Army Ground Forces Study No. 4
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 1944 TROOP BASIS
The 1944 Troop basis was published under date of 15 January 1944. It called for an Army of 6,955,000 enlisted men, slightly reduced from the earlier figure of 7,004,000 to allow for passage of enlisted men into the warrant officer and commissioned grades. With officers, who were henceforth included in the troop basis, the authorized strength of the Army aggregated 7,700,000. This strength was attained by April 1944. But while the Army as a whole was now at its planned ultimate strength, shortages continued to exist in various components. The Army therefore continued to grow. Actual strength reached 8,000,000 by July 1944 and was approaching 8,300,000 at the time of victory in Europe in May 1945. The War Department, while obtaining special authorization to carry this overstrength, attempted through 1944 to cut back the strength of the Army to the 7,700,000 authorized in the troop basis. With the continuance of war in Europe this idea was given up. In May 1945 the troop basis was raised to 8,290,993. Thus actual strength was finally covered with a troop basis authorization. This figure became the point of departure for reductions subsequent to victory in Europe, not treated in the present study.
It was doubted from the beginning whether the troop basis of January 1944 could be implemented—i.e., whether actual needs could be met within the 7,700,000 ceiling. The main reason was that the troop basis made inadequate allowance far the “pipeline” men in hospitals, in replacement centers and depots, in reassignment centers, in transit or on furlough under policies of rotation between the United States and overseas stations. “I doubt,” wrote General McNair in February 1944,” that the troop basis can be balanced because there is an insufficient allowance for pipelipe—the invisible horde of people going here and there but seemingly never arriving.”94 With more men always in the, pipeline than the troop basis allowed for, men were not available, within the 7,700,000, ceiling, for anticipated requirements. These requirements were considerable.
Even after the idea of adding fifteen divisions was abandoned, the troop basis of 15 January 1944 called for new units requiring half-a-million men in the three major forces. The Army Ground Forces required a net increase of about 150,000 for new units—chiefly AGF service units, combat engineers, and heavy artillery. For some of these units the Army Ground Forces had been wholly unable to plan. When the troop basis of 15 January 1944 was delivered at the headquarters of the Army Ground Forces on 27 January it was found to contain units on which no previous information had been received, though they were needed for the invasion of France in the coming June, and now scheduled for activation by the Army Ground Forces in February and needed for the invasion of France that took place the following June. Certain activations scheduled for 1943 but deferred because of shortages in receipt of personnel also remained to be carried out in 1944. Some old units were also short; divisions on the Six Months List were short almost 10,000 infantrymen; divisions not on the Six Months List were short 32,500; nondivisional engineers were short 12,000. Heavy losses overseas in 1944 were expected, for which replacements had to be made ready.95
In addition, further demands on the troop basis, not provided for in January, developed in 1944. Operations at Cassino, Italy, having shown the value of heavy cannon in comparison with bombers, the artillery program was again increased in May 1944 by 34 heavy battalions, chiefly of 8-inch and 240-mm howitzers.96 This made a total of 143 battalions of heavy artillery. On 30 September 1942 the Army Ground Forces had recommended 101 for the end of 1943, but only 54 had been approved, and as late as 1 January 1944 only 61 were in fact active, some of them in very early stages of training. Over 100 artillery battalions of calibres above 105-mm were activated in 1944. Requirements for infantry replacements in 1944 as in 1943, also exceeded all advance provisions made by the War Department.
Since the troop basis of January 1944 authorized no increase in the strength of the Army over that authorized for 1943 (though not attained until April 1944) and since the War Department did not intend to exceed this authorization, it was desired that manpower for new requirements in 1944 should be obtained by internal distribution within the Army. Since 1942 the War Department had looked forward to a time when personnel could be redistributed to increase tactical forces. Measures of economy initiated in the winter of 1942-43, including the establishment of the War Department Manpower Board, have been noted above. It had been hoped that the desired readjustment, within a fixed ceiling, might occur in 1944.
Plans for economy were again stated you 20 January 1944, in a memorandum of G-3 for the Chief of Staff, U.S. Army, circulated in photostat to the headquarters of the Army Ground Forces.97 Proposed economies—included “inactivation of units rendered surplus by the changing pattern of the war” (meaning chiefly antiaircraft and tank destroyer units so far as the Army Ground Forces was concerned), “reduction in Zone of Interior activities due to decrease in the training load” (such activities were relatively small in AGF), and “the exercise of drastic economy in the use of manpower both in the United States and overseas.” It was stated that considerable transfer of personnel between the major commands in the United States would be necessary, with a net balance of transfers
from the Air Forces to the Ground and Service Forces. The War Department Manpower Board was to extend its investigations to overseas theaters.
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Last updated 5 August 2005