Toward Combined Arms Warfare: A Survey of 20th-Century Tactics, Doctrine, and Organization

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9781410201591: Toward Combined Arms Warfare: A Survey of 20th-Century Tactics, Doctrine, and Organization

Book by House, Jonathan M.

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The history of ground combat in the twentieth century is to a large extent the history of the evolution of combined arms warfare. The impact of technology, the expansion of armed forces, the advent of complex controlling, planning, and organizational structures, and the attendant growth of functional specialization, are all developments which have rendered the conduct of modern war a complex and multifaceted undertaking. Nowhere has change been more evident than on the battlefield itself, where the challenges of combat have simultaneously (and almost paradoxically) mandated greater differentiation and increased integration among the various arms and services.

This study focuses on a key aspect of change, the development of combined arms doctrine, tactics, and organization at the division level and below. Captain Jonathan House begins his treatment with the pre1914 period, when the various combat arms retained separate functions and required only rudimentary coordination. Through two world wars and numerous lesser conflicts he traces the gradual integration of the different arms and services into a mechanized team. Of special interest in his account is the parallel development of the command and control mechanisms and procedures necessary to orchestrate the employment of combined arms on the modern battlefield. Throughout the analysis Captain House underscores the significance of recurring problems and themes, including the difficulties of air-ground cooperation, equipment design and acquisition, and inter-service and intra-service rivalries. Many if not all of these issues are relevant to contemporary discussions on doctrinal dev! elopment.

Toward Combined Arms Warfare is also a primer in force design. By tracing general trends in division organization within the armed forces of various powers, including the United States Army, Captain House provides force developers with useful historical perspective on many key issues. Some of the more salient include questions related to the balance of arms within an organization, the level at which arms should be integrated, and complications that stem from task organizing units by attaching nonorganic elements. If "the past too may serve," then an examination of these and other problems within their historical context affords valuable insight into concerns of enduring importance for both theoreticians and practitioners.

Dave R. Palmer Major General, USA Deputy Commandant

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