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



The redistribution of officers just discussed applied to officer strength in existence at the beginning of 1944. Procurement of new officers posed problems during 1944 even more difficult than those of redistribution. One problem was to adjust existing production facilities, which had been based on the branch distribution of officer requirements for mobilization, to the very different distribution of requirements for mobilization, to the very different distribution of requirements for combat replacements. Once the procurement machine was retooled for its new function, it remained necessary to recruit candidates in sufficient numbers to keep the machine running at planned capacity.

During the first six months of 1944 -- as final preparations for the assault on the European continent were being made -- the AGF officer candidate system fell to its lowest point of productivity since 1941. By 15 June 1944, only 577 candidates were attending in the AGF schools, in comparison to 21,000 a year before and 9,000 four months later. (See Table II.) The continuous crisis of officer procurement that characterized the latter half of 1944 and the early months of 1945 was in large measure a consequence of the extremely low productive level to which the system had been allowed to sink by June 1944. It must be borne in mind that the officer candidate schools were not flexible, or responsive quickly to demands for increased production. Between the decision to increase output of candidates and the availability of officers for use as overseas replacements, a minimum of eight months elapsed -- one month for publication of quotas and selection and delivery of candidates to school, four months in school, and three months commissioned service prior to shipment overseas. Once school enrollment dropped to very low levels for a period of four months, sudden large demands for officers had to be met from other sources. Three such sources were available and all three were used in 1944. One was a branch pool of surplus officers. Another was surplus officers of other branches who could be transferred to the branch in which demand was heavy. The third was appointment of officers overseas. During the period in early and middle 1944 when OCS output was insufficient to meet overseas demands, the first two of these sources took up the slack. Later in 1944, when it was discovered that the


greatest OCS output obtainable in the United States was too small, increasing reliance was placed on overseas appointments.

Several influences combined to permit the officer candidate system to run down and to remain largely idle between the cessation of output of officer fillers and the resumption of production for replacement purposes. The thinking of those responsible for establishing OCS quotas was doubtless influenced by the earlier orientation of officer procurement. Accustomed to gauging officer needs in terms of troop basis augmentations, they naturally concluded, late in 1943, that since no additions to the ground Troop Basis were in prospect, officer candidate production should taper off. This carry-over from the period of mobilization was intensified by the existence of a large surplus of officers in late 1943. This surplus was ample to cover the only current overseas replacement requirement -- the pool of 18,500 officers directed by the War Department in March 1943. There were, in addition to the replacement pool, upwards of 10,000 ground arms officers surplus in the latter part of the year. With all anticipated replacement requirements provided for and to spare, and with large calls for replacements still delayed, it was not inappropriate to think of reducing the OCS establishment to a standby level. This was all the more natural in view of the severe problems that the officer surplus had generated in 1943, and of the strong criticism leveled at Army Ground Forces by The Inspector General and the Deputy Chief of Staff for its handling of the surplus. Such an overproduction of officers as had plagued Army Ground Forces in 1943 had to be avoided in 1944. The surplus that had caused so much trouble seemed to provide insurance against overseas demands. Officer strength suffered from maldistribution -- there were far too many officers in antiaircraft and tank destroyers, in which large cutbacks were current and impending. Conversion of these officers to arms in which they could be used would build up a backlog against overseas demands and eke out low production in the officer candidate schools.

Reduction of the officer candidate establishment began in September 1943. Monthly quotas, as has been noted, had been low throughout the year. In September, the 1944 Troop Basis giving no indication of further expansion in the ground arms, the Chief of Staff, Army Ground Forces, suggested that the Cavalry, Coast Artillery, Armored, and Tank Destroyer schools might be eliminated.128 No decision was made, but on 26 October, when the December quotas were announced, none was allotted to Cavalry, Tank Destroyer, or Coast Artillery. The February 1944 quotas were the last for Antiaircraft School. With the graduation of classes then in session, these four schools closed -- Cavalry, Tank Destroyer, and Coast Artillery in March, Antiaircraft in June. The Armored School was scheduled to close in September; its fate will be discussed below.

Only three schools continued to receive monthly quotas after December, but the numbers admitted dwindled. Quotas for these schools from December 1943 through May 1944 were as follows:129



Field Artillery



December 1943





January 1944





February 1944





March 1944





April 1944





May 1944







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