Prewar Sentiment and Its Effect
on the Army

The armed forces of the United States underwent an almost continuous weakening from 1918 onward for a decade and a half. The fluctuation in numbers from 1922 to 1936 was small (see Table I), but the deterioration in equipment was continuous in that the 1918 surplus, used up rather than replaced, was not only increasingly obsolescent but increasingly ineffective owing to wear and age. In the mid-thirties the Navy was permitted, by a cautious increase in appropriations, to make a start on a new shipbuilding program which by that time was acutely needed. The Army was less favored, presumably because there was a continuing public confidence, shared by the White House and Congress, in oceans as a bulwark and a belief that the Navy could safely be thought of not merely as the traditional "first line of defense" but as the only really necessary line of defense for the tune being. Even the growing reach of the airplane, unmistakably clear on the day of the first traps-Atlantic flight, was not exploited in military form to any such degree as it was in Europe and Japan. The abiding need for trained and equipped ground forces, recognized and continuously recalculated by the Army's General Staff, was generally ignored by the ultimate authority in government.

The majority of Congress is assumed under normal conditions to hold approximately the views of the public which elects it, but it is impossible to say with certainty how accurately the cautious expressions and the reduced appropriations of the prewar Congress with respect to defense measures actually represented the wishes of the public. On the one hand, the newspaper files of prewar years are almost barren of any recorded protest against excessive thrift in money appropriations. On the other hand, a contemporary public opinion analyst maintained both then and thereafter that the public was far ahead of Congress in its ultimate votes to support defense measures. His postwar estimate of the public's attitude during the previous twelve years noted that "one of the first polls we took in this business was on the question of appropriating more money for the Army and the Navy. . .back in. . .1935. We found in that very early poll that



Year Total Officers Enlisted Men
Officers b
Army Nurse
Corps c
1919 846, 498 77,966 37 d 9,616 758,879
1920 201,918 15,451 68 d 1,551 184,848
1921 228,650 13,299 1,159 851 213,341
1922 147,335 13,248 1,153 828 132,106
1923 131,959 11,820 1,086 705 118,348
1924 141,618 11,655 1,065 675 128,223
1925 135,979 12,462 1,030 725 121,762
1926 134,116 12,143 1,327 673 119,973
1927 133,949 12,076 1,263 681 119,929
1928 135,204 12,112 1,208 699 121,185
1929 138,263 12,175 1,138 734 124,216
1930 138,452 12,255 1,089 807 124,301
1931 139,626 12,322 1,028 809 125,467
1932 134,024 12,314 973 824 119,913
1933 135,684 12,301 926 669 121,788
1934 137,584 12,283 869 609 123,823
1935 138,569 12,043 825 603 125,098
1936 166,724 12,125 784 603 153,212
1937 178,733 12,321 794 625 164,993
1938 184,126 12,522 782 671 170,151
1939 188,565 13,039 775 672 174,079
1940 267,767 16,624 763 939 249,441
1941 1,460,998 93,172 931 5,433 1,361,462

a Represents actual strength of the active Army as of 30 June of each year. Includes Philippine Scouts. Does not include cadets at the U. S. Military Academy, field clerks, or contract surgeons.
Effective 29 April 1926, 367 Army and QM field clerks were brought into the Army as Warrant Officers.
Included as officer personnel in this table for comparability with later years. On 4 June 1920, Army nurses were given simulated or relative commissions applicable only to the Army Nurse Corps. On 22 June 1944 they were given temporary commissions, and on 16 April 1947 were commissioned in the Regular Army.
Data are from WDGS, Statistics Branch, "Strength of Military Establishment. June30, 1914 to June 30, 1926." Special Report No. 196, revised, 22 Jan 27.

Source: Annual Reports of the Secretary of War, 1922-1941; Annual Reports of The Adjutant General of the Army, 1919-1921; also Department of the Army, Strength of the Army (STM-30), 1 Jul 48.


the people were strongly in favor of increasing appropriations . . . at a time when Congress was going exactly in the other direction . . . . During the war years there was no step this country took which the public hadn't approved weeks and months before Congress . . . . In every study we made . . . we found a substantial majority of the people of the country willing and ready to support civilian mobilization or war manpower conscription." 1 It would be difficult to prove, however, that the prewar public, even when willing to express sympathy for defense expenditures, was vigorous in asserting its will unless and until provided with an energizing leadership. Congressmen -and Presidents too- normally responsive to any vigorously expressed wishes of constituents, did not by their speeches or by their votes in those years demonstrate any pronounced change of heart toward a strong defense policy, nor do the records show that they were unseated at ensuing elections because of their lethargy on the rearmament question. It is fair to conclude that the views of officeholders who continued unruffled in office were not in active conflict with the views of the public majority that put them in office. By that test, prewar America was not war-minded, nor even defense-minded to an assertive degree. Even in early 1940 an urgent Army plea to Congress for 166 airplanes was beaten down to 57, and no 4-motor bombers were permitted, an opponent making the explanation that these were not defensive but "aggressive" weapons,2  the very type against which the American delegates' efforts had been directed at Geneva in 1934.

Appreciation of America's addiction to the defense-only policy is necessary if one is to understand public lethargy in the early days of World War II and the handicaps under which the War Department labored as a consequence. The fact is not appreciated from a mere statement of it so well as from a study of its results. That America was peace-minded for two decades is hardly worth the saying; what matters is that because of this state of mind the nation's military strength was allowed to decrease and decay to the point where it became tragically insufficient and, even more important, incapable of restoration save after the loss of many lives and the expenditure of other resources beyond man's comprehension.


The responsibility for the Army's deterioration between wars was so far from being exclusively that of Congress-although often visited upon Congress because that body was finally responsible for all appropriations-that the Mead committee of Congress in 1946 undertook to lessen public criticism by shifting the onus. The report noted that after 1919 "many persons in the military agencies evidenced an attitude of complacency" and that "largely as a result of this attitude Congressional appropriations for the support of our national defense were reduced to a dangerous minimum." 3  In prompt rebuttal the Under Secretary's office initiated a gathering of typical War Department expressions of a most uncomplacent nature that had been made to or in the hearing of Congress. From the annual reports of Secretary of War John W. Weeks in 1921, 1922, and 1923 were extracted warnings that "our present combat strength will be insufficient to fulfill the functions required by our national defense policy," that "additional cuts would endanger our safety," that "factors which introduce causes for war are now in the making; it is the height of folly to continue the present policy of cutting our financial support of the War Department . . . . We are already cut below our vital needs." Similar complaints of unpreparedness were extracted from the annual reports of Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis in 1925-28, his successors Patrick J. Hurley, George H. Dern, and Harry H. Woodring, and Assistant Secretaries of that period, likewise from reports and speeches of General Pershing and every succeeding Chief of Staff.

General Pershing's pungent remarks on 4 July 1925 noted that "Under our very eyes there have already been serious reductions made by Congress" and that "the politician, himself oftentimes uninformed as to his country's history, frequently appeals to the ignorant and unthinking on the score of economy; . . . such demagogues are dangerous." Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1934 summarized the personnel shortage dramatically, declaring: "In many cases there is but one officer on duty with an entire battalion; this lack of officers [has] brought Regular Army training in the continental United States to a virtual standstill . . . correction is mandatory." Stocks of materiel, he continued, were "inadequate even for limited forces . . . and, such as they are, manifestly obsolescent. The secrets of our weakness are secrets only to our own people." The 1935 report from Mr. Dern predicted that in the event of war "we should find


Photo: Henry L. Stimson   Photo: Robert P. Patterson
Photo: Harry H. Woodring   Photo: Louis Johnson


Henry L. Stimson
Secretary of War 1911-13
and 1940-45

Robert P. Patterson
Assistant (and Under) Secretary 1940-45
Secretary of War 1945-47

Harry H. Woodring
Assistant Secretary of War 1933-36
Secretary of War 1936-40

Louis Johnson
Assistant Secretary of War 1937-40
Secretary of Defense 1949 -


Photo: General of the Armies John J. Pershing   Photo: Gen. Peyton C. March
Photo: Gen. John L. Hines   Photo: Gen. Charles P. Summerall


General of the Armies John J. Pershing
1 July 1921-13 September 1924

Gen. Peyton C. March
19 May 1918-30 June 1921

Gen. John L. Hines
14 September 1924-20  November 1926

Gen. Charles P. Summerall
21 November 1926-20 November 1930


that our so-called economics have in reality been a hideously extravagant waste of money and lives." With less rhetoric Secretary Henry L. Stimson in his 1941 report made the following statement:

Not until our country saw its former democratic allies and friends struck down in quick succession did our Congress, representing accurately the view of our public, authorize the fiscal appropriations necessary to make any adequate defense. Until such Congressional action, no increased American armies would be raised and paid for and no contracts for munitions could be entered into.

