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American Expeditionary Force

America entered the war with a small standing army that had last fought in the Spanish American War of 1898, the Phillipine-American war of 1899-1902, and the Expedition into Mexico to capture the revolutionary Pancho Villa. General John J. 'Blackjack' Pershing led the 1916 Expedition, and would command the American Expeditionary Force, the AEF, in Europe.

The United States declared itself an Associated Power rather than an Ally. The United States introduced conscription within three weeks of declaring war on April 6, 1917, but troops did not arrive in Europe in great numbers until 1918. Trained in the United States, they were retrained in Europe. Pershing planned to put Americans into combat when he had an army one one million men operating under American command, and resisted British and French requests to insert units into the line under European command. On December 31, 1917, there were 250,000 American soldiers in Europe, a number far below Pershing's goal, but one that would shortly be the number arriving each month.

On March 21, 1918, Germany launched Operation Michael, its first of five 1918 offensives, and drove the Allied line back, threatening, for the first time since 1914, Paris. British Prime Minister Lloyd George appealed to President Wilson for troops. Pershing agreed that American troops could be used as reinforcements in the British and French armies.

The AEF fought at Chateau Thierry in the Second Battle of the Marne, the St. Mihiel Offensive from September 12, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive from September 26.

No American tanks and few American planes ever made it to France, and the AEF relied on French tanks such as the Renault FT and French planes including the Nieuport 28 and SPAD XIII.