AGF Study, NO. 7: Provision of Enlisted Replacements
FUNCTIONING OF THE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM IN 1942
Except for the training of replacements in AGF replacement training centers, treated in Study No. 31 of this series, replacement matters therefore remained in the hands of the War Department. Replacement policy, as has been noted above, was primarily geared in 1942 to needs of mobilization. That is, of the total number of replacements to be trained, the proportion to be trained in each arm or service, and in individual jobs within each arm or service, corresponded not to probable casualties in
various branches and various jobs, but to requirements for the activation of new units. Filling of initial vacancies in units, not replacement of losses, guided the apportionment of RTC capacities. Hence, in 1942, the Quartermaster Corps had as large a capacity in replacement training centers as the Field Artillery, the Signal Corps a larger capacity than the Armored Force, the Medical Department half as large a capacity as the Infantry. In the infantry the number of replacements trained as riflemen, cooks and clerks corresponded to the number of men in each of these jobs called for in T/O's of infantry units, without allowance for the fact that the casualty rate among riflemen would be higher than among cooks.12
This system was well adapted to the early phase of mobilization, and to a policy under which all fillers received by units should have had basic training in replacement centers. It was modified by the decisions of December 1941, which provided that replacement training centers should not be expanded commensurately with the Army,and that units should receive fillers direct from reception centers. With RTC output no longer sufficient to fill all the mobilization requirements of units, and with the consequent establishment of priorities in assignment of RTC graduates, it was decided that units overseas or alerted for overseas movement should have high priority in obtaining RTC-trained personnel. Units forming in the United States were to receive RTC-trained men in proportion as they were available in each arm or service after requisitions of higher priority had been filled.
In the number of RTC-trained men that new units could receive under these circumstances the arms and services varied greatly. The War Department announced in July 1942 that new armored, engineer, infantry and military police units could expect to receive no RTC-trained men. But new ordnance units could expect to receive 36.1% of personnel in the form of RTC-trained men, new quartermaster units 41.7%, new signal units 48.2%. The principle was adopted that service units, requiring more technically trained men than combat units, should receive a higher proportion of fillers already branch trained than should units of the combat arms. The War Department adhered to this principle when, on 28 July 1942, it authorized an addition of 50,000 to the total capacity of all replacement training centers in 1943. Although most of the 50,000 was allocated to infantry centers and to the armored center, since existing capacities in these arms were insufficient even for high-priority requirements, some was allotted to medical, engineer and military police centers, on the general principle that these branches should be brought more nearly into line with the other services.13
Replacement centers in the combatant arms those under the Army Ground Forces were therefore intended in 1942 to fill loss requirements primarily, i.e., vacancies in overseas units, in alerted units, or in cadres or other training installations necessary to expansion. Loss requirements in 1942, even in overseas units, were generally due to non-battle causes, and tended to occur in all jobs and all arms and services alike. Therefore the fact that proportions of men trained in various arms and various jobs bore no relation to casualties, having originated in mobilization requirements, caused no particular difficulty in 1942, though it was to do so in 1943. The main difficulty was that replacements were not numerous enough even for high-priority purposes.
It is a paradoxical fact that AGF RTC output was insufficient even for high priority requirements in 1942, although AGF replacement training centers actually graduated more men in 1942, when virtually no battle losses had to be replaced, than in 1943.14 High priority requirements in 1942 included the needs not only of overseas and alerted units, but also, as noted, the needs of schools, and requirements for cadres and RTC trainer personnel. Until September 1942, when a 15% overstrength was granted to parent units, Ground Force units furnishing cadres were authorized to return to their T/O strength by drawing men from replacement training centers. Cadre requirements were very heavy in this period of rapid expansion. Units alerted in the summer of 1942 for the projected cross-channel invasion of 1943 had to be filled with men already basically trained. Some of these units were subsequently de-alerted, but
meanwhile a requirement for RTC graduates had been set up. Units preparing for the North African landing had to be filled. A replacement pool to back up this force was likewise created.
The number of RTC graduates available in the ground arms was further reduced by diversion of training facilities in the AGF replacement training centers to other needs. With the rapid expansion of service units in 1942 the output of ASF replacement training centers, though greater than that of AGF replacement training centers in proportion to T/O requirements, was considered to be insufficient. To supply RTC-trained men to service units 16 battalions in infantry replacement training centers, 10 in field artillery and 2 in cavalry were converted to branch immaterial. Between July and October these 28 battalions produced 80,000 men for assignment to service units.15 Meanwhile the War Department had begun to induct limited service men. The 28 RTC battalions which had trained men for the services were therefore employed, until-early in 1943, to give basic training to limited service men. These were assigned on graduation to the defense commands, from which general service men were assigned in return to the Ground Forces.16
It is probable that the insufficiency of RTC graduates in 1942 was aggravated by faults in administration, and by the absence of organized depots or pools. While no figures can be supplied, it is probable that RTC graduates if not requisitioned immediately on graduation for high-priority purposes, were disposed of by assignment to any units that might need them, and that when high-priority requirements appeared, not timed with corresponding graduations at replacement training centers, they were filled by drawing on units as the only available sources.
On 28 July 1942 the War Department directed the Army Ground Forces, when RTC output was insufficient, to take overseas replacements from low-priority units in training.17 The Army Ground Forces was ordered to submit monthly lists of low-priority units, with an aggregate enlisted strength of at least 30,000. Activations at this time having proceeded faster than the induction rate, AGF units were chronically understrength. (See Study No. 4.) They could hardly supply replacements without further impairing their situation. To fill units earmarked for Task Force A, intended for North Africa, the Army Ground Forces depleted three divisions to below 50% of their strength.18 To fill more earmarked units, and to create a replacement pool, stripping of more units was in prospect. It was decided that, to avoid stripping divisions and other units at random, two divisions along with certain smaller units of various arms should be designated as replacement pools. The 76th and 78th Divisions were designated.19 Receiving and temporarily storing RTC graduates pending requisitions, they acted for several months as depots or pools rather than as divisions in training. The raiding of other units for replacements was for a time virtually stopped.
Last updated 17 October 2005