THE ORGANIZATION OF GROUND COMBAT TROOPS. By Kent Roberts Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer, and Bell I. Wiley. ( 1947, 1983; 540 pages, 24 tables, 11 charts, 5 illustrations, bibliographical note, glossaries, index, CMH Pub 2-1.)
This work opens with a history of General Headquarters (GHQ), U.S. Army, established in July 1940 under the direction of Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, who would later command the Army Ground Forces. During the period of initial mobilization General Headquarters had the responsibility for training field forces, a task that in March 1942 was given to the Army Ground Forces. The history of GHQ is therefore essential to an understanding of the reorganization that brought the Army Ground Forces into existence. The remainder, and greater part, of the volume is a series of six studies focusing on major problems presented by the mobilization and organization of the ground combat army and the efforts of General McNair to solve them. A final study deals with the reorganization of the ground forces for redeployment against Japan.
The unpleasant discovery late in 1942 that the dual role of combatant power and "arsenal of democracy" was overtaxing the effective resources of the United States, in both manpower and industrial capacity, together with a continued shortage of shipping, forced the government to reconsider the size and shape of its military forces. As a consequence the ground forces underwent a drastic reorganization to meet limitations imposed by higher authority. General McNair welcomed this as an opportunity to produce leaner and more mobile organizations within the Army Ground Forces without loss of firepower and with a gain, as he believed, in capacity for offensive action. In general, he sought economy of force by combating the swing
toward specialization that had occurred as the traditional arms were mechanized and motorized and as new arms sprang up around the development of instruments of war such as the tank and tank destroyer and antiaircraft artillery. He sought by a diversity of means for a better balance between specialized and general purpose units. He contended also for a better balance between combat and service forces. The two principles on which he counted most heavily were pooling and reinforcement. Since economy of forces continues to be jeopardized by the tendency toward specialization and overweight in noncombat elements, the successes and limitations of General McNair's drastic experiment in 1943, here presented and analyzed with reference to the conditions of World War II, should be instructive to those responsible for the effectiveness of the Army.
For the student of national policy the studies in this volume, particularly the studies of mobilization, have an instructive bearing on the question of how large an effective force the United States can deploy in a war fought overseas.
(In the lists that follow, the six studies comprised in this volume are arbitrarily assigned numerical designations 1 to 6.)
1. Training of field combat units in the period of emergency, 1941-42 (Study 1, Ch. II).
2. Origins of antitank and tank destroyer doctrine (Study 1, Ch. IV).
3. Early plans for the organization and use of armor (Study 1, Ch. III) and subsequent modifications (Study 4, Ch. V; Study 5, Chs. I and III, pp.430ff.; Study 6, Ch. II).
4. Early problems of air-ground doctrine, coordination, and training (Study 1, Ch. VII).
5. Strength and distribution of ground forces in the Army, December 1941-April 1945, with analysis, comments, and conclusions (Study 2 and table).
6. The troop basis of the Army in World War II (Studies 2 and 6).
7. Mobilization: problems and history in World War II (Study 3).
8. Mobilization: effect of changes in war plans (Study 3, Ch. II).
9. Deceleration of the rate of mobilization to meet limitations of manpower, productive capacity, and shipping (Study 3, Ch. III).
10. Impact on the troop basis of events in theaters of operations (Study 3, Ch. IV).
11. Mobilization and deployment in first and second world wars compared (Study 3, Charts 1 and 2).
12. Tactical organization of the Army before and after 8 March 1942 (Study 4; Study 6, Ch. II).
13. Application of "streamlining" and the principles of pooling, flexible control, and reinforcement to the tactical organization of the Army in 1943 (Study 4, Chs. III-V, VII; Study 5, Ch. I) and the reaction in 1945 (Study 6).
14. Integration of new arms, armor, tank destroyers, antiaircraft artillery, and airborne forces into the ground army (Study 1, Chs. III, IV, VI; Study 4, Chs. III, V, VI; Study 5).
15. Reorganization for redeployment (Study 6).
16. Test and collapse in 1942 of the "GHQ concept" as developed between 1921
and 1940 (Study l, Chs. I, IX, X).
17. GHQ as a command post for the control of overseas commands (Study 1, Chs. I, IX, and X; for transfer of this function to OPD, see Washington Command Post: The Operations Division, Chs. II, IV, VI, VII).
18. The Army's role in amphibious training, 1940-42 (Study 1, Ch. V).
19. Organization for defense of the continental United States (Study 1, Ch. VIII).
20. Authorized and actual enlisted strength of troop units (Study 3).
21. The heavy artillery program, l942-44 (Study 3, Chart 6, and Index: "Heavy artillery").
22. The decision in favor of general purpose versus highly specialized large units (Study 4, Chs. V-VI).
23. Abandonment of the "Type" army and corps and the extension of the task force principle (Study 4, Ch. VII).
24. The struggle of AGF against overhead regarded as excessive (see Index: "Overhead").
25. Experiment with light divisions (Study 3, Ch. VI)
26. Abandonment of specialized divisions: cavalry, motorized, mountain, and jungle (Study 3, Ch. VI).
27. Organization of new arms for training (Study 5, Ch. II).
28. Typical redeployment experience of a division (Study 6, Ch. IV).
29. Effect of the point system (individual demobilization) on redeployment (Study 6, Ch. I).
30. Discussion of the total size of the ground combat force that the United States could deploy overseas (Study 3).
31. The adverse effects of mechanization and motorization on the transportability of ground forces and their mobility in the field (Study 4, Chs. II, V, and VI).
32. Initial organization and training of airborne units (Study l, Ch. VI) and changes of organization in 1943 (Study 4, Ch. VI).
33. Conflicts between a balanced force structure and the demands of the combat arms, old and new (Study 5, Ch. I).
34. Headquarters organization, including the problem of size (see Index: "Headquarters").
Return to the Table of Contents