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Military Review ~ Aug 1945

Military Review ~ Aug 1945

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02/13/2014

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Translated and dl~,"ted at the Command and (it'll('ral Staff Sehoul from a Spanish
al,ticle Ly Li('utenHnt ('olon('1 (ionZltI" FCI'nlllHlez de CIIl'doba
y Parrella in Ejcl'('ito (Spain) February 1945,

AI.L hattll'~ l·oll:-.i~t

:-;ilnpJ~'

in ~l·t'ldng' out

the, I'nemy, .inflicting hlows Oil him, and
attempt'llg to avoi,l tho~l' delivl'l'e,1 by him,
both in ,,!tack a.ld dl·fpTlse, \\'Ith til(' :\llvent
of the first weapon" the Jll'ohlem ;;till }'e
maim'd the ~aJHe--the intlktion and avuidance
of blow~, 'Vith the t'l'eation of the fil'st armies,
the problem did not vary in the lc'a,t, and
today in total and mechanized war the prob
lem continues to he exactly the same, althollg'h
harder to solve,
This problem has led to til(' organization,
training, and equipment of special g'l'ol1pings
of troops, charged, ench of them, with some'
one of the operations which go to mal«' up
the battle, That is to say, the vadou,; bl'an('he~
of the service wCl'e create,1, eHch of which,
at one time, had clear and wC'lI defined mis
sions.

The cava]'ry hatl its definite mission (t'X
ploration, security, the ('harge, pur~uit), the
artillery had its own mission (hreaching' the
enemy's lines 01' the walls of the bdeagllel't'd
city), and the infantry hat! it~ own (attacl,
with cold steel, assault), Later on, a fourth
arm came into existence-the engineers, with
a definite mission in mine warfare,

And had, of the~e fOlll' anns \\'t'I'e the serv
iet's whi,'h made it po,~ihle fOl' tht'l11 to exist
and tight and which continued to grow in
"ompll':-,it;,' .and nUlllber,

Thll :,pparatl' Wl'apons alBo pm;~f}Sbed

at

(hat timl' clear and definite mis,;ions: the
('old oteel fol' the deci~ive, act of the combat,
t11<' aosHult; the firearll! fOl' the protection of

1 h(l advancC'.

!Jut a~ tillle went hy, with the' advent of
automutic Wl'apon~ an,l artil1er~', the matter
lll't'lIllH' ,'olllplicat,',l, an,l almo~t all types of

~'Illl:tment pO~Sl'Ss no\\' the douhle mission of

attack and protection, Thus, the rifle and
machine g'lIn jlrotect the infantry as it
aDivi~ion artillery protects
t ht' automatic weapons, being itself p},otected
by th,' counterbattery fire of corps and army
ld,tillery,

That is to say, in the same way that mis
.,ions and weapon, gave rise to the various
arll!S, the ]lrofusion and varh,ty existing in
the lath'I' is,. paradoxically, giving rise to a
zone of fusion-or confusion-between the
various branches of the service.
As a matter of fact, this variety and profu
sion of the branches of the service has led

106

MILITARY REVIEW

to a gamut of attack fires of such variety
that for each situation in an attack there is
a special weapon that will produce the fire
best suited for the occasion. The reverse is
also true-the defender possesses at each
moment a weapon suitable for replying to the
one emploYNI by the attacker. And in this
interplay of attack and defense, of offensive
and defensive weapons, such simultaneity of
action is achieved that any weapon at any
moment, through the mere fact of its being
in operation in an offensive manner, provides
protection for another ,of a different category.
Thus the combined Ikes of the attacker are
today, as in the past, a protection to the
infantry, and the combine,! fires of the
defendel' con8titute an effort aimed at pre
venting the attaeker from dl'!iVl'ring his final
blow.

There iH no doubt that battles would be
conducted with the maximum. of efficiency if
at all timcs and places and in every situation
the various branch!';; of the service had at
their disposal the weapons best suited for the
occasion. And this has led to specialization
within the limits of the various branches
and. in turn, to more and more profound and
d!'cisive changes in their organization.
As in all human activities, technical perfec
tion is accompanied by increased complica
tion in the matter of employment, and by a
breakdown into specialties which at times
acquire characteristics that give rise to doubt
and even argument as to the arm or branch
of the service to which they belong, and even
within the limits of the same branch
(tactically, what is a gun? what is a howit
zer?) there is uncertainty in the matter of
their classification. Naturally, these doubts
and uncertainties produce a negative influence
on organization, which is impaired by lack of
clarity, with consequent loss of efficiency.
Let us note, for instance, the case of
infantry and artillery. It is undeniable that
within the confines of the ground forces, the
infantry is the decisive arm and all others
merely its auxiliaries. In the early history of
these two arms, their respective operations
were entirely independent of one another.
The artillery opened the breach; the infantry

carried out the attack. But as the technique
of firearms was p~rfected, the infantry felt
morc and more need of protection and, a:; a
result of this, the artillery created new types
of guns and organized itself in such a manner
that it could pl'epare the attack first and
accompany and support the infantry after
ward. That is to say, the basic element of the
battle has become the binomiul-infantry
artillery.

