Preparations for Continental Defense

Until the nation went to war in December 1941 the military preparations for guarding the continental United States centered around four lines of activity: harbor defense, defense against air attack, civilian defense, and the protection of vital nonmilitary installations. Although primarily concerned with measures for protection against bombardment from the air, the Army did not entirely neglect the fixed coastal defenses that offered limited protection against surface attack. Seacoast defense against a determined surface attack or invasion would have required the integrated employment of all types of Army mobile ground and air forces in addition to the harbor defense units, but plans for employing mobile forces for this purpose remained comparatively nebulous until after the United States entered the war. Prewar plans for an integrated employment of the major air defense elements-aviation, antiaircraft artillery, and an aircraft warning service-were far more concrete, though actual preparations on the eve of Pearl Harbor left much to be desired. Civilian defense, associated with air defense but not considered a direct Army responsibility, received a good deal of military attention during the prewar period that helped to limit military commitments thereafter. On the other hand, the Army had to do much more when war came than it had planned to do in safeguarding nonmilitary installations.

Harbor Defenses

For more than a century before World War II harbor defenses had constituted the primary element of the means employed by the Army for seacoast defense. Harbor defenses consisted of permanently installed guns of various calibers, which could be supplemented in an emergency by mobile coast artillery guns and controlled mine fields. Their purpose was, first of all, to guard the defended area against invasion and capture; secondly, to protect the area against naval bombardment, and shipping against submarine or surface torpedo attack; and finally, to cover the seaward approaches to the


principal naval anchorages sufficiently far out to enable ships of the United States Navy to emerge and meet attack. Indeed, the location of naval shore installations and fleet anchorages was the most important factor in determining the location of Army harbor defenses, and the Navy's insistence on the necessity of such defenses was the principal reason for their retention and improvement during World War II. Adequate protection of bases and ships in port freed the Navy for offensive action. The War Department was also well aware of the fact that the maintenance of permanent seacoast defenses gave major coastal cities a sense of security which might help to ensure against an unsound dispersion of the Army's own mobile ground and air forces in a war emergency.1

For a good many years before World War II the Army had recognized the inadequacy of existing harbor defenses. They offered no protection against aerial bombardment, and, since most seacoast guns were outranged by modern naval armament, they could no longer guarantee defense against naval bombardment. In studying the situation in 1923, the War Department decided that either a larger fleet or a much larger number of aircraft would provide more effective protection for harbor areas than the existing defenses, but it also held that the use of either would be highly uneconomical. It concluded, "when it comes to preventing enemy ships from sailing into a harbor and taking possession, the cheapest and most reliable defense appears to be guns and submarine mines." 2

Primarily for the latter reason, the General Staff decided in 1923 that permanent seacoast fortifications should still be considered essential. It recommended the abandonment of a number of harbor defenses that were no longer of military value and concentration on the improvement of those remaining, particularly by providing them with new long-range guns and more antiaircraft protection. It also urged more combat aviation to supplement harbor defenses. It called for the retention of permanent defenses for eighteen coastal areas-the same eighteen that were to be included in the modernization program of 1940 and that still possessed fixed defenses in 1945. 3


Between 1923 and the onset of the war emergency in the early summer of 1940, the Army gave a good deal of thought to the improvement of harbor defenses. It drafted new defense projects for each harbor area between 1930 and 1932, and in 1931 it established a Harbor Defense Board to supervise the execution of these projects and outlined the basic policies that were to guide the board in its recommendations. As a result of the growing tension between the United States and Japan, most of the meager funds available for harbor protection between 1933 and 1938 were spent on improvements along the Pacific coast. The threat of war in Europe in 1939 prompted larger appropriations and the resumption of work on gun installations along the Atlantic front. The end of naval armament limitations during the 1930's had also reemphasized the need for better long-range guns; to meet this need the Army had adopted the 16-inch barbette carriage gun as the standard harbor defense weapon against capital ships, but only a few had been installed. Existing harbor defense projects called for many other improvements, and it was estimated in February 1940 that to complete approved projects would cost about $60,000,000 4  Three months later, the Chief of Coast Artillery described the existing defenses in these terms:

With but few exceptions our seacoast batteries are outmoded and today are woefully inadequate. Nearly every battery is outranged by guns aboard ship that are of the same caliber. More alarming than this is the fact that every battery on the Atlantic Coast, and all but two of the batteries on the Pacific Coast, have no overhead cover so are open to attack from the air. 5

Despite his protests, the War Department decided that the general shortage of antiaircraft guns was so critical that no mobile and no more fixed antiaircraft guns could be included in harbor defense projects. 6

The Harbor Defense Board was engaged in a resurvey of seacoast defense needs at the time of France's downfall in June 1940. 7 Until then, the pos-


sibility of any naval attack on the American coast line had appeared very remote; thereafter, at least until the fate of the British and French fleets became known, the United States faced the real possibility of serious naval inferiority in either the Atlantic or the Pacific. The new naval outlook resulted in an enlargement of the current survey into a complete reassessment of harbor defenses 8

The board's report of 27 July 1940 recommended the general adoption of the 16-inch gun as the primary weapon and the 6-inch gun as the secondary weapon in all fixed harbor defenses. It proposed that defense projects include 27 new 16-inch two-gun casemated batteries and partial air cover for 23 primary batteries (including ten 16­inch) already installed or previously approved. The 16-inch guns had a maximum range of about twenty-five miles, and, at least theoretically, could keep any hostile ship at a safe distance from any of the twelve harbor areas where they were to be installed. The board also proposed the construction of 50 new 6-inch two-gun barbette carriage batteries, which would provide long-range fire (about fifteen miles maximum) against cruisers and other lighter ships, and which would greatly reinforce the 63 existing secondary batteries (mostly 6-inch and 3-inch semimodern barbette carriage guns) that were to be retained. Its plan called for the abandonment of 128 obsolete and obsolescent seacoast batteries as soon as the 77 new batteries were installed. Thereafter, too, coastal defenses could be manned with substantially fewer troops. The board estimated that the whole program would require three years to complete and would cost about $82,000,000-less than the cost of one new battleship. 9

After careful consideration the General Staff approved the proposed modernization program. Informal questioning of the senior members of the Navy's War Plans Division elicited the unanimous opinion that, in the absence of the fleet, land­based aviation alone could not be considered a sufficient defense against naval attack. In the Army only the Chief of the Air Corps disagreed with this opinion. He thought that airplanes could be safely substituted for land-based guns in coastal defense. The formal approval given the modernization program in early September 1940 was accompanied by a recommendation that $62,000,000, or about three-fourths of the


estimated total cost, be allotted for construction and contract authorization through 30 June 1942. 10

The planning, construction, and emplacement of seacoast guns and their auxiliary equipment took a long time under the best of circumstances. This was particularly true of the big guns. From the beginning the 1940 modernization program had to compete with the general and rapid expansion of the whole Army, and the program was also slowed by the continuously expanding naval construction program. By July 1941 only four 16-inch gun batteries were ready for action, and construction work had been started on only five others. By then it appeared that the 16-inch gun program could not possibly be completed for several years and that in the meantime the planned expansion of American air and sea power would make the full program unnecessary. After rearguing the merits of airplanes versus guns in seacoast defense, the War Department in the late summer of 1941 decided to limit active work to those batteries that could be completed by 30 June 1944. As a result all work on fourteen of the thirty-seven 16-inch batteries planned for the continental United States was indefinitely deferred. 11  The expansion of overseas base activity during 1941 was an important factor in delaying the continental 6-inch gun program, the War Department in November giving priority to the completion of twenty 6-inch gun batteries in outlying bases. 12  In consequence, the condition of the continental fixed harbor defenses on the eve of Pearl Harbor was not much different from what it had been before the adoption of the modernization program fifteen months earlier.

