[2-3.7 AF.B]



WORLD WAR II, 1938-1942



Office of the Chief of Military History

Department of the Army


Dr. Stetson Conn

10 March 1959




[Note: This manuscript was prepared by Dr. Stetson Conn of the Office of the Chief of Military History (now US Army Center of Military History) for official. The original is on file in the Historical Manuscripts Collection (HMC) under file number 2-3.7 AF.B, which should be cited in footnotes, along with the title. It is reproduced here with only those limited modifications required to adapt to the World Wide Web; spelling, punctuation, and slang usage have not been altered from the original. Where modern explanatory notes were required, they have been inserted as italicized text in square brackets.]





I Introduction:


1. Principal governing factors: (1) mobilization was gradual, not geared to a fixed date or M-Day, and (2) military aid to other nations from June 1940 onward affected the tempo and thoroughness of Army mobilization in many ways not contemplated in basic mobilization plans.


2. Legislative base: The National Defense Act of 1920 was the statutory base for national economic as well as specific Army mobilization planning, for between-war preparations, and for the definition of initial mobilization goals.


3. Beginnings: A White House conference on 14 November 1938 (following Munich crisis of September) was springboard for Army mobilization as well as for new war planning (initiation of RAINBOW planning). The War Plans Division, by 30 November, had produced a new blueprint for a modest, balanced Army expansion, over a 2-year period, from 167,000 to 280,000 Regular Army enlisted, and from about 190,000 to 240,000 National Guard enlisted.


4. Basic Mobilization Plans: These were (1) the Protective Mobilization Plan, 1939 revision, for expanding and equipping the Army, and (2) the Industrial Mobilization Plan, 1939 revision, for the economic mobilization of the nation.


5. National emergency: Following the outbreak of war in Europe on 1 September 1939, President Roosevelt on 8 September proclaimed a state of national emergency, the basis for much emergency action until December 1941.


II Personnel Expansion:


1. Protective Mobilization Plan (PMP), 1939 (ready, Dec. 1938): It provided for a two-stage expansion, (1) a "hard-core" Initial Protective Force (IPF), to contain most of active Army and National Guard, about 400,000, to be available by 30M (i.e., one month after plan was ordered into effect); and (2) an expansion to 1,150,000 active by 240M. This was the basic prewar Army expansion plan.


2. Regular and Reserve Army Strength, 1 July 1939: Regular active, 189,867 (174,000 enlisted) (50,000 overseas) (210,000 expiated authorized); National Guard 200,000; Reserves, 110,000.




3. Immediate Action Measures, recommended by War Department to President, August 1939: Increase RA enlisted to 280,000, and recruit NG enlisted to 280,000 and double training time. The President, in early September, approved RA enlisted 227,000, NG 235,000, and stepped-up training.


4. Expansion goals, September 1939-April 1940: RA 280,000, NG 320,000 (which if achieved would provide IPF of 600,000). Actual active strength, April 1940, 230,000 enlisted.


5. Critical military developments of May-June 1940 led to partial mobilization on all fronts, including:


Increase in RA authorized enlisted strength to 375,000, June 1940.


27 August 1940: Congress approved induction of NG (started 16 Sep 40 and bulk of inductions over 7-month period, Sep 40-Mar 41).


18 September 1940: Congress approved Selective Service and Training act, but no significant number of inductions under it until January 1941.


(Inductions under both acts slower than calculated, because of late passage of acts and late start on new training camp construction.)


6. These actions of June-September 1940 were designed to produce a 1,000,000-man Army by 1 January 1941 and 1,400,000-man Army by 1 July 1941 (consist, 500,000 RA, 270,000 NG, and 630,000 selectees). In units: 27 Infantry, 4 Armored, 2 Cavalry Divisions, necessary supporting corps, army, and GHQ troops, and 54 combat air groups.


7. Only slow increase during rest of 1941, to 1,647,477, by 7 December 1941, and plan to inactive NG units.


8. Women: Establishment of Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC, then WAC), 15 May 1942.


III Training:


1. Prewar training was helped immeasurably by late and thorough revision of field manuals and other training aids, 1939-40 (outgrowth of PMP planning).


2. August-November 1939: Decision in September 1939 to triangularize infantry divisions; 100,000 RA and NG engaged in field training and maneuvers, August-November 1939; increased armory training of NG.


3. Maneuvers, spring 1940: RA, 70,000, first genuine corps maneuvers.


4. RA and NG joint maneuvers again, August 1940 -.




5. Closing of higher Army schools (War College and Industrial College, June 1940; Command and General Staff College, February 1940, but opened again with short course in November 1940). Branches provided most training, intensively, thereafter.


6. Large maneuvers, involving 900,000, August - November 1941 (in which much old and some dummy equipment appeared, principally because of sharing new munitions with other nations, June 1940 onward).


7. As of 1 October 1941, 1 Infantry Division, 5 Antiaircraft Regiments, and 2 Artillery Brigades in continental United States rated ready for offensive combat action; and as of mid-December 1941, 17 of 34 divisions rated ready for defensive combat action. War plans of November 1941 contemplated deploying 16 of these divisions overseas, rest to be held in strategic reserve.


IV Organization:


1. Establishment of Armored Force, 10 July 1940 (nucleus of armored divisions formed in winter of 1939-40, activation in July-August 1940).


2. Activation of nucleus of General Headquarters, to supervise training, 26 July 1940.


3. Effective activation of 4 field armies in continental U.S., October 1940, by providing armies and corps areas with separate staffs.


4. Establishment (largely paper) of 4 continental U.S. defense commands, 17 March 1941 (defense planning nucleus, using army staffs).


5. Establishment of largely autonomous Army Air Forces, 20 June 1941.


6. Expansion of General Headquarters' functions to include planning and command of military operations, 3 July 1941 (actually extended only to Atlantic and Caribbean areas, and only partially, before War Department reorganization of March 1942 that eliminated GHQ).


7. First War Powers Act, 18 December 1941, enabled President to reassign statutory functions of departments and agencies.


8. By February 1942: new Joint Chiefs of Staff supplanting old Joint Army-Navy Board (Difference: JCS reported directly to President, old JB through civilian secretaries to President).




9. War Department reorganization for war, 9 March 1942: Most operating functions passed to three major commands, Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces, Army Service Forces; nine corps areas became service commands; and the reorganization also provided an effective command post for Chief of Staff, the Operations Division (OPD).


10. Technical Services changes: Transfer of all responsibility for continental U.S. construction from Quartermaster Corps to Corps of Engineers, December 1941; creation (out of QMC) of separate Transportation Corps, July 1942; and transfer of responsibility for automotive equipment from QMC to Ordnance, August 1942.


IV. Industrial Mobilization:


1. Backdrop: Industrial mobilization planning by Assistant Secretary of War from 1920's onward, under him by Army Industrial College, established in 1924. Revival in 1930's of Army-Navy Munitions Board as joint mobilization planning agency.


2. Industrial Mobilization Plan, 1939 revision, published (annexes secret), 28 October 1939. Reviewed by a War Resources Board, established by WD in August 1939 and disbanded in November 1939.


3. Educational Order Program, 1938-39: of great value in tooling up for production of some specialized munitions.


4. Major partial industrial mobilization initiated by and under President in May 1940, with establishment on 25 May of Office of Emergency Management and on 28 May of Advisory Commission to the Council of National Defense.


5. New civilian mobilizers (especially William S. Knudsen), working with Army, drafted 30 June 1940 Munitions Program, presented by President to Congress on 10 July, to cost about $4,000,000,000 initially, and intended to provide Pull equipment for a 1,200,000-man Army by 1 October 1941; critical (i.e. non-civilian type) items for 2,000,000 Army; and production capacity to maintain 4,000,000 Army on combat status.


6. Congress, 8 October 1940, approved 5-year amortization plan for emergency industrial expansion, greatly facilitating and encouraging plant construction.


7. Principal (civilian) mobilization agencies established in 1941:


a. Office of Production Management, 7 January 1941, to control munitions production, purchasing, and priorities (Knudsen, Director; and Secretary of War and Secretary of Navy 2 of 4 managers). Within armed services, priorities control by Army-Nay Munitions Board, 1941-42.)




b. Office of Price Administration, 11 April 1941.


c. Office of Scientific Research and Development, June 1941 (to enlist civilian institutions and scholars in military research).


d. Supply Priorities and Allocations Board, 28 August 1941.


(Impact: 225 percent increase in munitions production, between January and December 1941).


8. Principal (civilian) mobilization agencies established in 1942:


a. War Production Board, 16 January 1942, with broad powers over all phases of production, including priorities and allocations (consolidation of OPM and SPAB, above).


b. War Shipping Administration, 7 February 1942.


c. War Manpower Commission, 18 April 1942 (primarily to control industrial manpower).


V. Military Construction:


1. During fiscal 1940-41, about 45 new communities constructed for Army populations of from 10,000 to 63,000ómore than half of them on new sites.


2. Between summer 1940 and December 1941, provision of 29 reception centers (for receiving and classifying inductees) and 21 replacement training centers.


3. Industrial and airfield construction: Huge programs, airfield beginning in late 1939, industrial in late 1940 (both government-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO), and privately owned and operated).


4. Cost of Army construction programs in continental U.S.: Total of $9,226,000,000 to 31 March 1943, including Command-type (ground and service training camps, etc.), $2,588,000,000; Industrial, $2,824,000,000; and Air Forces, $2,503,000,000.


5. In process, Army increased its land holdings (owned and leased) from 2,117,000 acres on 30 June 1940 to 45,871,000 acres at beginning of 1946.


6. Peak employment on Army construction, July 1942, nearly 1,000,000.




VI. Transition to War:


1. Victory Program, presented by Army to President Roosevelt on 25 September 1941. Not a war plan, but a forecast of what Army must do if U.S. joined in war to insure Axis defeat. Projected an Army of 8,800,000, with 213 divisions including 61 armored, but low on Army Air strength versus eventual actual.


2. First wartime personnel and production goals, January 1942:


a. Troop basis for 1942: 3,600,000, and 71 divisions. This goal was increased during the year to 5,000,000, and actual Army strength on 31 December 1942 and 5,397,674.


b. Production goals: On 3 January 1942, President Roosevelt directed a speed up in production to obtain:


(1) 60,000 airplanes in 1942 and 125,000 in 1943 (rate of annual production had reached about 20,000 by November 1941).


(2) 45,000 tanks in 1942 and 75,000 in 1943.


(3) 20,000 AA guns in 1942 and 35,000 in 1943.


(4) 500,000 machine guns each year.


The Army's War Munitions Program of 11 February 1942 (precursor of Army Supply Programs) attempted to implement this directive, though there were doubts whether the goals could be attained. But President's foresight made 1942 the year of greatest expansion of production in American history.


3 Annexes

1. List of references

2. D/A Dollar Expenditures 1940-43

3. Defense Objectives, Feb 1941







1. Lt Colonel Marvin A. Kreidberg and Lt Merton S. Henry, "History of Military Mobilization in the United States Army, 1775-1945," Chs. XIV-XX. (DA Pamphlet No. 20-212)


2. "Biennial Reports of the Chief of Staff," 1939-1941 and 1941-1943.


3. "Annual Reports of the Secretary of War," 1940, 1941.


4. Bureau of the Budget "The United States at War," Chs. I-VII.


5. "United States Army in World War II:"


a. R. Elberton Smith "The Army and Economic Mobilization."


b. Mark S. Watson "Prewar Plans and Preparations."


c. Richard M. Leighton and Robert W. Coakley, "Global Logistics and Strategy," 1940-1943.


d. Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild, "The Framework of Hemisphere Defense."


6. Address, 30 December 1951, "Military Mobilization in the United States," by Lt Colonel Marvin A. Kreidberg.



Additional Reference Material Available in OCMH:


1. "Mobilization," Ch II, Extract from "The Framework of Hemisphere Defense," by Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild (to be published in November 1959). Manuscript available in OCMH.


2. R. Elberton Smith, "The Army and Economic Mobilization," (to be published by GPO in April 1959). Manuscript available in OCMH.


3. Background World War II, extract from "ROTC Manual 145-20, American Military History," Ch. XX.


4. "The Lessons of Many Wars,'' Ch. XXI. Military Mobilization in the United States Army, DA Pamphlet No. 20-212.







1940 $ 907,160,000
1941 3,938,943,000
1942 14,325,508,000
1943 42,525,562,000


SOURCE: Report of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1954.





The Adjutant General's Office



AG 381 (2-17-41)M-F-M February 18, 1941.


SUBJECT: Defense Objectives (Revised February 13, l941).


TO: Chiefs of Arms and Services; and
Assistant Chiefs of Staff, W.D.G.S.



1. The inclosed statement of Defense objectives (revised February 13, 1941) is issued for your information and guidance.


2. Major changes in policy will necessitate revisions of the statement in order to keep it up-to-date and it is desired that at appropriate times you submit recommendations for revision.


By Order of the Secretary of War:



Major General,

The Adjutant General.


1 Incl

Defense objectives

(Revised February 13, 1941)

(3 pages)



(Revised February 13, 1941)



  The 1941 Protective Mobilization Plan Force.
  The 1941 Protective Mobilization Plan Force, by the end of fiscal year 1941, will consist of 1,130,000 men in ground units and overhead, 70,000 replacements, and 200,000 men in the Air Corps and Air Corps Services, a total of approximately 1,400,000 men.
The Force Force The ground forces in the continental United States will form 2 armies, 9 corps troops, 27 infantry divisions, 4 armored divisions, 2 cavalry divisions (in part), 1 cavalry brigade, and GHQ troops. One set of Army Troops and 5 sets of Corps Troops will be nearly complete. The second set of Army troops and 4 sets of Corps Troops will lack certain essential units. 9 infantry divisions (triangular) will be at full strength. All other units will vary from 80% to 90% of full strength. There will be in replacement centers, the overseas pool, and in overhead approximately 250,000 men.

The Air Force includes 54 combat groups containing 208 combat squadrons.

The Present Status The initial equipment requirements of the above force will be met with the stocks now on hand and under manufacture plus those to be procured from funds set up in current estimates. Some shortages will still exist in the requirements of this force to provide its needs for one year of combat operation. These shortages will exist largely in ammunition, Air Corps equipment (less complete airplanes) for tactical units of the 54-Group Program, some items in "Clothing and Equipage", motor vehicles, boats, and completion of certain approved projects in the program covering the modernization of Seacoast Defenses.
Shortage It is estimated that the sum of approximately one billion dollars will be required to cover the initial requirements plus combat requirements for one year's operation of this force.
Objective To provide critical and essential items to initially equip the force and maintain it on a combat status for one year.


The Protective Mobilization Plan Force plus First Augmentation:


The Force This force consists of 2,230,000 men in ground units and overhead, 300,000 replacements, and 270,000 men of the air force, a total of approximately 2,800,000 men.

The ground forces as increased would complete 2 armies and the necessary GHQ troops. There would be 9 army corps, 45 infantry divisions, 8 armored divisions, and 2 cavalry divisions (horse).

All units would be at full strength and provision would be made for a minimum requirement (15%) in Line of Communications Troops.

The increased air forces would remain at 54 combat groups containing 208 combat squadrons.

The Present Status The Air Corps elements and the Seacoast Defenses are essentially identical to those in the Protective Mobilization Plan Force. The status of equipment for these elements is therefore the same as given in the preceding paragraph.

For the balance of the Force the bulk of the critical items of initial equipment (less ammunition) can be provided from stocks on hand, under manufacture, and to be procured from funds now set up in current estimates. Shortages in critical items to operate this force on a combat status for one year will consist largely of ammunition, chemical munitions, signal communication equipment, cloth, and boats. No essential items beyond the requirements of the Protective Mobilization Plan Force will be available and certain shortages in essential items to meet combat operation of the Protective Mobilization Plan Force will still exist.

Shortage It is estimated that it will require the sum of approximately $2,500,000,000 over and above current estimates to complete the requirements for initial and combat requirements in critical and essential items to cover this force for one year of operation following M-day.

If the objective is reduced to provide initial and combat requirements in essential items for the Protective Mobilization Plan Force and initial and combat requirements in critical items for the Protective Mobilization Plan Force plus First Augmentation, then the funds required over and above current estimates are estimated to be approximately $1,800,000,000.

Objective To provide critical items for the initial and combat requirements for one year of operation for the Protective Mobilization Plan Force plus First Augmentation but not to provide essential items for the initial and combat requirements for one year of operation beyond the Protective Mobilization Plan Force plus those additional units scheduled for activation during fiscal year 1942.



The Protective Mobilization Plan Force Plus First and Second Augmentation:


The Force As next increased, the ground force would consist of about 3,200,000 men in ground units and 500,000 replacements. The increase in ground forces would complete 4 armies and the necessary GHQ troops. There would be 14 army corps, 69 infantry divisions, 12 armored divisions, and 2 cavalry divisions (horse). All units would be at full strength and provision would be made for a minimum requirement (15%) in Line of Communication troops.

The next increase in the Air Corps would provide a total of over 100 groups with about 370 combat squadrons, and a total of approximately 400,000 men.

This Air Corps expansion, if coincident with the expansion of the ground forces, will give an over-all total strength of approximately 4,100,000.

The Present Status No funds or estimates have been set up to provide any equipment for the second augmentation.
Shortage All the necessary critical items of equipment for all of the force beyond the Protective Mobilization Plan Force plus First Augmentation, and all the necessary essential items of equipment beyond the Protective Mobilization Plan Force of fiscal year 1942.
Objective To provide the productive capacity for critical items of equipment to meet combat requirements.



February 14, 1941.


APPROVED, with the exception that a decision as to the matter of the Air Corps strength in combat squadrons will be deferred until the question of the Lease-Lend Bill has been settled. Furthermore, a general decision as to materiel in connection with British requirements under an approved Lease-Lease Bill, will have to be taken at the proper time.


By order of the Secretary of War:



Chief of Staff.