Academic journal article Military Review

Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers: Innovation in the US Army, 1917-1945

Academic journal article Military Review

Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers: Innovation in the US Army, 1917-1945

Article excerpt

FAST TANKS AND HEAVY BOMBERS: Innovation in the US Army, 1917-1945, David E. Johnson, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1998, 288 pages, $37.50.

The subject of Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers is familiar-an interwar army, crippled by austerity and public apathy-fails to modernize and enters the next war unprepared for the challenges it faces. But David E. Johnson departs from traditional interpretations of this scenario. He asserts that when World War II began, it was the US Army, not Congress or public opinion, that was responsible for its unpreparedness. Even had resources been more plentiful in the 1920s and 1930s, the Army would still have made the same mistakes.

Johnson blames an inefficient organizational structure for the Army's woes. In 1920, Congress established infantry, cavalry and artillery branch chiefs who possessed wide powers over doctrine, training and personnel assignments and who were answerable only to the Army chief of staff. When the inevitable interwar austerity set in, the branch chiefs competed for scarce resources, each guarding his turf and resisting any initiative that threatened his particular arm's core mission.

Cooperation broke down, and innovators in the fields of armor and aviation were without proponents. Armor development was shoehorned into infantry and cavalry categories rather than being developed on its own merits. Aviation eventually became its own combat arm, but its branch chief promptly became just as parochial and defensive as the others.

Perhaps the most frightening side effect of this parochialism was the tendency of branch chiefs to stifle discussion and dissent within the officer corps. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.