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 World War I and the U.S. Army

"Its legacy continues to this very day."

By General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)
via Military Times

World War I transformed America’s Army from a 19th-century skeleton force barely capable of responding to a deadly border raid by Mexican revolutionaries into a potent modern expeditionary power with millions under arms and the resources, skills and battlefield courage to shock the enemy into submission.

McCaffrey 200By General Barry McCaffrey, USA (Ret.)The transformation would not come easily, but when it did, it would reinvent the U.S. Army in such a profound manner that its legacy continues to this day, woven into the very fabric of its fatigues.

Prior to its entry into World War I, the U.S. prided itself on not having a significant standing army. Its last meaningful engagements had been the Indian Wars of the late 1800s and the Philippines insurrection of 1900. With Congress declaring war on the Central Powers, our armed forces needed to create virtually overnight the organizational structure, staffing and logistics needed to field a modern army. While patriotism was overwhelming, the pragmatic challenge of getting from Main Street to the Marne would test the resources of a country whose entry into a global conflict would propel it to becoming a superpower.

Shortcomings became obvious, such as the absence of effective field artillery, the need to exponentially increase the number of firearms produced in our armories, uncertainty over which vehicles would survive the wear and tear of battered French roads, and much more. While the quartermaster was distributing unprecedented contracts for items ranging from boots to ponchos, the medical corps was trying to figure out how to protect the personal hygiene of millions of young men who hadn’t traveled beyond the county line, much less been deployed overseas. “Over there,” indeed.

Read the whole article on the Military Times web site:

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