Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Mar 2021 20:45

OpanaPointer wrote:
28 Mar 2021 18:41
I remember in the movie "Big Red One" Our Hero was assigned to a different division when he got out of hospital and he just ignored it. I'm betting that Division officers looked the other way when they got an experience man back like that. (Lee Marvin was a WWI vet.)
There was at least one pretty significant British Army "mutiny" during the war over just that issue.

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Mar 2021 21:02

Richard Anderson wrote:
28 Mar 2021 20:24
It's a complex subject. I've looked at it on and off from the POV of the ETOUSA. This is the history.

Under the NEPTUNE planning the expectation was that by D+90 there would be Ground Forces 204,800 replacements landed on the Continent. The reality turned out a little different. In an April 1944 War Department meeting in Washington, European and Mediterranean Theaters of Operations representatives were informed from then on only replacements for existing units would be forthcoming, requests for additional men would have to be found by using existing resources more efficiently or by reallocation of existing manpower.

Also in April, the ETOUSA requested infantry replacements make up 70.3% of total replacements shipped, which the War Department agreed too, with the proviso the time needed to train men meant the change would take months to come into effect. In reaction, the ETOUSA began retraining 2,500 men as infantry replacements to compensate. Meanwhile the lack of infantry replacements in the Mediterranean meant infantry replacements were sent there; the result was more shortfalls in replacement going to England. In May, 35% of the replacements in theater were riflemen versus an estimated 64.3% requirement. As of 1 June, there were 81,326 replacements in theater, 5,300 assigned as over-strengths for assault units. Of the 76,000 personnel unassigned in the pool, 52% were trained infantry.

After the invasion on 11 July, SHAEF requested 15,000 fewer replacements in September to free space to ship more divisions from the US. SHAEF also cancelled August replacement requisitions except that for infantry. On 23 July, there were 12,985 rifle-trained replacements in theater, including 750 in France. Losses were being replaced, but the replacement pool was steadily shrinking. On 26 July, SHAEF reversed its request to drop the 15,000 replacements and instead requested speeding up of replacement shipments. An initial combing out of theater units resulted in 4,800 men being made available for retraining, but many were not fit to be infantry. In addition some 4,000 FA, TD, and AA replacements began retraining as infantry. In July, only 39.7% of replacements arriving were rifle trained.

During August, 5,500 men were retrained as infantry. The theater decided infantrymen should make up 78.3% of the replacement pool; up from 70.3%, and 70% of the infantrymen should be trained as riflemen. Some 68% of the replacements arriving were infantry. In late August, the War Department warned it could only meet replacement requirements, as then understood, until the end of December, but then only a portion of requirements from January 1945 onward. The theaters were reminded they should have systems in place to reassign men a) to new duties if they were unfit for their previous duties, b) able-bodied men from communications to combat units, and c) to convert surplus replacements for one arm into replacements for arms where there was a shortage.

On 1 September, there were 42,000 infantry replacements versus a requirement of 55,000 and only 15,000 of those were rifleman. The theater retrained 4,500 men as riflemen in September and 9,900 in October, mainly from replacements originally meant for other ground forces service arms. During September, about 80% of the replacements sent to the theater were infantry. Casualties declined during the pursuit and now vehicle drivers and armored force replacements, particularly tank commanders, were in high demand.

In early October, the War Department informed the ETOUSA November replacements would be 19,000, 10,000 less than requested. Most would be infantry, 15,000 regular, 1,400 paratroop and 400 Nisei for the 442nd RCT. The justification for the cut was because Seventh Army landed with 10,000 replacements from the MTOUSA.

In early November, a conference was held with the ETOUSA field commanders on replacements, which made it clear the combat units were doing some creative accounting to keep units up to effective strength, by covering for sick, AWOL, and similar men who were still officially on the unit strength. On 1 November, the ETOUSA had 30,000 riflemen replacements. Despite that being below the announced target and despite warnings from Washington, the ETOUSA cut back the retraining program...just in time for the increase in casualties in November and December. Washington promised 43,350 replacements in December, of which 35,000 would be infantry, then an average of 44,650 per month thereafter through April, of which 36,000 would be infantry, but declared that was a maximum figure and it could easily be less. Three regiments assigned to lines of communications duties were ordered to give up 60% of their strength to the replacement system and even then the men released required a 3 week refresher course. The theater officially abandoned holding men returning to duty until a replacement was needed for their previous units, such men would go wherever a vacancy was, just like the new replacements. As of November, the ETOUSA requested 56.5% of infantry replacements be trained as riflemen. In November, 40,000 personnel were transferred from the Army Air Forces to the Army Ground Forces for retraining. Also during November, just 1,350 men completed theater retraining as infantry replacements.

During December, the ETOUSA ran about 16,000 enlisted men and 500 officers through infantry retraining courses, of which 6,000 completed their course during the month. There were three courses, 1) a 12 week one to convert non-infantrymen, 2) a 2 week refresher course, and 3) a 6 to 8 week course to retrain infantry as riflemen. On 20 December, SHAEF ordered the 42d, 63d. and 70th Infantry divisions to give up 219 men per regiment to act as replacements for Third Army. The 69th Infantry Division in England was ordered to give up 2,200 men who were airlifted to France as replacements. On 23 December, the ETOUSA informed the War Department that the theater would be short some 17,000 riflemen by the end of the month, reducing divisions to 78% of authorized rifle strength. The War Department replied that some 75% of the total army replacement riflemen were going to the theater and it had the best pool of all the combatant theaters, that the ETOUSA retraining programs had been slow to start and small in scope and that the theater still had 20,000 men in over-strength units. An additional 18,000 men promised from the US for January were made possible by cutting training from 17 to 15 weeks and by denying them a furlough before shipment overseas, while larger numbers of replacements could only be found by relaxing physical standards. As far as the War Department was concerned, it had helped the ETOUSA as best it could, and if the ETOUSA wanted more infantry it would have to comb out the COMZ and theater Air Force units for the necessary manpower, replacing them with men sent from the US who were suitable for limited duty operations. A total of 5,751 infantry replacements graduated from theater schools. The withdrawal of men from units for retraining exceeded the number of limited duty replacements for the men withdrawn, which continued until at least March, leaving the combed out units short of men.

I'll see if I can summarize 1945 later.
Interesting material; thanks.

Noteworthy that this is roughly the same period the 45th AA Brigade is acting as a provisional infantry formation in Italy (before being disbanded/converted, along with the 2nd Armoured Group headquarters, to form the 473rd Infantry Regiment). It's also (roughly) the same period the 1943-raised 10th Mountain and 13th and 17th Airborne, all with (presumably) a lot of Cat 1s and Cat 2s were essentially, sidelined, and - as you point out - the 42d, 63rd, 69th, and 70th infantry divisions (again, all 1943-raised divisions) are being tapped for replacements.

On other fronts, it's the same period the various moves with African-American personnel (from "re-organizing" the 92nd Division to creating the "volunteer infantry replacements" program, and all in the aftermath of raising the 2nd Cavalry Division (2.0) in 1943, shipping it to North Africa, and then breaking it up in 1944, and the history of the 366th Infantry Regiment in 1944-45), it's almost like, oh, I dunno, the Army would have been better off NOT raising the 1943 cycle of divisions as such, and instead feeding their cadre, filler, and replacements into the formations that existed by the end of 1942 and the replacement pool as it was formed in 1943... ;)

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 28 Mar 2021 21:07

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
28 Mar 2021 19:21
To digress: When the Marine Corps Reserve was activated for Op DESERT STORM it was the HQ units that were more likely to to be stripped. To fill out key officer & senior NCO billets in HQ units enroute to SWA. One of the battalion HQ of 14th Marines was dissolved for trained space fillers. I can't clearly recall any battery or company size units that were stripped or dissolved, tho there must have been some. The IRR of Marines who were still under the basic six year service obligation proved adequate for fillers in the lower grades of E1-E5.
Interesting; so the 4th MEF lost some HQ personnel to get the 1st MEF up to par; presumably, if the entire 4th MEF had been activated, empty billets would have been filled by IRR and Fleet Reserve, as well as comb-outs from non-deploying overhead units across the USMC...

Beyond that, if necessary, presumably anybody left over goes into cadre for the 5th (or 6th MDs); just like Vietnam ... except the 5th deployed two RCTs to the war zone and the 4th MD stayed home.

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 28 Mar 2021 21:31

daveshoup2MD wrote:
28 Mar 2021 21:02
...it's almost like, oh, I dunno, the Army would have been better off NOT raising the 1943 cycle of divisions as such, and instead feeding their cadre, filler, and replacements into the formations that existed by the end of 1942 and the replacement pool as it was formed in 1943... ;)
Well, that's almost like imagining, oh, I dunno, the Army leadership in 1942 had the prescience to realize the consequences the manpower decisions they were making then and the course the war would take over the next two years would have on replacement requirements in 1944. :lol:

Seriously, U.S. Army manpower utilization was probably the worst of any major combatant in World War II and it started well before the U.S. got into the war, when the War Department began estimating replacement requirements and distribution, pretty much by guess.

I have never figured out what the thinking was behind a simultaneous massive build up of offensive air forces and defensive antiaircraft forces. The TD fiasco is also well known, but imagine what might have happened if Chaffee wasn't sick near death and had decided to take on the guidance of the TD Command as part of the Armored Force.For all his brilliance, Marshall did not handle that well at all, nor the empire-building of Brehon Somervell.

As of 31 March 1945, there were just 1,849,580 enlisted men in the AGF combat units, plus 225,464 in AGF and 25,372 in ASF combat support units. 2,100,416 enlisted in combat units total. Another 1,497,163 were in AGF and ASF combat service support and service support units. So combat service support and service support personnel were 81% of the total combat force. Excluding AAF personnel, there were only 5,022,500 enlisted men in the Army.

It could have been worse though, remember a single vote made the difference between the Army releasing about one million men from service in November 1941.
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Richard Anderson » 28 Mar 2021 22:29

To continue...

On 1 January, SHAEF ordered COMZ to find 21,000 and the Air Force 10,000 men over the next five weeks in order to begin retraining as infantry in late January. The individual army retraining programs were also absorbed into the new system. All physically qualified white enlisted men in noncombat units were declared eligible for infantry retraining, and only some highly-skilled specialists would be exempted. Men in combat units would no longer be removed after turning 31, nor were men in hospitals to be reassigned simply because of age. The theater wanted 25,000 “limited assignment” men from the US to cover the withdrawals from non-combat units.

In early February, the ETOUSA requested 91,300 replacements in March, 88,375 in April and 51,300 in May, despite warnings from the War Department that the current replacement schedule was taking so many men from the Air Force that the loss of manpower would effect the operational capability of the Air Force in Europe.

In early March, the allocation of replacements is changed again; 50,000 of the 60,000 infantry replacements available would go to 12th Army Group, as would 1,680 of the 2,100 armored replacements, while the rest would go to the 6th Army Group, essentially Seventh Army. During March, 17,152 men
graduated from the retraining program as infantry replacements. However, the lower losses in January and February meant infantry replacements
were no longer the problem, but armored replacements, particularly enlisted men, now were.

On 10 April, the War Department requested the ETOUSA release 19,000 replacements from the May allocation so they could go to the Pacific. The ETOUSA response was to note while casualties had decreased, they were now drawing partially trained men from the infantry retraining schools in order to provide over-strength for units handling the large number of PoW.

All told, from August 1944 through VE Day, about 147,600 men entered the ETOUSA retraining system and 113,700 completed courses. A total of 78,708 men were transferred to the ETOUSA replacement system for infantry retraining in the three months February to April 1945, about
30,000 from the USAAF and 49,000 from COMZ. Of those, about 70,000 completed the training, however, at least half of those were after VE day. An unknown number were withdrawn from retraining in April and May 1945 to help guard PoW and handle DP without completing the course.

It is notable the only criteria for men to be sent for retraining was age and physical fitness, so it was a great opportunity to rid units of misfits and undesirables. In April 1945, First Army noted 514 ex-Air Force men it had received shared 231 court martial convictions between them. At one point 22% of the Air Force men released had convictions.
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by OpanaPointer » 28 Mar 2021 22:50

Command Decisions may have something relevant (90 Division Gamble chapter?) https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_0.htm
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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 29 Mar 2021 02:20

Richard Anderson wrote:
28 Mar 2021 21:31
daveshoup2MD wrote:
28 Mar 2021 21:02
...it's almost like, oh, I dunno, the Army would have been better off NOT raising the 1943 cycle of divisions as such, and instead feeding their cadre, filler, and replacements into the formations that existed by the end of 1942 and the replacement pool as it was formed in 1943... ;)
Well, that's almost like imagining, oh, I dunno, the Army leadership in 1942 had the prescience to realize the consequences the manpower decisions they were making then and the course the war would take over the next two years would have on replacement requirements in 1944. :lol:

Seriously, U.S. Army manpower utilization was probably the worst of any major combatant in World War II and it started well before the U.S. got into the war, when the War Department began estimating replacement requirements and distribution, pretty much by guess.

I have never figured out what the thinking was behind a simultaneous massive build up of offensive air forces and defensive antiaircraft forces. The TD fiasco is also well known, but imagine what might have happened if Chaffee wasn't sick near death and had decided to take on the guidance of the TD Command as part of the Armored Force. For all his brilliance, Marshall did not handle that well at all, nor the empire-building of Brehon Somervell.

As of 31 March 1945, there were just 1,849,580 enlisted men in the AGF combat units, plus 225,464 in AGF and 25,372 in ASF combat support units. 2,100,416 enlisted in combat units total. Another 1,497,163 were in AGF and ASF combat service support and service support units. So combat service support and service support personnel were 81% of the total combat force. Excluding AAF personnel, there were only 5,022,500 enlisted men in the Army.

It could have been worse though, remember a single vote made the difference between the Army releasing about one million men from service in November 1941.
Except, oddly enough, they realized just that, and in enough time to stop the second half of the 1943 division activations, namely the 15th Airborne Division, the 61st, 62nd, 67th, 68th, 72nd, 73rd, 74th, 105th, and 107th infantry divisions, so apparently it didn't take ALL that much prescience. :lol:

The 1943 divisions that were activated were as follows:
RA 2d CD 25 February Fort Clark, Tex.
AUS 11th Airborne 25 February Fort Clark, Tex.
OR 97th Infantry 25 February Camp Swift, Tex.
AUS 20th Armored 15 March Camp Campbell, Ky.
AUS 106th Infantry 15 March Fort Jackson, S.C.
AUS 17th Airborne 15 April Camp Mackall, N.C.
AUS 66th Infantry 15 April Camp Blanding, Fla.
AUS 75th Infantry 15 April Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
AUS 69th Infantry 15 May Camp Shelby, Miss.
AUS 63d Infantry 15 June Camp Blanding, Fla.
AUS 70lh Infantry 5 June Camp Adair, Oreg.
AUS 42d Infantry 14 July Camp Gruber, Okla.
AUS 10th Light 15 July Camp Hale, Colo.
AUS 16th Armored 15 July Camp Chaffee, Ark.
AUS 71st Light 15 July Fort Benning, Ga.
AUS 13th Airborne 13 August Fort Bragg, N.C.
AUS 65th Infantry 16 August Camp Shelby, Miss.

Again, forgoing the above could have been decided at any point after (for example) SYMBOL, which would have provided obvious benefits to the cadre, filler, and replacement pools for the 73 Army (1 cavalry, 2 airborne, 5 motorized, 14 armored, and 51 infantry divisions), and three Marine divisions that had been formed by the end of 1942 and remained on the rolls.

All of the above is from https://history.army.mil/html/books/060 ... 0-14-1.pdf

As far as the rest goes, amazingly enough, they still won. :lol:

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 29 Mar 2021 02:23

OpanaPointer wrote:
28 Mar 2021 22:50
Command Decisions may have something relevant (90 Division Gamble chapter?) https://history.army.mil/books/70-7_0.htm
Very relevant. Amazing how well the Army covered this issues on their own, isn't it?

The realities of the B-29 program have to be considered as well; along with the industrial manpower, and the multiple new (mostly) greenfields plants built to manufacture the aircraft, many of the B-29 groups were new organizations, rather than existing B-17 and B-24 groups converted to the new aircraft. I've read one estimate that the program took 130,000 men, which seems like rather a burden. Given the reality that the only basing plan that made any sense was the Marianas option, and the plans were pretty clear they would not be available until 1944, seems like easing back on the B-29 program would have been a possibility. Deploying the XX Bomber Command to China in the winter-spring of 1944, as useful as that "may" have been to keep the ROC government engaged, was a wasteful decision and a sideshow.
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 29 Mar 2021 02:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by rcocean » 29 Mar 2021 02:38

Seriously, U.S. Army manpower utilization was probably the worst of any major combatant in World War II and it started well before the U.S. got into the war, when the War Department began estimating replacement requirements and distribution, pretty much by guess.
You can say that again. Compared to the other combatants, The US army had the following advantages:

1) 2.5 years to plan the invasion of France and the drive into Germany
2) Almost no major manpower losses
3) Battle Experience by the British army and US army in the Pacific and North Africa/Sicily/Italy
4) 12 million 18-29 draft age men
5) Ability to produce massive numbers of tanks, trucks, tank destroyers, Artillery, etc.

And yet somehow they managed to constantly have a infantry replacement problem. Not only were divisions constantly being stripped for replacements, you had endless shortages and endless crises. At one point, Ike was sending Infantry Replacements to Clark by airplane! Given that over 11 million men served in the Army in WW2, you have to wonder how they could ever been short of infantry given we only had 90 Divisions. Had the Germans ever manage 200 Divisions in June 1944, despite losing millions of men?

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 29 Mar 2021 02:40

rcocean wrote:
29 Mar 2021 02:38
Seriously, U.S. Army manpower utilization was probably the worst of any major combatant in World War II and it started well before the U.S. got into the war, when the War Department began estimating replacement requirements and distribution, pretty much by guess.
You can say that again. Compared to the other combatants, The US army had the following advantages:

1) 2.5 years to plan the invasion of France and the drive into Germany
2) Almost no major manpower losses
3) Battle Experience by the British army and US army in the Pacific and North Africa/Sicily/Italy
4) 12 million 18-29 draft age men
5) Ability to produce massive numbers of tanks, trucks, tank destroyers, Artillery, etc.

And yet somehow they managed to constantly have a infantry replacement problem. Not only were divisions constantly being stripped for replacements, you had endless shortages and endless crises. At one point, Ike was sending Infantry Replacements to Clark by airplane! Given that over 11 million men served in the Army in WW2, you have to wonder how they could ever been short of infantry given we only had 90 Divisions. Had the Germans ever manage 200 Divisions in June 1944, despite losing millions of men?
And yet ... 11 months from Normandy to VE Day. Apparently they were doing something right. ;)

Goldich makes a good point in his commentary from War on the Rocks:
(linked one page back)

"... I am not the only one to have talked about the unjustifiable assumption made by British historians about America’s alleged lack of military capability and skill. Let’s go to something which happens more often: hysterical and slavish adulation of the German Army in World War II. Atkinson correctly points out several occasions – the German counterattack at Mortain in early August 1944; the entire Battle of the Bulge; the lesser known January 1945 German offensive in Alsace – where the Germans were outmaneuvered and outfought by Americans from riflemen to army group commanders. What is interesting is that German operational concepts and attitudes don’t seem to have been very different from ours, and that the key area where the Germans had an advantage over us was very simple – experience. When troops from platoons to field armies are led by men with extensive combat experience in a current war, they’re generally going to have better leadership than units going into combat for the first time. American divisions that fought in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy didn’t have this disadvantage, and that comes through quite clearly in The Guns at Last Light. In fact, what struck me was that the much-vaunted German operational excellence was cancelled out by an astonishingly rapid American learning curve. All of that military education and doctrinal excellence that was supposedly inculcated in the Reichswehr and the peacetime Wehrmacht in the 1920s and 1930s ended up mattering little once American formations gained a few months of combat experience. Those historians who have multiple orgasms about Wir fahren gegen der Kesselschlachts Schwerpunkt mit Auftragstaktik und Fingerspitzengefuhl* ought to be looking into this, although I suspect they won’t."
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 29 Mar 2021 02:44, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Mar 2021 02:41

daveshoup2MD wrote:
28 Mar 2021 21:07
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
28 Mar 2021 19:21
To digress: When the Marine Corps Reserve was activated for Op DESERT STORM it was the HQ units that were more likely to to be stripped. To fill out key officer & senior NCO billets in HQ units enroute to SWA. One of the battalion HQ of 14th Marines was dissolved for trained space fillers. I can't clearly recall any battery or company size units that were stripped or dissolved, tho there must have been some. The IRR of Marines who were still under the basic six year service obligation proved adequate for fillers in the lower grades of E1-E5.
Interesting; so the 4th MEF lost some HQ personnel to get the 1st MEF up to par; presumably, if the entire 4th MEF had been activated,
Technically The 4th MEF nearly was all activated. Just not as the 4th MEF. A chunck was not sent to SWA, but was sent to California as the start for standing up 5th MEF.
empty billets would have been filled by IRR and Fleet Reserve, as well as comb-outs from non-deploying overhead units across the USMC...
Wasn't much for non deploying overhead remaining. Early on the Commandant ordered the Marine Barracks Det at Eighth & I Streets to deploy as the HQ security Det for 1st MEF. That sort of set the tone. 3rd MEF had some drawn off, but there was a desire to not give the NKPA a break. Camp Pendleton could not mount a proper gate guard. 29 Palms was deserted. I saw both places during the Desert Shield phase & aside from a couple understrength battalions of reservists, some Master Sgts and Lts as custodians, and a Argentinian exchange officer there was nothing.
Beyond that, if necessary, presumably anybody left over goes into cadre for the 5th (or 6th MDs); just like Vietnam ... except the 5th deployed two RCTs to the war zone and the 4th MD stayed home.
That would be the two attenuated reserve battalions at Pendleton & 29 Palms. But, it all ended before any other HQ were set up. We were never even assigned a Reporting Unit Code, which was useful when accounting for missing equipment when returning to the Reserve system.

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Mar 2021 02:47

rcocean wrote:
29 Mar 2021 02:38
... Had the Germans ever manage 200 Divisions in June 1944, despite losing millions of men?
Oh people make claims about reduced strength TO/TE formations, returning crippled & otherwise medical unfit men to combat units, a plethora of badly understrength formations, stripping the air force of personnel, creating ground combat units out of naval personnel, sending seventeen & sixteen year olds as infantry replacements, recruiting replacements out of PoW cages, recruiting foreign nationals....

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 29 Mar 2021 02:54

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
29 Mar 2021 02:41
daveshoup2MD wrote:
28 Mar 2021 21:07
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
28 Mar 2021 19:21
To digress: When the Marine Corps Reserve was activated for Op DESERT STORM it was the HQ units that were more likely to to be stripped. To fill out key officer & senior NCO billets in HQ units enroute to SWA. One of the battalion HQ of 14th Marines was dissolved for trained space fillers. I can't clearly recall any battery or company size units that were stripped or dissolved, tho there must have been some. The IRR of Marines who were still under the basic six year service obligation proved adequate for fillers in the lower grades of E1-E5.
Interesting; so the 4th MEF lost some HQ personnel to get the 1st MEF up to par; presumably, if the entire 4th MEF had been activated,
Technically The 4th MEF nearly was all activated. Just not as the 4th MEF. A chunck was not sent to SWA, but was sent to California as the start for standing up 5th MEF.
empty billets would have been filled by IRR and Fleet Reserve, as well as comb-outs from non-deploying overhead units across the USMC...
Wasn't much for non deploying overhead remaining. Early on the Commandant ordered the Marine Barracks Det at Eighth & I Streets to deploy as the HQ security Det for 1st MEF. That sort of set the tone. 3rd MEF had some drawn off, but there was a desire to not give the NKPA a break. Camp Pendleton could not mount a proper gate guard. 29 Palms was deserted. I saw both places during the Desert Shield phase & aside from a couple understrength battalions of reservists, some Master Sgts and Lts as custodians, and a Argentinian exchange officer there was nothing.
Beyond that, if necessary, presumably anybody left over goes into cadre for the 5th (or 6th MDs); just like Vietnam ... except the 5th deployed two RCTs to the war zone and the 4th MD stayed home.
That would be the two attenuated reserve battalions at Pendleton & 29 Palms. But, it all ended before any other HQ were set up. We were never even assigned a Reporting Unit Code, which was useful when accounting for missing equipment when returning to the Reserve system.
Interesting, thanks.

Ah, well, there's always the 7th Marine Division. ;)

Actually, that's an interesting point about the Argentine Marine; give the doctrinal partnerships between the USMC and (essentially) almost all the Allied marine establishments, seems like some planners might have been thinking about talking with their opposite numbers with the ROK, Philippine, Thai, etc; the Latin Americans as well, maybe the Spanish and Portuguese, etc.

The Allied separate battalions that went to Korea in 1950-53 seem to have done well essentially as augmentation battalions to the US Army divisions; seems like the commonality of late Cold War Marine doctrine (at least with everyone else but the British, Dutch, and French) might have offered a path worth exploring...

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Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 29 Mar 2021 03:17

daveshoup2MD wrote:
29 Mar 2021 02:40

Goldich makes a good point in his commentary from War on the Rocks:
(linked one page back)

"... I am not the only one to have talked about the unjustifiable assumption made by British historians about America’s alleged lack of military capability and skill. Let’s go to something which happens more often: hysterical and slavish adulation of the German Army in World War II. Atkinson correctly points out several occasions – the German counterattack at Mortain in early August 1944; the entire Battle of the Bulge; the lesser known January 1945 German offensive in Alsace – where the Germans were outmaneuvered and outfought by Americans from riflemen to army group commanders. What is interesting is that German operational concepts and attitudes don’t seem to have been very different from ours, and that the key area where the Germans had an advantage over us was very simple – experience. When troops from platoons to field armies are led by men with extensive combat experience in a current war, they’re generally going to have better leadership than units going into combat for the first time. American divisions that fought in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy didn’t have this disadvantage, and that comes through quite clearly in The Guns at Last Light. In fact, what struck me was that the much-vaunted German operational excellence was cancelled out by an astonishingly rapid American learning curve. All of that military education and doctrinal excellence that was supposedly inculcated in the Reichswehr and the peacetime Wehrmacht in the 1920s and 1930s ended up mattering little once American formations gained a few months of combat experience. Those historians who have multiple orgasms about Wir fahren gegen der Kesselschlachts Schwerpunkt mit Auftragstaktik und Fingerspitzengefuhl* ought to be looking into this, although I suspect they won’t."
Not historians, but back in the 1980s a hefty portion of the Marine officers rebelled against the hyper methodical practices of the 1970s. A subset held up the Wehrmachts infantry as a shining example of what we should be. The debate went on in multiple directions for a decade or more, but in the later years the German Uber Infantry were no longer held up as a example. To many problems and failures on the battlefield were identified balancing the examples of success. Perhaps the largest mistake we made was considering company level infantry operations to exclusion of everything else. The extremists of the manuverist school tended to not explain how artillery, Close Air Support, Engineers, and ammo supply drivers fit into their vision. I eventually joined the school who saw that Methodical Battle is not necessary Slow Battle. If you actually know your business, learned your drill, and internalized procedure to the point you don't have to think about it & slowly write out detailed directions for everyone. The battalion or division commander & his staff can make fast decisions and coordinate multiple arms with speed. Its like a gun crew who are well enough drilled they can put out sustained fires and displace the weapon quickly without smashing fingers & malfunctions.

rcocean
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Joined: 30 Mar 2008 00:48

Re: Was there a pecking order when some units were stripped for front line infantry?

Post by rcocean » 29 Mar 2021 03:18

"Oh people make claims about reduced strength TO/TE formations, returning crippled & otherwise medical unfit men to combat units, a plethora of badly understrength formations, stripping the air force of personnel, creating ground combat units out of naval personnel, sending seventeen & sixteen year olds as infantry replacements, recruiting replacements out of PoW cages, recruiting foreign nationals...."

Yet somehow the Germans held off the 400 Division Red Army, and the UK and USA armies which were NOT full of 16 year olds and crippled old men and had massive air superiority, tanks superiority, and artillery superiority. Or, I guess that's not true, just some make claims about that.

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