Chapter 7: Establishment of the Fundamental Bases of Strategy
Brilliantly executed though they were, the Japanese attacks of 7 December against Oahu and Luzon appear in retrospect as a colossal blunder. The perfection of those operations gave evidence of meticulous planning at the tactical level, but not of sound thinking along broader military and political lines. In fact, an analysis of postwar interrogations of high-ranking military and governmental leaders in Japan suggests that they had precipitated a major war without formulating for it an over-all strategy. Hopelessly outmatched in actual and potential industrial capacity, the Japanese had attacked with no firm pattern of operations in view and with no concept of how the war might be brought to a successful conclusion. There was some hope that if a formidable chain of island defenses could be thrown around the Inner Empire, American preoccupation with Germany and discomfiture over initial defeats might bring a negotiated peace, with Japan in uncontested control of the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. Such a hope was, of course, based upon a most erroneous interpretation of American psychology.
Before Pearl Harbor the administration’s foreign policy had been bitterly opposed by a highly vocal minority in the United States. This lack of agreement, perfectly consonant with our democratic process, might easily have been exaggerated by the misunderstanding of totalitarian leaders until it appeared as a paralyzing disunity. But among many of the isolationists the prospects of war with Japan had been less distasteful than that of war in Europe, and the very means by which the Japanese chose to open hostilities served temporarily to still dissident factions. When on 11 December Germany and Italy joined their Axis partner, the new U.S. unity was cemented; the
almost perfect unanimity of the vote in the Congress on our declaration of war was symptomatic of the national temper.1 This did not mean that criticism of the administration’s policies was completely hushed – within a month after Pearl Harbor the basic war strategy was under fire from intransigents in the press and in the Congress – but the nation as a whole began to gird itself for a war effort on a scale hitherto unprecedented.
If the national reaction to Pearl Harbor boded ill for the Axis powers, there was still little cause for early optimism in the United States. Indeed, the success of the Japanese attacks threatened momentarily to disrupt the whole trend of our strategic thinking. The plans which had been worked out in collaboration with the British earlier in 1941, had been oriented toward Germany. The Tripartite Pact (27 September 1940) had strengthened the belief that Japan would join Germany should that nation go to war with the United States, but Anglo-American military leaders considered it possible to contain Japan by a strategic defensive until the defeat of Germany would allow full force to be applied in the Pacific. From 1938 the United States had invoked sanctions against Japan in the form of moral embargoes, but until the summer of 1941 the administration had not been so outspoken in its denunciation of Japanese activities as of German. The President’s radio address of 27 May 1941, announcing the proclamation of an unlimited national emergency, is indicative of this policy: it was most frank in its description of the dangers we faced from Hitler’s government, but it contained no direct reference to Japan.2 To gain time for completing our defense measures, the administration continued to negotiate through normal channels with Japan until that nation began, late in July, to threaten southern Indo-China. A Japanese move in that direction would have isolated the Philippines and menaced both the Netherlands East Indies and lines of communication essential to the safety of Great Britain itself. Immediately the United States began to stiffen its policy,3 and at the Atlantic conference in mid-August the President and Prime Minister agreed to act along parallel lines in warning Japan.4 From there on, relations between the United States and Japan steadily worsened until by 26 November they had reached a crisis.5 Hurried steps had been taken to reinforce American outposts in the Pacific, and by the British to improve the defenses of Singapore. in each case the efforts were limited in nature. To a large extent this was due to the as yet inadequate
strength of the U.S. armed forces, to our matériel commitments to England and the Soviet Union, and to the vast naval and military responsibilities which the British had elsewhere. But there was also an underestimation of Japanese capabilities both by commanders in the Far East and by leaders in Washington and London, and whatever alarm may have been entertained over Japanese threats toward the south, there seems to have been little doubt of the ability of the associated powers to implement the strategy described in ABC-1.
The overwhelming strength of the Japanese army was recognized, but inasmuch as its southward movement must be by sea, we counted on neutralizing, if not wholly containing, that strength by Allied naval and air striking forces. Initial Japanese successes cut at the very roots of this concept. By 10 December, the enemy had destroyed or immobilized the heavy units of the U.S. pacific Fleet, had sunk the newly arrived British warships Repulse and Prince of Wales, and had wiped out in large part our air strength in Luzon and Oahu. Manila and Hong Kong, already under attack, were doomed, and the drive for Singapore had begun. With their striking power crippled and their main bases rendered ineffective, the associated powers could offer little resistance as the enemy pushed on pell-mell for the Netherlands East indies. The swiftness of that rush was hardly appreciated in the first few days of the war, but already it was obvious that prewar plans must be reviewed.
Meanwhile RAINBOW No. 5, as revised in November, was invoked – against Japan on 7 December, against Germany and Italy on the 11th – but with the proviso that Army task forces would be designated and dispatched only in accord with subsequent War Department instructions.6 Within the Air Staff there was an immediate, though momentary, reaction in favor of deploying all available air strength for defense of the Western Hemisphere and, if practicable, of Hawaii and the Philippines.7 Within a week, however, AAF planners returned to a more familiar theme with a new long-term design for offensive war. This plan, called AWPD/4 (15 December 1941) was hardly more than a restatement of the salient features of AWPD/1, with requirements somewhat inflated under the stimulus of war. It called for an air force of some 3,000,000 men and 90,000 planes, to be achieved by “giving NATIONAL FIRST PRIORITY TO THE PRODUCTION OF AIRCRAFT.”8 This plan was not accepted. It was clear that the role of the AAF could be determined only in
reference to the broadest national policies and that firm decisions on those policies must await further consultation with the British, whose declaration of war against Japan had come with ours on 8 December.
The need for close coordination of the efforts of all anti-Axis powers was recognized by the American government and its military leaders. During World War I, the Allies had achieved unity of civilian direction and military command only in the face of threatened defeat in the last year of the conflict; the lesson had not gone unheeded. in his request for a declaration of war against Germany and Italy, the President emphasized the need of “rapid and united effort” by all freedom-loving peoples in their struggle against the Axis powers.9
The Declaration of the United Nations, signed in Washington on 1 January 1942 by twenty-six nations, gave a pledge of mutual cooperation, but the significance of that document was largely political.10 The most concrete military measure took the form of bilateral agreements between the United Sates and the United Kingdom. These agreements, while of special import to the two principal parties, provided a workable means for coordinating the activities of the British Commonwealth of Nations and of certain governments in exile, through the influence of England, and of Latin-American republics and China through that of the United States. Collaboration with the U.S.S.R. – because of its geographical isolation, its neutrality toward Japan, and the absence of any tradition of intimate relations with the western powers – was to constitute a unique problem throughout the war.
The ARCADIA Conference: Over-all Strategy and Immediate Deployment
On 22 December, the press announced dramatically the arrival in Washington of Prime Minister Churchill, his chiefs of staff, and other high-ranking British officials.11 On the following evening, the British party met with President Roosevelt and his military and civilian advisers at the White House.12 The conference thus inaugurated, coded as ARCADIA, was in frequent session until 14 January. In his address to the Congress on 26 December, the Prime Minister declared that he had come “in order to meet the President of the United States and to arrange with him for all that mapping out of our military plans for all those intimate meetings of the high officers of the armed services of both countries which are indispensable to the successful
prosecution of the war.”13 A more specific description of the business at hand was contained in a suggested agenda radioed by the British delegation en route on board HMS Duke of York.14 This called for: (1) a redeclaration of the fundamental bases of joint strategy; (2) the interpretation of this strategy into terms of immediate military measures; (3) the allocation of joint forces in harmony with the accepted strategy; (4) the formulation of a continuing program to raise and equip the forces called for in that strategy; and (5) the establishment of joint machinery for directing the war effort. In general, this preview may serve as a guide to the accomplishments of the conference. If some of the tasks were only partially achieved, a solid foundation was laid in each case.
The restatement of the basic Anglo-American strategy was at the same time both the most important of the tasks and the most readily completed. The British chiefs of staff early presented their views in a memorandum which, with slight revisions by the Americans, was approved on 31 December.15 The strategy thus accepted was, “in spite of recent events,” essentially a reaffirmation of the principles of ABC-1. Again Germany was declared the chief enemy, the Atlantic and Europe the areas in which the principal efforts should be applied. The nature of the contemplated efforts was unchanged: defense of production areas in North American and the United Kingdom to insure realization of the Victory Program of munitions; maintenance of designated lines of communication, both sea lanes and air routes; forging and tightening a ring around Germany; weakening the Reich by indirect methods and by a concentrated bomber attack; and preparation for the eventual invasion of Germany. Meanwhile, in the Pacific only such positions should be defended as would “safeguard vital interests and deny Japan access to needed raw materials.”
The determination to concentrate on Germany first was the most momentous strategic decision of the war, both in respect to the total effort and to the role of the AAF. Apparently accepted without dissent in the previous spring, that decision seemed less unimpeachable in the flood tide of Japanese successes. It was not to go unchallenged either within high military circles or in public, but it represented a view of the war which had long been held by the air planners and from which AAF Headquarters was never to deviate.
The translation of the accepted grand strategy into terms of immediate operations and allocations raised problems not so readily solved.
Against the decision to concentrate first against Hitler, with all the priorities implied by that choice, was balanced the very pressing need for reinforcement of the Philippines and of other positions in the Far East. The limiting factor was not only – perhaps not principally – the number of troops available. The shipping shortage which was to remain a brake on projected operations throughout much of the war made impossible the immediate deployment of all those units which were trained and equipped for action.16 But in spite of the over-all priority given to the European war, some reinforcements had to be sent to the Pacific, and because of the immense distances involved in deploying troops in that area, it was only by adroit juggling of transport facilities that even barest necessities could be met.
One inevitable but ironical concomitant of the primacy given to the European theater was the knowledge that U.S. ground units sent in that direction were not destined for immediate combat. No major invasion of the continent was contemplated for 1942, though it was considered expedient to hold in reserve forces which might take advantage of any radical change in the situation. Hence it was that most of the movements and projects designed for the Atlantic-European theaters during the first half of that year were those preparatory and precautionary deployments which had been set up in RAINBOW> No. 5. The lesser movements to the Pacific bore, on the contrary, the stamp of urgency. A more detailed discussion of some of these projects in both Atlantic and Pacific will follow in appropriate chapters; here it is sufficient to list briefly the points at issue and the decisions made.
The most considerable deployments in the Atlantic-European area were those which had been designated in the prewar plans for the British Isles and Iceland. The decision to substitute U.S. Army troops for U.S. Marines and British troops in Iceland and for the British garrison in Northern Ireland imposed severe demands upon combined shipping facilities.17 Each move, however, offered important advantages. Marines would be made available for projected amphibious operations, and British troops would be released for service in the Middle East, where they in turn would relieve Australian units needed for the defense of their own homeland. The movement of U.S. Army forces in Iceland had begun in August 1941,* but because of the tight shipping situation that project was not completed by the target date
* See above, pp. 158–160.
of March 1942.18 The force set up for Northern Ireland was much greater than that stipulated in ABC-1. At Mr. Churchill’s request, U.S. troops were to relieve British troops then garrisoned in Northern Ireland and were to be wholly responsible for the defense of that area rather than merely of U.S. bases there as previously agreed. This move, in addition to releasing British troops for service in more active theaters, seemed politically expedient in view of Eire’s attitude toward the war. A new plan for this project MAGNET, was approved on 11 January,19 It called for the dispatch of the V Corps (reinforced) plus air and supply organizations. The first sizable contingent landed at Belfast on 26 January,20 but because of more immediate needs in the Pacific, the movement was thereafter retarded. The air contingent was not scheduled for movement until late spring.
The only European task force which was designed for early offensive action was the AAF bombardment force which, according to prewar plans, was to join the RAF in the attack on Germany. This project was approved informally at the first of the ARCADIA sessions, and reaffirmed on 13 January.21 The movement should begin “s soon as these forces and shipping become available.” In view of the desperate need for aircraft and crews in the Pacific and for the expanded training program, immediate deployment was impossible. Current opinion that the initial heavy bomber groups might move out in March22 was to prove too optimistic.
A plan for movements within the Western Hemisphere adopted on 13 January23 involved for the moment less shipping. It was agreed that, subject to the consent of the Netherlands government, U.S. troops should replace British garrisons in Aruba and Curaçao, and that the United States should continue to hold forces in reserve for the security of northeast Brazil against possible Axis thrusts.24
The most ambitious project considered for the first half of 1942 was the joint occupation of French Northwest and/or North Africa. Before Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Joint Board had worked tentatively on plans for the seizure of Dakar (JPB BLACK) and Casablanca (GYMNAST) to forestall any German move toward the South Atlantic and South America.25 The British meanwhile had been thinking of a possible landing in Tunisia, and at ARCADIA the joint planners were directed to weld the two concepts into a single plan (SUPER-GYMNAST).26 In view of the many unpredictable factors involved in so complex an operation, and in view of the scale of
effort required in terms of forces and shipping, no firm decision had been reached when the ARCADIA conference closed. Active planning for the operation continued throughout January and February.27 The plan was shelved on 3 March,28 only to be revived in the summer in preparation for the invasion of November 1942.
Insofar as the Atlantic-European theaters were concerned, then, the Japanese attacks had done little to modify the strategic ideas of spring 1941, either in respect to over-all priorities or to specific deployments. In the Pacific the situation had been altered radically by the events of December; and, if the Anglo-American strategists were unwilling to forsake their basic concepts for the war against Japan, they had to re-examine the means by which those concepts might be put to test. Discussion by the Anglo-American chiefs of staff centered around three fundamental problems: a reconsideration of the nature of the strategic defense against Japan; the allocation of forces and shipping for that defense; and the establishment of an effective system of command over the widely scattered forces of the several United Nations. These problems were intimately related, and any ready solution was complicated by the whirlwind advance of the enemy, by the poverty of our intelligence concerning his intentions and capabilities, and by the primitive communications system upon which the widely scattered were dependent.
Eventual victory over Japan was contingent on the development of forward bases from which the heart of the empire could be hit. For the immediate future the best that could be hoped for was to maintain security of defensive base areas, to keep open the lines of communication, and to encourage Chinese resistance.29 Defense of the central and eastern Pacific areas devolved upon the United States alone. There seemed little likelihood of an attack in force upon the western coast of the United States,30 and reinforcements were available for Alaska and Hawaii. The most urgent requirement was for the Far East area, and on 31 December the Anglo-American chiefs of staff agreed on a general policy for that region.31 Essentially the plan called for a defense in depth of the Malay barrier, with air and naval forces operating in advance of that line to retard the southward drive of the enemy. Australia and Burma were to serve as the supporting base areas. To conserve shipping, supplies were to be found locally to the extent possible, but since the great bulk of forces and munitions must be brought from the United States and from England,
additional arrangements had to be made to protect lines of communication from those countries and within the theater.
The task of providing reinforcements in combat units and additional supplies was not a simple one. In electing to concentrate Anglo-American efforts first against the Nazis, the chiefs of staff had accepted the corollary that “only the minimum of forces necessary for the safeguarding of vital interest in other theaters should be diverted from Germany.”32 The pitiful inadequacy of Allied strength in the Far East made imperative, even under these restrictions, the immediate dispatch thither of such minimum forces. Even so, there was in Washington too little intelligence concerning the fluid tactical situation to justify firm commitments. The disposition of additional forces must hinge upon a number of contingencies – particularly upon the situation in Luzon, Singapore, and the Netherlands East Indies at such time as the reinforcements should arrive.33 Among the U.S. chiefs of staff there was a natural desire – prompted by humanitarian, strategic, and political considerations – to send aid to MacArthur’s beleaguered army. In the course of the ARCADIA conversations, however, it became apparent that such assistance could not be sent directly to the Philippines. The exact day of that decision is difficult to determine, but before the conference closed it was accepted that the only hope was to channel reinforcements up through Australia, and that hope grew progressively dimmer.*34 In the absence of naval supremacy, there was little utility in planting ground force garrisons in the Malay barrier in spots which the enemy might easily by-pass. The string of island bases which constituted the vital but tenuous air link between Hawaii and Australia did require troops for local defense. new Zealand was assigned responsibility for Fiji, and Australia for the ultimate protection of New Caledonia; but it was necessary for the United States to provide a large ground force immediately for the latter island.35 Otherwise the prime necessity was for an early and substantial increase in air power – for local defense of the islands and for a striking force farther west. The AAF had – en route, at U.S. ports of embarkation, or earmarked for early dispatch to the Far East – a number of air units and about 400 planes.36 Actually the chief difficulty lay in the shortage of shipping rather than of aircraft or crews; for, whereas heavy bombers could be ferried out, lighter planes and their crews, ground personnel, and supplies must proceed
* See above, pp. 232–33.
by the slow water route. The need was so desperate that on 12 January the U.S. chiefs of staff suggested a review of the shipping priorities just established for the Atlantic.37 By reducing the size of convoys designed for Iceland and Northern Ireland and by reassigning the bottoms thus released, it was possible to find troop space for 21,800 men, including ground forces for New Caledonia and AAF personnel for the Far East area, and shipping space for the aircraft. This plan was adopted;38 it retarded troop movements in the Atlantic and the shipment of lend-lease supplies to Russia, but it provided minimum forces for immediate defense against Japan.
Even after reinforcements for the Far East had been allocated and shipping priorities established, it would be a matter of weeks before they could be brought to bear against the enemy. In the meanwhile, the Allied cause could be strengthened by a more effective utilization of the forces already in the theater. The command structure which had been prescribed in ABC-1 provided little more than a loose collaboration of American, British, Australian, New Zealand, and Netherlands forces dispersed through area of millions of square miles. In the face of the numerical superiority of the enemy’s forces and of the effective synchronization of his operations in widely separated regions, it was imperative that the United Nations improve their system of control. General Marshall on 25 December pointed out the weakness of the current command structure and proposed the establishment of a single unified command for the Far East area.39 There were objections of a practical sort which could urged against any system which vested in one leader full control over the several arms of five nations, but the alternatives were so unpromising that Marshall’s proposal was accepted.40 Because of the predominant British Commonwealth interests involved, the United States accepted as supreme Allied commander Gen. Sir Archibald P. Wavell, whose appointment was announced on 3 January.41 His deputy commander and staff were chosen to give widest representation to air, ground, and naval forces of the interested nations. The directive under which Wavell was to exercise his powers was approved by the President and Prime Minister on 10 January.42 This document prescribed the relations which were to be maintained between the supreme Allied commander, the Anglo-American chiefs of staff, and the ABDA [American-British-Dutch-Australian] governments. Its specific provisions were not always to pass unchallenged
during the early months of successive defeats, but as the first test of the practicability of a combined war effort, the ABDA command was of signal importance.
The solicitude of the chiefs of staff for the problems of the Southwest Pacific stemmed from the fact that they considered the enemy’s amphibious thrusts in that direction as his principal effort. They were not blind, however, to the gravity of the situation in China. The American administration had long recognized the resistance of the Chungking government as an obstacle to Japanese expansion, and had encouraged Chinese efforts by loans and since 6 May 1941 by lend-lease aid.43 Later in the year the basis of aid had been broadened to include actual military support by the unofficial sanction bestowed on the American Volunteer Group (AVG) of combat pilots. Now, when Japan’s new commitments in the Pacific should have brought hope to China, U.S. observers were finding that nation war-weary, her resistance weakening under pronounced material and moral deterioration.44 China’s own productive powers were slight and communications with the western world so poor that it was difficult to bolster that weakness by grants of munitions. Isolated from the other United Nations in the Far East, China had not been included in the ABDA area; her armies were directed by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, and coordination of effort must be effected by mutual agreement.
The United States, both from long-standing sentiment and for reasons of immediate military expediency, wished to continue and to increase China’s war effort; if that effort in itself bore little hope of ultimate victory, it promised at least to contain large Japanese forces and to constitute a continuous drain on Japanese resources. To provide a broad basis for our desired policy of immediate assistance to China, the U.S. chiefs of staff presented a plan which was approved on 10 January.45 This entailed increasing the security and capacity of the Burma Road, and providing base facilities and technical services to th end that the Chinese combat operations might be made more effective. Specifically, the U.S. chiefs of staff proposed to appoint, with the consent of Chiang Kai-shek, a high-ranking military officer to act as the representative of the United States in China. He was to supervise lend-lease, to command (under the Generalissimo as supreme commander) all U.S. forces and such Chinese units as might be attached
to them, and to control the Burma Road. Base facilities in Burma were to be made available through liaison with the British. This latter prospect introduced a command problem which was to complicate operations throughout the war. American forces in Burma, and later in India, had as a primary mission the promotion of Chinese resistance, yet geographically they lay in an area of British control. For the moment a solution was found by stipulating that forces under the U.S. representative would serve under the over-all direction of Chiang Kai-shek in China, but under the ABDA command in Burma. Experience was soon to prove this arrangement unsatisfactory, but in January 1942 it seemed to offer a practical compromise between conflicting national interests.46
Providing the Forces
The immediate deployments approved at ARCADIA were calculated in terms of the modest forces then available, but the long-term strategy was based upon most ambitious requirements in trained men and matériel. Hence as a prerequisite to the success of that strategy, Anglo-American leaders must establish a “continuous program to raise and equip the forces” envisaged. To match in matériel strength the Axis powers, long on a war footing, would have called for great productive efforts, but the plans adopted at Washington went far beyond that goal. Traditionally, the American mode of warfare depended upon a generous use of matériel; we had preferred prodigality in that respect to prodigal wastage of human lives. With that policy the British were in wholehearted agreement. Perhaps in both countries it reflected the democratic idea of the value of the individual citizen and the existence of a great industrial system, but with the British the policy was also a frank recognition of the overwhelming superiority in manpower enjoyed by the Axis and their satellite states.
In so huge a program as that contemplated the United States must play a paramount part. It must raise and equip tremendous forces of its own and it must contribute generously to the munitions needs of Britain, the Soviet Union, China, and other United Nations. Britain was to participate to the very considerable extent of her industrial capacity, but her own industry was already strained and unable to provide for the nations’ own needs, in some categories; and there was the ever-present danger of a revival of large-scale German air attacks. Hence the greatest, though not the severest, burden fell upon the
United States. In the long run the success achieved in the production program was perhaps as vital a factor in victory as any other, and in some items, certainly, it was a matter of quantitative rather than qualitative superiority over German industry and technology. An over-all history of the war should then be as much concerned with those who made the weapons as with those who used them. Here it must suffice to indicate briefly the measures taken to increase the flow of aircraft and related materials, to divide these weapons between the using air forces as accepted strategy dictated, and to increase the size of the Army Air Forces.*
In production, as in military strategy, the policies inaugurated immediately after pearl Harbor rested upon the solid foundations laid earlier. Under impetus of our own defense program, of foreign orders, and of lend-lease, the aircraft industry had increased its capacity and plans had been laid for further growth; machinery for allocations had long been in operation; and the Army Air Forces had been greatly increased in size. The chief need now was for an accelerated rate of expansion. A basic guide for this lay at hand in the Victory Program. In accepting AWPD/1, the Army air section of that program, Secretary of War Stimson had qualified his approval by the observation that the plan would be practicable only if the nation were at war.47 Now that war had come, the whole of the national economy could be redirected toward the successful prosecution of military operations. As the President wrote Mr. Stimson on 3 January, “The concept of our industrial capacity must be completely overhauled under the impulse of the period to our nation.”48
In its latest revision of AAF needs, AWPD/4, the Air Staff had requested an overriding priority for production of aircraft. This was not a practical solution; the fluctuating needs of a very complex war demanded a more flexible system. At ARCADIA, the Anglo-American planning committee suggested that, pending an early examination and revision of over-all needs by the military and of industrial capacity by civilian production experts, the Victory Program† as it existed be taken as a basis for expansion. Rather than fix absolute priorities for the several categories of munitions, they wished to allocate resources for their manufacture in a sequence of limited schedules geared to the successive approved operations.49 For Army air needs, this would give
* A more extended treatment of these problems can be found in volume VI of this series: Men and Planes.
† A full account of the Victory Program can be found in Charles Kirkpatrick’s An Unknown Future and a Doubtful Present: Writing the Victory Plan of 1941 (Center of Military History, 1990)
precedence to heavy bombers for defense in this hemisphere and in the Pacific; and in the air assault on Germany, precedence over equipment for air support for a large ground force. The design for expansion suggested in AWPD/1 was not incompatible with those suggestions, and the air requirements of that plan, as revised in London in September, were adopted as the general guide for production.
On 3 January President Roosevelt sent Mr. Stimson a list of munitions, with a directive that he achieve the schedules contained therein and consult with the Secretary of the Navy as to allocation between the using services. No relative priorities were suggested. Aircraft goals were as follows:–50
|Aircraft Types||1942||1943||Target Monthly Production|
|Long-range, heavy, and medium bombers||11,300||30,000||3,000|
|Light, dive, and scout bombers||11,000||17,000||2,000|
|Observation and transports||6,700||15,000||1,500|
For 1942, this meant increasing existing schedules from about 46,000 to 60,000. The figures for 1943 differed slightly from those sent to Congress by the President on 6 January, which called for 25,000 rather than 31,000 trainers.51 In either case they seemed prodigious, especially in view of equally impressive requirements for ground and naval warfare. With any reasonably calculated rate of wastage, the annual production schedules of 60,000 and 131,000 aircraft should easily meet the requirements agreed on at London – about 60,000 combat and 37,000 raining planes for the AAF and 21,000 for the U.S. Navy, plus the British deficit of 13,553.
At the suggestion of the AAF, the following schedule of allocations of combat planes was agreed on by the U.S. services, and approved by the President on 14 January:–52
|Long-range, heavy, and medium bombers||9,780||1,520||11,300||26,190||3,810||30,000|
|Light, dive, torpedo, and scout bombers||7,270||3,730||11,000||9,160||7,840||17,000|
|Observation and transports||3,430||3,320||6,750||12,260||2,740||15,000|
These figures included British contract and lend-lease orders, and since those were more numerous in Army-type planes, the division between the services was not as disparate as the table indicates. Allocation among the several United Nations was reserved for a fuller study of the problems involved.
For the present, however, there was need of an immediate adjustment in the allotment of planes according to current estimates of production rates. In each of the allocation agreements made or suggested before 7 December, the requirements of the AAF had been subordinated to those of the British. To the extent that such a policy had put tactical planes into the hands of an air force actually combating the common enemy, it was justified. With the United States now in the war, however, that policy had to be revised to provide for the AAF’s immediate combat needs and for its approved expansion.
The issue was raised at the beginning of ARCADIA, when on 24 December Admiral Stark announced that in the future U.S. heavy bombers sent to the United Kingdom would be manned by American crews, and, when possible, be in organized units. Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal pointed out that this was not in accord with previous arrangements, but he was assured by General Arnold that the proposal would not prejudice existing agreements, details of which were to be worked out soon.53 Those details were incorporated into the so-called Arnold-Portal Agreement, signed on 13 January 1942.54 The document listed by categories and by months the specific number of planes to be made available to Great Britain during 1942 from U.S. production. The totals called for 589 heavy bombers, 1,744 medium bombers, 2,745 light bombers, 4,050 pursuits, 402 observation planes, and 852 transports. Trainers were dealt with elsewhere. The allocations were
to be subject to periodic readjustments when changes in attrition rates, in production estimates, or in planned deployments warranted reconsideration. The rigidity of this schedule appeared to some allocations experts sufficient to make the scheme impractical in the light of so many variable factors,55 but the readjustment feature was to be its saving grace. When in February 1942 the combined Munitions Assignments Board was established,* the Arnold-Portal Agreement was accepted “for production planning purposes,”56 and it served as a point of departure for later revisions. This agreement, it must be noted, was only bilateral. Existing commitments by each of the signatories to other powers were still in force. For the United States the most important of these was the Soviet protocol, which remained the guide for deliveries to the U.S.S.R. until replaced by the Washington protocol in autumn 1942.57
The increase in the number of aircraft scheduled for delivery to the AAF under the Victory Program called for a parallel expansion of the whole air organization. This meant an increase in the total troop basis, in the training program, and in the number of organized units. When war came, the AAF had an authorized strength of 348,355 officers and men.58 Its training establishment was geared to an annual rate of 37,000 pilots and 110,000 technicians. This training schedule reflected the needs of the 84-group program, which had been publicly announced no 23 October but accomplishment of which had been effectively blocked by the shortage of combat planes. of the 84 groups authorized, 70 had been activated, but in many cases little had been done beyond formal activation.59 Relatively few of the groups were at table-of-organization strength in men, and few were fully equipped with modern aircraft. The Air Staff was faced with the problem of devising an orderly schedule which would provide aircrews and organized
* See below, pp. 256–57.
units at a rate which would synchronize with the accelerating flow of matériel. Only in this fashion could be created the balanced air force demanded by the strategic plans.
By 23 December 1941 the Air Staff had agreed on a broad pattern of expansion. During 1942 the AAF should accomplish its 84-group program, meanwhile speeding up its training schedule to match the Victory Program of aircraft production. In 1943 the AAF should organize and train the groups called for in AWPD/1 at normal (First Aviation) strength, and in 1944 at Second Aviation strength – that is, with an additional squadron for each combat group.60 Within a few days, the goal for 1942 was raised and a 115-group program substituted for the 84.61 General Arnold on 7 January apprised the Chief of Staff of the aims of the AAF and requested authority to put the new program into operation.62 Once having fulfilled “the immediate and necessary commitments for theaters of operations and task forces,” he proposed to devote the major effort toward developing training facilities within the Air Corps. This would retard temporarily the rate of training in the Air Force Combat Command (AFCC), but once the program was in full swing it would relieve that command of all responsibility for individual and crew training and allow it to concentrate on operational unit training. Under the new arrangement Arnold proposed to reach an annual production rate of 50,000 pilots and 300,000 technicians by August and of 70,000 pilots and 500,000 technicians in 1943.
On 19 January the Secretary of War approved this program in a directive on expansion of the AAF during the calendar year 1942.63 The authorized strength of the AAF, including arms and services, was increased to 70,914 officers nd 997,687 enlisted men. Approval was granted for activating during the year 45 additional groups of designated types. These were to be at First Aviation strength and with the 70 existing groups would round out the 115 called for in the new program. The AAF was also directed to expand training facilities to make possible the goals General Arnold had desired for 1942 and 1943.
Some steps were taken immediately to launch the new program. The Flying Training Command was established on 23 January under the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps, with full responsibility for training pilots and aircrews.64 The activation of approved units progressed rapidly; within two month some 30 groups had been added. The Air Staff, meanwhile, had already begun planning for a greatly augmented
air force which could absorb in 1943 the tremendous flow of aircraft and aircrews. Just ten days after the 115-group program was authorized, the Chief of the Air Staff presented General Arnold with a plan for AAF expansion in 1943, recommending an increase of 109 combat groups.65 By 5 February this 224-group program had been accepted in the AAF as a basis for further study.66 The program was not formally approved until July, but which time several changes had occurred in the allocation of groups among the several combat types, and by September 1942 this schedule had in turn been supplanted by the 273-group program. But inasmuch as long-range allocation and deployment plans for some months after ARCADIA were based on anticipated forces of 115 groups by 31 December 1942 and of 224 groups a year later, it is convenient to summarize here the unit status at the several pertinent dates.67
|Aircraft per Group|
|Type of Group||1st Aviation Strength||Augmented Strength||Groups on Hand, 19 Jan. 1942||Groups Authorized 19 Jan. 1942||115-Group Program||Proposed Increase 1943||To be Attained by 31 Dec. 1943|
Permanent Machinery for Military Control
On 1 January 1942, twenty-six nations through representatives assembled in Washington pledged their mutual cooperation against the Tripartite powers to the extent of their respective military and economic resources.68 In manpower and industrial capacity, if not in current military strength, the United Nations were vastly superior to the Axis powers. But whatever public statements might be made about common ideals, the twenty-six members of the new organization had separate national interests, sometimes widely divergent or even conflicting; material advantages might easily be dissipated by the lack of unity usually inherent in a military coalition. In his address to the Congress on 6 January, President Roosevelt promised that “we shall not fight isolated wars – each nation going its own way.” He referred to measures already taken to insure cohesive efforts – current military discussions and the unified command in the Southwest Pacific – and said: “There will be a continuation of conferences and consultations
among military staffs, so that the plans and operations of each will fit into a general strategy designed to crush the enemy.”69
The vast amount of important business accomplished at ARCADIA gave evidence of the utility of periodic meetings of government chiefs with their principal military and civilian advisers. hence there followed, after the pattern set at the Atlantic conference and ARCADIA, a series of meetings, from Casablanca to Potsdam, at which the major issues of the war were settled. In some of the conferences, the Soviet Union, China, and other United Nations participated, but usually the function of the meetings was to serve as a clearing house for Anglo-American plans. Ultimate decisions on major military policies were taken by President Roosevelt, as Commander in Chief of the U.S. forces, and by Mr. Churchill as British Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. Each of those leaders was inclined to assume a more active part in framing military strategy than was conventional with civilian officials in their respective states, and it was highly desirable that they be served by a common staff organization. The basic elements for such a body existed already in the U.S. Joint Board and the British Chiefs of Staff Committee, with their staff organizations, but inasmuch as those bodies sat respectively at Washington and London, some practical form of liaison was required. in ABC-1 it had been suggested that this be achieved by the exchange of permanent military missions. The suggestion had been carried out in 1941 with the establishment of the U.S. Special Observer Group in London and the British Joint Staff Mission in Washington.70 There remained the task of perfecting this initial machinery, including the subsidiary staff agencies, and of regularizing procedures. These goals were achieved during the weeks following the Washington conference, and during the same period significant changes occurred in the organization and command structure of the armed forces of the United States. To some extent the latter changes were brought about by cons peculiar to the U.S. services, but they were profoundly influenced by the new Anglo-American staff organization. And in each case the status of the AAF was improved.
In consonance with their previously declared interest, the British chiefs of staff on 10 January presented to their American opposite numbers a memorandum on post-ARCADIA collaboration.71 The paper, suggesting the establishment of a permanent staff organization, was discussed in detail, revised by the U.S. chiefs of staff, and at the
last ARCADIA session on the 14th was submitted to the President and the Prime Minister.72 Although the principal features of the plan never challenged, it was subsequently revised in a draft of 24 January and adopted on 10 February.73 This final version formed, as it were, the constitutional framework for the combined direction of the war; and in view of the remarkable success of Anglo-American collaboration, it may be considered as one of the most significant documents in the long history of military alliances.
The most important element in the new machinery was the Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCS). Actually, that body had existed at ARCADIA; what was new was the designation and the provision for continuous rather than periodic sessions. In choosing the title, American rather than British usage was followed: the term “combined” was officially defined as connoting collaboration between two or more of the United Nations; “joint” as connoting collaboration between two or more services of a single nation. This provided a more precise designation than had existed before, though iun respect to the subsidiary agencies it reversed rather than confirmed earlier practice; thus the group which had been commonly referred to as the Joint Planning Committee now became the Combined Planning Staff (CPS).
The Combined Chiefs of Staff was to sit normally in Washington, with regularly scheduled meetings. It was to consist of the United States chiefs of staff and the British chiefs of staff or, in their absence from Washington, of their duly appointed representatives. For the British this meant dual representation. Their members of the CCS were Adm. Sir Dudley Pound, Gen. Sir Alan Brooke, and Air Chief Marshall Sir Charles Portal, representing the three services, and Field Marshal Sir John Dill representing Mr. Churchill as Minister of Defense. Sir John Dill was to remain in Washington after the departure of his three colleagues, and with him were to act, vice those members, the British Joint Staff Mission – Adm. Sir Charles Little, Gen. Sir Colville Wemyss, and Air Marshal Arthur T. Harris. The United States members consisted of Adm. Harold R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations; Adm. Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet; Gen. George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army; and Lt. Gen. H. H. Arnold, Chief, AAF and Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army.
The use of the existing British Chiefs of Staff Committee as a model for the new organization raised two awkward questions. In the British system, the RAF enjoyed the same status as the older services, with
parity in cabinet representation and in military command; in the American organization, the AAF was only a part of the Army. British practice had prevailed at ARCADIA to the extent that AAF members had met, in each committee, with their British counterparts and on terms of quasi-equality with U.S. Army and Navy members. That arrangement was perpetuated in the appointment of General Arnold to the Combined Chiefs of Staff, though he was officially a deputy chief of staff. In the second place the American members had not liked the idea of including in the CCS a special representative of the Minister of Defense, since the ready access to the President of such a personal representative of Mr. Churchill might make difficult the maintenance of normal military channels of communication and control. The arrangement was later equalized by the appointment in July of Adm. William D. Leahy as personal chief of staff to President Roosevelt in place of Admiral Stark.74 It was apparently the influence of the CCS organization which determined the formation of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), made up of the four American members. There was no official charter establishing this committee,75 but by the end of February it had assumed responsibilities toward the American war effort comparable to those of the CCS at the combined level.
For the CCS, responsibilities were specifically enumerated.76 They were to include, under the heads of the two governments, the formulation and execution of policies and plans concerning: (1) the strategic conduct of the war; (2) a broad program of production conceived in terms of that strategy; (3) allocation of raw materials and weapons; and (4) assignment of shipping for personnel and matériel. Procedure in carrying out these tasks had already been described in the directive issued to the supreme Allied commander of the ABDA area.77 On all important military matters outside the jurisdiction of the theater commanders, the Combined Chiefs were charged with developing recommendations and submitting them to the President and Prime Minister for approval. The issues under consideration might originate with the theater commanders, with the government of any of the United Nations, with the U.S. or British chiefs of staff, or eventually with their subordinate agencies. The functions of the CCS (and similarly of the JCS) were properly staff rather than command. Ultimate decisions, of course, lay with the President and Prime Minister, and the execution of the enforcing directives was a responsibility of a
theater or continental commander. Yet to an important degree the broad direction of the war strategy was the work of the Combined Chiefs themselves. This meant, save for the final decision by the civilian government chiefs, that the war effort was controlled by a committee. The faults inherent in committee rule were not always absent. It is difficult to achieve perfect unanimity of opinion among eight strong-minded men, each accustomed to command and each motivated by a different combination of national, service, and personal factors. yet on each issue, agreement – or consent – was desirable; there was no formal voting or majority rule. In view of the paralyzing possibilities of what amount to the liberum veto, it was fortunate that, whatever clashes of opinion may have occurred, the members of the CCS were able in most issues to compromise their several suggestions in a decision that could be accepted by all. One fact of extreme importance for the United States was that the membership of the Joint Chiefs of Staff remained unchanged, after the appointment of Admiral Leahy, until after the war ended; this continuity in personnel, so unusual in a military body, contributed much to smoothness of operation of the JCS.
In the interests of efficiency it was desirable that the Combined Chiefs of Staff be provided with permanent staff sections. The British paper on post-ARCADIA collaboration had designated several of the required agencies, again based on British models, and these were set up by CCS directives at the time that body achieved its formal organization. For the most part the new offices merely continued, in a more formal guise and under new designations, the machinery which had grown up at ARCADIA. The form the new sections assumed then was that of Anglo-American committees rather than of the conventional “G’s” of the U.S. Army General Staff.
Although there was no hierarchical arrangement of the several sections, those being coequal in status and on terms of mutual interchange of communication, the Combined Planning Staff occupied a central position vis-à-vis the Combined Chiefs of Staff.78 That section, which had operated at ARCADIA as the Joint Planning Committee, was charged with preparing such studies and plans as the CCS should direct. Its membership included the chief planning officers of the U.S. Army, Navy, and AAF, and similar representatives of the British services. The American members, when sitting separately, constituted also the U.S. Joint Planning Staff.
The new Combined Intelligence Committee also continued an existing organization.79 The American members, who formed the U.S. joint Intelligence Committee, consisted of the directors of intelligence from the Army, Navy, and AAF, and representatives of the Department of State, the Board of Economic Warfare, and the Coordinator of Information. A full-time committee was also appointed to work permanently with the British Joint Intelligence Committee in Washington.
The Combined Military Transportation Committee (CMTC) was to advise the CCS on transportation problems involved in their various projects, especially in respect to requirements for overseas movements.80 For any contemplated operation, the American and British members were to determine the shipping which could be made available by each nation through consultation respectively with the War Shipping Administration and the Ministry of War Transport. Where combined use of shipping was involved, any adjustments necessary should be referred to the Combined Shipping Adjustment Board. Where lack of shipping or kindred factors (rail, port, etc.) threatened to strangle an approved plan, the CMTC with the CPS were to report to the Combined Chiefs to obtain the requisite priorities. American membership consisted of the War Department’s G-4 and his chief transportation officer, a representative of the AAF, the director of the Naval Transportation Service, and his planning officer.
In view of the acute problems of distribution of air matériel, the combined Munitions Assignments Board (MAB) was of special importance to the AAF.81 This extended to British as well as American production the idea of inter-Allied control which had been functioning since 1940, but which was now made even more necessary by the adoption of the Victory Program. The mission of the MAB was to keep current estimates of U.S.-British munitions resources, considering such variable factors as production achievements, matériel reserves, rates of wastage, combat forces, shifts in strategy, etc.; and, on the basis of these estimates, to recommend to the CCS schedules for the allocation of matériel among the United Nations. Separate boards sat in Washington and Long to assign respectively munitions produced in the United States and United Kingdom. A civilian, Harry L. Hopkins, headed the board in Washington, which included representatives of the Army, Navy, and AAF, and of the three British services. It was a token of the importance of this board to the AAF that
its member was the Chief of the Air Staff, Maj. Gen. Millard F. Harmon. He served also as chairman of a subsidiary group, the Munitions Assignments Committee (Air), and the AAF in this body continued to play the important role it had previously enjoyed in the Joint Aircraft Committee.82
As the war went on, the combined and joint machinery grew more complex, the size of its personnel greater. It could not, in the nature of things, wholly escape the taint of bureaucracy, and that its officers could partially escape the standard “battle of the Pentagon” jokes was perhaps due to the fact that they were more often housed in another building. But the war, being global, was also complex and great in size; the task of planning operations and deployments in every continent, of finding resources and establishing relative priorities – this required a staff organized on a scale and in a manner hitherto unknown in the United States. Perhaps the magnitude of the task can be fully appreciated only by those who have made an intensive study of the files of the Combined and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The responsibility for keeping those records, incidentally no light one. It was vested, at the two levels, in the Combined Secretariat and the Joint Secretariat, which prepared and circulated the various draft and final papers and which kept a permanent record of the proceedings at staff meetings. Here again initial British influence was strong.83
The establishment of the new machinery for combined and joint control of the war effort did much to secure for the air arm a position commensurate with its growing size and power through the inclusion of AAF representatives in each new agency. Concurrently, the War Department was undergoing structural modifications which contributed to the same end. The reorganization which went into effect on 9 march 1942 was the fruit of months of study and debate precipitated by the military crisis of 1940–41; to understand the issues involved, it is useful to recall briefly the nature of the Army’s administrative machinery when mobilization began. At that time most responsible leaders within the War Department were agreed that the existing organization was ill attuned to the needs of modern war – specifically that reforms should be instituted which aimed at decentralization of staff work in Washington, at unity of command in the field. In practice, those principles were difficult to reconcile, and among the several agencies concerned there existed wide differences
of opinion as to the most feasible solution for each. The reorganization of March 1942 was essentially a compromise, a wartime expedient which postponed rather than effected a final settlement. The immediate background of this temporary solution may be sought in a three-cornered struggle between the General Staff’s War Plans Division, General Headquarters, and the Army Air Forces. Much, though certainly not all, of the controversy turned on the relation of the air arm to the military establishment.
General Headquarters was of recent origin, but the desirability of such a staff in the event of war had long dominated Army thought. The Harbord Board of 1921, drawing on the experience of the AEF in 1917–18, had recommended establishment of a staff comparable to Pershing’s GHQ which should channel War Department activities into the theater of operations. The core of this headquarters was to consist of the General Staff’s War Plans Division – indeed it was in anticipation of such an eventual function that the latter office had been created and charged with the preparation of over-all strategic plans. Modified in detail in 1936, the Harbord plan assumed that at outbreak of war the Chief of Staff, or some other commander designated by the President, would lead the field forces with a reinforced WPD as his general headquarters. When Nazi victories of the spring of 1940 lent urgency to the mobilization of American military forces, an initial step toward realizing this design was taken by the activation, on 26 July, of a “nucleus of GHQ.” Its original mission was to direct the training of the tactical units of the Army, found in the main in the four field armies, the armored force, and the GHQ Air Force. General Marshall delegated effective control of GHQ to its chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Leslie J. McNair, under whose able leadership a small group of officers undertook the complex task of organizing and training the fast growing Army.84
A year later, on 3 July 1941, the mission of GHQ was extended to include also the planning and command of operations; in General Marshall’s words, “GHQ now supersedes War Plans Division in the organization and control of task forces and operations.:85 This was in accord with the original intent, but the new arrangement did not prove satisfactory. The Harbord report and the subsequent modifications of 1936 had conceived of a war involving a concerted effort in
a single theater; in the summer of 1941 bot the European Axis and Japan loomed as probable enemies and responsibilities for hemisphere defense involved the establishment of widely scattered bases and defense commands. Anglo-American plans had envisaged the establishment of several theaters of operations, but firm commitment of the field forces must depend in the initial stages of war upon enemy strategy. Under these circumstances it did not seem wise for either General Marshall or GHQ to take the field. War Plans Division was never incorporated into GHQ and remained a potential rival to that staff in spite of the directive of 3 July.86
That directive proved difficult to follow, since some of the functions and powers prescribed therein were contingent unpredictable circumstances. Form the date of its issue, General McNair considered the authority granted GHQ unequal to the new responsibilities, and on 25 July he requested an extension of his powers. The chief difficulty lay in his lack of control over supplies, a weakness he thought fatal to effective planning for, and command of, task forces. Competing with the Navy and lend-lease for material resources, the War Department was unwilling to relinquish its control over this essential factor. Thus it was with restricted authority that GHQ, in the months just before and after Pearl Harbor, planned operations and dispatched task forces, some of which have been mentioned in earlier passages of this chapter. But however important the matter of supply may have been to GHQ, the issue of most immediate concern to the Army air arm was its own relation to the new agency.
That conflict would arise between the air force and a GHQ dominated by ground officers was to be expected; what occurred was no more than a new phase of the dispute which had defied solution for two decades. Widespread recognition of the importance of air power in the European war and General Marshall’s sympathetic attitude toward the Army’s air arm encouraged those officers who were dissatisfied with the organizational compromise of 1935. Rather than return to the public campaign for a separate department of air, they now directed their efforts toward securing greater powers within the War Department. In these efforts they were opposed by GHQ as they had earlier been by the General Staff, but the alignment was now less uneven. The appointment of General Arnold as Deputy Chief of Staff in October 1940 gave him immediate access to the Chief of Staff; and, if the new office was not in the same chain of command as Arnold’s
position as Chief of the Air Corps, it nevertheless lent additional weight to his persistent efforts.
One significant instance occurred soon after GHQ was established. As Chief of the Air Crops, Arnold promulgated on 14 August an elaborate training directive for the GHQ Air Force. Although GHQ had been made responsible for the training of all combat units, and on 19 November was specifically given “direct control” over the GHQ Air Force, the directive was allowed to stand. Thereafter General McNair exercised hardly more than a nominal supervision over air training.87 This de facto situation was legalized in the revision of Army Regulation 95–5 on 20 June 1941,* whereby the Army Air Forces was established and its Chief, General Arnold, was given control over both unit and individual training.88 General Headquarters’ responsibility for air force training was limited to combined air-ground operations.
If AR 95–5 clarified the training issue, it evoked more serious problems concerning the planning and control of air combat operations when, a fortnight later, GHQ was made responsible for those functions. one purpose in creating the Army Air Forces was to eliminate internal friction between combat and service agencies, a hope which did not materialize.89 In broader context, the move was one phase of the current trend toward “streamlining” the organization of the War Department. The Secretary of War had approved “decentralizing our staff work to permit Air Force autonomy in the degree needed,” while opposing “segregated independence.”90 Certainly the powers give to General Arnold as Chief of the Army Air Forces constituted the greatest single step toward autonomy as yet taken. He was charged with control over the Air Force Combat Command, successor the GHQ Air Force, and over the Air Corps.91 Specifically, his duties included determining requirements for the AAF and the “preparation of necessary plans for the development, organization, equipment, training, tactical operations, supply, and maintenance thereof, including overseas garrisons and task forces for theaters of operations and the assignment of personnel and matériel thereto.92 Through its commanding general, he controlled “all aerial operations” of the Air Force Combat Command save for units assigned or attached to task forces, overseas garrisons, or other commands, and on direction of the Chief of Staff was responsible for plans for the air defense of the United
* See above, p. 115.
States.93 To those most intimately concerned, this directive and that of 3 July extending the responsibilities of GHQ might seem to overlap in respect to authority for operational planning and control. Divergent attitudes toward the role of air power made difficult any substantial agreement. The newly created Air Staff clearly indicated a desire to extend the powers of the AAF along lines parallel, rather than subordinate, to those of GHQ. Such action would have in effect reduced GHQ to a ground force command, a trend which its leaders objected to but which seems to have been acceptable to WPD. In these circumstances, there was then much to justify WPD’s judgment that relations between General Headquarters and the Army Air Forces were “indefinite and unsatisfactory.”94
General McNair was determined to preserve the authority of GHQ against threatened encroachments from the AAF. Early in July he secured from General Arnold an oral disclaimer of any intent to infringe in the realm of operational command; the latter wrote, confirming his declaration, “There is no thought of aerial combat operations controlled by the Air Force Combat Command, coincident with similar operations controlled by a theater commander.”95 Nevertheless, McNair seems to have felt that the AAF was striving for independent command; apropos of a reorganization suggested by WPD he commented that “the Chief of the Army Air Forces does not command the aviation of overseas garrisons – at least not yet.”96 On 15 August, McNair defined in detail his concept of the relationship between the AAF and GHQ in a memorandum specifically calculated to prevent any intrusion on the latter’s authority over operational planning and control.97 His anxiety was not ill founded; already the War Department had initiated deliberations which were to result, some seven months later, in the abolition of GHQ and the extension of air force authority. In its efforts toward that end, the AAF received effective support from WPD.
Wishing to settle the broad issues raised by the directive of 3 July and General McNair’s criticism thereof, General Marshall appointed a board representing GHQ, the several sections of the General Staff, and the Air Forces. Convened on 14 August, the board soon recommended “a major reorganization of the War Department.”98 Two alternatives seemed possible: to increase the powers of GHQ along lines which McNair had suggested; or to reduce it to a ground force command comparable to the AAF and add a service of supplies.
War Plans Division suggested the latter solution in August, then turned to fruitless efforts to reach an agreement by modifying the present formula.99 By September, General McNair had become skeptical of the possibility of securing the authority requisite for effective functioning of his office.100 From the August deliberations on, the AAF favored drastic reorganization. On 6 October the Air Staff prorogued for duration of the emergency all attempts to secure complete independence of the air force.101 This decision served merely to concentrate all efforts toward achieving a parity with the ground forces, which seemed impossible of attainment under the present status and constituency of GHQ. During the late summer and early fall, various expedients were examined by members of the Air Staff and by consultants drawn from the Bureau of the Budget.102 On 24 October General Spaatz, Chief of the Air Staff, forwarded to WPD a vigorous objection to the existing organization, recommending the abolition of GHQ and the establishment, under the Chief of Staff and a compact General Staff, of autonomous air, ground, and service forces. This proposal met with “100 per cent nonconcurrences.”103 A month later, on 25 November, General Arnold recommended to the Chief of Staff a reorganization of the War Department along similar lines and the creation of a military policy staff for the President which should include members from the several services and appropriate civilian agencies.104 The second part of this scheme lay entirely outside the jurisdiction of General Marshall; but he was “favorably impressed” by Arnold’s design for the War Department, and on 28 November he directed WPD to develop a detailed plan incorporating its principal features.105
Brig. Gen. Joseph T. McNarney, an air officer who had been drawn into the General Staff under the recent liberalizing policy, was put in charge of the project. He was recalled from his current assignment with the special observers in London, arriving in Washington just after the Japanese attack in the Pacific and just in time to be named to the Roberts Commission to investigate the disaster at Pearl Harbor.106 Thus delayed, it was early February before McNarney’s group had determined the general character of the reorganization. The views of the AAF were presented to McNarney by a special committee appointed by Arnold and headed by Lt. Col. B. E. Gates.107 General Headquarters was not consulted until 5 February, but General McNair had long since been convinced of the impractical nature
of the existing system and raised no objections to the proposed changes.108 The results of the deliberations of McNarney’s committee were incorporated in War Department Circular 59, issued on 2 March 1942 and effective on 9 March. As a circular, its provisions lacked permanent validity.
The new directive abolished GHQ. The field forces remained under the control of the General Staff, and the War Plans Division (later OPD) assumed planning and operational functions over all theaters of operation and the four defense commands. To care to Zone of Interior functions, three autonomous and coordinate commands were established under the Chief of Staff – the Army Air Forces, the Army Ground Forces, and the Services of Supply (later Army Services Forces.) The General Staff was reorganized to include a more equable proportion of air officers. This arrangement removed a long-standing grievance by giving the air arm equal status with the ground arm, if not with the Army itself. It did away, too, with the internal friction which had stemmed from the ambiguous division of authority between the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps and the Air Force Combat Command. Those agencies indeed were eliminated in the new AAF, and the functions of the former were divided between a reorganized Air Staff and a number of subordinate commands in the Zone of Interior. As for the AFCC, its very raison d’être had disappeared during the early months of the war. Of the four continental air forces previously assigned to it, the First and Fourth had been turned over to the Eastern and Western Defense Commands, respectively, and the Second and Third had become essentially agencies for unit training.109 For all his elevation from Chief, AAF to Commanding General, AAF, Arnold had been shorn of the limited combat functions he had previously enjoyed by virtue of his control over the Combat Command.
Ostensibly, the Army Air Forces had been reconstituted merely as a supply and training agency. That fact may have been overlooked by the casual reader of public announcements of the new “streamlined” War Department organization, which according to one journalist was so pleasing to air officers that they “practically trod on air.”110 But the limitation was clearly indicated in the new statement of the AAF mission – “to procure and maintain equipment peculiar to the Army Air Forces and to provide air force units properly organized, trained and equipped for combat operations.” In theory it was only through War Plans Division that Arnold, as Commanding
General, AAF, could affect the planning and control of combat operations.
In reality the influence of AAF Headquarters on the actual coznt of the war went far beyond a literal interpretation of Circular 59. Here, as so often in the course of the war, it proved impossible to separate multiple functions held by one person, and what Arnold could not do as Commanding General of the AAF he might accomplish as Deputy Chief of Staff. In that capacity he had helped frame military policy during the months before Pearl Harbor; he had attended the Atlantic conference; and he had sat sometimes – not always – in the President’s unofficial War Council.111 During ARCADIA, Arnold had acted as one of the Anglo-American chiefs of staff; and with the formation in February of the CCS and JCS he was designated unequivocally as a member of each. There was still a curious anomaly in his situation. Within the War Department, Arnold was subject to Marshall as Chief of Staff, and though the latter had long since proved his interest in the cause of air power and had favored Arnold’s inclusion in the CCS,112 there were still the stubborn facts of seniority and rank: Arnold had only received his third star with the advent of war and was not to be made a four-star general for another year.113 Within the CCS and JCS there was no hierarchy and legally, at least, the Commanding General of the Army Air Forces, the Army Chief of Staff, and the Chief of Naval Operations shared equal responsibilities and powers. And it was as a member of those committees rather than as commander of the AAF per se that Arnold was to exert his most important influence in the air war.
This tendency reached on down into the Air Staff. The policy initiated in AR 95–5 of giving the AAF representation in the General Staff was extended in Circular 59; the ultimate objective was that roughly half the members of that body should be air officers.114 If this looked on paper as an equitable solution, it was not wholly satisfactory to the Air Staff. Perhaps the crux of the matter lay in the relationship between AWPD and WPD, with its peculiarly important influence in formation of strategic policies and in the conduct of operation. In October 1941, AWDP had objected that WPD was trying to monopolize planning functions which more appropriate to the Air Staff and suggested that responsibilities for planning be divided along functional lines between the two offices.115 This was in reality an effort to establish two distinct and correlative agencies; the same attitude
had been manifested in the fashion in which the Air Staff had compiled AWPD/1 in August,* and it was to be more pronounced after the reorganization of 9 March 1942. The fact that in the several staff committees ancillary to the CCS and JCS the AAF members were peers of their Army and Navy opposite numbers encouraged that attitude, which had been tacitly supported by the War Department on 2 December when it authorized the Air Staff to communicate directly with the air staff of the British Joint Staff Mission.116
An astute English member of one of the staff sections serving the CCS was once contrasting, from his own wide experience, the different fashion in which his British and American colleagues interpreted their functions.117 It was his contention that in such an agency – say, for example, the Combined Planning Staff – the British members acted as a team with full authority to resolve differences of opinion without consulting their respective service chiefs and thus were able to present to the Combined Chiefs a single approved report. Conversely, the thought the American members brought to a meeting the opinions of the heads of their respective services, and lacked power to compromise those opinions without reference to high authority. His explanation for the difference he believed to exist was succinct:–
You see, fundamentally, you have a system of dictatorship. Your three Service chiefs are dictators. So far as the Navy is concerned, Admiral King, as you know, is not only Chief of the Naval Staff, but also Admiral of the U.S. Fleet. He can do anything he likes with the Fleet – make everybody stand on their heads if he wants to, sack anybody at a moment’s notice. The same applies in the other Services. General Arnold’s control of the U.S. Air Force is as complete, virtually, as is Hitler’s control of Germany. He is a complete dictator. Now, under that system ... everybody’s career from the bottom upwards depends on his pleasing the man above him, and as they rise, the answer is, “Do what Arnold wants and you will get on in the Air Corps.” Be discovered doing something Arnold does not like and Arnold sacks you – like that.
These observations were made at the height of the air war in Europe; they were made informally and with some pardonable exaggeration to emphasize an argument. Sober judgment could no more confirm the purported dictatorial powers of the service chiefs than it could transform the genial “Hap” into a Fuehrer. But it was significant that to an observant ally the U.S. service commanders possessed widest powers, and that in that respect the AAF differed not at all from the U.S. Army and Navy.
* See above, pp. 146–47.
One factor which affected the direction of air combat operations had no reference to the text of the new circular. That was the personal relation of General Arnold to air force commanders in the theaters and in continental commands. Such a factor is by nature imponderable, difficult either to describe or to document; but something of its flavor may be sensed in a perusal of the extensive correspondence between Arnold and air force commanders in the theaters – particularly in the “operations letters” which flowed regularly between the combat zones and Washington. There was in this correspondence no violation of the conventions of military channels; rather it constituted an effort, attended by varying degrees of success, to inform, encourage, and often to placate AAF generals scattered throughout the world. In an officer corps as small as was that of the prewar Air Corps, it was natural that all senior officers be acquainted. If this heightened at times the understandable rivalry among air commanders for the inadequate forces and supplies available, it also made possible a certain indirect control from Washington through letters written more often in the “Dear Tooey” or “Dear Miff” tone than in approved AGO style.
Thus in practice the Army Air Forces and its commanding general came to assume a role far more important than that prescribed in the reorganization of 9 March 1942. AAF officers were schooled to avoid use of the term “independent air force,” but in most important respects the AAF enjoyed tacitly a quasi-equality with the Army and Navy rather than the parity with the AGF and ASF which was it legal status. On 15 June the War Department. in a revision of AR 95–5, repeated the definition of the AAF mission as it had been carried in Circular 59. A few days before, the Chief of the Air Staff had written that “the main objective of the Army Air Forces is to operate effectively against the enemy the maximum number of organized units and airplanes possible.”118 This was a much broader interpretation of functions than that which had been officially designated to the AAF. In general it was also a more accurate description of AAF activities. Something of those activities may be seen in the following chapters which described the manner in which the strategy laid down at ARCADIA was carried out in the several theaters.