AGF Study, NO. 7: Provision of Enlisted Replacements
THE SIX-MONTHS TRAINING POLICY
The War Department therefore ordered, on 26 February 1944, that "the greatest practicable proportion of replacements" supplied for overseas service in all the combatant ground arms should be obtained from units not on the Six Months List.87 Men taken were to have had at least six months' service, with those of longest service taken first. No 18-year-olds or Pre-Pearl Harbor fathers with less than six months training were to be shipped as overseas replacements as long as men were available from other sources. Men were to qualify for overseas service, not under POR, but under the less rigid standards of POM, which prescribed physical requirements for men going overseas as members of units. This relaxation of the replacement standard permitted the sending of somewhat increased numbers.
The headquarters of the Army Ground Forces believed that this use of units in the United States, which in many cases amounted to stripping them, was unnecessary for
military purposes. Major General H. F. Hazlett, Commanding General of the Replacement and School Command, returning from an overseas tour in March 1944, reported that overseas commanders generally were satisfied with replacements coming directly from replacement training centers with 17 weeks of training. He stated that RTC graduates were satisfactory if they were assigned to positions for which they had been trained, if the training and physical condition achieved at the replacement training center could be maintained during transit, and if units receiving replacements could absorb them in a continuous small stream, instead of having to take large numbers at irregular intervals. There were still many cases in the North African theater, General Hazlett reported, of misassignment by arm and job, of diverting replacements to overhead and service functions, of allowing them to deteriorate physically, and of pouring them into units in indigestible numbers a few days before the unit went into combat.88 It was felt at the headquarters of the Army Ground Forces that the real trouble continued to lie in these administrative defects and that therefore the stripping of AGF units to provide six-months-trained replacements was not necessary or relevant.89
Units in the Army Ground Forces were nevertheless stripped as directed after February 1944. Since 80% of replacements had to be infantry, it was mainly infantry divisions and separate infantry regiments that were affected. Consequences for the divisions are explained in Study No. 12. Divisions recouped their losses by receiving men graduating from replacement training centers, or made available through transfers from the Army Specialized Training Program and the Army Air Forces. (See Study No. 4.) In general, in all divisions except those due for earliest shipment, there was an almost complete turnover of infantry privates, and a high turnover of infantry non-commissioned officers.
Exchange was not always affected in equal numbers. In May 1944 seven divisions in the Army Ground Forces were short about 4,000 men apiece. Divisions at this time were being stripped not only to provide substitutes for RTC graduates under the six-month policy but also to supply additional replacements needed to build up a reserve of replacements in Great Britain in preparation for the invasion of France. (See below, pp. 54-55.) An average of 48,000 replacements were being shipped overseas each month, while the RTCs were producing only 40,000 available replacements each month. Hence divisions supplying overseas replacements under the six-months rule could not immediately receive substitutes for them in equal numbers.
It was possible to ship a high proportion of six-months trained replacements only until June 1944. Divisions became unusable as sources of replacements, because they had to be made ready for overseas movement as divisions, for which purpose it was desirable that they receive their permanent personnel at least four months before sailing. By June, overseas replacements were again being supplied mainly from RTC graduates with 17 weeks of training. But the War Department, while allowing the six-months policy to lapse, took steps to continue the program, which had to a certain extent been included in the six-months policy, of not sending 18-year-olds into combat as individual replacements. Under the six-months rule it had been ordered that 18-year-olds with less than six-months of training should not be used as overseas replacements in any combat arm as long as replacements were available from other sources. It was now ordered, on 24 June 1944, as the six-months policy drew to an end, that no man under 19 years old should be shipped as an overseas replacement in infantry or armor under any circumstances.91 It was likewise ordered, in consequence, that no inductee less than 18 1/2 years old should be assigned to an infantry or armored replacement training center.92
Last updated 17 October 2005