Army Ground Forces Study No. 4

Section II


The ultimate size to which the Army should be expanded was by no means the first question which had to be settled in the planning of mobilization. A more immediate problem was the timing of expansion. Under ideal conditions mobilization would synchronize on the one hand with the production of equipment, so that troops would not be organized faster than weapons became available for training or combat, and on the other hand with general strategic plans, so that troops would be ready in the necessary types and numbers, organized, trained, and equipped, as operational requirements developed. It was wasteful of manpower to induct men before equipment was available for training, or to train them too long before they were required in operations. Another immediate problem was to distribute the growing strength of the Army among its component parts. Apportionment had to be made between air forces and ground forces, between combat troops and service troops, and among the several branches such as Infantry, Field Artillery, Quartermaster Corps, and Military Police. Strength had


also to be distributed within each unit; in the infantry battalion, for example, among riflemen, machine gunners, clerks, and cooks. The need throughout was to achieve a balance; the right ratio of machine gunners to riflemen, of artillery units to infantry units, of service troops to combat troops, of air forces to ground forces, and of all forces to overhead—the right ratio or balance being ultimately that by which the end could be defeated soonest.

Size and internal balance of individual units were specified in tables of organization (T/O’s), treated at length in Study No. 8. The “authorized strength” of a unit was normally its table of organization strength. A unit was “overstrength” if it had more men than its T/O called for, “understrength” or “short” if it had fewer. In some circumstances overstrengths or understrengths might be authorized.

The number of units to be mobilized was set forth in a document known as the troop basis, which gave the authorized strength of the entire Army as of a specified date in the future. The total figure set by the troop basis was the total of the tables of organization of all authorized units, plus allotments of manpower to allow for men in transit, hospital patients, replacements, overhead establishments, and other needs for which no set tables could be prescribed. The troop basis was therefore a blueprint of the Army, indicating how many bomber groups, infantry divisions, ordnance companies, etc., should be mobilized. It was a budget of manpower, showing the use to which the War Department proposed to put the manpower made available to it. It was also a plan of mobilization, showing, by successive projections several months or a year into the future, what the size and composition of the Army should be at successive future dates. A more technical description of the troop basis is given in Study No. 3.

The Activation Schedule was derived from the Troop Basis. The Troop Basis set up the objective and the major phases in timing. The Activation Schedule marked out the individual steps by which the objective should be reached, showing exactly what units should be activated each month. Whether a unit called for in the troop basis should actually be activated on a given date depended on a variety of practical and often transitory circumstances; whether men were forthcoming from Selective Service, whether a trained cadre could be obtained, whether training equipment and housing accommodations would be available. All these factors fluctuated over short periods. They were also difficult to foresee. The activation schedule therefore had to be closely watched and frequently modified. In principle, the troop basis was revised only for reasons of general strategy or fundamental necessity; the activation schedule was revised to conform to circumstances of the moment.

The largest decisions of mobilization policy, determining the total strength of the armed forces and the distribution between the War and Navy Departments, were made by the highest executive authority, acting with the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Within strategical requirements as transmitted by the Joint Chiefs, the War Department determined the relative strengths of the Army Air Forces (AAF), the Army Ground Forces (AGF), and the Army Service Forces (ASF), originally called the Services of Supply (SOS). To the Army Air Forces, until the end of 1943, the War Department made a bulk allotment of manpower. The troop basis showed only a lump total for the Air Forces until October 1943. By that time mobilization was virtually complete.

Over the ground army, both Ground Forces and Service Forces, the War Department exercised a more immediate jurisdiction. Without explicit War Department approval the headquarters of the Army Ground Forces could not alter tables of organization by adding or removing a single individual. It could not modify the troop basis by adding or deleting a single battalion. Until September 1942 it could not change the activation schedule on its own authority. A few weeks after the reorganization of the War Department in March 1942 it was even proposed by G-3 of the War Department that while the Army Air Forces and Services of Supply should continue to activate their own units, the


power to activate AGF units should revert to the War Department.6 General McNair not concurring, the proposal was dropped. But the War Department continued to hold the Ground Forces within a framework of central control. The Army Ground Farces had extensive powers of recommendation on matters of mobilization, but the decisions were made by the War Department General Staff.



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Last updated 5 August 2005