AGF Study, NO. 7: Provision of Enlisted Replacements
EFFECTS OF THE OVERTURN
As a result of the six-months and the 18-year-old policies combined, units in the Army Ground Forces experienced a sweeping substitution of personnel in 1944. It will be recalled that in the last months of 1943 divisions in the Army Ground Forces had supplied some 26,000 overseas replacements. From April to September 1944 they supplied 92,000 more (see Table VI). In 1943 divisions had been stripped to fill shortages of RTC-trained replacements. In 1944 they were stripped, not primarily to fill shortages (though partly for this reason), but primarily to implement the six-months and 18-year-old policies, by which divisions took RTC graduates and supplied overseas replacements in their stead. At the height of the policy, in April and May 1944, of approximately 120,000 enlisted men put into AGF replacement depots in those two months from all sources, approximately 72,000 came from T/O units, and from overhead (a small proportion) (see Table VII). The 92,000 enlisted replacements supplied by divisions from April to September 1944 were supplied by twenty-two different divisions (see Table VI). Except for the 10th Mountain and the 14th Armored, every division leaving the Army Ground Forces later than September 1944 was stripped. Two shipped in September were also stripped. Division losses from April to September ranged from 1,652 enlisted men for the 13th Airborne, to 7,071 for the 76th Infantry Division. The average was 4,170. Seventeen infantry divisions lost on the average 3,933 infantry privates apiece. There were only 6,195 privates in the three regiments of an infantry division under the T/O of 30 June 1944. On the average, therefore, two-thirds of the infantry privates in
seventeen divisions were lost and replaced by newcomers. In some divisions the 65th, 76th and 97th over 5,000 infantry privates were exchanged.
The effect of this overturn on the divisions concerned is traced in study No. 12. In general, these divisions entered combat with less advanced training than divisions shipped earlier. The effect on the replacement stream was to supply overseas units, for a few months, with a proportion of replacements who had had at least six months of training instead of four (although, as noted above, amount of training was not the chief issue in the replacement problem), and to supply over a short period, in place of 18-year-olds, men who were 19 or over and some of whom were barely capable of sustained effort as combat soldiers in the field. Eighteen-year-olds as a class were not greatly affected, since the policy was of short duration, and at most postponed combat service by a few months, or allowed some 22,000 youngsters to enter combat as members of organized units rather than in the more difficult role of individual replacements. The main advantages of the policy seem not to have been military, but rather to have lain in the field of the public relations of the Army, and in considerations of justice to young men scarcely mature. Whether the advantages offset the disadvantage of committing some twenty divisions to battle with imperfect training is therefore one of the imponderable questions.
Last updated 18 October 2005