Detailed Planning"Our army should be developed and designed for offensive operations."
WPD Staff estimate, 1941
Following his gross allocation of military manpower, Wedemeyer assumed a total of approximately eight and one-half million men for the Army. General staff decisions on organization and force structure would determine the effectiveness of the Army in combat. Wedemeyer, however, could not wait for the general staff's final decisions on the matter-decisions the staff probably would not make for some months. Unless he knew the future divisional organization of the Army, his work could not progress. Logically, types and quantity of matériel and equipment depended directly on the types and numbers of divisions the Army planned to create. Wedemeyer, therefore, next began to estimate what the organization of the ground army would have to be.
At Issue: How Many divisions?
By the summer of 1941, General George Marshall was certain that Lend Lease, backed up by U.S. air and naval operations would not be sufficient to defeat Germany. "Large ground forces," he informed the president, "evidently will be required."1 Although large ground forces could be created out of the manpower Wedemeyer had set aside for the Army, the primary question that remained was how to project the structure and organization of those ground forces. recalling the maxim that military operations must be planned with enemy capabilities in mind, he computed the
number of Axis divisions American troops were likely to face in battle.2
Using the fighting potential of the German divisions as a unit of measure, Wedemeyer figured that the Axis could muster a grand total of 350 divisions in the summer of 1941. by 1 July 1943, he foresaw a possible increase in that number to around 500 divisions.2
Attrition and the manpower demands of heavy industry would absorb a proportion of the increased number of men that reached military age in Germany, but he nevertheless expected a real increase in Axis combat strength. Wedemeyer's study in Berlin and consequent current knowledge of the German army encouraged him confidently to predict that Germany could raise and maintain no more than 300 division, even allowing for extensive use of conscripted and imported labor, prison labor, and women in the industrial work force. On the other hand, he expected the German trend toward mechanization would continue, and that as many as 45 of those divisions would be mechanized and another 45 would be armored divisions of significantly greater combat potential than the standard infantry division. The U.S. Army, he concluded, should expect to confront 11 or 12 million Axis soldiers in the European theater, amounting to around 400 to 500 "fully equipped and splendidly trained" divisions.
To attain the overall numerical superiority of 2 to 1 normally considered necessary before undertaking offensive operations, the Allied powers would therefore have to field 700 to 900 divisions, or a force, together with appropriate supporting and service troops, of approximately 25 million men. Wedemeyer believed that it was dangerous to depend upon a maximum effort from all of the present Allied belligerents in order to raise the requisite forces. In the interests of forestalling disaster, he had to assume that the war would proceed along the lines of the worst possible case. Thus he hypothesized that, as of 1 July 1943 (the earliest date America could enter the ground war), the only effective ally in the European Theater of Operations would be Great Britain, which would have reinforced its armed forces by drawing on the Dominions and India for manpower. Russia would be effectively out of the war, although
far eastern Siberia would continue to resist. France would continue passive collaboration with Germany. On the positive side, he expected Japan to be decisively engaged in China and Axis military strength to be materially weakened through the economic blockade, British air and sea operations, and losses absorbed in the Russian campaign.
While Germany would be weakened until it could organize and exploit the conquered territory of the Soviet Union, and while Japan would probably pose no threat except in China, the upshot was that Great Britain was the only significant ally America could expect to heave. All of the ground forces needed to defeat Germany would have to come from the United States and Great Britain, both of which had to avoid debilitating their economic and industrial base through excessive calls on manpower. The two democracies, however, could not create a ground force of 25 million soldiers. England and the Dominions were nearing the end of their reserves, and the United States was unable to raise the bulk of a 25-million-man force unaided without grave disruption of the national economy. As early as September of 1941, Wedemeyer pointed out that the United Kingdom could not provide more than one million fully equipped and well-trained troops for battle in Europe. England still had to protect her home islands and far-flung empire, as well as sustain her economic and industrial effort.4 He therefore had to consider ways in which the smaller army America could field could still do the jobs required of it.
Lacking numbers, the smaller ground forces the United States could send overseas would have to rely upon effective use of appropriate fighting machines and air forces in order to gain victory. In any case, as J.F.C. Fuller had pointed out years earlier, mass alone did not guarantee victory; a winning army had to be properly armed and intelligently wielded, in accordance with suitable doctrine. Wedemeyer cited a relevant case that supported Fuller's contention: "Another million men in Flanders," he wrote, "would not have turned the tide of battle for France" in 1940.5 "Allied success," according to the War Plans Division's best estimate of the situation, was "directly contingent upon the coordinated employment of overwhelming forces, surprise and mobility, supported by sufficient reserves
in matériel and man-power. . . ."6 The critical task was now to devise divisional organization that would allow the United States to pit its strengths against Axis weaknesses, rather than try to match the Axis man for man.
The most important question was therefore not how many men were available for the Army, but how those men could best be organized to fight. The troop basis of the 1939 mobilization plans and the organizational premises of the most recent editions of the "color" plans provided little help because the guiding assumption of both was that the United States would be fighting a war primarily in defense of the hemisphere. Therefore those plans called for divisions that could best fight a defensive battle. Of the existing divisions in 1941, eighteen were still square divisions7 of the type that had been used in World War I. Designed primarily for operations involving the slow, steady power of the infantry-artillery team, square divisions had been rendered obsolete by mechanization and the German application of the prewar theories of Fuller and Liddell Hart.8
Structure of the Division: Planning Considerations
WPD planners recognized that Americans fighting overseas would have to fight on the offensive and that force structure and equipment had to facilitate such a tactical doctrine. Mobility was characteristic of the triangular division; firepower and shock action were characteristic of the square division. Neither type division was capable of all three of those roots of offensive action. Planners thus knew that the Army would need an entirely new type of organization. Even defense had no fixed flanks in modern war, and therefore rested on the counterattack, which required maneuver and
firepower to ensure success. for all of these tasks, Wedemeyer discerned that armored forces were essential.9
Even before starting the plan, Wedemeyer had believed that the Army needed to be restructured radically. His professional reading, particularly in the years he spent in Berlin, had persuaded him that, the catastrophe of World War I notwithstanding, offensive action lay at the heart of victory in modern war. He, like his contemporaries at the Kriegsakademie, had read Fuller and accepted the need fore the speed and shock action of armored forces.10 Understanding the German doctrine for battle reinforced that belief. Although he had spent a considerable amount of time at the Command and General Staff School studying static battle, he had found that the Germans were preparing for an entirely different type of war. The situations presented at the Kriegsakademie," he wrote in 1938, "involve war of movement, special emphasis being placed upon speed, in anticipation of the employment of mechanized and motorized forces."11
In his first year at the Kriegsakademie, every week's instruction had included two classes on the tactical use of air forces, five on tactics in general, and two on mechanized warfare in particular. In the second year, the number of hours devoted to tactics increased to six. The proportion of time dedicated to problems involving the armored division, large motorized forces, and light mechanized forces during the tactical instruction was high--a full four months out of the academic year. The student summer postings invariably involved mechanized forces as well. The German instructors supplemented the classroom lectures with trips to the tank school and excursions to the Krupp and Rheinmetall factories were armored vehicles were being made. As the Kriegsakademie emphasis was overwhelmingly offensive in nature, in his two years as a student in Berlin, Wedemeyer worked only three defensive situations in class, and but five situations requiring him to plan a delaying action. The remaining sixty problems were all various forms of attack. Never in his two years at the Kriegsakademie did he study a static defense such
as he had planned at Fort Leavenworth.12 In view of his clear understanding of the German way of war, Wedemeyer knew that it would be wrong to send 1918-style divisions to fight in Europe.13 The U.S. Army obviously required a new type of division that could cope with a very mobile German Army, which he knew was dedicated to a war of movement that sought early decisions in battle.
ground forces had to be supplemented by tactical air power, however, as Wedemeyer also understood from his two years in Germany. Kriegsakademie courses had stressed that every ground maneuver plan had to include a plan for employment of tactical air power as another part of its fire support. German doctrine for the use of air power demanded that the air force first establish command of the air over the battlefield to protect ground units from hostile air attack. The second mission was to attack enemy mobilization points, assembly areas, and movement toward the battlefield, as well as rear area targets such as command posts, reserves, and artillery. The example of the German tactical operations in 1939 and 1940 only validated the importance of tactical air power in a close support role. Air superiority over the area of operations was crucial, but simply having overwhelming air power was not enough. Instead, the air and ground forces had to operate together, in an effective air-ground team.14 One of the principal ways a smaller American ground force could fight a larger German Army was to use extensive air power because, as Wedemeyer saw, it could allow the smaller force to maneuver more quickly and see the battlefield more clearly than the enemy, to whom it could deny equivalent mobility by pinning his forces in place.15
A further consideration in laying out the blueprint for the new army was the theater in which it would have to fight. Wedemeyer already knew that the European theater would be the focus of American attention. From that premise, strategic considerations would directly influence questions of tactics and organization. Planners had to design divisions to operate well in western Europe, where there was scope for maneuver and where the enemy could be
expected to have powerful and mobile air and land forces. A division tailored to fight in the Pacific, by contrast, would have far fewer vehicles and would have to worry far less about mobility. Furthermore, it would not have to be so concerned about the problem of combating enemy armor. WPD took the position, however, that if the Army possessed field forces able to win the highest intensity battle they were likely to face, then it would also be adequately prepared for operations in other theaters and against lesser foes.16
Wedemeyer and his colleagues carefully studied the military operations under way in Africa and Europe, which affected their thinking about the force structure an American army needed to fight in Europe. The Blitzkrieg against France was impressive, transforming a static front into a decisive defeat for Anglo-French forces in the course of only seventeen days. The German advances in Libya, involving broad, sweeping maneuver over vast distances and the investment of strongpoints, and major fortresses such as Tobruk, likewise drew the attention of WPD planners. They noted the importance of tactical aviation in support of armored attack and realized that this new style of war required "a major decision on our part as to the direction of our development in equipment, organization, and tactics."17
Less successful operations also caught their attention. Spectacular victories in Poland, France, and North Africa did not conceal the problems the Germans faced in their amphibious operation in Norway in April of 1940, where they had to face a strong opposing fleet and air force. Nor did the utility of tactical aviation overshadow the German defeat in the Battle of Britain fought between July and September of 1940. They noted the airborne successes in Norway and Belgium, but observed that the Germans had secured Crete in May of 1941 at the cost of high casualties among their expensive parachute troops. effective joint planning was clearly necessary to enable, air, naval, and military forces to work together smoothly, particularly in high risk operations such as parachute and amphibious assaults. Furthermore, while they conceded the value of specialized divisions--cavalry, mountain, airborne, and parachute--in specialized circumstances, the men in WPD also believed that such
units could not conduct sustained combat and should be few in number.18
The progress of the war in Europe left Wedemeyer and his associates with certain impressions about equipment other than tanks and airplanes, too. Antitank gun appeared to be an important countermeasure against tanks that standard infantry divisions would need. As WPD planners evaluated the Camp Forrest maneuvers of 1941, they saw conditions prevailing on European battlefields duplicated in Tennessee. Armored units surrounded, disrupted, and disorganized conventionally organized troops with astounding ease. If infantry divisions were to be able to resist armored attacks, they needed powerful antitank support, and it seemed better that the antitank guns be mounted on track laying vehicles, too, because the towed gun lacked the requisite flexibility and could not be prepared for immediate fire, both characteristics that the war showed was essential. WPD parenthetically noted that the 37-mm. antitank guns was far too light to be effective against the latest foreign tanks and stated the need for a more effective new gun. Because he had never been a weapons specialist himself, Wedemeyer accepted the opinions of War Department ordnance experts on the various weapons proposed for the new divisions.19
The impressive power of German tactical aviation also suggested the need for more and better antiaircraft weapons to defend mobile ground troops. Automatic weapons adaptable to a highly mobile force, including the .50-caliber machine gun and the 37-mm. antiaircraft gun, had to be organic to the division. "These weapons, for effectiveness," WPD planners wrote, "must be available in quantity."20 Protection of the rear area command and supply installations supporting mobile forces was also important, and the heavy antiaircraft gun, preferably the new 90-mm. gun, appeared to be ideal for the purpose. Forward-looking planners, conscious of the German use of heavy Flak units against tanks in Africa, observed that "such guns should be so designed as to be capable of firing at either air or ground targets."21
Mobile war also demanded mobile logistics and services, and Wedemeyer saw the need for an enormous number of vehicles to supply the advanced elements of the force. Such vehicles had to have
low silhouette and high cross-country ability in order to assure a reliable channel of supply to ground troops in advanced positions. The great number of rapid fire weapons that the general staff planned for the division created the requirement for an assured flow of fuel and ammunition in order to sustain continuous battlefield mobility. Therefore logistics had to be as mobile as the combat forces, and the G-4 organization in theaters of war demanded efficient supply units with their own extensive transportation cadre.22
Combat support units had also to be mechanized to fight alongside armored units. WPD therefore assumed that engineer units would need cross-country vehicles to carry bridging equipment, demolition equipment, and the other engineer matériel required to promote a continuity of movement under all combat conditions. Likewise, signal troops had to be mechanized. Command and control, particularly of fast mechanized and armored units, relied on efficient signal communications. Both signal operations and signal maintenance units had to be able to keep pace with the armored task forces.23
Those diverse requirements seemed to imply extremely complex divisions composed of a wide variety of motorized, mechanized, and armored units. Such units would be unwieldy and difficult to train and control in battle unless WPD could devise organizational principles to simplify control. Wedemeyer found the key in an aspect of German organization that had impressed him: the Einheit, or "standard unit" principle.24 Insofar as possible, the Germans built all larger formations from independent units of standard configuration that could be attached or detached at will without sacrificing tactical integrity or creating administrative or supply nightmares. The building block design allowed a corps commander continuously to reconfigure his divisions for the exact mission they encountered, but without introducing the confusion that divisional reorganization had traditionally involved. The division was no longer the standard tactical unit the German Army,
but was rather a headquarters with certain permanently assigned service units, capable of receiving, commanding, and sustaining a variety of combat elements. In doing this, the Germans eliminated the brigade echelon of command as superfluous, and the division commander directly controlled the operations of his regiments, each of which was the core of a combat team. Such an organization seemed to be ideal for an American army fighting on varied terrain, because it would make it possible to build divisions of specialized capabilities out of commonly designed regiments that could conduct similar training.25
The pace of modern war was also an important consideration. The tempo of mechanized warfare dramatically decreased the amount of time available to a commander to make decisions in battle.[*] The flood of information, including battlefield intelligence, available to the commander was difficult to assimilate in the short time now available, so that he was often little better off with too much information than with too little. The Kriegsakademie had taught Wedemeyer that a merely adequate decision, quickly reached, was far better than a perfect one reached after the fact. To exploit fleeting opportunities in battle, then, the commander had not only to think, decide, and act quickly, but he had also to be able to manipulate his task forces quickly. Large units were difficult to handle, and the British and French experience in 1940 indicated to WPD that smaller divisions with greater organic firepower were by far the better idea. Commanders could maneuver smaller divisions more quickly, supply them more easily, and tailor them for battle with greater efficiency.
Their review of the progress of the war, the challenges facing the United States Army on a European battlefield, and the growth of military technology persuaded Wedemeyer and his colleagues in War Plans Division that the United States needed to rebuild the Army as a basically mechanized force with the armored division as the principal offensive tool. Enormous demands for manpower could be moderated only through intelligent force design and the best possible use of the most effective modern military technology.
As Wedemeyer completed his study of divisional organization, he was satisfied that the contemporary square division was obsolete because of its overreliance on manpower alone. The value of manpower had to be enhanced through mobility. Ultimately, American
[*] This claim continues to be made up to the present day (2006); but is it really true? Earlier in this chapter, the author emphasizes the speed of the German blitzkrieg against France: 17 days to achieve decisive results. Napoleon and Wellington fielded forces far too large to be easily commanded by themselves, and a decisive battle in a matter of hours. The great battles of the ancient world (Gaugemela, Cannae, etc.), also fought by formations too large for the commanders to decisively affect in the course of the engagements, were decided in the space of a few hours. --HyperWar]
divisions would fight in the high intensity European theater, where only armored and mechanized units had real offensive utility. Fewer of those units would suffice, if their value, in turn, were multiplied by powerful tactical air forces. Organizational economy could be gained by building divisions of different types and capabilities out of standard tactical units. To meet the threat of strong enemy armored forces and air forces, which WPD planners expected to be even more powerful by 1943, divisions required massive antitank, antiaircraft artillery, and field artillery reserves for support. Highly mobile logistical and service units sustained the divisions in battle. Finally, a smaller division, vastly greater in firepower than the old square division, was the more efficient tactical tool on a modern, fast-paced battlefield.
As Wedemeyer had written in his report on study at the Kriegsakademie, modern reconnaissance techniques virtually precluded true surprise and made the ideal of wide envelopment almost impossible. He believed that "the ever essential surprise element could best be accomplished through mobility and rapidity."26 He therefore began to lay plans for a force that relied on speed and firepower.
Organizing the Force: Influence of the War Plan
Thus far, Wedemeyer's calculations, although based upon a series of planning assumptions, were essentially mathematical in nature. Once he began to device an organizational structure for the war army, however, he had to use those planning considerations subjectively. In many cases the planning reflected Wedemeyer's best estimate of the forces the Army would need to carry out the national military strategy as he understood it. Types and numbers of divisions and other organizations were the product of his judgment, and were therefore a matter of informed opinion, subject to debate among members of his "murder committee."
Wedemeyer did not exercise his judgment in the abstract, but in pursuit of a specific, realistic objective. No mobilization plan has inherent merit; its value accrues only insofar as it contributes to the accomplishment of a plan of operations. In this case, the provisions of the RAINBOW 5 plan gave his remaining work its structure. In broad outline, war plan RAINBOW 5 required sufficient military forces to accomplish three main objectives:
- Enforce the Monroe doctrine by defending the western hemisphere from foreign attack.
- Protect U.S. possessions in the Pacific and maintain a sufficient force to deter war in the western Pacific.
- Create task forces capable of fighting in the Americas, the Caribbean, and in conjunction with Great Britain, in Africa, the Mediterranean and Europe.
While 14 million men were theoretically available, industrial requirements and the demands of mobilization construction reduced the figure realistically to somewhere around 12 million. A notional total of 8.5 million men had to suffice for both land forces and for air forces to execute those tasks, with only a portion of those men assigned to ground forces. The air staff sent Wedemeyer an estimate of Army Air Corps requirements that demanded around 2.1 million of the Army' share of military manpower, leaving around 6 million men for the ground army. This was still, he believed, a large enough force to satisfy the war plan's requirements.
Wedemeyer believed "that the enemy can be defeated without creating the numerical superiority" traditionally required for success in battle.27 They key to victory lay in building efficient forces and using them effectively to achieve local force superiority. His basic plan involved creating powerful armored and mechanized task forces that could exploit this local superiority to strike violently and swiftly from well-prepared European bases to defeat the Germans in detail. Firepower, mobility, and air power would make up for manpower shortages.
Mission One: Hemispheric Defense
The first requirement was to maintain the security of the western
hemisphere, where outlying minimum garrisons would defend the sea frontiers of America in the event of the sudden collapse of the United Kingdom. Since small island bases for air and naval patrol units required very small army garrisons, Wedemeyer allocated minimal units to the army forces in Newfoundland, Greenland, Jamaica, Bermuda, Antigua, St. Lucia, Curaçao, British Guiana, Aruba, and Trinidad. He believed that a grand total of 32,144 troops of all types would be sufficient, in cooperation with the Navy and Air Corps, to sustain the Atlantic outposts. Most of the soldiers would be in the administrative, logistical, and service forces, although the bases would need military police and similar security elements as well. The only significant combat element in the Atlantic bases was drawn form the Coast Artillery Corps, which provided harbor defense guns and antiaircraft artillery protection for anchorages and airfields.28 Atlantic bases would not require mobile combat units.
