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



The establishment of large officer candidate school quotas was only a necessary preliminary to solution of the replacement problem. Full solution depended on filling the quotas and training the officers. Army Ground Forces, having won its campaign to get quotas increased, now found that candidates were not available in sufficient numbers to fill the quotas. After June 1944 a vigorous publicity campaign was mounted -- reminiscent in all essentials of the campaign in the autumn of 1942 -- to find officer


candidates. The campaign failed, owing largely to the departure from AGF control of units from which candidates could be drawn. It became necessary, after September, to depend on War Department action to supply candidates from the Army at large in the United States and, increasingly as deployment overseas continued, from the combat theaters.149

Difficulties in finding suitable candidates were anticipated as soon as the War Department authorized quotas of 3,200 at The Infantry School for June - August. On 10 June Army Ground Forces instructed its commanders to give the candidate program the widest possible publicity, enjoining them actively to encourage applications even by men whose "work is important or replacement difficult."150 In view of the suspension of all except infantry and field artillery candidate schools, and of the small quotas for the latter, ground personnel of noninfantry units were to be encouraged to apply for Infantry Officer Candidate School.

This campaign met with only indifferent success. The sources of officer candidates in the Ground Forces were rapidly drying up. Nearly all the ROTC students had been entered in school by June 1944. The number of candidates returned from overseas, never more than a slender trickle, could not be increased greatly; owing to difficulties of transportation, they could not in any case be counted on until they had arrived in the United States. The principal sources of officer material were therefore the replacement training centers and tactical units under AGF control in the United States. Candidates in large numbers could doubtless have been drawn from the replacement centers, but this course was not entirely desirable. Replacement production had passed, during the first six months of 1944, through a series of upheavals, traced in Study No. 7, from which the program was only now emerging. Demands for enlisted replacements overseas were no less urgent than demands for officer replacements; it was not desirable to supply the latter at the expense of the former. A more fundamental objection to using replacement training centers as the chief source to meet expanded candidate calls was the relative inexperience of men in the centers. Trained for only four months, generally young, these men, it was thought, would be less useful for immediate use as combat replacements than men of greater maturity and military experience.151

The burden in supplying candidates to fill the swollen quotas after June fell on the tactical units still in the United States. Units, which had been allowed to send only 244 men to Infantry Officer Candidate School in June, were asked to supply 2,234 candidates in July and a peak of 2,545 in October (see Table IX). Circumstances were less propitious for releasing large numbers of well-trained enlisted men could scarcely have been imagined than those in which units, especially divisions, found themselves during the latter half of 1944. Since late 1943, divisions had been plucked repeatedly to provide enlisted replacements (see Study No. 7, The Replacement Question, and No. 12, The Building and Training of Infantry Divisions.) In March and April, climaxing nearly complete turnovers of personnel, they had received infusions of new blood from the disbanded ASTP and from the replacement centers. Forming these recruits into tactical teams was a major preoccupation of the divisions during the summer of 1944. The few experienced men left in the divisions were badly needed to conduct this essential training; they could ill be spared for officer candidate training. It was no wonder that commanders did not respond readily to pleas that even men whose "work was critical or whose replacement was difficult" be sent to officer candidate school.

Difficulties connected with training were not alone responsible for the failure of units to meet quotas. Units were being alerted and shipped overseas in ever-increasing numbers in the latter half of 1944. In July the strength of units arriving at ports of embarkation was about 70,000, in August 112,000. Shipments in September totalled 385 units, including 9 divisions, and 140,000 men. The peak was reached in October, with the shipment of 393 units, including 5 divisions, and 150,000 men. (See Study No. 21, Preparation of Units for Overseas Movement.) Obviously, as units left the country they were lost to Army Ground Forces as sources of candidates. But the date of shipment was not the date when this loss occurred in fact. It had long been


the practice to freeze the personnel of a unit when it received orders alerting it for overseas shipment, usually one to three months before actual departure. Army Ground Forces attempted to set this precedent aside on l5 July 1944 when it issued instructions permitting the selection of candidates from alerted units.152 But this solution, if it ameliorated the situation -- and there is no evidence that it did -- was merely temporary. A revision of AR 625-5 published on 12 September forbade selection of candidates from alerted units.153 Army Ground Forces reversed its July Instructions.154 Henceforth men in units were unavailable as candidates during considerable periods before they actually left the country.