The most spirited defender of the thrifty attitude of a succession of Presidents and Congresses after World War I could hardly deny that the Army's principal spokesmen, military and civilian, had sounded ample warnings. The trouble was that listeners apparently were few, even among those who because of their positions of responsibility might have been expected to listen. Thus when Maj. Gen. John L. Hines, then Deputy Chief of Staff under Pershing, appeared before the House Appropriations Committee on 19 December 1923 and said bluntly that the 118,000 men asked for were not enough, but that 150,000 were needed, as estimated by Secretary Weeks and General Pershing, a member of the committee demanded of him when those estimates had been made. General Hines said they were in the formal reports. "I had not seen any of those reports," confessed the committeeman.

The routine, disciplined obedience of the Army to the President as Commander in Chief and to such of his agents as the Budget Director was itself a handicap to Army programs, barring any save a refractory officer from demanding more funds than were approved by the White House. This fact was illustrated every year, and often in every year, and the reason for it made clear on 25 November 1924 when Brig. Gen. K. W. Walker, then Army Chief of Finance, was interrogated by a committeeman on this issue of full acceptance of Presidential directions:

Q. In general, which do you regard as the more important-the President's policy of economy or the actual needs and requirements of the War Department?

Gen. WALKER. That is a pretty hard question for me to answer . . . . The President's policy is the controlling factor and must be our guide; but that does not prevent the War Department from stating to the President through the Budget Bureau its needs as it sees them.

Q. Would it prevent the War Department from presenting its needs before this committee?

Gen. WALKER. I think it would. I think when the Budget has once been approved by the President and transmitted to Congress, it is his budget estimate and no officer or official


of the War Department would have any right to come up here and attempt to get a single dollar more than is contained in that estimate . . . .

Q. So the final analysis of it is, General, that up to the present the $336,000,000 must suffice, even though that does not meet your requirements at all?

Gen. WALKER. Insofar as the War Department is concerned, yes, sir. If this committee should develop that more money should be had for any specific purpose, it would be of course its prerogative to give it, just as it is its prerogative to reduce any amount. This prerogative has been exercised time and time again.4

A year later, on 8 December 1925, when again the Secretary's plea for an army of 150,000 had been ignored and the Department's reduced estimates were laid before Congress, Maj. Gen. Dennis E. Nolan, then Deputy Chief of Staff, answered similar questioning from appropriations committeemen in a somewhat tarter manner.

Q. If you do not get all you need that is because you do not ask for it?

Gen. NOLAN. Oh yes, we ask for it.

Q. Well, you ask the Budget and they do not give you the money, nor does Congress?

Gen. NOLAN. But we are prohibited by law from asking Congress for anything except the amount that is allowed here in the Budget.

Q. . . . Now, why should you not come up here and frankly tell us that the amount is not sufficient to maintain those activities . . .?

Gen. NOLAN. Because Congress passed a Budget law, in which there is a proviso prohibiting any official of the Government coming before a Committee of Congress and arguing for more money than is permitted under the Budget sent up by the President. That is a matter of law.

Still more directly pointing at the Congressional responsibility, General MacArthur, before the same committee, on 28 November 1932, in his pleas for the Army's miniature armored forces of that day said explosively that "they suffer tremendously from one thing and one thing only-that Congress will not give them enough money to equip them properly with modern tanks." If the Mead committee's postwar judgments found "complacency" about small Army appropriations, it was not in the major public utterances of the several Chiefs of Staff.


Deterioration of the Army Between Wars

In the thirties, when war clouds were mounting both in Europe and Asia, the U.S. Army had ample time to rebuild itself, but no money. When war broke out in Europe late in that decade, the Army was given more and more money, but time, far more precious than money, now was lacking. That eventually the rebuilding took place, and that from the excellence of this performance grew the majestic military successes of 1944-45 is so unforgettable that the radiant last act of the drama (so suggestive of November 1918) threatens to drive from national memory the gloom and dismay of the first act (so suggestive of  1917).

In their preliminaries, developments, and immediate sequels World War I and World War II followed a cycle whose phases are well marked: (1) prior to the war, insufficient military expenditures, based on the public's prewar conviction that war could not come to America; (2) discovery that war could come after all; (3) a belated rush for arms, men, ships, and planes to overcome the nation's demonstrated military weakness; (4) advance of the producing and training program, attended by misunderstandings, delays, and costly outlay, but gradual creation of a large and powerful army; (5) mounting successes in the field, and eventual victory; (6) immediately thereafter, rapid demobilization anti dissolution of the Army as a powerful fighting force; (7) sharp reduction of appropriations sought by the military establishment, dictated by concern over its high cost and for a time by the revived hope that, again, war would not come to America. The early phases of the cycle as encountered prior to the arrival of World War II, particularly as they relate to the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army, can be examined in some detail.

In 1929 President Herbert Hoover instructed the Secretary of War to order an investigation into War Department needs and methods which should "reconsider our whole army program." In accordance with direction from Secretary James W. Good on 29 July this survey was undertaken by the War Department General Staff, resulting in a 165-page report signed by the Deputy and five Assistant Chiefs of Staff. 5 Unfortunately, before the report was completed the stock market collapse of that autumn, heralding the great depression, had doomed any possible program for increasing Army expenditures. The Staff report, however, did not discuss economies. It related a nation's state of preparedness to the respect in which the nation is held and hence to the success with which the nation


can make peaceful application of its foreign policies. It reviewed the world situation, noting differences between nations and the existence in America of "certain clearly defined national policies conflicting with those of other countries." It then examined the condition of the Army with regard to personnel and materiel, the reasons for its state and the proposals for remedying it, making two major proposals for that purpose. The 1920 target of 280,000 enlisted strength in the Regular Army, clearly and impressively stated in the National Defense Act of that year, was not dreamed of any more, apparently, for either of the 1929 Proposals would have constituted a mean between the strength authorized in the National Defense Act and the strength possible of attainment under the successive appropriation bills. Plan I would have provided 179,000 officers and men in the Regular Army, 250,000 in the National Guard, 116,000 in the Officers' Reserve Corps, 6,000 annually from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (in colleges), and annual training of 37,500 in the Citizens' Military Training Camps. The Regular Army enlisted strength (excluding Philippine Scouts) was still fixed at 118,750 by the practical limitation of the current annual appropriation. The survey recognized existing shortages in guns and ammunition, in aircraft and antiaircraft equipment, even in tentage and certain clothing items. It reported a surplus of rifles and certain other items useful in case of large mobilization. In plain terms it reproached the Budget Director for making crippling cuts in the Army fund requests without prior consultation with the Army about the relative importance of these requests, with the result that "in effect he and not the responsible head of the Department determines to some degree what . . . shall not be included in the budget." Plan II outlined an organization smaller than that of Plan I. It was opposed as insufficient to Army needs, but what the Army received in succeeding years was much nearer to Plan II than Plan I, and was below both. Personnel was not increased at all.

In 1933 the Army was accordingly at the lowest effectiveness that it had touched since World War I, standing seventeenth among the world's armies by the estimate of the current Chief of Staff. 6  There had been no appreciable drop in personnel but there had been a steady falling off in freshness of equipment and even in the field organization, as a result of continuingly low defense expenditures which themselves were traceable to a conviction on the part of the American public as well as the Congress (comforting in a period of depression) that war was a remote possibility. On 30 June of that year the Army strength stood


at approximately 14,000 officers and 122,000 enlisted men, 7  even though the 1920 National Defense Act had authorized a peacetime strength of 280,000 enlisted men. 8 The accompanying concept in the 1920 act had been that a force so small (by 1918 standards) as 280,000 should be capable of rapid and efficient expansion. To that end it would be composed of a maximum number of units in the form of cadres of men highly trained for expansion in emergency. This necessarily meant a minimum number of men per unit in peacetime. The arrangement presupposed a proper balance of units that in emergency, quickly expanded by recruitments, would compose divisions, corps, and field armies complete with headquarters, combat elements, and service organizations. But when the total number in the Army dropped from 280,000 to 125,000 or less it became impossible to maintain even in skeleton form the whole number of units that had been planned originally, and many of them ceased to exist. Hence corps and field army units had to be re-created altogether when the rebuilding of the Army was under way. Instead of a lean, hard organization capable of scientific expansion on short notice, there was from 1920 onward an emaciated organization incapable of expanding directly and automatically into a rounded field force; the skeleton units which had been eliminated would now have to be re-created from the beginning. This problem of re-creating whole units, rising in acute form when the Army expansion of 1940 was under way, was referred to at the time by the Chief of Staff (then General Marshall) in an explanation of current personnel needs:

. . . During the lean years, dating back to 1921, the Army's fight for personnel was a fight for its very life. You will recall that within a year of the passage of the amendments to the National Defense Act of 1920 appropriations for the Regular Army had reduced its strength from the authorized figure of 280,000 to 150,000 . . . . By successive stages the strength of the Army was cut and cut until in 1935 it had declined to 118,750.

Let me give you a specific example of the effect of these reductions upon the efficiency of the Army. During this period I commanded a post which had for its garrison a battalion of infantry, the basic fighting unit of every army. It was a battalion only in name, for it could muster barely zoo men in ranks when every available man, including cooks, clerks and kitchen police, [was] present for the little field training that could be accomplished with available funds. The normal strength of a battalion in most armies of the world varies from 800 to 1,000 men . . . .


Part of the reason for this deplorable condition was that, while the new air arm had developed in the latter stages of the World War, no provision for its essential expansion in our Army was made except by emasculation of the basic ground forces. The Air Corps was obtaining the necessary personnel to man and maintain its growing number of planes by stripping the Infantry, Artillery, Engineers and Signal troops. Important headquarters units, essential for battlefield control, were being dropped from the rolls. The Army as a team was gradually being starved into a condition almost comparable to its pre-Spanish-American War condition .

. . . We will be seriously handicapped in our problem of developing skill in handling large units, and keeping them properly supplied in the field, until we are able to organize again at least a limited number of the essential control, supply, and communications units of corps and army troops. Furthermore, and of equal or greater importance, is the pressing necessity for a certain minimum of seasoned, trained units immediately available for service. . . 9

A More Realistic Planning Basis

The state of the Army in that period of the thirties which General Marshall's letter describes, and the gloomy attitude of its War Plans Division (WPD) at the time, are alike indicated by a notation in one of the contemporary WPD reports that recommendations for increases in Army strength would be presented to President, Congress, and the Budget officer "not with any hope or idea of obtaining immediate action, but so that those responsible would understand the condition and that it should be remedied when possible." 10

Accordingly consideration was given by the Chief of Staff in 1933, General MacArthur, to means of mobilizing a defense force from each of three stages, (I) with the current strength of 118,000 enlisted men, (II) with a hoped-for 165,000 men, and (III) with the 280,000 men authorized by the Defense Act.11 Mobilization from stage I, it was pointed out, would be impossible in less than four to six months, there being in existence in continental United States only four incomplete divisions with no supporting force and no cadres for expansion to new divisions. There was no way, at that low stage, to maintain except on paper the four-army establishment which General MacArthur had designed as the target.

Mobilization from stage II, with a force of 165,000, would still provide no immediately available force, but would permit the creation of a more rounded


GENERAL OF THE ARMY DOUGLAS MacARTHUR, Chief of Staff 21 November 1930-1 October 1935.

GENERAL OF THE ARMY DOUGLAS MacARTHUR, Chief of Staff 21 November 1930-1 October 1935.


GEN. MALIN CRAIG, Chief of Staff 2 October 1935-13 August 1939

GEN. MALIN CRAIG, Chief of Staff 2 October 1935-13 August 1939


establishment which would permit efficient expansion. In particular, it would furnish one division for each of the four theoretical armies, and also five skeleton brigades. These nine infantry units would thus provide a discernible Regular Army force in each of the country's nine corps areas. The increase to 165,000 would also add slightly to the 14,600-man air force, would create five new antiaircraft regiments, would add men to the Army's incipient tank force, and would permit strengthening the weak garrisons in Hawaii and Panama. The layman is interested in seeing, thus early, the professional judgment on first needs which were to be repeatedly cited, and which long remained unsatisfied.

It was this Mobilization II which General MacArthur urged. The 280,000-man army of Mobilization III, specified though it had been as the peace-strength force as long ago as 1920, now existed only as a planning concept; of the three mobilization plans, Mobilization III alone would provide a balanced army corps for immediate use and, in addition, a framework for later expansion. But, as shown by the WPD notation just mentioned, it was thought of as unattainable, and hence not worth pressing for. General MacArthur and his successor, Gen. Malin Craig, pressed for only what they thought could be obtained, and the 170,000 enlisted strength of 1938 was the result of their pressure. A further 40,000 increase above that point is what General Craig was to seek in February 1939 when Brig. Gen. George C. Marshall as his deputy went to Congress to argue for it.

The program under Mobilization II was basic thereafter until the much larger program of 1940 replaced it, and General Staff planning for the Army was pursued with the expectation that a war involving the United States would be, in its first phase, defensive. It looked forward accordingly to the availability of an Initial Protective Force (IPF) made up of only the Regular Army and National Guard in current existence. The 1933-40 concept was of 165,000 enlisted men in the Regular Army and 235,000 in the National Guard, and these made up the 400,000-man total for the IPF, for which the supply branches of the Staff made their computations. (That modest total for the Regular Army was not in fact reached until mid-1937. The figure listed for the National Guard was not reached, even in authorization, until September of that year. Actually the National Guard entered federal service in 1940 and early 1941 with about 200,000 men who had received training of some sort).12


The Initial Protective Force, as its name indicates, was to be the emergency defensive force only. It would be enlarged (as a plan, not a reality) under the 1937 revision to the size specified in General Pershing's 1920 program. This Protective Mobilization Plan (PMP) contemplated a Regular Army of 280,000 enlisted men and a National Guard of 450,000, a total of 730,000. It was assumed that upon declaration of an emergency new recruitments would immediately add some 270,000 men who would be trained as replacements and who would bring up the total PMP force to 1,000,000 men.

The General Staff planning of 1933-39 aimed at a provision of weapons and other equipment sufficient for such a force, and it was Congress' failure to supply funds for anything like the PMP total that disturbed the General Staff throughout the period. In 1932 the supply chief of the Staff (G-4) had recognized realistically "the probability of greatly reduced War Department appropriations for Fiscal Year 1934 and succeeding years," and initiated steps toward producing a well planned and balanced and equipped force at some future time when money should be available. 13 The cumulative value of this 1934 planning of a six-year program was to prove incalculable as World War II drew nearer. The plan itself evidences the realism of General Staff thinking in this realm even in depression days when there was little that is measurable in the way of Staff doing. General MacArthur manifested concern over equipment shortages as early as 1933 in his annual report as Chief of Staff, without result. General Craig, his successor, in his own last annual report summarized his anxiety thus:

The problem encountered on my entry into office was the lack of realism in military war plans .... [They comprehended many paper units, conjectural supply, and a disregard of the time element which forms the main pillar of any planning structure .... What transpires on prospective battlefields is influenced vitally years before in the councils of the staff and in the legislative halls of Congress. Time is the only thing that may be irrevocably lost, and it is the thing first lost sight of in the seductive false security of peaceful times .... The sums appropriated this year will not be fully transformed into military power for two years. Persons who state that they see no threat to the peace of the United States would hesitate to make that forecast through a two-year period. 14

The warning, buried deep in a long official report, passed almost unnoticed in the newspapers of that day and hence by the public and most of the Congress.


Not until the alarms of 1940 (when the period of Craig's warning was not yet half over) was there any common grasp of the fact that appropriations could not in fact "be fully transformed into military power for two years."

Scant Funds Allowed for New Weapons

How little Congress, the appropriating authority, understood the need for new weapons, even in 1939, is suggested by a contemporary, unofficial analysis of military expenditures of the War Department, as measured by appropriations for the fiscal year 1939, distributed among the several functions.15 The appropriations totaled $646,000,000 but, of these, $192,000,000, or nearly 30 percent, were for nonmilitary purposes, such as Panama Canal costs and rivers and harbors work. The military items were thus divided, roughly in millions of dollars and relative percentages:

   Millions    Percent
1. Pay, clothing, subsistence  $267.  58. 8
2. Training (direct)  12.  2. 7
3. New equipment  84.  18.5
4. Research, development 5. 1.1
5. Maintenance of arms  25.  5-5
6. New construction 10.  2.2
7. Maintenance of plant 25.  5.5
8. Seacoast defense  5.  1.1
9. Procurement planning  [ 0.3  0.07]*
10. Miscellaneous  21.  4. 6

Total military exp

 $454.  16 100.0

* These figures, amounting to less than $1 or 0.1 percent, are absorbed in reaching the rounded totals.


It will be noted that the first item (determined by statutory rates of pay and subsistence for a stated number of men) was almost inflexible; it totaled 58 percent of the whole. Mere repair of weapons plus construction and repair of plant (items 5, 6, 7) consumed 13 percent more, and the seacoast defenses plus miscellaneous (items 8, 10), another 6 percent. In the residue represented chiefly by items 2, 3, and 4 of the table, amounting to much less than a quarter of the total, had to be found the dollars for whatever revitalizing the field forces were to receive. The funds for new equipment (at a time when Germany was putting the final polish upon an immense army wholly supplied with new equipment, the war and the Versailles treaty having eliminated all the old equipment) were 18.5 percent of the pinched total, but this was a high-water mark in expenditures over a period of years. That somewhat more was being expended for producing entirely new weapons and for remodeling old ones during the years 1936-39 is only partly attributable to a national appreciation of the trends in Europe and Asia or even to the industry and judgment of the ordnance experts. Largely it is due to the fact that the Army's old equipment, most of it made during World War I, some of it earlier, was seriously out of repair, and had to be replaced with something.

There still was reluctance to spend money on the scientific research and development that alone could produce a weapon new in design and effectiveness, as distinguished from a new issue of an old design. Note item 4 in the table. Only $5,000000, 1.2 percent of the whole military fund and less than four-fifths of a cent in the whole War Department dollar for the year 1939, was allotted to research and development. If this calls for further examination in perspective, one may observe that $5,000,000 was one-twentieth of the cost of a new battleship which was being laid down by the Navy in that same year. It was one-four-hundredth part of the moneys later to be spent for the research, development, and production of the atomic bomb alone-at a time when the 1939 viewpoint on military expenditure had gone through a revolutionary change.


The peacetime failure to develop new weapons was in some degree due to the fact that World War I had left on hand a massive surplus of weapons and other equipment, in working condition but in large part obsolescent. The Congressional view was that this surplus should be thriftily used up before anything else of the sort was bought, and newspapers of the period disclose no noticeable expression of disagreement. Hence the slow and ineffective tanks of types little modified from 1918 standards lingered at U. S. Army posts while Germany was building the swift and powerfully armed vehicles that were to make possible Hitler's dazzling successes of 1940. Alongside the 1918 tanks at U. S. Army posts until 1938 lay the 1918-type antitank weapons. Not until 1940 did the American 81- and 60-mm. mortars replace the World War I type throughout the Army. The M-1 semiautomatic rifle (Garand), which greatly increased infantry fire power and which was developed by Army Ordnance persistence as a replacement for the pre-1917 Springfield, came from the factories so slowly in 1941 that training plans had to be adjusted to its delivery. The invaluable "bazooka," which for the first time made an enemy tank really vulnerable to assault by a lone infantryman, was issued to troop units while they were deployed in the Tunisian campaign, and to others aboard ship on their way overseas; few of them had ever seen the weapon previously, or heard of it.

Item 9 in the 1939 appropriation list, so small that it seems negligible, is worth more attention than the 0.07 percentage figure would seem to justify. This outlay for procurement planning actually covered only the cost of establishing district offices. However, small as it was, the entry invites attention to the larger aspects of procurement planning and "educational orders," the cost of which is lost sight of in the new equipment item. The War Department at this time was already encouraging new studies of how effectively a locomotive shop, for example, could be used to produce a self-propelled gun, or a typewriter plant could turn out a machine gun in mass production, or a watch manufacturer could use the precision of his craft for the making of intricate bomb fuses. Educational orders for such weapons justified the companies' purchase of appropriate tools and dies and development of labor skills, looking toward an ultimate production of the desired weapons by mass methods. However, any such enterprise was so patently attributable to "war preparation" that in a peace-minded era advocacy of educational orders made converts in Congress only slowly. An educational-orders bill prepared by the Army in 1927 and favorably reported was delayed until 1929 and finally beaten on the floor of the


House. Similar efforts failed in 1931 and 1933. Each of these bills proposed spending only $2,000,000 a year. They failed primarily because pacifist expressions common in publications of that period denounced munitions manufacturers as war instigators, and industries became reluctant to take munitions orders, while munitions plants surviving from 1918 were for the most part allowed to deteriorate. Not until 1938 was a bill finally passed to authorize an educational-orders program 17 and implemented by another bill 18  which provided the money for it-not by providing new money, it is worth observing, but by transferring $2,000,000 from other military funds to a special fund for educational orders: that is why the item does not appear clearly labeled in the analysis of 1939 expenditures, above.

Additional indication of the national state of mind in the early thirties is afforded by the experience with the President's July 1933 allocation (under National Recovery Administration authority) of $2,500,000 to government arsenals for supplemental munitions manufacture. It corresponded in a way with the cautious resumption of naval construction at the same time, not primarily as a defense measure but as a means of creating "made work" for the unemployed. Indeed this $2,500,000 allocation to the arsenals was publicly deplored by pacifist spokesmen who declared that it debauched the unfortunates who were dependent on government relief. 19  The pacifists made their influence felt in Congress, and when the second National Recovery Administration appropriation bill was passed, it forbade the expending of relief funds for munitions manufacture.20 That prohibition remained in effect until 1937.

The reference to the struggle for educational orders (a detailed account of which must be found in the records of the office of the Under Secretary of War who was responsible for purchase and procurement, but not for planning or design) is enough to throw additional light upon the arms-procurement difficulties that harassed the Chief of Staff and the War Department in general during the thirties. Efforts to get merely enough weapons or ammunition or training to prevent troop deterioration encountered a professional pacifist opposition that was surprisingly potent in Congress. The money finally obtained for educational orders (which were designed by the Ordnance Department of the Army not to supply weapons currently but to pave the way to eventual mass


production) is seen to have been grotesquely small on almost any basis of comparison. And it came disappointingly late, for of the ten initial educational orders of 1939 one was so exclusively educational that it was not executed for over two years; by that time real orders, for production rather than education, were going to industry. The principle of giving educational orders was unquestionably good but, for the reasons given, the practice was weak in that the War Department was enabled to place orders only late and only in small quantities.

The same handicaps affected the purchases of stock piles of "critical and strategic materials," the term that the Army and Navy Munitions Board used to describe the commodities essential to American industry but not produced sufficiently, if at all, within the United States or contiguous territory-such as rubber, tungsten, tin, copra, quinine, and a score of others. The danger of being cut off by wartime blockade from the sources of these supplies was so apparent that the items were listed and recommended for acquisition in quantity.21  In 1940 came an initial appropriation of $10,000,000, later enlarged to $70,000,000; both items were too small, and both came so late that the nation actually accumulated by 1941 little in the way of strategic materials, in proportion to war needs. As a result there were unnecessarily large problems with synthetics and substitutions throughout the war.

The Accepted Policy of Arming Solely for Defense

This between-wars idea that American armed forces should be designed for defense only, not offense, illuminated as it was by the Washington Treaties for arms limitation (1922) and the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1929), was so completely a national policy imposed upon the Army that it became a guide to Army planning and upon occasion had a particularly crippling effect upon the Air Corps. Thus, in May 1938 a program for acquiring long-range bombers was sent back to the planners by the Deputy Chief of Staff with a sharp restatement of Air Corps limitations. He directed restudy of the program, with the following reminder:


(1) Our national policy contemplates preparation for defense, not aggression, (2) Defense of sea areas, other than within the coastal zone, is a function of the Navy, (3) The Military superiority of . . . a B-17 over the two or three smaller planes that could be procured with the same funds remains to be established, in view of the vulnerability, airbase limitation and complexity in operation of the former type . . . . If the equipment to be provided for the Air Corps be that best adapted to carry out the specific functions appropriately assigned it under joint Action . . . there would appear to be no need for a plane larger than the B-17. 22

The Air Corps was still suffering acutely from the two blights thus coupled: the nation's defense-only attitude, plus the still persistent theory that the Navy should be responsible for operations not only upon the ocean but in the air above the ocean. A month after the memorandum just recited the Assistant Secretary of War informed the Chief of Air Corps bluntly that "the unobligated funds set up for two B-15s [a long-range type] will not be used for that purpose, nor for a YB-20 [another long-range type] but will be applied to a portion of the 91 bombers, procurement of which was directed." 23  A further warning against experiment looking toward the long-range bombing fleets which soon were to mature, in spite of 1938 policy, was sent to the Chief of Air Corps by the Secretary of War announcing that "estimates for bombers in Fiscal Year 1940 [must] be restricted to light, medium and attack types." 24  It was not until the next year that the Air Board, appointed 23 March 1939 by the Chief of Air Corps, reported defiantly that the striking forces "will be required to extend the destructive effects of air operations over both land and sea, to great distances beyond their operating bases." 25

The Psychological Effect of Repression

Rebuffs repeated for nearly two decades had resulted in holding Regular Army personnel at levels far below the 1920 National Defense Act requirement of 280,000 men. They had prevented the acquisition of materiel urgently recommended by the General Staff with the result that in the autumn of 1939 there was an accumulated deficit that General Marshall calculated at $700,000,000, much of it needing eighteen months to transform from dollars to materiel.26 It is unlikely that the effect of these continued rebuffs was limited to such tangible


results as the holding down of personnel and of purchases, but there is no way of measuring their effect upon the recipient's state of mind. The impression is that Army chiefs, discouraged by rejections of their recommendations year after year, were reduced to asking not for what was needed but for what they thought they could get.

A sharp colloquy between General Marshall and a member of the House Committee on Appropriations in April 1941 is illustrative. On this occasion General Marshall, explaining the additional costs of troop housing, mentioned the haste with which the construction had been planned and executed and the costliness of last-minute reconnaissance and surveys. A committeeman took him to task with "the only real, legitimate criticism that can be directed toward the War Department"-that it had failed to foresee an emergency and failed to have the survey made. The Chief of Staff disagreed, and pointed to the "political processes of the government" that controlled War Department procedures. The committeeman insisted that no request for funds for such a survey had been made, and wondered why. "I would say very much for the same reason that we did not come to your committee with formal recommendations for adequate ammunition," replied General Marshall. "I wanted to have about $150,000,000 worth of ammunition appropriated for in the spring of 1939 . . . but I did not present the request to this committee. I also wanted about $300,000,000 for ordnance at that particular time; $110,000,000, including about $37,000,000 for ammunition, was provided." 27 There was a suggestion of the same attitude, in retrospect, at a Senate committee hearing in 1940 when the Chief of Staff remarked that "The problem has been one of timing but that, I must admit, has often been more a question of what we might be permitted to do rather than purely a question of what should be done on the basis of national defense." 28

The Army's hesitancy to push its case vigorously found further illustration in October 1938 when for the first time in years the incentive to rearming was supplied from the White House, and it is surprising to discover that on one occasion it was only in answer to prodding that the Air Corps itself regained confidence and sought funds on a liberal scale.29 This raises the question of whether the Army and more particularly the General Staff made the most of opportunity either in the era of continued discouragement (the quotation from General


Craig's farewell report suggesting otherwise) or in the period between Munich (when the White House provided initiative) and Blitzkrieg in France (when Congress and public belatedly awoke to the need of rearming). The question cannot well be answered without an understanding of the Staff's powers and limitations, discussed in Chapter III below, but certain of its performances during the mid-thirties can be examined with profit.

The Quest for New Types of Weapons

In 1932 the General Staff, conscious that the business depression (then in its third year) would continue to slow the provision of money for Army materiel, applied itself to a study of how to cope with this dangerous situation. Little money had been provided since World War I for new weapons or rehabilitation of existing weapons. Meantime technology had made large advances and, in the absence of appropriations, the Army, still using up World War I surplus equipment, was clearly behind the nonmilitary public in certain items, such as trucks. It was pioneering in almost no improved equipment.

On 16 September 1932 a memorandum for circulation among Chiefs of the Supply Arms and Branches reminded them of the War Department's past issuance of annual programs for essential work in research and development. These programs had "often been amended or canceled entirely due to nonavailability of funds or change in the situation," but thirty-four development projects were then pending. "In view of the probability of greatly reduced War Department appropriations for Fiscal Year 1934 and succeeding years," the memorandum found it desirable to determine the priority of the various projects not for one year, this time, but for the period 1934-40 30 The six-year plan, as it came to be called, was originally designed for equipping the first million men under General MacArthur's 1933 mobilization plan. Because the need was for supplying that number of men not alone with standardized weapons but with improved weapons (mechanized equipment in particular) the working out of the program on 21 September 1932 split the six-year effort in two, the first objective to be served by a "Rearmament and Reequipment," the second by a "Research and Development" program.31  Also, when the government's public


works planning of 1933 unexpectedly produced enterprises from which the Army might benefit, vigilant Army planners became simultaneously alert to long-standing need and newborn opportunity to acquire a modicum of modern equipment. More important, their plans for the distant future now could contemplate the possibility of personnel far in excess of the current peace strength and appropriations overreaching current budgetary limitations. Distant needs could at least lie determined, even though they could not be satisfied immediately. Thus the 1934 statement of requirements could contemplate the first million men in the "Initial Mobilization" of the 1933 plan 32 as something more than a theory. It could be drawn up with confidence in the forward-looking "Policy for Mechanization and Motorization" of 22 November 1933. 33 This in turn was supported by a G-4 declaration that the War Department "could not be content" with partially equipping the first million, but that equipment for certain units "to make up a balanced force in the Subsequent Mobilization" should be provided for.34

In setting procurement sights much higher than they had been the Staff established objectives whose attainment was far distant. One may note among the listed development projects of 1934, for example, equipment for a mobile antiaircraft artillery force of thirty-four regiments: in 1939 that force was still projected rather than attained, and personnel for only fifteen regiments was included in the program which General Marshall in that year was still advocating before a Congressional committee.35 Another 1934 project was the 105-mm. howitzer as the principal artillery weapon of the infantry division, to replace the 75-mm. gun. Yet for a considerable time to come the expressed aim of the Field Artillery, owing to the paucity of funds, was not the replacing of the 75's but merely the modernizing of those on hand so as to provide greater traverse and elevation and flexibility of use.36  In February 1940 General Marshall was still so anxious to use funds for equipment of greater urgency that he was unwilling to convert immediately to the 105, because this would mean abandonment of a large amount of 75-mm. ammunition on hand, and immediate purchase of


105-mm. ammunition at a cost of $192,200,000.37  The Ordnance Department's program of research would appear to have been stimulated by the pressures of this period, for in June a new order went into effect detailing the new work allotted to all Ordnance laboratories.38

A particular encouragement to Department hopes for Army rebuilding was provided by the July 1934 report of a special committee headed by former Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, and having among its members Maj. Gen. Hugh A. Drum, Deputy Chief of Staff (the Baker Board). The board's principal concern was with the Air Corps, but in recommending that "more definite and continuing appropriations should be available for research and development programs," it included reference to the War Department's plans for modernizing the whole Army, and noted that in the past the Budget Bureau and Congress had "not considered it advisable . . . to sanction the financial programs" necessary for that work.39  Later that month General Drum, while examining the accumulating estimates of research requirements, felt the need for co-ordinating the several programs in order to avert duplication, and asked G-4 to consider whether co-ordination should be the work of a new technical committee from the Department, or of G-4 itself, or of one of the services, such as Ordnance." 40  G-4 replied with an outline of existing procedure that conformed to Army Regulation 850-25 as revised on 15 July 1931. That regulation, it happened, actually terminated the War Department technical committee that had existed previously, and allotted coordination of the work to G-4. Accordingly no change in current practice was recommended, save for the appointment of an Air Corps technical committee that should hold its meetings in Washington-probably in order to facilitate G-4's task.41

Later in the month, presumably encouraged by the language of the Baker Board report, Maj. Gen. R. E. Callan proposed a considerable increase in applications for research funds. He recommended that the Budget and Legislative Planning Branch prepare a bill for a "continuing" research and development


program involving a minimum allotment of $5,000,000 to the Air Corps and $4,000,000 to be divided among other branches, for a total of $9,000,000 annually.42  Although General Drum expressed doubt of the Congressional attitude toward such a proposal, the $9,000,000 suggestion was approved in effect. The services' prorated recommendations were to total $7,000,000, with supplemental and conditional requests for $2,000,000 more. Of the stated minimum, $5,000,000 would be allotted to Air Corps and $2,000,000 to the others combined. The supplemental requests would be granted priority on their comparative merits.43 Later discussion altered that ratio somewhat, for when the various branches were instructed to provide their individual estimates the Air Corps was allotted $4,500,000 of the $7,000,000 minimum, and up to $5,350,000 in the event that $9,000,000 should be granted by Congress. 44  The requests that came from the services far exceeded the stated maximums, but G-4 was so much impressed by their arguments for heavier research funds-or else by optimism based on the Baker Board's report-as to pass on to the Deputy Chief the total recommendation for $14,000,000, rather than keeping it down to $7,000,000 or even to $9,000,000. The Deputy Chief promptly eliminated excessive requests from the Air Corps and a few from the Signal Corps and reduced the total to $9,064,500.45 He relented somewhat on G-4 argument in behalf of radar items 46 but to no avail, for the Budget Advisory Committee summarily cut the total all the way back to $7,160,400.47 Negotiations for the 1938 fiscal year were almost a counterpart. G-4 proposed the $7-9,000,000 limits, received total estimates of $13,000,000, and recommended a minimum of $8,231,000 which met with the Deputy Chief's approval, 48 only to be battered down once more to $7,011,360 by the Budget Advisory Committee, to meet with the known views of the White House. 49 During these years the expenditures for research and development, amounting to an average of $4,600,000 a year during the 1924-33 decade, had been markedly increased, it is seen, but even in the fiscal years 1936-38 the President's Budget


officer had continued to hold them considerably below the services' recommendations.

The 1936 Paradox-a Halt in Research Expenditures

In late 1936, when the plans for the distant fiscal year 1939 were being first considered, came a noteworthy change of General Stall attitude toward expenditures for research and development. It was marked by pressure from the new G-4 and the new Deputy Chief of Stall not for further increases but, rather surprisingly, for a reduction of research personnel and of research funds. The proposal was to limit research outlay to the $5-7,000,000 bracket rather than the $7-9,000,000 bracket and the announced purpose was to put an end to research and development of "unessential" equipment when "the Army needs large quantities of excellent equipment that has already been developed. The amount of funds allocated to Research and Development in former years is in excess of the proper proportion for the item in consideration of the rearmament program." 50  This apparent discouragement to research by the current G-4 chief, Brig. Gen. George R. Spalding, supported by the new Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. (later Lt. Gen.) Stanley D. Embick, and necessarily by the Chief of Staff, certainly was not occasioned by hostility to research as such. On the contrary, the written rebuke to branch chiefs for past development of "unessential" equipment was followed by assurance that they should press their development of new critical items. The dominant purpose, it is clear, was to get the existing Army re-equipped without further delay with the best equipment currently available. Appropriations by Congress for new weapons were still small, and the Staff was desirous of using a maximum of dollars for immediate acquisition of equipment rather than spending further time exclusively in development work. Prolonged research undoubtedly would produce better weapons five years hence. It would not provide any immediate betterment of a force currently handicapped by obsolete weapons and, in some cases, possessing none at all. Of the latter sort an outstanding example in 1936 was afforded by the lack of antitank weapons adapted to use against post-World War I armor. The Ordnance Department desired to work on an effective weapon of its own design, but the field forces were in imperative need of some weapon right away. The Staff supported the field forces and prevailed on the Army to put in immediate orders for a


37-mm. gun of German design, that could be promptly supplied by Army arsenals. Time would show that a much more powerful weapon was needed against 1940 armor, and a 3 June 1940 memorandum from General Marshall to his G-4 called for betterment of a weapon that "reports from abroad" indicated "has been found comparatively ineffective against the heavier type tank armor.51 American-designed guns of successively larger calibers did in fact replace this original antitank weapon as the war advanced. But this event does not disprove the cold necessity of 1936 rearming that evoked the Staff decision for immediate deliveries of available weapons. On this same reasoning the Staff called also for acquisition of a Swedish antiaircraft rapid-fire gun, the Bofors 40, and Staff judgment was fully justified by that weapon's excellent service thereafter.

The rebuke of 30 October had a temporary effect. The ensuing requests from the services apparently aimed at elimination of the less essential objectives of research, for the requests totaled only $8,590,000. This was considerably more than the target maximum, to be sure, but it was far less than the initial requests of previous years. Expressing a desire for more careful control, G-4 firmly reduced the total to $6,586,000 and was supported by the Deputy.52  In the memorandum that listed the items of highest research priority at that time is evidence of the Staff's effort to prepare the Army for warfare in those respects where there had thus far been woefully small rearming progress and where science and technology had indicated progress was called for. The ranking items of development were listed as follows:

1. Detection of the approach of hostile aircraft.
2. Development of fire-control equipment for antiaircraft artillery and aircraft cannon.
3. Rapid methods of aerial mapping and map reproduction.
4. Development of antimechanized weapons.
5. Development of aircraft and their propulsion.
6. Improvement of air navigation equipment.53

The economizing by G-4 was quickly upset by new demands from the branches. Within a month the Chief of Ordnance had sought and obtained


approval of an additional $100,000 for the development of mobile artillery, G-4 supporting its own change of attitude with citations of needs demonstrated by the field operations in Spain.54  In June the Chief of Coast Artillery asked additional funds for development of antiaircraft fire-control devices, and in August the Chief Signal Officer asked a large increase in allotment for aircraft detection. Both gained G-4 support.55 In September the Chief of Staff informed the Chief of Ordnance that highest priority should be given to development of antitank, antiaircraft, and aircraft weapons of intermediate calibers; of the medium tank; of the 105-mm. howitzer; of fire-control equipment and ammunition. In order to comply, the Chief of Ordnance asked for an additional $500,000 and G-4 volunteered to meet part of it by diversion of other funds, so that only $350,000 increase would be required. General Embick withheld approval, apparently in continued reluctance to risk action which might endanger the new-weapons purchases, and in the belief, further, that Ordnance would not be able to use the funds during the 1939 fiscal year; he suggested that if there was later proof of necessity the funds could be diverted from procurement.56 This solution did in fact meet the needs, and the development of the priority items in question does not seem to have been delayed thereby.