The Army's mobile coast artillery in the continental United States in December 1941 consisted of six tractor-drawn 155-mm. gun regiments and parts of one 8-inch gun railway regiment. At this same time there were thirty-one regiments and three separate battalions of fixed-gun harbor defense units in the United States or, roughly, five times as many fixed-gun forces as there were mobile.13 Plans in the 1930's had contemplated using a much larger proportion of mobile guns, particularly of railway guns, to supplement fixed-gun defenses in wartime. But railway artillery had such limited tactical mobility and such extreme vulnerability to air attack that it had been


all but discarded as a coastal defense weapon before the United States entered the war. 14 After Pearl Harbor, railway guns were used at a few east and west coast locations but were replaced as soon as other weapons became available. Pending the completion of approved 6-inch gun projects, the Army used 155-mm. gun batteries to cover their positions; and sixteen batteries of these guns had been installed along the Atlantic front by December 1941. During the war the Army made much wider use of tractor-drawn batteries, placing them at many points along the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts. It used at the maximum seventy-two 2-gun batteries, both to bolster permanent harbor defenses and to provide temporary protection to ports that had no fixed-gun installations. For a while during 1942 the Army also drafted field artillery batteries of 75-mm. guns and 105-mm. howitzers into coastal defense service. This proceeding was reversed at the beginning of 1944 when the Army discontinued the use of mobile guns in coast defense at home and put coast artillery weapons of this type into field service. 15

As an integral part of harbor defenses the Army for many years had planned to install strings of electrically controlled mines across the ship channels and narrows of port approaches. Army mine fields were intended primarily to prevent submarines from slipping into inner harbor areas. Controlled mine fields, as provided for in harbor defense projects, were quickly installed in many harbor entrances after the declaration of war. They caused much trouble, since the mines then available were of a buoyant type that rested only fifteen feet below the water's surface, and passing ships frequently fouled the connecting cables. In 1943 the Army replaced the buoyant mine with a newly developed ground mine that all friendly ships could clear without danger and that had an explosive charge powerful enough to destroy any sort of enemy vessel that might attempt to intrude. Ground mine fields remained in position until the summer of 1945. 16

During the war Army harbor defenses were further improved by the introduction of radar and by the provision of new means for dealing with fast-


moving torpedo boats. Radar, though never completely reliable, normally permitted the operation of Army guns and searchlights at their maximum range instead of at a visual range determined by weather conditions.17 Studies in late 1940 convinced the Army that it had no adequate weapons to deal with motor torpedo boats. Coast Artillery School tests in 1941 indicated that the best weapon would be the 90-mm, antiaircraft gun; but, because of the shortage of such guns, existing 3-inch fixed guns had to serve as makeshift antimotor torpedo boat weapons until late 1942. Thereafter the Army installed special antimotor torpedo boat defenses along the Pacific and northeast Atlantic coasts, ideally in a grouping of two fixed and two mobile go-mm. guns, and two mobile 37-mm. or 40-mm. antiaircraft guns. Toward the end of the war some of the fixed 90-mm. guns were about the only actively manned Army harbor defense elements, and incidentally they were also the only shore-based antiaircraft weapons ready to operate as such along the east coast. 18

It was the Navy's responsibility to control all ship movements within defended harbor areas, and the Navy supplemented the Army's defenses by installing harbor nets and booms, by planting contact mines and detection devices in outer harbor approaches, and by conducting offshore patrols. 19  Mine sweeping was also the Navy's business, and German mine-laying submarines gave the sweepers some work of this sort to do along the Atlantic coast between May and November 1942. 20

In each harbor the device for managing all of the defenses was the harbor entrance control post, manned by both Army and Navy officers. A joint directive defined the mission of these posts as follows:

To collect and disseminate information of activities in the defensive sea area; to control unescorted commercial shipping in the defensive coastal area; and to take prompt and decisive action to operate the elements of the harbor defense, in order to deny enemy action within the defensive coastal area. 21

Harbor entrance control posts began to appear during 1941. Throughout the war they were maintained at all defended harbors, providing the main link


between higher command headquarters and all subordinate elements of a harbor defense. It was generally believed during the war that these posts permitted a close interservice co-operation that gave the whole harbor defense system a high degree of potential efficiency, but the enemy's failure really to challenge the system leaves this a matter for conjecture.

Until 1940 fixed harbor defenses were maintained on a caretaking basis, and the guns were not actually manned except at a few forts for training purposes. Regular Army harbor defense forces numbered about 4,200 men in 1939-less than one-third of the number regularly maintained in harbor defenses before World War I and less than one-tenth of the number that would have been required to man the existing equipment with only one relief. Army mobilization plans in 1938 and 1939 contemplated that the National Guard would provide the bulk of the approximately 50,000 troops that would be needed for harbor defenses in wartime, but National Guard units of this sort numbered only 7,000 men in 1939. 22 There was little change in harbor defense strengths until the fall of 1940, when the induction of the National Guard into federal service permitted the partial manning of all active installations. As the rehabilitation and reinforcement of harbor defense posts continued through 1941, units were recruited to full strength and all fixed guns were manned and put in operating condition. By the fall of 1941 the strength of harbor defense forces was approximately 45,000, and they were almost the only troops specifically assigned by the Army to continental defense until the formal entry into war in December. 23

War and the establishment of theater-type commands on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts led to an increase in harbor defense forces. The January 1942 Troop Basis allotted harbor forces a strength of 54,000, and their actual strength was about 70,000 from the spring of 1942 until mid-1943.24 In the early months of the war, harbor defense forces manned obsolete as well as more modern weapons. War Department orders generally ended this practice before the close of 1942, and most of the coastal defense mortars and disappearing carriage guns were dismantled during 1943.25




The War Department tried to speed up the modernization program after the outbreak of war, with indifferent success. Though site construction for the whole program could have been completed within a year or so, manufacture of weapons and their accessories faced competition not only from the naval building program but also from the production of more urgently needed Army weapons-tanks, for example.26  By September 1942 the prospect of completing the modernization of heavy seacoast artillery during the war appeared dim, and even if built it seemed even more unlikely that the guns would ever be used. With Navy concurrence, the Army cut back the 16­inch gun program by abandoning ten continental battery projects previously deferred. On paper this move actually increased the number of currently au-


thorized projects, but subsequent cancellations cut the big-gun program much further.27  During 1943 and 1944 substantial reductions also occurred in the 6-inch gun program, principally because the Army had a much more pressing need for field artillery weapons.

