by Sid Guttridge » 12 Mar 2021 08:12
You post, "Counting division numbers is misleading, & so are statements like large tail." Not necessarily.
You post, "US infantry and armored divisions were usually close to full TO/TE strength. This in contrast toGerman ground combat divisions that averaged between 50% & 70% strength, depending on how one counts, or 25% to 40% for Red Army average infantry divisions. On paper a Soviet or US infantry division were no dissimilar in size. The reality was ten US infantry divisions added up to 140,000+ men while ten Red Army divisions might of a really good day total eighty or ninety thousand men."
The comparison in the weapons of infantry divisions shows a similar problem, that is the US or British division was usually near full strength in MG, mortars, or cannons. The Soviet, German or Italian divisions, had larger shortages.
A common error I see is counting every man not in a US or British 'division' as tail. This means units like independent tank battalions, Tank Destroyer battalions, Separate Regiments, independent engineer units, like the assault brigades on OMAHA Beach, Corps and army Artillery Groups & even the armored Cavalry Groups counted as tail. The Germans for their own reasons went short on combat support. The Red Army like the Brits or US put a huge amount of fire power or combat power outside the infantry division in the form of combat support units. When you add up units like the tank battalions or TD battalions attached the US infantry division in the ETO 1944-45 had more tanks & more other AFV than the typical German Panzer division. Add in the the fire power of the US, British, corps artillery groups, or the Red Army artillery groups. The 300+ German divisions are not what their raw numbers suggest."
All true, but it doesn't fundamentally contradict, ".....the US Army with about 100 divisions available wasn't outstandingly large by comparison" with the Germans and Soviet Union with their several hundred, albeit smaller or more understrength divisions, both of which had for years before mid-1944 been suffering attrition far, far heavier than the largely unengaged US divisions.
This also doesn't alter the fact that, taking all this into account, given the number of men mobilised, the Anglo-Americans got a rather lower proportion into the teeth arms at the front, largely because they were operating across the globe, which necessitated a massive tail compared with their opponents. Projecting power over a distance comes at a cost.
Nor does it address the quality issue. By the time the Americans, in particular, entered combat against the Germans in strength, the latter were nearing the bottom of their manpower barrel while the former had barely touched theirs by comparison. Even under armed, under equipped, under supplied and undermanned German divisions were often making a competitive show of it against the Anglo-Americans until the last weeks of the war.
By 1944 the US armed forces were collectively potentially as powerful as those of the rest of the planet put together, but this advantage was, I would suggest, least apparent in the US Army's teeth arms. I rather suspect that, as in WWI, the best of the US Army was yet to come when the war ended.
The key point is that the US Army should be large enough and good enough quickly enough, which it was. Given how small it was in 1940, this was impressive enough in itself.