Myths of Expansibility

  • August 21, 2014
  • Dr Conrad C Crane, Dr Michael E Lynch, Dr James D. Scudieri

This study analyzes the US Army's experiences from the twentieth century' to the present, given the demands of modem war and associated structures, including political, industrial, and military. 2 These examples generally mirrored those from earlier wars. Broadly speaking, United States defense policy has relied upon a small regular army (RA), expandable upon the outbreak of war. That expanded army then largely demobilized upon war's end. Reliance upon state militias to augment the regular army in the American Revolution of 1775-83 and the War of 1812 to 1814 changed to volunteer troops vice militia in the Mexican War of 1846-48 and the American Civil War of 1861-65. The war with Spain in 1898 was then a sobering experience in preparedness, especially strategic deployment and logistics. The United States had in essence inherited and perpetuated major aspects of English, then British, military policies, given traditional political suspicions of standing armies. American practice has been to assume strategic, operational, and tactical risk at the start of a conflict, whose history has become associated with the theme of "America's first battles."3 One enduring theme that stands out among all the conflicts studied is the lack of preparedness for immediate action, driven either by strategic surprise or lack of popular and political will. World War II provides an exception because of preparatory steps taken prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the declaration of war still found the US Army ill-trained and ill-equipped to take the field immediately.