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  • Web Griffin

    Below is an excerpt from a fictional novel series titeld, "The Brotherhood of War"

    When Lowell came into the library a few minutes later, he went right to the whiskey cupboard
    and poured a stiff drink. He did not see the Graf as he entered, nor even when he went to the
    windows and looked through them, down to the ancient city of Marburg.

    But he seemed to sense the Graf's eyes on his back and turned to look at him.

    "I didn't know you were here," Lowell said. "My dear Craig, I'm so glad to see you. Did you
    have a good flight?"

    Lowell snorted. "Let's say interesting," he said.

    "If I had known earlier when you were coming, I'd have had Peter-Paul meet you. I've been in

    Anyone who really believed that the Graf had left the intelligence business when he had retired
    from the army probably believed in the Tooth Fairy and the Goodness of Man, Lowell thought.

    "What's he doing in Kassel?" "Something with friends, I don't really know."

    "You don't seem very surprised to see me," Lowell said.

    "Nothing you do surprises me, Craig," the Graf said.

    "I have been run out of the country," Lowell said. "There are some people who are afraid I'll say
    something to the Secretary of Defense I shouldn't."

    "And how did Mr. McNamara offend you?" the Graf asked with a laugh.

    "They're afraid we're going to agree," Lowell said.

    "No wonder they banished you," the Graf said. "For how long?"

    "For thirty days," Lowell said. "Well, it will give you a nice holiday, and you can spend some
    time with Peter-Paul."

    "I'll be here about ten days if I'm welcome that long," Lowell said. "And then I'm going on to

    "That doesn't sound like a holiday," the Graf said.

    "I think I'll have some of that whiskey," the Graf said.

    When he got close to Craig Lowell, he put his arm around his back and gave a little hug. It didn't take a second, but it was for
    Generalleutnant Graf von Greiffenberg a remarkable display of affection.

    "May I ask why you're going to Indochina?"

    "I presume that's a personal question?"

    "Of course."

    "I think we're going in there," Lowell said. "We just sent a bunch of airplanes over there."

    "On an old aircraft carrier called the Card," the Graf said. "It stuck in my mind because it was a
    rather odd name."

    "My, you do keep current, don't you?" Lowell asked, lightly sarcastic. "What else can you tell
    me that I didn't know?"

    "How about a quote from MacArthur?" the Graf said. "Don't get involved in a war on the Asian
    land mass"

    "I like the other one better," Lowell said. "There is no substitute for victory." I'm afraid we'regoing to do the same thing we did in Korea. Spend a lot of money, kill a lot of people, and when the war is over, be just about where we were when we started."

    "I was in China as a young officer," the Graf said. "A very young officer, come to think of it. I came away with the impression that there is no way western armies could win. It would be Russia times ten."

    He waved Lowell into one of four identical high-backed red leather armchairs facing a low table
    and settled himself in an opposing chair. They both put their feet on the table.

    "The only chance we have is mobility," Lowell said.

    "I just came from Cologne by helicopter," the Graf said. "Thirty-odd minutes. By road it's two
    and a half hours. In this weather it would take four or five."

    "I didn't hear a chopper," Lowell said, surprised.

    "It was French, I'm afraid," the Graf said. "An Alonette."

    "Wait till you see what we have on the drawing boards," Lowell said loyally. "And even starting
    to come off the line."

    "I've heard," the Graf said. "Is that what they have you doing, Craig? War plans?"

    "That's a tactful way of putting it," Lowell said. "I think of it more as Paper-shuffling."

    "And do you think it will work?" the Graf asked.

    "Will what work?"

    "The substitution of aircraft and helicopters for trucks?"

    "I'm afraid not," Lowell said seriously. "The logistics to keep them in the air boggle the mind.
    But we have not heard, I don't think, the last bugler sounding the charge."

    "Meaning what?"

    "Despite reports to the contrary, cavalry is not dead."

    "I still don't think I follow you," the Graf said.

    "That frightens me a little, Herr General Leutenint Graf," Lowell said, "if you, of all people, can't
    see where we're going."

    "Tell me," the Graf said seriously.

    "Good afternoon, gentlemen," Lowell said, half mockingly. "Our subject for the day is the role of
    cavalry in the modern army. There will be a verbal quiz following the lecture and a written
    examination on Friday."

    Von Greiffenberg laughed.

    "There have been from the earliest days three basic types of ground forces. These are the
    infantry, which takes and holds ground, the artillery, which bombards enemy positions prior to
    an infantry attack, or enemy forces when the enemy attacks; and the cavalry, whose primary characteristic is mobility. Mobility originally with horses and later with tracked vehicles gave the
    cavalry the ability to breach a weak point in the enemy lines and then to exploit that
    breakthrough by interrupting the enemy's lines of supply."

    "From time to time, throughout history, well-meaning people have upgefucht cavalry's noble

    The Graf chuckled. He knew what q'gefucht, a word coined by American G I in Germany,

    "The first such upgefuching occurred when the noble cavalry warrior was encased in several
    hundred pounds of armor, which required an enormous horse just to carry him and reduced his
    speed to about that of the foot soldier. He could no longer rush about, breaching the enemy's
    lines, and infantry soldiers found him an easy target. If all else failed, they could push him off his
    horse. Cavalry was dead."

    "Nobody told the Americans this, however, and they used cavalry in their revolution with great
    success. Cavalry was again alive and well, to the point where the Confederate cavalry of J. E. B.
    Stuart kept the Yankees from quickly winning the War Between the States for a longer period
    than the preponderance of forces indicated they should."

