United States Army in World War II
The War Department

Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Operations

Mark Skinner Watson

. . . For Those Who Served


Foreword ix
Preface ix
Chapter Page
I. Introductory 1
    The Influence of Two Decades 3
    The Large Influence of President Roosevelt 5
    The Chief of Staff and Congress 7
    Controlling Decisions on War Policy 9
    Training of the Individual and the Team 13
II. Prewar Sentiment and Its Effect on the Army 15
    Deterioration of the Army Between Wars 23
    A More Realistic Planning Basis 26
    Scant Funds Allowed for New Weapons 31
    The Accepted Policy of Arming Solely for Defense 35
    The Psychological Effect of Repression 36
    The Quest for New Types of Weapons 38
    The 1936 Paradox--a Halt in Research Expenditures 42
    The Air Corps Breaks Through Earlier Restrictions 44
    Protests Against Methods of Fiscal Control 47
    The Chief of Staff and the Research Effort 50
III. The General Staff: Its Origins and Powers 57
    The General Staff's Changing Pattern 59
    Changes After World War I 62
    The Chief of Staff's Powers 64
    The Deputies' Powers 69
    The Secretary of the General Staff 71
    Duties of the Five Assistant Chiefs of Staff 72
    All-Inclusiveness of the Chief of Staff's Responsibility 75
    How Staff Divisions Functioned 76
    The "Joint Board" of Army and Navy 79
    Was the Prewar Staff Effective? 81
IV. Foreign Policy and the Armed Forces 85
    Army Planners' Advance from Principles of Passive Defense 87
    Secretary Hull Provides the Initiative 89
    A Start at Combined Planning with Britain 92
    Hemisphere Defense a Factor in Rearming 94
    The Role of the Joint Army and Navy board 97
    The Growing Strategic Importance of the Airplane 100
    Revised Interest in Ground Force Development 101
V. Rearming Begins: A Confusion of Aims 126
    The October 1938 Impulse to American Rearming 131
    The Army Begins Revising Its Ordnance Planning 134
    The Momentous White House Meeting of 14 November 1938 136
    The Army Plans a Balanced Development 139
    The Effort to Accomplish Too Many Objectives 143
    The Obstacles to Thorough Planning 145
VI. Rearming Gets Under Way 148
    April 1939 Anticipation of War 152
    War Planning in August 1939 155
    The September 1939 Troop Increase: Only 17,000 Men 156
    Restraint in Requests for Funds 161
    Isolation Sentiment Still Strong in Early 1940 164
    Congressional Sentiment Begins a Marked Shift 166
    General Marshall Warns of Further Needs 168
    Plans for a Rapidly Increasing Army--and a Draft 171
    Advance Planning for 4,000,000 Men 172
    Discouraging Discovery of Production barriers 177
VII. Troop-Training Problems of 1940 183
    Draft or Volunteers for Prewar Recruitment? 184
    The Regular Army's Role in Training 187
    Civilian Leadership in Draft Legislation 189
    Urgent New Reasons for Early Draft Legislation 192
    Costliness of the Delay in 1940 Draft Legislation 196
    The Question of How Best to Use Trained Units 197
    Mid-1940 Aids to Matériel Production 201
    Difficulties in Planning Amid Uncertainties 204
    Training Entrusted to GHQ 206
    The Obstacles to Training 208
    Summer Maneuvers of 1940 209
    General Marshall's Attention to Training Program 210
    The Timing of Troop Inductions 212
    Extension of Service Term Is Considered 214
    Marshall Asks for Retention of Guard, Reserves, and Draft Troops 218
    The Fierce Fight on Draft Extension 220
    General Marshall's Role in the Legislative Battle 222
    Attention to Soldier Morale 231
    Last and Largest Maneuvers of the Prewar Period 237
VIII. Officer Selection, Promotion, and Rejection 241
    Precautions Against Discriminatory Treatment of Reserve Components 244
    Expediting Promotion of the Specially Deserving 247
    A New Bill for Selective Promotion 249
    Policy Determining Selection and Promotion 253
    Efforts to Stimulate Promotion of National Guard Officers 258
    A Halt in Promotions to Attain Uniformity 263
    Attention to Complaints from Within the Service 264
    Declaration of War Brings a New Promotion Policy 266
    Controlling the Inflow of Young Officers 269
    Special Attention to Important Personnel Assignments 272
IX. The Movement Toward Air Autonomy 278
    Attitude of the New Chief of Staff in 1939 280
    The Slow Progress Toward Air Autonomy 282
    General Arnold Advises Against Haste 286
    An Unsuccessful Compromise in October 1940 289
    General Marshall's Move of March 1941 Toward Solution 291
    The First Step: Consolidating the Air Elements 292
    Command Responsibility Requires a New Arrangement 295
    No Autonomy, But Great Progress Toward It 297
X. Aid to Britain versus Rearming of America 299
    Sharing "Secret" Weapons with Other Nations 300
    The Army Declines to Endorse Further Exports 303
    Foreign Shipments Provoke a Departmental Crisis 304
    German Victories of May 1940 Accentuate Disagreements 305
    European Pressure for Other Weapons 309
    Search for Legal Authority for Sale of "Surplus" Arms 310
    The Critical Shortage in Small-Arms Ammunition 312
    Need for Allocations and Accurate Scheduling 314
    Britain's Fruitful Proposals for Coordination of Effort 316
    A Restatement of the Plan for Army Expansion 318
    Lend-Lease Fails to Solve the Problem of Satisfactory Allocations 321
    The Long-range Influence of Lend-Lease 325
    A Basis Reached for Coordinated Supplies 327
    Early Differences with the Soviet Union 329
XI. The Victory Program 331
    Other Influences Calling for a Firm Statement of Objectives 333
    WPD Suggests Action by Chief of Staff 335
    President Roosevelt Orders a Survey 338
    A Large Task Is Undertaken 342
    The Method of Calculation Employed 343
    The President Enlarges the Objective 346
    Last-Minute Discussions with the Navy 349
    A Restatement of National Policy 352
    WPD Again Records Its Difference with the Navy 357
    Isolationist Inquiry into the Administration's Intentions 358
    Matériel and Personnel Programs Again in Conflict 360
    Suggestions for Reducing the Army with Minimum Injury 363
    Tentative Plan to Send Certain National Guard Units Home 365
XII. Coordination With Britain 367
    Establishing the American Position Prior to the British Parley 370
    The American-British Conversations of January 1941 374
    The Agreements Reached at ABC 375
    American Interpretations of the Agreement 380
    Rapid Developments in the Atlantic War 382
    The Start of Formal Military Cooperation of Britain and America 384
    American Involvement Causes Anxiety 386
    Proposals for Cooperation in the Pacific 391
    American Objections to Helping Reinforce Singapore 393
    Stark and Marshall Reject the Singapore Proposals 397
    The Atlantic Conference, August 1941 400
    U.S. Staff Criticisms of the British Suggestions 406
    Effort to Harmonize Views on a Bombing Policy 408
XIII. Darkening Clouds in the Far East 411
    Limitations of Planning for the Philippines 412
    General Grunert's Pressure for Reinforcement 417
    Evidence of a Changed Attitude in 1940 419
    December 1940 Brings New Action 423
    Geneeral MacArthur's Large Plan for Defense 425
    General MacArthur Given a New Command 434
    Factors in the 1941 Change of Attitude 438
    Items in the 1941 Rearming of the Philippines 440
    A Hopeful View of Philippine Defenses 445
    Swift Developments of November 1941 446
XIV. The Nation's Outlying Defenses in 1941 453
    The Situation in Alaska 454
    The Panama Situation 458
    United Command Becomes an Issue 462
    The Situation in Hawaii 465
    The June 1940 Alert in Hawaii 468
    Change in the Hawaii Command 471
    The Defense Establishment in Hawaii on 7 December 1941 474
    The Air Commanders' Remarkable Prevision 475
    The New Defensive Screen of Atlantic Bases 477
    Priority for Newfoundland 479
    Early Anxiety over Bermuda Security 481
    The Dwindling Importance of Trinidad 482
    Early Jamaica Plan Soon Abandoned 483
    Minor Bases Planned for the Bahamas, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Guiana 484
    Delay in Utilizing Greenland 485
    The Situation in Iceland 487
    In the Dutch Islands, Aruba and Curaçao 491
    The Fixed Defense in Both Oceans 492
XV. The War Reaches America 494
    Factors Contributing to the 7 December Surprise 496
    Evidence of Japan's Southeast Asia Objectives 502
    The Warnings of Late November 505
    Attention Is Again Diverted 509
    On the Eve of Pearl Harbor 512
    A Fateful Series of Mischances 518
    The End of Prewar Planning 519
Bibliographical Note 521
Glossary 527
Index 533
No.   Page
1. Strength of the United States Army: 1919-1941 16
2. Percentage Distribution of U.S. Army Strength by Component: 1940-1941 202
3. U.S. Army Personnel in Philippine Islands: 30 November 1941 449
4. Modern Combat Aircraft on Hand in the Philippines: 8 and 9 December 1941 449
5. Number of U.S. Army Aircraft on Hand in the Hawaiian Air Force Before and After the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor: 7 and 20 December 1941 474
No.   Page
1. Chief of Staff's Responsibilities: 1 December 1941 65
2. Chief of Staff's Command of the Field Forces as Exercised through GHQ: 1 December 1941 65
3. Exercise of the Chief of Staff's Command of the Army Air Forces: 1 December 1941 65
4. Exercise of the Chief of Staff's Command of Overseas Establishments, Including Department, Defense Commands, and Bases: 1 December 1941 65
No.   Page
1. General of the Army George Catlett Marshall Frontspiece
2. Civilian Authority Late in the Prewar Period 19
  Henry L. Stimson 19
  Robert P. Patterson 19
  Harry H. Woodring 19
  Louis Johnson 19
3. Chiefs of Staff, 1918-30 20
  John J. Pershing 20
  Peyton C. March 20
  John L. Hines 20
  Charles P. Summervall 20
4. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur 27
5. General Malin Craig 28
6. The Chief of Staff in World War II and His Successors 46
7. Four Deputy Chiefs in the Late Prewar Period 67
  Stanley D. Embrick 67
  Richard C. Moore 67
  William Bryden 67
  H.H. Arnold 67
8. Secretaries of the General Staff in the Late Prewar Period 68
  Robert L. Eichelberger 68
  Harold R. Bull 68
  Orlando Ward 68
  Walter B. Smith 68
9. A Warning from the Chief of Staff 427
10. A Revision by the Chief of Staff 428
11. Clarifying the Instructions 430

All pictures in this volume are from U.S. Army photos.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation