The categorical imperative for military forces probably should be to conduct each operation so well that it could stand unquestioned as a model for the future. As a practical matter, however, this ideal is seldom achieved, but lessons can be drawn from failures as well as successes. In the study of combat operations this is axiomatic. The course and outcome of a battle are determined by the interaction of judgments made independently on both sides. Occupying and administering enemy territory, on the other hand, has tended consistently to be looked upon as involving primarily unilateral judgments, which therefore should be uniformly correct, given the requisite degree of technical competence. No doubt, President Roosevelt's early determination to turn the work of administering occupied areas over to civilians was strongly motivated by the belief that civilians had more practice in the skills of government and that a successful occupation chiefly required a transfer of these skills. In fact, the assumption could be made that administering occupied enemy territory is less difficult than conducting domestic government. The population does not need to be consulted; the administrator has an army at its back; and the purpose for his being there is simple and direct. The SHAEF Standard Policy and Procedure in 1944 described the Supreme Commander's objective in enemy territory as being "the military occupation and control of all zones of enemy territory for which he may be responsible." 1 The first objective of military government given in the SHAEF presurrender directive of 9 November 1944 was "Imposition of the will of the Allies upon occupied Germany." 2 The November 1966 Joint Manual for Civil Affairs (FM 41-5) describes military government as "the assumption by the military commander of full executive, legislative, and judicial authority over a conquered or otherwise unruly population." 3 FM 41-10 (1966) like its predecessors, defines military government as "The form of administration by which an occupying power exercises executive, legislative, and judicial power over occupied territory." 4 The authority of the occupying power then is apparently complete, requiring mainly the organizations and procedures to exercise it. This study of the Army experience in Germany, how-


ever, has shown that an occupation has residual characteristics of the combat operation and that the occupation is as much the final stage of the war as it is the assumption of the victor's rights and powers.

First and probably most important, an occupation has an objective. In the abstract it may be only to assume executive, legislative, and judicial authority in a defeated nation; but as any actual war is likely to be fought for some more significant purpose than merely to win, so an occupation is likely to be entered into for some reason other than merely to govern. Establishing a valid objective, as the U.S. experience in Germany demonstrated, may not be easy. The combat commander deals with an existing situation, the occupation planner with one that does not yet exist. The combat commander is concerned with an immediate military problem, the occupation planner, working in the political and psychological milieu of the war, with political, economic, social, and military problems of the future. For the US forces in Germany after World War II the principal objective as stated in JCS 1067 was "to prevent Germany from ever again becoming a threat to the peace of the world."  5 This objective, like the President's desire to have the inevitability of "chaos and suffering" brought home to the Germans and introduced into JCS 1067 after the 23 March 1945 conference (see above, p. 213) , was set at the height of the war, with an eye more to the past than to the future. JCS 1067 became a directive admirably suited to preventing a repetition of the 1920s and 1930s but inadequate to meet the situation of the late 1940s. This inadequacy, and not any supposed echo of the Morgenthau Plan, was the document's great defect. The Germans did not have to be shown the consequences of defeat, and after 1945, Germany was not likely again to rank as a major threat to world peace. Consequently, the US authorities in Germany, left without a valid principal objective, were compelled to exploit loopholes, such as the disease and unrest formula, and to improvise.

A pointless or mistaken objective may be less readily recognized in an occupation than in a combat operation. Battle frequently has a way of bringing deficiencies into sharp focus. An occupation is less likely to be subjected to a clear-cut, decisive test. Moreover, a war of sufficient magnitude to result in the large-scale conquest of enemy territory will also probably not be concluded without rancor; and a professionally dispassionate military approach will be hard put to prevail against an aroused public opinion, or even a single fixed opinion, such as that of President Roosevelt in the case of Germany.

In a combat operation, the ability to attain the objective is a major criterion. Despite apparent unrestricted power, the same appears to be true of the objectives in an occupation. In Germany, denazification was probably the chief, and certainly the most energetically pursued, tactical objective of the early occupation period. It was also, as Donnison has concluded regarding the British zone, probably the least satisfactory of all military government undertakings. 6  Before the end of 1945, denazification on the terms originally envisioned had been proven impractical; and in the long run, if less had been attempted,


more might have been accomplished. Of 3,623,112 persons considered chargeable under the Law for Liberation from National Socialism and Militarism, 887,252 were tried before the German Spruchkammern by 30 June 1948 with the following results:

    Maximum Sentence Permitted Sanctions  Imposed
Charged as Found as

Major Offenders  



 5-10 years  





 Up to 5 years  


Lesser Offenders  



 1,000 Reichsmark or more fine  





 Less than 1,000 Reichsmark fine  







Proceedings Dismissed  









 547,420  7


The Spruchkammern, during two years of trials, found 117,523 persons to have been Nazi offenders in some degree-5 out of 6 in the lowest offender category-and imposed sentences or fines of more than 1,000 Reichsmarks on 83,775. 8 Military government, on the other hand, under its standards, had, by 31 May 1946, found 314,000 persons to have been sufficiently active as Nazis to warrant their removal from public employment and important positions in private enterprise. 9 The Spruchkammern in the US zone were at least as zealous as their counterparts in the other two western zones. The US zone put tribunals put 2.5 percent of their cases in the first two categories (major offenders), the British zone tribunals 1.3 percent, and the French zone tribunals 0.1 percent. 10 The course of denazification demonstrates how sensitive the objectives of an occupation can be to US public opinion on the one hand, and how vulnerable they can be to resistance by the subjects of the occupation on the other, if they go beyond the limits of the attainable.

Denazification and the reverse of the coin, democratization, also provide the basis for some observations on the role of an occupation force as an instrument of social and political change. Denazification gave the Army the mission of carrying out as radical an experiment in removing a source of international conflict as had been undertaken in modern times. Worthy as denazification was in principle, it was not, as military government was painfully aware, realistically conceived. Conducted as a full-scale social revolution, it imposed dangerous strains on the structure of the occupation without necessarily promising any future returns other than more trouble.


The democratization program, however, affords an example of a different sort. By not attempting as much, it accomplished more. Its great virtue was that its form when General Clay put it into effect in the fall of 1945 served practical and useful purposes for both the US authorities and the German people. The preponderant military government opinion at the time would have favored an extended period of tutelage. If this view had prevailed, the outcome might have been the same as with denazification: a train of increasingly expensive and frustrating programs ending in mutual disappointment. Clay made democracy as attainable an objective for the US forces as it was ever likely to be by placing the responsibility for its attainment where it would ultimately have to lie in any case, with the German people.

The military administration of occupied territory, like a combat operation, also requires unity of command. The necessity for clear lines of authority and a single commander on the battlefield is obvious. In an occupation, however, the need is apparently not so obvious. From the outset in the planning for Germany, the War Department had to defend this principle against a strong presidential opinion that civilians were the proper administrators for occupied territory. The issue was in fact never entirely settled, and the principle was in jeopardy throughout the war. Consequently, even though there was no dual command, some of the baneful effects of such a command were felt in the planning for and early occupation of Germany. Certainly, the Supreme Commander's freedom of decision was considerably less in matters pertaining to the occupation than it was in affairs clearly recognized as military. No policy as hopeless as nonfraternization would have been sustained for the better part of the year nor would any staff entanglements as unseemly and unproductive as those between the SHAEF-USFET G-5 and the US Group Control Council have been allowed to persist if they had affected combat operations.

Aside from the dispute over civilian as opposed to military control, the occupation of Germany exposed a built-in military government proclivity for muddled command channels. World War II produced two distinct and, unfortunately, not entirely compatible modes of military government the one territorial (AMGOT) with its own chain of command, the other integrated into the tactical commands (Standard Policy and Procedure). The experience in Germany demonstrated that both arrangements were necessary in successive stages of the occupation, and both have continued to have a place in US civil affairs doctrine, as "area support" and "command support" operations. 11 Most likely, both would be used again in future military government situations, and, very likely, the same problems would arise out of their employment. Territorial military government can be readily adapted to political and geographic units of any size from a town or county to a whole country, but it functions best in a separate military government chain of command and does not adjust well to tactical unit boundaries. Integrated military government is best suited to mobile operations, and it preserves unity of command and the integrity of tactical boundaries. Its span of control, however, is limited to the lower governmental levels, and, as the EGAD experiment revealed, it tends to set the military government personnel adrift from their own parent organizations without making them truly


integral parts of the tactical commands. An additional and potentially more serious problem is the apparently natural inclination of military government to want to convert to the territorial form at the earliest possible time and the equally natural tendency of the tactical commands to be slow in relinquishing the prerogatives they have acquired during the period of integrated military government.

Lastly, as Colonel Hunt recommended after World War I, civil affairs-military government is a specialized military function and needs trained personnel. The War Department recognized the need early in World War II and provided the training. In doing so, however, it exposed some concomitant problems which it was not able entirely to solve. Chiefly, these problems were how to sustain the morale of relatively senior specialists during the long period of waiting before they could be employed; how to organize for service in the field a civilian-oriented activity operating within the military framework; and how to sustain an activity that could only be brought into full play after the war had ended and the rest of the Army was going home. Although the same problems could arise again, they were undoubtedly aggravated by the special conditions of World War II. Civil affairs-military government was new. It existed, but it had no established position in the Army. It had to find itself in situations in which neither the commands nor the personnel had adequate precedents from which to make judgments. As a result, EGAD, for instance, was not a table of organization division, and its members, already disgruntled at having been recruited for work they sometimes doubted would ever exist, suspected they were also being deliberately denied promotions and being treated as second class soldiers. Furthermore, having gone through several years of uncertainty, the civil affairs-military government personnel were all too easily caught up in the demobilization fever after V-J Day. Previous errors, however, do not have to be repeated. The World War II experience exists as guidance for the future. In particular, civil affairs-military government did find a place in the Army and did, although the path was not smooth, achieve organizational and doctrinal maturity. However, civil affairs-military government will probably always tend to be somewhat out of phase with the rest of the military structure. The answer appears to be a trained reserve.

Of course, an occupation also differs from a combat operation in various respects and in one in particular: the outcome of a battle will usually-that of an occupation, perhaps, seldom-be clear. In a strict sense, maintenance of law and order sufficient to prevent interference with combat missions during hostilities and unrest or to prevent resistance later on are enough to qualify an occupation as a success, but the judgment of history will demand more. And the Army in Germany accomplished more-more than even the detachment commander believed who summed up the first year, "We gave them enough military government to last a hundred years." 12 Not every Nazi received the full deserts due him in American and some German opinion, but many did. Not all the Germans were converted to democracy, but they were given the opportunity for democracy without any snares or tricks. The tenor of some policy statements was harsh to the point of being vindictive, but the practice was as humane as a defeated enemy had a right


to expect after a long and destructive war. Although many soldiers looted and played the black market, the Army protected and restored the country's art treasures and monuments and imported three-quarters of a billion dollars worth of relief supplies. The DPs were returned to their homes, the concentration camp inmates were cared for, and the numerous services without which a modern society cannot function were put back into operation and kept running. Certainly after 1946 there could be no doubt that civil affairs-military government had proven its value both in and out of combat or that the Army had demonstrated its competence to manage a major occupation in the national interest and the interest of a conquered people.




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