AGF Study, NO. 7: Provision of Enlisted Replacements



The fundamental question was thus raised of whether replacements should be trained in units (as is the German and British armies) or in special centers devoted to the production of individual soldiers. Overseas commanders wanted replacements as individuals; i.e., they preferred, instead of replacing a shattered battalion with a new battalion, to rebuild the old battalion with the required number of new officers and


enlisted men. Not wanting to put new men over old, they preferred their enlisted replacements to be privates and their officer replacement to be second lieutenants. Training units, organized with personnel of grades appropriate to units, did not meet these requirements as well as replacement training centers, whose graduates were all privates, or officer replacement pools, in which officers of all grades were available, and especially new second lieutenants. In addition, overseas commanders, while wanting only privates as enlisted replacements, wanted men with specialist training. Specialists in units usually were not privates. To strip all privates from a unit, as had been proposed, would not produce the necessary specialists. It would produce the men who, after months in a unit, had been deemed least suited for promotion. Replacement centers were designed to furnish overseas commanders with men who were still privates on reaching the theater, but who would include a normal number worthy of promotion, and a normal distribution of the less highly skilled individual specialists.

On the length of the training required, General McNair believed that thirteen weeks should normally enable a private to join an established unit, discharge satisfactorily the restricted functions of a private, and learn further soldiering from the more experienced men about him. Thirteen weeks represented more training than most American replacements had had in World War I.31 It was obvious that more training would produce a better trained man. But the advantages of longer training had to be weighed against other considerations. The annual output of replacements depended on two things: the number in training at a given time, and the number of training cycles in a year. If the training cycle were lengthened, then either fewer replacements would be produced in a given period, such as a month or year, or else more men would have to be kept in training at a given time. An increase in the number in training would increase overhead in proportion. Given the fixed ceiling on manpower, it would reduce the number of men available for units. The constant need of economizing manpower made necessary the shortest replacement training cycle consistent with military effectiveness.

The Army Ground Forces replied to G-3 of the War Department on 25 June 1943. Three plans for a six-month training cycle were offered and analyzed, but not recommended because expensive in manpower. The belief was expressed that difficulties had been mainly caused by misassignment, misuse of replacements in theaters, and other administrative faults already being corrected, and that the existing training program (recently extended to fourteen weeks) was probably sufficient when properly carried out. In view of the situation, however, the Army Ground Forces recommended a seventeen-week program, to be given in replacement training centers, and to include small unit training. It was estimated that to maintain production, an increase in replacement training center capacity of 75,000 enlisted men would be required. Even with this increase all replacement training center graduates would be needed as replacements for overseas or alerted units — units in the United States, however advanced in their training, filling their losses direct from reception centers. The seventeen-week program was accepted by the War Department, and went into effect in August 1943.32 (See Study No. 31.)



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