The Iranian Mission and Its
Jobs, Geography, and Manpower
Although the remaining months of 1942 were to produce problems enough, the decisions of April and May eliminated some of the early confusion. The assignment of highest priority to the movement of goods to the USSR dictated handing over American construction activities in Iraq to the British, whose line of communication from Basra to Baghdad the projects. were designed to strengthen. The removal of India from the territory of the Iranian Mission, the appointment of Colonel Shingler to succeed General Wheeler, and the dissolution of the USSR Mission all clarified the Iranian Mission's tasks and tended to simplify its machinery. Responsibility for handling and forwarding through Iran all military materiel destined for the USSR, assigned the Iranian Mission at the termination of the USSR Mission, remained nominal because of paramount British responsibilities for movements and transportation. It was exercised through the rendering of advice and assistance, until American assumption, by direction of the Combined Chiefs of Staff in September, of enlarged operational powers and duties. This development was not envisaged during the first half of the year, and consequently, until late summer, all planning for increased Russian aid proceeded on the basis of reinforcing the Iranian Mission and its successor organizations rather than on the basis, determined late in the year, of creating a radically new machine to do the job. Throughout the remainder of 1942 and on into the early months of the new regime established by the Combined Chiefs, the Americans' main concern was with construction of wharves, highways, and housing, and with assembly of motor vehicles, aircraft, and barges.
In the early planning period, when it might be said the planners bit off more than they could chew, it had been supposed that the American field force could handle a large proportion of the thirty-one
tasks to be spread over Iraq, Iran, and India, as listed by General Wheeler in January. Although first priority had been given early that month to the Iraqi projects, Wheeler had assured Colonel Faymonville that on the arrival of the engineer constructor "systematic improvement of 1,000 miles of Persian road net to provide permanent two-lane highways" would be begun. On the day before the Folspen men reached Basra, the British Tenth Army set up priorities for American construction of highways, the first to run from Ahwaz north to Andimeshk, the second from Ahwaz south to Khorramshahr and across to Tanuma in the Basra port area, and the third to connect Umm Qasr with Shu'aiba. The small number of Americans made it expedient to concentrate upon the Iraqi projects; but even while the majority worked in Iraq, surveys for the Iranian highway were carried out and plans made which awaited only the coming of additional plant, equipment, and personnel to be put into effect. Similar reconnaissance looking toward construction of docks at Khorramshahr took place during the Iraqi period, and a construction crew and some equipment were furnished at the same time by Folspen to speed work being done by the British on a motor vehicle assembly plant for American operation at Andimeshk.1
The shift of priorities to Iran freed the American working forces for tasks already planned but postponed by the earlier priority rating given to Iraq. The transfer of men and equipment from Iraq to Iran was completed by 1 June, by which date both the Folspen and Iranian District engineer headquarters had been established at Ahwaz. The Iranian Mission headquarters remained at Basra until January 1943 when, as the headquarters of a successor organization under General Connolly, it was removed to Tehran. (See Chart 1, Appendix B.)
Ahwaz, which was to be the nerve center of American construction activity, is situated at the head of navigation about 100 miles up the Karun River, or 75 miles by desert track, above Khorramshahr. It is at the junction between the main line of the railway and a branch south to Khorramshahr being built in 1942 by the British. Khorramshahr, whose capacity in late 1941 was variously estimated at from 200 to 700 long tons per day, stands at the confluence of the Shatt al Arab and Karun Rivers, well inland from the Persian Gulf and about 21 miles downstream from Basra. Eight miles down the Shatt al Arab from Khorramshahr, connected by a paved road, is the island of Abadan,
provided with docks used by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company refinery on the island. From Abadan a road runs north to Ahwaz. The main line of the ISR, which reaches Ahwaz from Tehran via Andimeshk 87 miles to the north, continues about 70 miles to the southeast to .the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Shahpur. This port relies wholly on the railway for its communication overland with Ahwaz, there being no highway. In 1942 it had a pier extending far into .the shallow water, and a British civilian contractor was adding additional wharfage. Farther to the south along the Gulf coast stands Bushire, more than 190 air-lire miles from Khorramshahr, joined to interior points by inadequate roads. Cargoes at Bushire were lightered mainly in native craft from an exposed anchorage 7 miles offshore. The port's relative isolation and the shallowness of its waters made it the least useful for Russian-aid tonnage.2
Improvement of some of these facilities to bring them up to the capacities called for by increased tonnages for Russia was being effected by the British when the Americans came over to Iran to share the burden. By 1 July 1942 the broad list of proposed American tasks had been narrowed. Of the tasks named in General Wheeler's January list there remained the following: construction of additional docks at Khorramshahr; first-priority highway construction from Ahwaz north to Andimeshk; second-priority highway from Ahwaz south to Khorramshahr, with a road across to Tanuma; following completion of these roads, a 750-mile two-lane highway north from Andimeshk; operation of a motor vehicle assembly plant at Andimeshk; operation of vehicle repair stations at Andimeshk and Kazvin; and operation of an aircraft assembly plant at Abadan and of a point for aircraft delivery at Tehran. Technical advice and assistance were also to be rendered at the Britishoperated motor vehicle assembly plant at Bushire and the British aircraft assembly operations at Shu'aiba. Additional tasks undertaken by 1 July included the laying (begun in the spring) of concrete flooring for the motor vehicle assembly plant being built by the British for American operation at Andimeshk; operation by subcontract through the district engineer of a barge assembly plant at Kuwait on the Gulf coast south of Umm Qasr; and construction of housing for 100 men at Khorramshahr, wharf approaches there, and housing for 750 men along the highway route between Ahwaz and Andimeshk, with hospital and warehouse facilities at Ahwaz.3
The working force entrusted with these operations had expanded from the handful of men in Iraq in April to 190 military and 817 American civilians by 1 July. Of the latter, 427 were employees of Folspen and 390 of the Douglas Aircraft Company. The military force comprised 69 members of the Air Corps and 121 from other services, chiefly technical. There were 58 officers and 132 enlisted men all told. By the end of August the number of Folspen civilians had risen to 745, the Douglas roster to 397, while the military aggregate was 357. Native laborers employed on five engineer projects totaled 1,280. By the end of October, when the auxiliary civilian-contractor phase of American operations began the transition to the wholly militarized phase under General Connolly, the military aggregate was 413, the Folspen employees totaled 740, and there were 6,320 natives directly hired or employed by subcontract on engineer projects. Contradictory data on motor vehicle and aircraft assembly provide an unreliable census of civilian employees at that date.4
Lack of manpower was one problem among many which beset civilian-contractor operations. While construction and assembly tasks were being carried on, the military organization passed through a series of changes, resulting in the merging of the Iranian Mission and the North African Mission into an American Middle East theater of operations with headquarters at Cairo. Simultaneously the militarization of civilian contract activities was in contemplation. These two developments of the organizational structure marked a turning point midway in the first phase of the American job in the Persian Corridor.
Unification o f the Middle East Missions
The stream of events leading to the unification of the Iranian and North African Missions into an American Middle East organization, U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East (USAFIME), flowed from a source which has yet to be precisely located on the historical map. The first suggestion, according to General Maxwell, came from British headquarters in Cairo.5 Maxwell himself advanced the idea to his staff in early March. It was proposed in February in Washington by General Wemyss of the British joint Staff Mission; and it will be recalled that
General Maxwell had represented the interests of the Iranian Mission at a meeting of the American Aid Subcommittee of the Middle East War Council in Cairo in November 1941 when installations at Basra were under discussion. It is reasonably certain that the proposal to unify the American missions was originally British.
On 5 February 1942 General Wemyss wrote to General Marshall suggesting that the two missions be combined.6 The matter, he stated, had been considered by the British Chiefs of Staff, the Minister of State at Cairo, the commanders-in-chief for Middle East, and had, he believed, been unofficially discussed with Ambassador Bullitt when he was in the Middle East. General Wemyss pointed out that, "when, however, as is intended, the Middle East Command is extended to include Persia and Iraq, Wheeler will be partly in the sphere of Commander-in-Chief, Middle East, and partly in that of Commander-in-Chief, India." The new mission, he added, would "far exceed in scope the present Missions." It would canalize, through its chief, information both of intelligence and operational natures between the Middle East sphere and the United States and would provide a framework for any increase in participation of the U.S. Army Forces in the Middle East. General Wemyss suggested that the War Department add to the new mission an officer, to sit with the British Joint Planning Staff for the Middle East, and civilians for co-operation with the Minister of State at Cairo.
Circulated for comment within the War Department, the British proposal was approved by General Aurand whose office was the one in closest administrative touch with the two Middle East missions. G-2 urged that intelligence activities in the Middle East should continue to be channeled directly to Washington and not diverted through the missions.
The War Plans Division ( WPD ) recommended leaving everything unchanged, pointing out that General Maxwell's relations with British Army headquarters in Cairo would be unchanged by any consolidation, and that General Wheeler's effectiveness would be unimpaired by British command changes putting part of his area in the British India area and part of it in the British Middle East area. "The missions
assigned Generals Maxwell and Wheeler in their respective letters of instruction," the WPD memorandum noted, "do not place them in any British command channels." On the question of the Iranian Mission's obligations toward the USSR, the WPD memorandum stated:
Of primary importance among the specific duties assigned General Wheeler is the routing of lend-lease materials to the Soviet Union and the training of their personnel in the use and maintenance of American equipment. A complete reorganization of the Wheeler and Maxwell Missions might well disrupt the relations General Wheeler has established with the Russians. This would be undesirable.
The passage indicates a correct realization of the importance of the Russian-aid program and of General Wheeler's responsibility for it. It is well to remember, however, that at the same time ( February ) toppriority Iranian Mission tasks were those in Iraq for aid to Great Britain; that General Greely's USSR Mission was currently at large in General Wheeler's territory with responsibilities paralleling and overlapping Wheeler's; that the "routing" of lend-lease materials to the Soviet Union was a British responsibility; and, finally, that training of Soviet personnel existed only on paper because of consistent Soviet refusal to accept it.
The War Plans Division further objected to the British suggestion that an American officer sit with the British Joint Planning Staff for the Middle East, pointing out that "suitable provision for co-operation and long-term planning" already existed through the Combined Chiefs of Staff ; that nowhere else, not even in England where there were numerous American troops, was such an arrangement in existence; and that presence of an American officer on the British Joint Planning Staff for the Middle East "might serve to complicate matters."
General Marshall, on WPD's recommendation, wrote General Wemyss on 19 February that he appreciated "the informal presentation of your ideas on consolidation," but did not feel that any change was "justified." He added, "Personally, I anticipate no disruption in the present smooth operations of the two Missions." And there, for the time being, the matter rested. The events of the following four months produced in themselves further points in the debatable question of command.
There were straws in the wind. Early in May, following the dissolution of the USSR Mission, the War Department informed Colonel Shingler, chief of the Iranian Mission, that General Maxwell had become a member of the Middle East Supply Council, an official agency for economic controls, and would, along with the American Minister at Tehran, consult Shingler on economic matters affecting Shingler's area. The War Department instructed Shingler to keep Maxwell in-
formed of all agreements made with the British or transmitted to Shingler by the War Department, and to advise Maxwell of decisions involving policy with the British. The message added pointedly that Shingler was not under Maxwell's jurisdiction. In conformity with these instructions Shingler wrote Maxwell a letter in an effort to bridge the differences in time, space, and-circumstance between Basra and Cairo. He stated that since the new British command arrangements had oriented Iraq and Iran toward Cairo rather than toward New Delhi, "There has been a radical change in attitude towards all American-sponsored projects," and he cautioned Maxwell not to commit the Iranian Mission "too rigidly on policies until I have had an opportunity to discuss the local situation with you." British policy for Iraq and Iran was now being directed from Cairo where there was a close identification with Afro-Mediterranean areas and problems; whereas American policy in Iraq and Iran had only lately been shifted decisively toward support of the Soviet Union's line of supply.7
Colonel Shingler's point was communicated by General Maxwell to the British a few days later in Cairo at a meeting attended by Richard G. Casey, British Minister of State, and by a representative of Colonel Shingler. Lt. Gen. Sir Thomas S. Riddell-Webster, top Army administrative official at GHQ, Middle East Forces, asked General Maxwell if he had any information as to taking over the Iranian Mission. Maxwell replied that "he felt the War Department didn't desire" to act at this time "because it might appear to decrease the importance of supplies to Russia." General Maxwell could, however, arrange to represent Colonel Shingler "in the event quick decisions were necessary." Not long after, General Maxwell sent a note to General Aurand reiterating his own belief that the Iranian Mission ought to become a service command of the North African Mission. There was one more straw to blow in the wind before the War Department decision was reached. On 10 June the Iranian Mission was placed under the North African Mission for general courts-martial purposes.8
On 13 June, by order of General Marshall, USAFIME was created and Iraq and Iran placed within its geographical area. Four days later a message summarized the new Letter of Instructions to be issued
to General Maxwell as commanding general. His command was to include all U.S. Army personnel in his area except the Army Air Forces Ferrying Command and General Greely's special mission in Iran, a new assignment following collapse of the mission to Russia. On the same day, 17 June, Maxwell accepted the appointment. On 19 June he issued his first general order activating the new theater. On 23 June the Iranian Mission was discontinued, being redesignated the Iran-Iraq Service Command under Headquarters, USAFIME, effective 24 June, with Colonel Shingler as commanding officer.9
The new Letter of Instructions given by the Chief of Staff to General Maxwell, in so far as it affected Iranian Mission matters, gave to the Commanding General, USAFIME, control not only of military personnel, but of all Services of Supply activities, including construction, transport, and maintenance. General Maxwell received control of all War Department intelligence activities in his area, subject to certain local arrangements which did not concern the activities in the Persian Corridor. He was also to represent the War Department in all dealings with the British and other friendly forces in his area.10
Colonel Shingler's headquarters at Basra were a thousand miles, as the crow flies, from General Maxwell's headquarters at Cairo. The new command relationship seemed to alter the autonomy formerly enjoyed by the Iranian Mission in its dealings with Washington and with the British. General Maxwell's control over construction and all military personnel, moreover, appeared to affect the working arrangement by which the co-ordinate powers granted the Iranian District engineer and the chief of the mission had been made to function. Colonel Shingler accordingly asked Washington on 24 June for clarification of his responsibilities in supplying the USSR, and in his construction and assembly activities. "It is desirable," he stated, "that I make clear my status to Russian and British officials concerned with activities of the Mission. I am eager to have my direct responsibilities clarified; also the channel of command regarding supplies to construe-
tion, truck and plane assembly projects." In reply the War Department instructed Shingler to continue to deal directly with Washington on all matters previously handled by the Iranian Mission, "including supplies to Russia, construction projects, and truck and plane assembly," furnishing General Maxwell with copies of all actions taken, and consulting him in all matters of operational policy. The reply suggests that Washington had solved the problem of keeping the British happy by unifying the two missions and of keeping the Russians happy by not unifying them. In a letter to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War explained that USAFIME was created "for the purpose of establishing a headquarters to control and co-ordinate U.S. Army activities in that area, and to centralize dealings with the British Middle East Forces." That meant that, although Cairo was in the saddle, the reins were lightly held. There was to be close oversight by the new theater headquarters of its easternmost service command, but working contacts and habits established by the Iranian Mission were not to be seriously disturbed.11
The Iran-Iraq Service Command of USAFIME was set up with headquarters at Basra, and co-ordinate headquarters for the Iranian District engineer at Ahwaz and for the Air Section at Abadan. At the service command headquarters, in addition to the usual staff sections, there were a Defense Aid director through whom lend-lease matters with the British and Russians were channeled; a financial adviser taken over from the district engineer; a surgeon; an engineer officer; and sections for ordnance, signals, and Army postal service. In the field were outlying detachments posted at Tabriz, farthest point of motor vehicle deliveries to the Soviets, Tehran, Baghdad, Andimeshk, Bushire, and Bandar Shahpur. On the staff of .the Iranian District engineer, besides an adjutant and an executive, were chiefs of sections for engineering, operations, administration, contract and legal matters, and area engineers with subheadquarters located at Khorramshahr, Sabz-i-Ab12-just south of Andimeshk, where there was a construction camp-Ahwaz, and Kuwait, site of the barge construction project. Folspen's staff, under their foreign manager, Charles H. Sells, comprised, in part, a chief engineer, a highway engineer, a superintendent of equipment, office manager, chief accountant, camp and commissary steward, purchasing agent, warehouse controller, and recreational director. The Air Section, under Maj. Charles P. Porter, had a small
headquarters staff and outlying detachments at Tehran and Shu'aiba as well as the offices of the Douglas Aircraft Company under Norman H. Millstead.l3
In a July statement to his staff on their mission Shingler said, "The highest priority will be given to measures contributing directly and immediately to aid-to-Russia."14 While including much of the substance of General Wheeler's Letter of Instructions respecting training Russian and British personnel in the use of American equipment and supplies and studying and reporting on operational methods "to facilitate the use of American equipment in future American operations," Shinaler's statement reiterated the original purposes of the Iranian Mission in expediting the flow of war materials to the USSR, advising and assisting Allied forces in procurement, delivery, and proper utilization of American equipment, and maintaining close liaison with, and rendering technical assistance to, Allied forces in connection with lend-lease materials. The memorandum also provided for harmonizing plans for emergency military operations in the area with those made by the Commanding General, USAFIME, and local Allied commanders.
It was not long before the reins, held in Cairo, were tightened. On 11 August the Iran-Iraq Service Command was redesignated the Persian Gulf Service Command ( PGSC ) , remaining directly under Headquarters, USAFIME. Colonel Shingler became its commanding officer on 13 August, and on 25 August received a Letter of Instructions from General Maxwell.15 The area of the new PGSC was defined as comprising Iraq, Iran, and those parts of Saudi Arabia bordering on the Persian Gulf. Colonel Shingler was made responsible for the construction, maintenance, supply, and administration of all installations in his area including the Air Forces project at Abadan, but excluding all other Air Forces stations. Service to U.S. Army Air Forces units within the PGSC was to be such as would be directed by Headquarters, USAFIME. The PGSC would. be responsible for the movement of U.S. military supplies within its area, and for aid as before to British and other Allied forces. The Commanding Officer, PGSC, was authorized to hire and contract locally but to make his requests for military personnel to Cairo. Direct communication with the War Department
was to be restricted to "matters specified in Army Regulations for direct communication, on project matters covering administrative details of projects established by War Department, and routine details. All matters involving policy, operational details, personnel, matters involving the Command as a whole, and details of service to U.S. troops," the letter concluded, "will be communicated through" Cairo headquarters. Colonel Shingler was further instructed to submit to Cairo a monthly progress report. Except for the reference to maintenance of previous responsibilities for aid to Allied forces, the letter was silent as to direct consultation with local Allied commanders, leaving the impression that where these involved policy, operational details, and matters involving the command as a whole, consultation with local commanders would take place through Cairo, one thousand miles away. Unification of the American forces in the Middle East was now a fact. But it was a fact of short duration; for only two months later the pendulum began its swing back toward autonomy for the Persian Gulf area.
During the intervening period Colonel Shingler established within the PGSC a system of decentralized area administration which was to leave its mark upon the structural organization of the new regime of the following October. (See Map 3, p. 223. ) This was a scheme of administrative areas, analogous to, but not patterned upon, the area system long used by the Corps of Engineers, and already in effect under the Iranian District engineer. The new areas, effective 1 September, were the Southwestern, with headquarters at Basra, the Central, at Ahwaz, and the Northern at Tehran. A fourth, the Eastern, at Zahidan, was never activated. The commanders of the respective areas were made directly responsible to the Commanding Officer, PGSC, for construction, maintenance, supply, and administration of all Army installations in their areas, as well as of civilian agencies operating directly under contract with the War Department; for the movement of all U.S. military supplies therein; and for all personnel connected therewith excepting those on the Air Forces project at Abadan, which remained directly under Headquarters, PGSC, and other Air Forces units.16
The areas were established to vest local responsibility for procurement and other strictly local dealings with the British forces in an American opposite number hitherto lacking. Previous to 1 September the heads of the various American operating agencies would go with their conflicting and overlapping requests to the local British repre-
sentatives, who, in turn, would refer these requisitions to the Commanding Officer, PGSC, for correlation. Under the new area system the area commander would be the funnel through which these matters would flow.17
To supervise and co-ordinate the work of the area commanders, a special staff of eighteen officers was created to act for and in the name of the Commanding Officer, PGSC. The Iranian District engineer thus became a special staff officer who both supervised his construction activities throughout the several areas and carried on normal engineering work, such as maintenance and repair of buildings, utilities, engineer supply, mining, demolition, mapping, traffic control, and camouflage. Similar technical supervision was necessary, as a further example, on the part of the ordnance officer, who, as representative of the Commanding Officer, PGSC, co-ordinated as between the areas the work of unloading, assembling, and forwarding motor vehicles. The special staff were without authority as individuals when engaged in area activities, but possessed the full authority of the commanding officer when acting as his representative on technical matters appropriate to the staff position and when putting into effect the policies and instructions of the commanding officer. Special staff officers acted through the commanders of other units or their staff representatives except in emergency. Area commanders were fully advised of all technical instructions applicable to their commands. The area headquarters were small, numbering only two or three officers. With the bulk of operational work focused in the eighteen special staff officers at headquarters, a military staff of three divided the duties of S-1, S-2, S-3, and S-4. This arrangement continued until the arrival of General Connolly on 20 October.18
