END OF EXPANSION OF GROUND FORCES
It proved in the long run that expansion of AGF tactical forces virtually terminated in the middle of 1943. The activation of 4 divisions in July and of 2 in August fulfilled the 90-division program. Thereafter no new divisions were organized and one, the 2d Cavalry Division, colored, was inactivated overseas. Nondivisional units of AGF type continued to be activated through 1944, especially service units, but also certain types of combat units in large numbers, notably heavy artillery and combat engineers. But these activations were offset by inactivation of other units, or by decision not to activate units as planned. Individual AGF units required less manpower after the middle of 1943 than previously, because of reduction in tables of organization. New units were added without increase of combined unit strength. When the war ended in Europe, T/O strength of all AGF-type units (2,502,000 enlisted men on 31 March 1945) was about the same as for all AGF-type units already mobilized on 30 June 1943 (2,471,000 enlisted men on that date). (See Study No.3) Combined strength of all AGF units of combat types only, in March 1945, was hardly greater than that of combat units already mobilized on 31 December 1942, although many combat units were added after 1942. (See Tables V and VI.)
It is important to keep in mind that, while the Army as a whole showed a net growth of almost 3,000,000 in 1943 and 1944 and while the combatant arms, as arms, continued to expand, the combined strength of combat units (other than Air Force) hardly grew after 1942, and the combined strength of all AGF units, including service units, hardly grew after the middle of 1943.
It was not intended in July 1943 that expansion of AGF unit strength should cease. The troop basis of 1 July 1943 allotted an enlisted strength of 2,823,000 for all AGF units, both combat and service, by 31 December 1943. Cut from the corresponding allotment of 3,157,000 in the troop basis of November 1942, the new figure represented a troop basis reduction of 334,000. But since only 2,471,000 were as yet mobilized on 30 June, the figure of 2,823,000 called for an increase of 352,000 in AGF units in the last six months of 1943. It has just been stated that AGF units were at about the same T/O strength in March 1945 as in June 1943. Hence in the long run AGF units not only suffered a troop basis reduction of 334,000 on 1 July 1943, but in net result failed to receive the increment of 352,000 which even the reduced troop basis of 1 July 1943 provided.
Difficulty in meeting the 1 July troop basis was not long in revealing itself. Inductions did not meet stated requirements. The 42d Division, activated in July, waited until September to receive enough personnel to begin basic training. The 65th Division, activated in August (the last infantry division to be activated), waited until January 1944 for the same purpose.87 It was this division whose activation the Army Ground Forces in the preceding April had proposed to defer. In general, Ground Force units in the United States, after a brief period at full strength in the spring of 1943, suffered from personnel shortages until August 1944, despite continuing deletion of units from the mobilization program. (See Table IV.)
On 21 September 1943, having been short-shipped 26,710 men from reception centers in August, the Army Ground Forces described its situation to the War Department.88 Within the last few weeks, it was pointed out, 10,817 men had been taken from infantry divisions as overseas replacements. Wholesale losses were occurring under liberal discharge policies recently adopted. Approximately 55,000 men had recently been transferred from the Ground Forces to the Army Specialized Training Program in the colleges. Some 15,000 had been transferred to the Air Forces as aviation cadets in three months. Hence shortages were spreading; newly activated units were short 75,000; even units alerted for overseas movement were understrength. One expected source of personnel, the surpluses left by application of reduced tables of organization, would yield relatively little, because with units short under the old tables little surplus would be created by reorganization under the new tables. The Army Ground Forces therefore requested full shipment of newly inducted men. The War Department replied that some of the causes of shortage were temporary (as indeed they were, though new temporary causes seemed always to be appearing), and announced that the situation would soon be relieved by a reissue of the troop basis, in which the number of units to be mobilized by the Ground Forces would again be cut.89
It had been planned in June to re-examine the mobilization program in September, after evaluation of the bomber offensive and the Russian summer campaign. A new troop basis was issued as of 4 October, again projecting the Army to 31 December 1943. Strength of combat-type units was cut by 190,000, AGF service units being somewhat increased. Despite the efforts of the Operations Division (OPD) War Department General Staff, to impose a ceiling on service units,90 about 125,000 enlisted men were added to forces of this type, of whom only 25,000 were for AGF service units designed for close association with combat troops. The fears felt at AGF headquarters came true; largely for want of service troops the Desert Training Center and the maneuver areas were gradually shut down in the winter of 1943-1944, to the considerable detriment of advanced training of combat troops.
The troop basis of 4 October slashed the tank destroyer program and applied to the antiaircraft program the major amputation desired by General McNair. Units of these two arms were inactivated and their personnel converted to other branches, in which they were used not so much to form new units as to fill shortages in units in the United States or to furnish replacements for units overseas. The artillery objective, raised in the troop basis of 1 July, was now somewhat lowered; but activated of field artillery battalions had to be continued to meet even this more moderate aim, so small had been the artillery program in the earlier stages of mobilization. The combat engineer program was also cut. The program of 90 divisions for 1943 remained unchanged, all reductions in combat troops coming in nondivisional units, whose projected strength, per division, fell from about 15,270 in the troop basis of 1 July to about 13,000 in the troop basis of 4 October.
In summary, the 4 October troop basis, the final form of the troop basis for 1943, dealt with the manpower shortage by reducing the requirement for ground combat troops. Where on 24 November 1942 it had been planned to have 2,811,000 enlisted men in ground combat units by the end of 1943, on 4 October 1943 it was planned to have only 2,284,000. This figure was substantially realized. T/O enlisted strength of ground combat units active on 31 December 1943 was 2,282,000. Actual strength was less, because of continuing shortages. T/O strength was further reduced in 1944 by inactivations.
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Last updated 5 August 2005