Amphibious operations prior to the present conflict had been limited in scope and had been confined to river crossings or small raids on enemy-held shores. Amphibious operations on the grand scale of those conducted in Africa, Sicily, and Italy had not been officially anticipated. The situation, both strategically and tactically, shortly after this country's entrance into the Second World War soon indicated that landings on a large scale would have to be planned and executed in order to defeat the enemy.
There were two amphibious corps in the United States armed forces at the outbreak of hostilities, one in the Pacific Fleet and one in the Atlantic Fleet. These were combined Army-Marine units controlled by the Navy. The Amphibious Corps of the Pacific Fleet consisted on the 3d Infantry Division and the 2d Marine Division. The Amphibious Corps Atlantic Fleet consisted of the lst Infantry Division and the lst Marine Division. The 9th Infantry Division had also been trained by the Amphibious Corps Atlantic Fleet. These unite represented the sum total of the Amphibious forces of the United States, with the exception of small units of the Fleet Marine Force which had been trained for amphibious raids. It was apparent that the United States did not have sufficient troops trained for the type of operation which was necessary to win the war.
Dissatisfaction with the system of amphibious training which kind been followed up to early 1942 was widespread, and numerous suggestions had been made concerning it. A brief study, based mainly on the training of the 3d Infantry Division, was made by Lt. Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Floyd L. Parks, Army Ground Forces Deputy Chief of Staff, and submitted to the Chief of Staff in April 1942.1 This report included the remarks of Maj. Gen. John P. Lucas concerning the amphibious training of the 3d Division, which he commanded.2 Colonel Parks' memorandum for the Chief of Staff set forth the following considerations: (l) The structure for amphibious training at the time the 3d Division was being trained was "unwieldy, ineffective, and dangerous." (2) The planning, preparation, and training for amphibious operations up to that time had been so deficient that a real operation against a competent enemy could end only in disaster for American forces. (3) The prevailing Army-Marine amphibious set-up was unsound because only the Army had both the means and the grasp of the problem to plan, prepare, and train the necessary ground and air forces for joint amphibious operations on the scale envisaged. In view of these considerations, Colonel Parks recommended that the Army should have the responsibility for the undertaking. He also advocated that the existing Army-Marine Amphibious Corps set-up be abandoned as soon as possible; that the Army be charged with the planning, preparation and training for large-scale amphibious operations; and that the Navy and the Marine Corps assist the Army only in procurement of the necessary shipping, landing craft, and special equipment, and with technical advice and cooperation.
1. Memo (S) of Lt Col F. L. Parks DCofS AGF for the CofS
Amphibious Training Center (ATC), 3 Apr 42, sub: Amphibious Training and
Operations. 353/1 (Amph) (S).
2. Memo (S) of Maj Gen John P. Lucas for CG AGF, 27 Mar 42, sub: Amph Tng of the Third Inf Div. 353/1 (Amph) (S).
A study of amphibious forces was also contained in a paper prepared by the Joint United States Staff planners in April 1942.3 Naturally, the exact composition of ground, sea and air forces or of any given amphibious task force could not be definitely determined until a specific operation wee indicated. It was pointed out that the number of amphibious troop in the United States was inadequate and that expansion was a matter of immediate and imperative concern. It wee recognized that it would be impracticable to have Marine troops undertake all amphibious operations because the expansion problems of the Marine Corps made it improbable that sufficient Marine troops would be available. Again the question of composite Army-Marine Corps arose and the paper pointed out that Adherent differences in organization, communication systems, administrative and supply systems, objectives, customs, and procedure produced considerable difficulties of coordination. The Marines were organized for attacks on limited objectives instead of the extensive operations required as the strategic offensive in the Atlantic and the Southwest Pacific commenced, calling for large ground forces capable of sustained action. The Army, on the other hard, was trained and organized for this type of action and had large numbers of troops available for amphibious training.
Because the Army was the organization undertaking the actual operation, the Joint Staff planners felt that the Army should conduct the necessary training as well. The Army should therefore establish amphibious training centers to train large numbers of ground troops.4 It was recommended that these training centers be located on seacoasts in a temperate climate near to land and air training centers, where safety from submarines existed and terrain suitable for maneuvers on a division scale was available. The planners recommended that the training program should consist of basic, individual and small-unit training of ground forces in the techniques of embarking and debarking from small landing craft and in the training of small boat crews. A second phase of training was planned to include the use of transports and supporting vessels to require actual loading and embarkation on practice operations. The final phase of training was contemplated as a complete rehearsal, or series of rehearsals of the combat operation planned, including the use of all arms expected to be employed. On the basis of the above considerations, the paper recommended that the amphibious troops in the Atlantic and the Southwest Pacific be composed exclusively of Army personnel and that the Army establish amphibious training centers to train sufficient Army divisions to accomplish the large-scale amphibious operations envisaged.
At the time these studies were being made a tactical plan, the XXX Plan, was under consideration. This plan involved large numbers of troops who were to be employed in an amphibious operation of considerable magnitude. It is mentioned here for its influence on the establishment of the Amphibious Training Center.
Every division earmarked for employment under the XXX Plan was to receive complete shore-to-shore amphibious training. The objective to be achieved was the training of twelve divisions in the United States prior to 1 February 1943. Of these
3. Joint U.S. Staff Planners, Amphibious Forces, J.P.S.
24, (S), 26 Apr 42. GNAG Records.
4. The thoroughly unsatisfactory-status of amphibious training up to May 1942, the realization of responsible officers that something had to be done about the situation, the exigencies of the strategical and tactical requirements for the prosecution of the war, the realization that the Army was the logical organization to be responsible for amphibious training, and the urgent demands of the XXX Plan all combined to shift the emphasis of responsibility for amphibious training from the Navy to the Army.
twelve, eleven were to be infantry divisions and one was to be an armored division. In addition to these, three divisions, including one armored, were to receive their training overseas. Sufficient small boat crews were to be trained to enable the simultaneous movement of eight divisions, with fifty per cent replacement of boat crews available—this also to be accomplished by 1 February 1943.5
On 9 May 1942, the War Department tentatively outlined the part Army Ground Forces was to play in this picture.6 Army Ground Forces was made responsible for the shore-to-shore amphibious training of the twelve divisions trained in the United States. The objective on that date was to train four divisions at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts; six divisions at Carrabelle, Florida; and two at Fort Lewis, Washington. The 1st, 3d and 9th Divisions were not included in this training program because they had either received such training or were undergoing it at the time. The Camp Edwards training was to be completed between 15 July 1942 and 1 November 1942. The training at Carrabelle was to be initiated at a later date to be set when camp facilities and boats became available. Similarly, the mission prescribed for Fort Lewis was contingent upon the availability of boats.
The final War Department directive issued on 22 May 1942 was based on the 9 May directive. Army Ground Forces was charged with development of doctrine, training of tactical units (to include shore-to-shore and, if facilities permitted, ship-to-shore training), and "all phases of the operations of Army units involved in embarking troops and equipment in small boats from the land, the approach to and loading on a hostile beach, the establishment of a beachhead, and the preparation and initiation of an attack inland."7 Services of Supply was charged with "the organization, training, supply and equipment of boat operating and maintenance units, the operation of transportation facilities for landing operations, and for the equipment and training of shore parties."8
Proceeding concurrently with shore-to-shore amphibious training by the Army was ship-to-shore training under control of the Navy. The 3d Infantry Division was still being trained on the West coast, and the 1st and 9th were receiving similar training on the East coast. This training was independent of Army Ground Forces except that the participating units were Ground Force troops and some overhead personnel were also provided by the Ground Forces.
The sheer magnitude of the project of training twelve divisions by 1 February 1943 made its fulfillment, to say the least, highly improbable, owing to the non-existence of facilities such as training areas, training aids, landing craft for training boat crews, at the time the plan was conceived. Army Ground Forces advised the War Department early in June that the project was considered impracticable in view of the few landing craft in prospect at that time which included only two hundred Small boats and probably no tank lighters. Ground Forces recommended a more practicable basis, i.e., to begin training as soon as possible and to proceed as fast as the situation
5. Memo (S) of Brig Gen H. R. Bull ACofS G-3 WD for CofS
USA, 9 May 42, sub: Orgn and Tng of Amph Forces. WDGCT 353 (Amph) (S).
6. Memo (S) of Brig Gen H. R. Bull for CG AGF, 9 May 42, sub: Orgn and Tng of Amph Forces. Ibid.
7. Ltr (S) TAG to CG AGF, 22 May 42, sub: Responsibility for Amph Tng. AG 353 Amph Tng MT-C.
would permit. In reporting the above to General McNair, Colonel Lowell W. Rooks, Chief of the Training Division, Army Ground Forces, stated that he understood informally that the War Department held the same view and that a meeting would be called on 9 June to consider a new directive to revise the training objective.9
A brief orientation at this time concerning the amphibious training organizations which were operating concurrently but independently during 1942 and 1943 may serve to eliminate some of the confusion which is inevitable in a study of amphibious training. The part played by Army Ground Forces (with which this narrative is exclusively concerned) was carried out by the Amphibious Training Center. This was strictly a Ground Forces installation and had no connection with the Navy except for occasional "academic liaison" and the use of Navy-operated craft in mall numbers. Also in 1942 the Amphibious Corps Atlantic Fleet (ACAF) was reconstituted, using Army troops with an Army headquarters at Camp Pickett, Virginia. This Corps comprised the 3d and 9th Infantry Divisions and the 2d Armored Division. Control was exercised by the Navy—there was no connection with the Amphibious Training Center. Shortly before ACAF Headquarters was closed out in October 1942, the Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet was constituted with headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia. AFAF was a ship-to-shore training agency under Navy control, with a small number of Army personnel on the staff. This installation, like ACAF, was entirely independent of the Amphibious Training Center. It is enough to know that these other two units existed—our main concern is with what the Army did by itself to accomplish its amphibious training mission.
9. Memo (S) of Col Lowell W. Rooks, Chief of Tng Div AGF for CG AGF, 9 Jun 42, sub: Status of Amph Tng Comd. AGF 353/9288 (Amph) (S).