The United States Army General Staff Corps, 1910-1917: its relationship to the field forces
Hixson, John Arthur
Vandiver, Frank E.
Master of Arts
In the period prior to the passage of the General Staff Act in 1903, congressional debate focused primarily upon the relationship the General Staff would have to the other bureaus of the War Department. An issue of equal importance, but one which received much less attention, was the relationship the General Staff would have to field commanders in time of war. The General Staff by legislative act was to be only the planning, supervising and coordinating agency for the Army. In 1910, after a rather aimless first seven years, General Leonard Wood became the Chief of Staff. Both visionary and reactionary, Wood launched programs for reorganizing the General Staff, the Mobile Army and for establishing the supremacy of the General Staff. The continuous turmoil in the border area between the United States and Mexico provided the opportunity for Wood to test the General Staff's war plans and a "Maneuver Division" in 1911 and a new tactical division in 1913. The General Staff's role in the conduct of field operations began with the precedent established by the Army of Cuban Pacification in 1906. The operations at Vera Cruz in 1914 were conducted under rigid General Staff control. The control of the border operations in 1914-1917 under Chiefs of Staff Wotherspoon and Scott, was much more decentralized and allowed subordinate field commanders to exercise their own initiative. This study, based largely on War Department publications and the records of the War Department General Staff and the Office of the Adjutant General, is essentially an examination of early attempts to determine the proper relationship between the General Staff and the field commands. Wood saw the role of the General Staff as one which required its active supervision to ensure compliance with the approved war plans. Wotherspoon and Scott visualized the role of this agency to be one of distant supervision, the provision of strategic direction to field commanders and the provision of materiel to these commanders to assist in the accomplishment of objectives outlined in the national war plans.