U.S. Field Artillery after World War I: Modernizing the Force While Downsizing
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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The United States entered World War I ill equipped and undertrained. In the years between the American Civil War and World War I, an isolationist strategy inhibited the United States military. This unpreparedness was particularly true of the artillery, which was of little use on the frontier. Rapid expansion, combined with outdated equipment and lack of training forced the United States to be almost completely dependent on its allies to equip and train its force during World War I. Following the war, the U.S. recognized the need to modernize its artillery organization, weapons, and tactics. It convened several boards to assess the requirements for an effective field artillery force, studying the materiel and organizations of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States. From this, the boards determined the best course to prepare for a future conflict on the scale of World War I. The War Department instituted a number of programs to improve artillery, but all of those would be hampered by funding limitations. Development of new artillery weapons was almost completely stunted. Auxiliary areas of materiel, such as ammunition, carriages, and vehicles were more successful. Organizational changes reflected the board recommendations and were adequate in supporting maneuver, but manning shortages inhibited the ability to train these organizations. The boards had formulated recommendations that would have prepared the field artillery to support the army in a future large-scale war, but these changes were not implemented effectively under the constrained budget of 1919-35.
- Military Forces and Organizations