Chapter XIX: 
The Procurement Role of the ASF  
Out of its experience with civilian agencies, and especially from the controversy with the WPB, the ASF tried to advance a definite opinion regarding the relationships which should exist between key civilian agencies and military procurement agencies during economic mobilization. In a general way such relationships had been more or less assumed in the industrial mobilization plans prepared before World War II. But the war itself was the testing ground where the practicability of those ideas was determined.
It fell to the lot of the Army Service Forces, and particularly to General Somervell, to demonstrate that though both types of agencies, civilian and military, might have different administrative roles to perform, they could nonetheless work together in what was necessarily a joint enterprise.
In attempting to make the fullest use of the nation's resources in carrying on the war, there never was more than one alternative to an organization under which civilian and military agencies worked together. That alternative was to remove all military procurement operations from under the direction of the armed forces and to turn them over to civilian agencies which would be responsible for both general economic mobilization and military procurement. The possibility that economic mobilization might be turned over to the military was never contemplated by the responsible civilian secretaries or military chiefs of the armed forces during World War II. Certainly this writer can assert with absolute assurance that General Somervell never for a moment felt that the military services should assume responsibility for economic mobilization. On the other hand, he was strongly opposed to the idea that military procurement should be turned over to the civilian agencies which were directing economic mobilization.
The essence of Somervell's position, and that of Secretary Stimson and Under Secretary Patterson, and all their principal associates, was simply this: in arming the military forces in a time of all-out war effort, the nation's economic resources had to be called upon to provide in abundance the weapons necessary to defeat the enemy. This meant a large-scale shift of productive resources-manpower, raw materials, and industrial plant-from ordinary consumer goods to military goods. In the process there was bound to be a diminution in the supply of goods and services available for civilian consumption.
The modern concept of war is one of a struggle between national economies. It

involves not merely an economic potential to produce great quantities of weapons but a nation's actual output. Only when the. economic resources of a nation are readily available for the output of military equipment on a large scale can its armed forces benefit from its productive capacity. And modern strategy of warfare-certainly the American strategy of warfare-has now become based in large part upon the concept of supply superiority-that is, the employment of overwhelming quantities of military equipment against the enemy.1 Strategy has always depended in some measure upon logistics, but perhaps we are now more dependent upon this factor in our military thinking and action than ever before.2 Accordingly, economic mobilization is one of the essential elements of total warfare.
In the War Department point of view economic mobilization during World War II had two interrelated but nonetheless separate features. First, there was military procurement: the determination of supply needs, the design and specification of weapons, the contracting with certain industries (those making end-items of equipment) for the delivery of specified quantities of weapons, scheduling and expediting the delivery of weapons, inspection for contract performance, the issuance of delivery instructions, and the payment of contract prices for items delivered. 
In all these relationships the military procurement agencies should have direct access to contractors unimpeded by intervention of a third party. Second, there was economic mobilization in a more general sense: the central control of the common resources of the nation needed to realize military procurement goals and at the same time to keep the entire national economy functioning. This involved a determination of total productive resources available for military procurement; necessary action to increase the supply of manpower, raw materials, and productive facilities; production and delivery scheduling of the manufacturers of raw materials, civilian goods (transportation equipment, electric power systems, food distribution facilities, etc.), and common industrial goods used both by the military and civilian producers (ball bearings, motors, copper wiring, etc.); control of the use of transportation facilities; price control; rationing of civilian supplies; war financing; economic warfare and foreign trade; and many other duties. These were responsibilities for civilian agencies in a period of all-out war effort.
Throughout the war the War Department tried to make clear that it was possible and desirable to have military procurement agencies and civilian control agencies working together but with somewhat different responsibilities in effecting economic mobilization for war.
Military Procurement
From the time that the War Department was first set up in 1789, it had enjoyed the statutory authority to purchase military supplies. Under ordinary peacetime conditions military procurement and supply was a problem of internal War Department organization and procedures. These activities raised few questions of broad economic importance. Even during the Civil War the procurement operations of the Union Army apparently proceeded

without much concern for their impact upon the economic resources of the nation. It was not until World War I that our government acted on the theory that military procurement must be integrated into the general program for utilization of the nation's total productive resources.. Industrial mobilization planning from 1920 to 1940 was based upon this proposition. President Roosevelt acted upon it in May 1940 when he set up the Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense. There was never any real doubt that military procurement in wartime meant economic mobilization for war. The War Department, however, still retained its responsibility for military procurement. The economic mobilization of national industrial resources, from the Army's point of view, did not involve the removal of procurement responsibilities from the War Department.
As noted above, the NDAC in 1940 and then the Office of Production Management in 1941, gave their primary attention to helping the War and Navy Departments expand and improve their military procurement operations. 
Between the two wars the procurement bureaus of the War Department were mere skeleton organizations. Even between June 1940 and December 1941 they had been slow in building up their internal operations by commissioning or hiring top-ranking civilians for key positions. The War Department needed and did in fact obtain major assistance from both the NDAC and the OPM.
After mid-1941, however, the War Department felt that some of the persons who had provided this initial help in building up procurement organization and methods should be absorbed within the Department itself. After 9 March 1942, for example, General Somervell asked Mr. Nelson to release Mr. William H. Harrison, head of the WPB Production Division and a former vice-president of American Telephone and Telegraph Company. This was done. 
Harrison was commissioned a brigadier general, and eventually as a major general was placed in charge of the entire procurement program of the Signal Corps. A number of his assistants were likewise brought into the Army.3
The shift of key personnel from the central civilian agencies to the military procurement agencies of the Army Service Forces represented, in Army thinking, merely one step toward total wartime economic mobilization. This move was in the accepted tradition which held that in time of national emergency, the military skeleton organization would expand by bringing in civilians to man our defenses in every sphere of activity from procurement to combat. 
The main impulse for this expansion was supposed to come from within the military agency since military procurement operations could best be handled by the armed forces themselves.
There were some groups in WPB which developed an opposite point of view, a point of view which held that the military procurement power rightly belonged to the WPB under the provisions of Execu-

tive Order 9024 which created the WPB, and that those powers were usurped by the military organization. In support of this view the official WPB history states, for example:
Nelson was not aggressive about his Jurisdiction and his powers. He allowed ANMB to elude his grasp, although it was subordinate to him, and he permitted the War Department's Services of Supply, over which he said he had no control, to become something decidedly other than what he thought it should be.4
And at another point, it adds:

Everything that WPB attempted to do
with respect to procurement was conditioned by the primary fact that Nelson had delegated the power of actual procurement to the Services.5
The WPB history says in effect that there can be no effective mobilization of the nation's economic resources unless the central civilian direction of economic resources is combined with military procurement under a single administrative agency:
A genuinely effective control of procurement by WPB would have meant that it was in a position effectively to: (1) expedite war procurement; (2) achieve maximum use of existing facilities; (3) conserve critical resources; (4) eliminate competition between the procurement agencies; (5) further the maintenance of a sound national economy by the proper distribution of war contracts; (6) procure at the lowest total expenditure; and (7) develop uniform policies which would guide the procurement agencies in the realization of these goals. To do this it would not be enough merely to enunciate policies; it was necessary to control the actual administration of procurement policies at the point of procurement. WPB would have to insert itself into the flow of procurement plans and orders so that it could clear appropriation requests for non-combat items to determine need and procurement program feasibility; clear purchase programs and schedules for sufficiency of supplies, timing of orders, and types of purchase transactions; and direct actual placement of orders.6
Aside from the jurisdictional issues involved this statement implies that if the War Production Board had been allowed to procure munitions, the over-all war production effort would have been strengthened. The history apparently concludes that (1) there was no effective economic mobilization in World War II and (2) the explanation lies in Nelson's failure to insist upon a transfer of military procurement operations from the armed forces to the WPB. This point of view helps to explain why ASF-WPB relationships were at times bitter. The War Department and the ASF argued throughout the war that organizationally, military procurement had to be integrated with military logistics and strategy. They consistently held that effective economic mobilization could be realized through close collaboration between a central civilian agency and the military procurement agencies. The 12 March 1942 agreement between the War Department and the War Production Board was a statement of respective responsibilities that was entirely workable in practice, and the experience of the war years seemed to confirm this belief.
At the end of 1942 and in early 1943, General Somervell and others in the War Department were alarmed by legislation introduced into Congress calling for the creation of a new "super" economic mobilization agency which would combine the WPB and the procurement activities of the armed forces.7

Senator Claude Pepper of Florida, one of the sponsors of the proposal, explained his stand in an article in The New Republic entitled "To Smash the Final Bottleneck."8 He argued that the "least proper" agency to be placed in charge of "war production" was the military. He went on to assert that only if the military forces found that they had to depend upon another agency for their supplies would they be "held to a strict accounting, required to present its requirements in terms of a fully developed strategical program." He criticized the military forces for not turning "production" over to "production men from industry."
Somervell was moved by this article to write a lengthy personal letter to Senator Pepper to explain the Army's point of view.9In it he expressed surprise and shock because of the Senator's unfriendly tone and apparent "faulty information." Somervell argued first of all that logistics and strategy were inseparable in war and that the armed forces' mission to defeat the nation's enemies could be fulfilled only if they had "complete responsibility and authority in a single chain of command" for the design, procurement, and distribution of weapons. In 1942, when the same kind of relationship was being developed between the War Industries Board and the armed forces that had been worked out in World War I, Somervell had insisted that it was not feasible to try to "rip" military procurement out of the whole process of determining military strategy and providing the logistical resources for its, execution. He identified the major steps in the flow of munitions as follows:
a. Strategical and logistical planning.
b. Development of need for all types of supplies and equipment based on that planning.
c. Research to develop new and improved weapons and other materiel.
d. Production and testing of pilot models.
Determination of facilities capable of producing the end-items of military supplies and equipment in sufficient quantities at the times required.
f. Construction of production facilities where those existing are inadequate.
g. Placing of contracts.
h. Expediting and following up production.
i. Inspection for quality.
j. Testing and proof firing.
k. Providing shipping orders to the manufacturers.
l. Making transportation arrangements domestic and overseas.
m. Distribution through bases and intermediate depots, sub-depots, holding and reconsignment points, and ports of embarkation to troops either in the United States or overseas.
n. Maintenance of supplies and equipment, including procurement and distribution of spare parts and tools, salvage, and rehabilitation.
These activities did not occur in sequence, Somervell pointed out. Strategical planning continued throughout, and production programs were adjusted and readjusted in the light of battle experience. The various proposals for civilian control of purchasing and production would transfer at least those segments of the munitions flow listed in paragraphs a to i. "The effect would be to split an integrated process into three parts: The beginning and the end to be under the jurisdiction of the War Department, the middle to be under the jurisdiction of an independent civilian agency." With such a plan, it would be difficult to meet emergency needs, virtually impossible to differentiate between the functions of the various agencies, and in case of failure, to determine which was

to blame. The Army's production achievements had been great. Despite certain specific failures, many of which were not the fault of the services, military specialists and civilian experts, co-operating with committees from industry, had compiled a magnificent record. Germany had begun its all-out war effort in the early 1930's and was devoting 43 percent of its national output to war; the United Kingdom began in 1936 and was concentrating 39 percent of its production on war; the United States, which did not begin its effort until the summer of 1940, was devoting 39 percent of its output to war.
"For more than twenty years the War Department has been designing and developing improved weapons and teaching its officers and industry how they could be best produced," Somervell declared. To supplant these proven men and methods with untried personnel and unproven experiments would be bad enough at any time; in wartime it would be disastrous. In his opinion the Army should control the production of munitions because it was expert in weapons. The civilian agency still had the tremendous job of controlling raw materials, and semi-finished products. This meant that War Department supply plans were based upon "an absolute control of the civilian economy in the hands of civilian emergency agencies." To imply that Army control over the production of its own weapons was inefficient or would result in dictatorship, General Somervell concluded, impugned the devotion to duty, the honesty, the loyalty, and the professional competence which had always been the pride of the Regular Army.
The arguments stated in the letter of Senator Pepper were reiterated on many subsequent occasions. When testifying before the Senate Small Business Committee on 7 December 1942, General Somervell put the case more briefly: ". . . it is a cardinal principle of organization and of business administration that you cannot give a man a responsibility without giving him the authority to carry it out. Now, what you are advocating in this bill is to lift out of the middle of the Army's responsibility a piece of it and hand it over to somebody else, and yet hold the Army responsible for winning the war." 10
On 16 December 1942 Under Secretary Patterson told the Truman Committee that many people incorrectly assumed that the armed forces wanted to take the procurement of weapons away from other agencies and a few people absurdly believed that the Army wanted to regiment the American economy.11 All that the Army and Navy were defending during World War II was the right they already had of supervising the production of their own weapons. He illustrated dramatically how the flow of munitions from drawing board to battle was indivisible. Bomb fuses used for high altitude or dive-bombing were found to be unsatisfactory for the type of low-level bombing required in the Aleutian campaign. An ordnance officer who participated in the bombing attacks, flew back to Picatinny Arsenal, and designed a new fuse. He supervised production changes, and then rushed back to the Aleutians to teach others how to use the new fuses in battle. Such an accomplishment would have been difficult with "duality of control." The civilian War

Production Board had a big job to do, Mr. Patterson declared, and was better qualified than the Army to mobilize industry, expand facilities, and distribute raw and semi-finished materials. It also had to provide civilian supply necessary to support the war effort. There was "no thought that the military departments should control the American economy." It was essential only that the armed forces procure munitions which they were best able to procure, while civilian agencies directed the economy of the nation in support of the war effort.
In March 1943 Secretary of War Stimson stated the case once again in a long and detailed letter to Senator Robert R. Reynolds, chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs.12 The Secretary vigorously opposed an Office of War Mobilization with powers over military procurement. The job of providing the Army with munitions was continuous and indivisible. Dual control would hurt military operations. The physical job of transferring organizations and personnel was almost insurmountable. Relieving officers in wartime to serve with the new civilian agency would hurt morale. Above all, turning over a task as important as military procurement to an untried agency which might not be able to do the job was too great a risk to take. The War Department had the primary responsibility of defeating the enemy, and it ought not be deprived of tools necessary to accomplish its mission.
When hearings were finally held on the proposal for an Office of War Mobilization by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs in May 1943, the War Department simply submitted a brief which was published as Exhibit 6. This brief answered specific questions submitted by the committee about existing organizational arrangements. The brief concluded: research, design, engineering, contracting, production, inspection, testing, distribution, and maintenance of military equipment are essentially integral parts of a unified whole, and are necessarily so dependent on each other and on military planning and strategy that no part can be torn loose from the whole without serious injury to the entire operation and to the prosecution of the war. The fact that these operations can be abstracted from the unified whole for the purpose of description must not be permitted to mislead the Committee into thinking that they also can be segregated in their actual performance without disastrous consequences.13
Finally, the War Department transmitted to the Senate Committee on Military Affairs a booklet which presented the basic thinking of the War Department about its procurement responsibilities." Again, the arguments were those used before. First of all, in wartime as in peacetime, the Army should fix specifications for military equipment, let contracts for such equipment directly with manufacturers, inspect contract performance, and accept final delivery of completed items for storage or immediate shipment to troops. Research and development, modifications in the light of war experience, and production improvements went along simultaneously with this whole process. Many ideas for change came from manufacturers, but the Army insisted upon final decision on the basis of the specific combat

 needs to be fulfilled. The Army wanted a unhampered relationship with contract of end-items weapons so that it could make adjustments in design and production promptly, without seeking the concurrence of another agency. Second, the Army maintained that there was a need or civilian control of economic mobilization generally, and that there were vital tasks to be performed by such agencies as the WPB, the WMC, the OPA, and the National War Labor Board. Military procurement could not take place in wartime without the control over industrial resources exercised by these agencies. Third, there were necessarily vital relationships between military procurement by the Army and the Navy and economic mobilization as controlled by other agencies. The Army, for example, adjusted its supply requirements downward in the light of available raw materials, manpower, and productive plant. The Army recognized that it, plus the Navy and the Maritime Commission, could not claim the entire available supply of raw materials. There were domestic transportation needs, utilities systems, clothing, food, shelter, and many other items essential to keep all industrial production under way. But the Army asked that it be told approximately what it might expect in various resources and that it then be permitted to decide for itself how these might be most advantageously used in fixing and modifying production schedules. The Army thought that the relative spheres of competence between military procurement and economic mobilization could be drawn in general terms and that the necessary collaboration could be realized by mutual adjustment and good will.
This in brief was the War Department's argument for economic mobilization to be accomplished through two separate sets of agencies, one, the military agencies for military procurement, and the other, the civilian agencies for control of basic economic resources. The pattern of relationships which was actually established for the duration of World War II followed the lines indicated by the Army argument.
In any event, Congress in 1943 did not enact the proposed legislation for a super agency combining central economic controls and military procurement. Legislative action perhaps was discouraged or even forestalled by the President's action in May 1943 in creating an Office of War Mobilization in the executive office of the President and in appointing James F. Byrnes to head it. This step added a new organizational entity which had previously been missing in Army thinking. The Byrnes office was not the super agency proposed in the pending legislation. It did not disturb the existing responsibilities of the military procurement agencies and of the central civilian control agencies. It became instead a formalized or institutionalized means whereby the President's top authority could be made effective in settling any controversies which might arise between the military and civilian agencies.
The War Department subsequently never had reason but to welcome the addition of this unit in the Executive Office of the President set up to exercise watchful and friendly oversight of all phases of economic mobilization.
Did the Army Want Control of the Civilian Economy?
The War Department case just summarized should be sufficient to disprove the charge that it wanted control of all

machinery and of all policies governing mobilization of the nation's economic resources for war. But this charge was so frequently and irresponsibly made that a few additional words may be warranted.
In his testimony before the Senate Special Committee Investigating the National Defense Program, Under Secretary Patterson had deplored the fact that people were being led to believe that the Army wanted to take over the civilian economy. "How that story got started I do not know," he said at the time.15 Whatever its source, the story gained credence as it passed from tongue to tongue, and became a favorite topic among journalists.16 It finally came to be accepted as fact in certain official reports. For example, the report The United States at War, prepared in the Bureau of the Budget, states:
. . it was the doctrine of the Army that the military should take control of all elements of the economy needed for war, once war was declared. Under "total" war, this would include total control of the Nation, its manpower, its facilities, its economy . . . the Army never gave up the effort to increase its control in these areas .... [Military leaders] never abandoned the sincere conviction that they could run things better and more expeditiously than could civilians. This approach was involved, for example, in the transition from the Production Requirements Plan to the Controlled Materials Plan, as is explained below. Similarly, when the WPB, after a bitter struggle in which the President made the decision, reestablished its right to control production schedules, the military promptly reestablished, if it did not actually extend, its influence through the Production Executive Committee and the Staff which surrounded the Executive Vice Chairman.17
Similar charges, coupled with direct personal attacks upon General Somervell, are repeated even more extensively in the official history of the War Production Board.18 This history attributes the ineffectiveness of the March 1942 agreement between WPB and the War Department largely to General Somervell's personality and to ASF empire-building. Ignoring Mr. Eberstadt's refutation of the charge, this official history cites as evidence of military desire to control the economy: Somervell's proposal for WPB reorganization, the military attitude on priority ratings, and WPB difficulty in checking on military procurement. Nelson's relations with the Navy, it suggests, were not as stormy as those with the War Department. The implication, of the WPB history is that if the WPB had been dealing with almost any individual in the War Department except General Somervell, relations would have been better. A personal attack upon General Somervell fails to take into account the fact that his attitude on economic mobilization reflected the combined thinking of his staff, and that the reasoning on which this attitude was based convinced men like Patterson, Stimson, and later Byrnes, to draw a distinction between direct military procurement and civilian control of economic resources.
Certainly the question whether it is possible to draw a line in wartime between military procurement and control of economic resources is a serious one deserving the most thoughtful, as well as the most unbiased, consideration. War Department statements of its position always assumed that it was possible to draw such a line, and that its attitude was not inconsistent with civilian control of the nation's economy. As stated earlier, there never was any

attempt by the Army to deny the need for central civilian direction of national resources and there never was any proposal that these functions should be transferred to the Army or Navy.19 The War Department recognized that "ours is a civilian government"; the War Department itself was headed by civilians. While many top positions in procurement and supply activities were held by professional soldiers, 96 percent of all officers in the ASF and the AAF involved in procurement activities had been recruited from civilian life. "The American military system from the beginning, has been built upon the fundamental distrust of a standing Army . . . . But in time of war, by virtue of our system our Army has always, by necessity, been a citizen Army." 20
It may well be asked: What basis was there in fact for the accusation of military desire to control the civilian economy? The charges were always vague in nature. For example, the volume published by the Bureau of the Budget reports: "General Somervell found time to prepare an elaborate plan for the organization of WPB which would have placed complete control of WPB and of the economy under the joint Chiefs of Staff:" 21 Similarly, in referring to the same episode, the official history of the WPB argued that General Somervell's plan would have "placed the apportionment of materials for the essential civilian economy under the military," and would have "assigned to the military responsibility for the establishment of policies to govern resources mobilization, use and apportionment." 22 The fact of the matter is that Somervell's suggestions did not put forth what they are thus purported to have said. The organization chart submitted with the text clearly showed the WPB directly under the President and not under the Combined Chiefs of Staff. General Somervell suggested only that a Combined Resources Board (a new designation for the already existing Combined Raw Materials Board) be placed under the Combined Chiefs of Staff, but with Mr. Harry Hopkins as chairman. Nowhere in the report was it proposed that any military body take over control of the civilian economy.
Undoubtedly the specter of the ANMB greatly confused military relations with the WPB in 1942. It had been the ANMB which officially published the various industrial mobilization plans during the 1930's. The 1939 plan had pointed out that while these plans had been prepared by Army and Navy officers, "Their operation will be undertaken by civilian administrators appointed by the President." 23 Only if there was a delay in creating a central civilian War Resources Administration would the ANMB assume the responsibility for limited guidance of industrial effort. 24 When the WPB was created on 16 January 1942, the executive order provided that "the Army and Navy Munitions Board shall report to the President through the Chairman of the War Production Board."
With Mr. Eberstadt as chairman of the ANMB after December 1941, there were several early attempts to make the board an important means of co-ordinating Army and Navy procurement activities and of "advocating the interests of Army

and Navy" in WPB councils.25 Subsequently, through June and July 1942 a good deal of confusion existed about what the ANMB was supposed to be, what it was supposed to do, and how it was related to the WPB. Mr. Eberstadt refused to join the WPB staff in July 1942 because the position offered him was to be circumscribed by competing jurisdictions. Then an agreement was made on 25 July which provided for the continuance of the ANMB to "formulate and advocate before WPB the requirements of the Services, to reconcile conflicts arising between the Services with respect to such requirements," and to assign representatives of the services to appropriate divisions of WPB upon WPB approval.26 Because the discussions in May, June, and July on a revised priorities directive and the relative merits of "horizontal" versus "vertical" allocations of raw materials were conducted in the name of the ANMB, there was still further misunderstanding. Matters improved somewhat when that organization virtually ceased to exist and Mr. Eberstadt joined the WPB in September 1942.
The importance of the ANMB has been greatly exaggerated in the official history of the WPB. A few comments may help to clarify the situation. The Army and Navy Munitions Board, from the date of its creation in 1922 until 1940, was never an important administrative agency. The staff of the Assistant Secretary of War, under the fiction that it was also the staff of the ANMB, carried on economic mobilization planning. Though the Assistant Secretary of the Navy joined in approving industrial mobilization plans, the Navy's participation was limited.
About the time of Pearl Harbor both Under Secretary of War Patterson and Under Secretary of the Navy Forrestal did have the idea that the ANMB might be built into an important agency for collaboration of the two departments. Mr. Eberstadt had actually been asked to become its chairman in order to achieve that purpose. The idea proved abortive, however, for several reasons. Navy procurement officers were not much interested in collaboration. The WPB questioned the need for the ANMB and looked upon it as a rival. The staff of the OUSW on 9 March 1942 became the staff of the Commanding General, ASF, and was thereafter to become primarily concerned with supervising and expediting the procurement operations of the seven technical services with a command authority never enjoyed as a part of the Under Secretary's office. And then some degree of procurement and supply collaboration between the Army and Navy was worked out under the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
If it hadn't been for Mr. Eberstadt personally, the ANMB would probably have withered away entirely in the spring of 1942. While Mr. Eberstadt became a spokesman on raw materials problems for Under Secretary Patterson and General Somervell of the War Department, and for Under Secretary Forrestal and Vice Admiral S. M. Robinson of the Navy, the real work on these questions was done in Somervell's staff. Actually, the ASF, the AAF, Admiral Robinson's Office of Procurement and Material, and the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics tended to develop their own separate relations with WPB. The relative insignificance of the ANMB

was revealed as early as June 1942 in a report prepared by an Army and a Navy officer for Mr. Eberstadt. This report made it clear that such procurement cooperation as was then being promoted through the ANMB was confined to priorities, machine tools, and optics matters27
In June 1943 General Clay suggested to Somervell that a memorandum for the President be jointly signed by Under Secretaries Patterson and Forrestal recommending discontinuance of the ANMB for the remainder of the war. The reason for this proposal was that machinery for Army-Navy co-operation already existed, and it was functioning under the joint Chiefs of Staff.28 Although the recommendation was not followed, it indicated how unimportant the ANMB had become.
The ANMB was never the rival the WPB sometimes professed it to be. Although, as already indicated, it might have developed into an agency for joint Army-Navy procurement co-operation, neither the Army nor the Navy pushed for such a sphere of operation in 1942 or 1943. Somervell was too busy endeavoring to make the Army Service Forces an effective agency for procurement and supply activities within the War Department. The Navy was never greatly interested in any top machinery to push procurement collaboration between the two departments.
In the light of what actually happened, therefore, it is difficult to understand the fear of the ANMB which is voiced in the official history of the WPB. The Army and Navy Munitions Board for a brief time was a means for War and Navy Department collaboration in a relatively limited sphere-it merely attempted to define and clarify relations between the armed forces and the WPB on control over the distribution of raw materials. With the adoption of the Controlled Materials Plan these relations were defined to the satisfaction of the Army, at any rate, and the ANMB simply disappeared.
Mr. Nelson's own memoirs may give a basic clue to WPB-ASF difficulties. On the one hand, Mr. Nelson continually asserts that he did not want to calculate military supply requirements or let military contracts. He indicates his general approval of the 12 March 1942 agreement, but never seems to realize that every subsequent quarrel with Somervell and the Army which he records involved some basic modification of that agreement. If the agreement was satisfactory, Mr. Nelson fails to make clear why the Army, and Somervell in particular, should not have objected to its unilateral abrogation. It would seem that Mr. Nelson saw the possibility of a dividing line between military procurement and central control of economic resources but never quite understood it.
Incidentally, it should again be emphasized that it was Nelson, among the top officials of the WPB, who found it most difficult to get along with Somervell. Mr. Wilson, after the initial flurry over the determination of his authority had subsided, developed increasingly co-operative relationships with Army and Navy personnel. The Production Executive Committee became an agency making for harmony between the WPB and the armed forces, as well as an instrument for outstanding production accomplishment. General Somervell felt that Mr. Wilson's

contributions to the war effort were never fully appreciated, and he regretted the interval of WPB feuding which led to Mr. Wilson's resignation in 1944. After J. A. Krug replaced Nelson as chairman of the WPB, relations between the WPB and the ASF continued to be cordial.
All discussion about civilian control of the economy was, as far as the War Department was concerned, completely irrelevant. The real problem was mobilization of the nation's economy through separate, if interrelated, agencies for military procurement and central direction of economic resources. The War Department held that this kind of organizational arrangement was not only feasible but also indispensable in a war where logistics and strategy were so basically intertwined. There is nothing in the report of the Bureau of the Budget or in the history of the WPB which conclusively demonstrates that this position was organizationally unworkable. All the personality conflicts and the disposition of some persons to shift the argument to the ideological level of "civilian versus military" control of the economy should not conceal the real issue: what type of wartime organization will most effectively use the nation's resources in the effort to defeat the enemy?
The War Department's position on effective organization may be summarized as follows:
1. The armed forces should design weapons and other necessary supplies, determine the quantities necessary in the light of the planned size and composition of the armed forces, let the necessary contracts directly with industrial producers, fix delivery schedules, inspect the output, and give the shipping instructions for completed articles.
2. The entire military procurement process could not be divided up into phases since it was vitally interrelated at each step, with numerous changes in design and production made in accordance with tests and battle experience.
3. No third agency should intervene between contracting. officers of the armed forces and the contractor, since otherwise the whole vital relationship extending throughout the procurement process would be interrupted.
4. The War Department recognized that its procurement plans during wartime would have to fit within the limitations of other procurement programs and within the limits of the productive resources of the nation.
5. A civilian agency should be responsible for determining the total productive resources of the nation and for deciding the amount of production indispensable to the wartime operation of the entire economy. This was not a job for the War Department. An increase in the output of raw materials; an expansion of fabricating facilities; an expansion of productive facilities for the manufacture of such industrial supply items as wire, generators, electric motors, ball bearings, and other items used in both military articles and other equipment; the control of labor; the control of the use made of raw materials-all these were responsibilities to be exercised by an agency outside the War Department.
6. There must necessarily be close working relationships between the War Department in its procurement operations and a civilian agency directing utilization of the nation's whole resources. These relationships should be based upon a thorough appreciation of the vital role each agency must play in war production. The

agreement of 12 March 1942 between the War Department and the War Production Board was a satisfactory statement of the respective functions and relationships which should exist between the two agencies.
7. If procurement programs exceeded available materials and other resources, thereby raising the question of what should receive priority, the highest military agency, the joint Chiefs of Staff, should act as umpire determining the relative importance of ships as against aircraft, for example, and tanks as against trucks. Any adjustment in mobilization plans, including the size and composition of the Army, made to conform to production possibilities, should be a military decision.
8. The War Department should learn from the civilian agency the total resources available to it and then be free to use these resources as it saw fit in producing particular types of equipment. Every adjustment in use should not have to clear through a civilian agency.
9. The responsibility of the armed forces for the successful defense of the nation must carry with it responsibility for the means used in achieving the military objective. If a particular tank was faulty or a particular communications set inadequate, or if there was a lack of trucks where they were needed or not enough transport vessels to move the military forces to the desired destination, the fault must clearly be that of the armed forces. There must be no possibility of shifting the blame elsewhere.
10. In wartime all possible resources must be made available to the armed forces in their effort to obtain the materiel to achieve military success.

Page Created June 13th 2001


Previous Chapter     Next Chapter

Return to the Table of Contents