Tracing the evolution of the U.S. Army throughout American history, the authors of this four-volume series show that there is no such thing as a “traditional” U.S. military policy. Rather, the laws that authorize, empower, and govern the U.S. armed forces emerged from long-standing debates and a series of legislative compromises between 1903 and 1940.
Volume I traces the history of U.S. military policy from the colonial era through the Spanish-American War. This period is critical for understanding the genesis of the basic structure of today’s Army and the various factors that informed that structure. For a combination of strategic, cultural, economic, ideological, and political reasons, in the 18th and 19th centuries the United States did not establish a standing army large enough to handle a major conflict and instead relied on a variety of mechanisms for raising volunteer units and marshaling state militias to expand or augment the Army. The Spanish-American War (1898) was a major turning point: The difficulties the United States faced in raising and equipping a large-enough Army for the conflict prompted led to major reforms in the early 20th century.
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