200 U. S. trained divisions?

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McDonald
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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by McDonald » 16 Mar 2021 17:31

I neglected to add a further comment to the above.

It has been my observation that considering any unit, much less a division, trained and combat ready may be an act of kindness, but not a matter of fact, and it is a fact that is not changed for the better or the worst until the first fire is aimed in their direction. The 90th Infantry Division is an excellent example. Its performance when it was initially in combat was nothing short of miserable, and it was one of the first five Organized Reserve Divisions that entered active duty in March 1942, and as such had the opportunity to train for over two years before it was committed to combat.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Mar 2021 18:08

McDonald wrote:
16 Mar 2021 17:31
The 90th Infantry Division is an excellent example. Its performance when it was initially in combat was nothing short of miserable, and it was one of the first five Organized Reserve Divisions that entered active duty in March 1942, and as such had the opportunity to train for over two years before it was committed to combat.
The devil is in the details with the 90th Inf Div, but that's a different book. :D
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by McDonald » 16 Mar 2021 18:24

I quite agree, the devil is in the details. Most evaluations of the 90th up to the time of the Normandy Campaign rated them as one of the very best trained U S Army divisions. There were two problems as I see it though. The first was that it was the wrong kind of training, that did not benefit from the previous experience of other divisions that had been in combat, therefore not privy to, or failed to heed, hard won lessons learned. The second was leadership, at the division, regimental, and battalion levels.

To some extent all units get roughed up in their first combat exposure. Some of our best, were no different from some of our mediocre in that regard. The difference is leadership, that can add that extra measure needed, if the unit is generally trained to a high standard. The 505th Parachute Infantry in Sicily was a complete mess for about twelve hours. After that, well it was a completely different story.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Aber » 16 Mar 2021 19:17

Sid Guttridge wrote:
16 Mar 2021 12:55
Hi Carl,

Thanks for the corrections.

Looking at an online history of 88th Division, a couple of points are notable in terms of this thread:

1) It was the first draftee division to enter combat.

2) It says, "Combat experienced men came from North Africa to offer tips and battle methods to the new soldiers" while it was still in the USA.
I have some memory of Marshall being particularly interested in the initial performance of the 85th and 88th for reason 1) above.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by McDonald » 16 Mar 2021 20:35

I am not at all sure where you fellows are going with this, and the emphasis and meaning you place on "draftee" divisions. It seems that you are expecting these divisions to be somewhat different than the Regular or Guard counterparts. The fact is that every division the U S Army fielded in World War II was a "draftee" division. every darn one.

The only difference between the Regular and Guard divisions, and the built from scratch divisions of the Organized Reserve and Army of the United States is that the Regular and Guard divisions had an organized pre-war cadre existing and was filled to full authorized strength with drafted personnel, while the OR and AUS divisions needed a cadre to be created before they could be filled with draftees. Those cadres were provided for the most part by drafts taken from existing divisions, and many of those existing divisions used the requirement to provide cadres as an excuse to get rid of dead wood. That was not true in all cases, but it sure was in several notable examples

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Mar 2021 04:15

Sid Guttridge wrote:
16 Mar 2021 12:30
Hi daveshoup2MD,

You post, "Trained but unblooded" and "combat experienced" are two different things....." Yup. But the second must necessarily follow the first.

I am not quite sure what you are saying. If you mean by "no "special" point" that a division that had seen one day in the line was more like a division that had seen no action than one that had been campaigning for a year, then that is certainly true.

I also don't know what you mean by, "That's not the same a saying "whether an Allied division had been trained or not had much bearing on what the Allies were able to do with them, certainly not in 1942-45, given the realities of expeditionary warfare on a global scale." - which is your interpretation.". Please explain.

Cheers,

Sid.
I was trying to contrast my point - that all the Allied infantry divisions committed to action from 1942 onwards accomplished their missions, whether they were "combat veterans" beforehand or not. The obvious examples are the 1st and 45th divisions in HUSKY and the 1st Marine Division and the Americal during WATCHTOWER, or the British 51st and Canadian 1st in HUSKY.

