Developments in 1941

By 1941 WPD had come to occupy a somewhat anomalous position in the War Department. Army Regulations and traditional Army doctrine gave to the Division no authority superior to that of the four other General Staff Divisions, likewise responsible for recommending plans and policies to the Chief of Staff.1 On the other hand the preparation of war plans in conformity with interservice and international deliberations was becoming the most comprehensive and crucial kind of Army staff work. As the world situation became more unstable and the foreign relations of the United States more uncertain, the Chief of Staff depended increasingly upon advice and assistance from WPD, whose responsibilities were most nearly coextensive with his own multiple responsibilities as military head of the War Department, commander of all Army forces, and senior military representative of the Army in the national high command.

WPD started out in the year 1941 with a new chief, Brig. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, who entered on duty 16 December 1940.2 General Gerow led WPD through a critical phase in which it more than doubled in size and carried a constantly mounting load of staff work. After the Pearl Harbor disaster, he devoted himself to trying to meet General Marshall's urgent needs for help in directing the Army's first moves in World War II. When he turned over his desk to Brig. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower on 15 February 1942, WPD had gained valuable experience and improved its organization in readiness for the new responsibilities it was shortly to assume as OPD.

General Gerow plunged into the voluminous staff work incident to solving the many problems confronting the Army in the pre-Pearl Harbor period. His necessarily close working relationship with General Marshall


Chart 1. War Plans Division, War Department General Staff: 15 September 1941

Source: Statistics Branch, WDGS

Chart 1. War Plans Division, War Department General Staff: 15 September 1941


in national and international strategic planning tended to bring on him and on WPD more and more duties, especially those which had to be attended to at once and did not clearly fall within the sphere of responsibility of any particular Army staff or agency as defined by Army Regulations.

Organization, Duties, and Strength of WPD

Functional assignments within WPD in 1941 were set forth in a long administrative memorandum formulated in May of that year. It stated: "The general duties of this Division relate to the formulation of plans and general policies affecting the employment of our military forces in war, separately, or in conjunction with Naval forces." 3

To perform these duties, the Division was divided into two groups, the Plans Group and the Projects Group.4 An important share of WPD's duties was performed by the Joint Policy & Plans Section of the Plans Group. It provided Army representatives as needed for the Joint Strategic Committee, the Army-Navy planning group responsible to the reorganized Joint Planning Committee. In joint planning, as in Army planning, these officers were in effect reporting to the Assistant Chief of Staff, WPD, who was one of the two members of the new Joint Planning Committee as well as a member of the Joint Army-Navy Board. Within or through the Joint Board system, the Joint Policy & Plans officers dealt with all "matters of strategic policy and plans that involve the Navy or the Navy and associated powers." For many years WPD had assumed the responsibility of following up Army action to see that joint Army-Navy Board decisions had been put into effect.5 In mid-1941 the WPD chief in addition received specific authority to "take final War Department action on joint matters" that did not affect basic policy and on which there was no disagreement with the Navy Department.6 This interservice work, plus the extensive strategic planning incident to exploratory British-American staff conferences and other military liaison established with Great Britain and the Soviet Union in 1941, placed a heavy burden on the handful of WPD planners assigned to these duties. In addition the Joint Policy & Plans Section supplied most of the officers who sat on the many boards and committees on which WPD was represented.7 Finally, this section had the assignment of following national and international developments in order to "anticipate important strategic problems . . . and to prepare in advance appropriate studies." This work "set up


the basic requirements" for the planning undertaken by the whole Plans Group.

The Army Strategic Plans & Resources Section of the Plans Group was responsible for translating these general ideas on national and international strategy into specific Army terms in the light of current combat resources. The aspect of its work that pertained to resources was steadily becoming more important as the U. S. Army lost its peacetime character and grew rapidly in size. The Chief of Staff had to be kept informed as to where all the troop units were, how they could be employed, and at what time. The informal "bookkeeping" system on Army resources developed by this section shortly before Pearl Harbor met a very real need.8

The Joint Requirements & Technical Liaison Section of the Plans Group worked on the interservice and international level somewhat as the resources unit did on the Army level. It translated approved strategy into policies governing the distribution of munitions among friendly powers in accordance with lend-lease principles and the "best national interests of the United States." Finally, the Latin American Section of the Plans Group dealt with all problems of "military collaboration with Latin American Republics" except the allocation of arms and equipment, which was handled by the Joint Requirements & Technical Liaison Section.

The Projects Group, the second main element in the organization of WPD as of mid-1941, was an anomaly. It had a general responsibility for studying local Army problems in the light of Army plans whenever they were referred to the General Staff. It recommended War Department actions to improve the defensive capacity of overseas possessions, particularly with respect to personnel allocations, armament, and fixed installations, but it had no clear authority and did not presume to interpose on its own initiative in order to direct the undertaking of specific measures for the current defense of any of the local commands, which were entrusted to senior officers directly responsible to General Marshall.9 It assisted the Chief of Staff in exercising his operational command of the field forces only upon explicit instructions, not as a matter of routine, continuous responsibility.

Two of the Projects Group's three sections were named for areas. Initially they were called the Overseas Bases Section and the Continental U. S. and Departments Section but later in the year were redesignated the Atlantic Section and the Pacific Section. They handled all matters concerning projects within their respective areas, but the only specific action open to officers in these sections was "coordination where necessary" with other agencies.10 In fact, when in special circumstances General Marshall or the Secretary of War specifically ordered General Gerow to issue instructions to the field concerning military operations, the WPD chief usually turned to the Plans Group for assistance. What the two area-oriented sections of the Projects Group actually did was simply to advise the Division on policies concerning allocation of defensive installations and


combat resources to the overseas bases, especially in the Panama Canal, Puerto Rican, Hawaiian, and Philippine Departments. Finally, the Current Section of the group performed much the same function in studying general War Department policy on such matters as Army organization, equipment scheduling, and aviation development.11 It was referred to as a miscellaneous unit, a term which in many ways applied to the entire Projects Group.

