Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 28
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squadron being light tanks, and the rest of the force equipped with 14 ton jeeps and M8 armored
cars, the cavalry was not suited for armored combat either. These deficiencies were acceptable
to the Army Ground Forces though, as they saw the cavalry as not engaging in serious combat,
either mounted or dismounted, as per the doctrine discussed earlier.
In January 1944, Army Ground Forces published FM 2-20 Cavalry Troop. This
document was the distillation of nearly eighteen months of cavalry combat experience in the
Mediterranean theater. It acknowledged the combat missions that mechanized cavalry
formations could face, but still emphasized reconnaissance as the primary mission of cavalry. It
The cavalry reconnaissance troop, mechanized, is organized, equipped, and trained to
perform reconnaissance missions. Other types of missions are given only in the
furtherance of a reconnaissance mission of the troop or the squadron of which the
troop is a part, unless no other troops are available for other types of operations for the
division or other larger units. Reconnaissance missions are performed by employment
of infiltration tactics, fire, and maneuver. Combat is engaged in only to the extent
necessary to accomplish the assigned mission.54
The same statement appears nearly verbatim in the August 1944 version of FM2-30 Cavalry
Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized. Note the fundamental disconnect in this doctrine with
the traditional functions of cavalry. Although the admission of additional missions, including
security, are mentioned, the manuals immediately caveat this statement with the addition that the
cavalry would only perform this mission if no other unit was available. Thus, as late as 1944,
cavalry doctrine still had not recovered from the from the transition to a fully mechanized force.
A horse cavalrymen of the 1930s would have been horrified to hear of tasks that he considered
part and parcel of his overall mission be described in this manner. He would have understood
could be 'on the ground'. In actual combat operations, units would improvise to put more troops on foot than what
was stated by the MTO&E.
54 War Department, FM 2-20 Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop - Mechanized, 1944 (Washington, D.C.:
GPO, 1944), paragraph 3.
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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/m1/34/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .