The AEF

The American Expeditionary Force was the the US military force in France during World War 1. It was commanded by General John J "Black Jack" Pershing.

While Pershing was appointed to command the AEF in May 1917, under his generalship it had a negligible effect on the war until the middle of 1918, due to Pershing's insistence that the troops be well trained before being sent to the trenches, as well as his insistence that US forces not be divided up piecemeal and placed under British or French command.

By May 1918 the AEF was getting ready to take up a position on the line. In May 1918, half a million Americans were under arms in France. By July, their numbers had swelled to a full million. This created a logistical nightmare, cruise ships were pressed into service to transport the men across the Atlantic, and the other Allies helped by lending the United States the required transport ships.

The realities on the ground, especially during the Aisne Offensive, meant many American units were placed under French command as the troops were badly needed to stem the German advances. However, after the battle the situation changed - in June 1918 for the first time French units were assigned to support American ones, rather than the other way around. In the final three months of the war, the AEF took up its own place on the line as Pershing had always intended, with over a million American and French soldiers - no small feat, given the US military had to be built up almost from nothing in the space of a few years and moved, and supplied, from halfway across the world.

The million man AEF was disbanded after the war, but the experience gained by the doughboys was invaluable when the time came for the United States to deploy a sixteen million man army in World War 2.

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