Prussia and the Evolution of the Reserve Army: A Forgotten Lesson of History
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
Pagination or Media Count:
The U.S. Army has long had an interest in European military power. From the very founding of the Republic, American leaders have looked to Europe for the perfect model from which to create their own military institutions. This has been particularly true concerning Prussia, the land of Frederick the Great and precursor to modern Germany. After Prussias stunning victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War, Americans from Emory Upton until Albert Wedemeyer looked at the German military machine as the epitome of efficiency and professionalism. For an American military disgusted with its minor role in a post-Civil War nation, the German military represented the best of what could be. It was no coincidence that U.S. Army dress uniforms of the late 19th century sported spiked helmets, quite similar in appearance to a Prussian pickelhaube. The tragedy of World War II soon changed the American attitude towards the German military from admiration to revulsion. It was not until the Cold War, with Federal Germanys entry into NATO, that opinions began to moderate. And now, in the 1990s, an age of diminished resources, one finds that the Prussian army still has much to teach. In this monograph, the author explores yet another aspect of the Prussian army, the use of mobilizable reserves as the foundation of its military power. Forced by defeat to rely on reserve and militia forces to rebuild their army, the Prussians created a reserve system that allowed them to field a world-class military force at a cost their small, economically strapped state could afford. With detail, yet brevity, the author examines how this highly successful reserve army came to be, noting both good and bad aspects of the system, and their possible impact on the U.S. Army today. Indeed, the implications for modern force planners are obvious.
- Administration and Management
- Humanities and History
- Military Forces and Organizations