AGF Study, NO. 6: The Procurement and Branch Distribution of Officers



By 16 March 1943, when Army Ground Forces assumed control, the number of candidates in AGF schools had already begun to decline (see Table II). In 1943 the problem was to make exact calculation of future requirements, in the hope that both underproduction and overproduction might be avoided.54 Overproduction of officers was wasteful of manpower, added to difficulties of administration, necessitated the retraining of individuals, and shut the door to promotion to men newly inducted into the Army. Despite repeated reductions in numbers of officer candidates, Army Ground Forces failed to avoid overproduction in 1943. Future requirements, together with other variables, proved impossible to calculate exactly.

The danger of overproduction became apparent only gradually. When the War Department, making the first move to check the output of the OCS, reduced the capacities of Ground Force candidate schools by almost 50 percent (by directive of 15 December 1942), Army Ground Forces protested strongly against the severity of the cut.55 Army Ground Forces wished a 25 percent overstrength in officers in troop units. This overstrength had been authorized by the War Department on 27 March 1942, but had been impossible to realize under conditions of general shortage. Officer overstrength had several uses. As an important element in the training program for 1943, Army Ground Forces planned to send officers in large numbers to advanced courses in the service schools. Units from which officers were detached for this purpose needed an overstrength in order to retain enough officers to conduct training. Overstrength also provided a means by which units in the United States might supply, without damage to themselves, officer replacements for battle and nonbattle losses overseas. It also constituted a reserve against normal attrition, assuring that a unit would have its tabular component of officers at the time of embarkation. It was feared at Army Ground Forces, in December 1942, that the War Department had underestimated these requirements in reducing the OCS output. The War Department adhered to the reductions. Early in March 1943 the War Department cut the OCS again, in setting quotas for May.56 (See Table IV.)

When it received responsibility for determining OCS output, the first step taken by Army Ground Forces was to assemble the data necessary for calculation. Figures were obtained on the number of ground-arms officers who were surplus in the defense commands and theaters, the number on loan to Army Service Forces, the number in AGF pools and as overstrength in units, and the number currently being produced in the candidate schools. The total represented progress already made toward meeting future requirements.57 The method of computing requirements had been outlined by the War Department in the directive of 16 March. The main element in the calculation was the Troop Basis, which in the spring of 1943 called for a hundred divisions, with supporting units, by the end of 1943. Officers under this program had to be available ninety days before activation of new units. Future overhead requirements had also to be estimated, and the number of


ground officers for duty with the Air Forces. In addition, provision had to be made against expected attrition in troop units, and for a backlog of overseas officer replacements. For the latter, the War Department prescribed that 18,500 officers be held in readiness, mainly as overstrength in units. The following formula was developed by G-1, AGF, for calculating minimum quotas for officer candidate schools:58


Officer requirements to meet new activations (1943 Troop Basis)
2 percent annual attrition loss on above.
4 percent annual attrition loss on established units.
Estimate for overhead expansion and for arms and services with AAF.
War Department requirements for overseas loss replacements.


Surplus officers currently in units (in U.S. and overseas).
Surplus officers in pools.
Candidates currently in schools.

Increase resultant figure by 20 percent to cover failures in OCS.

Divide by number of OCS cycles remaining in 1943.

This calculation was made for each of the seven arms and quasi-arms in the Ground Forces.

Satisfactory calculation was difficult because of uncertainty of the main factor, the 1943 Troop Basis. On 14 April Army Ground Forces proposed to the War Department a general readjustment of mobilization, which would decelerate activations and more fully synchronize the expansion of ground troops with the development of shipping facilities.59 This program, if acted upon, would have reduced officer requirements for 1943, especially in tank destroyer and antiaircraft. No action was taken. On 4 May G-l AGF learned from G-1 and G-3 of the War Department that activation of ten divisions in 1944 could be expected, in addition to the hundred divisions planned for 1943.60 In June the outlook reversed itself; the hundred divisions for 1943 were cut to eighty-eight, with no knowledge as yet whether the remaining twelve (not to mention an additional ten) were only deferred to 1944 or permanently cancelled. In July a new 1943 Troop Basis was announced. It not only dropped twelve divisions and their supporting units, but embodied reductions in tables of organization on which Army Ground Forces had long been working. The number of enlisted men to be mobilized by 31 December 1943 in ground combat units was diminished by about 400,000. Some 30,000 fewer officers than previously expected would be required.61

On 28 April, long before these reductions became official, GL AGF reported that officer requirements for 1943 would be met, with a small surplus to spare, at dates varying from arm to arm from July to October 1943.62 0n those dates the candidate schools could be closed so far as 1943 requirements were concerned. It was undesirable to close the schools, in part because of need for them in the more distant future, mainly because opportunity for officer training was important to the morale of enlisted men. To keep open this opportunity, G-1 AGF produced a plan to admit twice as many men to officers candidate school as it was practicable to commission, the half not qualifying for commissions to be diverted by processes of elimination to advanced enlisted training. Nothing came of this plan.

