AGF Study, NO. 6: The Procurement and Branch Distribution of Officers



From the beginning of 1943 the number of officers in the ground arms was in excess of table of organization requirements. The excess increased with the reduction of the Troop Basis in July 1943, and despite rigorous curtailment at that time in the output of the candidate schools. With the slowing down of promotions, the excess was concentrated in the grade of lieutenant. It amounted to about 30,000 in the last months of 1943.89

To what extent excess over tables of organization constituted a true surplus was a moot question. Of the excess, 18,500 officers were maintained by order of the War Department as a source of overseas replacements.90 Overseas replacements had to be furnished mainly in lieutenants. The degree to which lieutenants in the Ground Forces were actually surplus depended on the tempo of overseas calls. For domestic purposes, officers were required for varying and elastic needs. Overhead allotments had to be made, reserves against attrition built up, etc. The policy of improving the professional education of officers, by sending them to service schools in large numbers, required an excess over tables of organization, if unit training was not to suffer from insufficiency of commissioned personnel. On the other hand, it might happen that commanders would send officers to school, or put them into overhead positions, as a means of keeping them busy when they were not needed elsewhere.


In general, except in antiaircraft artillery, the excess over table of organization requirements in the Ground Forces did not for the most part represent a surplus in the sense of a superfluity, or in the sense that the total number of officers was substantially more than was needed for all purposes, immediate and eventual, or more than could profitably engage in some kind of activity. There was, however, a large surplus in the sense of a body of officers for whom no permanent positions existed in table of organization units. The existence of a surplus, in this sense, caused difficulties in administration and training. These difficulties will be dealt with shortly. There was also an advantage in having a surplus. It made possible a sustained policy of eliminating the least fit.


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