National Army (USA)

National Army (USA)

The National Army was the combined conscript and volunteer force that was formed by the United States War Department in 1917 to fight in World War I. The National Army was formed from the old core of the regular United States Army, augmented by units of the United States National Guard and a large draft of able-bodied men.

At its greatest size, the National Army had more than two million men. Promotions within the National Army were quick, with most United States Army officers receiving double and triple promotions within a space of only two years. Dwight Eisenhower entered the National Army as a Captain and was a Lieutenant Colonel one year later. Douglas MacArthur was also advanced quickly in the National Army, rising from Major to Brigadier General in two years.

The National Army was disbanded in 1920 and all personnel who had held ranks in the National Army were reverted to Regular Army status. George S. Patton, who had been a Colonel in the National Army, returned to the Regular Army as a Captain. Some, such as Douglas MacArthur, maintained their wartime rank in the Regular Army. For those keeping their wartime ranks the reality was, however, that they would usually remain at that specific rank for years. This often resulted in talented officers leaving service in the interwar years.

During World War II, the Army of the United States was formed as a successor to the National Army. The Army of the United States operated on the same principles as its predecessor, combining Regular Army, National Guard, and conscript forces into one fighting unit. The Army of the United States also incorporated Reserve forces, something that the National Army had not done, since in World War I the military reserves were a very new concept. Colloquially, the term "National Army" has continued to be used to refer to both war-time Armies, and the Conscript forces during the Post World War II Draft.

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