When the war ended the future of coast artillery was still uncertain. The Joint Chiefs of Staff had decided in early 1945, "As to major caliber and minor caliber fixed seacoast artillery, all that we now have, emplaced in continental and overseas harbor defenses, should be retained and maintained in serviceable condition, with the recognition that subsequent developments may demonstrate the desirability of substituting some type of new weapon there for." 28  "Current OPD thought" in October 1945 held that, until new weapons capable of performing Coast Artillery missions were developed, existing installations ought to be maintained in the best possible condition and provided with modern fire control instruments. Between 1940 and 1945 the modernization program had cost more than $220,000,000, and it had provided the continental United States with nearly two hundred modern and modernized guns-including nineteen 16-inch and forty-eight 6-inch long-range batteries. 29 Though the total number of gun installations had declined by more than one half since May 1940, the later equipment was far superior to the earlier in its capacity to resist attack by large ships. In 1945 no attack of this sort on the continental United States could be foreseen for many years to come, and when the war ended all seacoast artillery except a few 90-mm. antiaircraft guns was placed in a strictly caretaking status.

Air Defense Preparations

When the GHQ Air Force was established in March 1935, its principal mission was the defense of continental coastal frontiers. Two months later the War Department issued a general directive on air defense to the four army commanders, designed to stimulate planning and preparations for an integrated defense by aviation, antiaircraft artillery, and an Army-controlled aircraft warning service against air attacks that might be launched against the continental United States, as well as for "passive" measures for the protection


of the civilian population and industry. 30  In accordance with this directive some preliminary planning was done and test air defense exercises were held during 1937 and 1938. In the latter year the acceptance in national policy of a new theory of air defense, which called for major reliance on the projection of air power outside the United States to interdict the establishment of hostile air bases elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere, led in the spring and summer of 1939 to a general reassessment of the nation's aviation policy and its means for air defense.31


The report of an Army Air Board submitted in June 1939 embodied the basic policies that guided the development and employment of Army aviation during World War II. The report designated three basic missions for military aviation, the air defense of the continental United States, similar defense of overseas possessions, and "operations outside of the United States and its possessions as required by the situation." It defined the continental defense mission in these terms:

To provide in the United States (zone of the interior) the necessary close-in air defense of our most vulnerable and important areas, to include, where necessary, reasonable protection against off-shore carrier attacks. These forces are not intended to repel a mass air attack or to afford air protection to our entire coastline, but are designed to limit the effectiveness of air raids upon our exposed vital areas.32

The Air Board recommended the establishment and maintenance of nine major air bases, which would ring the continental United States from New England to the Pacific Northwest. These were to be the main operating bases for the approximately fourteen tactical groups that were to be maintained by the GHQ Air Force. This force, which would contain 104 heavy, 84 medium, and 142 light bombardment airplanes and 324 pursuit planes, was now to have a mission of performing frontier defense, reinforcing overseas possessions, and furnishing expeditionary striking forces within the Western Hemisphere as required. The board based its estimate of the air strength needed for continental defense, as well as for the other purposes mentioned, on a careful assessment of the aviation strength and capabilities of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Despite their ominous and growing air power, these nations in 1939 did not have any planes capable of even a one-way transoceanic flight


with a bomb load for a direct attack on the United States, and as late as February 1942 Germany had only a few planes that could have been used for this purpose. If the United States was successful in preventing the establishment of hostile air bases in the hemisphere, then only carrier-based or tender-based planes could pose a real threat of air attack. Japan had six carriers built, and Germany was constructing two; but, because of American naval strength in the Pacific, it was assumed that no more than two enemy carriers would be employed at any one time in hit-and-run raids against either coast of the United States, and that even raids of this sort would be fairly improbable. The chief danger, as the planners saw it in 1939 and indeed throughout the prewar period, was that which, if France and Great Britain were defeated, would come from the projection of German and Italian air power by stages across the North Atlantic or from Africa to Brazil in the southern Atlantic. The continental air bases were therefore to be used not only for home defense but also as springboards for the projection of American air power to meet this danger.33

In a reassessment of the air defense situation after the outbreak of war in Europe, a new Air Defense Board decided that the continental United States needed only 68 medium bombers and 270 pursuit planes specifically for defense purposes. This estimate was reaffirmed in May 1940, on the eve of Germany's onslaught against the West, because it was believed that a force of this strength could deal adequately with a two-carrier attack on either coast.34  The German triumph in France produced a quick upward revision of the Army's over-all aviation goal, but no provision was made during the summer of 1940 or in the succeeding months of mobilization for allotting more planes to continental defense. Indeed, in the build-up of air power under the new 54-group program, planes were allotted among the wings and, in 1941, among the air forces in the continental United States without any particular reference to continental defense.

Despite its seeming unreadiness for action, not only because of its rapid expansion but also because of the drain of American aircraft production to the fighting nations of the Old World, the Air Force Combat Command of 1941 (the successor of the GHQ Air Force) had a good deal of latent combat strength, which it was to exhibit as soon as the United States plunged into the


war. In June 1941 its 22 bombardment groups contained only about a quarter of the airplanes they were supposed to have, and its 17 pursuit groups had an even smaller proportion of their required strength in planes. Between June and November 1941 the number of combat aircraft fit for action more than doubled, and the Air Force Combat Command on 30 November had about 480 bombardment and 650 pursuit planes of modern and semimodern types; but only 4 of its bombardment and 5 of its pursuit groups had anywhere near their full complement of planes. A state of war brought a quick redistribution of strength in December 1941 and January 1942, which gave the continental United States more aviation protection than had been planned for it at any time before Pearl Harbor.35

Antiaircraft Artillery

The first significant step toward improving continental antiaircraft artillery protection came in June 1937, primarily because of growing tension between the United States and Japan. This was a plan for increasing the Army's 3-inch antiaircraft gun strength from 135 to 472, and it included the procurement of enough guns to equip thirty-four Regular Army and National Guard mobile antiaircraft regiments. At that time the Army had only five skeletonized regiments of this sort in continental service, and most of its 3-inch weapons were installed as fixed guns in harbor defenses. In effect, the antiaircraft guns then available could have done little more than help protect the harbor defenses themselves. The new plan promised to provide enough weapons by the summer of 1940 to give at least some protection to other military installations and to industrial areas along the coasts.36

The Army also had a long-range plan for augmenting its antiaircraft strength as a phase of the Protective Mobilization Plan first prepared in 1933. Under this plan and its four projected augmentations, the number of antiaircraft regiments would be increased progressively to a total of 8o for an Army of 4,000,000 men, of which 50 were to be assigned to the field forces engaged in major operations and 30 held in a reserve available for defending vital installations along the coastal frontiers. This plan provided the base for a careful survey and recalculation of antiaircraft needs undertaken by the War Plans Division in the spring and summer of 1939. It was apparent to the


planners at the outset that the National Guard and Organized Reserves would have to furnish the bulk of antiaircraft forces, since the Regular Army could not hope to maintain enough units of this sort in peacetime to meet the needs of a real war emergency. The War Plans Division also acknowledged that the number of regiments projected in the Protective Mobilization Plan was "grossly inadequate" to meet the requirements of home defense. Practical considerations would in all probability limit the antiaircraft defense of vital installations to those within a hundred miles or so of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and within this zone the defense of naval installations would have a high priority.37

The completed General Staff study on antiaircraft needs contained recommendations based on a number of other assumptions. Accepting the estimate of the Air Board, it held that any likely air attacks on the United States would be hit-and-run affairs launched from carriers and would therefore be far less destructive than those possible within the narrow confines of Europe.38  Since raids of this sort would incur great risk to the attacker, they would be carefully aimed at objectives vital to an American war effort, most of which were located in or near metropolitan centers. To the planners it appeared obvious that ship-based raids would be less likely along the coast where the major portion of the United States Fleet was located. Since the United States was keeping most of its naval strength in the Pacific, this study and later plans gave greater emphasis to the Atlantic than to the Pacific coast, even though Japan had a number of carriers in operation and Germany and Italy had none. Along the Atlantic coast, the vital and densely populated area between Boston and Norfolk was to receive the greatest protection, the study designating more than two-thirds of all the first-priority allocations of gun battalions for the defense of that region. Lastly, since in all probability the Army in a war emergency could not furnish enough antiaircraft artillery to supply even the most reasonable needs of all localities, antiaircraft units and equipment would have to be kept mobile so that they could be concentrated where they would be most needed.39

The antiaircraft study as approved forecast an initial requirement of 87


battalions of 3-inch or larger antiaircraft guns, and 57 battalions of 37-mm. automatic guns, for continental coastal defense under the assumptions outlined above. Under the most unfavorable foreseeable circumstances (that is, neither the Navy nor the air arm available to protect the coastal approaches), there would be a need for 157 additional battalions of big guns and 97 more automatic weapons battalions. The estimate of initial requirements represented the equivalent of 72 antiaircraft regiments for continental defense, in contrast to the 30 regiments originally allocated under the Protective Mobilization Plan. Objections that the technological improvement of bombardment aircraft had outmoded existing antiaircraft equipment were countered with the assumption that there could and would be comparable advance in anti­aircraft gun efficiency. The study assumed that most of the big gun battalions would get the new go-mm. instead of the existing 3-inch weapon for high altitude firing, and that the 37-mm. automatic gun would replace the .50­caliber machine gun then in current use for lower altitude saturation firing. The planners also rejected the claim of certain air enthusiasts that defensive aviation could entirely supplant antiaircraft guns in air defense. They argued that it could not be safely assumed that enough defensive aviation would be constantly available or that planes would be alerted in time to meet attacking aircraft before they reached their objectives. Furthermore, the use of combat aviation for purely defensive purposes represented a wasteful diversion from its primary offensive mission, and the provision of antiaircraft artillery even in a very modest quantity would help free the air arm as well as the Navy for offensive action. 40

The exploration of antiaircraft needs in the spring and summer of 1939 set the pattern for Army thinking and planning on the subject until the summer of 1942. The chief problem was to get the men and equipment needed. When the war began in Europe there were only 5 Regular Army and 13 National Guard mobile antiaircraft regiments in existence. The Army organized 4 new Regular Army regiments in the fall of 1939, and it planned to increase the regimental strength of the National Guard from 13 to 28. This expansion, if carried through, would provide 37 regiments instead of the 34 for which equipment was to have been procured under the 1937 plan. The 37 regiments would have to serve all purposes-reinforcement of overseas garrisons, field force duty, and continental coastal defense.


In the spring of 1940 committee of the Air Defense Board reconsidered antiaircraft as well as aviation needs for home defense, and reached the conclusion that even the defeat of France and Great Britain would not require any change in the current Protective Mobilization Plan objective of 37 anti­aircraft regiments, of which 25 were now earmarked for the field forces and only 12 for defense of continental installations. The War Department approved this conclusion, as well as the committee's reaffirmation of the earlier long-range plan for 30 regiments for continental service in a fully augmented Army. In doing so it did not reject the August 1939 antiaircraft plan,. but accepted the 37-regiment goal as the most that could be accomplished in the development of a balanced force of arms before war actually broke out.41

By the autumn of 1941 the Army actually had 37 antiaircraft artillery regiments and 9 separate gun battalions in service in the continental United States.42  Most of these units still needed much training, and they were even shorter in equipment and ammunition than in training. As of September 1941, the War Department considered the equivalent of about 18 antiaircraft regiments (instead of 12 as planned in 1940) available for continental defense purposes, but because of weapons and ammunition shortages it did not anticipate that any units earmarked for home defense would be ready until the summer of 1942.43

Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army deployed about two-thirds of its antiaircraft units and almost all of the antiaircraft weapons available to guard vital installations on the east and west coasts. In units this deployment amounted initially to about 29 regiments. From December 1941 until January 1944 the number of regiments engaged in continental defense remained approximately the same, the total varying between a strength of 24 and 32 regiments 44  Though the number of regiments deployed appeared to represent a rather exact fulfillment of prewar plans, in fact this probably happened more by chance (what chanced to be available in December 1941) than by design.

During the first six months of war the Army actually intended to provide a much more extensive antiaircraft artillery coverage for the east and west coasts of the United States. The first wartime Troop Basis of January 1942 provided for the equivalent of 60 prewar regiments for continental defense


by the end of 1942.45  The Eastern Theater of Operations in February submitted an elaborate antiaircraft artillery defense plan that called for a minimum of about 100 regiments and a maximum of nearly 300 for the defense of the east coast area alone-and the maximum would have required a troop strength of about 458,000.46  A study of the first priority provisions of this plan, together with a re-examination of the August 1939 plan, led the War Department to approve a plan for providing the coastal areas with the equivalent of zoo ;antiaircraft regiments by the end of 1943, and the continental defense commanders were so notified in May 1942.47  The new War Department plan, like that of 1939, allotted more than two-thirds of the projected antiaircraft strength to the east coast. But all of these 1942 projects remained paper plans never to be carried out during World War II. In fact, throughout 1942 and 1943 the west coast had greater antiaircraft artillery strength than the east coast; and in general the continental defense commanders had to get along with the unit strength allotted to them when the United States entered the war.

Aircraft Warning Service

Army preparations for an aircraft warning service, the third major element of an air defense system, began with preliminary test exercises on both coasts in 1937 and 1938. During those years also, the Signal Corps was developing the first American radar equipment for detecting the approach of aircraft, the SCR-268 for use with antiaircraft artillery searchlights and the long-range SCR-270 for discovering the approach of enemy planes in time to alert defensive aviation.48  The prospective availability of the SCR-270 led the War Department in May 1940 to direct the army commanders to select sites for locating detectors along the coasts and also to adjust their existing aircraft warning service plans to the use of radar. With the commanders' recommendations in hand, the War Department on 2 August 1940 approved a plan to provide the continental coastal frontier with a ring of


thirty-one mobile detectors. The plan specified that work should begin first at eleven sites along the northeast Atlantic coast and at ten along the Pacific coast.49

The Signal Corps' SCR-270 radar (and its fixed version, the SCR-271) had a range, when competently operated, of between 100 and 150 miles. When production of the SCR-270 was just beginning in early 1941, the Chief of the Air Corps described this set as "no good" and asked that it be replaced by British radar models as soon as possible.50  After the United States entered the war there was much more widespread criticism of the SCR-270 and continued demands that it be replaced by British equipment. Actually, most of the criticism seems to have been misdirected; the lack of trained manpower to operate the machines, rather than the machines themselves, appears to have been chiefly at fault.51  In any event the SCR-270 was the radar that served the Atlantic and Pacific coasts during 1942 and 1943, the years of active continental defense.

At the end of November 1941 the Army was completing preparations for installing mobile radars at thirteen locations along the Atlantic coast and ten locations along the Pacific front. After Pearl Harbor the War Department allocated almost all its available SCR-270's to continental use. Fortunately, this equipment had the great advantage of mobility, and by early January 1942 the Army had been able to install 31 of these sets along the east coast and 27 along the west coast. By mid-July 1942 these numbers had been increased to 41 and 31, respectively. The antiaircraft forces by then were also fairly well supplied with SCR-268's to guide their operations.52  Thereafter the number of long-range radars in continental defense use declined, as the prospect of air attack faded and the demands of overseas forces mounted.53

Barrage Balloons

A fourth air defense element, the barrage balloon, received considerable attention but only scant development before the United States entered


the war- The Air Corps began work on a barrage balloon in 1938, but more active preparations did not get under way until the beginning of 1941, after reports during the summer and fall of 1940 had indicated the effectiveness of balloons in Great Britain and Germany in interfering with low-level bombardment. After the Air Corps had developed a large and relatively high-altitude-type balloon, the Chief of Staff decided to transfer most barrage balloon activity to the Coast Artillery Corps. When the Coast Artillery took over at the beginning of June 1941, the Army had three barrage balloon companies and just three balloons. But it had tentatively decided to acquire 3,000 more balloons, and plans evolved during the summer and fall of 1941 to expand the barrage balloon force to be used for continental defense purposes alone to eighty-five batteries, each flying thirty-five balloons.54  By 1 November 1941, five battalions of three batteries each were being organized and trained at the Barrage Balloon Training Center at Camp Davis, North Carolina. The Army sent three of these battalions to bolster the air defenses of the west coast soon after the outbreak of war. It also decided to replace the Air Corps type of balloon with the smaller British balloon which, although designed to fly at lower levels, was easier to handle, less expensive to manufacture and operate, and readily procurable.

As one part of the new antiaircraft project approved in the spring of 1942, a maximum of forty balloon battalions of prewar strength for continental defense was to be provided. The number actually employed for this purpose during the war was a little more than one-tenth of this strength, and in the United States balloon battalions were used only at a few west coast locations and at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal.55

The Air Defense System

The experimental Air Defense Command activated in early 1940 Provided the model for the four continental interceptor commands established under the Air Force Combat Command in June 1941.56  The plans of the new Army Air Forces contemplated that the interceptor commands would control nineteen air defense regions to be established within the United States, and that each region would be provided with a pursuit group and a separate aircraft warning organization. Within the latter there would be a central information center to receive word of aircraft movements from the


coastal radar stations and from a civilian ground observer's organization through intermediate filter centers. The information center in turn would alert all air defense elements and issue air raid warnings to the civilian defense organization. In the fall of 1941 the Army Air Forces assumed that it would command the whole air defense system in the continental United States in time of war, by exercising operational control over the ground elements of the system.

In fact, the continental air defense system after Pearl Harbor differed in several respects from that plotted during 1941. As already noted, the air forces on the east and west coasts were put under the theater commanders and remained there for defense purposes until September 1943. The anti­aircraft forces, instead of depending upon the aircraft warning service, had their own separate observation and alert systems and, in general, occupied a more autonomous position in relation to the interceptor commands than projected in 1941 plans. The principal combat mission of Army aviation along the American coasts turned out to be the conduct of antisubmarine operations under Navy operational control. During the war more than 6,000 ground observer posts supplemented the coastal radar system in the aircraft warning service, but how effective this system would have been in detecting and charting the approach of hostile planes is very uncertain. Though the system was most elaborate in the northeastern United States, early in 1943 the training officer at the Boston filter center guessed that the chances of intercepting hostile planes before they attacked were about one in ten, while the executive officer at the same station estimated them at one in twenty.57  The Air Forces acknowledged before the end of 1943 that its flight training program in coastal areas had made the aircraft warning service almost completely ineffective, because it was impossible under the circumstances to identify aircraft accurately.58  Air defense had been sacrificed to air training for the offensive.59

The Army and Civilian Defense

Civilian defense during World War II comprehended all measures of "passive" defense necessary to safeguard civilian lives and property to the


maximum degree possible against enemy action, particularly against air action in the form of high explosive, incendiary, or gas bombardment. In Army plans and practice before and during the war, it also included the spotting of aircraft movements by civilians at thousands of ground observer posts. The effectiveness of both types of activity depended on building an immense organization of civilian volunteer workers, and the American civilian defense organization that developed during the war has been called "the greatest example of mass mobilization . . . ever voluntarily undertaken by the citizens of the United States." 60  The Army played a substantial role in planning the civilian defense organization and in advising and assisting it, but, in order to concentrate military energy and forces on active defense measures, from the summer of 1940 onward the Army resisted efforts to make civilian defense a direct War Department responsibility.61

As noted earlier, the War Department had included civilian defense planning in its general directive of May 1935 to army commanders on air defense preparations. In the following year the Chemical Warfare Service, which because of its apprehensions of gas attack took the lead in urging Army civilian defense planning, prepared and published Passive Defense Against Air Attack, a handbook forecasting a range of protective activities similar to those actually undertaken during the war.62  At the urging of the Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service in June 1939 the General Staff launched a thorough investigation of civilian defense problems, and the directive initiating this study broadened its scope to include civilian protection against sabotage and internal disturbances as well as all forms of external attack.63

In its initial completed form (October 1939) the civilian defense study proposed the establishment within the War Department of an agency to be called the Civilian Defense Bureau and extensive collaboration between Army officers and civilians in planning the details of civilian defense. The General Staff dropped the latter idea because it feared the Army might be-


come involved in too much expense and too many requests for immediate assistance.64  It also shied away from a separate civilian defense bureau, agreeing instead that civilian defense preparations could be combined with internal security functions in the Provost Marshal General's office provided for in current mobilization plans.

The Civil Defense Plan as approved on 18 March 1940 stated that the War Department should:

(1) Exercise general supervision of civil defense planning.
(2) Provide for administrative control of civil defense by appropriate War Department and civil agencies.
(3) Co-ordinate civil defense measures with other War Department activities.
(4) Authorize the use of military personnel to assist local, municipal, and state authorities.
(5) Prepare essential instruction material for the guidance of civil, military, and private agencies.65

The plan and accompanying staff study assumed that, as soon as the situation required, the War Department should and would assume national direction of civilian defense preparations through a provost marshal general's office; that this office would work through the corps area commanders with state civilian defense councils; and that civilian defense organized on a local and municipal basis would operate under state supervision and (indirectly under Army control. The plan included organization for antisabotage and other internal security functions as well as for combating external attacks.66

The Army thus had a civilian defense plan in hand but had done little to implement it when the events of May and June 1940 brought the United States face to face with the possibility of an early and ill-prepared entry into the war. The initiative for immediate action came from the American Legion, which in early June presented President Roosevelt with a plan, called the Service of Security Plan, for using the Legion's national and local units as a semimilitary civilian defense and internal security organization. As a matter of principle the President and his military advisers had to reject this proposal, believing as they did that any civilian defense organization must be built upon state police powers and public channels of authority.67  On the assumption that a federal civilian agency rather than the Army itself would be made generally responsible for civilian defense, the Chief of Staff vetoed the proposal to activate the office of the Provost Marshal General im-


mediately and, instead, approved the establishment in July 1940 of a Civil Defense Branch in the G-3 Division to exercise tear Department civilian defense functions. On 2 August the President established the Division of State and Local Co-operation, primarily as a federal agency for the handling of civilian defense matters, and later in the same month he asked the American Legion to index and classify its membership in preparation for home defense duty.68

After it became apparent that Great Britain was not likely to fall, the tempo of civilian defense preparation declined. The new G-3 branch nevertheless kept busy on what has been called "the most important basic work done by the Army in civilian defense" during the war-the preparation, in collaboration with the appropriate services and service arms, of nine instructional pamphlets on civilian defense organization and procedure for protection against air attack. After the Secretary of War's appointment of the National Technological Advisory Committee in January 1941, its civilian membership helped in the preparation and review of these pamphlets, thus providing the sort of civilian advice that had been rejected for reasons of economy in December 1939. These War Department manuals were printed and widely distributed during 1941 and early 1942, and they provided local civilian defense organizations with much of the technical information that they needed to guide their operations. After the establishment of the Office of Civilian Defense in May 1941, the War Department transferred to it the responsibility of completing the pamphlets and of distributing them.69

In December 1940 General Marshall decided that the Army ought to take a more active hand in civilian defense preparations, and one result was the dispatch of a War Department Civil Defense Mission to England in January 1941 to observe and study the British civilian defense system. A number of other missions-municipal, state, and American Legion-visited Great Britain during the winter and early spring of 1940-41, and British arrangements for civilian defense had a substantial influence on American


preparations.70  By early 1941 these preparations were under way all over the nation, but especially along the east coast. As early as August 1940 twenty-six states had established civilian defense councils of one sort or another, and the American Legion, carrying out the President's suggestion of the preceding August, in February 1941 registered more than 800,000 World War I veterans (not all of them Legionnaires) for home defense duty. In February also, the United States Conference of Mayors urged the need for establishing an effective federal agency for co-ordinating civilian defense matters, and the War Department made a similar recommendation on 17 March 1941. In April, before the President acted on these recommendations, the Army Air Corps arranged with the American Legion for it to take over the task of organizing and training the tens of thousands of ground observers who would be needed for the aircraft warning service.71

President Roosevelt established the Office of Civilian Defense on 20 May 1941 and chose Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia of New York as its Director. The order creating the new office specified that its activities should be carried out along two more or less separate lines. One line of activity, under the jurisdiction of the Volunteer Participation Committee, was intended to promote public backing of the defense effort.72  The other line, under the supervision of the Board for Civilian Protection, included all measures directly concerned with the safeguarding of civilian lives and property against the hazards of enemy action. Before Pearl Harbor the activities under the Volunteer Participation Committee-which developed to include such functions as salvage, victory gardens, child welfare, and nutrition study-occupied the attention of most employees in the Office of Civilian Defense; even during the war about 60 percent of its employees were engaged in this sort of work. It was the universal opinion of civilian as well as military civil defense experts after the war that this diffusion of activity weakened the Office of Civilian Defense from the outset as an agency for supervising civilian protection measures. Furthermore, the office was


never given authority to direct civilian defense but only to enlist the voluntary co-operation of state and local organizations.73

Mayor La Guardia himself had a keen interest in protective activities. With the President's approval, he obtained the services of Brig. Gen. Lorenzo D. Gasser, whose distinguished Army career had culminated in duty as Deputy Chief of Staff before his retirement in 1940, not only as Army member of the Board for Civilian Protection but also as Assistant Director of the Office of Civilian Defense and head of its Division of Civilian Protection. In June 1941 the War Department transferred some of the functions of the G-3 Civil Defense Branch to General Gasser and his small staff, and thereafter worked through General Gasser and (from July 1942 onward) his successor, Brig. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant 3d, in guiding the lines of civilian defense activity with which the Army was concerned. In July 1941, when the Office of Civilian Defense ordered the creation of nine regional offices with boundaries coterminous with those of the Army's corps areas, the War De-


partment arranged to have one full-time and one part-time officer serve in each regional headquarters; and just before Pearl Harbor the Army authorized a staff of eight officers for each regional headquarters. These arrangements allowed a considerable degree of Army influence over protective measures without the assumption of any direct Army control over civilian defense.74

The outbreak of war spurred the American public into a mass mobilization for civilian defense. By the end of January 1942 some 8,500 local community organizations had enrolled more than 5,000,000 volunteers, and the number of persons engaged in home defense activities of all sorts remained at about that figure for the succeeding year.75  There was an immediate and widespread demand in December 1941 that the War Department take over direct responsibility for civilian protection, and proposals to abolish the Office of Civilian Defense and turn over its protective duties to the Army continued to be advanced in Congress and elsewhere during the first half of 1942. The War Department successfully resisted these proposals, and the creation in April 1942 of the new Civilian Defense Board, which ostensibly gave the Army a stronger voice in the formulation of civilian defense policy, helped to still them.76  Nevertheless, in practice the Army exercised a good deal of indirect control of civilian protective services and made substantial contributions to them during 1942. This control was most extensive and most expertly exercised on the west coast, where Mr. James C. Sheppard, the regional civilian defense director from March 1942 onward, worked closely with the Army commander, General DeWitt, and usually followed his precepts.77

Soon after the establishment of the Office of Civilian Defense Mr. La Guardia had asked the Secretaries of War and Navy for a statement of what they considered their proper sphere in civilian defense. Their answer, based on the joint Board's consideration of the subject, specified the following military responsibilities:

(a) Maintenance of contact with Federal, State, and local authorities, through the Office of Civilian Defense and its appropriate agencies in the field, in order to insure coordination of War Department and Navy Department activities in relation to civilian


defense where there is an overlap, and to render such assistance as may be feasible and mutually agreeable.
(b) Operation of all armed forces in combating enemy forces.
(c) Declaration, by the appropriate military authority of a state of alarm during periods of danger of aerial and other attacks,
(d) Enforcement, in conjunction with the civil authorities, of radio silences, blackouts, and other necessary protective measures in connection with active military defense.
(e) Assistance to the Office of Civilian Defense in the preparation of such legislation as may be necessary to authorize action specifically as indicated in sub-paragraph (d), above, by the military authorities, prior to the declaration of a national emergency.78  

Some confusion in responsibilities for air raid warnings existed after the war began. In early 1942 it was made clear that the Army was responsible for detecting the movements of aircraft, for ordering air alarms, and for providing news about past or future air raid alarms. The civilian defense organization had the responsibility of disseminating air raid warnings to the public after the Army had ordered it to do so.79  Air raid alarms, blackouts, and dimouts raised problems of law enforcement within the realm of state police powers. Most states passed appropriate legislation to take care of the situation, and Army officers at regional headquarters frequently had an active hand in the drafting and enactment of these laws.80

