Chapter I: 

The War Department and Army Organization
 at the Beginning of World War II
When the Japanese dropped their bombs at Pearl Harbor, War Department organization still reflected the basic thinking developed from America's experience in World War I. United States participation in that war had produced its share of organizational conflicts. The most important of these involved the relation between the Chief of Staff and the commanding general of the American Expeditionary Forces, General Pershing. General Pershing had been highly critical of the operation of the War Department General Staff. In his eyes the Chief of Staff in Washington "erroneously assumed the role of Commanding General of the Army." 1 He was convinced that strategic and tactical direction in the field belonged solely to him and that his only superior was the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States. He saw the job of the Chief of Staff in the War Department mainly in terms of providing him with the troops and supplies he requested.
Just how much authority the Chief of Staff had to direct the war effort was not clearly defined until three months before the end of the war. 2 By general order it was then declared that the Chief of Staff by law took rank and precedence over all officers of the Army and had authority in the name of the Secretary of War to issue orders throughout the Military Establishment. This provision was distasteful not only to General Pershing, but also to many of the Army bureau chiefs.
As Chief of Staff after March 1918, Gen. Peyton C. March was confronted with many difficulties other than those arising from General Pershing's concept of his office. The general staff system, established in 1903, had been disliked by many Army officials through the intervening years. World War I provided its first real test. Faced with the necessity of proving itself, it sought to meet the challenge by more effective organization, particularly by bringing the administrative and supply bureaus of the department under close supervision.
The supply responsibilities of the War Department General Staff were exercised from August 1918 and thereafter through a Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division.

This division was scarcely a "staff agency" as most Army officers understood that term. The director of the division, Maj. Gen. George Goethals, was determined to bring all supply activities of the Army into one integrated organization, based on functional specialization. In July 1918 he had developed a plan for centralizing procurement of all but a few items notably aircraft and heavy guns and ammunition under The Quartermaster General. The Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division also took over direct operation of the Army Transportation Service and created a central storage agency to handle all military supplies before they were issued to troops in training in the United States or shipped overseas. On 28 July 1918, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker in a letter to General Pershing proposed that General Goethals' authority be extended to include the Services of Supply of the AEF. General Pershing firmly and successfully opposed this idea, and he immediately strengthened his SOS by placing his intimate associate, Maj. Gen. James G. Harbord, in command.3
Much pentup hostility to WDGS control, especially as exercised by the Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, was released by the Armistice. General March defended its actions at some length in his report at the end of the war.4 He pointed to the earlier tendency of each bureau to purchase supplies without concern for the procurement activities of other bureaus. He mentioned that there had been nine different methods for estimating supply requirements, five different agencies storing and issuing supplies, and ten different agencies handling finances. This had been so confusing that the War Industries Board could not obtain "adequate information" about the supply needs of the
War Department as a whole. Under the circumstances, General March said, "a consolidation of procurement, . . . of storage, of finance, and of transportation, together with a positive central control of these activities by the General Staff, was essential . . . to the rapid, efficient, and economical utilization of the resources of the country for the development of the Army program as a whole." 5 He admitted that the General Staff, forced by circumstances, had extended its control at the expense of the supply bureaus. But in any future war, he continued, it would again be necessary to have a top staff to direct the many agencies of the War Department. "It can be stated without qualification that the success of an army in modern war is impossible without such a general staff." 6
The bureau chiefs of the War Department were not convinced by such views. When Congress began hearings on Wax Department proposals for new defense legislation, they directed many criticisms against the General Staff itself. The Chief of Ordnance, Maj. Gen. Clarence C. Williams, told a House committee: "I think I may say, so far as the Ordnance Department is concerned, that not one single constructive thing has come out of the Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division."7 The Chief of Engineers, Maj. Gen. William M. Black, was equally vigorous in his statement . 8 The director of the Chemical

Warfare Service, Maj. Gen. William L. Sibert, said that the "attempt of the General Staff, through the Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division, to interfere with or take over largely the administration of the bureaus, is due to a misconception of the real supply problem." He complained that the creation of the "P.S. and T" had led to a "duplication of work" and had tended to cut the bureau chief out of "control of his own bureau."9
Aside from such criticism the reorganization of the War Department General Staff proposed after World War I faced another obstacle. Secretary Baker during the war had, held that his own office should exercise close supervision over all procurement operations through civilian personnel. With that in mind one of his first steps had been to enlist the assistance of Edward R. Stettinius, who in January 1918 was given the title of Surveyor General of Supplies and after April became Second Assistant Secretary of War. In the meantime Mr. Baker had asked his assistant secretary and fellow citizen of Cleveland, Benedict Crowell, to supervise War Department procurement activities. Mr. Crowell was given the additional title of Director of Munitions.10
Mr. Crowell was deeply perturbed by America's production performance during World War I. Almost no preparation had been made before April 1917 for large scale output of munitions. It took time to convert industrial resources to actual production of guns, airplanes, and tanks. Then too, the military handling of overseas transportation was faulty so that much of what was produced never reached its destination. American manpower in the AEF was effective in a military sense largely because of the great quantities of armaments provided by the British and French. While the United States supplied most of the food, clothing, and motor transport for the AEF, it produced a mere 160 of the 2,000 75-mm. field guns used by American troops overseas. All 1,000 of the 155-mm. howitzers came from the British and French. The infant air force used 1,000 pursuit planes provided by the French.11 This experience made a lasting impression on Crowell. It confirmed his opinion that close civilian supervision of procurement operations was necessary in wartime. It also led him to the conviction that henceforth the War Department should include plans for industrial mobilization in its defense preparations.
Changes in the National Defense Act
In August 1919 the Secretary of War presented proposals to Congress for the postwar organization of the War Department. These proposals had been developed by the General Staff under General March's leadership. The suggested legislation provided for a General Staff Corps with a total strength of 230 officers, to be headed by a Chief of Staff with the rank of general. The Chief of Staff was to exercise "supervision of all agencies and functions of the Military Establishment" under the direction of the President and the Secretary of War. The bill further provided that "the Chief of Staff shall be the immediate adviser of the Secretary of War" on military matters. He was to plan, develop, and

execute the war program and issue orders to insure the efficient and harmonious execution of policies by the various corps, bureaus, and other agencies of the Military Establishment. The obvious intention was to strengthen the General Staff as the top management organization for the War Department.
Much of the subsequent legislative discussion therefore centered upon the question of the role of the General Staff in the War Department. During the hearings, Assistant Secretary of War Crowell injected a new issue for consideration by Congress when he proposed to the House Committee on Military Affairs that the functions of the War Department be divided into two principal elements, a military function and a procurement function. Although the Secretary of War would be the top civilian administrator over both, Mr. Crowell proposed separate assistants for each activity. The Chief of Staff, as head of the Military Establishment, would advise the Secretary of War on military matters; the head of a Munitions Department would advise him on procurement .problems. Yet Crowell did not suggest that the supply bureaus should be placed exclusively under the Munitions Department. The General Staff would give orders to the bureaus on supply requirements, troop training, and distribution of supplies, while the Munitions Department would give orders to the same supply bureaus on the purchase and manufacture of munitions. Mr. Crowell's proposal reflected in part an effort to strengthen civilian control over business matters, in part his belief that it would rarely be possible to find an Army officer with the experience and skill necessary for supervising the procurement and production of war materials. He hoped that an industrialist with ability and background would head a Munitions Department.12
In submitting his proposal, Mr. Crowell omitted any account of his wartime relation to General Goethals, director of the Purchase, Storage, and Traffic Division. His conception of his job then had been to throw "full immediate operational responsibility" on General Goethals. Mr. Crowell did not customarily give orders directly to the supply bureaus; instead he worked through General Goethals. He concerned himself primarily with general supervision and specific trouble spots. As an industrialist, he was especially interested in the production problems of the Ordnance Department. He also maintained close relationships with the War Industries Board, which mobilized the general economic resources of the nation.13 Thus, in practice, as Director of Munitions, he had actually worked through a General Staff division headed by an Army officer. The House Committee on Military Affairs apparently was unaware that Mr. Crowell's proposal was in contradiction to his own administrative experience in World War I.
Secretary Baker disagreed with Crowell and opposed his recommendation before the House committee. The Secretary told the committee that he doubted that a man of wide business experience could be found, particularly in peacetime, to fill the position of Assistant Secretary of War to head a Munitions Department. In addition, the Secretary disapproved of the proposal to give a statutory assignment to an Assistant Secretary of War because

this would interfere with the freedom of the Secretary to assign responsibilities to his principal associates as 'he saw fit. A future Secretary of War might be an industrialist who would take more interest in the procurement operations of the War Department than in its other work. Under these circumstances he might want an Assistant Secretary who would give principal attention to the non procurement activities.14
The National Defense Act of 4 June 1920 continued the General Staff organization and the position of Chief of Staff as created in 1903. Under the direction of the President and the Secretary of War, the Chief of Staff was to see that the General Staff made plans for recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, mobilizing, training, and demobilizing the Army of the United States. Other functions of the General Staff were to include authority to investigate and report on the efficiency of the Army and its state of preparation for military operations, to develop plans for the mobilization of civilian manpower for war, and to render professional aid and assistance to the Secretary of War. The War Department General Staff was limited to the Chief of Staff, four assistant chiefs of staff, and eighty-eight other officers, a group about one third the size recommended by General March.
Congress adopted in part the recommendation put forward by Mr. Crowell. Section 5a of the law provided that the Assistant Secretary of War would supervise the procurement of all military supplies and plan economic mobilization for war. But Section 5a offered no solution to the basic issue of military versus civilian control of procurement. It did not establish a civilian dominated Munitions Department; the Assistant Secretary, who was to supervise military procurement, was given no operating staff.
War Department orders issued in August 1920 implied that the Assistant Secretary would look for staff assistance to the Supply Division of the General Staff.15 Policy control without a staff organization was only the shadow, not the substance, of authority. Unless future Assistant Secretaries were willing to depend upon what help the General Staff could provide them, they would have no alternative but to create their own organization.
There was a curious anomaly in the Assistant Secretary's position. With his responsibility to plan economic mobilization for the government as a whole, he was required to think far beyond the War Department. It seems reasonable to assume that the legislation did not intend to give him supervision of wartime industrial organization; during World War I, the War Industries Board had been a separate agency reporting directly to the President. In the event of another war, it was then probably contemplated that a similar agency would be created. Nevertheless, the Assistant Secretary's responsibility for economic planning made him potentially more important than many cabinet members, possibly even more important than his chief. At the same time he was a subordinate official in his own Department. And as though to heap confusion upon confusion, Section 5 of the National Defense Act gave to the General Staff powers which could easily be interpreted as overlapping those of the Assistant Secretary;

it charged the Staff with the "mobilization of the manhood of the nation and its material resources in an emergency." Section 5 and 5a of the act of 1920 thus constituted a compromise compounded of ambiguity, confusion, and the raw material of future jurisdictional disputes.
The Pershing Reorganization
When General Pershing became Chief of Staff on 1 July 1921, one of his first acts was to create a board of seven officers to study the organization of the War Department General Staff. 16 Its chairman was Maj. Gen. James G. Harbord, who had been General Pershing's first chief of staff in France, and later commanding general of his Services of Supply.
General Pershing's thought was to create a general staff system in the War Department which would closely parallel the staff he had developed for the AEF in France. After arriving in France in 1917, he had at once begun to study the organization of the British and French armies in the field in order to decide on arrangements for his own command. As General Pershing remarked in his memoirs: "It required no genius to see that the coordination and direction of the combat branches and the numerous services of large forces could be secured only through the medium of a well constituted general staff, and I determined to construct it on the sound basis of actual experience in war of our own and other armies." 17
The actual experience of AEF headquarters in organizing its activities is not relevant here.18 Suffice it to say that this experience provided a major field of study for the Harbord Board. Yet curiously enough, the precedent of a Services of Supply as part of the AEF organization was nowhere reflected in the report of the Harbord Board. Rather, the board directed its attention primarily to the problem of the position of the Assistant Secretary of War under the National Defense Act of 1920 and to the question of his relations with the WDGS. Implicit in this problem was the delicate policy question of military versus civilian control of the Department. General Harbord appointed a subcommittee of three to inquire into this issue. Two of the three members of this subcommittee were General Staff officers,19 which may account for the fact that it tended to build up the role of the General Staff and to play down the independence of the Assistant Secretary.
In its report to the board, the subcommittee identified seven essential stages in military supply:
1. Preparation of specifications and drawings.
2. Testing of pilot models.
3. Inspection of facilities to determine their productive capacity.
4. Acquisition of necessary materiel through purchase, lease, or other business or legal arrangements.
5. Production, including those activities necessary to insure the systematic and orderly flow of component parts. 
6. Inspection, test, and acceptance.
7. Storage and issue, including all questions of transportation.
By asserting that the Assistant Secretary of War was properly concerned with the

third through the sixth steps in this process, the subcommittee attempted to guard against the possibility of that official reaching over into the functions of specifying requirements and disposing of materiel after procurement. The Assistant Secretary, the subcommittee held, should supervise the work of the supply bureaus so far as purchasing, production, and inspection were concerned, while the General Staff should supervise the remaining phases of supply. The subcommittee expressed the belief that a formula for coordinating military and economic policy could be easily devised. The General Staff would determine the military requirements for defense and war, and would present these to the "business side" of the War Department, that is, to the Assistant Secretary of War. Where disagreement occurred between the General Staff and the Assistant Secretary, the Secretary of War would have to resolve the difference. The subcommittee further proposed to strengthen General Staff influence by detailing one or more General Staff officers to work for the Assistant Secretary. In general these recommendations were in line with the principle, upheld by the subcommittee, that military efficiency required the subordination of administration and "business" activities to strategic and tactical command.
The report of the subcommittee further stated that the Assistant Secretary had concurred in its proposals. It should have added, though, that this concurrence was won only after the subcommittee had yielded to at least three vital modifications affecting the special status of the Assistant Secretary. The phrase "for the approval of the Secretary of War" was stricken out of the provision charging the Assistant Secretary with responsibility for directing procurement and industrial planning. If this phrase had been retained, the War Department General Staff would have had a basis for acting on behalf of the Secretary. The subcommittee failed also in its effort to perpetuate the ambiguity of the act of 1920, which had given the Supply Division of the General Staff a toehold in the planning of economic mobilization. The modified version left the General Staff out of the general planning picture and ordered that the various branches of the Army request decision on military phases of procurement from G-4, and "decisions on business or industrial questions from the Assistant Secretary of War." Finally, General Harbord withdrew the subcommittee's recommendation for attaching General Staff officers to the Office of the Assistant Secretary.20
Other recommendations of the Harbord Board dealt with the organization of the War Department General Staff into five divisions instead of four Personnel (G-1), Military Intelligence (G-2), Operations and Training (G-3), Supply (G-4), and War Plans (WPD). The Supply Division was to direct the calculation of Military supply requirements and the distribution of supplies. In addition, the Supply Division was to supervise the construction and maintenance of buildings for War Department activities, the hospitalization of troops, and the preparation of the War Department budget. The recommendations of the Harbord Board, as modified, were accepted by the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of War, and duly put into effect.21
Perhaps the most important single consequence of the Harbord Board's work was the creation of a strong general staff sys-

tem in the War Department. General Pershing himself was largely responsible for this development. While his General Staff was limited in size, it was the top management agency of the Military Establishment. Many different commands, supply bureaus, administrative bureaus, and other agencies might function as part of the War Department, but all received top direction from the General Staff. In the second place, the Harbord Board recommendations suggested the desirability, when war seemed imminent, of creating a General Headquarters (GHQ) which would become a field command and eventually move overseas. This recommendation was to be partially put into effect in July 1940. In the third place, the Harbord Board paved the way for a new top office in the War Department, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War. This acted to some extent as a brake on the authority of the General Staff. Although War Department orders of August 1920 had implied that the Assistant Secretary would carry out his responsibilities through the Supply Division of the General Staff, the orders of August 1921 suggested an independent supervisory responsibility. Henceforth, on procurement matters, the supply bureaus of the War Department were to work under the direction and control of the Assistant Secretary. The bureaus having supply responsibilities at this time were the Coast Artillery Corps, the Air Service, the Ordnance Department, the Quartermaster Corps, the Medical Corps, the Corps of Engineers, the Signal Corps, and the Chemical Warfare Service. Thus, on procurement and economic planning, the authority of the Assistant Secretary of War was established. The jurisdiction of the General Staff no longer embraced all phases of military supply, as it had before
and during World War I. The supply bureaus now had two superiors, the War Department General Staff and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War.22 Except for this limitation in the economic field, the influence of the WDGS grew steadily from 1921 to 1940. Assignment to the General Staff Corps became a high military honor with a promise of later field command for most of those selected.
Developments Between 1921 and 1941
While no major peacetime modifications were made in War Department and Army organization after the report of the Harbord Board, the military organization nevertheless showed signs of stress and strain which indicated that it might not be able to withstand another major war without change. The single greatest problem was the relation of the air arm to the ground arm. Essentially the issue was whether the strategic and tactical mission of the air forces should be considered as being different and separate from that of the ground forces.23 The establishment of

the Air Corps in 1926, and the segregation of combat air units as the General Headquarters Air Force in 1935, were steps toward a greater degree of autonomy for the Army's air component.
Another problem was the organization of the Army on a geographical basis. The establishment of nine corps areas in 1920 proved to be unsatisfactory for the tactical training of ground combat units. Finally in 1932 the corps areas were ,grouped together under four armies for this purpose, and the senior corps area commander in the army area became the army commander.
Throughout this period much attention was paid to the planning of economic mobilization policies for a future war. In fact, this planning became the chief interest of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War. In June 1922 the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy joined in creating the Army and Navy Munitions Board (ANMB) to provide a common meeting ground for the discussion of procurement planning problems and for the development of joint policies. The Army members generally tended to take more interest in these matters than did those of the Navy. The board itself, made up of the Assistant Secretary of War and the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was never very active. In February 1924 the War Department also established the Army Industrial College, where primary attention was given to procurement problems of World War I and their implications for a future war emergency.24 The staff of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War not only cooperated closely with the staff of the Industrial College, but also after 1926 engaged in the preparation and revision of industrial mobilization plans, the latest revised plan being that of 1939.
Congress also began to take an interest in various aspects of the problem. A War Policies Commission, recommended by President Hoover and set up by legislative action, noted the importance of procurement planning in its report on 3 March 1932. This commission, consisting of six cabinet officers, four Senators, and four members of the House of Representatives, recommended that Congressional committees review procurement plans every two years. In 1933 the Senate special committee inquiring into the munitions industry, under the chairmanship of Senator Gerald P. Nye, extended the scope of its investigation to take into account the current industrial mobilization plans.
In spite of the increased interest of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War in procurement planning, there was little friction between it and the Supply Division of the General Staff at this time. The volume of military purchasing was too small to raise serious jurisdictional problems. The average annual sum available for augmentation and replacement of arms and equipment in the fiscal years 1926 through 1933 amounted to $25,500; 000, and but $91,000,000 in the fiscal years 1934 through 1940.25
Nevertheless, one incident in the 1930's revealed that conflict between the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War and the War Department General Staff was more than a possibility. Harry H. Woodring, Assistant Secretary of War from 1933 to 1936, was convinced that the so-called protective mobilization plan of the General Staff was unrealistic in its scheduling of Army strength at various periods after

mobilization. He felt that it would be impossible to provide the necessary equipment for the contemplated force within the time period stated in the plan and so he requested the WDGS to revise its schedule for mobilizing troop strength. This the General Staff was reluctant to do. After the death of George Dern, Woodring became Secretary of War, and the conflict flared out into the open. In an attempt to settle the issue, he directed the General Staff to revise its time schedule .26
Several changes in Army organization followed the beginnings of American mobilization in the summer of 1940. As proposed by the Harbord Board in 1921, a General Headquarters was activated on 26 July 1940. In October a second change was made when the command of the four armies and the corps areas was separated. Shortly afterward, on 19 November, the General Headquarters Air Force was taken from the chief of the Air Corps and assigned to the recently activated General Headquarters. Since GHQ was expected to command overseas operations in the event of war, this move failed to please most airmen.
The proponents of an independent air force had long been dissatisfied with War Department organization as it pertained to the air arm. European war experience reinforced their claims that the plane had its own distinct strategic and tactical mission. This was partly recognized by Secretary of War Stimson, who stated in his first report: "The functions of modern air power which have been developed and demonstrated during this war have vitally affected previously approved methods of warfare. They have been carefully studied by our own Army and have powerfully affected our plans and organization." 27 On 20 June 1941 the War Department created the Army Air Forces which absorbed both the Air Corps and the GHQ, Air Force. At the same time, all airfields within the United States were brought under the jurisdiction of the AAF. Combat planes of all kinds were now separated from Army ground troops. A separate air force within the Army had finally come into being. This change in the status of the air arm was the most important alteration in Army organization between 1918 and Pearl Harbor. By comparison, even the creation of General Headquarters was of secondary importance.
The organization for the direction of supply and procurement activities was modified only in a minor particular after the European war began. On 16 December 1940 Congress authorized the President to appoint, with confirmation by the Senate, an Under Secretary of War. In addition, Section 5a of the National Defense Act of 1920 was amended to give the Secretary of War power to assign procurement supervision to any of his staff members. To fill the position of Under Secretary, the then Assistant Secretary of War, Robert Patterson, was nominated and confirmed, and on 28 April 1941 the Secretary of War delegated his procurement supervisory duties to the Under Secretary. Meanwhile, as Army procurement operations expanded during 1940 and 1941, the Office of the Under Secretary of War (OUSW) grew in personnel strength. Whereas on 1 July 1939 the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War had a total strength of only 78 officers and civilians, on 1 November 1941 the Office of the

Under Secretary of War numbered 1,136 persons, of whom 257 were officers and 879 were civilians.28 Supply activity in the General Staff was likewise growing, and at the time of Pearl Harbor it required a G-4 staff of about 250 persons, of whom 100 were officers.
At the outbreak of the war with Japan, the military organization within the United States under the Secretary of War consisted of five major elements:
First, the top direction of military activities was vested in the Chief of Staff, assisted by the General Staff. The volume of General Staff activity had become such that in addition to the five divisions, each headed by an assistant chief of staff, there were three deputy chiefs of staff: one for supply, one for administration, and one for air matters. This last position was held concurrently by the chief of the Air Forces.
Secondly, there were two major commands, the Army Air Forces and General Headquarters. The AAF was responsible for the development and procurement of air supplies, the training and control of air combat units, and the planning of air operations. GHQ was responsible for the tactical training of ground combat units, combined air-ground training, and overall planning for the defense of the continental United States. Four territorial defense commands, created in the spring of 1941, provided a skeleton organization for conducting defense operations.
In the third place, the War Department in Washington contained the offices of a number of combat arms, service arms, supply services, and administrative bureaus. The chiefs of the combat arms Infantry, Field Artillery, Coast Artillery, and Cavalry were responsible for the operation of training schools and for developing tactical doctrine for their individual arms. One, the Chief of the Coast Artillery Corps, also had procurement responsibility for certain coastal defense equipment and ammunition. The service arms and supply services were headed respectively by the Chief of Engineers, the Chief Signal Officer, the-Chief of Ordnance, The Quartermaster General, The Surgeon General, and the Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service. The Adjutant General's, Department, The Inspector General's Department, the Judge Advocate General's Department, and the Finance Department were the War Department's administrative bureaus.
In the fourth place, there were the four armies and the nine corps areas. The armies commanded most of the ground combat forces within the United States, and the corps areas supplied and managed most of the military posts. The corps areas were also responsible for performing much of the work of mobilizing a civilian army in case of an emergency, as they had been doing under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940.
Finally, there were a number of miscellaneous installations reporting directly to the Chief of Staff in Washington. These included ports of embarkation, certain schools such as the Command and General Staff School and the United States Military Academy, disciplinary barracks, and general depots.
Prior to the outbreak of war the proper role of the Air Forces, the ambiguous position of General Headquarters in relation to the General Staff and to field com-

mand, and the uncertain relationship of the General Staff to the Under Secretary of War in supply matters remained unsolved problems. These accumulated problems brought about a reexamination
of War Department organization soon after the United States plunged into the war. From this study emerged the reorganized Army which was to fight World War II.

Page Created June 13th 2001


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