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Why was the US only able to field 98 infantry divisions during WW2?

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  • Why was the US only able to field 98 infantry divisions during WW2?

    Why was the US only able to field 98 infantry divisions during WW2?
    Thierry Etienne Joseph Rotty - Former Central Planning at NATO

    Really bad planning on the part of General Marshall.

    The initial plan was to field 265 divisions of 4 regiments each … he managed to field only 89 with 3 regiments [or regimental equivalents] each.

    How could this happen?
    1. Lack of coordination between Army and Navy. This led to massive amounts of duplication. You had Army and Navy units trained to load and unload ships. In practice, most of the loading and unloading was done by civilians. So throughout the war, you had soldiers and sailors sitting in major ports doing absolutely nothing. for example. You had duplication in administrative functions, logistics, garrison forces, etc.

    2. A logistics system that was one of the worst on the planet. Forget the PR stunts such as delivering a turkey dinner for Thanksgiving to the troops or the Americans having fuel to spare. The reality was that the logistics system sucked big time. On average, the Americans needed four times as many people compared to the British … and still, most supplies never reached the frontlines. A good example is the Northwestern Theatre. The logistics of Montgomery's 21st Army group were handled by his personal staff of 36 people. These were the same people who planned operations. The Americans had a separate entity called Communications Zone [Comm Z] to handle logistics. The commander of Comm Z was General Lee who had a personal staff of 12,000. That is an entire infantry division worth of administrators telling other administrators what to do. The number of administrators who had nothing to do or truck drivers that could not drive because of a lack of fuel was staggering. If you want to know more about how bad life for a soldier really was, I suggest the books “Voices from Normandy” and “Voices from the Bulge”. Two American books in which veterans tell you what really happened.

    3. Too many people in the arms industry. The US produced enormous numbers of weapons, an impressive achievement. The problem is that tens of thousands of tanks, guns, and airplanes were never used due to the lack of crews to use them. People should have been transferred from arms production to military services.

    4. Non-divisional assets. Infantry divisions did not have any organic tank or anti-aircraft weapons and limited anti-tank weapons. These weapons were provided by attaching separate battalions to the existing divisions.



    The main reasons, however, were the duplication of forces and the horrid logistics system that swallowed up enormous numbers of troops without providing any results. There were so many administrators that the US actually suffered from a “typewriter shortage”.

    Link
    ____________

    I found this on Quora and decided to dive down the rabbit hole. It was written by a fellow that I have no real way of vetting his credentials ("Former Central Planning at NATO") but I was intrigued enough by what he said to explore it further here on the WAB.

    Another Quoran dismisses his posts thusly: "This guy tends to write wildly imaginative answers without any sources backing them up. Some are interesting if true and others are outright absurd if true, but I believe it’s all best consumed under the idea of “historical fiction” unless he manages to cough up a direct source some day."

    Can any of our resident experts (Looking at you Buck!) confirm or deny his assertions, especially #2?

    And it looks like I have two new books to consider....
    My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

  • #2
    Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
    I found this on Quora and decided to dive down the rabbit hole. It was written by a fellow that I have no real way of vetting his credentials ("Former Central Planning at NATO") but I was intrigued enough by what he said to explore it further here on the WAB.

    Another Quoran dismisses his posts thusly: "This guy tends to write wildly imaginative answers without any sources backing them up. Some are interesting if true and others are outright absurd if true, but I believe it’s all best consumed under the idea of “historical fiction” unless he manages to cough up a direct source some day."
    I call freaking bullshit from the start. A quick google on the troll's name shoiwed verifiable lies that he told. The two books he mentioned are front line perspectives, not logiostical references. He mentioned Montgomery's staff of 36. That's his one single Army Group ... which included American howitzers, trucks, and tanks ... supplied by the Americans. Guess who handled that.

    Lee had commanded over 900,000 men and women by end of WWII. I can believe that. He arranged the convoys that were to hazzard uboat wolf pacts, taking into account the losses he would have to suffer. A simple google told me that it was 900,000 personnel, not 12,000. The troll can't even get his numbers right. So much for NATO Central Planning.
    Chimo

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    • #3
      He is dumber than a football bat.

      Show me where civilians unloaded ships in combat zones....I'll wait.

      You know why Montgomery could manage with a 36 person staff? He fvcking couldn't! He leaned on the US Army to do it for him! Almost all of his tanks came from the US. 3 US Infantry division new to theater had all of their organic trucks taken from them, not attached transportation units but company supply trucks, etc., stripped away and sent wholesale...with drivers...to 21st AG since the supplied British 3 CWT trucks provided to the British didn't work. Plus theirs only had to come from England. The US across the Atlantic.

      Marshall quickly identified the US could realistically field only 65-70 divisions without starting to cripple industries. In a modern society you can only mobilize 10% of you population in uniform and keep your industry going. The US had 16.7 million folks serve in WW II including the USCG & Merchant Marine. The population of 1945 was estimated to be 157 million.

      You do the math.

      Saying that you were a NATO Central Planner is like saying you are the tallest midget in the room. Hell I did some planning for OIF (ran some fuel numbers for Vth Corps) but that doesn't make me Eisenhower!
      “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
      Mark Twain

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      • #4
        Great replies, thank you both.

        Yeah I figured this guy was a clown shoe from the start
        My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

        Comment


        • #5
          Way late to the conversation but.... Alby hit on it without expressing it directly the US did not just have to man an Army and air force but also the largest navy ever seen. The USN ate up 3.4 million men or enough to man 136 25,000 man divisions though this includes 6 marine divisions that can and should be counted towards the divisional total. Th merchant marine finished the war with a man power strength equal to another 10 divisions. If you add the 146 divisions worth of men to the 89 (Army) we had the result is 235 even before counting men diverted to industry or soldiers diverted from ground combat to fight the air war. The Army mobilized 8.2 million men in WWII (2.4 million in the USAAF), add in the navy and you get 11.6 million or a divisional equivalent of 464 divisions worth of men under arms. In the Army specifically the 5.8 million not assigned to the USAAF left enough room for just 232 divisional equivalents so roughly 38% of all Army personnel were assigned to an actual divisional formation. I don't know the numbers for the other combatants but I am betting that its not that skewed to the others numbers at least during peace time. The US never really had to comb out replacements like the rest of the combatants did.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by zraver View Post
            Way late to the conversation but.... Alby hit on it without expressing it directly the US did not just have to man an Army and air force but also the largest navy ever seen. The USN ate up 3.4 million men or enough to man 136 25,000 man divisions though this includes 6 marine divisions that can and should be counted towards the divisional total. Th merchant marine finished the war with a man power strength equal to another 10 divisions. If you add the 146 divisions worth of men to the 89 (Army) we had the result is 235 even before counting men diverted to industry or soldiers diverted from ground combat to fight the air war. The Army mobilized 8.2 million men in WWII (2.4 million in the USAAF), add in the navy and you get 11.6 million or a divisional equivalent of 464 divisions worth of men under arms. In the Army specifically the 5.8 million not assigned to the USAAF left enough room for just 232 divisional equivalents so roughly 38% of all Army personnel were assigned to an actual divisional formation. I don't know the numbers for the other combatants but I am betting that its not that skewed to the others numbers at least during peace time. The US never really had to comb out replacements like the rest of the combatants did.
            So obvious that I never even thought about it, my thanks :-(
            My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
              So obvious that I never even thought about it, my thanks :-(
              You forgot about the navy?

              Did just a bit of digging. In 1938 the UK had 384 men or 15 divisional equivalents. In field formations they had 1 armored and 5 infantry divisions (plus 1 armored forming and 2 reserve divisions for just over 50% of paper strength in divisional formations (compared to 38% of US Army). The Germans had 114 divisions but a man power strength of 3.7 million or 148 divisional equivalents so very heavy on the tooth.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by zraver View Post
                You forgot about the navy?
                Not so much "the navy" per se, more like their staggering manpower.
                My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                  Not so much "the navy" per se, more like their staggering manpower.
                  USN manpower in 1945 far exceeded total British Army numbers from 39-45.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Per the VA the US officially had slightly more than 16.3 million Veterans of WW 2....in the years 1940 - 1946. Those are the years counted since the US started mobilizing in 1940 and hostilities did not officially end until 1946.

                    Keep in mind that number includes Army, AAF, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine, USPHS, NOAA & Coast & Geodetic Survey Corps. Merchant Marines who spent a set amount of time in combat zones earned veteran status in the 1980s...commissioned officers all along.

                    Total casualties suffered by the US in the war were around 1.1 million....killed/wounded/missing.

                    The numbers DO NOT include those who were inducted but later discharged for disease/non battle injuries. And the Army Green Book series (available at https://history.army.mil for free download) covers this exceptionally well in the the volumes (yes, volumes) on mobilization.

                    Bottomline, Marshall knew what the fvck he was doing.
                    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                    Mark Twain

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post

                      The numbers DO NOT include those who were inducted but later discharged for disease/non battle injuries. And the Army Green Book series (available at https://history.army.mil for free download) covers this exceptionally well in the the volumes (yes, volumes) on mobilization.

                      Bottomline, Marshall knew what the fvck he was doing.
                      Marshall had a keen recollection of the mobilization mistakes made in the preparation of the United States armed forces for World War One.

                      The mobilization for World War II included an industrial component necessary to provide the "means" to execute the war strategy. This industrial component also required able hands and was part of the overall mobilization equation that had to be considered. Not everyone could be drafted or the manufacturing base ceased even with the inclusion of women and minorities at levels unprecedented at the time. "Writing the Victory Plan of 1941" by Kirkpatrick goes into the mobilization efforts in a digestible 93 pages.
                      Attached Files
                      Last edited by looking4NSFS; 24 Aug 20,, 18:37.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by looking4NSFS View Post
                        Marshall had a keen recollection of the mobilization mistakes made in the preparation of the United States armed forces for World War One.

                        The mobilization for World War II included an industrial component necessary to provide the "means" to execute the war strategy. This industrial component also required able hands and was part of the overall mobilization equation that had to be considered. Not everyone could be drafted or the manufacturing base ceased even with the inclusion of women and minorities at levels unprecedented at the time. "Writing the Victory Plan of 1941" by Kirkpatrick goes into the mobilization efforts in a digestible 93 pages.
                        Not sure if I posted here or elsewhere. One of the greatest outcomes of World War 1 was the Army Industrial College. Opened in the early 1920s it was tasked in each graduating class to provide a look at the industrial capacity of the US and determine who could do what...i.e., that Smith-Corona could make rifles, Singer could make machine guns, GM could make aircraft, etc. The brainchild of industrialist Bernard Baruch this set the Army up for success upon mobilization. In late July 1940 Marshall received an emergency supplemental 1940 Army budget. The amount given was greater to the sum of all Army budgets from 1921-1940.

                        Rather then going...."what do I do with all of this money?" he pulled out the plan from the class of 1940 from AIC and started paying for industry to retool.
                        “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                        Mark Twain

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                          Not sure if I posted here or elsewhere. One of the greatest outcomes of World War 1 was the Army Industrial College.
                          Yep, you posted that on this thread :-)
                          My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TopHatter View Post
                            Yep, you posted that on this thread :-)
                            Memory is the second thing to go.....
                            “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                            Mark Twain

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                              Memory is the second thing to go.....
                              Divorce got to my sex drive before age did.
                              Chimo

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