Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 57

CAVALRY way, the Bradley-equipped cavalry scouts and tankers of the ABCT together would adopt the sole mantle of heavy cavalry. Within heavy cavalry, effective force development and employment require specific preparation within a typically offense- and defense-focused mission-essential task list. However, a decade of general employment has meant that preparations for large-scale decisive-action missions have suffered. Additionally, as noted by Sgt. Maj. (retired) Derek McCrea, “the ABCT priority over the past decade has not included repetitive and traditional Bradley gunnery, maintenance, and maneuver training due to repeat deployments on nonstandard vehicles (MRAPs, etc.).”18 By muddying the waters between light and heavy cavalry, we have created broadly focused and less technically proficient formations. In order to build and maintain a heavy cavalry mentality focused around the characteristics of the offense—surprise, concentration, audacity, and tempo—we must necessarily employ light and heavy cavalry squadrons in roles specific to their composition and core competencies. Our problem, reinforced by current doctrine, is that we tend to assume that capabilities are virtually the same across all types of cavalry squadrons. As seen in the table on page 52, current cavalry squadron mission profiles do not distinguish between most of the various, differently composed formations, thereby promoting employment for the same kinds of missions.19 We may improve our force by instead recognizing and harmonizing existing capabilities and limitations and making the ABCT heavy cavalry our primary fighting cavalry—a hunter-killer force capable of becoming decisively engaged when necessary and of being the tip of the spear in a forcible-entry fight into another country. Upon clearing the ground of armored threats, this force would be followed by a force of SBCT or IBCT infantry and light cavalry units in a primarily wide area security role, with decentralized scouts acquiring urban and low-intensity targets, gathering information, and developing the situation for their offense-focused infantry and heavy cavalry brethren. Conclusion The Army would do well to remember the French knights at Agincourt who rode forth tall, proud, and MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 (Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress) Portrait of Brig. Gen. John Buford (Maj. Gen. from 1 July 1863), officer of the Union Army The Decisive Role of Cavalry at Gettysburg T he Union Army’s First Cavalry Division provided us with a classic example of the effective use of cavalry when it successfully accomplished traditional cavalry missions during the Battle of Gettysburg. In mid-June 1863, division commander Brig. Gen. John Buford was given the mission to find, impede, and collect intelligence on the Confederate Army, commanded by Gen. Robert E. Lee. The Confederate forces had crossed north into Pennsylvania, but their exact location was unknown. However, on 30 June 1863, cavalrymen from Buford’s force found the lead elements of Lee’s army just west of the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Buford immediately reported this via courier to the commanding officer on the field, Maj. Gen. John Reyn olds, who ordered the bulk of the Union forces to begin prompt movement toward Gettysburg. In the meantime, Buford directed his force of about three thousand cavalrymen to seize the high ground overlooking the approaches to Gettysburg ahead of Confederate forces. Initially, Buford’s cavalry, fighting as light infantry, caused Lee’s army to deploy prematurely into fighting formations before it had fully concentrated its forces. This successfully helped delay the Confederate army’s progress until the full complement of Union forces had arrived under overall commander Maj. Gen. George Meade. Subsequently, Buford’s cavalry conducted relentless mounted reconnaissance missions that gave Union senior leaders accurate and detailed intelligence of Confederate force movements and dispositions. Many historians regard the actions of Buford’s cavalry at the outset of the engagement as perhaps the most important single factor that shaped the situation and enabled the Union Army to win the Battle of Gettysburg. Despite the passage of years and dramatic advances in equipment and technology, it is easy to envision how cavalry, both light and heavy, could play a similarly pivotal role in engagements fought under the conditions of the current operating environments. 51