By September it was clear that Army Ground Forces could not meet Infantry OCS quotas of 3,200 a month from its own resources. The departure of units from the United States would soon leave the replacement training centers as the principal source of candidates, a source thought undesirable for reasons already stated. Army Ground Forces, in its 6 September recommendations on future OCS operations, suggested that the pressure be taken off the Zone of the Interior in procurement of officers. Two courses were outlined. One was to reduce ZI monthly OCS quotas to 1,750, for an estimated output of 1,312, securing 2,081 a month by overseas appointment, for a monthly total of 3,393, the total number now believed necessary. If this division of production between the Zone of the Interior and the theaters should not be feasible, Army Ground Forces recommended that theater commanders be directed to return to the United States their proportionate shares of monthly OCS quotas, based on theater strength.155

The War Department had undertaken on 18 August to determine the extent to which the theaters could furnish their own officer replacements. Theater commanders were sounded out on a proposal to curtail officer candidate schools in the United States, after February 1945, to levels which would provide officers for the Zone of the Interior only. Overseas replacements would be furnished until March 1945; thereafter theaters would supply their own needs.156 While reaction from the theaters was awaited, quotas for November had to be fixed. Those for October, set on 31 August, were the last of the 3,200 series.157 On 26 September the War Department, acknowledging AGF’s difficulties in finding candidates and promising an early increase in the number of overseas appointments, established OCS quotas for November at somewhat lower levels.158 Infantry Officer Candidate School was to receive.2,000 candidates, Field Artillery 150, and Armored 150, the latter a composite of Armored, Tank Destroyer, and Mechanized Cavalry (see Study No. 30). This was 550 candidates more than the number Army Ground Forces had forecast, in its memorandum of 6 September, that it could provide.

The Ground Forces were hard-pressed. There was no backlog of accepted candidates. Procurement was on a hand-to-mouth basis. On 25 September, when informed of the War Department’s November quotas, Army Ground Forces still had to obtain 13 Infantry OCS classes -- 2,600 candidates -- for entrance in October. Only the following candidates were available:  





Field Artillery




Tank Destroyer




Harbor Defense


Because of the poor response from unit commanders, approximately 40 percent of recent OCS quotas had been filled from the replacement training centers. The high rate of failures in the candidate schools indicated that much of the material uncovered was below standard. An analysis of five recent classes showed that 45 percent of the men enrolled had been relieved. Aside from a lowering of quality, this rate of failure threatened to compromise estimates of output, which had been based on anticipated failure of 20 percent of each candidate class. Though the causes were somewhat different,


the effects were those observed in late 1942: last-minute urgent calls for officers exceeded the available supply of qualified candidates; to fill quotas poor candidates had to be accepted; these failed in large numbers, the original program was only partly fulfilled, units were bereft of good noncommissioned officers, and other units received mediocre officers or disgruntled rejects.

Army Ground Forces again sought to enlist the active support of its subordinate units and installations. On 26 September commanders were directed to give full publicity to the program and to encourage all qualified men to apply, regardless of the arm in which they were serving or of the difficulty of their replacement. Commanders were now told to lay less stress on leadership ability as a condition of acceptance: "No application," the memorandum said, "will be rejected solely because he [the candidate] has not had the opportunity to actually demonstrate leadership ability."160 This invitation to lowered standards was reminiscent of the decision, taken in a similar crisis in 1942, to award commissions for administrative duty only.

