Pershing's Punitive Expedition: An Overview with Suggestions for Further Study
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLLEGE FORT LEAVENWORTH KS
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The Punitive Expedition led by Brigadier General John J. Pershing in Mexico from March 1916 to February 1917 in pursuit of Francisco Villa is one of the more obscure campaigns conducted by the United States Army. The changing role of the United States in the world should encourage Americans to reexamine the history which this country shares with Mexico. It is the purpose of this study to identify and examine the significant aspects of the Punitive Expedition and to provide an interpretive guide to the study of that subject. Perhaps the most important lesson to be gained from the study of the Punitive Expedition concerns General Pershing and the way he responded to the many challenges confronting him. The story of his responsiveness to his civilian leaders appears to offer a model study in proper civil-military relations. The diplomatic considerations which restricted Pershings freedom of action compounded the problems caused by inaccurate information, inadequate maps, faulty equipment, poor communications, an uncooperative host government and overextended supply lines. In spite of numerous handicaps he maintained a high state of training and esprit within his command while satisfying his civilian and military supervisors. More importantly he kept the United States out of a war with Mexico at a crucial time in the worlds history.
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics