Chapter XI: 
Further Reconsideration of the Role of the ASF
General Somervell was not disposed to treat lightly the gradual, continuing alteration of the role of the Army Service Forces. As he understood it, the War Department reorganization of 1942 was predicated upon two or three basic ideas. First of all, the elaborate War Department General Staff system built up between World War I and World War II was to be radically altered. Second, the many special staff units subject only to general direction by the WDGS were to be reduced. Third, the combat training work in the United States was to be concentrated in two commands: the Army Air Forces and the Army Ground Forces. The third command, the ASF, was to take over the supply and service duties, including WDGS supervision of these activities. As far as the ASF was concerned, the General Staff was to remain in full control of strategic direction of the war.
As already noted, various pressures resulted in a transfer of some ASF activities to new special staff units under the direction of the Chief of Staff. Most of these activities were of minor importance to the ASF and their transfer caused little disturbance. It was the constant attack of the AAF upon the role of the Army Service Forces which caused the greatest concern in ASF headquarters. If these attacks continued and were as successful as before (see Chapter VIII), it was reasonable to believe the very concept of the ASF was threatened.
In the background of the conflict was the long-standing ambition of the Air Forces to become a separate service enjoying equal status with the Army and the Navy. General Marshall and General Arnold had tacitly agreed that for the duration of World War II, Air Forces aspirations for such a status were to be shelved. Because of this agreement, General Somervell held that the ASF should perform supply and service duties for the AAF just as it was doing for the AGF and the overseas theaters of operations. To General Arnold and his colleagues this kind of arrangement probably appeared too "compromising." They did not desire to become too deeply tied in with War Department organization because it might make eventual separation more difficult.
Conflict was more or less inevitable under such circumstances. It was brought to a head when Somervell in 1944 raised with General Marshall the whole question of the proper role of the Army Service Forces in the War Department. In order to understand better the whole review of ASF responsibilities that followed, it is

necessary first to examine briefly the relations that existed between the AGF and the ASF. It was to these relations that the ASF constantly referred as the desirable model, and it was just such relations that the Army Air Forces did not want.
The AGF and the ASF
The relations between the Army Ground Forces and the Army Service Forces rested upon a basic principle embodied in the War Department reorganization of 1942: namely that command of combat troops in training, including the supply and service units organic to combat commands, could and should be separated from the command of service agencies which rendered supply and service support to the Army as a whole. The relations between AGF and ASF as prescribed in Circular 59 differed on two essential points from those laid down for the AAF and the ASF.1 The AAF was explicitly authorized to supply the mat6riel peculiar to the Air Forces, and to control all Air Forces installations. No such prerogatives had been granted to the Army Ground Forces. The AGF was merely given the right to "review" the mat6riel requirements of the combat forces. It was assigned no control over installations even when used by ground force units. 2 Even had the opportunity to extend its authority into the areas assigned to the ASF existed, it is doubtful that it would have been done. Its commander, General McNair, held firmly to the conviction that the mission of the AGF was to provide trained combat units for the overseas theaters. He held with equal firmness the view that this mission could be most effectively performed by a small operating headquarters which would concentrate on the training and organization of ground combat troops, leaving all other tasks to other War Department agencies. General McNair's views continued throughout the war, at the level of general policy, to control the relations between the AGF and ASF
Although the AGF and ASF did not engage in any serious rivalry, there were occasional differences. These were perhaps inevitable since the War Department reorganization of 1942, while clear in general about the separation of functions between the two commands, left certain marginal areas in which lines of authority were ambiguous. The progress of the war, moreover, created problems which had not been anticipated in the initial organization of the War Department. Some adjustments of the original formula therefore had to follow. Furthermore, co-operative effort by large organizations of markedly different types, engaged in highly diverse activities, is naturally subject to misunderstanding and confusion. And finally, the personal attitudes and habits of the two commanders were responsible for at least some of the difficulties that arose.
Certain agencies, subordinated to ASF in the 1942 reorganization, formulated policies and executed programs affecting, in the name of the War Department, all three commands alike. One such agency was the Office of The Adjutant General which, although under the ASF, was the War Department agency for the Army wide initial classification and assignment of personnel. In this duty The Adjutant General had the delicate task of adjudicating, in the best interests of the Army as a whole, the rival claims of the three com-

mands and eventually of the theaters as well-on a precious and limited commodity wanted by all-men. Provided the War Department General Staff was strong enough to enforce impartiality in the operation of an agency like The Adjutant General's office, this arrangement was not likely to produce insuperable difficulties. But McNair believed the General Staff lacked the necessary strength, and he thought that The Adjutant General functioned too often not as an impartial instrument of the War Department policy, but as an interested element of the ASF. This belief undoubtedly underlay General McNair's refusal to support Somervell's plan to combine the functions of ASF commander and Assistant Chiefs of Staff, G-1 and G-4 and it continually conditioned the approach of AGF to the problem of personnel . 3
Disagreements between the AGF and ASF concerning the recruitment and assignment of personnel, although they did not attain major proportions, began early in the mobilization period and continued throughout the war. From the beginning of selective service, AGF was convinced that it was not receiving a proportionate share of high-quality men. Men of the highest intelligence, whose capacities for leadership and combat effectiveness AGF believed would be high, tended to be men having some identifiable civilian trade or profession. These fell within the occupational specialties for which AGF units, by their nature; provided few openings, but which abounded in the more technical units of the ASF and AAF. 4
General McNair criticized the ASF again and again for the Army's classification and assignment policy, especially during 1942 and 1943. He complained that large numbers of men originally assigned to the Ground Forces were permitted to go to officer candidate and specialist schools of the technical services, from which they often did not return to AGE.  5 The Army Specialized Training Program was a major point of controversy. This program, managed by the ASF, contemplated sending some 150,000 enlisted men to college for special training in science, engineering, and languages. The AGF opposed the project vigorously, largely on the grounds that the training to be given was unnecessary to the prosecution of the war and that it would withdraw from positions of leadership in the combat forces a large number of the best inductees. Eventually the replacement crisis in early 1944 forced the dissolution of the program and the assignment of Army Specialized Training Program trainees to replacement centers and units, chiefly of the ground arms. 6
The continuing struggle for high-quality personnel culminated in 1943 and 1944 in the discussion of the Physical Profile System, in which the AGF and ASF were again ranged on opposite sides. The AGF, convinced after two years of mobilization experience that assignment of inductees by specialty -especially when classification and assignment procedures were under the control of the ASF-could lead only to the receipt by the ASF and AAF of a disproportionate share of high quality men, undertook to. obtain a radical change in the basis for Army classification. It wished to substitute a physical basis for the current mental and technical criteria for classification. 
Under such a scheme,

the Ground Forces would have no difficulty demonstrating its superior need for men in prime physical condition, and so would get a larger proportion of well qualified individuals. The ASF repeatedly objected to the institution of a physical basis for classification. But the demand for combat replacements became so acute in late 1943 and 1944 that the Physical Profile Plan was adopted over the objections of the ASF in the spring of 1944. 7
Closely related to these controversies over the quality of personnel were certain problems of utilization of personnel which disturbed the relations of ASF and AGF, especially in 1942 and 1943. Throughout the mobilization period it was the view of the AGF that too large a proportion of the national manpower was being invested in service functions and too little in combat forces. The rate of growth of service elements was dramatic: constituting but 26.3 percent of the strength of the Army at the end of 1941, they comprised 36.5 percent at the end of 1943. In the same period, the strength of the combat arms declined from 52.4 percent to 32.8 percent of the total . 8 The rapid expansion of the ASF was in large measure a result of the effort to build up supply installations, both in the zone of interior and in overseas theaters. The AGF, while conceding the necessity for some reapportionment of Army strength for this and other purposes, nonetheless believed the situation was getting out of hand and repeatedly urged the need for the strongest possible combat force. 9 The Army Service Forces, McNair told General Gasser, president of the War Department manpower board, was "very, very fat, particularly in headquarters," and he strongly affirmed his belief that "radical corrective action" was required "to effect the assignment of a much greater proportion of the manpower to units designed for offensive combat."  10
The AGF felt that the ASF was wasting manpower and. thereby threatening not only the formation of a powerful combat force, but also interfering with AGF's primary mission of training. The relative decline in AGF strength and the rise in ASF strength resulted only in part from the assignment of new inductees to ASF in large numbers. It resulted also from the cancellation of planned AGF units from the Troop Basis, and, far more serious in their effects on orderly training, from the depletion of ground units already formed-as well as the diversion of men from ground units in the process of formation-to fill new service units. These policies had disastrous effects on the training of ground units. Training either was interrupted, had to be repeated, or had to be carried on at two or three levels simultaneously. Until 1944 the most important influences on organization and training in AGF were shortages of men and changes in Troop Basis plans. AGF believed that unessential and overstaffed ASF units were in large measure responsible for both of these circumstances. 11
Training problems presented other difficulties for the AGF and ASK Initially the responsibility for training service units was not clearly defined. The AGF and ASF were each responsible for training service units-the AGF trained those service units which became an integral part of a combat command and the ASF trained units

to be used by the communications zone of an overseas theater. But the ultimate use of a service unit was not always clearly forecast. During 1942 and 1943 several schemes for compromising the conflict between ASF and AGF were tried without success. Finally, in January 1944 the War Department adopted the policy of specifically designating in the Troop Basis those service units which were to be activated and trained by each command.  12
The controversy over responsibility for training service units was intensified by two circumstances, both arising out of the differing conceptions in AGF and ASF of their primary missions. During 1942 and most of 1943 the emphasis in AGF was on the organization and training of large combat elements, particularly divisions. While AGF recognized its responsibility for training service units organic to ground combat forces, it was very slow to provide plans for the organization and training of such units. Not until May 1943 did it prepare a systematic activation schedule for building service units and arrange for effective supervision of their training. In part this neglect of AGF service units resulted from the graver problems surrounding the training of divisions. In part it resulted from the continued existence of the chiefs of technical services, which had first directed the training programs. But the effect was to make these service units the "forgotten men" of the AGF, and undoubtedly to bolster the conviction in the ASF that it should seek control over the training of as many service units as possible.
In their conception of the best type of training to be given service units, moreover, the two commands differed radically. In accordance with its mission of preparing ground combat forces, the AGF insisted that each man, whether an ordnance repairman or a rifleman, be trained primarily as a soldier and secondarily as a specialist. In the ASF, on the other hand, primary emphasis was given to technical and specialist training. It was believed, both in the ASF and among the technical service staff officers of the AGF, that the training of service units of the Ground Forces had suffered because of an overemphasis on military training. The AGF, taking an opposite view, was convinced that the ASF would concentrate too heavily on technical duties, if it obtained wider authority over the training of service units. This conviction doubtless stimulated it to insist on its responsibility for training all service personnel who would function in direct support of ground combat elements. 13
Training did not stop when a unit or an individual replacement was ordered to a staging area or replacement depot for shipment overseas. Troops were given physical examinations, final training tests, and often a certain amount of training in these installations. When units or individuals trained by the AGF passed through staging areas and replacement depots, they came under the command of port commanders. In 1943, as a result of criticisms of the state of training of combat troops arriving in the theaters, the AGF sought to extend its control over ground units and replacements up to the moment of embarkation. Units, many of which arrived at staging areas inadequately trained to begin with, often remained for extended periods, during which their training deteriorated further. While under the control of ASF staging area commanders,

these units could be given suitable training by the AGF only with difficulty.
Training facilities in the staging areas were practically nonexistent because no training activity during the process of moving troops overseas had been contemplated when training facilities were being constructed elsewhere. It was expected at the time that only fully prepared troops would be ordered overseas. Since this was not so, the AGF sought to continue training until the last moment. That meant moving troops from staging areas to posts where facilities existed, disrupting final processing for overseas shipment, and causing no end of confusion in the staging areas. The AGF, more concerned with its responsibilities for training than those of port commanders for efficient final processing, attempted to obtain War Department permission to retain command of ground units in staging areas and to conduct such training and administrative preparations for overseas movement as seemed necessary. 
The ASF strongly opposed this move as impractical and inconsistent with the principle of command. The War Department directed a number of measures to permit the AGF to supervise training in staging areas without depriving port commanders of command of units while in the staging areas. None of the measures were completely successful. The improvement in the shipping situation-in late 1943 and 1944 eased the problem somewhat by making extended delays in staging areas unnecessary, but a solution satisfactory to all concerned was never found.14
In like manner in 1943, when the replacement crisis began, the processing of combat replacements through replacement depots controlled by the ASF revealed grave deficiencies in accounting, administration, and training. Although in 1942 the AGF had been unwilling to seek authority over personnel depots for ground arms replacements, in 1943 it changed its position. Separate personnel depots were set up for AGF and ASF replacements, under the separate control of the two commands.15
In addition to problems pertaining to personnel and training, problems involving the supply of equipment arose between the AGF and the ASF. During 1942 and 1943 combat equipment for AGF units was severely limited, creating great training difficulties. The AGF repeatedly attempted to obtain equipment allowances from the ASF and the War Department, but world-wide requirements were so enormous, that the ASF seldom found it possible to meet these demands. Other differences between the two commands aggravated the supply situation. Faced with the need to move combat forces overseas on limited shipping, the ASF in 1943 adopted the policy of preshipping equipment. The AGF was concerned lest this stock-piling produce even graver short-, ages of equipment for training in the United States. But although temporary shortages did develop, the net result in the long-run was beneficial in conserving shipping space and in permitting the re-use of equipment left behind in the zone of interior. 16
Difficulties with the AGF also arose over the development and procurement of equipment for combat troops and units. Under the March 1942 reorganization di-

rective, a Requirements Division was set up in AGF to establish military characteristics of weapons and equipment. 
This division was responsible for co-ordinating the design and procurement of materiel with the technical services under ASF command. Through its Development Section, the Requirements Division attempted to satisfy and balance the demands of the combat arms for materiel. The technical services, for their part, had to translate requirement into designs and into plans for industrial production, often in the face of shortages of raw material, labor, and plant facilities. The elaborate machinery for developing, testing, and purchasing equipment revealed numerous small points of friction, but all were adjusted in one way or another.
Somervell Raises a Basic Issue
In comparison with the dispute between the ASF and the Air Forces, these conflicts of the ASF with the Army Ground Forces were unimportant. The fact that the AGF and the ASF were in agreement on the economy and viability of the 1942 reorganization enabled them to avoid serious rifts in their relationships. Actual co-operation between the two organizations was. close, continuous, and on the whole, effective throughout the war. The Ground and Service Forces worked together with good results at camps, posts and stations. The conflicts treated above did not raise basic questions of military organization or of the responsibilities and authorities of the two commands. 
The problems were operational, involving specific issues, and for the most part were handled successfully, unembarrassed by debates over higher staff and command policy.
On the other hand, disputes over seemingly technical matters between the Air Forces and the Service Forces had a way of becoming vital issues which threatened to undermine the organizational integrity of the ASF. 17 Every Air Forces gain provided a fulcrum for more and more leverage in a jurisdictional offensive. Thus General Somervell became convinced that the change in the method of allotting War Department funds was a dangerous step toward stripping the ASF of some of the authority necessary for carrying out its basic supply and service responsibilities.
With this issue as a starting point, Somervell decided to bring up again the whole question of ASF-AAF relationships. In a memorandum for the Chief of Staff in September 1944 he called attention to the broad implications of the action taken in changing the method of allotting money. He listed six functions which had now been transferred from Service Forces supervision at air bases to Air Forces supervision and ten functions which still remained. He concluded that "in short, the action removes, for all practical purposes, the control of the Commanding General, Army Service Forces, and the chiefs of technical services over the major activities for which they are responsible insofar as the Air Forces is concerned." This development went a long way toward dividing the Army into two parts-the Air Forces and the Ground Forces-with chiefs of technical services limited to Ground Forces functions except as the AAF might request their assistance. Somervell then turned to the basic issue. The relation of the ASF to the Ground Forces was clear, he declared, but the relation to the Air Forces had been uncertain ever

since the reorganization of March 1942, and was now made more complex by this recent action.18
Since the War Department reorganization, Somervell asserted, the ASF had tried to carry out "the letter and spirit of the orders by rendering all possible service to the Army Air Forces and the Army Ground Forces." In general, there had been no difficulty with the AGF, and, Somervell noted, the AGF apparently did not feel any lack of adequate control over the services rendered its troops. The AGF had never asked that the military posts it used be transferred to its command. "On the other hand there has been a continuous trend and agitation towards transferring to the Army Air Forces the supply and service functions being performed by the Army Service Forces at Air Forces stations." Somervell then explained that the ASF had resisted these proposed changes in the belief "that they were not in accordance with the concept of the reorganization plan; that they would lead to a duplication of effort, to adoption of non-uniform standards and procedures, and to an uneconomical utilization of manpower, supplies, and facilities." He added that the ASF had usually been supported in its -opposition by the War Department General Staff.
Next in his memorandum Somervell was careful to insist that he had no wish to prejudice postwar military organization. The form this organization would take was still unknown and the organization for another war could not be predicted. "The extent to which air and other developments may bring about an almost complete change in the method of utilization of air and other arms may be far more spectacular than the mingling of all arms in this war." But in any event, service functions would always be necessary. What was needed was "a clean-cut division of responsibility but nevertheless one which will not unduly prejudice freedom of action in the future."
Somervell discussed several ways of meeting the existing situation and pointed out advantages and disadvantages of each possible course of action. A return to the pre-March 1942 organization, he felt, was impractical. One solution was to place the AAF in the same relation to the Service Forces as the Ground Forces. This meant that supply and service activities at air bases would be performed by station complements under the command of the ASR If all airfields were thus made comparable to installations used by the AGF, the Air Forces could devote its time entirely to its tactical mission and a single standard of supply and service activity would obtain in the zone of interior. On the other hand, this action would place certain restrictions on the freedom of the Air Forces, although the Ground Forces had not found such restrictions a vital disadvantage.
Another alternative was to make the Air Forces completely self-contained with its own separate service force consisting of medical, engineer, ordnance, and other components responsible only to the chief of the Air Forces. Such an arrangement would provide the advantage of complete independence for the AAF which would thereafter be only vaguely tied into the War Department at the top echelon. The disadvantage would be the creation of two separate organizations within the War Department with resulting waste of personnel, equipment, and facilities. It would also mean the end of the conception of the

ASF as a common supply and service agency for the War Department as a whole and would place a larger co-ordinating burden upon the Chief of Staff.
A fourth possibility was to return to the original conception of the reorganization as defined by Army Regulations 170-10, 10 August 1942, which made the post commander at Air Forces installations responsible to the commanding general of the service command for specified service and supply activities. This would avoid duplication of organization and supervisory personnel in the War Department but would mean that the Air Forces post commander would have two channels of command and would probably lead to the same objections which the Air Forces had raised ever since 1942. Finally, if the ASF were abolished, the chiefs of technical services could supervise their activities throughout the Air Forces, but the Chief of Staff would again find himself with the large overhead organization which he had found so burdensome before.
General Somervell pointed out other possibilities, but thought they had too many drawbacks. The most clean-cut decision, he believed, would be either to place the Air Forces in the same relation to the Service Forces as the Ground Forces or to establish a completely self-contained air force. The next best solution was to revert to the original arrangement decided upon in 1942. He asked General Marshall to settle the issue.
Somervell brought up this problem at a time when the War Department was studying the idea of a single department of national defense and when the General Staff wanted to avoid jurisdictional flare-ups.19 On 26 October 1944 General Marshall took up this perplexing problem by means of a memorandum to the commanding generals of the AAF, the AGF, and the ASK The Chief of Staff doubted "the advisability of initiating any substantial organizational changes at the present time." The entire question of War Department and Army organization would have to be considered at the end of the war when the comments of overseas commanders would carry great weight. If the War Department was to obtain acceptance of the idea of a single department of national defense it would first have to demonstrate within the Army a satisfactory relation of service agencies to the combat forces. 
The Chief of Staff then asked the commanding generals of the three commands to resolve among themselves "the over-all question of service and supply functions and responsibilities and their relation to command." He hoped that they would be able to settle minor differences which might arise from time to time without appealing to him for a decision. Where differences could not be resolved, they should be presented to him as issues for decision. He then requested a statement giving the combined views of the three generals on how common supply, and service activities should operate.20
The Effort To Resolve the Issue
General Arnold of the AAF, Lt. Gen. Ben Lear, commanding the AGF at the time, and General Somervell, held a series of meetings in an effort to reach an agreement about the role of the Service Forces. Toward the end of November 1944 they

sent General Marshall a report.21 The three generals recognized that unity of purpose within the Army and a satisfactory relation of service to combat forces were indispensable prerequisites to obtaining a single department of national defense. Nevertheless they found it impossible to reconcile their differences.
General Arnold held that the basic mission of his command was to dominate the air and that to accomplish this overriding purpose, "administrative, supply, and service functions related to maintenance of air superiority" had to be integrated under his control. The intercession of a service command in these fields created "fatal divided responsibility."
General Lear of the Ground Forces and Somervell, on the other hand, looked at the War Department mission from an Army-wide point of view rather than that of a single command. A supply and service organization should "promote the maximum combat effectiveness . . . of the Army as a whole, as distinguished from that of an individual component," such as the Air Forces. A single agency to provide supplies and render common services was in the interest of economy. The relations between the Ground and Service Forces and between the Air and Service Forces should be uniform. Combat forces ought to devote themselves to training and combat and perform only those functions which are organic to their combat mission. All other service and supply responsibilities should be left to a common service agency.
The opposing views on details were presented to the Chief of Staff in parallel columns, one column stating the views of Ground and Service Forces, the other of the Air Forces. 22 The case for the Air Forces seemed to lie in the oft repeated phrase "peculiar to the AAF." Air warfare, according to this approach, had its own special supply and service problems which were different from those of other combat forces, and should therefore be administered by the Air Forces. The ASF, while recognizing certain exceptions, believed that by and large the supply, administrative, and other service functions of the Air Forces did not possess inherent characteristics which distinguished them from the same functions of the Ground Forces.
The Air Forces protested in particular against a combination of command and staff functions in an independent service agency. This was an important point of the conflict and was expressed in Item 8 of the detailed list of differences:
AGF and ASF are of the opinion that . . .
8. ASF should act as the staff agency of the Chief of Staff and the Under Secretary of War for supply and service activities throughout the entire Army; i.e., there should be only one Surgeon General who should act as The Surgeon General of the Army.
AAF is of the opinion that
8. The AAF believes that all of the activities of the ASF should be subject to general policies laid down by the General Staff as now constituted, that the requirements of the combat forces should be determined and adjudicated by a General Staff in no respect subject to one of the major commands, and further that many staff functions now performed for the Army by ASF should be restored to General Staff level, ASF to retain necessary operating functions subject to General Staff direction. The AAF disagrees with

the view that a service agency under independent command should act as a staff agency for the Chief of Staff and the Under Secretary of War for administrative, supply or service activities.
General Arnold further maintained that, if the position of the Ground Forces and Service Forces was adopted, vital functions would be placed under the authority of a service agency independent of a combat force. A service agency by definition was only a means of assistance to a combat force. If a combat force did not include "certain essential functions" under its own control, its effectiveness would be crippled. Under the conception advanced by the ASF, the AGF and the AAF would exist as "tenants of the service agency" without any control of their stations and facilities. This concept ignored "the obvious fact" that the direction of a great combat force like the AAF was necessarily the management of a huge business which could not be farmed out to "an independent contractor." In the words of General Arnold: "Administrative control is an essential of command control." He then outlined the many different functions of the Air Forces and declared that these were interrelated and indispensable to the tactical mission of the AAF.23
The position of the commanding general of the Army Air Forces was obviously diametrically opposed to that of the commanding generals of the Army Ground Forces and the Army Service Forces. General Arnold saw the management of a combat force in terms of a widespread control over all of the activities contributing to operational effectiveness. The other two commanding generals saw the command of a combat force in terms of maximum possible dependency upon a separate service force operating behind the front lines overseas and extensively throughout the United States. There was little hope of reconciling these different conceptions of command responsibility within the Army.
General T T. Handy, Deputy Chief of Staff of the War Department, tried to find a solution to this seemingly unsolvable conflict. Accompanied by Maj. Gen. C. F. Robinson, director of the Control Division in Somervell's office, he visited both 'a large post operated by the ASF where troops of the Army Ground Forces were in training, and a large training base of the AAF. Upon their return, Robinson wrote to Handy stating the conclusions which their inspection trip seemed to justify. As far as internal post and base operations were concerned, the system in use for supply and services at both seemed to be functioning satisfactorily. The AAF base had received satisfactory assistance from ASF agencies. Regardless of War Department organization, in practice the air base was relying for many services upon service commands. The AGF-ASF relationship could be applied, with minor modifications, to an air base without much difficulty.
General Robinson argued that the major difficulty in existing organization for supply and service activities did not "lie at the post level but in higher echelons." The AGF-ASF system provided for supervision of these activities through a single geographical organization, which he believed was the more effective and efficient method. Under the AAF system, supervision of service activities was divided among a number of different tactical commands, resulting in "unnecessary duplication" and uneconomical "use of

personnel." Finally, under a dual system of supervision as at present, the chiefs of technical services could not adequately supervise the supply and service activities for which they had technical responsibility. 24
The War Department Decision
On 28 December 1944 General Handy transmitted a memorandum to all three commanding generals outlining the principles which were to govern relationships between their commands.25 First, the War Department General Staff was the "overall policy and co-ordinating staff for the War Department and the Army," while the three commands were primarily "operating agencies." Second, military personnel of the three major commands should receive "equal consideration and enjoy equivalent facilities." Third, commanders should concentrate upon their "primary responsibilities" and delegate "to a common supply service such duties as are not essential to their exercise of the command prerogative." The common supply service was to emphasize service, not command. Fourth, a supply service organization was essential for procurement and "wholesale" distribution of common articles of Army supply and for common administrative service. The fifth principle recognized a twilight zone in which the wishes of the commander would govern. For example, there was no question but that procurement of common articles of clothing was a responsibility of the Army Service Forces; there was no question but that the procurement of aircraft was a function of the Army Air Forces. But the procurement and distribution of high altitude flying clothing was in the indeterminate area and therefore the wishes of the Army Air Forces would govern.
The essence of the position of the Deputy Chief of Staff was summarized in his final point that "no major change in present procedures and organization is contemplated." The AAF retained command control over all but a relatively few responsibilities performed at its air bases. The ASF, through its service commands, still exercised supervision of Army exchanges, disbursement offices, and hospitals at air bases. In effect the December 1944 decision reaffirmed the status quo.
But the difficulties between the AAF and the ASF continued even after they had been supposedly settled by a War Department circular.26 When a change was ordered there were controversies over interpretation and procedure. Agreements between the two commands became increasingly difficult to achieve.
The Relations of the A SF and the AAF to the Technical Services
The attack of the Air Forces on the so-called Somervell empire not only had the effect of removing some supply, service, and administrative functions from the jurisdiction of the ASF, but even more damaging, it threatened to undermine the internal structure of the ASK The reorganization of 1942 brought many technical and administrative services, previously almost autonomous units of the War Department, under the command authority of General Somervell. These technical and administrative services at best tended to be somewhat restive under ASF juris-

diction. The AAF attack had the effect of encouraging internal dissatisfaction. The ASF suffered damage not only in that some of its functions were assigned elsewhere, but also in that the chiefs of the technical services gained a greater independence from ASF headquarters.
For example, in the dispute between The Surgeon General of the Army and the Air Surgeon, the final compromise provided that The Surgeon General would forward "through" the ASF his communications to the Chief of Staff: This meant that while the Commanding General, ASF, might comment, he could no longer exercise command authority over all the activities of The Surgeon General.27
The same type of situation evolved from the controversy with the Air Forces over the maintenance of real property and the operation of utilities. ASF internal organization provided that division engineers, the head of geographic areas within the United States under the Chief of Engineers, should also serve as a service command engineer in supervising property repairs and utility operations. In practice, most division engineers appointed a deputy who was in effect the engineer in charge of repairs and utility operations of a service command. While repair and utility funds to Air Forces installations no longer went from service commands directly to the air base, the Army Service Forces saw no reason to change its existing organization for supervising repair and utilities activities. Accordingly, service command engineers were directed to inspect repair and utility work at Air Forces installations in the same manner as at other. installations under service commands. After the change in methods of allotting funds went into effect, the Army Air Forces objected to this arrangement.
It was opposed to inspection of its air bases by an individual designated "service command engineer." It was willing to recognize the authority of the Chief of Engineers, but objected to service command engineers. On the other hand, the ASF maintained that its internal inspection organization was something it should determine for itself; its authority to inspect was specifically stated in War Department Circular 388; and it already had a large inspection staff which it proposed to use for inspection at Air Forces installations.
The dispute went to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, who stated that Circular 388 distinguished between the command function of the AAF and the service function exercised by the ASF at Air Forces installations. The service function was defined to include technical assistance, review, inspection, and supply. G-4 declared: "It is not to the best interest of the War Department to require a change in the ASF regional organization at this time for service to Class III [Air Forces] installations."28
This rebuff did not prevent the AAF from submitting a staff study arguing that War Department Circular 388 was intended to be only temporary in nature. The AAF therefore requested a transfer of authority from the ASF to the AAF to make all technical inspections at Class III installations. G-4 replied that it opposed the "elimination of technical inspections at Class III installations . . . . It is the policy of the War Department that the chiefs of technical services, in addition to their other duties, will act as chief technical advisers to the Chief of Staff and the

War Department." 29 Thus the position of chiefs of technical services was reaffirmed, although nothing was said about the authority of the Commanding General, ASF, as the superior of these chiefs.
The Deputy Chief of Staff reiterated this policy. He added that as technical advisers to the Chief of Staff, chiefs of technical services or their designated representatives were authorized to make technical inspections at Class I, II, III, and IV installations,30 to establish budgetary standards for expenditure of funds. Communications on all matters pertaining to technical activities of the War Department would be forwarded to the Chief of Staff through the Commanding General, ASE The statement further provided that the commanding general might make such additional remarks and recommendations as he deemed appropriate, but implied that he could not refuse to forward recommendations of chiefs of technical services.31
The existing inspection system on repairs and utilities operations was not disturbed. The effort of the Army Air Forces to escape from supervision by chiefs of technical services or from service commands was thus forestalled. But at the same time the authority of the Commanding General, ASF, was weakened by the provision that chiefs of technical services could prepare recommendations for the War Department General Staff on which the commanding general could only comment. Nothing was said about the authority of the Commanding General, ASF, to prescribe such organizational arrangements as he deemed desirable. Not only was the supervisory authority of the ASF undermined with respect to the Engineers; the WDGS took a similar position on the responsibilities of the Chief Signal Officer.
In fact, on 23 July 1945 the War Department General Council provided that all the chiefs of technical services would act as "chief technical advisers to the Chief of Staff and the War Department." 32
The War Department position was based on a distinction it drew between technical and service responsibilities of the chiefs of technical services. Under this interpretation the technical services would deal directly with the War Department General Staff on technical matters, while on other matters they would still be under General Somervell's jurisdiction.
Somervell protested against these developments vehemently and at length. The distinction between technical and service activities, he said, was meaningless in practical application. The changes threatened the stability of the ASF because they challenged its authority both over its Army-wide supply and service activities and over its own subordinate units. This tendency, General Somervell charged, "can only result in three independent self-sufficient commands-each with its own supply and service functions, each duplicating the overhead of the other." 33
Somervell then drew up a statement which clarified the organizational position of the ASE He sought his authority in the principles of the War Department reorganization of March 1942, which among other things had affirmed that "the mission of the Services of Supply is to provide services and supplies to meet military requirements except those peculiar to the

AAF," and that "supply arms and services and War Department offices and agencies will come under the direct command of the Commanding General, SOS . . . ." Somervell spelled out specifically what in his mind seemed the proper way in which these principles ought to be applied to the problems that had since arisen. He recommended that this statement be sent to the three major commands, and that it be inserted in the minutes of the War Department General Council.34
This memorandum and statement by General Somervell was to prove a final statement of his organizational thinking about the Army Service Forces. One week after it was sent to the Chief of Staff, the Japanese Government announced its surrender. World War II was over. Somervell's proposals were not considered.
The basic problem of the role of the Army Service Forces in the War Department thus remained unsolved. At most, Somervell's effort to bring about a solution served only as an opportunity for a restatement of the opposing points of view.
The ASF insisted on its position as an Army-wide service agency. Throughout, it adhered to the view that it was not a coordinate command, but an administrative arm of the War Department. More than this, it considered itself a planning agency for the Chief of Staff in the logistics field as well as in various technical operations.
In support of this broad conception of its role, the Army Service Forces could point, among other things, to the fact that it was often called upon to defend decisions on behalf of the War Department as a whole. For example, in early 1943 it bore the brunt of the defense for the Army decision, in the face of manpower stringencies, to raise a force of 8.2 million men.
Again when the Army argued for national universal service, the ASF carried the burden of the case. National universal service was intended to provide manpower for industry and agriculture rather than manpower for the Army itself. Since the ASF was concerned with the procurement of military supplies, it was perfectly natural that it should be the best prepared of all War Department agencies to present the Army argument for such legislation. The ASF also performed the bulk of the work in preparing the War Department's advocacy of universal training and for similar matters which transcended the fields of individual organizations within the War Department.
The basic doctrine of the Army Ground Forces was defined at the time of the reorganization of the War Department in 1942. Though occasionally objecting to Somervell's jurisdictional claims, the AGF was a consistent supporter of the need for an Army Service Forces as a common War Department supply and administrative agency.
The Army Air Forces did not share this view. Its hostility to the ASF position transcended specific issues, but stemmed rather from its basic desire for complete separation from the other major components of the Army. In view of this attitude, efforts toward a better understanding were well-nigh hopeless. At one time, Somervell and his immediate advisers thought relations might improve if the AAF would place a high-ranking officer in ASF headquarters to serve as liaison on post management, which would be an arrangement similar to that in force on purchasing matters. General Arnold agreed and on 19 August 1943 named a liaison officer with

Headquarters, ASF 35 Other AAF liaison officers were stationed in the headquarters of each service commander. But this arrangement brought no real improvement in relations between the .ASF and the AAF.
It was necessary for the ASF to reaffirm its role constantly in order to maintain its position in the War Department as originally intended. The alternative was to devise some new type of organization. The wartime solution to problems were compromises which outwardly preserved most of the original structure and functions of the ASK But the opposition encountered by the ASF in the effort to meet its responsibilities reflected subsurface currents of thinking within the Army which, if allowed to develop to their logical conclusion, threatened to undermine the whole theory of an Army-wide service agency.

Page Created June 13th 2001


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