Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 3
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missions entail much more than simply finding the enemy. They demand the defeat of enemy
reconnaissance or security forces in order to allow the friendly main body time and space in
which to maneuver. Additionally, military analysts are often taken in by the idea that a unit can
always conduct reconnaissance and avoid fighting for information through either stealth or
technology. Unfortunately, neither is a panacea in the brutally chaotic and unpredictable
environment that is war. Units designed solely for reconnaissance (finding the enemy) will often
find that in order to accomplish this mission, they will have to engage in combat, sometimes
merely to survive long enough to report. The American cavalry branch prior to 1940 had long
understood this dichotomy, and emphasized robust combat formations that were capable of
conducting reconnaissance and security operations while surviving to continue the mission.
The creation of the armored force in 1940 created serious doctrinal confusion in the army
over the exact roles that would be played by the fledging tank force and the much older cavalry
branch. Most saw the armor force assuming the role of cavalry in combat operations, however
the idea of a security force was essentially ignored other than admonishments in official doctrine
that each unit must maintain its own security. Furthermore, the introduction of the armored
division as an exploitation force meant that the new organization would not be leading assaults,
but rather, following them through. Combat would demonstrate that the armored divisions were
most commonly used as standard line divisions, albeit with more tanks and less infantry than
their counterparts. Regardless of the final fate of the armor force, Army Ground Force's (AGF)
changes to official doctrine left the cavalry branch with only reconnaissance as its previous roles
were filled by the armor force or institutionally ignored outside of the branch. Moreover, the
double blow of the enforced retirement of the horse as a weapon of war followed by the
dissolution of the branch chiefs in 1942 meant that the cavalry would be left with the half-formed
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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/m1/9/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .