Chapter XX: 
The Technical Services
When the Army Service Forces was created on 9 March 1942, five different elements of War Department organization were brought together. First, there were various parts of the War Department General Staff, especially G-1 and G-4. Second, there was the Office of the Under Secretary of War. Third, there were eight administrative "bureaus." All of these eventually became ASF headquarters, as related below. Fourth, there were nine corps areas, which as service commands were to become the major units of the ASF field organization. Fifth and last, there were six "supply arms and services" of the War Department, later redesignated "technical services." They were the vital operating units performing the supply and certain special activities of the ASF. These supply arms and services were the Offices of the Chief of Ordnance, The Quartermaster General, the Chief of Engineers, The Surgeon General, the Chief Signal Officer, and the Chief of Chemical Warfare Service. Each branch had its own particular history, traditions, and esprit de corps. Three of the technical services Ordnance, Quartermaster, and Engineers-traced their origin back to the Continental Army of General George Washington. As early as 1790 the Congress of the new federal government began to provide for "staff" officers in the War Department, including a quartermaster. In 1792 the positions of surgeon and adjutant were added. A separate "corps" of engineers was provided by law in 1802. The Quartermaster "department" and the Ordnance "department" were created on the eve of the War of 1812. In 1860, just before the Civil War, the position of Signal Officer was created, and the Signal Corps was added in 1863. The Chemical Warfare Service was a product of World War I. 1
Each chief of a supply arm and service headed a large operating organization with a headquarters in Washington and with various field installations scattered throughout the United States under his complete administrative control. Each supply arm and service was a procurement agency of the War Department. This meant that it developed various types of military equipment, bought or manufactured this equipment, stored supplies in large depots, and then distributed these items to posts, camps, and stations in the United States or to ports of embarkation for shipment overseas. The supply arms and services also operated important .maintenance facilities for the repair of damaged equipment. Each supply arm and service was a branch of the Army

under the National Defense Act. This meant that many officers were commissioned in these services. The chief of the service then watched over the subsequent assignment of these officers and provided continued assistance to them in the performance of their duties. The services trained both officers and enlisted men for assignment to many different commands. Some of the supply arms and services were more than supply and training "bureaus" of the War Department. Three in particular operated essential service activities, the Engineers providing a construction service to the Department, The Surgeon General a medical service, and the Chief Signal Officer a communications service.
The term "supply arm and service" was the common designation, employed in the War Department before 9 March 1942, for the Ordnance Department, Quartermaster Corps, Corps of Engineers, Medical Department, Signal Corps, and Chemical Warfare Service, as well as for the Coast Artillery Corps and the Air Corps. In April 1942 the ASF introduced the designation "supply service" to apply to these agencies under its jurisdiction.2 A year later the expression "supply service" was officially abandoned in favor of the term "technical service." 3 The first-used label suggested too narrow a scope of responsibility. The operation and supervision of such activities as medical care, communications, construction, and transportation were not readily encompassed by the word "supply." The designation "technical service" better described the work of these agencies, and soon the expression gained widespread and apparently enduring acceptance throughout the Army.
These technical services became a part of the ASF on 9 March 1942 without any change in their previous responsibilities or internal structure. The only alteration was one in organizational status. Whereas previously their superior had been the Secretary of War, speaking through either the Under Secretary on procurement matters or through the Chief of Staff on other matters, he now was the commanding general of the Army Service Forces. This new organizational status created special problems for the technical services, especially in their relationship to the Army Air Forces. As already indicated, the Air Forces had as its long-range goal the attainment of a status separate from and equal to the Army and the Navy. As a step toward it the Air Forces sought to have its own technical service officers. But somehow the technical services couldn't help but believe that their relations with the Air Forces would have been simpler, and their superior technical guidance would have been acknowledged by it, if they had not been under the command of the ASK To a lesser degree they had the same attitude about their relations with commanding generals of overseas theaters of operations. At best, with the possible exception of the Transportation Corps, the technical services were always restive partners in the common enterprise known as the Army Service Forces.
Creation of the Transportation Corps
In the course of the preliminary planning which preceded the War Department reorganization in 1942, General Somervell decided it would be desirable to add to the original six services a new technical service for transportation. Before 9 March 1942 in the field of military transportation

there was a Transportation Division under The Quartermaster General and certain separate field installations that reported directly to the Chief of Staff, namely, ports of embarkation, and regulating and reconsignment points (later called holding and reconsignment points) handling domestic and overseas movements of men and supplies. The activities of these different units were closely controlled in practice by the Transportation Branch of G-4. General Somervell determined to merge all of these units into a single operating agency on transportation. Originally, this was designated the Transportation Division.4 Although called the Transportation Division, the new agency was listed initially as an "operating division" of the ASF, along with the six technical services. The confusion of the label "division," which was also employed for ASF headquarters units, was removed in April 1942 when the designation Transportation Service was introduced.5
The creation of the Transportation Service as an operating "service" of the ASF still left a number of loose ends in the organization of transportation activities throughout the Army. Quartermaster officers remained as water transportation officers assigned to various commands. The Corps of Engineers still trained operation and maintenance units for railway transportation activities overseas and exercised supervisory authority over railway transportation activities at posts in the United States. This was an anomalous situation. A chief of transportation in the ASF was operating the transportation system for the War Department as a whole but there was no provision for a similar arrangement in overseas and other commands of the Army. Accordingly, General Somervell recommended that the Transportation Service be recognized by the War Department as a branch of the Army. This recommendation was approved, and in July 1942 the Transportation Corps, under a Chief of Transportation, was created as a recognized specialty in the Army with its own branch insignia.6 This action was taken under the authority of Executive Order 9082 of 28 February 1942, the same order which authorized the reorganization of the Army. The War Department orders provided that the duties assigned the Transportation Service by ASF orders would be absorbed by the Transportation Corps and that the designation "Transportation Service" would be discontinued. At the same time, the War Department orders transferred four different types of transportation units trained by The Quartermaster General to the Transportation Corps.
A further strengthening of the Transportation Corps followed in November when the War Department transferred from the Corps of Engineers to the new corps the functions of research and development, procurement, and storage and issue of all railway rolling stock and distinctive railway equipment; the operation and maintenance of railways in some overseas areas and at posts in the zone of interior; and the Military Railway Service in its entirety. All officers of the Corps of Engineers on duty with the Military Railway Service and similar units were automatically transferred to the Transportation Corps. In addition, seventeen different types of railway operating and maintenance units organized and trained by the

Corps of Engineers were redesignated Transportation Corps units and assigned to the Transportation Corps for organization and training.7
Thus by November 1942 the Transportation Corps had become a full-fledged technical service of the War Department, operating within the Army Service Forces. It had taken over the water transportation responsibilities and troop units of the Quartermaster Corps and the railway troop units and functions previously vested in the Corps of Engineers. It was assigned procurement responsibility for railway equipment and for harbor craft. It arranged all troop movements within the United States for groups of forty or more. It operated ports of embarkation, and performed numerous other duties of an operating, training, and technical nature.8 As a new technical service, the Transportation Corps became a vital part of the ASF and played a leading role in the war that embraced the globe.
General Depots  9
In addition to the Transportation Division, the ASF originally established another new operating division alongside the supply arms and services, the General Depots Division. It combined the General Depot Section in the Supply Branch, G-4, with all general depots. Before 9 March 1942 the general depots of the War Department reported directly to the Chief of Staff. The advantages in having a general depot were several. Posts issuing supplies to troops could send requisitions for a variety of items to one place. Shipments could be made in carload lots and many common depot problems could be handled on a unified basis. In practice, the operations of the general depots had been supervised by the Supply Division of the General Staff. The ASF, in creating the General Depots Division, grouped them with a headquarters office in Washington.10 In April 1942, as in the case of the change in designation of the Transportation Division, the General Depots Division was renamed General Depot Service and its head designated Chief of General Depot Service.11
In July 1942 the responsibilities of the General Depot Service were enlarged by giving the ASF staff supervision over all storage and warehousing activities. The General Depot Service was to direct the installation of modern efficient methods of materials handling and space conservation at all warehouses operated by technical services. It was to establish specifications and direct the purchasing of materials handling equipment, to train warehouse personnel, and to co-ordinate the requirements for the construction, leasing, and use of storage facilities. 12 This order was short lived; it was rescinded only five days later, since the functions prescribed for it almost completely overlapped those already being performed by a division in ASF headquarters.13 Furthermore, its existence was questioned on the grounds that it was a small organization compared with the other technical services. It was these considerations that

brought about a comprehensive re-examination of the basic problems of depot operation and the abolition of the General Depot Service.14 All general depots were designated Army Service Forces general depots.
Since the Quartermaster Corps already operated, on a large scale, depots handling a wide variety of goods and was itself a major user of the general depots, and since The Quartermaster General already had taken a number of steps to improve depot operations, the administration of general depots was turned over to his office. The various sections of general depots allotted to other supply services continued to function under the jurisdiction of those services, but The Quartermaster General was made responsible for the operation of general depots as a whole, including utility services and other common activities.
When The Quartermaster General became the administrative head of the general depots, it meant that an officer designated by him was expected to handle all problems of common concern. What, then, were the common problems? They included hiring civilian personnel, plant maintenance and utilities services, control of incoming and outgoing freight cars, local purchase necessary to the operation of the depot, the keeping of financial records, and the provision of certain administrative services such as arrangements for travel and control of office space. The head of the technical service section of an ASF depot was responsible for the actual storage, stock record keeping, and shipment of the supplies of his service. Some friction was inevitable between an administrative officer responsible for the physical plant and the technical service supply officer responsible for storage and issue of supplies. Altogether there were twelve
ASF general depots in the United States during World War II. The number of technical service sections in these depots varied from six at the Utah general depot to two at the Savannah general depot. An alert administrator would necessarily find many opportunities to achieve management economies in the operation of an ASF general depot. For example, each technical service section of a depot maintained its own stock accounting procedures, usually involving a sizable array of electric accounting machinery. If all of the stock accounting work were combined, substantial economies might be realized. Common direction of warehousing operations might achieve operating economies also. Each technical service section had its own binning procedures and its own open storage areas. It was therefore logical to assume that all supplies which had to be binned could be brought together in one place and all supplies in open storage consolidated by size, some savings might be realized in warehousing costs.
ASF headquarters recognized this fact. In August 1943 it authorized an experiment at the Atlanta general depot in developing an integrated organization. A single stock control division and a single storage division were set up within the depot to perform these functions regardless of the type of supply handled. In January 1944 it was announced that the experiment was being discontinued. Experience had demonstrated that an integrated organization based on function rather than type of supply handled was feasible in practice. The system was recognized as a break in the traditional method of supply whereby each chief of a technical service was responsible for the storage and

issue of the commodities purchased by his service. Therefore, despite the advantages in the system each technical service expressed a desire to retain basic control of its responsibility. Consequently, General Somervell decided that no major reorganization of jointly occupied depots would be undertaken. The ASF general depots continued to be operated on an arrangement which assumed that the depot commander was the landlord and that the technical service sections were responsible for the storage and issuance of supplies.15 The experiment did accomplish one important improvement, however: it increased the number of functions recognized as common to depot operations and placed under the control of the depot commander at an ASF depot.16 The general depots were thus administered by the chief of one of the technical services, The Quartermaster General.
Adjustments in Responsibilities of Technical Services
Apart from the creation of the Transportation Corps and the transfer of general depot administration to The Quartermaster General, few additional changes were made in technical service responsibilities during World War II. One major change had occurred before the ASF was created when, by legislative act, Congress on 1 December 1941 approved the transfer of construction activities in the United States from The Quartermaster General to the Chief of Engineers. This action, put into effect fifteen days later, was entirely independent of the creation of the ASK The only other major change in technical service responsibility occurred in July 1942, when the War Department transferred research and development, procurement, storage, distribution, and maintenance of all general and special purpose motor vehicles from the Quartermaster Corps to the Ordnance Department.17 This step was taken because of procurement conflicts between the Ordnance Department and the Quartermaster Corps in the automotive field. The Ordnance Department was looking largely to automobile manufacturers for the production of tank engines and tank assembly. Many of the component parts of tanks were common to the automotive industry. After studies by the ASF and the Ordnance Department had suggested the desirability of centralizing all tank and automotive procurement in Detroit, General Somervell asked the General Staff to approve the amalgamation of truck, automobile, and tank procurement. This was done. Immediately thereafter the Tank-Automotive Center of the Ordnance Department was officially established in Detroit. Later this became known as the Office, Chief of Ordnance Detroit.
There was a constant disposition through the ASF Procurement Assignment Board to centralize the procurement of all common-type items in the Quartermaster Corps. For example, the procurement of all materials handling equipment was assigned to The Quartermaster General. Despite the loss of certain activities to the Transportation Corps, the Corps of Engineers, and the Ordnance Department, the Quartermaster Corps remained, in money volume, second to Ordnance as the most important procurement service of the ASK It remained responsible for the procurement, storage, and issue of sub-

sistence, petroleum and lubricants, clothing, and all general supplies.
Additional functions were also given to The Quartermaster General during the war. For example, in July 1943 The Quartermaster General was made responsible for developing and supervising a "food service program" to curtail waste in foodstuffs at messes on Army posts.18 Eventually, this program became Army-wide in scope.19 In addition, The Quartermaster General was given complete responsibility for the procurement and distribution of gasoline, fuel oil, and lubricants. At first, there was a separate staff office in ASF headquarters on petroleum matters. But in December 1943 this unit was transferred to the Office of The Quartermaster General. The purchase and distribution of petroleum products by the Quartermaster Corps was subject only to the same general kind of ASF headquarters supervision which obtained for every other kind of supply commodity. 20 The Fuels and Lubricants Division in the Office of The Quartermaster General served thereafter as General Somervell's personal staff on Army-Navy Petroleum Board matters.
For a time in 1943, when the work of the Army Pictorial Service in the Signal Corps caused some difficulty, General Somervell appointed an independent head for the service with directions to report to him personally. Later, when a new Chief Signal Officer was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to become effective on 1 July 1943, General Somervell returned the service to the Chief Signal Officer.21
From time to time the commanding general made minor adjustments in the responsibilities of the technical services or determined how they were to work together in some common concern. In this he usually followed the recommendations of the Procurement Assignment Board in his headquarters whose job it was to consider any duplications or conflicts in procurement operations of the services. In a single year at the height of the war, this board considered as many as 1,428 matters and arranged for one technical service to purchase such varied items as flags, public-address systems, interoffice communications systems, dry-cell batteries, and fire extinguishers. 22 Another time, the ASF had to prepare a War Department order for G-4 approval to clarify who would build laundries and who would purchase equipment for their operation. 23 A major jurisdictional problem involved hospital ships and the evacuation of wounded and sick personnel from overseas to general hospitals in the United States. In addition to arranging for the assignment of a medical officer to the Office of the Chief of Transportation to handle movements of personnel under medical care, ASF headquarters had to work out an elaborate set of instructions on the mutual responsibilities of The Surgeon General and the Chief of Transportation in evacuating patients from overseas points .24 In the course of the war the commanding general of the Army Service Forces, usually through his staff, made many such adjustments in the duties of the technical services in order that they might work more harmoniously with one another.
The creation of service commands as field installations of the ASF necessitated

further adjustments in technical service operations. These will be described in the next chapter. Actually this reorganization did not affect the specialized responsibilities of technical services. It merely changed their mode of operation from one of complete control of certain field work to one of technical control confined to their particular specialty.
Internal Organization
The internal organization of each technical service was a matter determined by the chief of the service. ASF headquarters never directed a standard organizational pattern for the technical services although plans to do so were considered from time to time. Indirectly, however, ASF headquarters did much to influence the internal organization of the technical services. For one thing, the establishment of an ASF organization manual brought with it certain standardizing tendencies. At the outset, each technical service was asked to label its major units as divisions, a practice reflected in the Services of Supply Organization Manual published in September 1942, and one that was retained until August 1944.25 Another influence in the direction of a standard pattern was the statement of principles of organization which was first published in an ASF Control Manual and which was later contained in each revision of the Organization Manual. This statement emphasized the importance of keeping the number of units reporting to the chief at a minimum. Also, the grouping of related activities under common supervision below the level of the chief himself became a standard practice in ASF organization:
A third and perhaps the most important influence making for a standard organization was the ASF headquarters staff itself. As the headquarters assumed a fairly standard pattern after May 1943, technical services tended in general to parallel this arrangement. Staff divisions in ASF headquarters continually pressed the technical services to create staff counterparts of themselves. The reason was simple; staff officers at the echelon of the commanding general desired counterparts in the office of each chief of a technical service, since this facilitated their own work. Although there never was any official instruction requiring a chief of technical service to follow the ASF organizational pattern, the pressures to do so were quite strong.
On the other hand, there were several factors which militated against a standard organization among the technical services. All but the Transportation Corps had developed over many years their own methods of doing their work. These ingrained practices could not lightly be overcome, even by the centralizing pressures from the ASK There were also differences in function among the technical services, as between medical work and construction, for example, or as between communications and transportation. These made for organizational differences and variations in procurement, supply, training, and other activities.
To the extent that the ASF-its commanding general and his staff-pressed for standard organizational structure within the technical services, it was pushing the common interests of the ASF as a whole. To the extent that the technical services resisted these pressures and retained or developed their own special organizational practices, they were expressing their individuality and determination

not to be absorbed into a completely integrated structure for performing War Department supply and other central services. The result was that the Army Service Forces was never able to achieve the degree of organizational unity which its staff believed desirable. Tradition and pressure for autonomy had to be recognized and accommodated.
Field Installations of Technical Services
just as each chief of a technical service retained authority to organize his own office in Washington as he pleased, so each was able to have his field installations organized as he saw fit. No standard pattern of organization was ever imposed upon the field operations of technical services. A complete inventory of technical service field installations was made in the spring of 1943. (Table 2) 26
Every technical service had procurement districts and supply depots, although both purchasing and storage operations differed among the services. The number of training establishments depended upon the particular training relationships with the service commands (a subject to be discussed in the next chapter). Only the Ordnance Department operated a large number of manufacturing plants, designated government-owned, government-operated plants (GOGO) to distinguish them from government-owned, privately operated plants. Otherwise, there was a wide variety of field installations under the technical services, such as engineer divisions and districts, transportation ports, storage depots, signal laboratories and repair shops, and general hospitals.
Differences in the field organization of the technical services as a whole may be illustrated by the variety of methods covering the procuring of supplies. Procurement planning during the 1920's had placed considerable emphasis upon regional decentralization. As a result, each technical service had established procurement planning districts. The number of such districts varied from four under The Surgeon General to thirteen under the Chief of Ordnance. With two exceptions the Office of The Quartermaster General and the Office of the Chief of Engineers these procurement planning districts became procurement offices after July 1940. As of November 1941, the Chief of Ordnance was purchasing most of his supplies through thirteen district offices, the Chief of Chemical Warfare Service through five district offices, the Chief Signal Officer through three, and the Medical Department through four. The Quartermaster Corps continued its traditional method of procurement. Its ten leading depots were responsible for centralized procurement of different commodities throughout the United States. Thus the Boston depot was the center for shoe procurement, the Chicago depot for food, the Philadelphia depot for clothing, and the Jeffersonville depot for canvas duck and many general supplies. Until November 1941 the Chief of Engineers did all engineer purchasing through a supply section in Washington. Purchasing through district offices began in November and grew only slowly thereafter.
When the ASF was created, its staff gave increased attention to prescribing uniform purchasing policies, standard contract clauses, and close pricing, but it


Ordnance  Total 178
Arsenals    13
Procurement Districts    13
Supply Depots    47
Sections of ASF & Other Depots    9
Sections of H&R Points    8
Tank-Automotive Center    1
Proving Grounds    4
GOGO Plants  Total 73
TNT & Powder Plants    21
Ammonia & Nitrate Plants    10
Loading Plants    24
Small Arms Plants    12
Other Plants    6
Ordnance School    1
Bomb Disposal School    1
Officer Candidate School    1
Replacement Training Center    1
Miscellaneous Installations     6
Transportation    Total 113
Ports of Embarkation     7
Sub ports of Embarkation    11
Cargo Ports of Embarkation    2
Staging Areas     22
Unit Training Centers    2
Officer Candidate School    1
Officer Schools    2
Replacement Training Center     1
Transportation Zones    9
District Transportation Offices    13
Port Agencies    14
H&R Points    9
Regulating Stations    6
Army-Navy Consolidating Stations    3
Army-Navy Distributing Agencies    7
Military Railway Service Installations    4
Quartermaster    Total 97
Supply Depots    11
Supply Sub depots     7
ASF Depots    11
Sections of H&R Point    1
Procurement Districts    17
Remount Depots    3
Remount Areas    7
Market Centers    36
Quartermaster Board    1
Quartermaster School    1
Officer Candidate School    1
Replacement Training Center    1
Engineers    Total 92
Engineer Divisions    10
Engineer Districts    55
Supply Depots    8
Sections of ASF Depots    8
Sections of H&R Points    2
Engineer Board    1
Miscellaneous Installations    5
Officer Candidate School, at Belvoir    1
Replacement Training Centers, Wood and Belvoir    2
Signal Corps    Total 54
Signal Laboratories    6
Photographic Laboratories    2
Procurement Districts    3
ANEPA Regions     6
Inspection Zones    5
Signal Depots    8
Sections of ASF Depots    4
Signal Repair Shops     2
Ground Signal Service    1
Aircraft Signal Service    1
Eastern Signal Service    1
Eastern Signal Training Center    I
Eastern Signal Corps School     1
Officer Candidate School     1
Replacement Training Center    1
Southern Signal Corps School     1
Signal Corps Board    1
Miscellaneous Installations    9
Medical Department     Total 42
Procurement Districts    2
Supply Depots    9
Sections of ASF & Other Depots     11
Sections of H&R Points    5
Sections of Air Depots     3
Field Service School    1
Army Medical Center     1
Dental School    1
Medical School    1
Veterinary School    1
General Hospital     1
Miscellaneous Installations     6
Chemical Warfare     Total 32
Arsenals    4
Procurement Districts    7
Supply Depots    5
Sections of ASF Depots    5
Sections of H&R Points    2
Renovation Plants    3
Proving Ground    1
Chemical Warfare Board     1
Laboratories    2
Chemical Warfare School    1
Officer Candidate School     1

never issued instructions on common procurement organizational arrangements in the field. In practice the various technical services used a wide variety of field offices for procurement operations, changing the arrangements with changing circumstances. The Chief of Ordnance, as noted above, purchased many supplies through thirteen district offices during the war, although automotive procurement was centralized in Detroit. The ordnance manufacturing plants were supervised directly from Washington and not through the district offices. The Quartermaster General continued to channel procurement operations through the depots, although an element of geographical administration was introduced by the creation of zone offices which did some local contracting for a parent depot or inspected and accepted supplies on behalf of a depot. The Signal Corps gradually moved away from a geographical procurement organization until by early 1943 it had developed a commodity procurement organization with three offices in the United States. The Philadelphia district office became the center for procuring all types of radio communications equipment, telephone and telegraph equipment, wire and cable, photographic equipment and other items. The Monmouth procurement district purchased all types of electronics equipment, mainly radar sets, although it also bought telephone and telegraph signaling apparatus. The Wright Field Signal Corps Procurement Office at Dayton purchased all kinds of communications equipment for aircraft. The Medical Department eventually centralized all of its procurement in its New York office. The St. Louis office continued to do a certain amount of procurement as directed from New York. The offices in Chicago and San Francisco were closed out. The Corps of Engineers used both a geographical and a commodity basis for procurement. The New York office was made responsible for the procurement of compressors and certain other types of construction equipment. Designated division engineer officers and district sub-offices were also assigned procurement responsibilities. From a total which at one time reached eleven division offices, the Corps of Engineers reduced its procurement district offices to five division offices by the end of the war. The Chemical Warfare Service used six district offices during the war but also tended to concentrate responsibility for certain types of procurement in one of these offices. Its New York office became the center for the purchase of most chemical items manufactured by the chemical industry.27
There was a very great variation in the organization of procurement offices during World War II. The primary emphasis was upon obtaining the desired production. Standard purchasing procedures were introduced in December 1944, but organization was not thereby affected.28 On the other hand, the number and size of technical service depots were carefully controlled by ASF headquarters in order to insure that unnecessary facilities were not constructed. A standard internal organization for depots was prescribed in December 1944.29 This introduced a common administrative pattern for all depots, regardless of the technical service. This was in fact the highest degree of standardization

brought about in any technical service field installation during the war. Yet the supervisory organization for depots continued to be a matter for each chief of a technical service to determine. Thus, at one time the Ordnance Department grouped depots into zones. This practice was abandoned a short time later as merely introducing an unnecessary supervisory echelon. But each technical service controlled its depots as it saw fit.
ASF headquarters did endeavor to encourage the chiefs of the technical services to discharge some of their functions through the service commands. This effort (described in the next chapter) circumscribed somewhat the freedom of action for the chiefs of the technical services in organizing their field activities. The desire of the ASF to strengthen the service commands became a factor which the chiefs of technical services constantly had to contend with. For the most part, they were less than enthusiastic about service commands as field organizations and were little disposed to work through them.
Technical Service Duties of Army-Wide Scope
The technical services had a kind of dual responsibility during World War II. First of all, each chief of a technical service was head of a major operating unit of the Army Service Forces with extensive duties in the procurement and distribution of supplies and in the performance of various central services. But second, the chiefs of technical services as heads of branches of the Army were expected to exercise technical supervision over their specialty wherever performed in the Army. In this second capacity it was never clear just what the responsibility of the ASF was, nor was it easy to draw a clear distinction between what constituted a central War Department service rather than technical supervision. A few illustrations may help to indicate the difficulty.
There was never any doubt about the nature of the procurement and storage activities of the technical services. These were sizable operations indeed. Because there was a need for central direction to insure co-ordinated action among seven different procurement agencies, the ASF had been set up to give unity to Army supply operations. On all procurement, storage, and distribution activities the status of the offices of chiefs of the technical services as constituent operating units of the ASF was clear.
The technical services also performed certain centralized services for the War Department, as noted above. If the Ground Forces or the Air Forces wished to turn in trucks for extensive repairs or overhauling, the Chief of Ordnance provided the maintenance facilities. If the Ground Forces or the Air Forces wished to use the Chief Signal Officer's communications network for sending messages, they were free to do so. The Surgeon General, through service commands, directed a number of general hospitals to care for patients turned over by the Ground Forces, the Air Forces, or overseas theaters of operations. The Chief of Engineers had a construction service ready to build any structures wanted by the Ground Forces, the Air Forces, or the War Department General Staff. But this raised questions. Did the Chief of Engineers, for example, operate a maintenance service for structures, or exercise technical supervision of maintenance activities?
When it came to exercising their authority as heads of Army branches with Army-wide supervisory duties, the chiefs

of the technical services ran into difficulties, primarily with the AAF, as already indicated.30 Certain additional aspects deserve further comment here. To the Army Air Forces, the ASF was simply a coordinate command. How then could the chiefs of the technical services in the ASF exercise technical supervision over medical, engineering, communications, and other services in the AAF? The answer of the WDGS to such questions was to reaffirm the technical supervisory authority of the chiefs of technical services.
Thus in March 1945, War Department instructions were issued on responsibilities for the maintenance of ordnance materiel. The order began by asserting that maintenance of ordnance equipment was the, responsibility of the commander concerned. The Chief of Ordnance, however, would communicate directly with and issue "necessary technical instructions and information" to the ordnance staffs of AGF and AAF headquarters. The Chief of Ordnance would provide qualified military personnel for maintenance duties, publish maintenance procedures and methods, provide technical guidance, and repair equipment returned from other commands. The order never once mentioned the existence of the Commanding General, Army Service Forces.31 When the food service program started by the ASF was made Army-wide in scope, War Department instructions provided that the preparation of general policies and standards "of a technical nature which have an Army-wide application to food service activities" would be the responsibility of The Quartermaster General and The Surgeon General. Their respective duties were then detailed. The only mention of the commanding general of the ASF came later when he was authorized to gather "data for establishment or revision of Armywide" policies, procedures, standards, and methods of a technical nature 32
A different kind of statement of responsibility was prepared and issued to define the status of The Surgeon General. War Department orders in April 1945 began by asserting that The Surgeon General of the Army was the "chief medical officer of the Army and the chief medical adviser to the Chief of Staff and the War Department." As such, he was to make recommendations to the Chief of Staff and the War Department General and Special Staffs on matters pertaining to the health of the Army, and to prepare publications announcing general policies and "technical inspections" on health matters throughout the Army. This particular order went on to provide that The Surgeon General would address communications on the establishment of new policies and procedures to the Chief of Staff through the Commanding General, ASK The Commanding General, ASF, might comment and make recommendations on these proposals but could not reject them. Furthermore, The Surgeon General was authorized to communicate directly with other commands on matters of a routine nature 33 This order had the effect of giving The Surgeon General a special status on matters of medical policy and procedure. The Commanding General, ASF, could no longer disapprove recommendations of The Surgeon General; he had authority only to comment on them and to suggest alternatives for the consideration of the War Department General Staff.

General Magee, The Surgeon General, June 1939 - May 1943 General Kirk, The Surgeon General, June 1943 General Campbell,Chief of Ordnance General Reybold, Chief of Engineers General Gross, Chief of Transportation General Gregory, The Quartermaster General General Porter, Chief of Chemical Warfare Service General Olmstead, Chief Signal Officer, October 1941-June 1943 General Ingles, Chief Signal Officer, July 1943-March 1947Picture : THE CHIEFS OF THE TECHNICAL SERVICES.


There were two basic complications in orders of this sort. First, the War Department instructions seemed to suggest that on technical matters the chiefs of the technical services were not parts of the ASF but were members of the War Department staff. And second, they simply filled the chiefs of technical services with a sense of restiveness at being parts of the Army Service Forces for their other duties. The technical services were never enthusiastic about being units of the ASF. They never seemed to realize that to continue procurement and supply operations under seven different systems, with seven different sets of objectives, seven different ideas about urgency, and seven different instructions on shipment would have meant chaos and waste, not effective and economical supply of military operations. But the obstacles placed in the way of technical supervision by the chiefs of the technical services were real enough-obstacles which were not imposed by the Commanding General, ASF, but by the very nature of the Army Service Forces as a War Department command.
The technical services were large and essential elements of the ASF. They performed the actual work of calculating supply needs, procuring war equipment, and storing and issuing supplies to troops.
They provided the, medical, construction, communications, photographic, and transportation services for the War Department. As of 31 July 1943 the total operating strength of the seven technical services within the United States was 728,796 military and civilian personnel. This was 48 percent of total ASF operating strength. This personnel was divided among the technical services as follows: 34
Chief of Transportation       149,121
Ordnance       261,118
Engineers*     90,493
Quartermaster       103,450
Signal       72,109
Chemical Warfare       35,569
Surgeon General     16,936
*Including civilian functions and MANHATTAN DISTRICT supervising development of the atomic bomb.   
Of the total strength of technical services on 31 July 1943, 16,904 military and civilian personnel were located in the offices of the chiefs of the technical services in Washington. Another 13,787 were field employees in the District of Columbia area. The remainder were field employees in the United States or on special overseas missions.

Page Created June 13th 2001


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