Chapter XXIV: 
The Proposed ASF Reorganization of 1943

In the summer and autumn of 1943 General Somervell and his chief advisers on organization gave careful attention to the possibility of afar-reaching and general reorganization of the entire Army Service Forces. Out of this consideration came four proposals which were submitted to Secretary of War Stimson for approval. This they failed to receive, and so the suggested reorganization of the ASF was never effected.

The entire story might perhaps be passed over without any mention or dismissed in a few words as an abortive effort. Indeed, the whole experience was a painful one for all participants. Yet there are at least three compelling reasons why the story should be told. In the first place, allusions to the incident have already been made in two widely read wartime biographies, those of Secretary Stimson and of Mr. Harry L. Hopkins. As these accounts stand they fail to reveal what actually happened. It therefore seems appropriate and even obligatory to give the matter fuller treatment. In the second place, the episode may provide useful information

for future planners in the Department of the Army who will have to struggle with organizational problems. Third, the experience provided a number of lessons for the participants. If the immediate results were negative, the incident was nonetheless instructive.

The A SF Organization Situation in 1943

The orders on headquarters organization on 15 May 1943 marked the end of a distinct period in ASF history.1 After a year of deliberation and experimentation, a structural pattern for the ASF had finally emerged. This pattern, as already noted, consisted of three major parts. There were the seven technical services, with headquarters in Washington and various field installations to perform procurement, storage, and specialized operations. There were nine service commands, organized geographically, that were primarily responsible for supervising post management throughout the United States. Third, there was the ASF headquarters staff which, after May 1943, combined various so-called administrative services and other staff offices into a single command directing and supervising the work of the two types of operating agencies, as well as performing central services for the War Department as a whole.

This was a complex organization structure. It had numerous defects. Yet it had


certain virtues, too. The structure provided elements of unity and working relationships, which although they did some violence to the status and prestige of various prewar War Department offices, retained the identity and much of the substance of each. It was a cumbersome organization in many respects, but it was' also a workable one, as the war experience demonstrated.

The basic question after May 1943 was whether General Somervell and his organization planners, mostly located in his Control Division, should accept this general pattern as permanent, adjusting and perfecting some of its parts, but retaining its essential features as fixed for the duration of the war; or should they consider other organizational arrangements for performing the task of the Army Service Forces. General Somervell had no hesitancy in answering this question. Organizational exploration and thinking was to continue.

There were a number of reasons for dissatisfaction with the existing ASF organization structure. One of these was the criticism of the size of the ASF headquarters in Washington. ASF staff divisions and the offices of chiefs of the technical services numbered about 32,000 soldiers and civilians during the war. This was a large force, one which could not be housed in the Pentagon alone, and so was scattered in various permanent and temporary structures all over the nation's capital. From time to time the Deputy Chief of Staff, General McNarney, pressed General Somervell to decrease this force. General McNair of the Army Ground Forces on occasion also pointed to ASF headquarters as a conspicuous example of the "overstuffed headquarters" which was absorbing the strength of the Army. Such criticisms led to numerous studies to determine what activities performed by staff divisions and chiefs of the technical services might be moved away from Washington and where other savings in manpower might be achieved. All of these studies came to one conclusion. The existing organizational structure of the ASF made a large headquarters staff inevitable.

ASF staff divisions performed their procurement, distribution, and training responsibilities through the offices of chiefs of the technical' services in Washington. Thus, there was a large staff office under the Director of Mat6riel in ASF headquarters and large procurement staffs in the office of each chief of the technical service directing the field procurement operations of each individual service. There was a large staff in ASF headquarters supervising storage, distribution, and maintenance operations, again working through the offices of chiefs of the technical services handling these activities in each particular service. The training personnel in ASF headquarters was not very numerous, but there were training divisions in turn in the office of each chief of the technical service directing the training programs carried out in the field. In short, for many different functions there were dual staffs in Washington, one in the office of the commanding general, and one in the office of the chief of a technical service. As long as the technical services were organized along commodity and specialist lines, no remedy could be effected. On the other hand, since the functional co-ordinating burden of the Commanding General, ASF, was a large one it could be reduced only by a fundamental shift in organizational structure.

Studies by the Control Division clearly emphasized other structural defects in the


existing organization. The New York Field Survey of May 1942 had called attention to the fact that there were five separate procurement offices in New York City alone with resulting duplication in personnel, fiscal, clerical, and other administrative operations. The survey pointed further to duplication in the maintenance of facilities records and in inspection activities and plant protection. The report suggested that a district commanding officer of the ASF be set up in the New York area to centralize and furnish administrative services for the various procurement offices. It would make the local supply sections responsible administratively to the district commanding officer, but technically responsible to the various technical  service offices in Washington. This survey also recommended that the primary organizational arrangement for purchasing operations in the field should be based on a geographical division of duties.2 As has been noted, General Somervell did not act immediately on these recommendations at the time the report was submitted.

Other weaknesses in ASF organization also existed. There were duplications in personnel work between the ASF Director of Personnel and The Adjutant General. The Army Exchange Service had procurement responsibilities. The Special Services Division was producing motion pictures and publishing books and pamphlets, types of work that were also being performed elsewhere. Often the lack of a uniform pattern of organization throughout the ASF impeded the establishment of simplified and uniform procedures and the prompt interchange of information and instructions between various echelons.

Another grave difficulty in the ASF organization was the wide variety of field units employed by the technical services.

Each service had its own system of field offices and in some cases had more than one set of field offices doing different jobs throughout the United States. This lack of uniformity made field co-ordination extremely difficult. Even the service commands themselves followed different practices within their own boundaries. Each one, for example, had district offices at this time, but apart from internal security activities these offices had little in common. One service command had placed all of its field functions except those located at Class I and Class II posts under district offices. Six gave certain training responsibilities and military police troops to district commanding officers, while the others did not. Only one service command delegated officer-procurement activities to its district commanders. Seven of the service commands followed state boundary lines in setting up districts and two did not.3

Another major problem in field organization was revealed by workload studies prepared in the Control Division in February and March 1943. These studies found a great disparity in the workload carried by the nine service commands. Three service commands, the Fourth, Eighth, and Ninth, performed 46 percent of the work of all service commands. Four other service commands, the First, Second, Fifth, and Sixth, accounted for 24 percent of the service command workload. Such a variation was inevitable under the circumstances, largely because the original


boundary lines for service commands had been determined on the basis of potential military population in the United States. Accordingly, those service commands with the smallest geographical areas were located within highly urbanized and highly industrialized , sections of the United States. These were the areas with the smallest number of military training posts, particularly posts for training AGF units, which in 1943 was the major portion of the service command workload. In other words, service command boundary lines that had been drawn for a particular purpose in 1920 no longer had any reality for the tasks to be performed by the ASF in 1943.

The disparities in workload meant waste in overhead personnel since the larger service commands had a lower proportion of operating personnel to workload than the smaller service commands. It was estimated that the amalgamation of the smaller service command headquarters and the lifting of all operating standards to the level of that of the most efficient service command would result in a savings of at least 45,000 military and civilian personnel.4

All of these deficiencies were clearly recognized by General Somervell. They were inherent in the existing organizational structure of the Army Service Forces. They arose essentially out of the long-time and separate existence of such technical services as the Office of the Chief of Ordnance and the Office of The Quartermaster General, and of such administrative bureaus as the Office of The Adjutant General. The War Department reorganization of March 1942 had not touched the separate existence of the various agencies; it had simply gathered them all together in one command which General Somervell was told to direct as best he could.

General McNair in the Army Ground Forces had fared quite differently. The 1942 reorganization had abolished the Offices of the Chief of Infantry, the Chief of Cavalry, the Chief of Field Artillery, and the Chief of Coast Artillery. But in creating the Army Service Forces, the War Department reorganization had not abolished the Offices of the Chief of Ordnance, The Surgeon General, or The Adjutant General. The Deputy Chief of Staff of the War Department, after the event, remarked to a key ASF officer that failure to abolish these offices had been the biggest single mistake of the 1942 reorganization. Perhaps it was. But General Somervell knew that in 1942 neither he nor anyone else at the center of the War Department was prepared to devise an organization which would have abolished these old and time-honored agencies in favor of something else. It was not until the summer of 1943 that General Somervell felt he had had sufficient experience to prepare an organizational structure for the ASF different from that evolved out of the immediate needs apparent in 1942.

The Preparation of an Alternative Organization for the A SF

From the outset a few fundamental concepts guided all organizational planning in 1943. The first of these was to build a single field organization to perform all the work of the Army Service Forces. This meant enlarging the service command arrangement to include all the activities directly performed in the field by the chiefs of technical services. The second


idea was to merge the Washington offices of chiefs of the technical services with ASF headquarters. A third idea was that the primary basis of specialization in ASF headquarters would be functional. Among other things this meant that old traditional designations would give way to new names indicating solely the type of work done.

There were, of course, various specific questions to be answered in attempting to apply these fundamental concepts to the existing ASF range of duties. For example, what should be done about a specialized field agency like the Tank-Automotive Center in Detroit? Was it to be made a part of one service command or to be treated as a special field agency with certain nationwide responsibilities? The same kind of question had to be answered for a field unit like the Office of Dependency Benefits in Newark. In the end, it was proposed that certain service commands might be designated through a special installation to handle a nationwide job, calling upon other service commands for assistance as needed. Another question was whether state boundary lines should be followed in organizing service commands and the technical service districts within service commands. Some technical services, such as the Ordnance Department and the Corps of Engineers, did not follow them in their field organization. The decision was made to adopt state boundary lines for both types of areas. Since the ASF had to maintain certain relationships with state and local governments it was believed that such an arrangement would create less confusion.

A complete list of sixty-eight different types of field installations within the ASF was drawn up and the place of each under the proposed scheme of organization was determined. These were assigned to service districts under service commands or to service commands as special field installations.

A memorandum on the proposed transfer of all field activities to the service commands, drawn up and presented to General Somervell in July 1943 by the director of the Control Division, suggested three "guiding principles" for the transfer.5 The first was the need for carefully worked out plans in the form of detailed instructions so that the transfer could be made without any disruption of operations. The second was the organization of the field activities of the technical services into regions corresponding to service command areas with a competent officer in charge of each region. The third proposition was the establishment of a standard organization for ASF headquarters, the technical services, and the service commands which would facilitate a change at a later date to an organization based upon "functional staff and a regional line."

In commenting upon these principles in handwritten marginal notations, General Somervell indicated that it might be desirable to keep a minimum number of development and experimental stations under the direct control of ASF headquarters. There then followed some recommendations for further adjustments in the reorganization of ASF headquarters. Somervell pointed out that he was uncertain about combining training and personnel


functions and that he definitely wanted fiscal activities separated from other administrative tasks. He also questioned the desirability of transferring all security activities from the Intelligence Division to the Provost Marshal General and expressed doubt about transferring certain field offices of staff divisions to the supervision of the service commands. Finally, he directed that in the preparation of new procedures, careful attention should be given to experimentation before they were given general effect.

A new organizational plan for the AST was finally prepared in August 1943 and presented in the form of six large charts. The first page set forth four major steps in the realization of the long-range organizational plan. These four steps were as follows:

1. Effective October 1943-Modifications in ASF headquarters organization, with reorganization of technical services and of headquarters, service commands, to parallel organization of headquarters, ASK

2. Effective October 1943-Reduction of number of service commands from nine to six, with more equal workloads, the use of the same boundaries for the major geographic areas of technical services, and the appointment of zone administrators for field activities of technical services.

3. Effective December 1943-Transfer zone administrators of technical services to the staff of service commanders.

4. Effective Spring 1944-Final ste : adopt organization in headquarters as sown on Chart 4 with same structure in service commands, and create service districts with similar organization.

The second page pictured a new organization for staff divisions within ASF headquarters. This chart involved certain changes in the organization that had been put into effect on 15 May 1943. The Director of Operations was renamed Director of Supply with only three divisions under his supervision. The Plans Division and the Mobilization Division were merged in a new Planning Division to be established in the office of the commanding general and the former Requirements Division and the International Division were eliminated as separate agencies and transferred from the Director of Materiel to this new division. A note at the bottom of the chart also explained that the Planning Division would handle all programming matters that cut across more than one staff directorate. The divisions under, the Director of Military Training were increased to six, including an Information and Education Division which took over the existing orientation work performed by the then Special Services Division. All training functions of chiefs of the technical services and of staff divisions were to be transferred to the Director of Military Training in ASF headquarters. Several new divisions were also created and placed under a Director of Personnel. These were a Headquarters Personnel Division, a Personnel Control Division, and a Special Services Division which was to include the Army Exchange Service then under the Director of Administration. All personnel functions and records in The Adjutant General's office were to be consolidated under the Director of Personnel. In other respects ASF headquarters was to continue along the lines then actually in effect.

Chart 3 showed the proposed changes in the boundaries of the service commands. The existing nine were to be replaced by six service commands. (Table 3)

The new service command boundaries meant a consolidation of the existing First and Second Service Commands into one command, the consolidation of the Third



Service Command States Headquarters
1st    Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware    New York City.   
2d    Pennsylvania  Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky     Pittsburgh
3d    N. Carolina, S. Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee    Georgia.
4th    Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Kansas, Wyoming,  Colorado    Chicago
5th    Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico    Dallas
6th    Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, California    San Francisco

and Fifth Service Commands with the exception of the State of Indiana, and the consolidation of the existing Sixth and Seventh Service Commands. The Fourth, Eighth, and Ninth Service Commands would be left undisturbed but would be renumbered. The new boundaries provided a more equal workload than the one then in effect. It was estimated that it would be as follows:

1st Service Command    19.2%
2d Service Command    20.0%
3d Service Command    16.3%
4th Service Command    14.6%
5th Service Command    12.0%
6th Service Command    17.9%

Under the proposed arrangement, it should be noted, the existing service command headquarters in Boston, Baltimore, Columbus, and Omaha would be abandoned; the headquarters in Salt Lake City would be moved to San Francisco and a new headquarters would be established in Pittsburgh.

The next two charts were maps indicating the adjustments in the Ordnance and Engineer procurement districts that would be necessary in order to conform to the new boundary lines specified for the six service commands.

Finally, Chart 6 diagrammatically presented the long-range organizational plan for the ASF. Under the proposed plan, the staff of the commanding general would consist of a Surgeon General, a Director of Utilities, a Director of Communications, a Director of Transportation, a Director of Procurement, a Director of Supply, a Di- rector of Personnel, a Director of Administration, and a Fiscal Director. The old chiefs of technical services disappeared as such. This represented a basic change.


Under the Director of Procurement were three functional divisions (Design and Development, Purchases, and Production) and ten commodity divisions (Guns and Ammunitions, Automotive, Communications Equipment, Subsistence, Clothing and Equipage, Construction Supplies and Equipment, Medical Supplies and Equipment, Ship and Rail Equipment, Petroleum Products, and General Supplies). Under the Director of Supply were five functional divisions (Distribution, Overseas Supply, Storage, Maintenance, Salvage and Surplus Property) and ten commodity divisions paralleling those created under the Director of Procurement. A Pictorial Division to handle Army motion picture activity and a Remount Division for the purchase and distribution of horses and mules were created and placed under the Director of Supply. All training activity was centralized in a Military Training Division under the Director of Personnel. The Director of Administration had four divisions under his office (Legal, Security, Postal, and Office Service).

The long-range organizational plan then showed the six service commands performing all of these functions in the field. Their headquarters were to parallel ASF headquarters in organization. Below the service command there would be service districts, but the exact number of these was not specified. Actually the basic planning called for twenty-five service districts-three in the First Service Command, four in the Second, five in the Third, six in the Fourth, three in the Fifth, and four in the Sixth Service Command. In addition to the districts, two types of installations were to report directly to the commanding general of a service command. These were ports of embarkation and proving grounds. Service district organization was expected to follow the same pattern established for the headquarters of service commands and the ASK

This series of six charts and maps was prepared as a summary of the proposals for Army Service Forces reorganization. They were shown to Under Secretary Patterson, General Marshall, General McNarney, and Secretary Stimson. In addition to this summary, the Control Division prepared more detailed supplementary data and draft orders to carry out all the contemplated changes, should the reorganization be approved. For example, additional charts were drawn up to show the branches which would be established under each division of ASF headquarters. Other charts showed the field offices that would be absorbed into ASF headquarters such as the Army Map Service, the Medical Library, the Arlington National Cemetery, the General Dispensary, and the U.S. Finance Office-all in or near Washington. All other field installations were assigned to an appropriate service district and service. One of the draft orders changed the boundaries of service commands. Other orders drafted required the chief of each technical service to establish a single geographic pattern of zone headquarters to be put into effect by the end of September. Installations to be excluded from the jurisdiction of the commander of a zone were Ft. Monmouth, Carlisle Barracks, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Edgewood Arsenal, Ft. Belvoir, Camp Lee, The Tank-Automotive Center, all ports of embarkation, and staging areas. Draft orders also were prepared to transfer field offices of staff divisions to service commands. Additional draft orders made changes in ASF head-


quarters and provided a standard organization to be followed in the headquarters of chiefs of the technical services. Finally, draft orders were prepared which would have amalgamated technical services zones and service commands. (No draft orders were actually prepared which would have abolished chiefs of technical services or chiefs of administrative services.)

A memorandum to accompany the summary charts listed the following ten advantages in the new plan of organization. All staff activities would be combined into functional groups. Those activities duplicated by the staff of the commanding general and the staff of the chief of a technical service would be brought together and performed in a single staff unit. All operating responsibility would be vested in field commanders and no person would have more than one "boss." All field activities would be brought under service commanders, thus eliminating the distinction between Class I and Class IV installations and permitting greater field co-ordination. The workload of service commands would be more nearly equalized, and the number of separate administrative regions reduced with corresponding savings in overhead personnel. A single geographical pattern would be established for all field activities of the ASK The immediate subordinates of the commanding general would be reduced to nine staff directors and six field commanders. All responsibilities would be clearly and carefully defined. The common staff pattern would facilitate intercommunication and the development of uniform, simplified procedures. Finally, the new organization pattern would reduce the structure to a functional and geographical arrangement which would make it easier to understand how the ASF was organized and expected to operate.

At the same time the memorandum acknowledged that there would be certain disadvantages in the proposed plan. It would involve a basic change in ASF organization in the middle of the war and would disrupt existing working relationships. It would take time to develop new procedures essential for the work of the new organization. It was uncertain whether procurement operations would be greatly improved by the new organization during the remainder of the war. It was also uncertain whether supply operations would be greatly improved. Finally, the morale of many individuals throughout the ASF might be adversely affected by so fundamental a change in organization. Yet, in spite of these difficulties, the director of the Control Division recommended that the changes be put into effect in the course of the next six to nine months.

General Somervell was disposed to accept the recommendations of his organizational planners. He had kept General Marshall and General McNarney informed on the thinking going on within the ASF, and their favorable attitude encouraged him to submit the new plan for approval to the Under Secretary of War and to the Chief of Staff.

Consideration of the 1943 Plan

In August 1943, about the time that the long-range organization plan for the Army Service Forces was finished, General Somervell left Washington to attend the meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff and of the President and the Prime Minister at Quebec: At the same time, arrangements were completed for General Somervell's world-wide inspection trip,


which he made immediately after the conference. The director of the Control Division was included in the party accompanying the commanding general overseas. Thus at the time that General Somervell was ready to recommend a farreaching reorganization of his command, he was also preparing to leave on an extensive overseas mission.

Before he departed overseas, Somervell presented his proposals to General Marshall and Secretary Stimson for consideration. Assistant Secretary McCloy attended a conference on the subject in Stimson's office. The entire matter was taken under advisement, partly awaiting the reaction of Under Secretary Patterson, who was absent during much of July and all of August on a trip to the South Pacific. Accordingly, General Somervell had his first opportunity to place the recommendations before the Under Secretary when the two met in Hawaii early in September. In a memorandum to General Marshall, dispatched from Hawaii on 12 September 1943, Somervell reported that he had spent his entire first day there talking with the Under Secretary of War, first, acquainting him with the principal matters which would require his attention upon his return to Washington, and second, attempting "to secure his approval of the proposed reorganization of the Army Service Forces." The second paragraph of General Somervell's memorandum read:

With regard to the second phase of our discussion, the reorganization of the Army Service Forces, he indicated his approval of steps one and two, but reserved an union on steps three and four. He state that he thought an extraordinarily good job was being done and he hated to V a party to making a change at this time, when matters were moving so smoothly. I explained to him that although I also believed this to be the case, I felt we can do a better job with the reorganization and that it would have farreaching effects, extending to the next war. He seemed to be concerned about the sentimental side of the change, stating that he, as an Infantry Officer, had a strong sentimental attachment for the infantry and that he was afraid that if there were to be any suppression of the existing services we would lose an asset in the esprit in those services, which had been built up in the past hundred years. I explained the various steps which were to be taken, and indicated my opinion that they could all be carried out without any dislocation of production or interference with our operation. As to the sentimental angle, .I told him that this was probably stronger in my own Corps than in any other in the Army, and though there would be some adverse reaction to it, that I felt that the clean-cut logic of the arrangement would dispose of those sentimental objections. He stated that Mr. McCloy had indicated that he wished to discuss the matter with him prior to his taking action. I told him that Mr. McCloy had sat in at the Secretary's conference on the matter, and it was my impression that Mr. McCloy was in favor of the scheme although he, McCloy, had some reservations along the lines of those voiced by Mr. Patterson, and had some additional qualms about political repercussions on the removal of the Service Command Headquarters. Mr. Patterson stated that he would discuss these matters with you on his arrival, and I hope that by the time this reaches you he has become convinced of the wisdom of the proposed move. In any event, I believe we should go through with steps one and two. I am sure that with the completion of step two, step three will sell itself and that will leave us only with the problem of step four.6

General Somervell then proceeded south from Hawaii. From this time on, the decision on ASF reorganization rested with his superiors in the War Department. His chief of staff, General Styer, had to carry the burden of the argument for the


change. Somervell realized afterward that once he sensed Under Secretary Patterson's reluctance, he should have postponed all further consideration of the proposals until his own return. He did not do so because General Marshall had indicated a favorable attitude toward the plan, and he had assumed that General Marshall would handle the final consideration by the War Department.

General Styer and the acting director of the Control Division took up the reorganization issue with Under Secretary Patterson upon the latter's return. The Under Secretary again indicated his willingness to approve steps one and two. These, the first two recommendations on the summary chart, proposed (1) to reorganize ASF headquarters and to create parallel organizations (with certain modifications) in the office of each chief of a technical service and in the service commands; and (2) to reduce the number of service commands from nine to six and have each chief of a technical service set up a unified field structure utilizing the same boundary lines as those of the service commands. He still indicated opposition to the other two steps which would have transferred the field activities of the technical services to the service commands and merged the offices of chiefs of the technical services in Washington with ASF headquarters.

With the Under Secretary opposed to part of the plan and General Marshall favorably disposed toward all its proposals, the final decision on ASF reorganization fell to Secretary Stimson. According to Mr. Stimson's memoirs, the Secretary of War was prepared to accept General Somervell's judgment that the proposed reorganization would increase the efficiency of the Army Service Forces, but he questioned whether the improvement would outweigh "its concomitant disadvantages in the creation of bad feeling."7 According to the record of conversations on ASF reorganization with Under Secretary Patterson and Assistant Secretary McCloy on 21 September, as found in his personal diary, Mr. Stimson had begun to feel that the reorganization was "ill-advised." He adds that he had learned only too well in 1911 and 1912 how deeply imbedded in sentiment were the memories of all the people who had ever served in the Ordnance Department, the Quartermaster Corps, or the Corps of Engineers. He was sure that a "tremendous uproar" would arise if the War Department tried to wipe out the distinctions between these services. Since Under Secretary Patterson had advised that the work of procurement and production was proceeding satisfactorily, he was, for that reason alone, against stirring up a "hornets' nest" in the middle of the war. Mr. Stimson ended his diary record with the notation that both the Under Secretary and the Assistant Secretary "shared" his views.8 The Stimson memoirs indicate that on 22 September the Secretary held another and larger conference (presumably including General Marshall and General McNarney among others) where the "proposal was killed"

Remembering his experiences in supporting Leonard Wood, "who was not unlike General Somervell in his temperament and other characteristics," Stimson saw no reason to create bitterness which could be avoided. Nor was it as if the service branches, like General Ainsworth in the olden time, had shown themselves insubordinate or uncooperative. There had been slow and unim-


aginative work in the early days of the emergency, but Stimson had observed with satisfaction the high quality of the work done by such men as Campbell in Ordnance, and the Chief of Engineers and Quartermaster General were men of whom Somervell himself thought well enough to intend giving them new and enlarged responsibilities in his organization. General Somervell's driving energy was an enormous asset to the Army, but in this case it seemed better that it should be curbed.9

The Public Controversy

About the time that Secretary Stimson was deciding that the ASF reorganization was "ill-advised," the "tremendous uproar" he feared did in fact break out. On 22 September 1943, Mr. Paul W. Shafer, Republican Representative from Michigan, asked and obtained permission from the House of Representatives to extend his remarks in the Congressional Record. The next day, the following statement appeared in the printed edition of the Record:

Mr. Speaker, I am deeply disturbed. With the lives of millions of our boys at stake in this global war there are those in Government today who would play politics with the War Department.

I have seen a blueprint of a plan which would presumably streamline the War Department, but in reality its intent is to convert that great department into a New Deal political organization. In my opinion the activities of the men behind this plan are nothing less than treasonous.

I know nothing about what authority General George C. Marshall will have as global Chief of Staff. All I know is that he has built up a General Staff that has functioned well and on its record should, with one or two exceptions, remain intact. I feel that General Marshall is a great leader and I do not believe that he is the type of man who will permit himself to be jockeyed into a phoney position.

Congress cannot and should not attempt to interfere with the proposal to make General Marshall the global Chief of Staff. Such a move should not be criticized until it is shown at least that he is not to have full authority in that position. I prefer to think that his promotion is a fine recognition of his ability.

Congress, however, is in a position to prevent the conversion of the War Department into a New Deal political general to succeed General Marshall as Chief of Staff and thus thwart the carefully laid plans of the administration's fourth term strategists.

Congress should see to it that those generals who have so ably served under General Marshall are retained and that the new Chief of Staff shall be one of those best qualified to serve in that important position.

I make this statement merely to serve notice as a Member of Congress and of the House Committee on Military Affairs that I do not intend to sit idly by and permit the Hopkins-Niles-Rosenman regime to turn the War Department into a global political organization.10

This item was immediately picked up and published on Friday morning, 24 September, in the Washington Times-Herald, the Chicago Daily Tribune, and the New York Daily News. The story implied that General Marshall was to become Supreme Allied Commander and that General Somervell was to replace him as Chief of Staff in the War Department. The following day, 25 September 1943, more sensational charges were made in the three newspapers. Representative Shafer was reported to have informed the newspapers that five ranking Army officers were slated for dismissal if General Somervell replaced General Marshall as Chief of Staff. Mr. Shafer was then supposed to have said that four members of the White House "palace


guard" Justice Frankfurter, Mr. Harry Hopkins, Mr. Samuel I Rosenman, and Mr. David K. Niles-were planning "to replace veteran, conservative generals with brain trusters." The newspaper article also reported Mr. Shafer as saying that he had received a blueprint of the White House palace guard "plans to streamline the War Department into a global political organization." He identified as the officers who were "slated to go" the following: the Chief of Ordnance, General Campbell; The Quartermaster General, General Gregory; the Chief of Chemical Warfare Service, General Porter; the Chief of Transportation, General Gross; and the Chief of Engineers, General Reybold. Mr. Shafer, according to the newspaper article, added that "brain trusters" would replace the generals and listed, among those being considered for top appointment, Dr. Eli Ginzberg and James P Mitchell. At least one other member of Congress, Shafer's account continued, was present in the office of "a high government official" when he was given the information on which his charges were based. He refused to identify the person with whom he had talked. The article then went on to quote the Army and Navy Register as saying that General Eisenhower was most likely to succeed General Marshall as Chief of Staff but added that Mr. Hopkins was understood to prefer General Somervell, "a New Deal favorite."11

These charges were elaborated in an even more sensational article which appeared in a later edition on the same day. It began by claiming that a group of influential "White House advisers" was planning to give General Somervell personal control of the expenditure of twenty-two billion dollars by a complete reorganization of the Army production front. This move was made a part of a larger campaign "to oust General Marshall from his post as Chief of Staff." The third paragraph declared: "Informed sources say the motive is to use the Army's vast production program, excepting aircraft, as a political weapon in the 1944 presidential campaign." A subsequent paragraph added: "Some observers believe the cabal also intend to build up Somervell as an Army running mate for Mr. Roosevelt on a fourth term ticket to offset the possible Republican nomination of General Douglas MacArthur." 12

Another paragraph in the news story admitted that there was no evidence that either President Roosevelt or General Marshall were aware of the purpose or potential effect of the "plot." At the same time, the article declared: "Knowledge of it, however, has spread terror through the highest ranks of the War Department." Mr. Hutchinson went on to say that the plot could be stopped by the President's refusing to oust General Marshall, or it could be stopped by Congress.

The newspaper article then provided some of the details of the so-called plot. All production activity of the seven "technical supply services" would be transferred to the ASF under General Somer-


vell. While these services were grouped under Somervell, Hutchinson stated, he had no "control over their expenditures, contract negotiations, or production schedules." The article further stated that actual regulation of production would be turned over to the Army service commands but added that the existing nine service commands were to be abolished and six new ones created, "with six political generals named to command the new areas." It then went on to state that the present chiefs of supply services would become armchair generals handling routine paper work. "Leaders of the cabal" would defend their plot by contending that they proposed to streamline antiquated War Department production organization. The present commodity organization would be eliminated in favor of a functional organization. The article then proceeded to declare that "prominent industrialists" were certain that a commodity organization could out-produce a functional organization. It asserted that the Army's commodity organization was patterned after the successful production practices of Sears Roebuck, Ford, General Motors, and Dupont. The failures of War Department production in World War I were attributed to a functional organization. The present practice of letting contracts locally through regional offices would be eliminated under the new scheme in favor of centering procurement authority in Washington. At the same time the account acknowledged that the six service commands would be responsible for production in their own areas. The apparent contradiction was ignored. To clinch the argument against reorganization an anonymous "nationally known industrialist" was introduced and quoted as saying that any shift from commodity to functional procurement would lose the war and be the most "monumental mistake in the history of our country."

On 28 September 1943, Mr. Andrew J. May, Democratic Representative from Kentucky and chairman of the House Military Affairs Committee, told the House of Representatives that he had had a conference that morning with General Marshall. He added that Marshall had authorized him to say that: ". . . there was complete harmony among the high officials of the War Department and the Administration." 13 Mr. R. Ewing Thomason, Democratic Representative from Texas, reported that General Marshall had called him on the telephone at his residence to express "regret and deep concern at some of the statements that have appeared in local papers and also on the floor of this House." Mr. Thomason went on to say that General Marshall had expressed "the greatest confidence in General Somervell and also stated that there is complete harmony and cooperation between him and General Somervell and all the other high-ranking generals who have been mentioned on this floor and in the newspapers during the last few days." Mr. Walter G. Andrews, Republican Representative from New York, added:

I want to quote General Marshall as of this morning in saying that he greatly resents all references that have been made to his key-man, General Somervell, on the floor of this House, arid in the newspapers, and that he considers it harmful to Army morale and grossly unfair to a truly great American officer.14

The majority floor leader in the House of Representatives, Mr. John W. McCor-


mack, of Massachusetts, arose to read an authorized statement from Secretary Stimson:

The President has absolutely refrained from interfering in any way with the War Department and in the choice of any generals of the United States Army, and in their assignment to duty. The President has followed the advice of his military advisers in the consideration of all questions of strategy which have governed the war, and so far as his intrusion in any political or personal way it has been absolutely non-existent.15

The furor was sufficient to warrant comment by President Roosevelt at his news conference on 28 September 1943. A reporter asked the President if he had anything to say about General Marshall whereupon the President picked up a copy of the Washington Times-Herald and read from the front-page article written by the head of the Washington office of the International News Service. In reply to it, Mr. Roosevelt chose to read from two editorials in the New York Herald-Tribune published on 22 and 23 September. One of these editorials accused "The Patterson press" of "sleepless efforts to spread disunion among the Allies and confusion in their war planning." It was obvious that these words reflected the President's own sentiments.16

The Plan Dropped

General Styer reported this sequence of events in a personal letter to General Somervell. His story is best conveyed in his own words:

The reorganization is temporarily stymied, if not permanently so. Mr. Patterson came back and exhibited no enthusiasm for the reorganization in his conferences with me, or with the Secretary, at which General Marshall, General McNarney, Mr. McCloy, and I were present. We had two such sessions with the Secretary. Mr. Patterson indicated to me that he was willing to go along with steps 1 and 2, but stated that he thought we were doing a pretty good job under our present organization, and that there was no need for reorganization. However, he said that if you desire steps 1 and 2, he would not object.

General Marshall, General McNarney, Mr. McCloy and I have all been advocating the adoption of the reorganization, but the Secretary is as yet undecided. The whole matter was complicated by a leak, the source of which I have been unable to determine, and the story of the consolidation of the 6th and 7th Service Commands broke in the Omaha papers. This, of course, was taken up immediately by the Senators and Congressmen from that area. They were not at all belligerent about it, but of course, argued against making the change. Senators Wherry and Butler, and Congressman Buffet, came in to see me and later came in to see Judge Patterson and myself. They indicated their desire to keep the headquarters at Omaha, but stated that if it was in the interests of the war effort, they, of course, would not interpose strong objections. The Secretary of War did not seem to be disturbed by this activity because he said we had the same thing every time we tried to make a change in any Army installation.

The reorganization was further complicated by many rumors in the paper concerning the future of General Marshall. This was blown up by the chief of the News Bureau Service of I.N.S. in Washington, who had an article in the paper concerning the mystery surrounding General Marshall's future status, and intimating that a plot was on foot to kick General Marshall upstairs to make room for you as Chief of Staff, and that there was a political clique close to the White House which was planning to reorganize the War Department to put all of the procurement under you so that the twenty billion dollar program could be used for political purposes. This, of course, upset everybody,


and General Marshall talked to influential Senators and Congressmen, who came out in speeches on the floor of the House and Senate reiterating their confidence in General Marshall, and stated that General Marshall had confidence in you and resented the implications concerning one of his key men. He further stated that there was perfect harmony among the high officials of the War Department, and that these newspaper rumors were unfounded.

The Secretary of War also came forward with a statement to the effect that the White House had never interfered in the selection of key officials of the War Department, and the .7 rations of the War Department.

Mrs. Patterson and Mr. Stimson, I think, both felt it would be unwise to attempt to put into effect the reorganization until this furor had died down.

At his last press conference, the President pinned back the ears of the chief of the I.N.S. News Bureau Service here in Washington, and refused to make any statement concerning the future status of General Marshall.

Mr. Stimson indicated to General Marshall that he was not going ahead with the reorganization, as a result of which General Marshall directed that we do not bother him for a few days until he has a chance to get over the confusion which I have indicated above.

Mr. McCloy told me he talked with the Secretary the night before last, and the Secretary indicated that he would give consideration to step No. 1, but he was concerned about the consolidation of training ctivities in the Headquarters, A.S.F, and-he would like to talk the matter over with two or three of the chiefs of Technical Services. I told Mr. McCloy the chiefs of Technical Services would be cold as they were not informed of the details of the reorganization provided for in step No. 1, and he therefore directed me to talk with Generals Campbell, Reybold and Ingles in regard to step No. 1, but to base it solely on going ahead with step No. 1, and possibly step No. 2, but with no reference to any further changes.

General Campbell has been out of town on an inspection trip, and will not return until next Tuesday, so I have not talked the matter over with him. However, I have talked the matter over with Generals Reybold and Ingles, and while they think training activities should stay with them, I do not think they will indicate any strong opposition to the suggested move. The other changes in organization for their offices can be effected without much trouble.

I regret to give you this long tale of woe, but I assure you we have been doing everything we could to push this matter but have been stymied for reasons indicated above. While the reorganization picture does not look too rosy of accomplishment at the present time, I still have hopes that we can go ahead with step No. 1, if we proceed cautiously.

I think Mr. Patterson's feeling that we are doing pretty well at the present time with our present organization, and that we should not invite antagonism from an already antagonistic Congress, has caused the Secretary of War to hesitate to make the move. Also, Mr. Patterson feels that the sentiment and tradition which will be affected by the later steps of the plan have not been given full consideration. At one of our meetings with the Secretary he appeared to share this feeling.17

On 14 October 1943, General Styer sent General Somervell an account of the latest developments in the consideration of ASF reorganization:

The reorganization matter has been one of our great worries as we have not been able to accomplish what you desired. I wrote you some of the details of our troubles, and they are still continuing.

Mr. Stimson has sent the Chief of Staff a memorandum disapproving steps 3 and 4, and stating that for the present, he was not ready to approve steps in paragraphs 1 and 2. However, he left a small loophole for reopening steps 1 and 2, and we had a meeting with him yesterday morning. He is particularly undecided about the advisability of consolidating the training activities of the Technical Services under the Director of Training, Headquarters, ASK He wanted to discuss


this matter with some of the principal chiefs of Technical Services. In accordance with his instructions, I assembled Generals Campbell, Reybold and Ingles, and General Weible, and we all discussed the matter before discussing it with the Secretary. We had a meeting with the Secretary yesterday morning on this step, at which Mr. McCloy, Generals Campbell, Reybold, Ingles, Weible and myself were present.

Naturally, the Chiefs of Technical Services prefer not to lose their training activities, although a large percentage of the training of their units is done at present in the Service Commands.

The Secretary stated he was not ready to make up his mind on this training matter, so I asked him if we could put the rest of step No. 1 in effect. He said he was not going to ap rove anything he did not understand, so outlined the whole step No. 1 to him again, and he told me we could go ahead with the changes in Osborn's and Byron's organizations, and with the WACs. The principal one of these changes, however, which we desired to effect as soon as practicable was the consolidation of all personnel activities under the Director of Personnel. He told me he did not hold the same sentimental feeling about breaking up The Adjutant General's office that he had about making changes that would effect the long established Technical Services, but that he would reserve that for a decision after he had thought over the matter some more. Sentiment and branch esprit de corps appear to be worrying him, and he said he did not want to do anything to disturb this.

This reorganization problem has been a long, drawn out, uphill battle, and it appears that we will accomplish it only by taking a small bite here and there from time to time. I hate to Live you this very discouraging report on this matter, which I know you wished to have accomplished, but it has been a tough one.18

General Styer's letters reached Somervell in Chungking. There was nothing to be done about the situation from that distance. And furthermore, General Somervell then had his hands full with the Stilwell situation. He commented on the matter only briefly in a letter to General Marshall. He expressed his "disgust" with the "unfavorable publicity which was given to the rumor of your appointment as supreme commander." He added that he was "distressed that my name was mixed up in it in any way, and that you had this stupid thing to contend with in addition to all your other burdens." 19

On 5 October 1943 the Secretary of War officially disapproved of Proposals 3 and 4 for ASF reorganization in a memorandum to the Chief of Staff: In a memorandum for record dated 13 October, the Secretary noted that he had disapproved Steps 1 and 2 except for certain modifications in ASF headquarters itself.20 

Thus the basic organization pattern of the Army Service Forces as- worked out by May 1943 survived all attempts at revision.

General Somervell did not return to the United States until the middle of November. Then he once more had to prepare to leave the country, this time to attend the meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff in Cairo in December and to go on to Tehran. Not until the end of December 1943 was General Somervell back at his desk in the Pentagon to give attention to the internal affairs of the Army Service Forces. He had been out of the United States almost four months. He chose to forget the reorganization episode-there was no alternative. At the same time, he tried gradually to build closer and more friendly relationships between his own office and the chiefs of the technical services.


Lessons of the Episode

There are no objective data by which it is possible to judge whether the proposed reorganization of the Army Service Forces would have accomplished what its advocates claimed or whether it would have brought great confusion and even chaos into the supply and service activities of the War Department. General Somervell and his advisers approached the whole question of reorganization as a technical problem. They conceived of the working relationships between the various parts of the ASF as more or less mechanically contrived, and subject to .the same kind of rearrangement that an industrial engineer might make in the array of machine tools in a production plant.

Organization is far from being a purely technical matter. Technical considerations undoubtedly exist in organizational arrangements, but of equal or more importance are the political and psychological factors. Organization is people working together. The reactions of the people involved to proposed changes should therefore be a major concern for any organizational planner. .This consideration was largely ignored in the 1943 reorganization plan for the Army Service Forces.

There is probably a correct strategy in achieving any far-reaching reorganization of a public agency of long standing. The only time that extensive change is likely to prove feasible is when there is a shift in the political control of government, as between a Democratic and Republican administration, or during a major crisis. Pearl Harbor brought such a crisis. With the advent of war, it proved possible to make basic changes in the structure of the War Department without arousing immediate and politically effective opposition. But in 1943, there was no similar crisis which would make possible an important alteration in the structure of the ASF. The only arguments on which its advocates would rest their case were economy and efficiency. They learned to their distress that few persons in government are especially impressed by or favorably disposed toward efficiency at a time when no serious criticism is being voiced against existing conditions.

The ASF reorganization plan was developed in considerable secrecy. The organizational planners were a small, cohesive group, staunchly loyal to General Somervell and without any prior attachment to the constituent parts of the ASK With the exception of the director and deputy director of the Control Division, who were Regular Army officers, these planners were all civilians in peacetime, although most of them were in uniform. All but one had had experience in private business before World War II began. The planners did not consult any of the offices to be affected by the proposals. They simply assumed that these offices would be opposed, and that their opposition was not as important a consideration as an efficiently run war effort. No attempt was made to "sell" the plan by developing a sense of participation and direct interest on the part of those concerned.

Moreover, no official explanation of the plan or the considerations motivating it was provided the chiefs of the technical services. In short there was no attempt to make the plan attractive or even palatable to them. Later the planners conceded that it had been a mistake to employ designations like Director of Procurement 'and Director of Utilities in their plan. It would have been just as easy, and perhaps more satisfactory to those affected by the plan, if the designations Chief of Ordnance and Chief of Engineers had been retained.


Without doubt it was the newspaper and Congressional criticism that strengthened Under Secretary Patterson and Secretary Stimson in their belief that ASF reorganization on a major scale was "illadvised" at the time. The "leak" to Congress and the newspapers probably came from within the ASF, from individuals who felt that the proposals would be harmful to their operations. The motivation may have been sincerely prompted by a desire not to disrupt procurement and supply operations which seemed to be proceeding satisfactorily. On the other hand it may have been largely personal, prompted by a concern for considerations of prestige, status, recognition, and tradition. General Somervell never learned the identity of the particular individual or individuals who prompted the newspaper and Congressional attack. He had his suspicions but they remained only that.

The "leak" is of course a familiar device for influencing action in public administration. General Somervell was by no means the first person in government service to feel the effects of such a technique. It made no difference that the actual newspaper stories were almost complete fabrication. Truth is not an essential element in the "leak." Familiar charges were employed for the attack-such stereotypes as turning the War Department into a "global WPA," appointing "political generals," "brain trusters" and sinister "palace guards," and plotting a fourth term campaign. Such tactics are commonly used by individuals endeavoring to prevent administrative action which concerns them and which they firmly believe to be undesirable.

A military establishment is generally believed to be one that operates on a "command" relationship, a hierarchy of individuals who have command authority over their subordinates. But even in the military agencies of the government, command is not as simple as this traditional concept would suggest. Command authority does not remove the psychological factors motivating persons working together. Somervell and his organizational planners made the mistake of believing that the concept of command could effect a far-reaching alteration in the customary working relationships of an enterprise having the vast scope of the ASK It was unfortunate that ASF reorganization plans came to a head at the time when various rumors were circulating about the future military status of General Marshall. We know now that both Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill had tentatively decided at Quebec to make General Marshall commander-in-chief of the invasion of France. We know that Secretary Stimson was one of the strongest advocates of this step. Had General Marshall assumed this command, however, he was to have been replaced by General Eisenhower and not Somervell. Then at Cairo, President Roosevelt decided to retain General Marshall as Chief of Staff and to give the allied command to General Eisenhower. As between the two assignments Marshall himself refused to express a preference, although many, including Secretary Stimson, thought he would have liked the field command. President Roosevelt finally decided that Marshall was more valuable as Chief of Staff. There are few today who would want to question the wisdom of that decision.21

One can appreciate the astonished reaction of Mr. Harry Hopkins to the news-


paper stories. At least it is possible to assert here positively that he was never consulted on the reorganization of the ASF and knew nothing about the proposals. General Somervell had for four years been an administrative subordinate of Mr. Hopkins in the WPA, and Somervell saw him periodically during the war on official business. But reorganization of the ASF was a matter for General Somervell to recommend to Under Secretary Patterson, General Marshall, and Secretary Stimson. And it was these superiors of General Somervell who decided the issue.

Mr. Hopkins could only record that it was "amazing" that the story involving him and General Somervell should have been "cooked up." 22

At all events, the Army Service Forces was not reorganized along the lines proposed by the organizational planners in 1943. On the contrary, the basic structure described in the preceding chapters was confirmed as the wartime organization of the ASF for performing the mission entrusted to it.


Page Created June 13th 2001


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