AGF Study, NO. 7: Provision of Enlisted Replacements
AN AGF REVIEW OF THE REPLACEMENT PROBLEM
The recurrent crisis described in the present study, implying as they did an unfavorable judgment on the replacement system of the Army, led to a review of the system after the termination of hostilities in Europe. Two civilian advisers to the Commanding General, Army Air Forces, Dr. E. P. Learned and Dr. Dan T. Smith, were directed by the Secretary of War in June 1945 to survey the organization of the War Department and its subordinate commands with respect to the provision of replacements and to recommend improvements that would "make the War Department Personnel Replacement System fully effective in the war against Japan."141
The committee found that there had been insufficient long-range planning of personnel requirements and resources; that no single War Department agency had adequate responsibility or authority for an integrated Army-wide personnel system; that the major commands and the theaters had not participated extensively enough in replacement planning; that in the formulation of strategic plans too much attention had been given to unit and too little to replacement requirements, with the result that the Army had been over-committed; and that Ground Force replacements had been too easily diverted to other uses. The committee recommended that G-1, WDGS, be designated as the sole War Department agency responsible for personnel planning, and that its responsibility be
exercised through a personnel resources and requirements branch. G-1 was to maintain a long-range master plan embracing all aspects of personnel procurement and distribution, and planning for operations by OPD, G-3, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff was to proceed within the limitations which the plan imposed. Detailed planning of replacement production was to be decentralized to the three major commands, which would estimate requirements and resources of personnel on a world-wide basis, maintaining continuous liaison with the War Department and the theaters. All major changes in personnel policy were to be discussed and coordinated with the three commands and the theaters before they were issued. The committee recommended that flexibility in the replacement system be secured by producing replacements against maximum requirements, maintaining troop basis limits by increasing the discharge rate when losses fell below those allowed for in planning.142
The Army Ground Forces expressed general agreement with these recommendations. It did not favor the establishment, at the current stage of the war, of an elaborate statistical control office to balance personnel requirements and resources; rather, it favored continuation of the existing system of requisitions based on requirements tables. But Army Ground Forces was strongly in favor of concentrating replacement operations in a single War Department agency and of permitting the major commands to participate in the formulation of personnel policy. It was thought unlikely, in June 1945, that the Ground and Service Forces could, during the remainder of the war, institute systems of personnel planning extending into the theaters as completely as did that of the Air Forces; but it was felt in Army Ground Forces that any change in current practices should be guided toward equal responsibilities for the three commands. The most important recommendation of the committee, it was believed, was that for securing flexibility: if replacements were produced against maximum requirements, rather than against constantly revised estimates of minimum needs, Army Ground Forces asserted, "many of the replacement troubles will disappear."143
The "replacement troubles" whose history has been recounted in this study were outlined by Army Ground Forces in a memorandum submitted to the Learned Committee.144 Reviewing its experience since 1942, the headquarters summarized its views, finding four sources of weakness in the replacement system. First, the quality, and often the supply, of men available for training as replacements had been inadequate. Navy recruiting of 17-year-olds had deprived the Ground Forces of a fair proportion of enlisted men of high intelligence and excellent physique; low Selective Service induction standards had allowed men to enter the Replacement Training Centers who had to be discharged later for physical reasons; Selective Service had frequently failed to provide the number of men for whom replacement training plans had been made. Second, RTC capacity had been consistently inadequate to meet overseas and Zone of Interior demands, with the resultant stripping of units and transfers between branches and commands described above. Third, fluctuations in the length of the training program and in major policies affecting it had been so frequent and so unpredictable that long-range planning had been impossible. Four major changes in the length of the program had been directed by the War Department during the preceding two years; training rates had been changed five times in the past eleven months. Similar instability had characterized policies on shipping rates, on handling of 18 and 19-year-old trainees, on rotation of cadre personnel, etc. Changes in policy had required revision of plans, reorganization of training centers, retraining of cadremen, shifting or procurement of equipment, and usually resulted in a temporary or permanent loss of output. Finally, many important policies with respect to replacements had been too indefinite or uncoordinated to support firm plans for replacement production.
Army Ground Forces recommended that procurement of enlisted men be made uniform, through Selective Service, for all of the services on equal terms, that physical standards for induction be relaxed only in critical cases, and that induction schedules be maintained at predetermined levels. It proposed that RTC capacity be set at a high
level, that the length of the training program be determined once and for all; that training and shipping rates be stabilized over longer periods of time, and that depot capacity and the availability of shipping be brought into conformity with the flow of replacements. And it recommended that policy on such questions as the training of 19-year-olds, the rotation of limited service and over-age cadremen, and the critical score for discharge, be fixed at an early date, to permit firm plans to be made for the Pacific War.
Last updated 18 October 2005