The Air Corps Breaks through Earlier Restrictions

It was in 1938 that a far more troublesome and long-lived controversy developed over the Air Corps' desire to develop the long-range, high-altitude, heavy bomber, upon which Army Air Corps eyes had long been set. The request was for $500,000 for expenditure in development that would lead toward the stated objective, a 35-ton craft capable of attaining 30,000 feet altitude and carrying a 4,000-pound bomb load for 4,000 miles. The request involved more than dollars, as nobody knew better than the Air Corps. It involved an upset of two recognized policies against which the Air Corps had long protested: (1) that the Navy should retain its historic responsibility for sea protection and hence,


constructively, that there would be no need for long-range Army Air equipment; 57  (2) that under the last arms reduction treaty "aggressive" warfare had been repudiated, and that, again constructively, a long-range heavy bomber was an "aggressive" rather than "defensive" weapon.58 Once more the Air Corps argument failed. Its specific request for funds for development of a pressure-cabin airplane adapted to high altitude was rejected. Under instructions from the Chief of Staff, G-4 forwarded the following direction: "Experimentation and research will be confined to types of aircraft for the close support of ground troops . . . . No funds to be set up for the development of the large, heavy bomber types." 59 Cancellation of $648,000 requests for development work on the pressure cabin and diesel motor was not a complete disaster to aviation hopes, for it freed these funds for development work in the approved realms of the pursuit plane and the aerial torpedo. During the course of the 1939 fiscal year the Air Corps also persuaded G-4 to allocate $810,000 more from other funds; as a result the full amount available to the Air Corps for research and development reached the high point to date of $7,524,000 which, if below Air Corps hopes, was still well above the original Staff intentions. 60

Much the same pressure was exerted with regard to 1940 funds, design for which G4 began contemplating in late 1937. More warnings against the nonessential were issued.61 but by March of 1938, after whittling down the estimates, G4 admitted that the world's unsettled state justified increases, particularly for air and ordnance development.62  A year later it had approved a total of $9,065,950 that the Bureau of the Budget soon reduced to $7,927,810. 63 Still later, influenced by the air expansion program of 1938-39, for which the President himself was chiefly responsible, a single additional grant of $5,000,000 was allotted to the Air Corps; 64 the whole 1940 research fund rose to a total Of $12,942,810, Of which $10,000,000 went to Air Corps, with only slight increases to be divided among other branches.65


THE CHIEF OF STAFF IN WORLD WAR II AND HIS SUCCESSORS. General Marshall at Verdun in 1944 with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, and Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, then commanding the 12th Army Group. Eisenhower became Chief of Staff in 1945, Bradley in 1948.

THE CHIEF OF STAFF IN WORLD WAR II AND HIS SUCCESSORS. General Marshall at Verdun in 1944 with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, then Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, and Lt. Gen. Omar N. Bradley, then commanding the 12th Army Group. Eisenhower became Chief of Staff in 1945, Bradley in 1948.


The threat of war naturally had increased research expenditures considerably. The reality did much more. On 7 September 1939 the Chief of Staff directed the beginning of a program for study of a most intensely applied nature-on the prospective battlefield-sending to G-2 the following message for transmission to the chiefs of all arms and to the heads of both the Command and General Staff School and the War College:

It appears that we should start at once to examine into the details of the tactics and techniques of the arms as employed by the belligerents. To do this we should send to our military attaches, or with missions which we may send, a list of specific questions regarding which we desire detailed information. Please submit a list covering matters you consider of first importance.66

The information that came from the military attaches in response to these inquiries, or independently of them, normally went first to their immediate chiefs, particularly to G-2, by whom it was relayed to appropriate offices; officers returning from missions abroad made supplemental reports to the Chief of Staff on matters of known interest to him, and from time to time General Marshall passed on to various subordinates suggestive information from this source, orally or in writing.67

With the fall of France in June 1940 there was a redoubling of impulse to research. In the fiscal year from 1 July 1940 to 30 June 1941 more than $25,000,000 was spent upon research and development by branches other than the Air Corps; the Air Corps spent $102,000,000 in these fields, and of that total $42,540,012 was for service tests of the heavy bomber 68  upon which in 1938 the Air Corps had been firmly told to do no development work whatever.

Protests Against Methods of Fiscal Control

The record of those years indicates the irregular and halting progress of research and development work as well as of procurement of new weapons, and


the wounds that both programs received from the necessities imposed by the Budget office. The onus of responsibility for the Army lag in development, however, both press and Congress were disposed to lay on the Army itself, and in February 1939 a resentful G-4 presented to the Chief of Staff a five-page resume of the situation, particularly a defense of G-4 performance in the areas where public criticism was concentrated.69  It set forth the fact that for several years G-4 estimates had been reduced by the Bureau of the Budget consistently and quite unsystematically, with the result that the Department's orderly labors in development covering a year or more had been wrecked without warning. G-4 drafted a letter of protest for the Chief of Staff's signature, and proposed the creation of an annual Department reserve fund from which in such a situation moneys could be diverted for essential work. The paper was commended by the Chief of Staff's office as "sound and constructive" and its advice followed save in one respect-the letter to the Budget officer was not sent.70 There was a painful sequel to the suggestion of the special reserve fund. The idea so favorably impressed General Marshall, the new and trusting Deputy Chief of Staff, that in compiling for the next budget the consolidated estimates for Army research and development he deliberately reduced each item by 5 percent beyond the already considerable reductions by G-4, in order to set up a $700,000 fund for such a reserve without seeking special appropriation. His thoughtful handling of the situation was ill rewarded. The Budget office, bent as usual upon reductions, gave eager welcome to this unprecedented (and unintended) aid to its labors. Observing the unallotted reserve fund of $700,000 that General Marshall had so thriftily arranged, the Budget office promptly struck it out as a start in its economies and then proceeded with the more laborious and discerning jobs of still further excision. Numerous items thus deleted were subsequently appropriated for, in view of the European war's arrival in September 1939, but the $700,000 fund, so carefully designed for systematic development work, was never restored, and the mistake of setting it up in so vulnerable a position for Budget marksmen to hit never was repeated. For misplaced faith in fiscal experts General Marshall admitted his personal responsibility, and late that year wrote a reproachful but profitless letter of explanation to the Budget office.71

Early in 1940 there was a further effort to cope with the slowness of the Budget mechanism, as well as with its reducing tendencies. Maj. Gen. J. O.


Mauborgne, then Chief Signal Officer, discussed in General Marshall's office the crippling effect of budgetary delays and the next day presented his argument in written form.72  He asserted that if he complied strictly with Army Regulations procedure and War Department policy he would encounter a delay of 1 to 2  years in getting development work started on a new project. To prove his case he presented in calendar form the theoretical history of a new device needed by a combat arm. By his computation the whole progress from suggestion to factory production would take 6 years, of which 27 months was lost in the mere form of two Budget-office steps. It may be significant that seven months after General Mauborgne's written complaint the matter was still unsolved. It was then revived by the circumstance that observers at recent maneuvers told General Marshall that the Army's signal equipment was far behind that of commercial dealers, and the Chief of Staff asked the Signal Corps for prompt betterment.73 (The Signal Corps' chief enterprise at this time was the installation of its first large field radar; erected in Panama, on 7 October 1940, it detected an airplane 118 miles away.) 74

News from the war in Europe was now quickening the interest of General Staff and Technical services alike in getting more research than Army appropriations alone made possible. To that end the Chemical Warfare Service appears to have taken the lead in initiating co-operation with commercial industry in early 1939.75 The example was followed quickly. During April of that year Col. S. C. Godfrey, of the Chief of Engineers Office, related to Brig. Gen. (later Maj. Gen.) George V. Strong of WPD his talks on the subject of basic research with Dr. Vannevar Bush, President of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and others. He pointed out the work of the National Research Council, 76  and encouraged use of that civilian association, but with no observable results. In the autumn the suggestion of using the council's parent body, the Academy of Science, "created by law for just this purpose," was offered by the Acting Chief of Engineers,77  whose


memorandum was circulated through the Staff and reconsidered for months. Before the Staff could come to agreement upon this approach to the problem, Vannevar Bush had himself proposed a National Defense Research Committee, gained General Marshall's approval, won the President's support, and started functioning, with War Department co-operation.78  The Chief of Staff had previously shown more than a routine interest in the development of new weapons by directing that action determining the military characteristics of all important weapons and planes be submitted to him for final approval. He blocked manufacture of a new gun carriage, already approved by G-4, on the ground that its 8-foot height provided a too-vulnerable silhouette and its speed in going into action was insufficient for operation in view of the enemy.79 His order called for revision in both respects.

The Chief of Staff and the Research Effort

The extent to which the Chief of Staff in person initiated study of new weapons is not determinable by the written record which reveals rather what came from the once that he headed.80 This was a large flow. An impressive exhibit is a memorandum of February 1941, directing study and early report upon recommendations recently received from an unidentified observer in England. Beyond asking for study, it included certain mandates for immediate action, namely: the acquiring of night interception equipment for air defense; the adoption of the British system for communication with pursuit aircraft, also of that for combining oxygen mask with communication transmitter and receiver; the procurement of British types of machine gun ammunition for aircraft; better armament in general including power-operated turrets in nose and tail of all bombers (lack of which was to prove costly); more efficient antiaircraft cannon


for home defense; better incendiary bombs and better means of combatting them-in brief, the memorandum directed that "full advantage be taken of British war experience" as to the necessity of maximum fire power. The instructions called for applied research aimed at developing a knowledge of the temperature range of machine gun operation and of heating devices to cope with low temperatures.81 In answer to a later inquiry from the Under Secretary, General Marshall explained that intensive study was being directed to antitank defense, that currently the Army employed a pooling of antiaircraft weapons for general defense, in the German manner, but there was continuing study of needs.82  An earlier memorandum, following attendance at an Army-Navy joint exercise (one of many in this period designed to test the services' readiness for combined action), made inquiry about possible means of improving Navy equipment and technique for gun support of shore forces.83  An inquiry to the Air Corps sought information on how soon a tank-carrying airplane could be developed.84  In the summer of 1941 the Chief of Staff received recommendations from G-4 and G-3 for improving the light tank to give it more weight, more armor, and better speed and at the same time make it a less conspicuous target; after a month's study his deputy gave approval.85  A message from the observer in Egypt, noting defects in the light tank then going to the British forces near the Nile, was passed on by the Deputy, but the copy of the message itself bears the initials "G. C. M." 86  In late y when, it would appear, there was a difference of opinion about the extent and value of General Staff influence upon Air Corps policies, the office directed a study of that influence over a period of years as affecting design and production, particularly indicative of conflicts between Staff and Air Corps.87

As the war progressed, the need for systematic development was increased. Time was a prime consideration in developing and producing new weapons, in teaching troops how to use them, in encouraging field commanders to exploit them to tactical advantage. As an example, General Marshall gave secret


instructions to Col. (later Brig. Gen.) William A. Borden to expedite the development and use of special weapons for jungle warfare. Colonel Borden and a group of technicians flew to the South Pacific with samples of new weapons for field demonstration and for study of further needs, making weekly reports to General Marshall. On his return it was possible to push selected weapons through the production line for rapid delivery to personnel already indoctrinated in their use. Thereafter demonstration teams went to every theater with new weapons and new techniques, speeding effective employment of many new ideas in the realms of radar, recoilless weapons, mine detectors, portable flame throwers, rockets, sniper-scopes, and signal equipment among others. Colonel Borden became director of the Development Division, Special Staff. 88

The quickening influence of Blitzkrieg in mid-1940 was particularly apparent in the field of applied research, rather than basic research. On 17 August Maj. Gen. Lesley L. McNair, Chief of Staff at GHQ, was asked for suggestions of studies on developments in Europe, and three days later directives were issued to G-3 and G-4 calling for separate studies of matters in their respective fields.89  The subjects of special attention were enumerated as follows:

1. Modification of antiaircraft guns and fire control for use against ground targets.
2. Development of tanks or armored vehicles for use as observation posts.
3. Further development of reconnaissance vehicles.
4. Development of personnel carriers.
5. Equipment for landing operations, including boats for installation on Army transports.
6. Antitank shoulder rifle.
7. Communication system for co-ordination of air support for ground units.

A preliminary report came from G-4 90 but before studied judgments were possible another note called for a more thorough study of current fighting, looking toward an improved method of co-ordinating and developing ideas employed by European belligerents.91 The G-4 recommendation for designating the Deputy Chief of Staff as the single coordinating agency was approved. 92


In pursuit of his new responsibilities the Deputy Chief soon made inquiry of the Chief of Ordnance upon the status of development work on land mines, shoulder antitank rifles, armor-piercing and incendiary bombs and ammunition, and mechanisms for using antiaircraft guns against ground targets, as well as on items unrelated to the 1940 preoccupation with antitank devices.93 In early December corresponding inquiries went to the Chief of Engineers with regard to troop ferries, equipment and organization for river-crossing, steel pillboxes, and methods of exploding enemy land mines; to the Chief of Coast Artillery with regard to antiaircraft firing by infrared ray, air barrages for defense, and cold weather tests for antiaircraft artillery; to the Chief of the Air Corps with regard to dive bombers, close air support of ground troops, obstructions for airfields, observation planes, night combat detectors; to the Chief of Field Artillery with regard to cold weather tests and use of self-propelled antitank guns; to the Chief of Ordnance for the matters inquired about during September, also about mounting 20-mm. guns in aircraft; to the Chief of Infantry with regard to airborne infantry, antitank defense, armored carriers for the 81-mm. mortars, cold weather tests for the 37-mm. antitank guns, and self-propelled antitank guns. 94  As the war advanced, inquiries and instructions continued, sometimes by way


of the Deputy, sometimes via the Secretary of the General Staff or by one of the Staff Divisions. Selected at random from 1941 files are memoranda calling for experiment with searchlights for use in aircraft detection; for development of plane-to-plane and ground-to-plane rocket projectiles in extension of joint experiment with the Navy, the British, and the National Defense Research Committee; for sending a parachute officer to Russia to study Russian training and organization; for experimenting with antiaircraft cannon in airplane mounts for use against enemy tanks; for assurance that development was in progress with rocket propulsion as well as take-off. At the Staff Conferences were oral inquiries on progress made in meeting a variety of equipment needs.95 After the Roberts committee report on Pearl Harbor a scrutiny of its findings was directed in order to disclose Army errors that could he guarded against thereafter; a month later, with the scrutiny completed, the Chief of Staff pursued it with instructions for immediate action for improving defenses at airfields and for development of new air attack techniques: grimly he gave instructions also to "initiate legislation required to improve U. S. espionage and counter-espionage." 96

Whatever the procedure used, however, progress in translating ideas into weapons was clearly slower than the Chief of Staff thought necessary. G-4's suggestions failed to satisfy him, and in mid-1941 General Marshall demanded a revision of "cumbersome peacetime procedure." G-4's proposal this time was a phrasing of the views of the Ordnance Department, suggesting a bypassing of formality and holding that ". . . rapid progress . . . can be obtained only by the most direct and informal contacts between interested individuals. Such contacts between representatives of the supply arms and services, the using arms, and the War Department General Staff will constitute the normal procedure." 97  This procedure was thereafter encouraged in the Staff, stimulated to a livelier sense of responsibility in these matters by a G-4 reminder in the previous month


that "the Chief of Staff, through the War Department General Staff . . . now exercises coordination and supervision over the research and development activities of all Arms and Services." The apparent purpose was to have a General Staff officer named on each civilian research and development agency exploring military needs, partly for security reasons, partly to assure an exchange of information, for the research groups of the Army's branches now were deep in studies of such varying developments as tank and antitank materiel, aircraft and antiaircraft, incendiaries, submarine mines, radio-controlled mines, jet propulsion, rocket devices, and proximity fuses.98 More and more the coordination of these studies was assumed by G-4, especially after November 1941 when Brig. Gen. Brehon B. Somervell became its chief and promptly informed the arms and branches of G-4's supervision. Not until then was the coordinating power in research activities fully asserted within the Staff and fully exercised. And almost immediately thereafter the Army reorganization transferred this function to Army Service Forces, headed by the same General Somervell.

The delays recited in the design and acceptance of new materiel have an intimate relationship to other rearming aspects, particularly to the budgetary restrictions, persistent through two decades, that put research and development work not into a natural harmony with procurement but into competition with it. The Staff's deliberate effort in 1936 to limit research expenditures is a striking example.99  In later chapters dealing with the materiel program the time factor to which General Craig referred will be found to have covered far more than the two-year period of his warning. It is apparent that in Army rebuilding there was more than the personnel time factor needed for the training of men. The extent of this factor could be calculated fairly well. But the men's training was dependent upon the available supply of weapons and other equipment, production of which in some cases took much more than two years. This was the materiel time factor, less accurately calculable and too little understood by many Army chiefs both of stall and line, who knew tactics and strategy far better than they knew supply. Besides the materiel and personnel time factors was yet another, a political time factor, that antedated the others and whose extent was, and is, wholly incalculable in advance. For the political, governmental authority-President and Congress-had to be convinced of necessity before one dollar


could be made available to the armed services for any phase of their upbuilding. In computing, after the fact, how long it took America to prepare for war, then, one must add to the personnel and the materiel time factors this large political item in the sequence of rearming events. Owing to national apathy toward defense needs during the twenties and thirties, the political time factor, the necessary predecessor to the other two, was very long indeed.


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