DEVELOPMENT turn has radically altered tactics, organization,
DEVELOPMENT OF THE U S ARMY Since its birth on 14 June 1775-over a year before the Declaration of Independence-the United States Army has played a vital role in the growth and development of the American nation.
It won the new Republic’s independence in an arduous eight-year struggle against Great Britain, at times providing the lone symbol of nationhood around which patriots could rally. During the Civil War it preserved the Union through four years of biter conflict that turned brother against brother. It has repeatedly defended United States against external threats, from the “second war of independence” with Great Britain in 1812 through the crusades that finally rid the world of the specters of Nazi totalitarianism, Japanese imperialism, and world communism. The defense of the nation has always been the Army’s primary mission.
From the beginning the Army has also been involved with internal improvements, natural disaster relief, economic assistance, domestic order, and a host of other contingencies. Although these missions may not have always been those it would have chosen for itself, Army has drown great satisfaction from knowing that when the nation was in need, it answered the call.Over the past 225 years, the United States has grown from a loosely organized confederation of thirteen English colonies scattered along the Atlantic seaboard to a superpower whose influence reaches around the globe. The U.
S. Army has contributed immeasurably to the rise of the American nation, first as the shield of the Republic during its vulnerable early years and later as means to project power in defense of American interests worldwide. The Army’s contributions, however, go far beyond the role of military force. Its ready availability as a source of disciplined and skilled personnel has made it an attractive option for American leaders confronted with a wide array of nonmilitary demands and crises.Adaptation to the latest technology is no new experience for the United States Army. Throughout the events described below, the Army has attempted to better accomplish missions and to save lives by harnessing newly developed capabilities. This innovation in turn has radically altered tactics, organization, and industrial relationships.
The soldiers of the Revolutionary War Army went into battle with a great assortment of firearms, many of them personal and most of them muskets accurate only to a range of 100 yards. Following its independence, the federal government nurtured a small but healthy arms industry, spurred along by Eli Whitney’s invention of interchangeable parts, which made possible standardized gun design. Once brought to an appropriate standard of training, the soldiers fighting the War of 1812 greatly benefited from the improved quality and standard of their equipment. By the time of the Mexican War, American arms were technologically equivalent to those of Europe, with particular advances made in the mobility, flexibility, and potency of field artillery. So-called Horse Artillery deployed onto Mexican War battlefields with impressive speeds and often provided decisive concentrated fires.The American Civil War catapulted warfare into the Industrial Age. On the battlefield, the barrel-hugging features of the newly designed Minie Ball extended effective rifle range to 600 yards, several times that of earlier wars.
Great masses of men advancing shoulder to shoulder against each other were now perilously exposed, and Civil War armies eventually disappeared into trenches except during the most daring of attacks. Radically increased ranges and capabilities characterized the most modern of Civil War artillery. Off the battlefield, railroads now sped large numbers of troops and huge stockpiles of supplies over unprecedented distances, telegraphs coordinated strategic movements in a tiny fraction of the time required during earlier wars, and a massive industrial base was harnessed to the demands of war. By the time of the Spanish-American War breech-loading repeating rifles were standard issue, and an early version of rapid-firing machine gun, the Gatling Gun, was available as well. Coordinated operations with the Navy facilitated success, and logisticians and Army medical practitioners learned to cope with the extraordinary demands of transoceanic distances and tropical warfare.
World War I would introduce and World War II perfect mechanised alternatives to the trench warfare that had evolved from Civil War precedents to the stalemate of the Western Front in 1917. The powerful combination of the tank, time-on-target artillery, and radio coordination carried warfare to a whole new level of technical sophistication and ferocity. Cooperation with the air and naval services became a new imperative.
The United States Army emerged from World War II as the most thoroughly mechanised and most impresively resourced in the world.The Korean War saw some improvements in equipment and the introduction of at least one revolutionary item, the helicopter. By the time of the Vietnam War the helicopter had come into its own, and ground combatants achieved whole new levels of tactical mobility, logistical sustainability, and fire support. Heliborne medical evacuation saved thousands of lives that otherwise would have been lost and set an example for expedient care that civilian society soon sought to emulate.
Despite the pace of technical advance, the key ingredients in the Army’s formula for success remain the soldier and his or her leaders. In certain respects even more is demanded of modern soldiers than was demanded of their forebears. They must maintain and use increasingly complex equipment. They are more dispersed across an ever more dangerous battlefield, thus requiring more skill and initiative than ever from junior officers and NCOs.
Now, as always, the success of the soldier is the truest possible measure of the success of the Army. By guaranting the soldier the most advanced technology, suitable doctrine, and ample resources available, the United States Army has always sought to accomplish its mission with a minimum loss of life.