From the beginning of the First World War, the Second World War, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War among others, the American military has continuously evolved. There have been drastic changes in the different ways that the American military has handled these conflicts. Military institutions and Ways of Warfare are a reflection of the society that has created them. It is a known fact that wars have been a regular part of the USA and they have been involved in almost all major world wars in the world. These different wars have shaped the development of America. America has always justified all the wars it has been involved, claiming it is defending its people, ideas, fighting against groups that are a threat to humanity, or protecting American property or where they have vested interests. Moreover, there have also been presidents who have taken American to war because of political, economic or strategic reasons.
To comprehend the different changes that have taken place in the American Ways of Warfare, one has to analyze the wars that America has been involved from the late 1800's up to now. The reason why it is crucial to start with the late 1800's and the early 1900's is that this is period when America started developing its modern military. Secondly, America was involved in many wars during this period, especially with Native Americans. During this period, the U.S. Congress had decided to reduce the number of the army to 27,000 men (originally, the number was close to 60,000 men). The army was responsible for guarding and fortifying coastal and frontier posts. However, American was expanding very fast towards the west and this made it difficult for the small army to fight with the Native Indians and at the same time protect all the coastal and frontier posts. The Indian Wars came to an end after large massacres at Bear River, Wounded Knee, and Sand Creek among many other areas.
Native Indians were massacred in large numbers and since then, the Indian Wars were epitomized in a bad light. During these wars, both sides (the Indians and the U.S. Army) were in a no-win situation. The Army was forcing the Indians to be assimilated and taken to reserves and if they refused, they had to fight for their independence, which meant that many of them would be killed. Regarding the Army, policymakers were divided on the best course of action of dealing with the Indians. They were those who were against the idea of assimilation on reservations for the Indians while they were others who supported their forceful eviction. The Army felt that it was wrong to force the Indians to leave all the native customs, their land, and go and live in squalid conditions where both food and water was scarce. They also felt it was wrong fighting against an enemy who on most occasion was outmanned, outgunned, and did not present any threat to the security. The end of the Indian Wars saw an increase in the push towards professionalism in the American Ways of Warfare.
The American government formed the National Guard to ensure that its citizens were safe in case of any emergency threats. The National Guard was responsible for dealing with natural disasters, riots, or any other emergency situations. It was not only the National Guard that was changing, the American Army was also changing as well. William T. Allison, who wrote the book American Military History, explains that the industrial age of America and Europe brought with it new weapons and new innovations, and moreover, the American military had also learned a lot from the Civil War. All these different factors increased the push towards the army professionalization. After studying military developments that had taken place in Germany and England, army policymakers argued that it was impossible for the small-sized American Army to defend all American fronts and its national interests as well.
Changes started taking place in 1903 when the Army decided to adopt a general staff model. The main benefit of this model is that it ensured proper cooperation and communication between field commands and different bureaus. The U.S. army not only changed their command but also the tactics and weapons that they used. The industrial development resulted in new weapons, for example, the.30 caliber Krag-Jorgensen guns, machine guns, and the Colt.45 among others. American also decided to create a modern and highly equipped navy capable of defending it from any naval attacks. Additionally, with the increase in trade as a result of industrial growth, it was imperative for America to have a modern fleet of naval vessels that would ensure that trade was not disrupted. Other European navies, such as the Royal Navy, were also adopting new and powerful methods (such as using steam to power their vessels, equipping their fleets with guns and hulls), and this made American coastal areas vulnerable in case of an attack. All these different reasons forced the American Navy to modernize. Four years later (in 1907), America had developed a modernized battleship fleet that would later be used during the First World War.
During the 1914 European War that involved Russia, Serbia, Austria, and Hungary, the US government stated that it would not support any country. However, the U.S. was involved in the 1916 Punitive Expedition. The US was forced to be involved after Mexican forces raided a town in Columbus killing fifteen American citizens (among them were citizens and soldiers). The raid had been conducted by a group of 500 men. The US decided to send 12,000 armed soldiers to fight the 500 men. This was the beginning of the war between U.S. and Mexico and it lasted one year. The election of Carranza as the new president of Mexico in 1917 and the promulgation of a new constitution led to the US withdrawing their army. Tensions between American and Mexico started receding. However, relations between U.S. and Germany were becoming more and more strained. Allison states that despite the fact that the Punitive Expedition enabled the U.S. to use modern military technology, Germany presented a larger problem and America was not prepared for it. This shows that the U.S. involvement in the First World War was a trial and error one.
It is possible to see the pattern that was emerging in all American wars. Most of them started with setbacks since the army was not prepared and yet America wanted to go to war. Whenever the army was defeated, it would go back and prepare, come back better and more equipped and win the war. The belief that the Army was fighting for a righteous cause, America's ability to mobilize resources and the army's ability to fight made Americans highly optimistic about their army and gave them the belief that the could beat anyone. The different wars fought against Spaniards, Indians, and Mexicans later on during the 19th century only made these views stronger and although the U.S. army lost a few soldiers, they claimed overwhelming victories.
At the beginning of World War I, the then president of America, Woodrow Wilson, rallied all nations to stop their wars and promote democracy among all world nations. However, America soon joined the war and became directly involved. America had tried to keep out of World War One - though she had traded with nations involved in the war - but unrestricted submarine warfare, introduced by the Germans on January 9th, 1917, was the primary issue that caused Woodrow Wilson to ask Congress to declare war on Germany. Because of the war's location and the fact that the Allied forces were already established, the American army conformed to the broad and complex strategy of the Allied forces. World War I became the largest global conflict that America thrust itself into. The recruitment of a large army, its deployment and maintenance was the biggest and most complex military challenge that America faced since the Civil War. More than three million soldiers were required. The American Army had to learn how to fight in trenches, something they were unaware of. Another challenge was that General Pershing, who was leading the American Expeditionary Forces, believed that the American Army was superior to the Allied forces army and they had nothing to learn from them. General Pershing insisted on drills and marksmanship rather than coordination against area targets.
The American Navy was highly used in World War I. The Navy played a significant role in defeating the German fleet. It would have been impossible for the American Expeditionary Force to take to the field and fight without an effective and secure transport system. The German submarine blockaded Britain ensuring that all sea links across the Atlantic were cut off. To counter this, the U.S. Navy increased its size to about 500,000 men and more than two thousand ships for transportation and battle. The American experience in World War I led policymakers to believe that the American army needed major changes. The concept of increasing the size of the army had not worked effectively when it came to mobilizing massive effort. Secondly, a new, better, and more improved and effective military organization was needed for industrial warfare. These two factors made the Congress pass and enact a national defense act that changed the organizational structure of the American army. The new act provided better-trained and better-prepared military force in case America went into another way.
America was progressing industrially and this made America focus on superior weaponry. Alfred T. Mahan's, who was the Navy general, emphasized on a modern fleet while Billy Mitchell, another army general, called for a strategic airpower. America embraced both (a modern navy fleet and strategic airpower) and in World War 2, the American Army fought on all fronts: air, land, and sea. They also used nuclear bombs (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) which forced their enemies to surrender.
During the 1939 Defensive War when Germany invaded Poland, the U.S. proclaimed neutrality. However, the relations between America and Japan were becoming more and more strained. Japan had attacked an American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor forcing the U.S. into the army. World War 2 saw the use of more advanced weapons such as planes that were capable of dropping bombs from the air. The U.S. also developed armored vehicles, tanks, machine guns, and other fighter jets capable of shooting from distance. Technological innovations and inventions determined the American Ways of Warfare during that time. The use of atomic bombs changed the landscape of the war completely. The Allies would not have won had America not joined the war.
When the World War 2 ended and the Korean War began, American had to change its Ways of Warfare again. One of the lessons learned by the U.S. during the Korean War was that it was almost impossible to fight communism without using nuclear weapons, full mobilization of the army, and the support of the Congress. Moreover, the war had made the U.S. recognize the critical balance between military command and civilian control of policy objectives. It was during this period that the U.S. put to test the NSC-68. This was a secret document given to President Harry Truman by the U.S. National Security Council. This was a very critical policy document and it shaped America's foreign policy during the Cold War. The document contained strategies that led to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the development of a new world order. The policy document was officially signed in 1950 and declassified twenty years later.
The Cold War forced America to change its Ways of Warfare. America had not previously fought a war without being involved in the fight physically. Any wrong move would have started a nuclear war between the US and the U.S.S.R. The C...
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