Militarization o f Contract Activities
Militarizing contract activities was a good deal like rebuilding a complicated structure, such as a railroad station, without interrupting service. Boarded-up areas appeared and disappeared, commuters detoured through unfamiliar burrows, there was a thunder of riveting and hammering and shouting. When the dust cleared away, the old station was gone and a new one had been conjured out of the clang and confusion. Through it all the trains kept on running. In the Persian Corridor the transformation required more than a year.
Of the four civilian contractors connected with Persian Corridor projects, only the J. G. White Corporation raised the question of the status of civilian employees overseas and urged from the start of conversations with the Army that the work ought to be militarized. The Ordnance Department, lacking manpower to operate overseas commitments on the scale called for by its program, preferred at first to get on with the job by means of civilian help, but ultimately accepted the argument that its special problems could not be solved by the contractor system and canceled the White program. Construction and assembly offered fewer immediate obstacles to civilian operation than did the ordnance program, and so the Army, sore pressed for manpower, launched three contractors into the field to carry on until the Army itself could take over. This logical sequence is what happened; not what was clearly foreseen in late 1941 as likely to happen. Indeed, the engineer, quartermaster, ordnance, and Air Corps contractors received no hint that their undertakings were to be of a stopgap nature, nor is there any evidence that the contracts were so regarded by the Army when they were signed.
Some of the impetus for militarization may be attributed to British initiative just as was the case in the unification of the Middle East missions. In the period between Pearl Harbor and Christmas, William Bullitt, the President's ambassador-at-large, was in Cairo where he talked with "the highest British authority," who requested prompt dispatch to the Middle East of 14,000 American service troops and 500 officers to perform definite tasks allotted by the British but to be under General Maxwell's mission and commanded by their own officers. With flattering confidence in American ability to take Pearl Harbor in stride, the British impressed upon Mr. Bullitt the strategic importance of the Middle East, and provided him with detailed information as to British needs in holding the fort against the Axis. Hitherto British needs had been expressed in .terms of materiel to be furnished through lend-lease by a nonbelligerent America. Pearl Harbor permitted extension of the list into the field manpower. It was indicated to Bullitt at GHO that what the British had in mind was something like an advance component for a base ordnance workshop, signals units, construction sections, railway maintenance sections, transport companies, railway telegraph operators, electrical and mechanical companies, engineer base workshop personnel, not to overlook such combat troops as antiaircraft and coast defense units. This was not an official proposal, and the record of it states that Bullitt made no commitments. When the War Department had thought it over for a few days, General Maxwell was notified on 3 January 1942 that no U.S. service troops would be
sent to the Middle East "under present conditions." For Maxwell's sole information it was also stated that no U.S. combat troops would be sent either.19
The talk of military manpower, however, shows how promptly British thinking adjusted itself to the possibilities created by American belligerency. In October the Supply Committee of the cabinet had informed the British Supply Council and the Joint Staff Mission in Washington, "We should prefer that any of the projects undertaken [by the Americans are established and operated by contracts executed and administered by United States War and Navy Departments with American Companies. It will, however, be essential that heads of American Missions should have full authority over all contractors. In the absence of any such control it would be quite impracticable for Commander-in-Chief to exercise any authority over development of these projects." In October the British cabinet had been thinking of the small military missions that were to supervise the civilian contractor forces as closely associated with GHQ, Middle East Forces. The same message to Washington said, "We note with satisfaction that the United States propose to send Generals Maxwell and Wheeler to Middle East and Iraq to initiate agreed action without delay. We suggest that General Maxwell should report to and work direct with General Headquarters Middle East." The conversations of December opened the prospect of expanding American military forces concurrently with sending out contractor companies. There was certainly no talk of dropping the contractors, whatever implications lurked in .talk of military expansion.20
The President, appraised of Bullitt's conversations, wrote General Marshall, "Will you let me know what your plans are for reinforcing General Maxwell's Mission in Egypt and General Wheeler's at Basra." Next day General Marshall replied that General Maxwell in a series of radios had requested 1,000 officers and 24,000 enlisted men for supply services in North Africa. "General Wheeler has not requested any services of supply from the armed forces of the United States." This indicates that there was greater British interest in American troops at
Cairo than at Baghdad. General Marshall's letter continued, "These requests have been discussed with General Wemyss of the British [Joint Staff] Mission who has stated that he has heard nothing from the London office about it. Furthermore, lack of shipping which is needed for more important purposes prevents the dispatch of such a force. The armed forces," concluded the Chief of Staff, "do not have the skilled supervisory personnel needed for certain work being undertaken under contract. The most expeditious means of accomplishing the work desired by the British in both the North African and Iranian areas is by using personnel under contract."21
Although the Chief of Staff's opinion disposed of the question of immediate plans to assign additional service troops to the Middle East, the Under Secretary of War, Robert P. Patterson, on 21 January prepared a memorandum summarizing his objections to indefinite continuation of the civilian-contractor system. Citing the unfavorable experience of the War Department with civilian contractors in France in 1917-18, and referring to the organization in January 1942 by the Navy of a regiment (the Seabees) to build overseas bases in combat zones, Mr. Patterson's memorandum stated:
These civilians will be in the probable theater of military operations, but will not be under military control. As a result the contractors may abandon the work, or the employees may leave when they see fit. There is no assurance that the contemplated work will be done. The contractors and their employees will receive exorbitant compensation in comparison with soldiers with similar responsibilities.22
By February the determination of the War Department to militarize contract activities throughout the world was given force in a directive which provided that by 18 August 1942 all War Department contract activities would be terminated. These, and others approved but not yet initiated, were to be carried out thereafter by military organizations to be activated in the United States and sent overseas. Military personnel were also to be recruited from those employed on overseas contracts which would be terminated.23
The basic principle having been adopted and a date fixed by which it was to be applied, it remained to figure out ways and means-a procedure, as events developed, which put the cart before the horse. The North Atlantic Division engineer wrote to the Chief of Engineers to propose that some engineer units should be sent overseas which could be trained on arrival by the civilians already on the job. Then, he suggested, the civilians could be inducted into the units, and those not liable under the draft law could be returned home. A great many plans were made, and estimates of required troop strength sprang up in all directions. The Corps of Engineers calculated that 15,852 men would be required for the two Middle East missions, to be organized in March and April and depart in May. The Ordnance Department estimated five regiments for the two missions, including provision for mobile ordnance establishments requested by the British to operate in the rear of British division shops and in advance of U.S. Army fixed shops and depots, a request caused by the tremendous amount of battle damage to American ordnance materiel in recent operations and great scarcity of British maintenance troops, previously reported by General Maxwell. At a meeting in Washington on 31 March General Aurand summed up the status of estimates then available to him. A maximum limit of 40,000 troops for purposes of militarization had been set, he said, by WPD, as against total estimates of 48,000 submitted by the various services. The estimates had forthwith been scaled down to 41,000 "and may eventually be reduced still further." General Aurand added that changing events would probably require the revamping of the approach toward the militarization of bases.24
In another part of the Services of Supply, the Plans and Operations Division, a considerably reduced set of figures was hatched. As of 1 April requirements for the missions were presented by this office in the form of two objectives, the first of 5,000 troops to be shipped by September, the second of 19,478 troops to be shipped by December. The memorandum estimated that 23,600 troops were required for
complete militarization of contract activities in North Africa and Iran. This figure greatly exceeded the total number of civilians ever gathered at one time in the field because it included estimates for additional projects of the sort mentioned by the British to Ambassador Bullitt.25
At Baghdad Colonel Shingler immediately took up with the British Tenth Army headquarters the disposition of the proposed American troops. The British account of the meeting records that the discussion was held in view of plans .to militarize American projects effective 1 August, by which date there would be 23,400 American soldiers employed on American projects. Colonel Shingler arranged with the Tenth Army for housing, supplies and rations, ordnance, communications, medical services, vehicle repair and maintenance, petroleum products, postal service, water supply, security, command, and liaison. The Tenth Army commander decided that headquarters of "the U.S. Military Mission with Tenth Army shall be located at Basra." The arrangements envisaged a very close administrative connection between American and British forces, with British control over everything, including "co-ordinating the system of administration, discipline and command in the particular places where American troops are stationed."26
As the summer advanced and the arrival of ordnance heavy maintenance and quartermaster light maintenance companies and a base ordnance battalion grew imminent, a British plan to locate these American units at Shu'aiba and Rafadiyah was abandoned in favor of a suggestion by Colonel Shingler that, since the American effort was concentrated in the Persian line of communications, the grouping of U.S. Army units close to one another in that area would be preferable to spreading them out in Iraq and Iran. Tenth Army not only accepted the American suggestion but made available workshops and installations prepared for it at Andimeshk. It was agreed between Head-
quarters, Tenth Army, and Colonel Shingler that Tenth Army would be the co-ordinating authority for the allocation of work, priorities, and production in maintenance and repair work; but that "the technical operation" of the quartermaster light maintenance company at Andimeshk after it should take over the wrecking and road service on the motor convoy route north of Andimeshk, as well as supervision of the lubrication and checking service at Tabriz, should remain under American control.27
It should be realized that until adoption of the Combined Chiefs' new plan in September, all plans and estimates for troops and troop assignments were on a basis of militarizing current civilian contract operations and of adding supplementary activities as required. Meanwhile, as small units of signal, ordnance, and engineer personnel went overseas under the normal plans made for the Iranian Mission and its successors, it had become apparent in Washington by July that militarization could not be effected by the date fixed. On 9 July Brig. Gen. LeRoy Lutes of SOS presented a memorandum to G-4 stating that "the militarization contemplated . . . has not been carried out, nor is it likely that it can ever be completely accomplished unless Operations Division, War Department General Staff, authorizes the necessary troops, equipment, and shipping to accomplish the projects." He noted that the engineer units authorized in March for militarization had been diverted to BOLERO, the operation for build-up in England of men and equipment for the invasion of Europe, "because no transportation was in prospect for shipment to missions." He recommended rescinding the directive of 18 February and adoption of more realistic measures.28
Accordingly, The Adjutant General by order of the Secretary of War issued on 17 July a letter rescinding so much of the directive of 18 February as required completion of militarization by 18 August, and amending that directive "to require the closing out of overseas contracts and their militarization as rapidly as can be accomplished within the limitations of the availability of troops, equipment, and transportation."29
In consequence of this decision the relatively small numbers of civilian employees overseas whose projects were to have been taken over and expanded by thousands of troops continued at their jobs, some of them well into 1943. The three contractors in the Persian Corridor
were dispensed with in varying fashion. In general the transition was effected by a compromise with plans previously advanced. Contracts were closed out in whole or in part, while certain contract employees were placed as civilians on the War Department payroll, serving either directly under Army control or nominally so, with instructions coming to them from the Army through their own civilian foremen and supervisors. Very few of the civilian-contractor employees enlisted or accepted Army commissions. Many of them, particularly in the aircraft assembly operations, were of service in breaking in the inexperienced troops sent over to replace them.
The year 1942 began with a handful of men, soldiers, and civilians, set down in a far country to undertake heavy labors amidst the changing circumstances and pressing urgencies of war. The confusions endured and surmounted during that harassed year made more certain the achievements that came in 1943.
page created 17 January 2002
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