Army Ground Forces Study No. 4

Section VIII


By this time the plan to attack Western Europe early in 1943 had for various reasons been given up. An invasion of North Africa was being prepared, but major operations by United States ground troops were deferred to an undetermined but relatively distant date. Meanwhile the offensive against Germany was to be conducted chiefly by aviation.

In September 1942 a conference on personnel shortages was held at the War Department.38 The Army Ground Forces expressed a desire to decelerate its activation schedule until its existing units were filled. The Army Air Forces and the Services of Supply opposed deceleration within their own commands. “It is presumed,” reported the AGF representative on returning to the War College, “that AGF would postpone activations so as to make inductees available for the AAF and SOS.”39 The War Department instructed each command to submit a list of “must units” for activation during the remainder of 1942. The Army Ground Forces included as “must units” only two tank destroyer brigade headquarters, to supervise the training of the large number of tank destroyer battalions already in existence, and two parachute infantry regiments to absorb the personnel already graduated or about to graduate from the parachute school.40 Only these units, with a few others of small size, were activated by the Army Ground Forces at full strength in the last three months of 1942. Infantry and armored divisions that were planned for these months and that were too far along in the preactivation process to stop were activated at cadre strength only. Activations proceeded as planned in the Air Forces, including arms and services with the Air Forces, except that certain Air Base Security Battalions—mostly Negro organizations—were deleted. Activation of SOS units continued.41

In September the President approved another increase, this time of 650,000, in inductions for 1942, raising the authorized enlistment strength of the Army by the end of the year to 5,000,000.42 About a million-and-a-half men were provided by Selective Service in the last four months of the year. Those received by the Army Ground Forces were used mainly to fill shortages in units activated before September and to bring certain units to the newly authorized 15 percent over strengths. By March 1943 the actual and authorized strengths of the Army Ground Forces virtually balanced. But freedom from shortages proved to be temporary. (See Table IV.)



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