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Camp Colt to Desert Storm

The History of U.S. Armored Forces

edited by George F. Hofmann and Donn A. Starry

Publication Year: 2014

The tank revolutionized the battlefield in World War II. In the years since, additional technological developments--including nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, computer assisted firing, and satellite navigation--have continued to transform the face of combat. The only complete history of U.S. armed forces from the advent of the tank in battle during World War I to the campaign to drive Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991, Camp Colt to Desert Storm traces the development of doctrine for operations at the tactical and operational levels of war and translates this fighting doctrine into the development of equipment.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 3-8


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pp. 9-10

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pp. ix-xii

The idea for a history of American armored forces began in 1976 at the U.S. Army Armor Conference held at Fort Knox, Kentucky. We briefly discussed the possibility; however, the timing then was inappropriate. Years later in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, at the 1995 meeting of the Society for Military History we again raised the issue of an armor history, es ...

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pp. xiii-xxii

Several years ago the distinguished Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe explained human society's need for what he called drummers, warriors, and storytellers. Drummers to stir up the will of the people and line them up behind causes, warriors to fight for the causes, and storytellers to "make us what we are . . . create history" He then explained that of ...

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1. World War I: The Birth of American Armor

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pp. 1-36

One of history's great ironies is that the nation that spawned the tech nology from which the tank was created did not play a role in that vehicle's conception. It is equally ironic that the United States, which later became known as the "arsenal of democracy," was unable to pro duce a single armored vehicle that saw combat with its Tank Corps. ...

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2. Organizational Milestones in the Development of American Armor, 1920-40

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pp. 37-66

After 11 November 1918 the Tank Corps, like the rest of the U.S. Army, rapidly demobilized. The future of the tank, to say nothing of the con tinued existence of the Tank Corps, was in question. Despite stalwart service and heroic deeds during World War I (two Medals of Honor and 39 Distinguished Service Crosses), the Tank Corps decreased from ...

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3. The Marine Corps's First Experience with an Amphibious Tank

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pp. 67-91

Naval strategist RAdm. Alfred Thayer Mahan wrote in 1889 that changes in tactics historically have not kept pace with advances in weapons technology. He attributed this to the inertia of a conservative military class, thus causing an unduly long developmental period. The advan tage, he wrote, lies with those who recognize each change and study ...

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4. Army Doctrine and the Christie Tank: Failing to Exploit the Operational Level of War

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pp. 92-143

During the interwar period the U.S. Army engaged in a heated doctri nal dispute that prevented the tank, especially the Christie tank, from becoming the foundation for the service's approach to the operational level of war?the theory of larger-unit operations in which combined arms elements fight a series of battles known as campaigns. With the ...

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5. World War II Armor Operations in Europe

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pp. 144-184

At the time of America's entry into World War II the U.S. Army's Ar mored Force consisted of one corps headquarters, five divisions in various states of organization, and a handful of nondivisional General Headquarters (GHQ) Reserve tank battalions. The I Armored Corps and the 1st and 2d Armored Divisions had just completed large-scale train ...

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6. Marine Corps Armor Operations in World War II

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pp. 185-216

The Pacific War had several crucial turning points: Midway the high tide of Japanese expansion; Guadalcanal, the first Allied offensive; and Saipan, which for the first time brought Tokyo within striking range of American B-29 bombers. Yet it was the bloody battle for Tarawa in November 1943 that proved to be the crossroads of the Pacific War in ...

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7. Post-World War II and Korea: Paying for Unpreparedness

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pp. 217-262

When World War II ended with Japan's surrender on 2 September 1945 there were only two superpowers in the world, the United States and the Soviet Union. America's leaders soon concluded they must contain what they perceived as a remorseless expansionist tendency in the armed forces are used to destroy occasional and intermittent threats, ...

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8. The Marine Corps's Struggle with Armor Doctrine during the Cold War (1945-70)

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pp. 263-297

The Japanese surrender announcement found most of the Marine Corps, then some 458,000 strong, deployed in the western Pacific with the I, III and V Amphibious Corps, their six divisions and four aircraft wings in the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific (FMFPAC). Apart from demobilization concerns, their duties consisted of disarming Japanese forces and occu ...

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9. The Patton Tanks: The Cold War Learning Series

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pp. 298-323

This chapter considers the various stages of tank development and ac quisition during the Cold War era. It is a history of the never-ending struggle to balance firepower, protection (survivability), mobility, and, in later years, fightability, in the best way to support armor soldiers by providing them the materiel means to decisively defeat the enemy. It is ...

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10. Adaptation and Impact: Mounted Combat in Vietnam

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pp. 324-359

The definition of what constitutes armor has from at least the close of World War II been complicated by the fact that there is a branch called "Armor" composed of some, but only some, of those elements that in the recent war had made up the armored force. Maj. Gen. Adna R. Chaffee Jr. described that force as "a balanced team of combat arms and ...

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11. AirLand Battle

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pp. 360-402

The long ninth decade of the twentieth century proved to be the hey day of the tank in American notions of land warfare. Driven largely by the presence of the Soviet armored threat to NATO, the years from the end of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam to the Gulf War were marked by the creation of the most powerful armored force in U.S. ...

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12. "Lethal beyond all expectations": The Bradley Fighting Vehicle

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pp. 403-431

This chapter describes the doctrinal and developmental history of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV). The Bradley was one of the "Big Five" post-Vietnam systems developed in the 1970s, fielded in the 1980s, and deemed "lethal beyond all expectations" during the Gulf War in the early 1990s.1 Akin to Watty Piper's book The Little Engine That Could, the ...

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13. The Abrams Tank System

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pp. 432-473

At the conclusion of the ground war in the Persian Gulf on 26 February 1991, the 3,113 Abrams tanks in the region maintained a readiness rate of 90 percent or higher. Through the course of the hundred-hour ground war, it was quite evident that the Abrams was exhibiting outstanding reliability, lethality, mobility, and survivability. Several Abrams MlAls ...

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14. The Approach of Mounted Warfare in the Marine Corps (1970-95)

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pp. 474-496

The fluid and often confused nature of Vietnam War engagements left little legacy for the Corps. Interservice rivalries, especially over the con trol of airpower and lesser-scale spats over the command of large ground formations, left many senior Marine Commanders wary of the future American way of war. Marines felt reassured that their emphasis on ...

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15. The Hundred-Hour Thunderbolt: Armor in the Gulf War

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pp. 497-530

The 1991 Persian Gulf War represents the zenith of American armored warfare. Never in history had America's mounted forces arrived on the battlefield better prepared than they were in 1990. Seventeen years of intensive analysis and debate had revolutionized Army doctrine and given armor a focus that had never existed. Its equipment, doctrine, ...

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16. Reflections

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pp. 531-562

Annually, April marks the anniversary of the 1917 arrival in France of the first elements of the AEF, the United States's contribution to the Allied known as the Tank Corps. Tanks came to battle in that war as a means to counter the devastating effects of massed artillery and machine-gun fire on infantry. Some visionary tank persons of the day even foresaw ...

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pp. 563-582

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About the Editors and Contributors

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pp. 583-588

GEORGE F. HOFMANN served in the U.S Army as an instructor and cadre in the Special Training Regiment at the U.S. Armor Training Center, and is a Distinguished Member of the 13th Armored Regiment. He holds master's degrees from Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati, where he also earned a doctorate in history. In addition, he completed...


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pp. 589-634

E-ISBN-13: 9780813146577
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813121307

Page Count: 656
Publication Year: 2014