the
battlefield. As stated earlier, the mount matters less than the mission. Finally, the 1941
Louisiana maneuvers demonstrated to McNair the growing obsolescence of horse cavalry on the
modern battlefield, despite the introduction of innovations like the horse-portee regiment.
41 War Department, FM 2-10 Cavalry Field Manual- Mechanized Elements, 1941 (Washington, D.C.:
GPO, 1941), paragraph 135.
42 War Department, FM 100-5, Operations, 1941 (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1941), paragraph 1072.
43 Ibid., paragraphs 1057-1069.
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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/m1/30/: accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .