The Evolution of the Tank in the U. S. Army
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS FORT LEAVENWORTH United States
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This paper summarizes the evolution of the tank in the US Army during the period 1919-1940. It examines the US Armys post World War 1 concept of future war and explores the evolution of tank design, force organization, and mechanized doctrine through the interwar period. The issues and factors that were crucial to the early evolution of the tank in the US Army were largely responsible for the role the tank played during and after World War II. This suggests that the 1920s and 1930s were the most important period in the history of the tank. Although some conclusions can be drawn from this brief summary, they should remain tentative pending full treatment of the subject. Despite its brief participation, by the end of World War I the US Army had engaged in intensive combat and had gained some experience with the new technology of the battlefield. The tank, chemical weapons, massed artillery, and the airplane were introduced by the European Allies and the American Expeditionary Force AEF readily adopted the new weapons. An AEF Tank Corps was established and a tank brigade comprising three battalions accompanied the infantry into combat during the last two months of the war. After the war, the US Army drew upon its recent experience in shaping its notion of what a future war would resemble. This concept of future war--large infantry armies attacking on parallel routes, supported by massive artillery tanks and air power, directed by electrical communications, and transported and supplied by motorized vehicles--established the direction for the interwar development of equipment, organization, and doctrine. Although this concept continued to generate debate, it seems clear that the Armys Leadership recognized the importance of the new technologies and their vision of future war included the tank as well as other advances.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Military Forces and Organizations