Army Ground Forces Study No. 4
OPERATIONAL NEEDS IN 1942 EFFECTS ON THE ARMY GROUND FORCES
These calls upon the War Department reflected operational needs, both in the defense commands, in which certain types of forces, especially antiaircraft, were assigned to combat stations, and in the overseas theaters which were then beginning to be built up.
In April 1942 first priority was given to a plan to ship 1,000,000 men to United Kingdom for employment in a cross-channel operation in April 1943 (“Roundup”) or in a smaller operation late in 1942 (“Sledge hammer”) if assistance to the Russians became absolutely imperative.17 The plan was gradually modified as the British position in Egypt grew more critical, and in July was abandoned in favor of an operation is northwest Africa (“Torch”) Meanwhile troops were shipped to Great Britain, especially
service troops to prepare the way for combat forces. In August a limited offensive was mounted in the South Pacific. Other troops, chiefly in service, air, and antiaircraft units, with here and there an infantry regiment for local protection, were scattered in quiet theaters from Alaska to the Persian Gulf.
These operations had pronounced effects on mobilization and training in the Army Ground Forces. Since AGF units were generally understrength, and since the output of replacement training centers was inadequate, the filling of divisions and other units to T/O strength, in preparation for overseas movement, required transfer of trained personnel from other units destined to remain longer at home. These units in turn either remained understrength or received untrained men from reception centers, repeated parts of their training program, and finally filled their last shortages by tapping still others units. From some old divisions whole regiments or combat teams were bodily removed. On 24 July 1942, the 30th, 31st, 33d, 38th, and 40th Divisions lacked regiments or other major parts. Thus crippled, it was difficult for them to engage in maneuvers or advanced divisional exercises. New divisions could not attain full strength on activation because other elements of the Army had higher priority on inductees. Training of new divisions was thus delayed at the start, or, once began, was interrupted by the receipt of fillers direct from civilian life at spasmodic and unpredictable intervals. Meanwhile the attempt to create three or four new divisions a month meant that nondivisional units could not receive personnel. The Army Ground Forces preferred to pass a tactical unit as an integral whole through progressive phases of training, but it proved impossible to carry out this policy. Some small units remained at cadre strength for months after activation. Most large units, with the constant attrition and turnover of personnel, found themselves training men at different levels at the same time.18
Drained by supplying cadres, officer candidates, aviation cadets, etc., and by furnishing personnel for overseas assignment, AGF units could with difficulty replace their losses because of the demand of the Army Air Forces and the Service of Supply for inductees. (See Table III, with annex.) The Air Corps, which had not grown as rapidly as the ground arms in the prewar mobilization of 1941, was given high priority by the War Department in 1942. The Services of Supply, as projected in the troop basis of January 1942, was smaller in proportion to combat forces than it had been in 1917 and 1918. With the cross-channel plan came new demands for port battalions, construction units, signal corps, and other service elements for use in Great-Britain. In May the required proportion of service elements in the invasion force was estimated at 30 percent, a figure to which General Eisenhower, then Chief of the Operations Division of the War Department, found it necessary to consent, though observing that with so many service troops the necessary combat troops could not be shipped.19 But on 2 June the proportion of service troops in the force had risen to 48 percent.20
In May, to keep up with activations already effected or planned, the President authorized the induction of an additional 750,000 men in 1942, raising the objective set in the 1942 troop basis from 3,600,000 to 4,350,000.21 Of the 750,000 added, 250,000 were earmarked for the Air Forces, 250,000 were already used by overdrafts on the troops basis of January, and most of the remaining 250,000 were committed to new units authorized for the Services of Supply.22 The allotment of 4,350,000 was soon overdrawn. A revised troop basis issued in July represented an increment, for units to be mobilized in 1942, of 851,536 men over the troop basis of January. Only 13 percent of this figure was for combat units in the Army Ground Forces, and almost two-thirds of this 13 percent was for antiaircraft artillery.23
It was generally agreed in the summer of 1942 that activations, especially of service units, were getting out of hand. “There is evidence,” noted G-3 of the War Department on 11 June, “that in some cases sufficient forethought is not exercised to utilize units already provided for in the Troop Unit Basis.”24 In order to build up
their theaters, overseas commanders tended to request a great variety of useful but not indispensable special units; chiefs of branches wished to enlarge the usefulness of their branches to the Army; the War Department liberally granted requests, trusting to the judgment of the specialist or of the men on the spot. By September 1942 the number of enlisted men authorized to put a division into combat had risen to 50,000, of which only 15,000 represented organic divisional strength.25 Medical troops alone amounted to 3,500 per division, in addition to the medical battalion organic in the division itself.26 G-3 of the War Department, in charge of the troop basis, observed ironically that service units could not be curtailed unless American soldiers, like Japanese, would consent to live on rice.27
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Last updated 5 August 2005