General Jacob Devers: World War II's Forgotten Four Star

By John A. Adams | Go to book overview

FIVE
The Debate over Doctrine

IN THE BEGINNING, GEORGE S. PATTON PROVED TO BE A LARGE problem. He had a lot of ideas, some good, some very unbalanced. Patton stressed mobility and tended to use the light tank as a horse. Despite the need demonstrated on European battlefields for more armor protection and heavier guns, he remained wedded to the light 15-ton cavalry tank. Patton handled light tanks as cavalry.1 A committed cavalryman as late as 1933, he wrote in the Cavalry Journal, “Machines will always be preceded by horsemen.” Patton, then subordinate to Devers as commander of the 2nd Armored Division (AD), had enjoyed a long association with Secretary of War Henry Stimson, which he exploited to challenge Devers’s mechanized warfare expertise and hence his authority to command. Devers could not tolerate the situation if Patton became de facto the man in charge. Patton, who felt he was the armor expert, was feeding Stimson notes via Undersecretary John McCloy, questioning what Devers knew about armor.

Prior to assuming command of Armored Force, Devers had gotten to know Patton, the mercurial Californian. Pejoratively in retirement, Devers recalled that his classmates didn’t think “Georgie” was the “sharpest knife in the drawer.” When both were assigned to Fort Myer in the 1930s, they played a lot of polo together. Jake was one of the few riders that could swing a polo mallet with more skill than his famous classmate. They wound up with adjacent quarters on post and became friendly neighbors.2 But in 1941, Devers had to demonstrate that he could handle his truculent classmate.

-72-

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General Jacob Devers: World War II's Forgotten Four Star
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Prologue 3
  • One - Early Years 5
  • Two - The Interwar Years 21
  • Three - Marshall Recognizes Devers 35
  • Four - Chief of Armored Force 52
  • Five - The Debate over Doctrine 72
  • Six - Commander, Eto 94
  • Seven - Deputy Supreme Commander, Mto 118
  • Eight - The French and a Southern Front 140
  • Nine - Dragooned 157
  • Ten - Up the Rhône Valley 176
  • Eleven - An End to Champagne 193
  • Twelve - Into the Cold Vosges 216
  • Thirteen - Cross the Rhine? 233
  • Fourteen - Throw Down at Vittel and Its Aftermath 261
  • Fifteen - Nordwind Strikes Devers 290
  • Sixteen - The Colmar Pocket Finally Collapses 315
  • Seventeen - Undertone to Austria 334
  • Eighteen - Postwar 372
  • Epilogue 390
  • Notes 395
  • Bibliography 419
  • Index 425
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