“To Save the Country is Paramount to All Other Considerations”: The Development of US Army Small Wars Doctrine from the Plains to the Philippines




Berger, Owen Willis

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This thesis describes the ways in which the United States Army developed a doctrine to fight the imperial “small wars” of the early twentieth century across Latin America and the Pacific. That doctrine was largely based upon decades of experience fighting Native Americans, Confederates, Klansmen, and striking union members, and refined by experience during the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars. Furthermore, the ways army officers discussed and approached their opponents on the imperial frontier often mirrored past discussions of Native Americans and, as often, organized labor in North America. Finally, this doctrine proved remarkably resilient, and formed the foundation for later American counterinsurgency theory, and was even incorporated into some aspects of international military law in the later twentieth century.



Imperialism, Military history, American expansion, Army professionalization, Counterinsurgency