Recommendations were cabled to Washington emphasizing the importance of target practice and musketry training, and recommending that instruction in open warfare be made the mission of troops in the United States, while the training in trench warfare so far as necessary be conducted in France. Succeeding divisions, whether serving temporarily with the British or French, were trained as thus indicated. The assistance of the French units was limited to demonstrations, and, in the beginning French instructors taught the use of French arms and assisted in the preparation of elementary trench warfare problems.
Assuming that divisions would arrive with their basic training completed in the United States, one month was allotted for the instruction of small units from battalions down, a second month of experience in quiet sectors by battalions, and a third month for field practice in open warfare tactics by division, including artillery. Unfortunately many divisions did not receive the requisite amount of systematic training before leaving the States and complete preparation of such units for battle was thus often seriously delayed.
24. The system of training profoundly influenced the combat efficiency of our troops by its determined insistence upon an offensive doctrine and upon training in warfare movement. Instruction which had hitherto been haphazard, varying with the ideas and conceptions of inexperienced commanding officers and indifferent instructors, was brought under a system based on correct principles. Approved and systematic methods were maintained and enforced largely by the continual presence of members of the Training Section with the troops both during the training period and in campaign.
25. Before our entry into the war, European experience had shown that military operations can be carried out successfully and without unnecessary loss only in the light of complete and reliable information of the enemy. Warfare with battle lines separated by short distances only, made possible the early acquirement of information, such as that obtained through airplane photography, observation from balloons and planes, sensitive instruments for detecting gun positions and raids to secure prisoners and documents. All such information, together with that from Allied sources, including military, political, and economical, was collected, classified, and rapidly distributed where needed.
26. From careful studies of the systems and actual participation by our officers in methods in use at various Allied headquarters, an Intelligence Service was evolved in our forces which operated successfully from its first organization in August, 1917.
With us the simpler methods, such as observation from the air and ground and the exploitation of prisoners and documents, have proved more effective than the less direct means. Every unit from the battalion up had an intelligence department, but only in divisions and larger organizations did the intelligence agencies embrace all available means and sources, including radio interception stations and sound and flash-ranging detachments.
27. The subjects studied by the Intelligence Section embraced the location of the enemy’s front line, his order of battle, the history and fighting value of his divisions, his manpower, his combat activities, circulation and movement, his defensive organizations, supply, construction and material, air service, radio service, strategy and tactics, and what he probably knew of our intentions. The political and economic conditions within the enemy’s countries were also of extreme importance.
28. To disseminate conclusions, daily publications were necessary, such as a Secret Summary of Intelligence containing information of the broadest scope, which concerned only General Headquarters; and a Summary of Information, distributed down to include the divisions, giving information affecting the western front. A Press Review and a Summary of Air Intelligence were also published.
Maps showing graphically the disposition and movement of enemy troops in our front were the best means for distributing information to our troops. At the base printing plant and at General Headquarters base maps were prepared while mobile printing plants, mounted on trucks, accompanied corps and army headquarters. Combat troops were thus supplied with excellent maps distributed, just before and during an attack, down to include company and platoon commanders. Between July 1 and November 11, 1918, over 5,000,000 maps were used.
29. The secret service, espionage and counterespionage, was organized in close cooperation with the French and British. To prevent indiscretions in the letters of officers and soldiers, as well as in articles written for the press, the Censorship Division was created. The Base Censor examined individual letters when the writer so desired, censored all mail written in foreign languages, of which there were over 50 used, and frequently checked up letters of entire organizations.
30. The policy of press censorship adopted aimed to accomplish three broad results:
To prevent the enemy from obtaining important information of our forces.
To give to the people of the United States the maximum information consistent with the limitations imposed by the first object.
To cause to be presented to the American people the facts as they were known at the time.
There were with our forces 36 regularly accredited correspondents, while visiting correspondents reached a total of 411.
SUMMER OF 1917 TO SPRING OF 1918
31. In order to hinder the enemy’s conquest of Russia and, if possible, prevent a German attack on Italy, or in the near east, the Allies sought to maintain the offensive on the western front as far as their diminished strength and morale would permit. On June 7, 1917, the British took Messines, while a succession of operations known as the Third Battle of Ypres began on July 31 and terminated with the capture of the Passchendaele Ridge November 6-10. The British attack at Cambrai is of special interest, since it was here that American troops (Eleventh Engineers) first participated in active fighting.
The French successfully attacked on a limited front near Verdun, capturing Mort Homme on August 20 and advancing their lines to La Forge Brook. In another offensive, begun on October 23, they gained considerable ground on Chemin des Dames Ridge. These French attacks were characterized by most careful preparation to insure success in order to improve the morale of their troops.
32. Notwithstanding these Allied attacks on the western front, the immense gains by the German armies in the east, culminating at Riga on September 3, precipitated the collapse of Russia. The following month, the Austrians with German assistance surprised the Italians and broke through the lines at Caporetto, driving the Italian armies back to the Piave River, inflicting a loss of 300,000 men, 600,000 rifles, 3,000 guns, and enormous stores. This serious crisis compelled the withdrawal of 10 French and British divisions from the western front to Italy. The German situation on all other theaters was so favorable that as early as November they began the movement of divisions toward the western front. If needed, her divisions could be withdrawn from the Italian front before the French and British dared recall their divisions.
33. At first the Allies could hardly hope for a large American Army. Marshall Joffre during his visit to America had made special request that a combat division be sent at once to Europe as visual evidence of our purpose to participate actively in the war, and also asked for Engineer regiments and other special service units.
The arrival of the First Division and the parade of certain of its elements in Paris on July 4 caused great enthusiasm and for the time being French morale was stimulated. Still Allied apprehension was deep-seated and material assistance was imperative. The following extract is quoted from the cabled summary of an Allied conference held on July 26 with the French and Italian Commanders-in-Chief and the British and French Chiefs of Staff:
General conclusions reached were necessity for adoption of purely defensive attitude on all secondary fronts and withdrawing surplus troops for duty on western front. By thus strengthening western front believed Allies could hold until American forces arrive in numbers sufficient to gain ascendency.
The conference urged the immediate study of the tonnage situation with a view to accelerating the arrival of American troops. With
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