An Uncertain Trumpet: The Evolution of U.S. Army Infantry Doctrine, 1919-1941

An Uncertain Trumpet: The Evolution of U.S. Army Infantry Doctrine, 1919-1941

An Uncertain Trumpet: The Evolution of U.S. Army Infantry Doctrine, 1919-1941

An Uncertain Trumpet: The Evolution of U.S. Army Infantry Doctrine, 1919-1941


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For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare
himself to the battle?

1 Corinthians. 14:8.

On 18 September the class of 1930 of the Army War College gathered in the main lecture hall at Fort Humphreys, Washington D.C., to hear a lecture by the chief of the Infantry Branch on the changes in infantry organization. Major General Stephen O. Fuqua outlined the new infantry regiment’s organizational structure. He extolled the greater firepower obtained from the addition of more automatic weapons, the indirect fire capability of the new mortars, and the power inherent in the increased size of the regiment. As the lecture progressed, Fuqua defined the mission of the infantry and identified the branch as the army’s primary combat arm.

The mission of the Infantry is unchanged. It is the basic force of any
army whose mission in the end is to destroy the enemy’s field army.
Its mission—during the period when the neutralization fires of the
aircraft and artillery have ceased or lifted—is the employment of its
own weapons in neutralization and attack fire to beat down enemy
resistance in gaining, exploiting and consolidating ground.
Therefore, it must be so organized, armed, equipped, and trained that
it may be utilized tactically in the attack or defense—temporarily or
permanently—changing as conditions arise from one of those combat
phases to the other, employed day or night under all conditions of
weather and clime and over all varieties of terrain with ability to take
cover, and in the end, to engage in hand-to-hand combat. It is the
only Arm—organized, armed, equipped and trained to meet all the
requirements of the battlefield.

General Fuqua’s definition is significant for what it includes and for what it omits. He mentions the use of aircraft in support of troops on the ground, while eschewing the same role for tanks. The mission of the field artillery is to bombard the enemy positions as cover for the advance of the infantry but then to lift or shift to other targets, leaving the infantry to finish the job unsupported. At no point did the general depict a battlefield incorporating the use of infantry, artillery, armor, and airpower in a coordinated manner. In 1930 the tactical . . .

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