The Army Ground Forces

The War Department and the Army underwent a radical reorganization three months after the United States entered World War II. That reorganization consolidated the undeployed forces of the Army in the continental United States under three major commands-the Army Ground Forces (AGF), the Army Air Forces, and the Services of Supply (later the Army Service Forces). It also vested in the commanders of the first two of these great commands the responsibilities which had formerly been exercised by the chiefs of the arms and made these commanders responsible for the organization and training of the combat forces of the Army. These volumes, written during and immediately after the war by historians in the Headquarters, AGF, discuss the exercise of those responsibilities by that headquarters insofar as they pertained to the size and organization of the ground combat forces.

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THE PROCUREMENT AND TRAINING OF GROUND COMBAT TROOPS. By Robert R. Palmer, Bell I. Wiley, and William R. Keast. (1948, 1975, 1991; 696 pages, 36 tables, 4 charts, bibliographical note, glossaries, index, CMH Pub 2-2.)

The ten studies in this volume (in further references below arbitrarily assigned numerical designations 1 to 10) continue the series published in The Organization of Ground Combat Troops. Except for Studies 4 and 5, which deal with individual training in the service schools of the ground forces, they focus, like those in the previous volume, on major problems of the Army Ground Forces, the solutions applied to them by that command, and the success or failure of those solutions, considered in the context of events and policies of the time. Studies 4 and 5 describe the wartime methods and operations of the military school system. One of the most persistent problems, one that affected all the others, was that of procuring quality personnel that could be transformed into combat troops capable of meeting effectively the complex requirements of World War II. As measured by the Army's general classification tests, the men allocated to the Army Ground Forces were inferior intellectually and physically to those allocated to the Army Air and Service Forces, as well as to those recruited by the Marine Corps and the Navy. Efforts to solve this problem, never fully successful, involved specialized training programs and constitute a subject of continuing concern.

Warned by the experience of World War I, the War Department adopted in 1940 the policy of fully preparing its combat organizations for battle before shipping them overseas. General McNair, both as chief of staff of GHQ from 1940 to 1942 and as Commanding General of the Army Ground Forces, made the training of large forces the principal goal of his efforts. The program of training he devised to this end, from small-unit training to the maneuvers of corps and armies, and the difficulties and disappointments he encountered in applying the program, receive close attention. The adverse effect of his policy on the training of the smaller non-divisional units of the ground forces is described in Study 8. General McNair also inherited, with the authority of the chiefs of arms vested in him in March 1942, responsibility for the procurement and training of replacements and the conduct of the individual training of officers and men in the service schools and officer candidate schools of the ground combat arms.

The replacement system broke down as it had in World War I. The consequent crises in the procurement and training of replacements are described in Studies 3 and 6. The changes that the Army Ground Forces, acting through its Replacement and School Command, introduced into the service schools in the interest of economy or efficiency are included in the description of those schools in Study 4. Study 10, on redeployment training, describes changes proposed in the light of 1942-45 experience as well as those required by immediate problems.

    Key topics (Org is used in the lists below to refer to this work's companion volume The Organization of Ground Combat Troops):
  1. Policies and problems of officer procurement (Study 2; see also Org. Study 1, Ch. II).
  2. Training of ground units for combat (Studies 7, 8, 9; see also Org. Index: "Training").
  3. Wartime training in the service schools of the ground arms (Studies 4 and 5).
  4. The building and training of infantry divisions, interferences with training, and the effect of these (Study 7).
  5. The training of non-divisional units in the Army Ground Forces: organization and programs (Study 8).
  6. The replacement system in World War II (Study 3; see also Study 6 and Study 7, Ch. IV).
  7. Replacement training (Study 6).
  8. Effect of uncalculated demands on programs of training (Study 3, Ch. II; Study 6, Ch. IV; Study 7, Ch. IV and Tables 2 and 4; Study 8, Ch. III; Study 9, Ch. III; Study 10, Ch. II).
  9. Impact of unexpected, or concentrated, losses on the provision and training of replacements (Study 3, Ch. II).
  10. The Army classification system: its adverse effect on the ground arms (Study I, Ch. I).
  11. Effect of preferential assignment to the Army Air Forces on the personnel of the Army Ground Forces (Study 1, Ch. II).
  12. The Army Specialist Training Program versus the demand for higher grade combat troops (Study 1, Ch. II).
  13. Use of limited-service men in AGF units (Study l, Ch. II).
  14. The origins and effect of the Physical Profile System (Study 1, Ch. III).
  15. Organization, training, and testing in the service schools (Study 4, Chs. II and III).
  16. Methods used to ensure readiness of units for deployment overseas (Study 9).
  17. Testing the effects of training (see Index: "Tests"; also Org. Study 1, Ch. II, and Index: "Tests"). Ch. III).
  18. Effects of the policy of individual (versus unit) battle replacements (Study 3, Ch. III).
  19. Officer candidate schools (Study 5).
  20. Organization and methods of the replacement training centers of the Army Ground Forces (Study 6).
  21. Adjustments of replacement training to theater requirements (Study 6, Ch. IV).
  22. The stripping of divisions for replacements and its effect on their battle readiness (Study 7, Ch. IV, and Tables).
  23. Shortages of equipment and their effect on training (Study 7, Chs. II and III).
  24. Organization of new arms for training (see Org. Study 5, Ch. II).
  25. Use of maneuvers as a training device (Study 1, Ch. II).

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