    "In the American Civil War, too, the amateur soldiers came up with something that truly
    offended traditionalists. They bastardized artillery's noble role. Everybody but the Americans on
    both sides knew that one put artillery in its place and kept it there until the battle was over. But
    not knowing this sacred rule, American cavalrymen hitched teams of horses to artillery pieces
    and galloped all over the battlefield with them, using them where they were needed at that
    moment, including, it must be noted, in the advance."

    "Comes Brother Gatling, shortly followed by Brother Maxim and Brother Browning, with their
    machine guns. Horses made a splendid target, and cavalry again was dead.
    "Comes a limey, name of Winston Churchill, who sees the requirement for a means of warfare to
    overcome his current problem, which is sort of a stalemate. Both he and the Germans are running
    out of infantrymen to send into the mouths of machine guns. Churchill's solution is a mechanical
    horse. It has tracks, which permit it to climb in and out of shell holes and across trenches. It has
    armor plate, which turns small-arms fire. It has the capability to move quickly about the
    battlefield and breach the enemy's lines at his weak points. He calls this strange device a tank."

    "After first making pro forma protestations that this device is the tool of the Devil and has no
    place in battle between Christian gentlemen, the Germans start building their own tanks. Too
    late. A name is needed for this new form of warfare, and since cavalry is obviously dead,
    someone decides that armor' has a nice ring to it. So the word is passed that cavalry is dead, and
    armor is born."

    "Comes the second War to End All Wars. A German chap named Guderian, who understands the
    role of cavalry, attacks the French. Even though they have more and better tanks than he does, they do not understand the role of cavalry and think of their tanks as mobile pillboxes for support
    of the infantry."

    "French tanks move at the speed of the French infantry. German tanks move like
    cavalry: They go as fast as they can move and to hell with their flanks. This, Herr
    Generalleutnant, is known as the Blitzkrieg, and shortly after Guderian puts it to work, the
    French are waving white flags."

    "That's very good," Von Greiffenberg said, laughing. "You've given this speech before, I take

    "Have I ever? But indulge me, I'm not through."

    "By all means."

    "On the American side we have some interesting generals. One of them is sort of a cavalryman
    by the name of Patton."

    "Sort of a cavalryman?"

    "He was an infantry officer," Lowell said, "but understood this was a mistake of judgment on his
    part. In his heart he was cavalry. He was quite a polo player, you know. Polo is not an infantry
    sport. Infantry takes walks in the woods."

    Von Greiffenberg chuckled.

    "And who were the other interesting' American generals?"

    "There were many, but for the purposes of this brief lecture, I will discuss only two. Both
    associated with the Second Armored Division. Ernest Harmon and his successor, I. D. White.
    Both cavalrymen. White, by the way, as a young aide-de-camp, laid out the golf course at Fort
    Knox from the back of a horse; and he, too, was one hell of a polo player. The important point
    here is that Harmon and White fought the Second Armored as cavalry. And Patton used his
    armored forces in the Third Anny as cavalry."

    "You really think that's the case?"

    "White took a real screwing," Lowell said. "He should have gone in the history books as the first
    American general ever to take Paris and the first American general ever to take Berlin. He was
    outside Paris Semis, I think when he was ordered to hold in place and let the Second French
    Armored pass through his lines for the honor of taking Paris. Later he had his first elements
    across the Elbe and was prepared to take Berlin when he was ordered to hold in place and let the
    Russians have it."

    "That must have hurt," Von Graffenberg said.

    "Yeah, but I'm digressing. So far as I'm concerned, the greatest cavalry maneuver in history was
    Patton's. In the Battle of the Bulge he disengaged two divisions, moved them a hundred milesthrough a blizzard, and had them attacking in forty-eight hours. That's cavalry!"

    "I agree, but I seem to be missing your point."

    "Since our tanks, our armor, had done so well, everybody jumped on the bandwagon and decreed
    that armor was the force of the future. They had disbanded cavalry during the war, and now they
    came out with a new insignia for armor. A tank. I. D. White, who was arguably the best if not the
    senior armor officer on active duty, insisted rather violently, I've been told that cavalry was not
    dead and demanded that cavalry sabers be superimposed on the new tank of armor insignia."

    "Was that White Von Greiffenberg asked, surprised.

    "That was White," Lowell said.

    "I never heard that before," the Graf said. "Odd. I should have thought Hasso von Manteuffel
    would have said something to me. He and White became close after the war, you know."

    "That was White," Lowell repeated. "And now we're finally at my point. The lecture is about
    over. It has no more come down from Mount Sinai graven on stone tablets that cavalry has to be
    mounted on horses or tracked vehicles than it has come down that infantry has to be armed with
    pointed sticks or machine guns. Cavalry is a technique, a philosophy, not a particular tool."

    "And you're saying the new cavalry horse is the helicopter?"

    "Absolutely," Lowell said. "With what we have now, we can pick up a squad of troops and three
    days' rations and ammunition, and deliver them at one hundred miles an hour, rested and ready to
    go, anywhere in a hundred-mile radius. We've got helicopters on the drawing boards that can
    pick up a 155-millimeter cannon, its crew, and its basic load of ammunition, and in an hour set it
    down on a hilltop someplace a hundred miles away."

    "That sounds like artillery," the Graf said.

    "Mobile artillery was stolen from cavalry in the Civil
    War," Lowell said. "It's time we took it back."

    "You're talking about a division, aren't you? Maybe even divisions?"

    "Absolutely," Lowell said. "Air cavalry divisions. The whole thing air-transportable."

    "And you think they'll work against a guerrilla army in Vietnam?"
    "I don't know," Lowell said. "We'll have to find out. I do know that conventional forces won't. If
    we use conventional forces, we'll have to carry the war to North Vietnam. Or even to China."

    It was a fun and interesting way to explain in simple terms just how cavalry "evolved".

    I'm just wondering if it's a reasonably accurate description.