AGF Study, NO. 2: A Short History of the Army Ground Forces



In the spring of 1940 Germany overran Western Europe and, joined by Italy, seemed ready to strike for domination of the Mediterranean and Atlantic sea lanes. The threat to the position of the United States could no longer be disregarded, and public opinion was rallied to the support of extraordinary preparations to meet the danger. Mobilization and intensive training began on the basis of agencies and plans which had been elaborated within the framework of the National Defense Act of 1920.

Organization of the Military Establishment in 1940

The field forces of the United States in being and on paper in 1940 were composed of the Regular Army, the National Guard, and the Organized Reserves. The Regular Army, with an actual enlisted strength of 257,000 in July 1940, was a standing army, based on short-term enlistments, and led by a corps of professional officers, approximately 14,000 in number.[1] The National Guard, with an actual enlisted strength of 241,612,[2] was a force of civilian volunteers, trained by the States in accordance with standards set by the War Department, and put through field exercises for two weeks each summer, under Federal direction. Many of its officers, who numbered 14,776 in July 1940,[3] had received additional training in the service schools of the


Regular Army. The units of the Organized Reserves existed only in the blue prints for mobilization. A reservoir of trained officers, 104,228 in number, was available in the Organized Reserve Corps, which, by 1940, was made up chiefly of the graduates of the Reserve Officers Training Corps and of Citizens Military Training Camps.[4]

Behind the field forces stood the Arms and Services, whose function was to develop and supply personnel and equipment, and to formulate the tactical and training doctrines embodied in its technical and field manuals, the Bible of the Army. These branches were responsible for what may be termed the “developmental” functions of the military establishment—the preparation of personnel, equipment and doctrine which the field forces were to employ. Their chiefs formed a kind of Special Staff of the War Department, whose relation to the General Staff was loosely defined. In 1940 the branches considered as combat arms were seven in number; Infantry, Cavalry, Field Artillery, Coast Artillery, the Air Corps, Engineers, and Signal. This distribution of “developmental” functions reflected the art of warfare as understood in 1921. But technology was rapidly producing new potentialities and arms. The need for exploring the military potentialities of the airplane had been recognized after the war of 1917-18 in the creation of the Air Corps, and experiments in mechanization and with new weapons were being carried on in the established arms.

Each of the traditional arms and services had a standard institutional pattern. Each operated a service school and a board. The schools not only provided professional training, but developed the doctrine and training literature of the several branches. The boards developed and tested equipment.


The school system of the branches was supplemented by general service schools operated by the War Department for the Army as a whole—the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Army Industrial College, a Command and General Staff School (at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas) and, finally, the Army War College (in Washington), the postgraduate school of the Army, where officers were trained in the staff work incident to high command.

The administration of the Army within the continental limits of the United States, “the Zone of Interior,” was conducted in peacetime through nine territorial commands known as corps areas. The corps area commanders administered the “housekeeping” of the Army stationed in the United States. They were also responsible for the execution of the training program of the arms and services. Until 1932 they directed the tactical training of the Regular Army and the National Guard units stationed in the United States.

At the top of the structure stood the War Department General Staff, directed by the Chief of Staff, acting as adviser to the Secretary of War, and as head of the military establishment. In July 1940 this was General George C. Marshall. The War Department General Staff, the offices of the Chiefs of Arms and Services, and those of the Secretary of War and the Assistant Secretary of War, constituted the War Department.

In 1932, under the direction of General Douglas MacArthur as Chief of Staff, a stride was made towards preparing the field forces of the Army “to take the field and execute the plans prepared for them.”[5] The tactical units in the United States, both those in being and those planned


for activation in an emergency, were brought together into the First, Second, Third and Fourth Armies. Their commanders took over from the corps area commanders responsibility for the tactical training of the field forces, concentrated in quadrennial maneuvers of the Regular and National Guard units assigned to each.[6] It was seen that in exercising this responsibility the headquarters of each army would be training for its ultimate planning, tactical and administrative duties. The four armies were also designed to provide a large tactical framework for mobilization.[7] After this change, as before, corps area commanders continued to be responsible for supply, the special training of officers and enlisted men in the arms and service, and the mobilization training of recruits. The change was not as great in fact as in principle. Means were not provided to effect a physical


separation of the armies from the corps areas. The senior corps area commander in the territorial area assigned to each army was designated as the commanding general of that army and his head quarters staff was drawn from the corps area staff, whose members now acted in a double capacity. But the training functions of the four army command, created in 1932, contained, in germinal form, the primary mission which was centralized in GHQ in July 1940 and in Army Ground Forces after 9 March 1942.

The General Mobilization Plan

Reduced to the simplest general terms, the main features of mobilization and expansion of the field forces, as planned within the organization of the Amy just outlined, were as follows:

1. The units of the Regular Army would be brought to full strength.

2. The National Guard would be inducted into Federal Service and its units brought to full strength.

3. Units of the Organized Reserves would be activated, according to plan, as needed.

4. The training nucleus of each of these new units would be a cadre of officers and enlisted men drawn from existing units.

5. Fillers, to bring enlisted units to full strength, and new units from cadre to authorized strength, would be obtained by voluntary recruitment or draft, and, before assignment, be put through a course of basic training in replacement training centers. It was not


found possible to carry out in full this part of the plan.[8]

The replacement training centers, when set up, were operated by the corps area commanders under the supervision of the Chiefs of the Arms and Services concerned, except for the “Branch Immaterial” centers, which were directly under the War Department.

6. Officers for new units, in addition to the cadre officers, would be drawn, in large part, from the Officers Reserve Corps.

7. Preparation of tactical units for combat would be conducted by the armies created in skeletonized form in 1932, and now brought to full strength and activity.

8. A General Headquarters, United States Army, would be activated as the high command of the field forces. This headquarters was a capital feature of the reorganization of the War Department effected in 1921, a reorganization based on the lessons of World War I, as read and digested by the Harbord Board.[9] It had been expected that what would be required would be a GHQ such as that of the AEF of 1917-18. A special device was adopted to have a staff for this headquarters prepared as completely as possible for its grave responsibilities. A War Plans Division was included in the War Department


General Staff as reorganized in 1921. It was intended that, upon the mobilization of the Army, this division, having drawn the strategic plans for the employment of the field forces, should take the field as the staff of GHQ, to put them into effect.[10] It was expected that the Chief of Staff of the War Department would become the commanding general of the expeditionary force, with this division as his staff in the field.[11]

Such was the plan with which the War Department faced the emergency that arose in the spring of 1940.

Steps Towards Mobilization, 1940: The Activation of GHQ

The steps towards mobilization taken in 1940 had to be adjusted to the fact that the United States was not at war. Other departures from the plan were imposed by the mounting imminence of the emergency for the United States, and the consequent necessity of preparing for the possibility of being invaded, while at the same time preparing forces that could take the offensive. All planning and preparation was hampered by the lack of money and manpower, which were not adequately provided until the summer and fall of 1940, when public opinion first became seriously aroused to the danger.[12] When the means were provided, much had to be done in haste and distraction which could have been done with maximum efficiency only in the leisure of peacetime. The military


force of the United States had to be brought overnight, so to speak, to match and excel enemy forces thoroughly prepared and, in the case of Germany, magnificently equipped. The major steps taken—the expansion of the Regular Army, the induction of the National Guard into Federal Service and the passage of the Selective Service Act on 16 September 1940—are well known.[13] Certain others should be kept in mind to understand the reorganization of March 1942 and the creation of Army Ground Forces.

On 26 July 1940 a “nucleus,” of GHQ, USA, was activated,[14] with Brigadier General (later Lieutenant General) Lesley J. McNair, who was later to command the Army Ground Forces, as its Chief of Staff. The mission initially given GHQ was to supervise the training of the forces. In this function, GHQ was utilized to put a capstone on the four army plan.[15] But the training supervision given GHQ went further: it included, in addition to the four armies, GHQ Aviation, which comprised the tactical air forces then existent, the Armored Force (constituted 10 July 1940), harbor defense troops, and “other GHQ reserves.” In short, the administration of the training of the field forces, as distinct from planning and policy decisions, was decentralized in July 1940 by transferring this function from the War Department General Staff to the staff of GHQ.[16]


