A striking feature of World War II was America's ability to raise and equip a modern army seemingly overnight. Emerging from its negligible base in 1941 and competing with the needs of the other services and Allies, the Army stood in just forty-eight months at 8 million men with equipment second to none. Such a prodigious feat owes much to sound military planning, as The Victory Plan of 1941 carefully demonstrates. But this study also underscores the fact that even in 1941 warfare had become so vast in scope, so expensive, and so technologically complex that nations could never again afford to maintain in time of peace the armies needed in time of war. As Albert Wedemeyer, the remarkable Army officer who wrote the 1941 plan, makes clear, mobilization transcends purely military matters and must be understood to embrace the total capacity of nations. The conclusion seems inescapable: the United States Army must keep mobilization planning at the center of all its military planning.
The experience of the nation's total mobilization for World War II offers good counsel, not so much in its details of numbers and types of units raised or materiél required as in its description of the thought process Wedemeyer and his colleagues used in reaching these decisions. I recommend the following analysis of Wedemeyer's vital work to military planners and to all those studying mobilization and logistics. It will provide a clear picture of how our recent predecessors approached the complex challenge or preparing for modern war, a challenge that remains with us today.
21 December 1989
Harold W. Nelson
Chief of Military History
Major Charles E. Kirkpatrick is an Air Defense Artillery officer who commanded units in the Federal Republic of Germany and inb the United States and later served as an assistant professor in the Department of History, United States Military Academy. He subsequently taught military history and tactics at the United States Army Air Defense Artillery School. Major Kirkpatrick received the B.A. cum laude and with honors in history from Wake Forest College in 1969, and the M.A. in European history the following year. He was a Ford Fellow at Emory University, from which he earned the Ph.D. in 1987. Major Kirkpatrick is the author of Archie in the A.E.F.: The Creation of the Antiaircraft Service of the United States Armyu, 1917-1918 (1984).
General Albert C. Wedemeyer
As the research for this study progressed, it quickly became evident that the documentary record alone could never resolve all of the questions about how and why the Victory Plan was written. Nor could it reveal how certain decisions were reached, or upon what influences. In answering such questions, I was fortunate to have the help of the author of the Victory Plan. General Albert C. Wedemeyer spent long hours patiently discussing his duties of the summer of 1941, and equally long hours reading and commenting upon my draft manuscript. Through these discussions and through following the general's reading program, I not only gained insights into the development of the Victory Plan, but also an education in strategic thought. I am indebted to General Wedemeyer for the latter as much as for the former.
The members of the Center of Military History panel on this manuscript have materially improved the work, and I particularly thank Mr. Morris MacGregor, Col. Michael D. Krause, Col. Thomas Wilkerson, Dr. Jeffrey, J. Clarke, Dr. Jack Nunn, and Mr. John Elsberg. I also acknowledge with particular gratitude the critical reviews of this papers by Professor Maurice Matloff, Professor Carl Boyd, Professor Charles Endress, and Dr. Keith E. Eiler, General Wedemeyer's biographer. I am indebted to Dr. Edward J. Drea, Dr. Bruce R. Pirnie, Dr.Michael Deis, Mr. Terrence J. Gough, Col. Paul Miles, Col. W. Scott Dillard, Col. Henry Gole, Lt. Col. Robert Frank, and Lt. Col. Gregory Fontenot for their frank and helpful comments. My colleagues in the Military Studies Branch have read and commented upon successive drafts of the manuscript, and I wish particularly to thank Majs. Steve E. Dietrich, Thomas Grodoecki, and Jon House and Dr. Edgar Raines for their advice and forbearance. I am especially grateful to Dr. Alexander S. Cochran, Jr., chief of the Military Studies Branch, who has shared his expertise in the field and guided my research, helping me to develop my ideas and the structure of the monograph. Dr. Cochran has been a deft and gentle editor, as well as a thoughtful critic.
In several visits to the city of Washington, Dr. Keith Eiler discussed with me General Wedemeyer's work in the summer of 1941
and provided additional documentation from the general's collected papers at the Hoover Institution. Dr. Alfred M. Beck kindly allowed me to use an interview he had conducted with General Wedemeyer in the course of his own research. I am indebted to the staffs of the Military Reference Branch of the National Archives of the United States, and particularly Mr. Leroy Jackson; the Washington National Records Center at Suitland, Maryland; and the archives of the United States Army Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, especially Dr. Richard Sommers and Mr. David Keogh, for their professional help. The archivists' extensive knowledge of their collections enabled them to point out valuable areas of research I had not theretofore considered. Linda Cajka prepared the photographic layout, and Sfc. Marshall T. Williams prepared the cover. Finally, I owe special thanks to Mr. Duncan Miller, who edited the manuscript and whose suggestions materially improved both style and content.
While this study could not have been written without the assistance of all of these scholars and friends, I am responsible for the interpretation that I have placed upon the facts, and for any errors that may exist, either in point of fact or in the analysis of those facts.
21 December 1989
CHARLES E. KIRKPATRICK
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