Before the U. S. Civil War, the War Department saw little reason to collect intelligence on foreign armies. Americans believed that their distance from Europe and the Far East mitigated the possibility of war. Sending an expeditionary force to these areas would have been inconceivable to the public in the nineteenth century. Occasionally, individual officers traveled abroad to observe wars or foreign military maneuvers, but these missions were temporary and short-lived. Immediately after the war, officers came home and reported their information to their superiors and then went back to their former duties. 1
In addition to officially sponsored observer missions, U. S. officers observed foreign armies and military facilities while on vacation. Termed “hunting and fishing” leave, these sojourns (presumably done without the knowledge of the visiting country) were not considered official leave unless the officer returned and submitted a complete report on that country’s military to officials in Washington. Naturally, this rule encouraged officers to travel and provided the Army with a steady stream of intelligence on foreign militaries. 2
These ad hoc arrangements proved adequate in the early to mid-1800s when technological advances in weaponry were incremental. Because most western armies were at the same level of military technology, the War Department saw little need to have an officer stationed overseas when occasional official observers or vacationing officers could report back and changes could be implemented. 3
After the U. S. Civil War, a revolution in military technology occurred. The development of breech-loading cannon and exploding shells during the 1870s and 1880s spelled the end of wooden navies and fueled the development of armor plated ships and subsequently, shells which could penetrate the other navies’ armor. 4 The technological changes that affected naval armaments soon influenced armies as well. The Franco-Prussian war of
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Observing Our Hermanos de Armas: U.S. Military Attaches in Guatemala, Cuba, and Bolivia, 1950-1964. Contributors: Robert O. Kirkland - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 13.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.