The former indl·pendence has lal'gely dis
appeared, and in its place there has developed
so intimate, sO intpnse a mutual penetration
thtit there has been created an obscure zone
in which they overlap one another. The
famous phrase, "The artilkry conquers; the
infantry occupil's," is a clcar expression of
this confu~ion and encroachment.
The creation of gun compunil's commanded
by infantrymen and forming part of the in
fantry regiments of many countries is a clear
demonstration of the fact that the over
lapping between the two m'ms has resulted
in a total and absolute fusion. Th(>re no
longer exists any separation between the two

anl1s.

Another case of uncertainty and confusion
is offered by the infantry and engineers with
their assault platoons. In 80m(> places tbese
belong to the engineers, in others to the
infantry, and in still others they are found
in both. There does not appl'ar, therefore, to
exist any clear and well definecl line of
demarcation between these two arms which.
to add the more to the haziness of the zone
in which they overlap one another, frequently
offer us the spectacle of infantrymen handling
the pick and shovel and engineers fighting
with fire arms.
To follow this matter to its lair, let us
examine the case of the one branch of the
service we have left-the cavalry.
Its romantic ancl heroic mission. the charge
at the critical moment, has disappeared. It
continues to have and will continue to have,
missions that are specifically its own-as is
also the case with the other three arms-but
it also posssesses its nebulous zone where it
overlaps in its activities with the infantry.
There exist infantry units attached to large

107

FOREIGN MILITARY DIGESTS

eavalry units; there exist large cavalry units
that secure some sector of a stabilized front.
Is this, thl'n, not a mission that is propel' to
them? Yes-but it is a new (kmonstration of
confusion.

These observation~ might, perhaps, give
the impression that the ground forces arc an
entity of too great homogeneity to Iw spoken
of with propl'iety as being composed of foul'
indl'p<'ndent arms.
As is apparent, up to the present we have
referred almost l'xc\usivC'ly to what might be
termed the ground forces of H118. But in the
presC'nt conflict, mechanization hl\s assumed
an intpnsity that many never anticipated,
and along with it man)' ideas and many
methods have undl'rgone changes, and the
concept of war has undt'I'gone a complete
tl'ansf,)rmation.
The principal ,,]Pml'nt of mechanization in
the ground forces is t he armored vehicle
which. tholl!l'h it may represent a gigantic

I stl'P in military technique, rcpresl'nted at the

Sa111e tinlC un enOl'mOUH incl'e(lf'(, in the conl-

, pll'xity of the prohlems of organization-and
they \\'l're alrC'ady C'xc{';;siv{'.
To begin with. the al'll1ored vehicle means
the motor, ani! thi>', apllliecl :u; it is to the
foul' arm8, give~ "aeh of them exactly the
same specd, and all of thC'm greater Rpeed
than that of hor8e cavalry.
Nevertheless, classical type infantry divi
sions on foot are called normal. That is to
say, they arc the most numerous and they
still have clearly defined and definite missions
such as combat of the normal type, occupation
of terrain, etc. And the same is true of the
cavalry. However great the mean speed that
may be attained by military forces as a
'whole, they will always require special, fast,
light units for reconnaissance and pursuit
that are able quickly to break off combat and
engage in it imme~iately afterward at some
other point 01' in another direction.
We have said befol'(, that the different
branches'of the service, 01' arms, were nothing
more than the specialization of armed groups
in one of the elemental phases of combat, and
since the phase which gave rise to the cavalry
still exists, the need for this arm also con

tinues to exist without other change than that
of the means employed for the attainment ·of

th~ agility and speed which its mission re

quires. But a part of the classical missions of
the infantry and cavalry of the 1918 type is·
now absorbed by the armore(l units, in con
sequence of which the zone of confusion .has
grown still darker with the appearance of
this·third element of discord.
And since artiU('ry also now enjoys the

l~istinction of wearing armor plate, and the

tank, which is its sublimation, is armed with
artillery pie~es, the hazy dividing lin2 be
tween infantry and art'lkry has become more
complicated than it was, giving origin to new

,tnd anlbig'uous cxprl'~sions \vhich far fronl
cJa:'ify the ~ituation. fuch as the term "as
;;ault artillery," in whirh the wOI'd "artillery,"
awakening ideas of immobility and power,
forms a strange union with the word "as
sault" which is typical of an:] almcHt ex
clusively descriptiVe of infantr~·.
In conseqtl('Uce of all this, the following
suggestive question al'iseH in the mind of the
organizer: "Armor in motion-ought it to
fOI'111 a new arm or should it he divided appro
priat('ly among the anns already in ('xistcnce
in accordance with their needs and missions?"
One additional arm-the ail' force-com
plicates the exercise of command, and its dis
tribution among those already existing
renders difficult to an unbelievable degr('e the
employment and handling of everyone of
them.

Already in the United States a solution
appears to have been found which, though not
yet sanctioned by experience, will perhaps
prove the correct one. It is the creation of
the "o-called "combat groups," a type of large
unit formed of units of all sorts in the propor
tion required by the mission to be fulfilled.
Now the classic pincers has three jaws in
place of two; two on the flanks and one over
head. No fortiJjcations are able to keep the
enemy back, and fortifications have lost, in
consequence, ala'l'ge part of their value. There
is no material obstacle with which the ail'
force can be opposed. But it has one great
drawback-it is necessary for it to return to
its starting point and, once on the gt;ound, it

108

~IIl.lTAf(Y In:v",:w

is defensl'Jl'';s. It then requires forcc'~ helong
ing to its own !'ide fOt" it., def('n~e and. in
addition, the a~~i"t(lnce

of ~p0eiali~t"

awl

nlan~? and \'urie(l ~el·\·it'<.':-:;

in otht'l' \\'nrd~, it

requires a profu"p an,l ('oll1plkatL·t! organiza
tion for.it,; operation.
Let us havt' a look. nn\\'. at (Ill' indl'pl'ntknt
lllh'si"l1s that H\'iatioll I' "hit· to Culli! ill

udditi()ll ttl it:--COOp('l'Htitltl with tllP e.l'~lllnd
forces.

Among' t11l'Ill. thl' prilleipal Oil"" HI,' tho,,'
of reconllai,,~al1t'('

alltl j,olllhin<.:-al tal'I;~

ill
th,> enemy'" r('al'. Hut lip to \\'hat point alt'

nliR~ions indl'pl'ndl'llt '?

..-\.Pl'iul l'ct'onnai:--.t-!Hllt't', a pl'nlnllg.'dt it'll of

that prOI)(,I' to the ,·avah'~·. i~ 1"'1' th,· PIIl'I"'"''
of'}oenting'. l'la:--~ifyitw:. and v\'alt1Ht illg' l'lh'lny

(roop" 01' g'l'ollntl dL,f,'n",·,. lI,'Ill"t'. in tIll' final

annl~·:-.i~,

thl' g'l'tHllld fol'{,(';-' will lH' thp

hell' fieiari0,. Ilt1)I1I,;n).!' I"lib. ailllvd at tIlt'

d('~tl'uction

of i'a('tol'ip-., (ll' e!lIHlllllnieat ion

1'0ut('~,

hav(' a~ tlwil' ol,.i<-d Ih!, hamp,'rillg'
of tlw manu('a('IIII!' (If \Val' mal!'1 ial, antlllll'il'
delivt'ry 10 tIll' 11'001". 1l<'1l("0 a).!'ain it i, tlw

gl'ound foree:-. who bl'lH'tit h:.; thvlll.

Of lld:-.~i()n:-:

of {'()opcl'at inn. tlll'l''\.· art" t \\'0

principal on,". 1'h,' 111',( " th" tlan,p"I'tati,,"
and di~emharka(i"n,

t'itlll'r ,,~.

1I1t':\II, or
para('hut", 01' dil't'l'Ily PII tIlt' ).!1"IIIHI. "f

fol'c(,~

\vhit-h. nIH't' t)}1 thp !,!.'Iolllld. ti~.rht

oil

foot and al\Va~"

ill conlhinalioll with "th"I'
gl'oun(\ fOI'('e'. for it ha" h"L'1I pl'ovt'd that at
thl' Jlr<'~l'nt time aviation i~ 11,,1 ahIt, hy it~01f
to l'ngag'(' in ,(nd fl'C!1 a halt lv. and ('I't't" is
the ('xc('ptioll \\'hi"h ('"ntil'll\~

thp I'll],., I'CI',

hap~ bpcau:-:.e tllllJP \\:1, ilO .\l1i(·d aviation.

The second n1h.~·don i~ that of pn'pal'illg. ac
companying'. and ~uJll'ortillg'

th.. action, of

the gl'ountl fol't·(>~. which i, e"actl~-

the ~ame
mission a' that of the arliller,-with r(',.pcct
to thc infantry. Alld since thi~ mis,ion ll1w.t
be ful~lI('d. thl' ,'Iassical hinolllial. infnlltl'Y
al'till('ry, has 1I0\\' bet'n ]"'1'la('e gTound-air:

If the op('ratiolls are against a country
situated on the other ~id(' of the oc,'all. naval
, forces will be the principal factor in the be
ginning, but always accompanied, ,upported,
and protected by land or carrier-ba~ed planes,
!'Ind this navy wUI fulfil three principal mis

fion~: trall~portation, fire support, and pro

tt'ctioll of the line of communications over
which the battle will have to be fed. Thus, it
will al~o operate in favor of the ground
fol'("(,s in the fame way that, within the
],o\llld" of th" lett,'r. nil arms will operate in
fayol' of the infantry.
lIent"'. in the' san)!! way that up to the
tilll(, of tilt' til·~t

Worl,l War all combined

oP"l'ation~ were carric>d on hy the differ('nt

1.l'aJl!'llt's Ioattle and in tIlt' battle of the neal' future all
c"lIlhilled opel'ation" will be carried on by the
ditl't'I't'lIt [Ol',·(,s. an,1 in the combination, which
Illay he dual nl' tripk. the g'round forces will
"lway, have a part.
W,' SPl' now tIll' influenct' of these considera
I illll" on the organization of a mo,l('rl1 army.
III the lil,t place. unity of command is the
\.a,ic pl'inciph' of all org'anization_ Hence,

('Illplll~'ing' the 11I'opcr log'ic, it seems natural

Ihat a ,ing'it' Illlnistry-with whatevl'l' title
>t'l'lll, 1ll0,t suitable (:\iinistry of \Var, for
ilblullt·,,) -,houl,l elllbrace all the fighting

rfll'CCS of a nation, g'l'ouping them in three

,.uIN,t'I"<'tary,hip~. 01' s(,l'l'etaryships if it .is

,i",ired to givt' the'lll n higher rating.
Thi, IllinistJ',-should determine the propor
tit"'" of 1l1('1\ and material that each of the
IIII (,,' for,'c~ is to have. within the limits of

thl' ~'llnl'ntl

n\SOU1'Ces that have been 111ude

"yailahl!' hy the g'overnment. It should also
hay!' charge of the training of the forces for
war. g'iving' minute attention to the instruc
tional asped. both that which is peculiar to
('al'h of them Hnd that which is general and
I('lat"~

to cooperation between any two of
thelll all!l amnng' the three-a task exactly
t he ~allle

as that calTied on today by the
:llini,tl'Y of thl' Army with the diffel'ent arms.
But thi~ pl'inciple of unity of command
C'ontinm>" tn hol!1. and just as up to the
III ,'o-<'nt time in thl' ground forces, army
"roujl:; hHv!' 1>('en organized which combine,
under a ,ing'lc command. large and small
unit" in the pl-oportion required by the mis
sion and th(' terrain (there are already large
Hrtillcl'Y units), so in the future, those large
Ul'Il1Y groups, with whatever designation ap·
pears most suitable for them, will be made up I

109

FOREIGN MILITARY DIGESTS

of large ground, naval. and ail' units, each
of them made up. in turn, of their distinct
specialties or arms.

All this requires commUlHlel's. who, coming
from some one of the three foi'ces, have been
rendered cap~lble of commanding the other
two by means of suitable preparation. al
though log'ieally, as a result of their origin,
they an' more capahl" iii. one of the three
than in the other two. But it ~houl(l be borne
in mind that, judging frum the exp('riences
ot' the present war, there will be operations
in which it will be necessary to know mOl'e
about one of the three forces than about the
other two, and there may even be cases where
opel'ations will start with one command, con
tinue with another, an(I ('n(1 with a third
command, These chang'('s will not he neces·
sary at the time when there exist perfectly
competent universal commands.
The problem of command hrings up that
of staffs, of which there must exist one gen
('ral ~taff in addition to those belonging to
('aeh forc('.

Hence, we see that in the army of the
future this matter of command and staff is
simply an amplification of the present ground
fOJ'ce where a general coming from any of
the foul' arms has comman(1 of a large unit
in which thel'c arc ('Ipments of al! of them,

aided by other generals coming from 'the
various 'other arms, the first seconded by a.
general staff for all the arms, and the second,
by staffs proper to their respective arms.'
We have perceived, as we have followed
these lines, the undeniable par;tllelism. that
exists hetween the three forces of the present
day and the three arms of yesterday, a paral
lelism that is ,0 obvious and 'complete that
one is inclined to wonder whether the term
"army," denoting a grouping of all the
combatants'of each of the three elements, is
not a little vague and lacking in significance,
LiI adequate and outmoded in view of present
conditions,

And as an ultimate and definite consequence
of all these considerations, one is inclined to
ask himself whether the term "army" as
interpreted above should not express the
totality of all the fighting forces of the nation,
and the word "arms" refer exclusively to
the ground, sea. and air forces, regardless of
the numbel' of specialties it may be necessary
to divide them into, which, unfortunately and
the more to distress the military organizer,
will be more and more numerous and com
plicated as time goes on, In conclusion, it
might be stated that something would also
he gained if the services ,for this new army
were unified,

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