Army Ground Forces Study No. 4

Chapter XIII


To save personnel and equipment the War Department not only reduced the number units in the troop basis but also sought to reduce the size of individual units and overhead establishments within each of the three principal commands. Units were in general controlled by tables of organization and equipment (T/O & E’s), overhead establishment by special allotments in each case. The War Department hoped in January 1943, by reduction both of tables of organization and of overhead allotments, to recover 750,000 men by 1944 and to use this manpower to increase the number of tactical units of the Army by 29 percent, obtaining in 1944, still within the 7,500,000 enlisted ceiling, a force of 120 to 125 divisions with supporting troops.60 Some of the 750,000 men to be saved would come from reduction of individual units in size, and so, while adding to the number of units, would not, increase the number of men in units. Some of the 750,000 were to be used to form units of service, not combat, types. If it be assumed that only 200,000 had been added to the strength of 2,811,000 then carried in the troop basis for ground combat units, the enlisted strength of ground combat units in 1944 would have exceeded 3,000,000.

Tables of organization had been thought for some time to be, too liberal in providing men, vehicles, and accessories not necessary to a unit in the discharge of its mission. On 2 October 1942, as the need for economy became urgent, the War Department directed the three mayor commands to prepare downward revisions of their respective table.61 Compliance of the Army Ground Forces with this directive, described in Study No. 8, resulted in significant economies. The infantry division, for example, even after some of the cuts proposed by the Army Ground Forces were restored by the War Department, was reduced from about 15,500 to about 14,000. Hence for every nine divisions under the old tables ten could be obtained under the new. In some types of nondivisional units the cuts, were proportionately greater.

Overhead consisted for the most part in troops not organized in tactical units of the field force but absorbed in nontactical headquarters, training installations, and Zone of Interior establishments. On 29 January 1943 the three major commands were directed to survey their overhead installations with a view to reduction.62 Hitherto allotments to each AGF overhead installation had been made by the War Department. On 6 February 1943 the War Department undertook to make a bulk allotment for overhead to the Ground Forces, and General McNair received authority to sub-allot personnel, to overhead establishments as he saw fit.63

Overhead in the Army Ground Forces in the spring of 1943, as calculated at that time, consisted of some 80,000, officers and enlisted men.64 It comprised 4 percent of


the total strength of the Army Ground Forces. It was mainly concentrated in the service schools, the trainer personnel of replacement training centers, and the headquarters of the Armored Force, the Antiaircraft Command, the Replacement and School Command, and other such nontactical establishments. At the headquarters of the Army Ground Forces were about 260 officers and 750 enlisted men. General McNair believed that during 1943, with the training program at its peak, and with the prospect for 1944 of training 20 percent more tactical units than were specified in the 1943 troop basis little if any saving of AGF overhead would be possible. He imposed close restrictions on subordinate commands.65 Overhead was somewhat reduced through reorganization of the Armored Force, the Airborne Command, and the Tank Destroyer Center.66 But it was clear that if the War Department wished to make extensive recoveries from overhead, it would have to look almost entirely to other elements of the Army than the Ground Forces.

In January 1943 the War Department created a Manpower Board under the presidency of Maj. Gen. L. D. Gasser. G-3 of the War Department pointed out to General Gasser various possible sources of manpower savings, including ordnance, signal and transportation troops, port of embarkation, the Alcan Highway, the defense commands, replacement training centers, medical personnel designed to remain permanently in the United States, Zone of Interior Military Police, AAF hotel schools, and headquarters organizations in the Army Air Forces and the Services of Supply.67 General McNair confided to General Gasser his belief that “the Service of Supply was very, very fat, particularly, in headquarters,” and that the Manpower Board, since it would obtain voluntary reductions from no one, would have to institute thorough inquiries of its own.68

So far as the Army Ground Forces were concerned the principal savings obtained in 1943 came through reduction of T/O's of AGF units. With these reductions, a given number of units in the AGF troop basis could be brought to full strength with less manpower than before, or, conversely, a given amount of manpower allotted to the Army Ground Forces in the troop basis would produce a larger number of units. The aim of the reductions, in accord with the desire of both the War Department and the Army Ground Forces, was to place a larger percentage of the Army in combat positions. This aim was not realized. The need for increasing the number of combat units was not urgent in the first part of 1943, since more such units were on hand than were intended for early employment. Paradoxically, while General McNair labored to make possible a larger number of combat units, he was also laying plans to reduce the number of combat units to be mobilized in 1943.



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