By Major Lee 0. Hill Q.M.C.
Quartermaster Review March-April 1952
Major Lee 0. Hill, Chief, Remount Branch, Field Service Division, OQMG, was born on a ranch in Texas and was at home in the saddle at a very early age. Then he enlisted in the Army he merely transferred the locale of his animal management activities. He grew up in service at the former Reno QM Remount Depot, Fort Reno, Oklahoma. Except for a short period attending Officer Candidate School and serving briefly overseas, his service has been confined to Remount duty.-ED.
CONTRARY to general belief, there still exists in the military establishment a remnant of animal activity. While it is true that the Cavalry as such is no longer an arm of the service, horses and mules are being used to a limited extent. Their uses in the zone of the interior are confined largely to mounted guard duty, policing at posts and stations, and for ceremonial purposes at military funerals. Two mounted organizations, the 35th QM Pack Company and the 4th Field Artillery Battalion, both stationed at Camp Carson, Colo., are trained and ready for active assignment or as sources of cadres in case of expansion.
The Korean conflict has proven beyond a doubt that there is no substitute for animal pack transportation in terrain such as has been encountered in that theater. The Chinese Communists have not overlooked this means of transport. Our forces have captured a number of their animals, and on the drive north from Seoul late in May 1951, the 1st Cavalry Division moved them by trucks. The QMC 6 x 6 truck is readily adaptable for this purpose and required no major change. In the mountainous sector north of Seoul to the Imjin River, captured animals were used to pack in barbed wire, steel stakes, mines, etc. As an interesting sidelight, one of the animals captured was a former U. S. mule about whose identity there was not the slightest doubt. His Preston brand was 08K0. This mule presumably was shipped to the China-Burma-India theater during World War II and fell into the hands of the Communists when the Chinese Nationals moved to Formosa.
Virtually every army, except the U. S. Army, uses animal pack transportation whenever and wherever the tactical and strategical situation indicates its proper use. During 1948-49 more than 10,000 pack mules were shipped to Greece. General Van Fleet, who was serving in Greece at that time, and who is now commanding the Eighth Army in Korea, is known to have remarked that the American pack mule played a major role in bringing about a successful conclusion to the fighting in that country. However, the utilization of pack animals today must, of necessity, be for special tactical situations and conditions for which nothing else will suitably answer the purpose. To quote a former Cavalry officer, who has recently completed a tour of service in Korea, “Pack mules are unquestionably the best and most certain supply line link between the most forward dumps and the front line units. Regardless of whether it is dark or daylight, or the inclemency of weather, a mule will carry a load and practically go any place a soldier can except up a ladder. There is no substitute.”
The Remount Branch is now engaged in the procurement of horses and mules for Turkey, a sizable percentage of this procurement being comprised of breeding stock. In order to carry out the Foreign Aid Animal Procurement Programs, it has been necessary to activate the animal holding facilities at the former Reno QM Remount Depot, Fort Reno, Okla., where the animals, upon purchase, are sent for processing and conditioning prior to being shipped overseas. Animals shipped under this program have, according to reports, arrived in excellent condition, have measured up to required specifications, and are serving most efficiently the purposes for which they are intended.
During World War II the Quartermaster Corps ventured into a new and untried field of activity-war dog training. Prior to modern times, the ancient Greek warriors made use of large dogs, thought to be the prototype of the modern mastiff, equipping them with heavy spiked collars similar to those sometimes used today. The Romans ‘drafted’ the same species for attack work, recognizing them as a definite Army unit.
Later on, during the Middle Ages, war dogs often received the same complement of armor as did heavy-weight chargers. They frequently were used to defend convoys. During the Seven Years War, dogs were used as messengers by the army of Fredrick the Great. Napoleon himself urged one of his generals to employ them as outposts in the Egyptian campaign at the end of the eighteenth Century. Two centuries earlier, on this side of the Atlantic, they helped the Spaniards conquer Mexico and Peru.
It was the North American Indian who developed the use of dogs for pack and draft work as well as for sentry duty. Dogs were being used for these purposes long before the Spaniards introduced horses on the North and South American continents.
At the beginning of the present century most of the European powers had come to realize that dogs could be of value to their armies. Ambulance dogs proved a success when tested by the Russians during the Russo-Japanese War. The French were quick to utilize dogs as ammunition carriers when they found that the strong Pyrenean type could carry as many as 500 cartridges in a single load. In desert and mountain warfare, dogs have played an important role as sentries and in helping to locate hidden gun posts. The Bulgarians conscripted their sheep dogs during the Balkan upheaval in 1910, and the Italians found it worth their while in 1911 to ship some of their shaggy, white-coated Maremma sheep dogs from the country around Rome to Tripoli, where they were picketed in sand dugouts a few hundred yards ahead of the sentries. The British, too, employed dog sentries on the Abor expedition in the Himalayas.
One of the interesting features of the Spanish Morocco War was the use made of dogs by the Riffs. The animals were camouflaged in draperies which, in the hazy desert visibility, looked like a native’s burnous and made them indistinguishable from their owners. Trained to run in front of the lines, they served to attract the Spanish fire and thereby reveal gun positions.
In May 1914 during a review, the Russian Imperial army displayed its dogs working under fire, carrying ammunition bags of 100 or more cartridges and drawing miniature Maxims. They were also trained as couriers.
In World War I the Germans employed up to 30,000 messenger and ambulance dogs. The French used them for more varied work; to what extent is shown by the fact that at the time of demobilization in 1919 they had to dispose of more than 15,000. During the years 1914 to 1918 French military canine casualties exceeded 3,500 killed and 1,500 missing.
In this same conflict both the French and Belgian armies used draught dogs, and during the severe winter of 1915 some 400 sledge dogs, mostly Huskies, were brought from Canada. These operated in the deep snow and nearly brought to a halt all activities in the Vosges mountains. It is recorded that one section of these dogs took but four days to haul ninety tons of ammunition to a battery which men, horses, and mules had vainly struggled for a fortnight to reach. When the snow melted the dogs were harnessed to a small-gage light railway and proved more useful than horses in that precipitous country. The cost of their “keep” was small, for there was an abundance of horse flesh and a couple of teams of seven dogs each were able to do the work of five horses.
A major obstacle to movement during World War I was the heavy, sticky mud. It was in traversing such terrain that the value of messenger dogs was demonstrated for they could navigate it with comparative ease while men were floundering and almost stalled. Bloodhounds were sometimes employed to prevent recently captured German prisoners from escaping to their own lines.
For several years before the war, Germany had conducted war dog trials under nationally uniform rules. Thousands of dogs were trained to serve as messenger and sentry dogs and in other capacities. During the fighting in France, the Germans were reported to have used military dogs for patrol work.
For several years prior to the outbreak of war in the Pacific area, the Japanese had been transferring from German to Japanese registry large numbers of dogs of types suitable for training, and there was evidence that these were trained for military service. The Japanese are known to have made considerable use of dogs in the Chinese theater, having installed a training station at Nanking.
Our training began with one War Dog Reception & Training Center. At the cessation of hostilities, dog training had expanded to four additional training centers, one of which was used exclusively for breeding and training sledge dogs. In July 1948 dog training within the continental United States was transferred to the jurisdiction of Army Field Forces, where it remained until recently when it became the responsibility of The Provost Marshal General, to be conducted by the Military Police Corps. Their training center is currently being activated at Camp Carson, Colo.
Designation of the responsible service for dog training in the various theaters outside the continental United States rests with the theater commander. Within the European Command, this responsibility has been delegated to the theater Quartermaster, who has established and maintains this activity as a branch of the Quartermaster school in Lenggries, Germany. Although most of the several hundred dogs in use throughout the European Command have been trained at this school for sentry work, training for tactical purposes is also conducted.
While mechanized warfare has definitely streamlined Remount activities, personnel strengths having reduced to an almost irreducible minimum, it seems altogether likely that ”there will always be a Remount.”