In two other spheres, not specifically mentioned above, the Army contributed very materially to the efficiency of civilian protective activities. One was in the provision of equipment. Before Pearl Harbor the War Department had agreed to provide gas masks and other equipment needed for civilian protection, and Congress had appropriated $85,000,000 for the purchase of such equipment. Based on estimates of needs submitted by the Office of Civilian Defense, the Army planned the production of 50,000,000 gas masks for civilian use. Five million of them were actually produced, of which only 60,000 were on hand in December 1941. The only extensive distribution of gas masks was made to the west coast in late May 1942, just before the Battle of Midway. During the war the Army supplied civilian defense organizations with a number of other types of equipment such as steel helmets and protective clothing. By controlling the procurement and supply of civilian defense equipment the War Department could ensure that its production did not impede supply to the armed forces.81


The other contribution was the Army's school system for training civilians, principally municipal firemen and policemen, to handle the various types of bombs-explosive, incendiary, and gas-that air attack might bring. The Chemical Warfare Service instituted a school for this purpose at Edgewood Arsenal, Md., in June 1941. After the United States entered the war regional schools with a similar course were established at six colleges, each staffed by an Army complement of six officers and twenty-five enlisted men.82 Special courses in problems of bomb disposal and engineering were also provided for civilians during 1942 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and Fort Belvoir, Va. About 8,500 civilians attended these Army schools, and in turn acted as instructors in local civilian protection schools throughout the nation.83  The government entrusted the training of aircraft spotters and air raid wardens to the American Legion, which for the latter purpose set up and conducted at its own expense fifty-six schools in thirty-one states. The American Red Cross also participated widely in training civilian defense workers in first aid.84

The Army's interest and activity in civilian defense rapidly declined after 1942 because of the increasingly remote threat of serious enemy attack. The Office of Civilian Defense recommended its own abolition in August 1943 but the President decided to maintain it in order to support civilian morale during the war effort and to continue a minimum of protective services. Most of these services came to an end before the Office of Civilian Defense was formally abolished on 30 June 1945.85

The great weakness in the American civilian defense system during World War II was its lack of any clear direction by a nationwide authority. The Army moved into this vacuum partially and informally, and perhaps adequately, considering the slight threat of serious enemy action against civilian lives and property in the United States during the war. It is doubtful whether a system so haphazardly planned and organized could have stood up under the strain of heavy attack. After the war was over it was generally recognized that civilian defense must continue to depend on the principle of self-help among individual civilians in local communities, backed by local


and state organizations operating under state police powers. But to secure uniformity in practice and effective mutual aid across state boundaries in a serious emergency this local foundation and organization needed much firmer guidance than it had during World War II from either the Army or the Office of Civilian Defense.

Guarding Nonmilitary Installations

During World War II the United States Army had to assume the major responsibility for protecting those public works, public utilities, and industrial plants in the continental United States whose continued operation it deemed vital to the war effort. In prewar planning the War Department had sought to limit the responsibility so that troops trained for combat would not have to be diverted in wartime to guard nonmilitary installations, a task for which they were not trained and for which they presumably could not be spared. Theoretically, state and local governments and private industry itself had the basic responsibility for guarding public works and private properties against the hazards of sabotage and open enemy attack. Therefore the War Department tried to adhere as closely as it could to the policy that Secretary of War Newton D. Baker had enunciated on 7 November 1919 in the following terms:

The true rule to be followed is that the public military power of the United States should in no case be substituted for the ordinary police powers of the States, and should be called into service only when the state, having summoned its entire police power, is still unable to deal with the disorder which threatens it. The constitutional obligation of the government of the United States is a guaranty conditioned upon the primary exercise by the States of their full power for the preservation of their own domestic peace. The responsibility for the security of property be it federal, state, municipal, or private, rests first upon the local government, then upon the state, and only devolves upon the Federal Government when all other forces of the locality or state have been exhausted or have been found insufficient to meet the emergency.86

Actually, the Army discovered during World War II, as it had during World War I, that it could not adhere to this policy. With the induction of the National Guard into federal service the states lost their normal instrument for large-scale internal security tasks, and the "home" and "state" guards raised


as substitutes proved to be generally unavailable for extended guard duty. In both wars the states were reluctant to provide guards for federal properties and works. In any event, the vital installations that needed guarding were very unevenly distributed geographically, and it was too much to expect that the states at their own expense would assume this responsibility when it would have required such disproportionate degrees of effort on their part.87

During the first few months of American participation in World War I the states had employed more than 100,000 National Guardsmen on defense tasks, principally to guard installations. After the National Guard entered federal service, many of the states organized home guard units and secured arms and some other equipment for them from the federal government. After the war it was estimated that the aggregate strength of these units had been about 79,000. Generally, the States had been unwilling to call out these units for extended duty at United States-owned properties or around communication facilities and public works. To guard these the Army organized a special force, the United States Guards, which had 48 battalions with a total strength of 26,284 officers and enlisted men on 11 November 1978. In function, at least, these battalions resembled the military police battalions (zone of the interior) that the Army hastily organized in World War II.88

To carry out its acknowledged responsibility for protecting the United States from internal disorder and insurrection, the Army after World War I had developed a WHITE plan to govern the use of federal troops to quell domestic disturbances. During the pre-World War II period each corps area had the responsibility for maintaining a current Emergency Plan-WHITE for dealing with such disturbances as might foreseeably arise. At the outbreak of the European war in 1939 the corps areas were ordered to prepare plans for guarding defense industries and to be ready to execute these plans when so ordered by the War Department.89  As noted above, the original Civil Defense Plan of early 1940 contained measures for protection against sabotage. These measures were extracted from it in the summer of 1940 and put into the counter-fifth column plan, developed by G-2 and approved by the War Department on 22 October 1940. Since a primary purpose of the fifth column technique was to divert combat troops from field operations to internal


security missions, the aim of the plan was Army co-operation through the corps area commanders with state and local guards and police forces in order to avoid the use of Army forces in an emergency. The corps area commanders were instructed on 1 November 1940 to gather information as discreetly as possible about state and local plans for dealing with fifth columnists and to transmit it to the War Department.90  By August 1941, all of the corps areas had completed local counter-fifth column plans, and the War Department arranged for a peacetime test of the First Corps Area (New England) plan in October 1941. In the same month, the War Department transferred the responsibility for supervising this work from G-2 to the Office of the Provost Marshal General, which had been activated on 31 July.91  But, when large numbers of Army combat troops were assigned by the corps area commanders to guard duty immediately after Pearl Harbor, they acted generally under the WHITE plans rather than under the counter-fifth column plans.

The War Department's prewar plan for mobilizing a 4,000,000-man Army had been revised in 1939 to include the activation of 56 military police battalions for duty in the continental United States. Only 3 battalions of this sort were in existence in September 1941 when the Army constituted the Corps of Military Police. Two months earlier Director La Guardia of the Office of Civilian Defense had recommended that the Army activate the rest of the 56 battalions at an early date; though acknowledging the primary responsibility of state and local governments and private operators to guard installations, Mr. La Guardia had pointed out how unprepared they were to take over the task in a real war emergency. The Secretary of War and the Chief of Staff rejected his recommendation because they believed that any move to prepare Army troops for guard duty would discourage state and local preparations along this line, and also because they hoped that the newly formed State Guards could provide the extra protection that would be needed in time of war.92

After Congress approved the induction of the National Guard in September 1940, the War Department sponsored a bill, passed on 21 October 1940, that permitted a state to raise and maintain substitute forces during peacetime whenever all or a part of its National Guard was in federal service. The Army accepted the responsibility for supervising the training of these


forces through the corps area commanders and for providing them with some items of surplus equipment, including Enfield rifles. Originally, the War Department had planned to provide enough equipment to supply State Guard units at half the strength of inducted National Guard units. In November 1941, it doubled the authorized allotment of equipment in order to permit the states to raise a total force of 222,552 officers and enlisted men. By the end of October 1941 forces totaling 108,765 officers and enlisted men had been recruited in thirty-six states, and their equipment included 93,901 Enfield rifles turned over to them by the Army without charge. The Army was not able to give the State Guards much help in their training, and in particular it could not supply them with enough training manuals to go around. Men in the State Guards could be drafted into federal service, but most of them were older men above draft age. Many of them (four-fifths of the officers, and one-third of the enlisted men had had some previous military experience. Almost all of them were fully employed men who drilled in their spare time and who could not reasonably be expected to serve on extended active duty.93

The unsuitability of the State Guards for extended duty, as well as their general unreadiness for action, helped to inspire new recommendations in September and October 1941 from Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson, from the head of the G-2 Division, and from the corps area commanders on both coasts for the activation of additional military police battalions or, alternately, the earmarking of infantry battalions for use as guards if the United States went to war.94  With reluctance General Marshall finally approved a compromise scheme for giving military police training to one infantry regiment in each of eight National Guard divisions scheduled to be triangularized. The Chief of Staff explained his reluctance on the following grounds:

There can be no argument as to the importance of protecting our plants against sabotage, but I am convinced that the use of soldier guards is an expensive and not particularly efficient expedient. In effect, we recognize this when we use civilian guards to protect War Department buildings which offer a problem in protection somewhat similar to that of industrial plants. Soldiers are not trained as watchmen and are gen-


erally younger and more impulsive than is desirable for men on such special duty. It is possible that a service of civilian guards may become necessary for plant protection, but I am sure that military units should be kept as an emergency reserve under the Corps Area commanders. We are planning to increase our Military Police force for this particular purpose.

If the War Department were to accept responsibility for guarding plants and installations, I anticipate an endless stream of requests from owners to obtain a detail of troops for their plants. Plainly, we could not afford such a diversion of our military effort .... It would be a mistake for the War Department to recede from the policy that the protection of plants and installations is the primary responsibility of operators, owners, and local and state governments. If these agencies prove ineffective they are backed up by the field forces which are available as a final reserve.95

The military police training of the National Guard regiments had just begun when the United States plunged into the war. The corps area commanders immediately requisitioned thousands of field force troops from the army commanders to guard vital installations all over the nation, but especially along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Requests for protection poured in to the War Department, not only from private sources and from local and state governments but also from other federal departments; the Secretary of the Interior, for instance, wanted a much stronger Army guard at Hoover, Grand Coulee, and Shasta Dams.96  Special instructions went out on 8 December to relieve Air Corps forces from guard duty, but none of the ground arms and services were immune. As an example, the Third Corps Area commander drafted 16 officers and 400 enlisted men for protective duty from the training cadre of the Quartermaster Replacement Center at Camp Lee, Va., and thus brought the training of about 9,000 troops to a virtual standstill.97  As of 17 December 48,107 Army troops and 13,556 State Guards were reported on guard duty throughout the nation, and in addition thousands of "irregular" state and local forces were called into action along the Pacific coast.98  Maj. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell, temporarily commanding the Southern California Sector of the Western Defense Command, neatly summarized the situation when he noted in his journal on 20 December:

Requests for Army Guards: Terminal island, shipbuilding plants, commercial radio stations, railroad bridges and tunnels, railroad crossovers, dams, water supply, power plants, oil wells, tanks, and refineries. Aircraft manufacturing plants, hospitals, aqueducts, harbor defenses, airfields, offices of Interceptor Command, etc., etc. Everybody


makes a case for his own installation, and nobody gives a damn if the Army bogs down and quits training. Right now (December 20) we have seven regiments of infantry in the area, four of which are on guard duty.99

The day after Pearl Harbor, Director of Civil Defense La Guardia stressed to the President the immediate need for additional Army military police battalions to guard "bridges, power plants, water works," and so forth. "No city has enough police for emergency," wrote Mr. La Guardia. "States can't help much. Home Guard not constituted or prepared for such duty day-in and day-out." President Roosevelt sent his letter to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson with a penned note that read: "Harry Stimson-How about this. We ought to do something. FDR." 100  On 16 December Presidential Executive Order 8972 appeared, "authorizing the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy to establish and maintain military guards and patrols, and to take other appropriate measures, to protect certain national defense material, premises, and utilities from injury or destruction." By the third week in December the War Department had capitulated and planned to activate fifty-one additional military police battalions for continental duty as soon as possible.101  This would provide a total of fifty-four such battalions, with a strength of about 30,000 officers and men. The War Department planned to command them with officers over age for combat duty and fill them with limited service and overage enlisted men.102

Though new military police battalions could not be ready to replace field force units for several months, the Army after December 1941 rapidly withdrew combat troops from guard duty except along the Pacific coast. In mid-February 1942 a total of 31,123 Army troops and 3,742 State Guards were still performing guard duty, but more than three-fourths of these were on duty in the Ninth Corps Area.103  Pressure for more rather than fewer Army guards remained strong, and General Marshall during February and March had to put on a veritable campaign to impress Congress and the public with the necessity of concentrating on offensive preparations.104  By May 1942 the Army had the quota of 21 military police battalions that had been planned the preceding December, and subsequent authorizations in-


creased the number available for continental duty to a maximum of eighty-nine in late 1942.105

During early 1942 the War Department was under considerable pressure also to support a "federalization" of the State Guards in order to make them a more efficient and available force for home defense. Such a move would have made the State Guards a force analogous to the British Home Guard and would, of course, have given it greater prestige and also a greater claim on federal military supplies. The War Department resisted these approaches, insisting that the allocation of police powers under the American constitutional system required that the states themselves keep an emergency force in being. Soon after American entry into the war the State Guard system as a device for protecting installations received one body blow when federal government agencies decided that they could not grant "administrative leave" to their own employees for active duty with the state forces. Another came in early 1942 when the Army because of its own acute shortages called in all of the Enfield rifles that had been loaned to the State Guards before the outbreak of war. In the later war years the Army provided a good deal of equipment and training direction to the State Guards, but it could not spare much of either during 1942 when the need for guarding installations was felt most acutely.106

To meet this need, particularly to guard government-owned and privately owned industries engaged in vital war production, the Army hit upon a new expedient. In practice during 1942 and 1943 it used military police battalions primarily to guard public works and large installations such as ports of embarkation. From the beginning of the war the Army had depended wherever possible on the civilian guards employed by private industries to protect them, internally and externally, against any sabotage the enemy might attempt. In the summer of 1942 the Army began to organize these guards as "auxiliary military police," in a manner that in effect put them under Army rule and regulation. The auxiliary military police, whose strength reached a maximum of about 200,000 during 1943, never became soldiers, but they did become an Army-controlled force that satisfactorily answered World War II requirements for plant protection in the continental United States.107


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