The Nez Perce Flight to Canada: An Analysis of the Nez Perce-US Cavalry Conflicts: Applying Historical Lessons Learned to Modern Counterinsurgency and Global War on Terrorism Operations
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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This study details the Nez Perces struggle and offers a historical case study for unconventional warfare. This study proposes to answer the questions Why did the US Army fail to achieve decisive victory over the Nez Perce in 1877 and What lessons can be taken from this historical case and applied to todays wars. Considering the history of unconventional warfare in the United States, specifically the Indian Wars, it is vital that the modern day warrior look to the lessons of the past, specifically the 1877 US Cavalry pursuit of the Nez Perce. Many of the tactics, techniques, and procedures used by the modern day warriors often derive from lessons learned in early US military confrontations, such as the Nez Perce, and are applicable to todays Global War on Terrorism and counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US Cavalrys clash with the Nez Perce provides an excellent case study. Their battles forced the Nez Perce Indians and their horses to flee on a perilous journey that sent them 1,600-miles throughout the vast Northwest of the United States. The Nez Perce skillfully eluded the US Cavalry through means of deception, flexibility, and guerilla tactics. Additionally, the Nez Perce possessed superior mobility, enjoyed an adaptive logistics system, and demonstrated battle proven leadership. Conversely, the US Army during this time was a relatively small force, significantly drawn down since the US Civil War. Among this Army were many inexperienced soldiers who lacked proper training, and older officers who, at times, struggled with the physical demands associated with pursuing and fighting against the unorthodox Nez Perce warriors. These soldiers often misunderstood their enemys culture, their will, and lacked sound procedures for man hunting.
- Sociology and Law
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics