Aef Paper

Topics: World War I, American Expeditionary Force, John J. Pershing Pages: 10 (3286 words) Published: April 24, 2013
The American Expeditionary Force was the result of a lack in the United States Military prior to WWI and the need for an effective force to help aid the Allied Forces in Europe in the defeat of Germany. Prior to the war, the U.S Army was significantly smaller than most European forces, especially that of Germany. President Wilson, who had previously advocated for the position of isolation, found himself faced with a war the United States could no longer afford to stay out of. He now had to find a way to gain popular support to fund a military force that could aid the European allies as well as to find a leader who could accomplish such a monumental task. It is precisely because of this great responsibility that Wilson selected General John J. Pershing to command the newly formed American Expeditionary Force to send an army capable of defeating the Germans. The commander of the American Expeditionary Force, General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, was a man who led a distinguished military career. Born on September 13, 1860, Pershing grew up in the era of Reconstruction following the Civil War between the North and the South. Pershing spent some time early in his life as a schoolteacher before entering an examination for an appointment and winning a competition in 1882 to enroll at West Point. While Pershing was not the best student in his class, many of the officers noticed his innate leadership abilities. Pershing, who was always highly ranked in the Cadet Battalion during his time at West Point, was elected class president in 1886 and also commanded the Corps of Cadets for Ulysses S. Grant’s funeral train. After he held a post at the University of Nebraska as a Professor of Military Science and Tactics for four years, Pershing went on the pursue an extraordinary military career. In the years 1886 to 1890, Pershing performed a series of campaigns against the Sioux and Apache, which resulted in him being awarded the Silver Star Medal. In 1898, Pershing fought in the Cuban War and later in 1903, fought in the Philippines to put down the Moro insurrectionists. When the Russo-Japanese War broke out from 1904 to 1905, Pershing played an interesting role as an observer of the war. In 1906, Pershing was promoted to Brigadier General and eventually General. Before the outbreak of WWI, Pershing was put in charge of a Mexican Punitive Expedition in attempts to capture the fugitive Pancho Villa in 1915. In the years that followed, Pershing became responsible for training and commanding the American Expeditionary Force to aid the allies in Europe against the threat of Germany. Despite President Wilson’s willingness to aid the allies in 1916, preceding the formation of the American Expeditionary Force, the United States Army was comprised of approximately 100,000 men, and the president had an insignificant army to offer in aid to the allied forces. Perhaps the limits of the United States’ military were marked by Pershing’s expedition to capture Pancho Villa. In 1917, General Pershing was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the newly formed American Expeditionary Force in recognition of his innate leadership abilities and experiences in the field as a result of an impressive military career. Since no such force exited before the formation of the AEF, Pershing was now faced with the immense task of recruiting, organizing, and training an effective fighting force of 500,000 men. It seemed that Pershing would be exactly the type of man who would be able to form such a professional fighting force to send to Europe. The success of the AEF cannot be minimalized, as it is important to note that near the end of the war, the United States Army had approximately four million men who had previously served during the war as well as another 800,000 men in other branches. Pershing and his staff understood how ill-equipped the American forces were to offer any aid to the allies at the beginning of the AEF’s formation as a result of inadequate supply lines,...
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