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Posted on Oct 18, 2005 in Armchair Reading

General MacArthur’s Contributions to Armored Warfare

By James L Hunter

I just finished reading the recent edition of the Armchair General; I must say that this publication is by far one of the best to see print, and I encourage you all to keep up the good work.
I would like to add something to the article on General  MacArthur which I believe was overlooked and when noted, makes a great case for this commander to be listed as perhaps the single largest contributor to the American success on the field of battle during that conflict.
The National Defense Act of 1920 made tanks a responsibility of the Infantry under whose benign neglect the development of this arm languished for  nearly a decade.  Upon assuming the position of Chief of Staff, Gen. MacArthur instituted a vigorous policy of motorization and mechanization for the Army.
One vision Gen. MacArthur had was for a  mechanization of the Calvary and an exploitation role for that arm on the field of combat. This vision clearly makes Gen. MacArthur the American version of Genl’s Basil Liddle-Hart of Britian or Heinz Guderian of Germany.
Consider that on Sept 1st 1939 the German Panzerwaffe had 4,564 AFV’s in its arsenal and of those only 583 were armed with something other a MG (ie:  37mm and 75mm guns); now further consider that the US Armed Forces had only 300 total tanks in its arsenal, which but 18 were armed with a gun of just 37mm. (It wasn’t until 1940 that the Calvary could legally call their AFV’s Tanks and had to call them "Combat Cars" up to that point).
While clearly still far behind the Germans, its clear the foundation laid by General MacArthur would serve us well as we rearmed and prepared for the coming conflict.
Without the vision of Gen. MacArthur, while Chief of Staff, it’s clear that America’s road to victory would have been longer and likely more painful for us as well as our allies; Men like Gen George Patton and every tank commander that served then rode to victory on the vision of this  "Soldier of the 20th Century"; The American Genesis of victory on the modern battlefield and its armored warfare successes is the unsung legacy of General Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army.
Again thanks for a great publication,
James L Hunter



Thank you for writing James.  MacArthur’s impact reached far and wide, of that there is no question. More than we could fit in one issue!

Brian King
Website Editor
Armchair General Magazine

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