AGF Study, NO. 7: Provision of Enlisted Replacements



While policies of exchanging personnel within units of the Army Ground Forces were proceeding as described above, the mere fundamental problem of providing overseas replacements in sufficient numbers had to be met. It has been noted how General McNair believed that inadequacy of numbers underlay the whole replacements problem, affecting not only quantity but also quality.

General McNair once more stated his views to the Chief of Staff on 4 January 1944. Reaffirming that the training of replacements was excellent, he continued:102

At no stage in our operations, including the present, has the supply of replacements been adequate. Due largely to this condition, overseas theaters have been forced to distribute incoming replacements without regard to the specialties in which they have been trained. There is no question in my mind that this enforced procedure is the principal cause of dissatisfaction with replacements.

In my judgment, the most serious aspect of the replacement situation is not in the replacement agencies, but is lack of manpower. Units of the Army Ground Forces today have a net shortage of 56,000 men. Inductions are little more than sufficient to fill replacement training centers, and the latter so far have been unable to meet overseas demands.

The authorized trainee capacity of AGF replacement training centers in January 1944 was 203,000. It had not been raised since 1942. With the shift from a 13 to a 17-week cycle, without increase of capacity, annual output had been curtailed by over 135,000. Under the 17-week training cycle, and allowing for attrition, the capacity of 203,000 in effect in January 1944 could not be expected to produce much over 400,000 replacements a year.

In May 1943 the War Department had estimated that 655,000 replacements would be necessary in the ground arms in 1944, both to replace overseas losses and to fill vacancies in units preparing for overseas shipment. The Army Ground Forces, in July 1943, had determined that an RTC capacity of 278,000 was necessary to produce 655,000 replacements a year.103 The War Department, after reduction of the troop basis from 100 divisions to 90, and after computing new estimates of losses, and in September cut the figure of 278,000 to 203,000.104 As just stated, this could be expected to produce about 400,000 replacements a year. The War Department estimated, in November


1943, that 431,000 replacements in the ground arms would be needed in 1944, both for overseas and for continental use.105

Fully as important as total numbers, if replacements were to be used in positions for which they were trained, was the breakdown of total numbers by branch. In its estimates of May 1943, the War Department had anticipated that of the 655,000 replacements needed in 1944, 380,000, or 58%, should be infantry. The Army Ground Forces, in planning a total RTC capacity of 278,000 had accordingly planned a capacity of 161,000 in infantry centers. When total capacity was cut to 203,000 the infantry ratio had been raised, so that capacity of infantry replacement training centers to be attained in January 1944 had been set at 137,000, or 67% of the total (see Table I). Under a 17-week cycle, and allowing for attrition, an infantry capacity of 137,000 could be expected to produce annually in the neighborhood of 275,000 infantry replacements. The War Department estimate of November 1943 called for 293,000 infantry replacements in 1944, or 68% of all ground arms replacements.

As it turned out, the Army Ground Forces in 1944 provided for overseas use alone, not counting replacements assigned to units before sailing, 501,038 enlisted replacements in all arms, of which 404,446, or 80%, were in infantry (see Table X). This was accomplished by raising the capacity of AGF replacement training centers in 1944 and by various supplementary measures.

On 7 February 1944 the Army Ground Forces recommended an increase of AGF replacement training center capacity from 203,000 to approximately 257,000.106 This was immediately authorized by the War Department. But the increase of monthly output would not occur until July. Meanwhile demands arose for overseas replacements beginning in March. These demands had not been foreseen, and no advance provision had been made.

The unforeseen element was the degree to which the European theater would wish to stock a reserve of replacements prior to landing on the French coast. As late as December 1943 the War Department had estimated that replacement requirements, for all purposes in the ground arms for the months from March through June of 1944, would run to 33,000 a month.107 From March through June AGF replacement training centers produced an average of 39,800 available replacements a month (Table II). But from March to June 32,000 replacements were shipped monthly to the European theater alone, and 48,000 to all theaters combined, not only leaving no surplus from which units preparing to move overseas could fill their vacancies, but making it necessary to create still more vacancies in those units (see Table X).

To meet these new demands for replacements in excess of the numbers available from planned output of the RTCs, men were withdrawn from divisions in the Army Ground Forces. Men thus withdrawn were in addition to those being taken from divisions at this time to supply replacements with six months training. Vacancies created by the latter withdrawals, as has been noted above, were filled with graduates of the RTCs. To fill the additional vacancies — and to make up shortages from which AGF units had suffered since the earlier stripping in the last months of 1943 — the War Department virtually dissolved the Army Specialized Training Program, transferred 73,000 ASTP trainees to the Ground Forces, and reassigned to the Ground Forces 24,000 surplus aviation cadets, most of whom had formerly been members of AGF units before their selection for flying training. (See Studies No. 4 and 5.) The Army Ground Forces assigned the approximately 100,000 young men thus obtained chiefly to the infantry of depleted divisions. Used in this way as replacements, though not as overseas replacements, they augmented the inadequate output of the replacement training centers. They were assigned to divisions not intended for overseas movement until the following August or later, and so had time to acquire or reacquire infantry training.


Meanwhile the War Department had sharply raised its estimates of replacement requirements for 1944. It had been estimated in November 1943 that the zone of the interior would have to produce 431,000 replacements in the ground arms for the whole of 1944 (above, p. 53). It was now estimated, in February 1944, that the zone of the interior would have to produce 352,000 in the last half of 1944 alone. The estimated requirement for infantry was at the same time raised from 67% to 73% of the requirement for all ground arms. Instead of a need for 283,000 infantry replacements for the full year, a need for 257,000 for the second half of the years was now anticipated.108 It now appeared that the increase of RTC output due to begin in July would be insufficient. The Army Ground Forces, after receiving the new War Department estimates for the last six months of 1944, estimated that AGF replacement training center production, even as increased, would fall short of requirements by 120,000, and that the infantry shortages would be about 67,000.109 With divisions approaching their dates for overseas shipment, and refilling with new personnel requiring rapid assimilation — ASTP students and aviation cadets, and RTC graduates received under the exchange policy — it was evident that the taking of replacements from divisions could not go on much longer. Antiaircraft and tank destroyer units were therefore inactivated at a more rapid rate than troop basis planning had envisaged.110 Their personnel were for the most part converted to infantry. A program of voluntary transfer to infantry from other branches was likewise inaugurated. (See Study No. 5)

To give infantry training to the transferred men, whether volunteers or convertees, the Army Ground Forces used nine nondivisional infantry regiments, some of them obtained by transfer from defense commands or other assignments in which they could now be dispensed with. Each regiment, reduced to a training cadre, functioned as a small replacement training center, specializing in the production of infantry riflemen. The transferred personnel being already trained as soldiers, the regiments gave them at first eight, later six weeks retraining in infantry, with some additional training for noncommissioned officers. The regiments were also used, as noted above, to store and give further training to the older group of 18-year-olds graduating from replacement training centers in July and August.111

The transfer of ASTP trainees and aviation cadets to the Ground Forces, and the conversion of tank destroyer and antiaircraft personnel to infantry, indicated that the Army was providing replacements not only from newly inducted men but from sources within its already existing strength. This policy, which was destined to be applied with increasing force, was made necessary by the fact that the total strength of the Army was over its authorized ceiling. In July 1944, while authorized or troop basis strength was only 7,700,000 officers and men, actual strength was approximately 8,000,000. The War Department, intending to cut back to troop basis strength, planned to reduce its calls on Selective Service to 60,000 a month. It was becoming difficult in any case, with requirements of the Navy and Marine Corps remaining at a high level, to obtain more than 60,000 inductees a month who were physically qualified.

In August 1944 the capacity of replacement training centers was therefore trimmed slightly downward (see Table I). Capacity of AGF replacement training centers, authorized in the preceding February to reach 260,000, and attaining the corresponding productive output only in July, was now to decline by stages until it reached 243,000 by 31 December 1944. Seemingly it was illogical to cut RTC capacities a few weeks after the launching of major operations in Europe — especially since, according to AGF estimates, even the capacity of 260,000 would leave a replacement shortage of 120,000 in 1944. In fact it was a perfectly natural step, if only sufficient replacements were procured from other sources. Such other sources were available, both in the excess of 300,000 over troop basis strength, and in units and installations which were in the troop basis, but which, like antiaircraft and tank destroyer units, could be reduced in number in the current stage of the war. For retraining of men procured from such sources the replacement training centers, set up to train recruits, were not the most


suitable agencies. Other agencies were needed, such as the separate regiments already mentioned.

Other factors also affected the situation. Casualties were lighter than had been expected during the first three months after the landing in Normandy. The European theater had a reserve of replacements built up since March, and was in fact carrying an overstrength in replacements in excess of the authorized reserve. (See Study No. 4) The War Department had attempted, in a conference of theater representatives in April and by subsequent directives, to get the theaters to provide more fully for their replacement needs from their own resources, by converting and retraining as combat soldiers surplus personnel in overhead, service, antiaircraft, and other installations in the theaters.112 Conversion in the theaters was slow in reaching significant proportions, but it had at least been initiated.

Demand on the zone of the interior for replacements therefore eased slightly in the late summer and fall of 1944. It was even thought that RTC output in some arms would exceed immediate needs, and that reserve pools might be built up. On 12 October 1944 the War Department instructed the Army Ground Forces to establish "temporary advanced training facilities" for replacements, in addition to facilities in the replacement training centers and the nine separate regiments.113

The purpose of these temporary centers was to give "post graduate training" to graduates of infantry replacement training centers, similar advanced training to certain numbers of graduates of other AGF replacement training centers except antiaircraft, and conversion training in infantry to men converted from other branches under policies of reduction of the Army to troop basis strength. It was thought that these temporary centers would disappear as the Army approached its authorized strength of 7,700,000. As is explained in Study No. 4, this time never came; the Army, instead of shrinking, continued to grow until the defeat of Germany. The temporary centers became an essential feature of the replacement system.

The new centers never functioned as at first planned. No pool of RTC graduates ever accumulated. The term "advanced training" proved a misnomer. The centers became altogether absorbed in the retraining of men converted from other branches. Though called infantry advanced replacement training centers (IARTC's), they gave an accelerated six-weeks course in the rudiments of infantry weapons and tactics. The course was advanced only in the sense that the trainees, being soldiers already, were not receiving basic training — though it was found that some, having long been at technical or service jobs, were in need of basic training also. The aim of the centers was to produce infantry riflemen as fast as possible. (See Study No. 31.)

This need arose after the Allies were stopped at the Siegfried Line in September. The campaign in Germany settled down to a period of attrition. Casualties mounted at a time when Ground Force units at home, about to go overseas, could no longer be drained for replacements, and when expansion of the replacement training centers, which would involve raising the induction rate, was not feasible, the Army being overstrength and most able-bodied men of military age being in the Army already. The War Department therefore ordered the transfer to the Ground Forces, first of 5,000 men a month from the Air Forces, then of 25,000 men from the Air Forces (in addition) and 25,000 from the Service Forces, to be effected before the end of the year. Further transfer from the Air Forces was subsequently ordered. (See Studies No. 4 and 5.)

Men converted from the Air and Service Forces were assigned to the IARTC's. In November 1944, the first month of their operation, the IARTC's received 44,668 trainees-5,936 from AGF replacement centers and schools (for advanced training under the original policy), 26,726 from AGF units (antiaircraft, etc.), 5,606 from the Service Forces, and 5,418 from the Air Forces. After November the picture totally


changed. Thereafter the IARTC's received few men from AGF sources, which were now virtually exhausted. Most came from the two other major commands. From November 1944 to May 1945, inclusive, 189,206 men were put into the IARTC's. Of these 67,614 came from the Air Forces, 31,511 from the Service Forces, and 17,610 from the defense commands. The IARTC's in these months dispatched 111,406 men to depots for immediate use as overseas replacements, and 15,676 to units of the Army Ground Forces, the last of which were then hurriedly preparing for movement to the German front (see Table IV).

It may be proper at this point, before proceeding to the crisis with which the year ended, to estimate the number of ground arms replacements actually supplied by the zone of the interior in 1944. The requirement for 1944 had been variously forecast by the War Department — in May 1943 as 655,000, in November 1943 as 431,000, and in February 1944 as 352,000 for the last six months of 1944 alone. The number actually supplied cannot be stated exactly, because while it was reported that 501,038 enlisted replacements were shipped overseas in 1944, no figure can be given for the number assigned to tactical units before they left the United States. It would appear, however, that an approximate figure for total enlisted replacements in the ground arms, supplied by the zone of the interior, can be constructed by adding the following elements.114

Enlisted Replacements Provided in the Ground Arms in 1944

Output of AGF RTC's in 1944, assigned to AGF depots, units and schools, except OCS (Table II, col. 7)


ASTP trainees transferred in AGF


Aviation cadets transferred to AGF


Infantry volunteers and personnel transferred to infantry from AAA, TD, etc., and to AGF from AAF, ASF, defense commands, etc., mostly retrained in separate infantry regiments or in IARTC's, whose output was as follows:


Output of separate infantry regiments in 1944 to AGF depots, units and schools, except OCS (Table V)


Output of IARTC's in 1944 to AGF depots, units and schools, except OCS (Table IV)




The figure of 701,616 is a minimum figure, not including men who may have been transferred from other branches directly to units without retraining in special regiments or in IARTC's. It is believed that the number of these men was relatively not great.

Provision of replacements in infantry varied even more widely from the earlier anticipations. In May 1943 the War Department had estimated the 1944 requirement at 380,000 (58% of all ground arms replacements), and in November 1943 at 293,000 (68%) (above, p. 53). The number of replacements actually provided in infantry in 1944 appears to have been approximately 542,868, or 77% of 701,616. Output of infantry replacement training centers in 1944, assigned to AGF depots, units and schools, was 385,350.115 All sources except replacement training centers listed in the preceding paragraph were used to produce infantry. Adding the figures for these sources as listed above to 385,350 yields 542,868.



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