Throughout 1941, in keeping with its steadily expanding duties, WPD continued to grow in size as well as to readjust its organization to accommodate the variety of tasks the Division was performing for the Chief of Staff. General Gerow began requesting officer reinforcements early in the year. They arrived from time to time but never in numbers sufficient to catch up with the Division's work. In June the Division requested authorization for a ceiling strength of 54 of which 43 would be Regular Army and 11 Reserve officers.12 Six months later, on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack, WPD was approaching this ceiling, having reached a strength of 48 officers, including General Gerow.13 This total represented slightly more than a 100-percent increase from the strength on 31 December 1940.

The selection of the officers needed to fill the Division's roster was a constant problem for the Division chief and his executive officer. The competition for the best Regular officers was keen in 1941, a period of rapid growth throughout the Army. Many officers requested never were made available to WPD. Some were requested on two or more separate occasions before they were finally assigned. General Gerow tried persistently to get officers who needed little training and testing. The basis of selection was personal acquaintance on the part of officers already in the Division, service record, and military education, probably in most cases in that order of importance. In 1941 the methodical canvassing of available candidates, with special emphasis on their efficiency ratings, was less in evidence than selection of a promising officer recommended to General Gerow or his executive.14

By 1941 WPD and the rest of the War Department had grown so much that the paper work involved in dispatching Division business had become voluminous and complex. This fact placed a heavy load on the civilian staff, especially on a few members whose knowledge of records and procedures helped the many new officers to make themselves quickly at home in their jobs. The entire civilian complement, which totalled only eight in 1939, had reached a total of about sixty by 7 December 1941.15


War Planning: 1941

The early defensive deployment of the Army, which began well before Pearl Harbor, required WPD to act for the Chief of Staff in a variety of cases too critical to be left un-co-ordinated among the many War Department agencies and too detailed for General Marshall to supervise personally. Much of this staff work went on within the framework of interservice and international planning. Above all, WPD aided and advised the Chief of Staff by drafting detailed Army plans for putting into effect military preparations and movements on which agreement had been reached in interservice and international conferences.

It undertook to advise the Chief of Staff and, through him, the Secretary of War and the President on the military resources that the United States ultimately would have to mobilize to insure the defeat of the Axis Powers. In all these tasks the Division was exercising its traditional planning function, though it was less concerned with the formal war plans designed to meet hypothetical contingencies and moved toward continuous participation in Army-Navy and British-American deliberations on current strategic issues.

The character of war planning done by WPD in the immediate pre-Pearl Harbor period had changed considerably from that of the color plan years. By 1941 American national policy and Army planning entered a new, more realistic phase. The color plans, though some were still in effect, were rapidly becoming obsolete.16 Their place was taken by the RAINBOW plans, especially by RAINBOW 5, a comprehensive war plan dealing with the specific menace to the security of the United States which German, Italian, and Japanese aggression constituted. Like all top-level Army war plans, RAINBOW 5 was an approved staff study.17 It made certain assumptions about the position of the United States with relation to other countries and laid down the course of action to be followed as well as ways and means to carry it out. It provided the general framework of War Department policy and strategy. It was distributed to a limited number of subordinate War Department agencies as a basis for the development of detailed supplementary plans. Unlike the older color plans, RAINBOW 5 rested upon assumptions which were significant in the light of international conditions at the time of its approval. In many ways it reflected the WPD thinking that had helped in the formulation of national military policy by the Joint Board.

War Department RAINBOW 5 was the most important end product of the strategic thinking that started in the fall of 1938 when military and governmental leaders of the United States first began to act and plan on the assumption that Axis aggression might threaten American security. In May and June 1939, a two-month-long exchange of memoranda, letters, and directives among


WPD planners, Navy planners, the Chief of Staff, and the Chief of Naval Operations took place. Some were written by these individuals in their service capacities and some in their capacities as members of the Joint Board and Joint Planning Committee. This exchange resulted in Joint Board authorization for the preparation of five new basic war plans, to be called RAINBOW plans. The composite recommendations in all these papers provided that the five plans would outline the appropriate military action to perform the following missions, respectively:

RAINBOW 1: Prevent the violation of the letter or spirit of the Monroe Doctrine by protecting that part of the territory of the Western Hemisphere from which the vital interests of the United States can be threatened while protecting the United States, its possessions, and its seaborne trade.

RAINBOW 2: Provide for the hemispheric defense mission described in RAINBOW 1 and "sustain the interests of Democratic Powers in the Pacific, . . . provide for the tasks essential to sustain these interests, and . . . defeat enemy forces in the Pacific."

RAINBOW 3: Provide for the hemispheric defense mission described in RAINBOW 1 and protect the "United States' vital interests in the Western Pacific by securing control in the Western Pacific, as rapidly as possible consistent with carrying out the missions" in RAINBOW 1.

RAINBOW 4: Provide for the hemispheric defense mission described in RAINBOW 1 and, unlike RAINBOW 1, carry out this mission by planning for projecting such U. S. Army forces as necessary to the southern part of the South American continent or to the eastern Atlantic.

RAINBOW 5: Provide for the hemispheric defense mission described in RAINBOW 1 and also send the "armed forces of the United States to the Eastern Atlantic and to either or both of the African or European Continents, as rapidly as possible consistent with carrying out the missions" in RAINBOW 1, "in order to effect the decisive defeat of Germany, or Italy, or both." This plan originally assumed "concerted action between the United States, Great Britain, and France." 18

As a result of these joint Army-Navy actions, WPD drew up many studies and specific plans. It participated in preparing the first prerequisite to hemisphere defense planning, Joint Basic War Plan—RAINBOW 1, submitted to the Joint Board on 27 July 1939 and orally approved by the President on 14 October 1939. Detailed Army Operations and Concentration Plans, RAINBOW 1, were completed by WPD and approved by the Chief of Staff in July 1940.19

On 7 June 1940 the Joint Board approved the Joint Basic War Plan—RAINBOW 4, and WPD was faced with a large task in the preparation of subsidiary plans. The problem was solved by attaching a group of nine officers, made available by the closing of the Army War College, to WPD for temporary duty to work on the detailed


Army plans for RAINBOW 4. This group, known as the War Planning Committee, was stationed at the War College. It continued to work on RAINBOW 4 plans during the fall and winter of 1940-41, while the regular staff of WPD concentrated its attention to the development of RAINBOW 5.20