Mission Two: Defend the Outlying Possessions
Defense of the outlying possessions of the United States required greater manpower than did the defense of hemispheric bases. Hawaii was important as the principal anchorage of the United States Pacific Fleet. The terrain in the islands was rugged enough, however, to make it impractical to use mechanized units. Conventional infantry regiments were the best choices to operate in the tropics, and two triangular infantry divisions appeared to Wedemeyer sufficient to secure Hawaii.29 To back up the divisions, he allotted two heavy artillery regiments, one battalion of parachute infantry, and one light tank battalion. Coast Artillery regiments manning the existing harbor defenses needed to be supplemented by an antiaircraft organization consisting of one aircraft warning regiment and five antiaircraft artillery regiments to protect the port
and harbor fortifications. In all, the Army's contribution to the defense of Hawaii required only 58,696 men, including service troops.30
The experience of two full tours of duty in the Philippines convinced Wedemeyer that the islands were indefensible at any cost the United States was willing to pay. Both the Army and the Navy had long accepted that the Philippines were a strategic liability that could not be defended in the event of a major war involving Japan. Still, Manila Bay and Subic Bay were excellent ports, the use of which ought to be denied any potential enemy for as long as possible, and the islands provided important air bases as well. Furthermore, political considerations overrode the purely military, because the United States could ill afford simply to withdraw, thereby abandoning the Filipinos to their fate. The existing garrison sufficed to protect the critical harbors and establish the essential American "presence," and the War Department did not plan to send many additional troops to the western Pacific. Less than 25,500 men, a significant proportion of which was Philippines Scouts, manned one provisional infantry division, one horse cavalry regiment, and a seacoast artillery brigade. Wedemeyer projected strengthening the force with two heavy artillery regiments, one antiaircraft artillery regiment and one aircraft warning regiment, one light tank battalion, and one parachute infantry battalion. As with the Hawaiian Islands, light troops were best suited to fight in the Philippines.31
The harsh climate and forbidding terrain of Alaska also made use of mobile troops impractical. The proposed 27,000-man garrison included three conventional infantry regiments reinforced by one separate infantry battalion, one parachute infantry battalion, a light tank company, one heavy artillery battalion, and one light artillery battery. The Coast Artillery Corps again provided the principal defenses. The coastal artillery was to expand to a strength of three heavy artillery battalions for harbor defense, one aircraft warning regiment, three antiaircraft artillery regiments, and four antiaircraft batteries.32
Caribbean possession were another matter. To secure Puerto Rico, a strategic garrison, Wedemeyer allotted one triangular infantry division and one parachute infantry battalion. Ports and airfields
demanded a small antiaircraft organization consisting of one aircraft warning company and two antiaircraft artillery regiments. Approximately 25,000 men sufficed for all Army missions in Puerto Rice. Panama, with the strategic canal, was more difficult for a potential enemy to reach by land and was also protected by the Navy. Total Army forces there amounted to just over 31,000 men, of whom 10,000 were infantrymen and a similar number coast artillerymen and antiaircraft gunners. Three infantry regiments, three parachute infantry battalions, one airborne battalion, and a battalion each of medium and light artillery comprised an adequate maneuver force. Coast defenses required two Coast Artillery regiments, one aircraft warning company, and four antiaircraft artillery regiments.
The conventional units Wedemeyer planned for the security missions implicit in RAINBOW 5 used around 200,000 men. Almost six million soldiers remained for the offensive portions of the war plan. Because the nation's basic strategic concept involved encircling Germany and bringing continuously greater pressure to bear through progressive military and economic constrictions, a proportion of those six million had to be diverted to establish and maintain forward bases in the European theater from which combat forces could operate. Wedemeyer foresaw American garrisons in Iceland, Scotland, Ireland, and England as likely bases from which to launch American attacks on the continent of Europe. Infantry regiments to secure the bases, antiaircraft gunners to protect harbors and airfields, and the various medical, ordnance, quartermaster, engineer, and signal units that operated the facilities consumed a total of 105,500 more soldiers. Many were form the Coast Artillery Corps. New mechanized or armored divisions were unnecessary for such garrisons.33 After establishing the bases, about five and one-half million men were left for task forces and strategic reserves. The division slice governed distribution of the balance between ground forces and services.
Mission Three: Overseas Task Forces
Division slice was the WPD planners' term to describe the ratio between combat soldiers and the number of service troops required
to sustain the former in battle. The figure was a variable that depended upon the degree of technical sophistication of military equipment and support systems. The more complex the tank, for example, the more skilled men had to be assigned to tank maintenance. The division slice was a planning figure that allowed WPD to allocate manpower between the arms and services--the "tooth-to-tail" dilemma of modern armies. Wedemeyer used the Army G-3's then-current planning data, a figure of 1:1, or one soldier in support for every soldier in the line. The resulting division slice was 30,000, when meant that each 15,000-man combat division required another 15,000 men in the services to support and sustain it.34
Cognizant of that need, Wedemeyer divided the ground force component of the Army into combat and service units. He allocated 3.9 million men to combat arms and 1.8 million to the services. This almost exactly reflected the division slice figure, after allowing for administrative and service troops organic to divisions, the headquarters overhead demanded by corps and army echelons, and the independent garrisons manning the outposts in the Pacific and Atlantic ocean frontiers.35 He agreed with WPD estimates that called for one motorized division for every armored division, because armored divisions spearheaded offensive action, while motorized divisions allowed infantrymen to keep pace with armored forces and provide a highly mobile, strategic reserve in the theater. Still, numbers of conventional triangular infantry divisions were needed to pave the way in slow, difficult operations on broken terrain and, reinforced with adequate antitank units, to hold ground in the face of a hostile armored threat. Limited numbers of special purpose divisions, organized to suit the requirements of fighting in the European theater, also had to be formed. Within the general headquarters, there needed to be a reserve of antiaircraft, armor, antitank, artillery, and special purpose and miscellaneous troops.36
Working from these decisions, Wedemeyer organized task forces to fight the war. He planned two task forces for operations in the Americas and the Caribbean. even though he thought the possibility of German or German-inspired attacks through South America was a fanciful notion, he established small forces that could deal with this potential threat. The first task force was therefore designated for Brazil, the closest nation to Africa, and therefore the most likely landing area for enemy troops. Constituted as a corps, the Brazil task force contained on e triangular infantry division and one airborne division, a horse-mounted cavalry regiment, and appropriate antiaircraft and artillery units. The small corps held a total of only 77,700 troops and was to defend North American from attack from the south and preclude or minimize defections of South American nations to the Axis. The units Wedemeyer assigned to the corps reflected the terrain in which they would be expected to fight, terrain where mechanized or motorized forces could not be used effectively. Most importantly from Wedemeyer's point of view, the corps would also be a strategic reserve, a strong striking force for use in southern Europe or the African theater.37
The second task force was also dedicated to hemispheric defense. The Colombia-Ecuador-Peru task force consisted of one heavily reinforced triangular infantry division, totaling 34,000 men. While it could reinforce the Brazil task force if threats developed there, the division most likely would collaborate with Air Corps units to defend the Panama Canal. Wedemeyer also considered these troops part of the strategic reserve and emphasized that they had to be held ready for prompt movement to another theater.38
The three task forces intended to conduct the war in Europe contained the vast majority of the nation's combat power.39 Using the division slice figure and estimating the number of special purpose divisions and conventional infantry divisions the Army
needed as opposed to armored and mechanized divisions, Wedemeyer devised a grand total of 215 division of all types, organized into five field armies. First, Third, and Fourth Armies were purely offensive task forces, exempt from the defensive portions of RAINBOW 5. Each army had the specific mission to train and prepare for battle in central Europe, although each also had a contingency mission. Third Army was required to be ready to fight in South and Central America and Africa, and Fourth Army was to be prepared to operate on the west coast of South America, in Alaska, and in the Hawaiian Islands if required. Second and Fifth Armies were the strategic reserve that the Army could activate as necessary.
Wedemeyer built each army around a core of nine triangular infantry divisions. The striking force of each army, however, lay in its armored and mechanized divisions. First Army had four divisions of each type, plus two mountain divisions and two airborne divisions. Third Army had two cavalry, two airborne, two armored, and two mechanized divisions. Fourth Army consisted of two armored, four mechanized, two mountain, and two airborne divisions. Each army had appropriate corps headquarters to command the divisions and sufficient organic service troops to sustain the combat units in action. To contend with strong German armored units that enjoyed close tactical air support, the U.S. forces would have powerful combat support forces under army control, including tank destroyer and antitank battalions and reserve artillery. For the same reason, Wedemeyer gave each army an elaborate antiaircraft artillery organization. the armies were similar in organization, but their strength varied from 17 to 21 divisions:
Army Hq. & Hq. Co., and Army Troops
3 Corps Headquarters & Corps Troops
2 Armored Corps Headquarters & Corps Troops
9 Triangular Infantry Divisions
4 Armored Divisions
4 Triangular Infantry Divisions (Motorized)
2 Mountain Divisions
2 Airborne Divisions
8 Separate Tank Battalions
10 Tank Destroyer Battalions
10 Antitank Battalions (Gun)
5 Parachute Infantry Battalions
2 Heavy Artillery Regiments
9 Medium & Light Artillery Battalions
12 Aircraft Warning Regiments
20 Antiaircraft Artillery Regiments
10 Mobile Antiaircraft Battalions
Army Hq. & Hq. Co., and Army Troops
3 Corps Headquarters & Corps Troops
1 Armored Corps Headquarters & Corps Troops
1 Cavalry Corps Headquarters & Corps Troops
9 Triangular Infantry Divisions
2 Armored Divisions
2 Triangular Infantry Divisions (Motorized)
2 Airborne Divisions
2 Cavalry Divisions
5 Tank Destroyer Battalions
10 Antitank Battalions (Gun)
5 Parachute Infantry Battalions
1 Heavy Artillery Regiment
2 Medium Artillery Battalions
3 Aircraft Warning Regiments
5 Antiaircraft Artillery Regiments
3 Mobile Antiaircraft Battalions
Army Hq. & Hq. Co., and Army Troops
3 Corps Headquarters & Corps Troops
9 Triangular Infantry Divisions
2 Armored Divisions
4 Triangular Infantry Divisions (Motorized)
2 Mountain Divisions
2 Airborne Divisions
8 Separate Tank Battalions
10 Tank Destroyer Battalions
15 Antitank Battalions (Gun)
2 Parachute Infantry Battalions
4 Heavy Artillery Regiments
4 Medium Artillery Battalions
6 Aircraft Warning Regiments
15 Antiaircraft Artillery Regiments
10 Mobile Antiaircraft Battalions
Besides the task forces, Wedemeyer envisioned a considerable strategic reserve, a well-balanced pool of units either to reinforce and supplement existing task forces, or to create complete task forces for other missions. Unable to predict the exact military situation
the United States would be facing in July of 19943, he also planned for a reserve of fully equipped units. Those units would not be created immediately, however, because their manpower was more urgently needed to construct training areas, barracks, and the like, and work the production lines that were vital to manufacture the military matériel to equip units the Army would organize immediately. The Army would call up the additional men as needed, to active units in the strategic reserve, in accordance with developments in the international situation. The strategic reserve consisted of two armies, the Second and the Fifth:
Strategic Reserve, GHQ
2 Army Hq & Hq Cos. and Army Troops
10 Corps and Corps Troops
14 Armored Corps and Corps Troops
27 Triangular Infantry Divisions
53 Armored Divisions
51 Triangular Infantry Divisions (Mechanized)
2 Cavalry Divisions
6 Mountain Divisions
3 Airborne Divisions
115 Medium and Heavy Artillery Battalions
86 Separate Tank Battalions
290 Tank Destroyer Battalions
262 Antitank Battalions (Gun)
22 Parachute Infantry Battalions
29 Aircraft Warning Regiments
129 Antiaircraft Artillery Regiments
133 Antiaircraft Battalions (Mobile)
Wedemeyer's completed calculations outlined a powerful army of 215 maneuver divisions, of which 61 were to be armored, 61 mechanized, 54 infantry triangular, 4 cavalry, 10 mountain, and 7 airborne. The remaining divisions were allotted to task forces committed to hemispheric defense and defense of outlying possessions of the United States, or were to be constituted from separate battalions in the strategic reserve.40 When Wedemeyer submitted his
study in early September, his final manpower commitments were as follows:
TOTAL ARMY FORCES Air Force Combat units 1,100,000 Air Force Service units 950,000 Total Air Force41 2,050,000 Military Bases and Outlying Possessions 346,217 Potential Task Forces 2,199,441 Fixed Defenses & Zone of the Interior Forces 1,200,000 Total Active Units 3,745,658 Units in strategic reserve to be activated when situation required 3,000,000 Total Army Ground Forces 6,745,658 TOTAL ARMY FORCES: 8,795,658
Wedemeyer then sent copies of his final estimate of Army Requirements to each element of the War Department staff for comment. By 23 August 1941, the G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, and Air Corps had all informally concurred in the draft. General Gerow, in turn, transmitted the document to the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, for action.42 He asked the G-4 to determine the number of each of the critical and essential items necessary to equip and maintain the force Wedemeyer proposed. Without the basic strategic plan Wedemeyer had written, it would have been impossible for the G-4 to tabulate such information; with it, the task was manageable. The G-4 staff swiftly computed the equipment requirements and returned a list to Wedemeyer on the afternoon of 4 September 1941.43
General Marshall's original concern had been that President
Roosevelt's plan to supply Great Britain and Russia with military matériel would completely disorganize the Army's mobilization program. In fact, when Wedemeyer finished his work, the Army had no better understanding of production requirements to meet the needs of Lend Lease.44 For instance, Marshall continued to argue that American forces had to be equipped before the United States shipped any significant amounts of modern weapons and munitions to the Allies.45 However vague the Army's understanding of Lend Lease needs, its estimate of matériel established a planning basis that at least allowed planners to figure the impact of Lend Lease on American readiness. eventually, the Army passed Lend Lease production questions to the civilian authorities, largely because the War Department staff could only guess at the needs of the British and the Russians.
the Army planning data, including estimates made by the planning section of the Air Corps, were combined as a joint study and, together with a similar estimate made by the Navy for "Victory Sea Forces," were turned over to the Joint Army and Navy Board. The Joint Board approved the basic plan and forwarded it to the civilian production agencies in the government. Although Wedemeyer's plan was frequently called the "Victory Plan," or "Victory Program," that name more properly applies to the entire production program, of which Wedemeyer's study was one of the major components, eventually administered by the Office of Production Management.46
Table of Contents ** Previous Chapter (3) * Next Chapter (5)
1. Marshall had held that view for some months. For his reflections on the problem, see Memorandum, George C. Marshall for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, October 14, 1941, Subj: Estimate of Ground Forces. . . . NARA RG 165, File WPD 4594.
2. Interview with General Wedemeyer, 24 April 1987.
3. For the entire discussion of comparative combat strengths, see Ultimate Requirements Study, pp. 2-7, and Estimate of Army Ground Forces, pp. 6-12. Projections of German military power, like appraisals of Axis intentions, derived from G-2 estimates.
4. Memorandum, Wedemeyer for Gerow, 9 September 1941, NARA RG 165, OPD Exec. #4, Item #7.
5. Estimate of Army requirements, p. 8.
6. Ibid., p. 7. Emphasis in original.
7. "Square" divisions, consisting of four infantry regiments with artillery and supporting services, was the Army's organization in World War I. The "Triangular" infantry division reduced the infantry regiments to three and increased the mobility and firepower of the division.
8. See Memorandum, Gerow for the Chief of Staff, 10 August 1941, Subj: Evaluation of Modern Combat forces, pp. 9, 14. NARA RG 165, File WPD 3674-52. In late 1941, the Army had a total of 33 divisions: 18 square, 8 triangular, 1 motorized, 4 armored, and 2 cavalry. The 1942 Troop Basis proposed few changes in its total of divisions: 18 square, 9 triangular, 6 motorized, 6 armored, and 2 cavalry. An army so designed was intended for defense.
9. Ibid., p. 13.
10. Interview with General Wedemeyer, 24 April 1987. General Wedemeyer emphasized the influence of Fuller on his thinking and commented that Fuller's works were widely read and discussed among Kriegsadakemie students.
11. Memorandum, Captain A.C. Wedemeyer for the Adjutant General, 3 August 1938, Subj: German General Staff School, p. 12. NARA RG 165, G-2 Regional Files--Germany (6740), Box 1409 (Suitland). Hereinafter cited as Kriegsakademie Report.
12. Kriegsakademie Report, pp. 7-8, 10-14, 140.
13. Interview with General Wedemeyer, 24 April 1987. General Wedemeyer made this point in his report on attendance at the German War College and remarked that general Marshall and certain officers on the WPD staff shared his view that mechanization made old-style divisional organization obsolete.
14. Kriegsakademie Report, p. 5.
15. Interview with General Wedemeyer, 24 April 1987.
16. Evaluation of Modern Combat Forces, p. 3.
17. Ibid., p. 1. emphasis in original. This document explicitly mentions WPD review of the war; many other documents show that officers on the Army staff were watching the fighting carefully and thinking critically about what lessons might be learned from it.
18. Ibid., pp. 9-10. Also see Estimate of Army Requirements, pp. 8-10.
19. Evaluation of Modern Combat Forces, p. 7.
22. Ibid., p. 8.
24. Evidently the principle of standard units was a topic of conversation in professional military circles in the late 19302. General Wedemeyer remarked upon the German implementation of the idea in his report on attendance at the German War College, and noted that the concept was favorably regarded by officers in WPD in 1941. Interview with General Wedemeyer, 24 April 1987.
25. See Wedemeyer's comments in Kriegsakademie Report, pp. 141-42.
26. Ibid., p. 140. Emphasis in original. Wedemeyer wrote that the envelopment was the most effective form of maneuver which, "if aggressively employed deep in the hostile flank or rear, can result in a decisive victory--an annihilation of the enemy." He went on to observe that "wide envelopments are more effective than close in." Nonetheless, such wide maneuver was very difficult to arrange because of the technical intelligence means available to the field army. See pp. 91-92.
27. Estimate of Army Requirements, p. 8.
28. The 52d Coast Artillery (Railway), for example, sent on e battery of 8-inch railway rifles to help protect the harbor at Newfoundland, and another battery to Bermuda.
29. In October 1940 the Army created the 24th Infantry Division form the old Hawaiian Division, having drawn cadres form it to create the new 25th Infantry Division in August. Both divisions were still in Hawaii in December 1941. See John B. Wilson, Armies, Corps, Divisions and Separate Brigades. ARMY LINEAGE SERIES (Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History, 1987).
30. The figure did not include Air Corps personnel, which were computed separately. See Ultimate Requirements Study, p. 9.
32. Ultimate Requirements Study, pp. 7-9.
34. Wedemeyer reports!, p. 66.
35. An excellent personnel summary is contained in Memorandum, Lt. Col. Harry Reichelderfer for Colonel Mallon (G-4), 5 September 1941, Subj: Ultimate Requirements for the Army, a document Reichelderfer prepared for his chief to summarize the contents of Wedemeyer's study. This document indicates that Wedemeyer distributed copies of his study to various staff elements for information; in this case, he asked the G-4 to determine exactly how much matériel would be required to equip the forces he proposed. NARA RG 165, File WPD 4494-4.
36. Evaluation of Modern Combat Forces, pp. 16-21.
37. Ultimate Requirements Study, p. 10.
39. Ibid., pp. 11-12. Also, Estimate of Army Requirements, Tab A, pp. 1-3. All discussions of task forces, including specific troop figures, come from these documents. The two differ in detail. The earlier of the two, the Ultimate Requirements Study, reaches a smaller total of divisions; the Estimate of Army Requirements was the final paper and contained the figures submitted to the President. Aside from division totals, the two papers vary in details such as specific strength figures and nondivisional units assigned to task forces. Those differences are not significant for purposes of this discussion.
40. Estimate of Army Requirements, p. 12 and Tab A.
41. Air Force requirements were computed separately by Air Staff and delivered to War Plans Division; Wedemeyer was not responsible for them.
42. Memorandum, Brig. Gen. L.T. Gerow for Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, 23 August 1941, Subj: Ultimate Requirement for the Army. NARA RG 165, WPD File 4494-4.
43. Memorandum, Brig. Gen. E. Reybold for Assistant Chief of Staff, WPD, 5 September 1941, Subj: Ultimate Requirements for the Army. NARA RG 165, File WPD G-4/33473.
44. G-4 calculations of matériel for U.S. units followed existing and proposed Table of Organization and Equipment. In some cases, both in ground forces and in air forces, the staff made attempts to estimate Lend Lease requirements as well. See Production Requirements. U.S. Estimates of Own Needs and Those of Foreign Nations, Critical Items Only. NARA RG 165, WPD Files 4494-5 and 4494-26.
45. Memorandum, General George C. Marshall for president F.D. Roosevelt, 14 October 1941, Subj: Estimate of Ground Forces required (1) for immediate security of the Western Hemisphere, (2) ultimately to defeat our potential enemies. NARA RG 165, File WPD 4594.
46. For the final, detailed production estimates, see Joint Board No. 355 (Serial 707), Army and Navy Estimate of United States Over-All Production Requirements, September 11, 1941. NARA RG 225.