On 8 May 1943, Army Ground Forces set quotas for the candidate schools for July.63 These were the first quotas established by Army Ground Forces. The directive of 16 March had specified that AGF determination should begin with the quotes for May.


The War Department had, however, already announced May quotas. Commitments already made to enlisted men selected for officer training, and the length of time necessary to assemble data and compute new estimates, were such that Army Ground Forces retained the May quotas as announced. June quotas, which had to be announced by the middle of April, were made the same as those for May, again because calculation of requirements had not been completed. July therefore represented the first new departure.

The July quotas, as may be seen from Table IV, applied drastic cuts except in the Infantry and Coast Artillery. Input into the Field Artillery, Armored, and Tank Destroyer candidate schools was reduced 67 percent, into the Antiaircraft 75 percent, and into Cavalry Schools 50 percent. Further reductions followed in August, and again in October (see Table IV). Announced respectively on 13 June and 10 August, these further reductions reflected the crystallization of the Troop Basis at the reduced level of 88 (later 90) divisions. Uncertainty remained such that capacities of the schools, i.e., their overhead and facilities as distinguished from actual monthly intake, were left relatively high until indications of the 1944 Troop Basis were forthcoming from the War Department, in the later months of 1943.64

The quotas for July and the following months, small though they were, called for more officer candidates than were actually needed. This was because certain groups of personnel, irrespective of officer requirements, had to be allowed to qualify for commissions. The officer surplus caused by the sudden reduction of the Troop Basis was made larger by the necessity of putting these groups through the candidate schools.

One of these groups, much the smallest, consisted of Volunteer Officer Candidates (see above). By 1943 the need for the VOC system had abated; the War Department greatly reduced it, but was reluctant to stop it entirely. To keep it going, a nominal VOC quota was awarded by Army Ground Forces to each replacement training center. The system disappeared naturally, late in 1943, when dependency ceased to carry exemption from the draft.65

Another group to be sent to officer candidate school were enlisted men selected overseas for officer training. There were no candidate schools overseas except in Great Britain and Australia. Selected candidates from other theaters returned to the United States. Room had to be made for them in AGF candidate schools.66

For planning purposes, in May and June 1943, it was necessary to include the ASTP. Army Ground Forces at that time considered allowing 25 percent of ASTP trainees, in general those who would eventually complete the "Advanced" or four-year college program, to qualify for commissions. Only the longest-range planning was affected. As events turned out, with the reduction of the Troop Basis and the rising need for enlisted replacements, it became impossible even to consider commissioning ASTP students. No quotas for them were ever allotted in the candidate schools.67

By far the largest group who, irrespective of requirements, had to be admitted to candidate schools were men in the Advanced ROTC. These were college students who had contracted to pursue military training during their last two years of college with a view to qualifying for a commission, and toward whom it was felt the government had an obligation. They were of three kinds in the spring of 1943:68


Second Year Advanced ROTC's. Members of the normal college class of 1943, having completed the entire ROTC course except for the summer camp, suspended since the outbreak of war.


Second Year Advanced ROTC's. Members of the college class of 1944, qualifying by acceleration of studies for graduation before or about 30 September 1943, and having an almost complete two-year advanced ROTC course.



First Year Advanced ROTC’s. Members of the normal college class of 1944, unable to graduate from college before induction into the Army, but with one year of advanced ROTC completed.

In general, ROTC students went to the officer candidate school of the arm in which their ROTC work had been done; but since ROTC units gave no Tank Destroyer or Armored training, some redistribution among the arms was necessary in assignment to officer candidate school.

These special groups, coming into officer candidate schools, threatened to squeeze out ordinary enlisted men of the Army Ground Forces. It was highly desirable, for morale purposes alone, irrespective of officer requirements, to allot nominal OCS quotas to tactical units and replacement training centers.

To lay plans for accommodating the various groups within the shrinking limits of OCS, and to clarify and stabilize the ultimate objectives in officer production, a committee of AGF staff officers prepared a detailed study on "procurement of commissioned officers," which was submitted to the War Department on 24 May 1943.69 The study presupposed the then existing hundred-division program. It recommended that 50 percent of OCS capacity be reserved for the college sources, first for ROTC students (until a date in 1944), then for graduates of ASTP. The remaining 50 percent of capacity would be reserved for troop units and replacement training centers, in numbers divided between Army Ground Forces and overseas theaters in proportion to relative strengths. Reduction of OCS capacities, ensuing upon reduction of the Troop Basis, made these features of the plan unworkable. Not only did the long-run arrangements for ASTP never materialize, but it proved impossible to maintain equality between the number of officer candidates from troop units and the number from the ROTC.

ROTC students had to go to officer candidate school. The ROTC problem, observed G-1 AGF on 15 July 1943, "is, with the possible exception of ASTP, one of the most sensitive administrative problems we have at this time."70 The difficulty was in putting through the limited capacities of the candidate schools a large number of ROTC students all of whom became available at about the same time. In this matter the plan set forth in the study of 24 May was followed. The process, or "agony" as G-1 called it, lasted until May 1944, ending sooner than was expected, because the number of ROTC students proved to be considerably less than the 15,790 provided for in the plan of May 1943.

Second-year advanced ROTC men, of the normal college class of 1943, (Group l on p. 30 above), having graduated from college in June, and lacking only the summer camp in the normal requirements for a reserve commission, proceeded to officer candidate school in June, July, August, and September. Pending the dates on which successive groups could be admitted, the War Department proposed that these men, who had had four years of military training under college conditions, be used as instructors at replacement training centers. Army Ground Forces objected, noting that ROTC students had lacked opportunity to train with modern equipment, and observing that replacement training was so important as to require the highest quality of instruction. Second-year advanced ROTC men were therefore kept in pools, where they were redistributed among the arms, given some instruction, and filtered gradually into the candidate schools.71

Second-year advanced ROTC men of the accelerated class of 1944 (Group 2 on p. 30 above) were allowed to remain in college until graduation, which occurred in most institutions before 30 September 1943. On graduation they went to officer candidate school. The number of these men proved less than was anticipated. It was planned that they should reach officer candidate school in October, November, and December. They began in fact to enter in September; in October and November they were so few that no OCS quotas were set especially for them, the few who appeared being admitted in addition to quotas. The absence of ROTC quotas in October and November accounts for the low figures for those months in Table IV. By December no ROTC’s of this group remained.


The third group began to enter in December, a month earlier than first planned.

First-year advanced ROTC students (Group 3 on p. 31 above) were considerably short of having completed the ROTC course. They were sent upon induction to replacement training centers, where they received basic training in the various arms and were selected for OCS, having to meet the usual requirements of intelligence and leadership. Those selected were then returned for further study to the colleges, where they were administered by the ASTP. They entered OCS, as room became available, in successive increments from December 1943 through May 1944.

During the period beginning with the reduced OCS quotas established by Army Ground Forces for July 1943 and lasting through May 1944, with the exception of October and November 1943, ROTC students formed a large majority of candidates admitted to OCS. Several hundred candidates from overseas were also admitted. From Ground Force units in the United States, for the last six months of 1943, and for all seven ground arms combined, less than two thousand officer candidates were selected. This was no more than had been admitted each month, for Antiaircraft alone, before July 1943. It was a minimum number judged necessary to maintain enlisted morale, and to avoid a situation in which college students would be given officer training while soldiers in the field denied it.

It proved impossible to prevent overproduction of officers in 1943 because, simultaneously with the sudden drop in requirements incident to the revision of the Troop Basis, which in itself created an officer surplus, roughly 10,000 ROTC students previously held on the campuses became available to the Ground Forces, and for reasons of policy had to be allowed to qualify for commissions. Although only about half of the available ROTC men graduated in 1943, the total number of officers graduated from AGF officer candidate schools during 1943 exceeded the total of 1942. In all, 58,210 were commissioned, of whom 5,257 were from the ROTC (see Table III).

As soon as it was foreseen, in September 1943, that the Troop Basis for 1944 would call for no further expansion of combat ground troops, suspension of OCS in certain arms and reduction in others was undertaken (see below).


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