The overwhelming importance of RAINBOW 5 plans at every level soon became clear. In April 1940 revisions suggested by the Joint Planning Committee and approved by the Joint Board raised the priority for developing RAINBOW 5 since it was the most comprehensive plan still applicable after the outbreak of war in Europe.21 As changes in the international situation and the elaboration of American strategy in British-American staff talks made the provisions of the first four RAINBOWS obsolete, they were dropped. RAINBOWS 2 and 3 were canceled at the Joint Board meeting on 6 August 1941. Full indorsement of the principle that the military menace of Germany was paramount had destroyed the value of those two plans. Not until 4 May 1942 did the Joint Board officially recognize the effect of Pearl Harbor by canceling RAINBOWS 1 and 4, which provided simply for hemisphere defense. But at the outbreak of war, 7 December 1941, RAINBOW 5 was the formal plan that went into effect. Though even RAINBOW 5 in many ways was inadequate for the crisis then at hand, it provided a substratum of strategic agreement on which the subsequent development of British-American plans was based.

All this preliminary study and work on national strategy had served to solidify military opinion in general and WPD thinking in particular. While its chief officers were working on the joint planning level, WPD co-ordinated all War Department ideas on the problems at hand.22 Officers of the Division were busy on various aspects of RAINBOW 5 during most of 1940.23

Early in 1941 RAINBOW 5 became entwined with strategic deliberations aimed at integrating American plans for the eventuality of open war against the Axis with the current strategy of Great Britain, the principal power with which the United States probably would be associated in such a war. On 14 December 1940 the Joint Planning Committee, of which Col. Joseph T. McNarney was the Army member, received instructions from the Joint Board to draw up a paper for the guidance of American representatives at a conference with British military leaders. The paper was to include a general statement of the "probable nature and extent of naval and military operations. . . in case the United States should undertake a major offensive in the Atlantic, and a defensive in the Pacific, in support of Great Britain against the Axis." 24 This supposition of the nature of possible hostilities coincided with the assumptions of RAINBOW 5, then in the


WPD planning mill. In the first half of 1941 the basic War Department plan was integrated with the interservice RAINBOW plan and with the British-American staff planning initiated with ABC-1 concerning co-operation in the event of American entry into the war.

WPD researches and studies made themselves felt at both the interservice and British-American levels through General Gerow and Colonel McNarney. On 26 December General Gerow suggested to General Marshall that the Army representatives at the conferences be led by former WPD chief General Embick, and include the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2. Brig. Gen. Sherman Miles. Also, General Gerow said the "potential importance of these Staff Conferences to future war planning makes it desirable to include in the representation two members of the War Plans Division." He recommended himself, as head of the Division, and Colonel McNarney, whom he described as "thoroughly familiar with present and prospective war plans and . . . particularly well qualified to discuss air operations." The Chief of Staff approved these suggestions.25

During January 1941 WPD worked on preparations for the meeting. The Joint Planning Committee prepared carefully phrased instructions for the American conferees. General Gerow submitted these papers in draft form to General Marshall on 14 January, recommending approval. They were ready for consideration by the Joint Board on 21 January and were approved with minor changes by the President on 26 January. These instructions, given to the British delegates at the first meeting, 29 January 1941, contained a statement in the name of the Chief of Staff and the Chief of Naval Operations concerning the purpose of the conversations and the basic military position of the United States.26

All the resources of Army planning were brought to bear on making the staff conversations a success. The initial meeting took place on 29 January 1941. Fourteen plenary meetings were held between that date and 27 March 1941, the last day of the conference. General Gerow kept the Chief of Staff informed about tentative understandings which he and Colonel McNarney were helping to work out.27 The conferees made steady progress and on the last day of the talks "formally adopted by unanimous agreement" a document containing: (1) a basic British-American war plan to be followed if the United States entered the war and (2) a summary of the fundamental strategic policies agreed upon by the military representatives. Usually referred to by its short title, ABC-1, this document and a supplementary section on air collaboration, called ABC-2, formed a testament of American strategic preparedness on the international level.28


Although ABC-1 specifically stated that it constituted no political commitment of the United States to either a belligerent or nonbelligerent policy, it laid down the first principles of British-American cooperation"should the United States be compelled to resort to war." In the first place, the high commands of both countries would "collaborate continuously in the formulation and execution of strategical policies and plans which shall govern the conduct of the war." The broad strategic goal was defined as the "defeat of Germany and her Allies," specifically including Italy. This, it was agreed, would remain the primary offensive objective even if Japan entered the war. Pursuant to this strategic policy, ABC-1 presented a tentative British-American basic war plan naming the specific military tasks to be performed; the naval, air, and ground forces available to perform them in each area; and a rough allocation between the two nations of primary strategic responsibility for directing projected military operations in various parts of the world.

The ABC-1 agreement served to harden the outlines of American military thinking. A month later the Joint Planning Committee presented Joint Basic War Plan—RAINBOW 5 for Joint Board consideration. The memorandum of transmittal was signed for the Army by General McNarney.29 It explained that Joint RAINBOW 5 was based on the strategic concepts set forth in the report of ABC-1.30 Secretaries Stimson and Knox approved both ABC-l and Joint RAINBOW 5 and sent them to the President in June 1941.31 President Roosevelt "familiarized himself with the two papers," but did not approve them at the time, although he indicated his satisfaction by suggesting that they be returned for his approval in "case of war." 32 Given the political responsibilities of a government that was publicly committed to avoid war if possible, American military leaders had gone a long way toward preparing for the advent of hostilities, which was becoming more and more probable.

WPD planners were then able to turn back to the Army's RAINBOW 5 plan, work on which had been well under way before the British-American staff conversations. They finished War Department Operations Plan-RAINBOW 5 and War Department Concentration Plan—RAINBOW 5 in time to receive the Chief of Staff's approval on 19 August 1941. The planning wheel had then come full circle. Army ideas on strategy had filtered upward to interservice and international committees and conferences, where they were accepted, rejected, or integrated with other planning ideas. The approved strategic policy that resulted finally filtered down again to the Army, where, under the supervision of WPD, Army plans were drawn up and distributed to other Army agencies for elaboration in detail. This process was what "war planning"


meant in the period immediately preceding the outbreak of hostilities.

The difficulty of strategic planning in a period of world-wide insecurity, and the ramifications of staff work connected with it, appeared plainly in the work of WPD on the "Victory Program" estimate of September 1941. The needs of the U. S. Army for munitions conflicted with the requirements imposed on American industry initially by British (and briefly French) purchases and in 1941 by lend-lease allocations. The problem of calculating the Army's needs and fitting them into the national armaments production program had been under study for a long time by the War Department G-4 and the Office of the Under Secretary of War.33 In the spring of 1941 various Army staffs were becoming aware of the urgent need for an integrated calculation of "Ultimate Munitions Production Essential to the Safety of America."34 By this time WPD was taking an active interest in the problem of "Coordination of Planning and Supply." In May Lt. Col. Charles W. Bundy of the Plans Group informed his chief: "Confusion will reign until an agency for formulating a policy based on all strategic plans is designated." 35 On 21 May General Marshall directed WPD to take the lead in the General Staff in preparing a "clear-cut strategic estimate of our situation from a ground, air, and naval viewpoint" in order to provide a "base of departure" for considering "increases and changes in armament." 36

37 By this time General Gerow had a definite idea how this task should be approached, which he stated as follows: "We must first evolve a strategic concept of how to defeat our potential enemies and then determine the major military units (Air, Navy and Ground) required to carry out the strategic operations." This idea grew directly out of the experience of WPD in formulating strategic plans, and General Gerow felt very strongly that it indicated the only realistic way to go about setting up industrial objectives. The other main approach, depending on a calculation of the supply of American munitions necessary to add to the resources of potential allies in order to overbalance the production of potential enemies, General Gerow considered unsound. "It would be unwise to assume," he observed, "that we can defeat Germany by simply out-producing her," since production is only one factor determining the conduct of war. He added: "One hundred thousand airplanes would be of little value to us if these airplanes could not be used because of lack of trained personnel, lack of operating airdromes in the theater, and lack of shipping to maintain the air squadrons in the theater." 38 If, then, "ultimate production should not be adjusted to a capacity to ex-


ceed that of our potential enemies" but should be adjusted instead to a "strategic concept of how to defeat our potential enemies," the first step in setting up a "Victory Program" for the Army had to be taken by WPD. No other staff was in so good a position to estimate the strategic operations that would become necessary, and on that basis to calculate the major military units needed to carry them out.

Maj. Albert C. Wedemeyer, a new planning recruit, took the lead for WPD in conducting Army-wide researches on requirements in terms of men.39 He also brought together estimates of the probable size and composition of task forces, the possible theaters of operation, and the probable dates at which forces would be committed. Thus did the War Department accomplish its part, an extremely critical part, in the initial Victory Program of September 1941, the starting point for all wartime calculations of munitions production.40 To this extent the strategic planning of WPD, even in 1941, led the Division to take a primary part in major War Department planning regardless of whether or not it was strictly strategic in character.

Expansion of the Functions of GHQ

Shortly after GHQ had been activated in 1940 and given its training mission, WPD made a study of the responsibilities and authority which should be delegated to GHQ prior to active engagement in hostilities. The Division recommended that the responsibility of GHQ as laid down in 1940 be extended to include, in addition to training: (1) the preparation of plans and studies and the supervision of activities concerning actual operations in the theater of war and (2) consultation with WPD, G-3, and G-4 on major items of equipment and the organization or activation of combat or service units essential to prospective operations. WPD suggested that the special committee of planning officers working temporarily at the War College under the supervision of the Division be transferred to GHQ to form an Operations Section.41

In accordance with this general plan, in 1941 GHQ began to develop into an agency through which the Chief of Staff could command troops in the theaters of war. In May 1941, with discussion of sending U. S. Army troops to Iceland well under way, the Chief of Staff decided that it was time to "start certain designated staffs on working on an operations plan," as distinct from general strategic plans. General Marshall noted that this work ought to be started by GHQ


rather than by WPD.42 On 17 June he and General Gerow worked out a policy transferring responsibility for the "organization and control of task forces and operations" to GHQ. General Gerow observed that "coordination and adjustment between WPD and GHQ" would be essential because WPD would have to "prepare the necessary plans and directives prescribing the units" while GHQ "would carry out the actual organization of units into task forces."43 Two days later WPD recommended enlarging the functions of GHQ to make it a "command group designed to plan, initiate and control execution of such military operations as may be directed by the War Department." General Gerow's reasoning was: "Military operations in a number of relatively minor and widely separated theaters may be undertaken on short notice. The effective coordination, conduct, and control of such operations is an extremely difficult task and requires an executive organization capable of prompt decision and expeditious action. There is no agency of the War Department now organized to meet this requirement." 44

After the Chief of Staff had approved the recommendation for enlarging the duties of GHQ, WPD prepared a new directive for GHQ which appeared 3 July 1941.45 It provided that, in addition to training responsibilities, GHQ should have responsibilities in planning and commanding operations in areas specifically allotted it by the War Department. General Marshall ordered Brig. Gen. Harry J. Malony, who was then chief of the WPD Plans Group, to take a small detachment of officers from WPD and, as Deputy Chief of Staff under General McNair, to exercise the new function of tactical planning and staff control of military operations in the new base and defense commands and in potential theaters of operations.46 General McNair continued to be primarily concerned with the more immediate objective of training the new and steadily expanding Army.

General Malony's task was to make GHQ an organization that could develop tactical plans for military operations, issue orders to theater and task force commanders, systematically follow up receipt and execution of orders, and try to help the tactical commanders carry out assigned missions by securing for them the administrative, technical, and supply services they needed. Overseas operations by American troops called for detailed consideration of everything incident to the performance of a mission in the theater, from the development of cold-weather equipment to arrangements for pay of forces.47

The first assignment to GHQ under the new directive was the complex job of completing detailed plans for organizing, dispatching, and maintaining U. S. Army troops assigned to garrison duty in Iceland. The task was accomplished in accordance with general strategic plans made by WPD. In time all the Atlantic bases came under


command of GHQ, first Newfoundland, Greenland, and Bermuda, and, shortly after Pearl Harbor, the Caribbean Defense Command. The contribution of GHQ in managing the first pre-Pearl Harbor movement of troops in the Atlantic area, made in an atmosphere of uncertainty both administratively and policy-wise, paved the way for the later, much greater deployment. GHQ as an operations control center, though encountering steadily increasing difficulties in fulfilling its mission, was a going concern throughout the second half of 1941. 48

Unfortunately, the tasks confronting the Army in mid-1941 did not lend themselves to any precise division into categories of responsibility that could be assigned definitely either to GHQ or to the War Department General Staff. Any newly established agency was sure to encounter many practical difficulties in maintaining its authority on staff problems on which older War Department agencies, particularly the General Staff, were already working. This process was especially difficult for GHQ as constituted in 1941. It had started its work in 1940 as a training agency rather than the high headquarters staff it was designed to become, and many of its staff officers continued to be preoccupied with the task of building up the ground combat forces. The feasibility of the GHQ concept also became more dubious as interservice and international staff planning became more decisive in Army affairs, and as WPD became more deeply involved in the intricate process. Increasingly, the Chief of Staff was working out his major military decisions in inter service and international committees, and WPD continued to be responsible for assisting him in this work. The staff agency that supported General Marshall in strategic deliberations on the highest plane of authority was obviously in a position to overshadow any other staff and in practice if not in theory become the Army's GHQ.

When WPD recommended the July 1941 increase in authority for GHQ, General Gerow had pointed out: "In this delegation of authority, however, the War Department should be careful to avoid the relinquishment of that control which is essential to the execution of its responsibility for the Army's function in the conduct of war." 49 The difficulty of determining what control should be relinquished soon became apparent. Operational command functions at the GHQ level and planning by the General Staff proved inextricably interrelated. 50 The world emergency was constantly shifting and constantly growing. The Chief of Staff could not conceivably finish a comprehensive war plan for operations and take his troops into the field to execute it. GHQ remained in Washington. To fulfill its mission as visualized in 1921, while remaining in Washington, it would have to be given power to co-ordinate overseas operations with zone of interior activities, particularly the allocation of equipment and supplies, and to bring them in line with the military operations it was planning to execute. Should military operations in defense of the continental United States begin, the four defensive


Army air forces would also come under GHQ control.51 With these powers GHQ would constitute a super-War Department as soon as hostilities broke out. The various War Department agencies, especially the new, autonomy-conscious Army Air Forces under General Arnold and the divisions of the General Staff, considered this development unwarranted. 52 Without full power GHQ experienced serious difficulties in doing its work, and its very existence further complicated the system of high-level control of the Army.

Thus in 1941 the General Staff, the Army Air Forces, and GHQ found themselves in the same place, Washington, working on many of the same problems. Efficient adjustment of responsibilities and authority among them proved to be arduous. In the field of operational planning, GHQ worked in a state of uncertainty as to what portion of the limited military resources available would be allotted it by other responsible Army agencies. GHQ had no authority to make the various staffs in the War Department work together to gear equipment and supply programs to the requirements of the theaters of operations. The G-4 Division of the General Staff controlled equipment and supply policies as such, following or disregarding GHQ recommendations as to operational needs. Moreover, the War Department never relinquished its direct control over certain areas, principally the Pacific bases. For the critical Hawaiian and Philippine Departments, WPD was General Marshall's only "command staff." 53 The operational control of GHQ consequently was piecemeal, rather than uniform and a matter of established principle. In carrying out operations plans, GHQ soon became entangled in a series of issues concerning command, particularly with the Army Air Forces, which was legitimately occupied with its own tremendous expansion and training program just as GHQ was legitimately concerned with plans and resources for air operations in the Atlantic bases.

General McNair brought to General Marshall's attention some of the command difficulties that his operational control staff was meeting only a few weeks after the midsummer enlargement of the responsibilities of GHQ.54 In the ensuing months the issue was clearly drawn. GHQ might be given control of all Army resources, including those ordinarily in the province of the War Department, that were essential to the mission of directing military operations on behalf of the Chief of Staff. Such a transfer of responsibility for "superior command," as General McNair expressed it, should be made only "on the basis that the War Department is not organized suitably for the expeditious action required." This line of reasoning followed the 1921 concept, which left unclear the relation between GHQ and the War Department, but which implied that GHQ was to be on an equal or superior plane. With inexorable logic, General McNair proceeded: "Unless GHQ can be freed from the complications of War Department organization, there is little advantage and some disadvantage in having a GHQ." If GHQ were not to be a headquarters with authority superior to that of the War Department and its General Staff, the War Department itself would have to be


streamlined to exercise superior command directly for the Chief of Staff.55

The multiplicity of U. S. Army activities and interests in bases in the Atlantic as well as in the Pacific in the latter part of 1941 required WPD to supervise closely, by scrutinizing reports to the War Department from the tactical commanders concerned, many military matters that had little to do with high-level strategic planning. Planners had to understand what GHQ, the Army Air Forces, and other agencies were doing in order to take account of their work in strategic plans in the process of development. Within the General Staff, General Marshall turned to WPD for the "war measures, the war plans, the war advice to the Chief of Staff."56 He had the privilege of using any of his staff advisers as he wished. As taught in the service schools, Army doctrine on staff organization and procedure in the late 1930's carried the qualification: "In actual practice the functioning of a commander and his staff and the method of organizing the staff departments will depend, to a great extent, on the personalities of the commander and the members of the staff."57 The principal difficulty was that the Chief of Staff had no single staff to which he could turn for fully co-ordinated advice and assistance on all the issues. On any specific matter, he had to choose between one of the five General Staff Divisions and GHQ. He often turned to WPD in urgent cases, such as the broad question concerning the Iceland operation to which General Gerow referred in November 1941 when he said, "GHQ should handle this but the Chief of Staff wants us to take the lead." 58 By October 1941 WPD was so intimately concerned with plans for troop movements and actual troop shipments that it was given the responsibility of controlling centrally the assignment of code words for military plans and the movement of expeditionary forces.59

Aside from referring these special Army activities to its planners for review and recommendation as to strategic implications, WPD also had to examine projected enterprises in detail in terms of the local operational situation, particularly in terms of troop strength and supply. To be ready to deal with detailed matters of no broad planning significance, the Projects Group of WPD delegated to individual officers responsibility for intimate acquaintance with all the outlying bases (Hawaii, Philippines, and Alaska), the Caribbean Defense Command, the British-leased bases, and air ferrying operations.60

General Marshall often relied on WPD to draw on the other General Staff Divisions, in effect co-ordinating their work, in order to prepare staff studies, but he personally acted on every policy or command decision, often intervening in the process of drafting studies to make extremely detailed changes both in substance and language. WPD records, 1939-41, give conclusive


testimony to the tremendous burden which the General Staff system placed on the Chief of Staff and the energy with which he shouldered it. His handwriting is in evidence on drafts of nearly every important paper and on many comparatively unimportant ones. An early indication of the personal role General Marshall intended to take in staff work was given shortly after he became Chief of Staff. At a meeting on 23 October 1939, he had suggested that "studies would probably go through without change if a preliminary draft were sent up first for his once over before the final work was submitted." 61

The WPD chief similarly carried a great work load that he did not consider himself authorized to delegate to other officers in the Division. The processing of correspondence in the Division followed very much the same channels at the end of 1941 that had been observed in previous years when the volume was infinitely smaller. All correspondence passed through the hands of the Division executive, who routed it to the proper group chief who in turn directed it to the proper section, where the section chief detailed an officer to take necessary action to dispose of the matter. Action might be merely reading and marking for file by the record room, it might require drafting a message to be dispatched by the Chief of Staff, or it might involve preparation of a long, complex study of the issue raised. In any case the action officer returned the paper to the executive with a disposition slip bearing his own initials, those of his section chief, and those of his group chief, showing concurrence.62 Although the executive might sign administrative memoranda, all policy papers were scrutinized or signed by the Division chief.

The pressure of work became so great in 1941 that General Gerow drafted a memorandum requesting permission to delegate final staff action on routine matters to his immediate assistants, the two WPD group chiefs. He pointed out: "The paper work in this Division has reached such proportions that the Assistant Chief of Staff finds that sufficient time for thorough consideration of problems of basic policy and matters of major importance is lacking." 63 The atmosphere created by General Staff tradition as of 1941 is indicated by the fact that General Gerow decided not to sign and dispatch this memorandum for fear that more strict regulations would be inforced.64 Thus, with an increasing amount of work, WPD was turning into a hard-working and versatile planning staff, but was not the kind of staff General Marshall would need in his Washington command post if the United States engaged in open hostilities in World War II.

In recognition of this fact General Gerow consistently supported the policy of giving GHQ all the power it needed. Nevertheless some of the other officers in WPD in 1941 had developed a line of thought diverging from the conventional GHQ concept. They agreed in maintaining two propositions.


First, the Army needed co-ordinated, central staff direction of military operations and, second, this direction had to come from somewhere in the War Department. General McNarney was one of the most outspoken advocates of these propositions at the time that transfer of operational responsibility to GHQ was being discussed. In April 1941, shortly before his departure for duty with the observer group in England, he recommended to General Gerow that WPD oppose the transfer of theater planning and operations functions to GHQ. He wrote: "It might be desirable and perhaps necessary, to set up in Washington a coordinating agency to tie together the Operations of Zone of the Interim; with those of one or more theaters, but I doubt if this agency should be separated from the War Department." 65 This line of reasoning, with which General Gerow was familiar, remained beneath the surface of official WPD opinion while the Division tried in mid-1941 to make the GHQ system work in accordance with General Marshall's wishes. It emerged when critical study of the high command structure was authorized after GHQ began to meet tremendous difficulties in carrying out its operational planning mission.

When in July 1941 General McNair felt compelled to request clarification of conflicting command responsibilities for developing defenses in some of the outlying bases which had been placed under the control of GHQ, his memorandum was referred to WPD.66 General Gerow informed the Chief of Staff that the problem raised by General McNair affected "both the peace and war activities of almost every agency of the War Department-personnel, intelligence, organization, training, supply, planning, and responsibility of the Air Force." In other words, the dilemma of GHQ could be resolved only by treating it in the larger context of Army organization and functions. Accordingly WPD recommended that representatives of all those agencies make a formal study of the problems involved.67 In mid-August the Chief of Staff directed General Gerow to form a committee representing the General Staff Divisions, the Air Forces, and GHQ and to proceed with the recommended study.68

The Army Air Forces Drive for Autonomy

The main drive to solve the GHQ problem by eliminating GHQ as it then existed came from the Army Air Forces, represented on the committee by Brig. Gen. Carl Spaatz, chief of General Arnold's Air Staff. At this point in Air history, the Army advocates of air power as an independent strategic weapon coequal with the ground forces were enjoying unprecedented freedom of action. In the Air Force Combat Command (former GHQ Air Force) they had their striking force. In the Air Corps they had their own procurement, technical service, and training agency. Through General Arnold's status as Deputy Chief of Staff, they were able to participate in command decisions. General Arnold also sat as a member of the Joint Board, the


national military high command. The main thing lacking to make the Army Air Forces virtually an autonomous arm of the service was a staff for General Arnold to make general strategic plans for the employment of air forces and to spell out that strategy in detail in operational plans controlling the employment of air units in combat. The existence of WPD blocked Army Air Forces from entering the strategic planning field, while the existence of GHQ similarly blocked it from operational or tactical planning.

The Army Regulation establishing the Army Air Forces 69 in June 1941 had in fact created a policy-formulating Air Staff for the chief of the new agency, but it did not free the Army Air Forces or the Air Staff from subordination to the General Staff, particularly to WPD, in regard to strategic planning or from subordination to GHQ in regard to control of tactical operations. The study of the GHQ issue coincided with an earnest Air Forces attempt to clarify or alter the regulation in the interests of air autonomy.70

The Air Staff interpreted the regulation as granting them the autonomy within the Army which they had long sought, either inside or outside the War Department. The regulation stated:

The Chief of the Army Air Forces, pursuant to policies, directives, and instructions from the Secretary of War, is charged with the following duties:
a. The control of the activities of the Air Force Combat Command and of the Air
Corps, the preparation of plans pertaining thereto, . . .71

The chief of the Air War Plans Division of the Air Staff, Col. Harold R. George, was trying, as late as October 1941, to get WPD to concur in the proposition that this phrasing meant that the "Air War Plans Division is the proper agency to formulate all plans for the allocation and employment of air units, and the services essential to such units, whether or not these air plans form a part of a larger plan involving combined (that is, ground and air) forces." 72 In other words, all plans for the employment of air forces, even when they constituted the Air part of joint strategic plans, would be written inside General Arnold's headquarters rather than in WPD.

WPD refused to concur in this interpretation, stating that the Division ought to work very closely with the Air Staff but that "it is fundamental that there must be one staff agency in the War Department responsible to the Chief of Staff for the soundness and adequateness of basic strategical plans governing the joint employment of Army ground and Army Air Forces. War Plans Division should be that agency." In these circumstances, the Air Staff would give technical assistance to WPD but would not actually participate in strategic planning at the higher levels. WPD went even further, adding that it would recommend a policy whereby "GHQ is responsible for the preparation of all tactical plans" based on strategic plans. This combination of views, if generally adopted, would leave the Air Staff out of operational planning


altogether, whether strategic or tactical. The WPD comment, passed informally to the Air Forces, called forth a marginal notation by Colonel George, "Where is our vaunted autonomy?" and a strong memorandum of complaint about the attitude of the General Staff, a copy of which was forwarded to the Assistant Secretary of War for Air. 73

At this very time the Army Air Forces was trying to secure concurrence in a draft revision of Army Regulation 95-5 that would clearly support its position on Air planning. The proposed revision stated categorically that various sections of the Air Staff under the chief of the Army Air Forces, to be called "Air Divisions of the General Staff," should "prepare all plans for all air operations . . . and, after such plans have been approved by the Chief of Staff, to control and supervise their execution." 74 This project was dropped in November 1941 after WPD presented General Marshall with a long and careful analysis of the Air Forces plan. This analysis flatly rejected the idea of an Air division of the General Staff as constituting a component but autonomous part of the General Staff. The WPD study recommended that the "Air Staff function as the staff of a commander subordinate to the War Department, and not as an element of the War Department General Staff," basing this conclusion on what it called "recognized military essentials of command relations," namely:

There must be a single military head (Chief of Staff) over all elements of the Army in order to coordinate their operations.
Because the Chief of Staff has not the time to perform the necessary research and detailed study for all matters which require his decision, he must have a staff.
The staff of the Chief of Staff must be a General Staff operating in the interests of the Army as a whole, not for part of the Army. This staff is an essential element of the unified command.75

After this last counterthrust from the General Staff, the Army Air Forces gave up its drive for control of strategic planning, at least for the time being. Instead it relied on its right to submit the strategic views of the Air War Plans Division to WPD for consideration. However much WPD might in practice indorse Air Forces planning ideas, this relationship indeed was not the "vaunted autonomy."

Engaged in fighting this losing battle, conducted quietly and rather informally by the Air Forces and WPD, the Army airmen were in no mood in the autumn of 1941 to temporize with GHQ. The latter agency's responsibility for tactical planning for ground and air operations not only interfered with the drive toward planning autonomy but also threatened to interfere with the allocation and use of the operational


air force for air defense of the continental United States and the Atlantic bases. The bases were already being placed under control of GHQ, and the continental defense commands would follow in the event of hostilities. The elimination of GHQ would free the Army Air Forces from an unwelcome competitor in one of the two main fields of disputed planning authority, even if WPD could not be dislodged from the other.

Early Proposals for Reorganization of the War Department

The members of the committee formed under the leadership of WPD in August to study the difficulties of GHQ quickly agreed that it was necessary to abandon hope of solving them within the terms of the GHQ concept and also agreed that a major reorganization of the War Department was necessary. The WPD representative, Lt. Col. William K. Harrison of the Plans Group, took the initiative in drafting an outline plan for readjusting the organization and functions of high-level staff work in support of an Army-wide command.76 This study of August 1941 based its recommendations on the well-established distinction between the two major spheres of Army activities, "preparation and maintenance of the field forces for combat" and "combat operations" proper. Responsibility for the first task, a zone of interior function, Colonel Harrison proposed to assign to three large Army organizations set up as commands, dealing respectively with "air forces, ground forces, and service." Such a system would allow the General Staff to serve as the "policy and planning agency for the Chief of Staff," delegating not only the actual work of the zone of interior but "supervision of the execution of plans and policies" as much as possible to "subordinate agencies particularly the Commanding Generals, Services, Ground Forces, and Army Air Forces." This plan would limit the General Staff to an abstract, advisory plane and would make the new operating commands of the zone of interior directly responsible to the Chief of Staff for carrying out his general instructions, as formulated on the basis of General Staff ideas.77

The new element in Colonel Harrison's proposal and, from the point of view of WPD's future, the vital one, was a recommendation that an "Operations or Command Section should be organized on the General Staff to assist the Chief of Staff in exercising his command functions over


overseas departments and bases, defense commands, task forces, and theaters of operations." 78 This operational section proposed for the General Staff, whose supervisory function had never been stressed but rather inhibited, would be inside and not outside the War Department; it would thus be free from the handicaps of GHQ, which could hardly take any action without raising the question of whether its authority was superior or inferior to the older, well-established War Department agencies. At the very least an Operations or Command Section on the General Staff would not be considered inferior to any other agency. No specific mention of the name of WPD appeared in Colonel Harrison's study. Nevertheless, in view of its widely recognized priority of interest in overseas operations, above and beyond the general concern for zone of interior programs which it shared with the rest of the General Staff, no other existing agency of the War Department was likely to assume the role of the Chief of Staff's command post staff.

General Gerow, still trying to achieve a working solution in accord with his June understanding with General Marshall, refused to go along with the initial committee resolution of mid-August or to indorse the Harrison study. At this time General Marshall still wished to make GHQ work as an independent headquarters, and General Gerow was aware of the Chief of Staff's predisposition. Furthermore, General Gerow did not want to be an advocate of a plan that might lead to a great accretion of power to his own staff. Consequently the Harrison memorandum was never officially dispatched outside WPD. Instead the Division prepared and circulated for comment a memorandum, dated 30 August 1941, proposing to continue GHQ substantially as then constituted.79

Although WPD did not take official action on Colonel Harrison's memorandum, the issues involved were aired in discussion in the committee formed to study the status of GHQ. Officers in other parts of the War Department were free to advance Colonel Harrison's proposal if they chose. Some of his ideas probably were already current elsewhere. In any case a number of them won official support from the Army Air Forces a few weeks later. On 24 October 1941 General Spaatz, as the Army Air Forces representative on the committee, formally submitted to General Gerow a suggestion for reorganizing the War Department much along the lines developed in Colonel Harrison's unofficial WPD study. He explained that Colonel Harrison's study had been prepared in harmony with Army Air Forces proposals and accepted in principle by the committee. The Army Air Forces wished to continue along this line. 80 This memorandum from Gen-


eral Spaatz went to WPD at about the same time that the Air Forces proposed the revision of AR 95-5. Thus, while Colonel Harrison was drafting for the Division a sharp memorandum of nonconcurrence with the idea of an Air division of the General Staff, General Gerow was trying to decide what to do with the Air Forces recommendation that Colonel Harrison's plan for reorganizing the War Department should be carried out. It was also at this point that General McNair himself said that he was inclined to favor eliminating GHQ as then constituted and reorganizing the War Department.81 Not many days later, 14 November 1941, just two days after WPD rejected the proposed revision of AR 95-5, the Air Forces refused to concur in the new, unequivocal directive which General Gerow had drawn up to clarify the position of GHQ.82

General Arnold at this juncture sent the Chief of Staff a plan for War Department reorganization, limiting GHQ to the mission of organizing and training ground combat forces and transferring its superior command and planning functions back to the War Department, itself to be reconstituted. The major specific recommendations were:

(1) That the ground combat forces be grouped together under a Commanding General, and that that General be provided a Ground General Staff. The present GHQ organization, supplemented by parts of the G-1, G-2, and G-3 Divisions of the present War Department General Staff might be utilized for this purpose.
(2) That the supply arms and services be grouped together under a Service Commander, and that that Service Commander be provided an adequate staff. This staff might be made up from members of the G-4 Division of the General Staff and the A-4 Division of the Air Staff, supplemented by officers from the Offices of the Chiefs of the supply Arms and Services.
(3) That the Chief of Staff function as the Commander of the military forces of the War Department, that he be provided a small General Staff, and that he exercise his control within the continental United States through the Ground, Service, and Air Force Commanders. This General Staff should be a small policy-making, war-planning, and coordinating staff, made up of equal representation from the Ground Forces and the Air Forces.83

The resemblance of General Arnold's plan to the basic ideas in Colonel Harrison's August study and in General Spaatz' October memorandum was unmistakable, though it was much less precise as to how the General Staff would exercise command functions on behalf of the Chief of Staff. General Gerow, to whom the November Air Forces plan was referred, promptly (18 November) informed General Marshall that WPD concurred in the "broad principles and the general organization of the War Department as set forth" in the plan, and recommended that it be developed in detail. In passing reference to the difference between this Air Forces proposal and the earlier idea of air divisions of the General Staff, he noted: "One General Staff, instead of two, is provided to assist the


Chief of Staff in coordinating the major activities of the Army." 84

By this time General Marshall himself had become convinced that something had to be done to increase the efficiency of the War Department in directing the multitude of urgent Army activities carried on under its control. On 3 November, while discussing another matter, the Chief of Staff had explained his own ideas on staff work to General Gerow and Colonel Bundy. His remarks were recorded as follows:

The Chief of Staff pointed out that he was seriously concerned about recent command failures. He had been paralyzed to find that a shipment of bombs sent at the end of September would not get to Singapore until December 18. It is not only that delay occurs in matters of this sort, but that we do not know why it occurs. In this case, as in several others recently, it is evident that things have not been followed up as they should be. "We can have no more of this," General Marshall said. "This is the poorest command post in the Army and we must do something about it, although I do not yet know what we will do. . . ."

As General Marshall sees it, we have only begun when an order is issued. He does not want to pester commanders by checking up on them constantly, but there must be some means of knowing how things are progressing before a crisis develops, as in the case of bombs for Singapore.85

The comments of General Gerow and Colonel Bundy in reply to this criticism showed clearly how difficult it was to assign staff responsibility in the War Department as then organized:

General Gerow said that in the past when War Plans had indicated the desire of the Chief of Staff to have a certain thing go to the Philippines as rapidly as possible, it was assumed that G-4 or somebody else would see that it got there. Colonel Bundy said that he had read carefully the directive regarding the bombs, and he had concluded it was necessary to specify that a certain agency was charged with the responsibility for following up the action directed. In this particular directive, it was nowhere stated that anybody had the specific responsibility for following through. Perhaps there should be a standard paragraph making this clear in each directive. In the case of the bombs, it was natural for the Air Force to follow up. General Marshall agreed that this seemed to be at least a temporary solution.86

Nevertheless, the Chief of Staff was not yet convinced that reorganization of the War Department and elimination of GHQ would solve the problem. In connection with his complaints on 3 November about his command post, he stated: "Careful consideration has been given to the idea of reorganizing the staff. This would virtually eliminate GHQ and provide a small staff, but it would still be an operational staff, and the Chief of Staff and the Deputies would still be troubled by pressure coming towards the top. While they would be freed of much detail, the proposed staff reorganization would not provide a complete solution." 87

The "idea" to which the Chief of Staff was referring was clearly that of Colonel Harrison and General Spaatz, since General Arnold had not yet presented his plan. When that plan had come before him and WPD had indorsed its general outlines, the Chief of Staff for the first time indicated that he was willing to consider an alternative to the GHQ system. On 25 November he stated that he was "favorably impressed by the basic organization proposed" by General Arnold and formally charged WPD with studying it in detail.88 The end of the GHQ experiment was in sight, but would not


occur until the following March because development in detail of such a far-reaching plan for reorganization of the War Department was bound to take time. Furthermore, an agreed solution would have to be reached, the Chief of Staff and his civilian superiors must approve it, and necessary legislation must be secured to permit a departure from the provisions of the National Defense Act. Before further progress had been made in the direction of establishing a more efficient command post for the Chief of Staff, the problem was made easier from an administrative-legal point of view and more urgent from the point of view of command by the advent of open hostilities.



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