History of War

THE AEF ENTERS THE BATTLE

American troops march through a damaged French village during their advance from the River Marne

Although America had declared war in April 1917, a year later its army still existed largely on paper. Two divisions, formed from regular forces and some National Guard units, were in France when the German offensive opened,John Pershing, had resisted all calls for his troops to be integrated into Allied formations. An exception was made for African-American regiments, which served with distinction in French formations. The French liaison officers who served with the American Expeditionary Forces could see how poorly prepared they were for modern war: Pershing’s doctrine stressed the role of the combat infantryman with his rifle and bayonet, counter to all the tactical lessons of material-intensive warfare learned by the Allies since 1914.

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