Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 31
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came at the same time that the Army removed the branch system, and shortly after a large
number of cavalry officers had transitioned to the new Armor Force. Thus, Cavalry Branch was
thrown into turmoil at precisely the same time that it needed to create an entirely new doctrine to
perform traditional cavalry tasks with equipment and an organization that had never been
intended to perform these roles. The result of this situation was a compromise that failed to meet
the needs of the Army or the branch.
Army Ground Forces (AGF) and its commander must also bear a portion of the blame.
General McNair made a conscious decision to strip away capabilities that had existed for over a
century, to replace it with a new doctrine. The American Army often blindly mimicked the early
German organizations that led to their early battlefield successes. The early war German
reconnaissance forces looked much the same as American mechanized cavalry, using light
vehicles (often motorcycles and small cars) to conduct stealthy reconnaissance forward.56 These
formations were brutalized in France as well as the early stages of Barbarossa, with casualties so
heavy that entire formations were disbanded.57 By 1943 the Germans had learned from their
earlier losses and created robust mechanized cavalry formations capable of fulfilling all the
traditional cavalry roles.58 The German's early failings and AGF's can be traced to confusion
over the new role of the tank. While the creation of the Armor Force was a tremendous
advancement for the army, AGF failed to understand that the armor division was a completely
new addition to the battlefield, and did not replace the role of cavalry. Rather, armored divisions
had their own unique role to play on the modern battlefield. This failure to understand that there
56 Matthew A. Dooley, "Ignoring History: The Flawed Effort to Divorce Reconnaissance from Security in
Modem Cavalry Transformation," Master's Thesis, Army Command and General Staff College, 2006, 30.
5 Ibid., 33.
58 Ibid., 35.
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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/m1/37/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .