Chapter 17
Strategic Inventory: December 1943

By the end of 1943, two years after Pearl Harbor, Allied strategy for the war against Germany had finally been agreed upon and the U.S. Army planners could set their sights on attaining the goals established at SEXTANT. The main objective would be to amass men and resources for the invasion of the Continent. But the U.S. Army that would be committed against Germany had, like the war plans, developed quite differently from the one the planners had envisaged at the time of Pearl Harbor, or even a year later. Before discussing preparations for OVERLORD, therefore, the cumulative costs of fighting a multi-front war on an opportunistic basis in 1943 should be reviewed. What had happened to the Army internally and externally during the comparatively quiescent period of discussion, debate, and compromise? How were the U.S. forces divided vis-á-vis Germany and Japan by the end of 1943? How had the plans for expanding the Army measured up to the realities of the second year of active American participation in global and coalition warfare?

Growth of the U.S. Army 1943

At the end of 1943 the Army planners could look back on another year of flux and change in the Army's development. The changing requirements and circumstances of coalition warfare in the offensive phase had greatly affected plans and programs for expanding the U.S. Army--in total growth and internal distribution of strength as well as in overseas deployment. Despite the many debates on manpower, the Army had grown from 5,397,674 at the end of 1942 to some 7,482,434 twelve months later. But the year of growth was also a period of retrenchment. Of prime importance had been the realization by the Army that the U.S. Manpower barrel did have a bottom. As long as military and civilian production were maintained on a high level, it would be impossible for the Army to scrape the bottom, and the Army showed no inclination to press for any reduction in the American standard of living. While the administration continued to grant agricultural and industrial deferments, the War Department met its own manpower crisis by internal economies such as cutting down requirements for combat troops, reducing overhead establishments, and lowering garrison requirements.1

Because of manpower shortages and


the failure of the Office of Selective Service to meet Army quotas, the ceiling of 7,700,000 approved by the President in November 1943 was not reached until March 1944. Not only was the Army short more than 200,000 men at the end of 1943, it also contained large groups--such as those soldiers studying in the colleges under the Army Specialized Training Program--that could not be immediately employed. Manpower squeezes, together with strategic, logistical, and operational considerations, helped to change the shape as well as the size of the Army during 1943.

The reduction of the early 1943 Troop Basis of 8,208,000 to 7,700,000 men in November had been accomplished by the more or less general acceptance of the 90-division limit as the "cutting edge" necessary to win the war. Within this limit the character of the cutting edge changed considerably. There was a definite trend toward increasing infantry and airborne divisions during 1943 since strategic and tactical demands as well as the need to save shipping space favored the use of forces that were not so heavily armed or so completely motorized. As a result, a decrease in the rate of activation of armored divisions took place and motorized infantry divisions were reconverted to standard infantry divisions. At the end of 1942 there had been fifty-two infantry, two cavalry, fourteen armored, two airborne, and four motorized divisions in the Army--seventy-four in all. One year later there were ninety divisions in existence--sixty-seven infantry, two cavalry, sixteen armored, and five airborne. The sixteen new divisions activated during 1943 represented less than half the number of divisions--thirty-eight--activated in 1942.

Accumulation of activated and trained divisions in the United States began to mount during 1943 because of the lack of over-all strategic decisions, the imbalances in shipping, and the strain on port capacities.2 Training camps were crowded and it was difficult to activate additional divisions--only thirteen moved overseas during the year as compared with seventeen in 1942. This left sixty divisions in various stages of readiness scattered over the United States. Many were neither at full strength nor fully equipped, since replacements often had to be drawn from the newer divisions and the equipping of French divisions in North Africa had produced some shortages.3 When the new demands for manpower were made in late 1943 to operate the B-29's, to provide for the rotation program, and to keep the Army Specialized Training Program going on a reduced basis, any possibility of organizing another fifteen divisions in 1944 as had been planned in mid-1943, appeared doomed.4

As in 1942, the distribution of strength within the Army shifted greatly--and again in favor of air and service troops. Here, favorable circumstances helped the Army to meet the changing needs of global warfare. The fine showing of the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front and the increased effectiveness of the Combined Bomber Offensive meant that fewer U.S. ground troops than originally planned would be required to defeat the


Axis Powers. Meanwhile, acceptance of the 90-division limit, placing a curb on the growth of the ground forces, permitted a greater proportion of the 1943 accrual to be devoted to strengthening the air and service forces. The intensification of the air war against both Germany and Japan during this build-up period and the development and improvement of the long lines of communications all over the world to supply the far-flung U.S. forces kept on augmenting the air and service totals. By the end of the year, the number of men in the service branches totaled 2,735,076, an increase of 47 percent; those in the ground arms 2,451,007, an increase of 26 percent; and those in the Air Corps 1,810,900, a 42 percent increase. For the first time during the war, troops in the service branches outnumbered those in the ground arms.5 The number of air groups had climbed steadily at about the same rate of speed as in 1942, rising from 136 at the end of 1942 to 220 a year later.

At the same time, the limits imposed upon ground combat troops inevitably focused Army attention upon the replacement problem. Until the bulk of the ground units were committed to action, they would be subject to further raids upon their personnel and equipment to provide replacements for divisions already engaged in combat. With the great campaign of the war looming ahead, this problem, the planners realized, would have to be resolved if an adequate and prepared strategic reserve were to be on hand to cope with possible setbacks.

Expansion of the Army Overseas

In spite of the lack of over-all plans and the persistent shipping imbalances, the total overseas strength of the Army had increased from 1,064,643--including 17 divisions and 72 air groups--at the end of 1942 to 2,618,075--including 30 divisions and 136 air groups-a- year later. At the close of 1943 some 35 percent of the total Army personnel were out of the country as contrasted with only 20 percent at the end of 1942. During the same period the strength of the Army deployed against Germany and Japan rose from 841,512 to 2,328,427, an increase of over 275 percents.6 On the other hand, the distribution of these Army forces did not proceed exactly as the Army planners had intended, although the deployment totals were fairly close to the planners' estimates of early 1943. Table 3, based on deployment against Germany and Japan, contrasts the planners' estimates of late March 1943 for the end of the year with the actual deployment at the end of the year. The history of the war during 1943 is reflected in these figures--mounting deployment to the Mediterranean and Pacific, growing costs of the China commitment, and neglect of the build-up in the United Kingdom for the cross-Channel attack. Here, in its simplest form, is the story of the United States' course in the war during 1943.

Deployment to the United Kingdom

Of all the main areas of deployment, the European theater was affected most during 1943 by the failure to carry out the proposed build-up. The planners'



Area Planned for 31 December 1943 Actual Deployment
Atlantic 1,510,700 1,416,485
British Isles 1,026,000 768,274
Mediterranean 432,700 597,658
Africa and Middle East (including Persian Gulf Command) 52,000 50,553
Pacific-Far East 753,440 912,942
Pacific 594,340 696,847
China-Burma-India 48,100 94,560
Alaska 111,000 121,535

Source: (1) JCS 243, 27 Mar 43, title: Strategic Deployment of U.S. Forces for 1943. (2) STM-30, 1 Jan 48.

ambitious scheme of early 1943 to station over a million men in the United Kingdom by the beginning of 1944 collapsed as the demands of the Mediterranean and Pacific, the tight shipping situation, and the inactive status of the theater itself as far as ground operations were concerned combined to prevent the projected expansion. In the last half of the year, the increase of the bomber offensive and the transfer of four divisions from the Mediterranean helped to make up some of the deficit, but the rise from 119,702 men on 31 December 1942 to 768,274 a year later still fell over a quarter of a million men short of the planners' estimates.7

Only one division, the 29th Infantry, had been located in the United Kingdom in December 1942. (See Table 4.) It was to remain the only major U.S. ground force in the area as late as 31 July 1943. Ten divisions arrived during the last five months of the year four from the Mediterranean (1st and 9th Infantry, 82d Airborne, and 2d Armored), one from Iceland (5th Infantry), and five from the United States (2d, 8th, and 28th Infantry, 101st Airborne and 3d Armored).

In the meantime, the fifteen air groups present in the United Kingdom at the end of 1942 increased to more than fifty-two groups a year later; the aircraft strength had almost quintupled.8 Some 294385 personnel, almost 40 percent of the total stationed in the United Kingdom, belonged to the Air Forces. The late spurt in deployment and the final decision at SEXTANT to undertake OVERLORD offered the prospect that, at long



Personnel Divisions Air Combat Groups Aircraft
31 Dec 42 31 Dec 43 31 Dec 42 31 Dec 43 31 Dec 42 31 Dec 43 31 Dec 42 31 Dec 43
Deployed Against Germany
Total against Germany 377,644 1,416,485 8 17 40 93 2,065 8,237
European theater 119,702 768,274 2b
Infantry: 5th, 29th
Infantry: 1st, 2d, 5th, 8th, 9th, 28th, 29th
Armored: 2d, 3d Airborne: 82d, 101st
15c 52c 944d
219 heavy bombers
29 medium bombers
16 light bombers
516 fighters
67 reconnaissance
25 transports
72 miscellaneous
1,686 heavy bombers
444 medium bombers
53 light bombers
1,866 fighters
193 reconnaissance
253 transports
123 miscellaneous
Mediterranean theater 227,092 597,658 6
Infantry: 1st, 3d, 9th, 34th
Armored: 1st, 2d
Infantry: 3d, 34th, 36th, 45th, 88th
Armored: 1st
25c 41c 1,121d
150 heavy bombers
150 medium bombers
43 light bombers
542 fighters
48 reconnaissance
188 transports
577 heavy bombers
640 medium bombers
114 light bombers
1,590 fighters
75 reconnaissance
596 transports
27 miscellaneous
Middle East 30,850 50,553     (e) (e) (e) (e)
Deployed Against Japan
Total against Japan 463,868 912,942 9 13 23 41 1,910 4,254
Pacific 350,720 696,847 9
Infantry: 24th, 25th, 27th, 324, 37th, 40th, 41st, 43d, Americal
Infantry: 6th, 7th, 24th, 25th, 27th, 32d, 33d, 37th, 40th, 41st, 43d, Americal
Cavalry: 1st
17 32 1,343
216 heavy bombers
140 medium bombers
29 light bombers
803 fighters
31 reconnaissance
82 transports
42 miscellaneous
532 heavy bombers
428 medium bombers
179 light bombers
1,327 fighters
93 reconnaissance
427 transports
87 miscellaneous
CBI 17,087 94,560     4 7 271
32 heavy bombers
43 medium bombers
184 fighters
11 reconnaissance
1 transport
167 heavy bombers
84 medium bombers
422 fighters
58 reconnaissance
79 transports
123 miscellaneous
Alaska 96,061 121,535     2 2 296
33 heavy bombers
58 medium bombers
6 light bombers
161 fighters
2 reconnaissance
27 transports
9 miscellaneous
17 heavy bombers
32 medium bombers
148 fighters
1 reconnaissance
39 transports
11 miscellaneous
Caribbean Deployment
Caribbean 119,286 91,466     9 2 539
51 heavy bombers
65 medium bombers
12 light bombers
262 fighters
36 reconnaissance
38 transports
75 miscellaneous
43 heavy bombers
97 medium bombers
5 light bombers
262 fighters
47 reconnaissance
56 transports
64 miscellaneous

  1. The personnel figures include ground, air, and service troops. They are based upon STM-30, 1 January 1948. The totals for air combat groups and aircraft are based upon USAF Statistical Digest, 1947, unless otherwise noted.

  2. The 5th Infantry Division was stationed in Iceland until October 1943.

  3. The totals of air combat groups for the European and Mediterranean Theaters were received from the USAF, Directorate of Statistical Services. No such breakdown is given in the USAF Statistical Digest, 1947, and there are discrepancies between the 1945 AAF Digest and 1947 USAF Digest in the totals for the two theaters.

  4. The totals of aircraft in the European and Mediterranean Theaters are based on AAF Statistical Digest, 1945, since no such breakdown is given in the USAF Statistical Digest, 1947.

  5. Middle East aircraft figures are included in the Mediterranean figures.


last, top priority would be accorded to the U.K. augmentation--ground as well as air.

Deployment to the Mediterranean and Middle East

In the Mediterranean the Army deployment, continuing the trend begun with the landings in North Africa in late 1942, mounted steadily until November 1943. Despite American reluctance to expand Mediterranean operations, the forces in being in the area and the advantages, both political and military, of whittling down German strength on the ground as well as in the air inevitably created pressures that led to further campaigns in the Mediterranean. The momentum generated by the TORCH operation produced the Sicilian and Italian campaigns, which caused the planners' estimates of March 1943 to be exceeded by about 150,000 men by the end of 1943. At the end of 1942, when the Allies were engaged in North Africa, there were 227,092 U.S. troops in the Mediterranean area; twelve months later, when the scene of battle had shifted northward to Italy, there were 587,658 troops, an increase of 370,566, in the Mediterranean theater.

In the closing months of 1943, as a result of further changes in war plans, the Mediterranean began to lose strength to the United Kingdom. This shift--reversing the flow of U.S. divisions from the United Kingdom begun in late 1942--was particularly reflected in the fluctuation of divisional strength.

In December 1942 there were six Army divisions--the 1st, 3d, 8th, and 4th Infantry and the 1st and 2d Armored--in the Mediterranean. With the addition of the 36th and 45th Infantry and the 82d Airborne Divisions, the area reached the peak of its expansion--nine divisions--in September 1943. By the close of 1943, however, the shipment of the four divisions to the United Kingdom and the arrival of one fresh division in the Mediterranean--the 88th Infantry-f-rom the United States left the area with the same total it had begun the year--six.

The greater part of the increase in personnel over the twelve-month period took place not in ground combat troops but in air and service troops. The Air Forces climbed from twenty-five to forty-one groups and aircraft strength more than tripled. Air Forces personnel mustered 142,790, or about one fourth of the total in the area. The Mediterranean air forces not only furnished air support for the land operations in Italy, they had also become a valuable part of the Combined Bomber Offensive since they were able to strike at objectives beyond the reach of the air forces based in the United Kingdom.

Only in the adjoining area--the Middle East--had the planners' estimates of early 1941 been closely borne out. There, the 30,850 men present in December 1942 increased to 50,553 a year later, just 1,500 short of the estimate. As in the preceding year, the Army sought to remain as uninvolved as possible in the internal problems of this area of British responsibility and to keep its forces at a minimum. The sweep of the war northward in the Mediterranean and toward Europe enabled the Army in 1943 to cut down its commitments to the British in the Middle East--commitments that lead involved considerable Army effort and personnel in the critical days


of 1942. At the same time, American aid to the other major European partner in Europe--the Soviet Union--via the Middle East became all the more important. All of the increase in American personnel in the Middle East in 1943 was devoted to furthering the development of the U.S. command in the area consecrated to supplying the Russians over the southern route. In December 1943 this trend was reflected in the formal separation of the Persian Gulf Service Command from the jurisdiction of USAFIME and its redesignation as a separate entity, the Persian Gulf Command.

Deployment Overseas in the Western Hemisphere

Changes in the over-all military situation were also reflected in the decline of such essentially defensive areas as the Caribbean. When the manpower situation became acute in early 1941, Marshall ordered the defensive garrisons surveyed and reduced wherever possible. It was natural that the Caribbean Defense Command, which had reached a total of 118,286 troops at the end of 1842, should feel the squeeze of economy. By the close of 1943 its strength had been cut to 91,466. Although there was a paper reduction in the number of air groups assigned to the Caribbean during 1943 From nine to two groups, the actual number of aircraft on hand increased slightly during the year. The reduction in groups was accomplished by removing the organized group designations and forming larger separate squadrons. The possibility of nuisance sea raids and the threat of submarine depredations led to the retention of air protection for this southern sea frontier.

The same trend was apparent in Alaska. During 1943 the Alaskan command had grown from 96,061 at the beginning of the year to 148,167 in August 1943, when operations against Kiska were undertaken. Following the departure of the Japanese from the Aleutians in July, a steady decline in Army commitments set in, and by the end of 1943 there were 121,35 men in the Alaskan area. Two air groups were maintained in Alaska during the year, but the number of squadrons in those groups was reduced from ten to six and the number of assigned aircraft decreased slightly. The decline in importance of overseas Western Hemisphere areas for Army ground deployment reflected the War Department's realization that the shooting war had indeed passed them by.

Deployment to the CBI

For the U.S. Army, the CBI continued to represent a complicated web of political, military, and jurisdictional problems. Although the Allies had won back very little territory from the Japanese on the Asiatic mainland, the constant dilation of the U.S. commitment to the area during 1943 resulted in an increase of over 500 percent in the number of Army troops stationed in the CBI. The rise from 17,087 in December 1942 to 94,560 in December 1943 indicated the mounting costs involved in sustaining the Chinese in the war against Japan. To the United States in 1943 the CBI remained--as in 1942--essentially an air and service theater. The United States was pledged to open an overland line of communications to China and was


attempting to build up an airlift in the meantime. Since the Army managed to prevent the assignment of any U.S. combat divisions to the theater, the bulk of allocations to the area in 1943 consisted of air and service troops. The complexities of the intricate line of communications and the persistent demands of the airlift drew in more and more manpower during 1943. A further increase appeared in prospect for 1944 as preparations for the B-29 were pushed forward.

There were seven air groups and six separate squadrons in the CBI at the end of 1943, including over 40,000 Air Forces personnel, as against four groups plus one squadron the previous December. Aircraft strength in the theater more than tripled. The big problem for the Army in China was still logistics, and until this was conquered definite limitations on the size of Chennault's air forces would exist, especially since B-29 groups would soon be on hand to further complicate the supply picture.

Deployment in the Pacific

In the Pacific, where the growing requirements of the offensive phase had succeeded the piecemeal increases of the defensive and garrisoning stage, Army deployment continued uninterrupted. The Guadalcanal Campaign had, as had the North African operation, been as much offensive as defensive in nature, and each had led to further demands as the initial momentum increased. In 1943, as British pressures in the Mediterranean were matched by U.S. pressures in the Pacific, deployment to the Pacific mounted steadily. During most of the year U.S. and other Allied forces were employed in step-by-step advances in the South and Southwest Pacific. In the course of 1943 they advanced to Bougainville in the Solomons and to the Huon Peninsula in New Guinea. The close of the year found Allied forces invading the island of New Britain in the Southwest Pacific and U.S. forces launching the great amphibious sweep in the Central Pacific with the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. During the course of these operations the Army forces scattered throughout the Pacific almost doubled from 350,720 in December 1942 to 696,847 at the end of the following year--an increase of over 100,000 more than the planners had counted upon having in the Pacific according to their estimates of early March 1943.

Thirteen Army divisions were stationed in the Pacific at the end of 1943 to carry out the ambitious plans for the dual drive during 1944. Nine divisions had been present in December 1942--the 24th, 25th, 27th, and 40th Infantry in the Central Pacific; the Americal, 37th, and 43d Infantry in the South Pacific; and the 32d and 41st Infantry in the Southwest Pacific. During 1943 four divisions arrived in the Pacific--the Central Pacific received the 6th and 33d Infantry from the United States and the 7th Infantry from Alaska; the 25th Infantry arrived in the South Pacific from Hawaii; and the Southwest Pacific got the 24th Infantry from Hawaii and the 1st Cavalry from the United States. In contrast with deployment to the United Kingdom, all four divisions sent from the mainland to the Pacific in 1943 arrived before August, which marked the beginning of the accelerated build-up for the cross-Channel invasion.

Deployment to the Pacific during 1941 continued to be a formidable exercise


in logistics. The enormous distances, the shortage of base and communications facilities, and the imbalances in shipping affected--as in 1942--the character and extent of American deployment in this largely oceanic theater. For every combat division sent to the area, twice as many service troops were required for transport and supply. In the meantime, there was a constant expansion in aircraft and air personnel. The number of air groups in the Pacific increased from seventeen to thirty-two and the number of aircraft more than doubled. The number of medium and light bombers, so necessary in preparing for the step-by-step advance in New Guinea and the island advance through the Solomons, almost quadrupled. Air Forces personnel mounted to 162,376, roughly 23 percent of the total Army deployment in the Pacific. With the launching of the Central Pacific drive in late 1943, requirements for the Pacific area would continue to mount in preparation for the more powerful and extended air and amphibious assaults of 1944.

The Tally Sheet

What do all these figures signify in terms of the war against Germany and that against Japan? During 1943 the Army sent overseas close to a million and a half men against the enemy, including 13 divisions and 8,516 aircraft. Over two thirds of these totals, including more than 1,000,000 troops, 9 divisions, and over 6,000 aircraft were deployed against Germany.

When these figures are added to the totals sent overseas in 1941-42, it is apparent that the balance was finally being redressed in favor of the war against Germany. The cumulative totals at the end of 1943 showed 14 16,485 men, including 17 divisions and 8,237 aircraft deployed against Germany, as opposed to 912,942 troops, including 13 divisions and 4,254 aircraft lined up against Japan--a sharp contrast to the picture at the end of 1942, when in manpower and number of divisions the war against Japan had maintained an edge over the war in Europe. The 1943 Army deployment figures accorded far more closely with the Allied concept that Germany should be beaten first and the main weight of Allied power should be brought to bear upon that country. Approximately 60 percent of Army personnel and over 65 percent of Army aircraft deployed against Germany and Japan were now marshaled against Hitler. And even though the ratio of divisions was only 57 to 43 percent, the European divisional build-up was just on the verge of burgeoning forth. The trend that had allowed the faster expansion of the Pacific in 1942 was being definitely reversed.9

On the other hand, failure of the Allies to agree upon a specific plan for the cross-Channel attack until SEXTANT had permitted deployment in the war against Japan to develop at a much quicker pace than the planners had expected in March 1943. It was not until October that the divisions in Europe exceeded those in the Pacific-Far East.

Were the Army figures the sum total of the U.S. war effort, the conclusion might be drawn that Americans were now fighting the multi-front war according to their early concept of the primacy of the struggle in Europe. But it would be quite erroneous to make any such



  Against Germany Against Japan
Total European theatera Mediterranean theater Middle East theatersb Atlantic Oceanc Total Pacificd CBI Alaska
Personnel 1,810,367 805,792 615,958 50,553 338,064 1,878,152 1,629,023 94,660 154,469
Armye 979,310 473,889 454,868 50,553 0 688,711 534,471 52,624 101,616
Air Forcesf 437,175 294,385 142,790 (g) 0 224,231 162,376 41,936 19,919
Navyh 391,400 36,400 18,300 (g) 336,700 804,800 772,800 100 31,900
Marineh 2,482 1,118 0 0 1,364 160,410 159,376 0 1,034
Divisions 17 11 6 0 0 16+ 16+ 0 0
Army 17 11 6 0 0 13 13 0 0
Marine 0 0 0 0 0 3+ 3+ 0 0
Aircraft 8,807 (i) (i) (i) (i) 7,857 (i) (i) (i)
Army 8,237 4,6181 3,619 (g) 0 4,254 3,073 933 248
Heavy bombers 2,263 1,6861 577 (g) 0 716 532 167 17
Medium bombers 1,084 444 640 (g) 0 544 428 84 32
Light bombers 167 53 114 (g) 0 179 179 0 0
Fighters 3,456 1,866 1,590 (g) 0 1,897 1,327 422 148
Reconnaissance 268 193 75 (g) 0 152 93 58 1
Transports I 849 253 596 (g) 0 545 427 79 39
Miscellaneous 150 123 27 (g) 0 221 87 123 11
Navy 570 (i) (i) (i) (i) 3,603 (i) (i) (i)
Bombers 204 (i) (i) (i) (i) 1,098 (i) (i) (i)
Fighters 0 (i) (i) (i) (i) 564 (i) (i) (i)
Carrier aircraft 3661 (i) (i) (i) (i) 1,941 (i) (i) (i)
Combat ships 515   713  
Battleships 61 2 new, 4 old j 13 6 new, 7 old
Aircraft carriers 10 1 large, 9 escort 28 7 large, 7 light, 14 escort
Cruisers 10 2 heavy, 3 light, 5 old light 32 12 large, 13 light, 2 antiaircraft, 5 old light
Destroyers 120 80 new, 40 old 188 175 new, 13 old
Submarines 40 6 new, 34 old 123 105 new, 18 old
Destroyer escorts 112 112 new 57 57 new
LST's 921 92 new 125 125 new
LCI's 1101 110 new 99 99 new
Attack transports (APA) 10 10 new 34 34 new
Attack cargo (AKA) 5 5 new 14 14 new

  1. Includes Iceland.

  2. Includes Persian Gulf Command.

  3. South Atlantic Naval Forces.

  4. Includes SWPA, SOPAC, and CPA totals for the Army and POA totals for the Navy and Marine Corps.

  5. All Army (including ground and service forces) personnel figures are based on STM-30, Strength of the Army, 1 January 1948.

  6. Air Forces personnel and aircraft figures are based on AAF Statistical Digest, 1945, and USAF Statistical Digest, 1947.

  7. Air Forces and Navy personnel in the Middle East Theater are included in the Mediterranean Theater totals.

  8. All Navy and Marine figures are based upon planners' estimates in JCS 521/3, 4 February 1944, title: Strategic Deployment of U.S. Forces to 31 December 1944. Navy figures include both shore-based and ship-based personnel. Marine figures for 31 December 1943--furnished by the Office of Navy Comptroller--show 5,827 marines in Atlantic area and 156,507 in the Pacific. It has been impossible to reconcile Navy figures currently available with the planners' estimates.

  9. Distribution of Navy aircraft and combat ships on a comparable geographical basis was not readily available.

  10. As used here, the term "old" in general pertains to ships constructed or under construction at the time of the Washington Naval Conference of 1922. The bulk of the "new" vessels were constructed after the expiration in 1936 of the 1922 and 1930 naval limitations agreements.


surmise without considering the effort being expended by the Navy and the Marine Corps, which were very much in the war, especially in the Pacific. Table 5 is an attempt to present in brief an approximation of the total war effort overseas at the end of 1943. Despite its given qualifications, it may serve to dispel somewhat the persistent illusion that the Pacific-Far East was being forgotten or neglected during the second year of the war. MacArthur and Nimitz were far from being forced to fight on a shoestring when compared with the European commanders. After two years of war, the balance of U.S. forces and resources between the European and Japanese arenas was fairly even.

Although the over-all deployment totals of U.S. armed strength against Japan showed a slight margin in personnel over that against Europe, the latter held a narrow edge in divisions and a comfortable lead in the number of aircraft. It should also be noted that the bulk of the heavier types of aircraft were operating against Germany. In the matter of transport aircraft, which were still in short supply, the European theaters enjoyed a small advantage over the Pacific-Far East. The Army had 849 in the former as opposed to 545 in the latter. This does not include about 165 planes that were assigned to the Air Transport Command for the Hump airlift; if these were added in, the totals would show some 710 in the war against Japan, a figure that compares quite favorably with the 849 deployed against Germany.10

The greater part of U.S. naval power, including most of the newest combat ships, was stationed in the Pacific. Whereas Navy and Marine personnel formed only 22 percent of the effort against Germany, they composed over a half of the U.S. forces in the Pacific. In distribution of aircraft, only 6 percent of the planes in the Atlantic-Mediterranean area belonged to the Navy, while over 46 percent of those deployed in the Pacific bore Navy or Marine insignia.

Over-all figures on the amount of U.S. cargo shipping present in individual areas are incomplete. Insofar as the shipping under Army control is concerned, 549 ships, totaling 4,924,558 measurement tons and a troop capacity of 353,948, were on the Atlantic-Mediterranean run; 437 ships, totaling 3,837,287 measurement tons and a troop capacity of 160,590, were in the Pacific-Far East.11 War Shipping Administration cargo ships allocated to the Army and Navy as of 1 January 1944 totaled 4,290,000 deadweight tons in the Pacific and 5,300,000 dead-weight tons in the Atlantic.12 Army and WSA allocations thus gave an edge to the European war, with approximately 55 percent of the shipping being devoted to the struggle against Germany. However, cargo ships controlled outright


by the Navy are not included in these totals and inclusion of these might modify the European advantage somewhat. Unfortunately, the Navy figures on the distribution between the Atlantic and Pacific of cargo shipping under its control at the end of 1943 are not available.

Although no complete breakdown on the over-all distribution of landing craft and combat loaders in all categories exists, the preponderance of attack transports (APA's), attack cargo ships (AKA's), and LST's was in the Pacific at the end of 1943, while the European theaters enjoyed an edge in infantry landing craft (LCI's). The whole problem of landing craft shortages is, to say the least, puzzling. When the 1942 Production program was completed in early 1943, American military authorities made no immediate attempt to establish a new program. Other urgent requirements for vessels such as destroyer escorts to combat the submarine menace in the Atlantic were placed at the top of the "must" lists. Despite the discussions at QUADRANT On landing craft for OVERLORD and for Pacific operations, there was a definite lull in construction during the summer of 1945, especially in the larger types of landing craft. During September and October the JCS approved increases in landing craft production, but since the augmentations would be small until the spring of 1944, OVERLORD would receive at best minor benefits from this somewhat tardy action. A later acceleration of production--in December following SEXTANT--promised mainly to aid the Pacific. The lateness of the decision to accelerate the program, the delay inherent in converting shipyards to landing craft production, changes in design, the winter weather, and the crowded conditions existing in most shipyards slowed down, construction at the end of 1943, when time was at a premium. Only a Herculean effort would enable the goals set at SEXTANT to be met, and the prospects for early 1944 were not very encouraging.

It is difficult to state with any certainty why the landing craft deficiency was allowed to develop and grow for so long without interference. The War Production Board did see the need for increased production in August 1943. The delay until the fall of 1943 in setting up a new and expanded program has led some students of industrial production to suggest that the principal strategic planners were at fault for not anticipating the needs of 1944 early enough to provide lead time for the builders to prepare for increased demands.13 This explanation appears to oversimplify a complex problem. The uncertainty about OVERLORD and Mediterranean operations had not been definitely resolved at QUADRANT. The submarine menace that had led to the high-priority escort vessel program in the spring of 1943 had abated considerably, but was still a matter of some concern to the planners. Moreover, despite the acknowledged primacy of the European war, the Navy continued to protect zealously the production and allocation of landing craft destined for the Pacific. The Navy also could not easily forget the unsettling effects that the 1942 landing craft program had had upon its over-all


construction schedules.14 Not until the Allied political authorities had come to a resolute decision on strategy at the close of 1943 could the strategic and logistical planners proceed with full confidence that the cross-Channel assault would be carried out.

When all these statistics on the distribution of U.S. manpower and resources are considered, some of the implications of engaging in a multi-front conflict become more obvious. It is apparent that a mere decision at the top levels labeling one war primary and the other secondary was not sufficient. The events of 1942 and 1943 demonstrated that a policy of opportunism on the fronts in both wars tended to annul any paper priorities and led to' diversions usually unfavorable to projected long-range deployment schemes such as BOLERO. Limited and secondary offensives, covered by such catch phrases as "maintaining the strategic initiative" and "applying unremitting pressure," continued to absorb more men and resources than originally planned, frequently at the expense of long-range build-ups. The planners had found that it was impossible to keep a secondary war secondary as long as there was no definite and accepted long-range plan for the primary war. The tendency to expand subordinate operations in the absence of over-all decisions assigning top priority to the main effort was difficult to resist. In addition, after two years of American participation in the war the United States had acquired a number of "fixed charges" that were accorded preferential treatment in the allocation of U.S. resources--the so-called basic understandings, which consisted, to a large degree, of maintaining America's allies. To the diversions of the secondary fronts were added such charges as provision for the security of the Western Hemisphere and the British Isles, fulfillment of the Soviet protocols, and aid to China, France, and Italy. It was not until OVERLORD was granted top priority at SEXTANT that it could compete with these other basic undertakings for American resources. The double war could finally begin to assume the focus and to flow in the channels planned by the War Department in the early stages of coalition warfare.


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1. See chs. VIII and XI, above.

2. Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1940-43, Chs. XXV and XXVI.

3. Greenfield, Palmer, and Wiley, Organization of Ground Combat Troops, pp. 220-21.

4. Ibid., pp. 231-32.

5. (1) STM-30, 1 Jan 48. (2) Greenfield, Palmer and Wiley, Organization of Ground Combat Troops, p. 203.

6. STM-30, 1 Jan 48.

7. All figures in this and in the following deployment sections are based on STM-30, 1 Jan 48, and USAF Statistical Digest, 1947, unless otherwise noted.

8. The air group figures for the United Kingdom and for the Mediterranean were received from U.S. Air Force, Directorate of Statistical Services. No breakdown for these two areas is given in the USAF 1947 Statistical Digest.

9. For the 1942 trend see Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning: 1941-42, Ch. XVI.

10. USAF Statistical Digest, 1947. The Army Air Forces received over 70 percent of factory deliveries of transport aircraft during 1943; the Navy, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union received the bulk of the remainder.

11. Data originally compiled from Rpts of Vessels Operations, Analysis Branch, Water Div, OCT, and reworked for Statistics, a volume to be published in the series UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II.

12. WSA Shipping Summary, Aug 45, P. 40

13. (1) George E. Mowry, Landing Craft and the WPB (Hist Rpts on War Administration: WPB Sp Study No. II) (rev. ed., Washington, 1946), pp. 8. 21-23 30-31 33-34. (2) Civilian Production Administration, Industrial Mobilization for War, I, Program and Administration (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1947), pp. 536, 607-08, 636.

14. A detailed account of the landing craft program during the last half of 1943, including attention to the Navy's role, may be found in Leighton and Coakley, Global Logistics and Strategy, 1943-45.

Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation