Chapter IX: 
The Somervell Proposal for War Department Reorganization
Although the provisions of the reorganization of 9 March 1942 contained many seeds of conflict, as already described, the chief reason that Somervell suggested a further change in the logistics organization was the continuing uncertainty about the division of responsibility between the ASF and the Supply Division (G-4), the Personnel Division (G-1), and the Operations Division, all of the WDGS.1
In regard to ASF and G-4 difficulties, it appeared at first that a division of responsibility existed between the ASF and the Supply Division of G-4. At the time of the reorganization, Army regulations indicated that basic supply planning would be carried out by the Supply Division of G-4. Indeed these regulations specified that G-4 would prepare "broad basic supply plans" to carry out mobilization and strategic plans while the commanding general of the ASF would "prepare detailed programs and plans." Such a statement would seem to imply that the commanding general of the ASF was expected to receive his general instructions from the War Department General Staff through its supply division, and that the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, would continue to be the top supply planner for the Army.2
Actually, as already noted, the arrangement was not followed during World War II. In practice the "top supply planner" of the War Department was not the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, but the commanding general of the Army Service Forces. General Marshall continually looked to General Somervell rather than to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, for advice and guidance on logistical matters. At such conferences as Casablanca, Quebec, Teheran, and other important meetings, the Chief of Staff used Somervell and the staff of the ASF as his staff on supply, in much the same way as he used OPD on strategy.3
Moreover, there were organizational factors which contributed to the special status of the ASE In the first place, on 9 March 1942 the Army Service Forces absorbed almost all of the key personnel previously associated with G-4. This required the new G-4, Brig. Gen. R. G. Moses, to

rebuild his staff out of other officers, few of whom could match the experience of men like Brig. Gen. LeRoy Lutes, Col. W. A. Wood, Jr., Col. F. A. Heileman, and Lt. Col. C. B. Magruder to mention only a few of those who moved from G-4 to important jobs in the ASF on 9 March 1942. Even if General Moses had been able to find people of the highest caliber, the cut in staff from 149 officers shortly before the reorganization to 11 shortly after made it difficult to assume a great deal of responsibility.4
In addition, ASF headquarters was in close daily touch with the actual procurement and storage operations performed by the seven technical services. The Supply Division of the General Staff was a step removed, and could not expect to be as intimately or as expertly informed. Then too, there was the accidental fact that the Chief of Transportation, Maj. Gen. C. P. Gross, was a classmate and friend of General Somervell. Accordingly, the closest relation existed between the Chief of Transportation and the commanding general of the Army Service Forces, and transportation was the key to overseas supply operations throughout the entire war. If the G-4 of the General Staff had tried to go directly to the technical services for information, then it could have been accused of attempting to short circuit the headquarters of the ASK If, on the other hand, it sought constant and detailed information from ASF headquarters, then it opened itself to charges of interfering with and hampering the work of that headquarters.
On the whole, the Supply Division of the WDGS played only a minor part in the supply phases of World War II. That conflict inherent in this situation did not break out earlier is due to the fact that General Moses, while G-4 in 1942 and 1943, continually subordinated himself to ASF supply planners. Under him, the Supply Division was never disposed to engage in controversy. General Moses seemed to realize that G-4 was a sort of fifth wheel, and acted accordingly. Besides, he was a personal friend of General Somervell.5 However, as might well have been expected, the duplication of functions concealed in this relationship caused trouble when a new G-4 took over.
Another potential source of conflict between ASF and a WDGS agency lay in the overlapping of functions in the field of personnel. The reorganization of March 1942 assigned to the Army Service Forces the "administration of all functions which are Army-wide in scope and which pertain to personnel as individuals, both military and civilian . . . ." 6 This sweeping power seemed to open the way for a central direction of the whole personnel function. While The Adjutant General's office became a part of the ASF, and a large segment of G-1 was also transferred to it, the reorganization left responsibility split, for , G-1 was endowed with personnel authority similar to that of the ASK7
The existence of a Logistics Group in the Operations Division of the WDGS was also a constant challenge to the ASF, as previously noted.8 Just as OPD looked upon a strategic logistics planning unit in ASF as a threat to its top position in strategic planning, so ASF regarded a logistics unit in OPD as a thorn in its side.
As General Somervell contemplated this situation in 1943, his sense of organizational nicety was disturbed. He could

not help but believe that the formal organizational structure in the War Department should reflect the realities of informal relationships, and he felt that the Chief of Staff should complete the reorganizational steps begun in 1942. A year's experience seemed to suggest the basis for final solution of War Department structure.
Accordingly, Somervell took a somewhat drastic step. On 3 April 1943 he wrote to the Chief of Staff proposing further changes in the War Department organization. He insisted that these changes were in line with the purposes behind the organization of 9 March 1942. The basic concept upon which that organization was founded, Somervell noted, was to create a fighting power which would consist of a directing head with a small staff, an Army ground force, an Army air force, and an Army service force. The service force would handle supply, administrative details, and otherwise support the combat forces by relieving the other services of many housekeeping burdens. The Army Service Forces, Somervell said, is "therefore, quite properly and by design a catch-all for a large variety of functions."
In commenting on the organization of the War Department General Staff, Somervell remarked that the need for OPD and an Intelligence Division (G-2) was apparent. He was not so certain about the Training Division (G-3) and thought it might be more effective as part of OPD. But, he insisted, there was no doubt that G-1 and G-4 "duplicate largely the work which must perforce be carried out by the Army Service Forces" and by the supply units of the AAF. Somervell added that in matters of supply and administration, it was often impracticable to separate policy from operations because "the enforcement of the policy inevitably tends to become the actual operation of that policy with all of the extra administrative detail and personnel required for an additional agency to do the work of another." General Somervell further pointed out that broad operational plans originated with the Operations Division of the War Department General Staff, but that detailed planning necessarily had to be performed by the staffs of the three major-commands. He "seriously doubted" whether G-1 and G-4 were generally, consulted about operational plans. If they were consulted, they did little except perhaps to delay and confuse the final decisions. The only possible justification for G-1 and G-4 was to render "decisions on controversial matters which might arise between the Army Air Forces, the Army Ground Forces, and the Army Service Forces . . . ." But there should be no fear that the ASF in acting for the War Department would be inclined to make decisions favoring itself above the AAF and the AGF, because the only reason for the existence of the Army Service Forces was to serve the combat forces and all decisions would have to be made in their favor. As between the two, the ASF was as disinterested as the War Department General Staff.
Somervell then observed that there appeared to be "some duplication of effort" between the Logistics Section in the OPD of the WDGS and the staff of the ASE and the AAF. The planners of the Army Service Forces were in "close and daily contact" with the OPD, they attended General Handy's daily conferences, and they had more detailed and more up-to-date logistical information than the OPD itself. Indeed, one purpose of the supply planners of the ASF was "to serve the Operations Division."

General Somervell therefore recommended that G-1 and G-4 Divisions of the WDGS be abolished, that the Logistics Group in the OPD be eliminated, and that the Deputy Chief of Staff be assigned the function of deciding "controversial questions" which might arise between the three commands. These changes were "in the interest of efficient conservation of personnel, and in conservation of effort." If the changes were approved, the ASF would absorb the personnel thus released in appropriate assignments in the Army Service Forces. 9
General Somervell's memorandum came as a bombshell to the War Department. It was referred to all of the staff divisions of the General Staff for comment. The very fact that General Marshall turned the memorandum over to these divisions indicated that he was not inclined to accept the changes suggested. As should have been expected, the recommendations were strongly opposed by the staff divisions.10
The objections to his recommendations did not discourage Somervell. On 1 June 1943 he submitted another . proposal, through the medium of an ASF paper attached to a memorandum to Marshall, dealing with the organization of service activities in overseas theaters. In this paper he once more suggested that the G-1 and G-4 Divisions of the General Staff be abolished because their activities largely duplicated work done by the ASF and the AAF. It again expressed the opinion that G-3 would probably be more effective as a part of the Operations Division of the General Staff. Much of the reasoning previously put forth in Somervell's other memorandum to the Chief of Staff was repeated. The paper mentioned again that there was little need for either G-1 or G-4 to serve as an umpire between the three major commands. It added that if the suggested elimination of G-1 and G-4 should prove in practice to be undesirable, it would be relatively simple to reestablish them.11
The opposition to General Somervell's proposals was again almost unanimous. This is understandable because basically the proposal would make the Army Service Forces a logistics command post of the War Department in much the same manner as the Operations Division was the strategic command post. If adopted, the commanding general of the ASF would be both a staff and command officer. In short, the General Staff would be abolished and OPD and ASF would dominate the field.
As already indicated, OPD's opposition to the proposal probably stemmed from the fear that it would not be able to hold its own against the ASK Operational plans depended so heavily on logistics that in time OPD might have become subordinate to the Army Service Forces. Particularly in a postwar period, experience had shown that service elements increased their power at the expense of other elements. Through the control of allotments, funds, and personnel, a service commander could practically run the Army. The bugaboo of the old "bureaus" and their struggle against the General Staff idea was recalled, and an OPD study pointed to the possibility that the Chief of Staff might lose control of the Army. General Handy of the Operations Division strongly supported the staff concept, opposed what he called Somervell's attempt

to abolish the staff, and endorsed the strengthening of G-1 and G-4 by returning many of the functions they had lost. At the same time, OPD vigorously defended its own Logistics Group and felt that its abolition would be a step backward. 12 Even General Moses, the G-4, who usually supported Somervell's program, went along with the opposition on this issue. In a memorandum to Somervell on 3 June, he noted that he approved the "basic thought" of a service commander for all operating ground forces, but expressed the belief that the Service Forces commander should not also be a "staff officer." die objected emphatically to the elimination of the "staff system taught to all of us before the war and in common use everywhere now." He added that the memorandum discussing this subject was "too one-sided" for presentation to the Chief of Staff and that it contained "erroneous statements." 13 In particular, G-4 felt it had an essential role to play as an arbitrator between the Ground Forces, the Air Forces, and the Service Forces, and in overseeing the operations of the ASF itself.
General McNair, the commanding general of the Army Ground Forces, also opposed the ASF proposal. In a memorandum to Somervell, he pointed out that the ASF staff "aggregates over 20,000, while G-1 and G-4 of the War Department aggregates 90. If there is duplication of personnel and effort, it is in your house. In general, the modern headquarters is a fearful and wonderful thing." Nor was McNair impressed by the argument that General Staff divisions tended to interfere in operations. No one could delineate between policy making and operations and the whole question was "quite irrelevant." There could be only one kind of command of combat forces or of theaters of operations, "over-all command," and there was no "such animal as administrative command." 
Somervell's proposals tended to disrupt the "unity of over-all command." McNair concluded:
I believe in your ASF because you are essentially the commander of the zone of interior. . . But I do not admit that you are responsible for the logistic operations in the War Department or in overseas theaters. G-4 is the proper adviser of the Chief of Staff on logistic policies, even though such is not the case today due to the force of your personality.14
It is doubtful whether McNair clearly understood Somervell's proposals. Certainly the concept of a service commander was not intended by any means to impair the responsibility of the corps, the Army, or the theater commander for service activities. Rather the proposal was only expected to give a combat commander what the ASF thought would be a more adequate organizational arrangement for performing his supply and service activities. The crux of the situation was acknowledged by McNair in his admission that Somervell was, in fact, the G-4 of the War Department as well as the commanding general of the Army Service Forces. The question was whether a subordinate commander should also be a major staff adviser to the Chief of Staff.
In addition to reflecting the realities of War Department organization as it operated during the war, Somervell's recommendations further evidenced the peculiar composition of the ASF itself. Before 9 March 1942, as noted earlier, G-4 of the

War Department General Staff and the Office of the Under Secretary of War had jointly supervised the procurement and supply operations of those large War Department units which were now called technical services. Instead of serving as a staff' officer supervising these technical services, however, Somervell had become a commander with direct authority to issue orders to these agencies. Yet Somervell still looked upon himself as the G-4 of the War Department and, in fact, he had become General Marshall's principal adviser on all supply and movement matters.
The kind of formal relationship Somervell envisaged did in fact exist between General Marshall and General Arnold. As the commander of the AAF, Arnold was far more than the head of a training and supply command within the United States. He and his staff were the principal War Department agents directing air operations in overseas theaters. This special status of the commanding general of the Army Air Forces during the war has been recognized in the official history of the AAF. ". . . Regardless of the legal position of the AAF as a service and training organization without combat functions, its chief was in fact a most powerful agent in the conduct of war, in the several theaters." 15 In overseas commands, the head of the Air Forces was also the chief air planner for the commanding general. In a letter to General Spaatz on 30 July 1942, Arnold clearly indicated his idea of desirable organization for air activities: "In connection with planning," he wrote, "I would like to have you see Eisenhower and get him to accept your headquarters as his air planning unit. Get him to use you in that way as he is the head of the United States Armed Forces in Europe. I want him to recognize you as the top air man in all Europe." 16
The organizational difficulty within the War Department was simply that the concept of staff organization, as advanced by the Harbord Board in its recommendations of 1921, had apparently been frozen in the minds of most Army officers. Confronted with a situation involving numerous separate operating units, the War Department had developed the concept of a general staff which enabled a commander to deal effectively with all of these agencies. Few seemed to realize that when the number of subordinate operating units was reduced, one of two situations could result: the prior staff organization might become unnecessarily elaborate, or the subordinate commanders would now have a much larger point of view and accordingly be prepared to present plans which previously had depended on staff endeavor.
Following the rejection of Somervell's reorganization proposals, the General Staff assumed the offensive and sought to reestablish its position. The subsequent history of the relations between G-4 and the Army Service Forces is a case in point.
On 2 July 1943, the Secretary of War created a 'War Department Procurement Review Board with instructions to examine procurement plans and machinery of the ASF and the AAF.17  From a technical point of view, the recommendations of the board were important, for they brought

about changes in the calculation of the Army Supply Program.18 But these technical changes are not of major interest here. The board commented several times that G-4 should check the methods used to calculate the Army Supply Program or otherwise exercise supervision over the ASR Thereafter, the influence of G-4 was greater, or at least ASF found it expedient to keep G-4 fully informed about what it was doing.
This development did not substantially change ASF relations with G-4 although two conflicts, one toward the close of 1944 and the other in 1945, did take place. On 24 September 1944 ASF requested the War Department for permission to disregard computed requirements for a two front war in 1945 when those requirements exceeded production capacity as of December 1944. This request was contrary to a memorandum from G-4. Early in October the Deputy Chief of Staff told General Somervell that his proposal was generally acceptable. He indicated that G-4 would gradually adjust total requirements for all supplies downward. But since G-4 did not wish to make revisions until 1 July 1945, Somervell, on 13 October again wrote the Chief of Staff. He argued that the progress of the war to date was such that the War Department could afford to take the risk of not building additional production facilities for items of equipment whose demand would increase in 1945. The Army Service Forces had prepared a separate procurement program for the war against Japan, and contractors had already been informed of the expected changes in production schedules occasioned by the shift from a two-front to a one-front war.19
This time Somervell's recommendation was officially accepted, and the ASF was instructed not to attempt to procure supplies in the first half of 1945 in excess of existing production capacity. Thus the reluctance of the Supply Division to approve a reduction of supply requirements as of 1 January 1945 was overruled.
Another conflict between ASF and G-4 arose after V -J Day over the subject of reserve supplies to be kept by the Army. The Army Service Forces suggested that items such as guns, tanks, and ammunition, which would continue to be of use to the Army, should be retained, while other items of general supplies, such as tents, axes, clothing, building equipment, trucks, and railroad rolling stock, should be released. Somervell believed that such a policy would make a substantial contribution toward easing civilian shortages. G-4 objected to the ASF proposal because it feared that the War Department might have difficulty in the postwar years in obtaining appropriations to purchase new supplies.20 Confronted by conflicting recommendations, the Secretary of War (now Mr. Patterson, the former Under Secretary) in November 1945 appointed a board of officers to review both proposals. Eventually, a compromise was effected.
That such difficulties arising from the anomalous relationship of the ASF and G-4 did not become more formidable was largely the result of Somervell's own aggressive behavior in pushing the work of

the ASK On supply matters in particular there was no one in the War Department General Staff, especially in G-4, who felt it necessary to question the performance of the ASF. Had that performance ever been less than exemplary, the record of ASF General Staff relationships might well have been very different.
In the spring of 1943 Somervell was interested not only in a reorganization of the WDGS but also in setting up a standard organization for supply and service activities performed within large combat units and in overseas theaters. The "basic idea" for the memorandum on organization of service activities in theaters of operations, signed by Somervell on 1 June 1943, was "to effect unity of command-of linking responsibility and authority-over-all supply and administrative matters in each theater and in each tactical unit through one individual responsible to the commander both as a staff officer and as the commander of service troops." One purpose of the proposal was "to eliminate the present duplications between the administrative side of the General Staff (G-1 and G-4), the special staff, and the commanders of certain supply and administrative areas, units, and installations by bringing them under a single logistical control at both the staff and line levels." A second purpose was to reduce the number of special staff officers reporting directly to a military commander.
In essence, Somervell's suggestion amounted to this. A military commander, whether of a division, an army, an army group, or of a theater of operations, should have a small staff made up of two units, one on intelligence and the other on operations. He would then have such subordinate combat commanders as might be assigned to his command, plus a single individual commanding all services, supply, and administrative activities. This supply commander would advise the operations staff on the administrative and supply aspects of all proposed military operations and would similarly advise the commanding general himself. He would then be responsible for executing supply and service aspects of the proposed military operations. In a sense, these recommendations did no more than suggest a standard organization for large combat commands and overseas theaters similar to the arrangement which in reality already existed for the War Department in the United States.21
In October 1943 the War Department did suggest a standard organization for overseas theaters and published instructions "for the information and guidance of all concerned." 22 One part of the circular dealt with the organization of large combat units, such as corps and armies; another with the organization of a "communications zone." The circular suggested that, in the interests of economy and efficiency, unnecessary decentralization and dispersion of supply activities should be avoided. Consolidated supply and repair depots were more efficient than small establishments and the storage of theater supplies in a few rather than many places would simplify inventory control and reduce inventory levels. The recommendations also emphasized that it was essential to clear ports of debarkation rapidly. A general concept was set forth that the hospitals, the signal service, the engineer construction service, and the transportation service of the communications zone should serve the entire theater.

Organization charts attached to the circular sketched a desirable organization for a theater of operations. Under the headquarters of the theater, there were four component commands: two armies, an air force, and a communications zone. This same chart indicated the component parts of the suggested communications zone. These were six in number, consisting of a Base Section, an Intermediate Section, an Advanced Section, a Transportation Service, a Communications Service, and a Construction Service. Four supporting charts suggested desirable organization for a section (whether base, intermediate or advanced), a port, and a depot.
The War Department circular, however, said nothing about the relationships which should exist between the commanding general of the communications zone and the commanding general of the theater of operations. It was apparently assumed that there would still be a G-4 on the staff of the theater commander and that there might even be such "special staff officers" as the commander desired.
Thus, in the European Theater of Operations for the invasion of France, there was a communications zone with a commanding general. There was also a G-4 section in Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces, which also served as the G-4 of the American commanding general (Eisenhower). There was a medical officer for the commanding general of the theater, separate from the medical officer in the communications zone. For the most part, however, the chief engineer, the chief quartermaster, signal officer, and other such officers in the communications zone also served as the chief of the service for the theater as a whole. This arrangement caused considerable confusion.
Not all overseas theaters adopted the pattern suggested by War Department Circular 256. Many variations continued to exist, in part because General Marshall believed that the overseas commander should make such organizational arrangements as he thought desirable. At the same time he encouraged Somervell to develop close and direct communication between ASF headquarters and supply officers in the field through overseas visits. This was as far as the Chief of Staff would go. 23
General Somervell never succeeded in obtaining a revision of the War Department General Staff that reflected the actual situation which made him in fact the Chief of Staff's principal adviser on supply matters. Potentially, he might have occupied a similar status on all personnel matters. But he was never to have this status formalized in official orders.
Somervell conceived of the ASF as a supply and service command which was prepared to do for the War Department Chief of Staff everything that before 1942 had been performed by G-1, G-4, all the units of the so-called special staff, and the OUSW He felt that this role should be formalized in the War Department structure and in overseas commands. He was in effect the advocate of a wholly new concept of staff and command for the Army.
Never at any time did he question the command role of the Chief of Staff of the Army. Nor did he question the need for a "general staff." He said only that formally the Chief of Staff should organize his staff into two units-an intelligence unit and an operations unit. Somervell recognized also that the operations unit would necessarily have to be large; it probably would

require personnel and troop organization groups as well as a logistics group within it. But Somervell thought the real planning should be carried on in the headquarters of the Army Air Forces, the Army Ground Forces, and the Army Service Forces.
General Marshall's attitude toward the Somervell proposals can only be deduced from the events. There is no evidence that he discouraged Somervell from submitting his suggestions. But neither did he push them after he received them. Marshall probably regarded the whole issue as theoretical, or perhaps as relatively unimportant. He was undoubtedly fairly well satisfied with War Department organization as it was functioning in 1943. The proposed changes would not have made any real change in Somervell's status, and Marshall was presumably more interested in the realities than in the formalities of individual position and authority. With his well-known belief that "details" should be left to the overseas commanders, Marshall was also satisfied to let personalities and performance in the theaters of operations determine the desirable and workable organizational arrangements. He could see no real reason for making a change in 1943, and so he let his staff argue as they wished the niceties of organizational structure. For the duration of the war nothing came of the whole discussion. Somervell's authority remained as before. In fact he was still the supply staff and the supply command of the War Department when the war ended.

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