Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 30
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regiment (now group) should have fulfilled these roles, and would in combat in the European
theater. However, this group had now been organized and trained for strictly reconnaissance
missions, and thus often did not have the appropriate organic equipment or manpower to
succeed, requiring serious improvisations on multiple occasions.
Cavalry Branch failed to properly prepare its forces for war in Europe. Mechanized
Cavalry doctrine remained virtually unchanged from the mid 1930s to 1945, with minor
adjustments made after combat experiences in 1943. However, this doctrinal inertia was not the
product of blind adherence to dogma. Cavalry leaders understood that they had a large number
of specific tasks to perform for the larger Army. While infantry or artillery could concentrate on
a small set of specific skill sets, the cavalry had to be proficient at a number of missions ranging
from stealth reconnaissance to outright battle in an economy of force role. Moreover, the army
expected the cavalry to be an all-terrain, all-weather organization. Mechanized (or motorized)
vehicles throughout the 1920s and 1930s were not very reliable, and certainly not as mobile as a
horse across most types of terrain. In fact, to the modern day, there are certain terrain types
where vehicles simply will not go, whereas horses can.
The experiments of the 7th Cavalry Brigade demonstrated the potential of mechanization,
but also its limitations as well. In a time of extreme budget shortages, Cavalry branch was faced
with the option to place its faith in vehicles that showed promise but were as yet unproven, or to
rely on a platform that had proven successful in American campaigns for over a hundred years.
Unfortunately, this focus on immediate mission success blinded many Cavalry officers to the
possibilities of the future, allowing them to fixate on the horse than to start thinking how they
could accomplish the mission with another platform. The leaders of the branch chose poorly,
but had solid professional reasons for their decision. The decision to mechanize the cavalry
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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/m1/36/: accessed February 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .