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US army 1944 and problems?

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Kai-Petri, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Obviously, in the beginning we had to go with what we had, officer-wise. After N.Africa, Sicily, etc. we had a number of men who knew how to stay alive and had leadership ability. By 1944, which is what this thread is about, we had many men who had the battle experience and could lead squads. If they can lead squads in combat then there's a good chance they could do ok as a platoon leader. In WW2, leaders at all levels were found wanting. This was no more so than at the 2nd Lt. level. If you think of what's asked of them when they have to orient themselves to a deadly situation, learn their subordinates, figure out how to motivate your men to go forward, and this on your first day on the job, often after coming up to the line at night, there's no wonder why there was failure.

    My main point is that thrusting green lieutenants , with no frontline experience, into a battle and expecting them to succeed is asinine! No wonder we had a replacement problem. Battlefield vets could be trained quicker and they wouldn't have so much of the overload and stupid BS in his head that the normal 2ndLt would have. Whether this training was done was immaterial. It could be at theater level on down to divisional level. It could be considered the equivalent of a BC.

    For a short while during the Vietnam War there was a program in many divisions where the new Lt. was allowed to go out with a unit as his orientation and his only job was to keep his head down, watch and learn. Even something like this in 1944 would have been an improvement. Two days in combat is worth any number of days of training.
     
  2. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but that's facile and borders on the facetious.

    On 15 January 1942, the Troop Basis approved for 31 December 1942 was for 73 divisions. The Army had nominally 36 on that date, of which one was about to be removed from the OB. On 7 December 1941, the Army totaled 1,638,086 officers and men. As of 31 December 1942, the U.S. Army had mobilized a total enlisted strength of 5 million men. Of that total 1,917,000 were ground combat troops, 761,000 were service troops and 1,300,000 were Army Air Forces troops – the remaining 1,022,000 were replacements, overhead and miscellaneous troops. There were also 73 1/2 divisions active, but of those, 15 were already deployed and to bring them up to strength, 25,000 officers and men were stripped from the next 19 divisions preparing to deploy, which shortfall then had to be made up and so on. The divisions deployed in 1942 and 1943 were not a source of experienced officer personnel for divisions still in the U.S., instead, they were a constant drain on replacement manpower, officers and EM, from the U.S. to the active theaters, which further delayed deployments. By midsummer 1942, AGF (i.e. the ground forces still in the Z/I) were short 152,505 officers and EM, which directly led to the inactivation of the 2d Cav Div, which personnel were used to fill up the 9th Armd Div. Despite that and other measures, by September AGF was still short 330,000 officers and men, about 30 percent of authorized unit strength. At the same time the Air Forces were short 103,000, or 16 percent, and the Services of Supply was short 34,000, or 5 percent of authorized strength.

    In 1942, 40,042 battle casualties needed replacement, with another 73,952 in 1943, and then 521,390 in 1944...and about 10% of those were officers.

    Meanwhile, another 17 divisions deployed in 1943. Between their requirement to be brought up to strength and the ongoing stripping of personnel as replacements for the units in combat, the planned 12 to 13 month average time from organization to deployment for divisions turned out to be 21 to 22 months.

    In those circumstances, no one ever seriously considered creating a revolving door of personnel heading home to be trained as officers.
     
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  3. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, men like Audie Murphy who were given battlefield commissions and...oh, wait. :rolleyes: Meanwhile, after being committed in 1942, those 15-odd divisions required about 4,000 officer replacements in all grades. Out of roughly 225,000 total personnel deployed.

    Sure...scattered about in New Guinea and Italy, which was the major reason those units, rather than individuals, were moved to the critical theater of war. It was much more practical to send the 2d AD, 1st ID, and 9th ID as units to England, rather than strip personnel from units in combat to send off to be retrained as officers. The personnel disruption caused by the stripping that occurred was bad enough. Arguably, by 1 January 1944 we had 21 infantry, 2 armored, and 1 airborne division with anything approaching battle experience that were already committed to the ETOUSA and MTOUSA. Roughly 100,000 EM (minus about 30-40,000 casualties) with combat experience. And roughly 60,000 officers slots in divisions waiting to deploy. Great!, so just deactivate the divisions in combat, send their EM personnel off to be officers and then dump in 60,000 odd additional EM to bring them back to strength and activate them.

    Maybe. On the other hand there were a lot of EM never given a battlefield commission or sent to OCS.

    What "overload and stupid BS" is that? Why, BTW, do you think that experienced platoon leaders would suffer significantly fewer casualties...does the experience of the 1st ID and 9th ID in the ETO demonstrate that? Does the experience of 50 Northumberland Division and 51 Highland Division on the British side indicate that? The answer, BTW, is no.

    Oh dear, do you think the sustained combat intensity in Vietnam and World War II were the same?
     
  4. harolds

    harolds Member

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    HELL YES! Ever heard of the Ia Drang, Khe Sahn, Hue, among others. From Bn. level on down it often was just as intense and officer casualty percentages are comparable.
     
  5. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    "Oh dear, do you think the sustained combat intensity in Vietnam and World War II were the same?" - I think i'd rather be in Vietnam than PNG...
     
  6. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yet another data-less assumption. In 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War, the U.S. military suffered 21,960 casualties from a strength of 536,040, an annual rate of 4.1 percent and a daily rate of about 0.01 percent. In Europe in 1944, there were 367,156 casualties from a strength of 1,749,754 or an annual rate of 21 percent...oh, yeah, in half the time in terms of ground combat, so roughly a daily rate of 1.0 percent. Or, let's look at the 90th Inf Div in June 1944...at least 3,008 casualties incurred in 24 days from an average strength of 13,935, so a daily rate of 0.9 percent.

    In other words, about 10 times the intensity of Vietnam.

    BTW, HELL YES! I have heard of the Ia Drang, Khe Sahn, and Hue.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    In Vietnam, I'd say it had more to do with the officer rotation policy of 6 months in combat then rotated out, rather than officer casualties.
     
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  8. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    From what I've read and talked to friends who were in line units in Vietnam, I'd have to agree with Takao about the officer rotation policy had more to do with the officer turnover rate than actual combat. The Army had this "ticket punching" policy in effect by the latter part of the war pulled officers (especially platoon leaders) out after 6 months or so and sent them up to battalion, brigade, division, etc staff jobs. Lots of butter bars became casualties early though, but like other ranks if they made it for two weeks or so they had a better chance of making the rest of their tour. The ticket punching policy (not sure if it was an official policy or just standard practice) looks good on the resume, but kept the platoons in the field off balance. That's what they said anyway.
     
  9. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The reality of drawing officers from battle experienced EM can be illustrated by Seventh U.S. Army in HUSKY. From 10 July-31 August, there were 122 battlefield appointments awarded out of 207,602 personnel (including Off, WO, and EM)...and 864 officer casualties (all ranks), with 315 RTD. So a shortfall of 427.
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    I'll bite.

    There was big difference between the US and British and German approaches to training junior commanders. Just because the Germans were not happy with j8unior leaders in Poland did not mean that their system was as bad as ours or the Americans

    The British and US system created officers quickly for a vastly expanded army by recruiting officers directly from civilians with the background that the army thought qualified them as soldiers. The US system had the 90 day wonder from college graduates while the British recruited from colleges and the public (i.e. private) schools. Officer training focused on the internal management of the platoon because the officer was usually a raw recruit.

    In the Germany army officer candidates were selected from promising recruits and served as NCOs within a unit for a period of time before attending a war academy which focused on commanding a battalion in battle, on the two up principle. Much of made of mission command as an idea. It has to easier to implement if all the platoon commanders know what the battalion commander is trying to do. There is a very good account in Siegfried Knappe's memoir "Soldat"

    A further distinction between the armies was how the Germans treated their NCOs. In the British and US Army unit commanders seem to have had the authority to promote candidates to NCO rank. In the German Army and NCO attended an NCO school - C ten weeks of training in command at platoon and company level. This is reflected in the rules for reporting unit strengths. The British and US report officers and enlisted men/other ranks. The Germans report three totals Officers, NCOs and soldiers. So in June 1944 the 12 SS HJ was +2,360 men over-strength in men, but 2,192 short of NCOs. A German NCO was trained to a much higher level than in other armies and expected to perform tasks reserved for officers in the British and US Army.

    During the war officer and NCO candidates were expected to have had front line experience. That was true of all three armies, but easier for the Germans who had more troops in combat.
     
  11. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    It's always good when you do. :D

    Initially, they were very similar.

    The British may have, the American did not. To repeat, no the U.S. Army OCS did not take candidates "directly from civilians". No, the "90 day wonder" (it should have been 84 or 91 day wonder, 90 day wonders went away in 1940) were not recruited directly from "college graduates", unless they were ROTC or military school graduates. No, the US 2d Lieutenant was not usually a "raw recruit", normally he had a minimum of 84 days in service before selected for OCS. He was a "Basic Private"...or a PFC, Corporal, or Sergeant.

    Yes, that was the ideal. The practice was very different and much more variable. It is also part of the reason the Ersatzheer was so large in comparison to the Feldheer. BTW, how is selecting promising recruits different or better than selecting from promising recruits? Asking for a friend. :D

    In the U.S. Army, unit commanders had limited authority to promote EM into vacant T/O slots, subject to confirmation by the divisional/corps G-1. "Battlefield commissions" were typically the same. BTW, the U.S. Army instituted an NCO School finally in the 1960s...they weren't called 90 day wonders, they were "Shake and Bake". :D Again, the Germans had the advantage of a large pool of combat experienced EM for the NCOS intake and combat experienced NCO for the OCS intake...and also a large number of limited-duty NCO and officers with combat experience available as trainers.

    That indeed is more or less true, although overstated. The American Army did track strength of all officer, NCO, and enlisted ranks, via the Morning Report and corresponding MRU tallies, but those detailed figures were consolidated and reported as "officers, warrant officers, and enlisted" because those are the functional personnel categories constituted by law.

    Indeed. And the problem for the American Army was that with such a marginal personnel situation - a condition of perpetual shortfall - the possibility of a llarge-scale rotation of combat experienced enlisted personnel for officer training was never seriously contemplated. Limited duty personnel (combat wounded and injured) were used as training personnel, but they were not available in significant numbers until 1944, when large-scale deployment of the army was already in progress. The problem is akin to the issue of combined arms training for tanks and infantry. Few infantry divisions had the luxury of training with any separate tank battalions and vice versa and both had very limited chances of actually being paired with the same unit overseas if they did have such an opportunity. It was a problem that was known, complained about from all sides, but was shoved to the back burner because it was simply one more complication that could have further slowed the deployment of divisions to combat, which was already about 43% slower than anticipated.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    The German officer candidate remained as a recruit for a year, but would be expected to serve as a junior NCO. Even in wartime officer candidates had served at least fifteen months including two or three at the front.
     
  13. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, exactly. They were a Fähnrich, they were not selected from "promising recruits".
     

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