The Cold War U.S. Army: Building Deterrence for Limited War

Front Cover
University Press of Kansas, 2008 - History - 366 pages
1 Review
The Cold War marked a new era for America's military, one dominated by nuclear weapons and air power that seemed to diminish the need for conventional forces. Ingo Trauschweizer chronicles the U.S. Army's struggles with its identity, structure, and mission in the face of those challenges, showing how it evolved, redefined its mission more than once, and ultimately transformed itself.

Trauschweizer describes how, beginning in the 1950s, the army faced an unprecedented problem: how to maintain a combat-ready fighting force that could operate on both conventional and nuclear battlefields. Faced with shifting threats to national security, budgetary battles, and unstable political developments around the globe, the army also had to keep abreast of new weaponry while navigating changes in its own top brass and the presidency.

Trauschweizer particularly considers the army's organizational and doctrinal response to problems posed by deterrence in Europe, focusing on the evolving role of the Seventh Army in West Germany-the largest and best-prepared field army the U.S. had ever deployed in peacetime. He explores the roles of Generals Matthew Ridgway, Maxwell Taylor, and others, as well as the use role of tactical nuclear weapons, as he traces the army's transformation through the New Look policy, pentomic reorganization, and the adoption of the ROAD concept.

Ultimately, Trauschweizer contends, the army found it impossible to prepare for limited war in the Third World while pursuing its primary mission of deterrence in Europe. His revisionist argument about the army's objectives in the 1960s and early 1970s places the Vietnam War in the context of the wider Cold War, offering new lines of inquiry into both. He also shows how, after the debacle of Vietnam, the army's sense of mission, technological evolution, organizational structure, and operational doctrine matured to produce the AirLand Battle doctrine of 1982, the cornerstone of our defense of Europe until the Cold War finally ended.

The U.S. Army's evolution during the 1950s and its role in Europe throughout the Cold War have remained two of the most neglected subjects in American military history. By covering the interaction of strategy, organization, doctrine, and technology in the army during this era—as well as the relationship between army doctrine and U.S./NATO defense strategy—The Cold War U.S. Army marks a major contribution to our understanding of both subjects.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

A close analysis of the evolution of the U.S. Army looking at the iterative process from which the the Army of World War II evolved into the force that conducted Operation Desert Storm. Among other ... Read full review


Atomic Weapons and Limited War
The Pentomic Army in Germany

7 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2008)

Ingo Trauschweizer is an associate professor in the Department of History at Ohio University and an affiliate at the Contemporary History Institute. He is the author of "The Cold War U.S. Army: Building Deterrence for Limited War." His articles have appeared in the "Journal of Military History, Cold War History, " and other journals of history and politics.

Bibliographic information