The next big stride in intensifying the tactical training of the field forces was taken 3 October 1940 when the command of the four armies was physically separated from the corps area commands.[17] The full intent of the four-army plan of 1932 could now be realized. Army commanders were designated whose staffs, distinct from those of any corps area headquarters, were henceforth to concentrate on the supervision of training. The armies, though still in the United States, and based, for training, on the posts, camps, and stations of the corps area commands, were henceforth “in the field.” When on maneuvers they were, “so far as practicable, to assume supply functions comparable to those of an army commander in a Theater of Operations where supplies are received direct from Zone of Interior supply points.”[18] In short, army command areas which were, in effect, theaters of operations, subject to the control of GHQ, were superimposed on the corps areas. The stage was set for bringing the units of the field forces, including armies, to the point of readiness for combat before leaving the United States. “The ultimate and essential objective of these measures,” as envisaged by General McNair, “would be to develop the field forces into a united whole—GHQ troops and four armies—free to move strategically and capable of prompt and effective tactical action. Thus it would be possible to move an army when and where directed by a simple order.”[19] The mission given GHQ in July 1940 was to direct the training of the field forces to the end thus stated.


Development of the Emergency and Its Consequences for the War Department

The steps taken expressed the determination of the War Department that in the impending war United States troops should not be rushed into battle half-trained or not trained at all. This time they were to receive individual and also tactical training in the United States. The political and diplomatic situation in 1940-41 made this possible. The military situation made it necessary.

After June 1940 there were no beachheads for the United States in friendly territory on the European continent. The prospect was that the full training and complete equipment of American troop units, including armies, would have to be effected in the Zone of Interior, in contrast with the situation in 1917-18, when United States troops underwent or supplemented their training, and obtained much of their equipment, behind the lines in France.

The evolution of the training program for tactical units from 1940 to March 1942 may be followed in the history of GHQ[20] and of the Army Air Forces; that of the program for the training of individuals and specialists and for the development of arms and equipment in the history of the arms and services.    To understand the reorganization of March 1942 and the emergence of the Army Ground Forces it is necessary here only to mention certain features of the national crisis developing during those years which had a direct bearing on that event.

Dunkerque and the air bombing of England made it evident that more definite plans for the defense of the United States were necessary. Measures were simultaneously extended on concentric circles, one


comprising the continental United States and Alaska, the other the Atlantic approaches to the United States and the Panama Canal. On 17 March 1941 the United States was divided into four Defense Commands, the immediate duty of whose commanders was to plan the measures necessary to repel invasion.[21] If invasion occurred, the Defense Commands would become theaters of operation. The commanders were to be the commanding generals of the four field armies, and their staffs, with some augmentation for the additional duty, the staffs of the Defense Commands. Meanwhile, on 3 September of the previous fall, the President had announced the acquisition from Great Britain of additional bases in the Atlantic, in exchange for fifty United States destroyers. The War Department General Staff initiated plans for their use; beginning July 1941 detailed theater planning for these bases and a cordon of defense commands in the Atlantic and the Caribbean was delegated to GHQ and pushed forward vigorously as these commands were garrisoned. At the same time GHQ became responsible for supervising the plans being made for the defense of the United States.[22]

Since it was expected that an initial attack on the United States would have to be met in the air, air planning and organization and the counsels of the Chief of the Air Corps and his staff figured prominently in all these measures. The order of 17 March 1941, creating defense


commands in the United States, activated four Air Forces, under the commanding general of GHQ Aviation, which on 20 June 1941, became the Air Force Combat Command. Their districts were roughly coterminous with the new Defense Commands, and the commanding general of the Air Force Combat Command was made responsible for “the aviation and air defense portions of defense plans for Defense Commands.”[23] In December 1941 it was decided that the antiaircraft artillery of any Air District should be under the control of the commanding officer of the Air Interceptor Command of that district, and therefore under the commanding general of the Air Force Combat Command.[24]

The principle was established that, in case of attack or threatened attack, the control of all ground and air forces of any theater came under the control of the commander of the theater.[25] This meant that between July 1941 and 9 March 1942 these forces came under the supreme command of GHQ to the extent that defense commands and bases in the Atlantic and on the continent were made theaters of operations.

The necessity of manning the new defense outposts, reinforcing the Canal Zone and the Philippines, and, after Pearl Harbor, the Eastern and Western Defense Commands, which were converted on 14 and 20 December, respectively, into theaters,[26] by extending still further the


thin line of trained officers and troops, reduced by that many the number available as cadres for training the million and more inductees pouring in from the reception centers.

Meanwhile the military program complicated by the necessity, was more and more widely felt, to prepare our armed forces to take the offensive. Partly to gain time, partly in order not to outrun the support of public opinion, the watchword of American public policy in 1940-41 was “Defense.” But the position of the War Department, at least in its doctrine and plan, was that the best defense is the offensive.[27] It was the settled policy of the nation to crush attack far from our shores, and the organization and plans set up within the framework of the National Defense Act of 1920 contemplated another American Expeditionary Force, which another World War would require. In 1940-41 it seemed that the United States and its armed forces had in hand all they could do to carry out in time measures required to repel the attack that might come simultaneously from the West and the East if England went under. But at the same time plans had to be made to take the offensive, if and when the need and the opportunity came.

Such an accumulation of demands put enormous strains on the existing organization of the War Department and the Army and led to certain modifications in it, not only the creation of the Defense Commands within and outside the United States, but certain changes at the top of the organizational structure, which will be mentioned later. Another factor combined with those named to call in question the dependence of the Army


on the existing organization of arms and services for its “developmental” functions.

This factor was the rapid progress of mechanization, and its applications to the art of warfare. The pace was set by Germany, whose army, highly trained in the tactical use of new weapons and equipment, ours might have to meet in short order. War, having begun, was having its usual accelerative effect. In the face of danger, the technological and productive inventiveness of the United States was mobilized and concentrated on military problems. Under war pressure technological progress tended more than ever to proceed in spurts, of which advantage had to be taken at once, to match or anticipate exploitation by the enemy. Weapons, ammunition and equipment, and the training of troops to employ them were subject to frequent and radical changes. A military organization that could meet these promptly and effectively was needed.

A more important consequence for the War Department was that specialization was intensified. The existing organization of combat arms, based on the foot-soldier, the horse, the mobile gun for field use, and the fixed gun for coast defense, was quickly overtaxed. New “arms” and branches were developing around new weapons. The Air Corps had already been organized, and was aspiring to become a separate force, operating in its own element.[28] An Armored Force was organized 10 July 1940 to combine efforts that had been developing in the Infantry and Cavalry branches.[29] To stop the tanks which the


Armored Force was developing, experimentation with tank destroyers was going on in the Infantry and Field Artillery branches and on 1 December 1941 was concentrated in a Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland.[30] Meanwhile, experimentation with antiaircraft weapons and tactics was being pushed forward in the Coast Artillery Corps, which had traditionally been concerned with coastal defense.

As soon as it was clear that an offensive might be necessary, the prospective field of employment for the armed forces of the United States became global, and the necessity for other types of special training, cutting across the spheres of the established arm, had to be met. The climate of the territory to be occupied ranged from arctic to tropical. It included mountains, tundras, deserts and jungles. To prepare units for combat, provision had to be made not only for hardening the troops, but for baking and freezing them, and equipping them to operate in an extreme variety of terrains. Denied friendly ports and beachheads, it became necessary not only to give this training at home, but also to make the preparations and give the training necessary to land the troops and their supplies on hostile shores. The new army would have to be made amphibious. Provision also had to be made for organizing and training them to be flown through the air and landed or dropped behind enemy lines. Furthermore, all troops had to be specially trained to work with friendly air forces and defend themselves against those of the enemy.[31]


The tendency to specialization not only called for closer central planning and coordination in the War Department: if not controlled wisely it could endanger the tactical integration and flexibility of the field forces. Mechanization and complex equipment made specialized training necessary. But “blitz” warfare required, with equally critical insistence, the welding of troops and troop units and the commands that employed them into cohesive forms of combat power. This called for the closest possible command and staff planning and coordination, and for intensive combined-arms training, to produce flexible and hard-hitting teams.

Two major problems were thus presented in connection with the organization by arms. One was to clear the way for new developments based on new weapons; the other was to keep specialization under control; more precisely, to find the level at which the integration of arms and specialties would deliver the maximum effective power of combined arms. The combat arms of the American Army presented difficulties for the solution of both problems. As organized, they did not correspond to the new pattern of military technology. On the other hand, with their influence over officer personnel, exercised through schools and promotions, they had developed, together with a desirable branch esprit, an aggressive and somewhat jealous branch spirit, which the new quasi-arms now developing tended to emulate. Their whole momentum was directed towards a specialization and exclusiveness that might endanger tactical efficiency. Finally, their position with reference to the General Staff was not clearly defined, so that it was difficult to bring the arms and services into effective coordination under plans made by that staff. The question confronting the Army was fundamental—


indeed, it was a basic question of modern civilization: how far could specialization based on machines and techniques be carried without impairing the versatility and initiative of individuals and tactical units qualities of vital importance to an organization such as the Army whose effectiveness largely depends on the availability of interchangeable parts? The problem of coordination and the most effective combination of arms could be met in a crisis, even in the training phase, only by command decisions.[32] In the crisis of 1940-41, it began to be felt by many that the organization of the United States Army on the traditional basis of powerful arms and services was obsolete and obstructive.

The events and tendencies just reviewed threw upon the War Department a task of staggering complexity and magnitude, which had to be executed with all possible speed. Certain needs were clearly indicated: (1) centralization of authority at the highest practicable levels of policy-making, to make coordination effective; (2) a type of training that would build coordination into the habits of soldiers and troop units; (3) quick action; (4) the widest possible decentralization of operative responsibility, to clear the desks of General Marshall and his immediate advisers.

Changes in the Organization of the High Army Command 1940-41

The first step in the decentralization of the high command had been taken when the responsibility for training the field forces in the United States was devolved on the “nucleus of GHQ” created on 26 July 1940. General McNair, acting in the name of General Marshall as Commanding


General of the Field Forces, proceeded with the execution of a program for the tactical training of an Army whose aggregate enlisted strength increased from 243,095 in July 1940[33] to approximately 2,000,000 in March 1942.[34] The program of training was prepared under the supervision of G-3, War Department, but with General McNair and his staff exercising a strong influence on the plans adopted and the decisions made. It culminated in the great maneuvers in the summer and fall of 1941 which brought the four armies into the field,[35] and was designed to test the teamwork of combined aims that had been built up as well as the combat readiness of the troops.

A further step in decentralization was taken on 3 July 1941 when GHQ was designated as the operational headquarters of the Army. This action was taken under the impetus of a group of officers led by Brigadier General Harry J. Malony, who were convinced that quick and effective action had become critically imperative. What the War Department needed, in their view, was “a spark plug” to speed up action—more precisely, a command post in the War Department with responsibility for prompt decisions and expedited action on war plans.[36] In the over burdened General Staff, responsibility was being evaded “under the cloak


of concurrences,” and the Chief of Staff was being overtaxed. The immediate task looming up was the organization and control of the overseas bases which had been acquired by the destroyer-base deal with Great Britain. Immediately behind this was the task of preparing these bases to be used as springboards for offensive action regarded as inevitable by a group which included General McNair.[37] On 24 June 1941 General Marshall assigned General Malony and five carefully selected officers from the War Plans Division to General McNair’s staff and General Malony was made General McNair’s Deputy Chief of Staff.[38]

The first of the new tasks of GHQ was to prepare theater plans for the recently acquired overseas bases and defense commands. GHQ was then given control of these, one after the other, and after Pearl Harbor, of the Western and Eastern Defense Commands of the United States.[39] It looked as if GHQ were being groomed for the task contemplated for it by the Harbord Board in 1921, namely, as the headquarters of the United States forces overseas.


Plans for More Effective Organization

Decentralization to GHQ of the double responsibility for training and operations did not prove to be the solution for the problems confronting the War Department. The difficulties of the scheme were momentarily obscured by the dispatch and efficiency with which GHQ conducted its business.[40] But a fundamental issue was raised almost at once when GHQ requested control of supply as necessary to the effective operation of a proposed defense command in the North Atlantic, pointing out that “control of supply is an essential function of command.”[41] In the existing organization logistical control was divided between the G-4 Division of the General Staff, the services, and the corps areas. When General McNair’s request was not granted, he suggested that control of supplies be consolidated in a single Zone of Interior command modeled on the Services of Supply of 1918. In the discussion that followed GHQ took the position that the principle of command required that that headquarters be invested with full control of all means necessary to the performance of its mission as an operational headquarters. This meant control not only of supply but of the air forces required by theater plans. Despite acceptance of the principle of singleness of command as far as individual theaters of operations were concerned, full command powers were not vested in GHQ. The opposing argument, pressed home by the Army Air Forces, was that to give GHQ effective command of theaters of operation would mean giving


it powers which would place it above the War Department.[42] This argument would probably have carried less weight if GHQ had, in accordance with the old mobilization plan, passed into the field as the headquarters of a single principal theater. But it became evident, even before Pearl Harbor, that the field forces, if engaged, would fight in a number of different theaters, and that GHQ would remain in Washington. Located in Washington, a compact headquarters operating with conspicuous efficiency, it was acquiring a prestige and powers which rivaled those of the General Staff.

Again, however efficient in the discharge of its missions, GHQ could not solve the problem of coordinating and controlling the arms and services.

One of these arms, the Air Corps, had on 20 June 1941 become the Army Air Forces, with a complete staff. Before this date air tactical units, under the name of GHQ aviation, had been trained under GHQ, but General McNair had not taken an active role in supervising their training. After 20 June 1941 this supervision passed entirely into the hands of General Arnold as Chief of the Army Air Forces. Thenceforth GHQ, as a training headquarters, came to be recognized clearly as the training headquarters of the ground forces.

The regulation establishing the Army Air Forces confined its control of air operations to the units training in the United States. But when new overseas commands were set up under GHQ the Army Air Forces assumed an active role in making and pressing theater air plans, and through its Air


Forces Combat Command sought to obtain a share of control over the air units assigned to theaters.[43]

In the discussion of the War Department and high army command precipitated by General McNair’s request for the grant of more authority to GHQ, two plans contended for favor. One was to strengthen GHQ, making it indeed the command post of General Marshall, the agency for quick action, in the War Department. The other was a plan of radical reorganization, first put forward in August 1941. Until late November the proposal to strengthen GHQ was supported, though not too vigorously, by the War Plans Division. In November 1941; the Army Air Forces, in a memorandum setting forth the “precious attributes of airpower,” and reaffirming the objections to GHQ, put itself strongly behind the plan of reorganization. On 25 November the Chief of Staff ordered this plan to be placed on the drafting board.[44]

GHQ was still to reach the peak of its activities. On 5 December 1941 the staff was organized more effectively to perform its dual function, with Brigadier General Mark W. Clark as Deputy Chief of Staff for Training, Brigadier General Malony as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, and a G-5, or training section added to the staff;[45]and in the emergency after Pearl Harbor it was given control of all bases and defense commands, except in the Pacific, where the Hawaiian and


Philippine Departments remained directly under the War Department. But it never supervised an active theater.

The alternative course was followed, that of reorganizing the War Department and the high command of the Army. The plan first proposed in August 1941, as revised by an ad hoc Executive Committee, was put into effect on 9 March 1942. GHQ was abolished. Theaters of operations and the four Defense Commands of the continental United States were put under the direct control of the War Department General Staff. The planning for theaters that had been delegated to GHQ was restored to the War Plans Division of that staff. Keeping top control in the War Department, the General Staff, and in General Marshall as Chief of Staff, the reorganization delegated the Zone of Interior functions of the War Department to three new major commands, the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces, and the Services of Supply. The arms and services were subordinated to these commands. Two of the seven combat arms, the Engineers and the Signal Corps, were combined with the Services of Supply, under General Somervell. One, the air arm, was left in the Army Air Force, which now became a major command, under General Arnold. The four remaining combat arms, Infantry, Cavalry, Field Artillery, and Coast Artillery, together with the Armored Force, were combined in the Army Ground Forces. General McNair, as Commanding General of the Army Ground Forces, became their chief. He was thus invested with full authority to perform the mission which had fallen to GHQ—the intensive preparation of the ground forces for combat.[46]



[1] Report of the Secretary of War to the President, 1940, pp. 26-27. The enlisted strength is given in round thousands, and does not include some six thousand Philippine Scouts.

[2] Annual Report of the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, 1940, p. 6.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Report of the Secretary of War to the President, 1940, p. 40.

[5] WD ltr OCofS, 9 August 1942, Subject: “Establishment of the Field Armies.”

[6] A brief history of the Second, Third and Fourth Armies in the period preceding mobilization will be found in the Histories of these three armies in Studies in the History of the Army Ground Forces, Part III, Nos. 1, 2 and 3. The composition of the four field armies on the eve of mobilization (June 1940) was as follows: (To be filled in from Army Histories when available.)

[7] The purpose in view was fully explained by Gen. MacArthur. “... heretofore, the War Department has never been linked to fight-elements by that network of command and staff necessary to permit the unified tactical functioning of the American Army.” Before the first World War “the military force then existing was conceived of and administered as a collection of infantry, cavalry and artillery regiments.” By establishing the “skeletonized army group on a satisfactory basis,” and by decentralizing certain responsibilities to army commanders Gen. MacArthur believed that the War Department was “providing a suitable framework for the assimilation of the thousands of recruits who will, almost simultaneously with the declaration of war, volunteer for service with the colors.” Without the constitution of authority for the segregation and disposition of this influx, the effect would be to swamp and immobilize existing units with organizational and training detail, “The four Field Army organizations ... constitutes a logical and definite basis for initial expansion.” Ltr WD, OCofS to the OG’s, the four Field Armies, 22 October 1932, Subjects “Development of the Four Field Armies.”

[8] The replacement training centers were not set up until the spring of 1941, and their output was never sufficient for the purpose stated. From the beginning, many of the fillers went directly to tactical units and received in these their training in Mobilization Training Programs which were programs for basic training in the various arms and services. In the actual process of expansion the tactical unit became the school of the individual soldier.

[9] The deliberations and report of this board will be found in Historical Documents Relating to the Reorganization Plans of the War Department and to the Present National Defense Act (1927) pp. 568-648.

[10] Preliminary Report of Committee on “Nucleus for General Headquarters in the Field in the Event of Mobilization,” 11 July 1921, especially par 9; Sec IV, par 15, G.O. No.__, WD, Aug ___, 1921. Ibid, pp. 571 ff and 646.

[11] Ibid, p. 576.

[12] Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff, USA, 1941, pp. 3-4.

[13] The best and most authoritative review of these can be found in the Report just noted.

[14] WD ltr AG 320.2(7-25-40)M(Ret)M-OCS, 26 July 1940.

[15] The directive stated that the jurisdiction of GHQ was to be “similar to that of Army Commanders.”

[16] The reason given for the activation of GHQ was “to decentralize the activities of the War Department,” assisting Gen. Marshall “in his capacity as Commanding General of the Field Forces.”

[17] 17. Corrected WD ltr AG 320.2(9-27-40)M-C, 3 October 1940, Subject: “Organization, Training and Administration of the Army.” In GHQ Records 320.2/8.

[18] WD ltr AG 320.2(10-14-40)M-C-M, 19 October 1940, Subject: “Organization, Training and Administration of the Army.” In GHQ Records 320.2/8.

[19] 3d Ind., 16 September 1940, to Memo of G-3, WDGS, for the CofS, 19 July 1940.

[20] History of General Headquarters, United States Army, 1940-42, (S); Studies in the History of the Army Ground Forces, No. 1.

[21] WD ltr AG 320.2(2-28-41)M-WPD-M to CG’ s, CofS, GHQ, etc, 17 March 1941, Subject: “Defense Plans—Continental United States,” with attached charts. In GHQ Records 320.2/158/2.

[22] See Chap III, “Command and Planning Activities of GHQ, USA, 3 July 1941-9 March 1942,” History of GHQ, USA, 1940-42 (S), pp. 34-46.

[23] WD ltr AG 320.2(2-28-41)M-WPD-M to CG’s, CofS, GHQ, 17 March 1941, Subject: “Defense Plans—Continental United States,” with attached charts. In GHQ Records 320.2/158/2.

[24] History of GHQ, USA (S), pp. 26-27.

[25] Ibid.

[26] (1) Telegram (S) to CG, WDC, 14 December 1941, signed “Marshall, Official, Hyssong.” In 320.2/34 WDC Strength (S), TAGO Records. (2) WD ltr AG 371(12-19-41)MSC-E-M(C), 20 December 1941, Subject: “Creation of ETO.” In 371(12-19-41)(S), TAGO(Classified) Records.

[27] The War Department’s over-all strategy designated as the primary task of the Army the building of “large land and air forces for major offensive operations.” Rainbow 5, Sec IV, par 15. In OPD Records (S).

[28] It was recognized as an autonomous “force” in AR 95-5, 20 June 1941. At the same time, Gen Arnold, Chief of the AAF, became DCofS for Air, and an Asst Sec of War for Air was appointed.

[29] “The Armored Force under GHQ,” History of GHQ, USA (S), Chap V, pp. 86-110; History of the Armored Force (C), pp. 1-17. Studies in the History of the AGF, Part I, No. 1, Part III, No.7.

[30] WD ltr AG 320.2(11-5-41)MR-MC to CO, TDT&FC, 27 November 1941, Subject: “Organization of Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center.” In GHQ Records 320.2/736. For background see Chap VI, History of GHQ, (S).

[31] For a survey of the problems and progress of specialization before 9 March 1942, see Chaps V-IX inclusive, History of GHQ, USA (S), pp. 86-170

[32] For the views of Gen McNair as CofS, GHQ, see “General Proficiency vs Specialization in the New Army,” History of GHQ, USA (S), pp. 56-8.

[33] Report of the Secretary of War to the President, 1940, p. 29. This is the total, exclusive of the Philippine Scouts.

[34] Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff, USA to the Secretary of War, 1943, Chart 2.

[35] See “The GHQ-directed Maneuvers, 1941,” History of GHQ, USA (S), pp. 63-69.

[36] “The Point of View of GHQ on Reorganization,” ibid, (S), pp. 191-3.

[37] “Outside hemispherical and U. S. defense, our military effort should be offensive as exclusively as possible,” he wrote in November 1941. Memo for the ACofS, WPD, 8 November 1941, Subject: “U. S. Token Force, ABC-1.” Copy in GHQ Records 381 R-5/13(S). Even after Pearl Harbor he advocated reduction of defensive forces to the minimum, regarding the occupation of Iceland as “a dispersion of forces ... We must take the offensive in our own way, in our own theater, with the greatest possible force, and at the earliest practicable time.” Memo for the CG, FF, 15 January 1942. In WPD 4511-49(S). OPD Records.

[38] Quarterly Report of Planning and Operations Activities GHQ, to include 10 September 1941. Copy in GHQ Records 320.2/1(S).

[39] “Command and Planning Activities of GHQ, USA, 3 July 1941-9 March 1942,” History of GHQ, USA (S), pp. 34-46.

[40] History of GHQ, USA (S), pp. 37-9.

[41] Memo for the CofS, USA from CofS, GHQ, 25 July 1941, Subject: “Defense Commands.” In WPD 4558(S), OPD Records.

[42] Par 7, Memo for the ACofS, WPD from the CofAAF, 24 October 1941, Subject: “Functions, Responsibilities and Authority of GHQ.” In WPD 4558, OPD Records (S). The whole discussion is reviewed in History of GHQ (S), pp. 178-88.

[43] History of GHQ (S), pp. 180-188.

[44] (1) Memo for the CofS, USA from the CofAAF, November 1941, Subject: “Reorganization of the War Department.” WPD 4614 (S), OPD Records. (2) Memo OCS 21278-6 for the ACofS, WPD, 25 November 1941.

[45] History of GHQ (S), pp. 42 ff.

[46] Circular No. 59, WD, 2 March 1942.



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