But the situation was too far gone to be repaired. By early October Army Ground Forces had decided that after November it should stop providing candidates entirely. On 6 October it recommended to the War Department that the entire December OCS quota be filled by men then serving overseas.161 Approximately 60 percent of ground force personnel was overseas, while on the basis of past performance it could be expected that only 6 percent of quotas would be filled from overseas. By December it was expected that almost all AGF units would be deployed or alerted. Army Ground Forces did not wish to use the replacement training centers as a major source of combat officers.

The War Department could not immediately suspend OCS production in the United States. In August it had proposed to theater commanders that they supply replacement needs from their own resources beginning in March 1945 (see above, p. 88). Theater commanders had agreed to the proposal on the understanding that replacements would continue to come from the United States until March.162 In the long run this plan would have put officer procurement on a world-wide basis in relation to resources. But it did not promise the immediate relief that Army Ground Forces, squeezed between high OCS quotas and dwindling troop, required. The War Department had to insure a steady flow of replacements overseas through February 1945, and, to guard against unforeseen contingencies, for months thereafter. Sources of officer material remaining in the United States had to be utilized. Monthly quotas for December through February, set by the War Department on 11 October, while well below total requirements for loss replacements, were far above the ability of Army Ground Forces to sustain. The new quotas were identical with those for November: 2,000 Infantry, 200 Field Artillery, and 250 composite Armored, Tank Destroyer, and Mechanized Cavalry163 (see Table IV). Tactical units were still carrying the load -- they were given quotas of 1,200 to fill in November.164 Although less than half the quota assigned to units for October classes, this figure was still far too large. On 28 October, no answer having been received from the War Department to the AGF proposal that all quotas after November be filled from sources outside Army Ground Forces, the Chief of Staff, Army Ground Forces, secured a compromise from the War Department. In the future Army Ground Forces was to supply candidates to the limit of its capabilities, the War Department was to supply an additional number, and the theaters were to be required to make up the remainder of their requirements.165 It was estimated that the Ground Forces could provide 700 candidates per month -- 600 Infantry and 50 each for Field Artillery and Armored.166 In quota letters issued after l November, for classes in December and the months following, commands under AGF control were allotted 700 spaces in officer candidate school, of which the majority -- 600 -- was given to the replacement training centers. To The Adjutant General was assigned the bulk of each quota -- 1,740 -- to be filled from continental sources outside the Ground Forces.167

Army Ground Forces had thus brought the procurement program, so far as it was concerned, into balance with resources. Quotas for units dropped from an impossible 1,440 in November to a realistic 50 in December. But the program as a whole continued


out of balance. The War Department acted to increase overseas appointments, to divert applicants for AAF and ASF schools to ground schools, to increase applications among returning rotational personnel, and to encourage applications among men in inactive theaters.168 Overseas appointments increased, but only slightly (see Table X). Other measures taken to recruit candidates outside the jurisdiction of Army Ground Forces brought only the meagerest response. Early in December The Adjutant General estimated that only 300 candidates, including those returned from overseas, could be counted on each month. With monthly input capacity at 2,450, a shortage of 1,440 candidates per month was indicated.169 The War Department, urged by Army Ground Forces in mid-December to reduce capacities to a level consistent with the anticipated availability of candidates, was reluctant to do so. Army Ground Forces was authorized to employ unused school capacity as it saw fit, but no reduction was made pending more complete information on direct appointments overseas and on the operation of two officer candidate schools being established in England and France.170 On 29 December 1944 the War Department gave commanders of active theaters virtually unlimited authority to make officer appointments "because of the lack of qualified officer candidates in the United States having the desired experience."171 The authority was to be used to the maximum extent of theater resources "to meet all theater needs." Commanders of inactive theaters, on the other hand, were enjoined to secure applicants for officer candidate schools in the United States and to make direct appointments sparingly, and then only with the consent of the War Department.172



Go to:

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

Return to Table of Contents

Search CMH Online
Last updated 15 September 2005