3. The lessons of the Great War were applied only reluctantly
Following the war, then known globally as the Great War, some younger officers in the American services recognized the need to modernize. Submarines, airplanes, and armored vehicles had all become effective weapons of war. The need to equip the US Army and Navy with modern weapons, and develop the tactics to use them in war, was recognized by some officers, though for the most part, more senior officers disagreed. So did Congress, at least as pertains to the Army. American public sentiment tilted towards isolationism during the 1920s. The Army’s role was seen as defensive, as it was unlikely it would be deployed in foreign conflicts ever again. The Navy too was viewed as a defensive measure, the first line of national defense, without the need for long-range, high endurance submarines. Congress annually spent more on the Navy than the Army, both for procurements and operations.
Officers from both services who argued for modernized offensive weapons and tactics were viewed by their seniors as troublesome mavericks. Among them were the Army’s George Patton, who pushed hard for the development of armored divisions and warfare. Billy Mitchell developed the Army Air Services and the enmity of the US Navy by demonstrating Army Air Service bombers could sink battleships. The Navy pointed out the results would be different if the battleship was shooting back. Nonetheless, other Naval officers, led by Captain William Moffett, began to lobby for a Naval Air Service, including aircraft carriers. Mavericks in both services encountered opposition from senior military leadership and the money dealers in Congress, yet for the most part, their views were eventually vindicated. During the 1920s however, the weapons they pushed for were slow in coming. World events in the 1930s proved the accuracy of their views.