Your interpretation appeared to be that the US 45th and Canadian 1st were incapable of action, in comparison to the US 1st and British 51st, or the Americal in comparison to the 1st MD.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Mar 2021 04:17

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Mar 2021 12:48
Sid Guttridge wrote:
16 Mar 2021 07:57
... Clearly the US divisions only became considered combat ready over time. Every single Army division used before June 1944 either had regular (1-25) or National Guard (26-45) roots, and less than half of them had been used in combat by then. Not a single division raised after the National Guard series saw combat before June 1944, ten of them not until 1945.
82d originally activated as a ID March 1942 was not a RA or NG Guard Div. Redesignated a Airborne Div 15 Aug 1942 it went into combat as a division 9 July 1943, tho one regiment had previous combat experience in Africa.

Staunton shows the 85th ID arriving in Morocco 2 Jan 44. It trained for some weeks & then moved to Naples 15/25 March & entered the battle zone 10 April.

88th ID arriving in Algeria 28 December 1943 & training there until arriving in Naples 6 Feb 44. It relieved 36th ID 27/28 February 44.
True that. It's worth making the point the 82nd was in action - and quite effective - 16 months after being raised, which sort of suggests that the entire tranche of 1942 activations could have been in action by mobilization plus 18 months or so.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Mar 2021 04:20

McDonald wrote:
16 Mar 2021 17:13
Technically the Americal (which was redesignated 23rd ID in 1954) and the 25th Infantry Divisions were Army of The United States when first constituted. They were formed from already existing maneuver units, with some newly activated smaller supporting units, but the fact remains that the headquarters were brand new, and as someone pointed out previously it is the headquarters that takes the longest time to properly train, become cohesive, and thus fully operational and functional. Both of these divisions were in combat before the close of 1942.

I do question the statement that one "regiment" of the 82nd Airborne Division saw combat in North Africa. The separate airborne battalion which was known over its history under a couple of designations, but ended up as the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, was attached to the 82nd and had seen combat in the invasion of North Africa and afterward, but I am not aware that any of the 82nd's organic regiments had any North African combat experience.
Fair point, although the 25th Division was activated the same day the 21st and 22nd infantry brigades were deactivated (same day as the Hawaiian Division became the 24th Division, for that matter.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Mar 2021 04:24

McDonald wrote:
16 Mar 2021 18:24
I quite agree, the devil is in the details. Most evaluations of the 90th up to the time of the Normandy Campaign rated them as one of the very best trained U S Army divisions. There were two problems as I see it though. The first was that it was the wrong kind of training, that did not benefit from the previous experience of other divisions that had been in combat, therefore not privy to, or failed to heed, hard won lessons learned. The second was leadership, at the division, regimental, and battalion levels.

To some extent all units get roughed up in their first combat exposure. Some of our best, were no different from some of our mediocre in that regard. The difference is leadership, that can add that extra measure needed, if the unit is generally trained to a high standard. The 505th Parachute Infantry in Sicily was a complete mess for about twelve hours. After that, well it was a completely different story.
My understanding of the 90th Division's training and leadership "churn" is based on Gen. DePuy's oral history, which certainly suggests the division had some very bad breaks in 1943-44; coupled with the kind of terrain they had to fight in during the Normandy campaign, and how much trouble most units have in their first battles generally, the division's performance is understandable.

The WW 2 US Army gets criticized at times for the "90 Division gamble" (which was really a 96 division gamble including the Marines); I'd suggest combat effectiveness generally could have been raised by forgoing the mass of the 1943-raised formations, and plowing the cadre, fillers, and replacements that formed the 1943 divisions into the order of battle as it was by the close of 1942. I think the differential would have been all or some of the 16th and 20th armored, 2nd Cavalry (Version 2), 10th Mountain, 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne; 42nd, 63rd, 65th, 66th, 69th, 70th, 71st, 75th, 97th, and 106th infantry divisions, plus the 4th, 5th, and 6th Marine divisions (or elements thereof, since all three drew on units that were formed in 1941-42.)

Quantity has a quality all of its own, but quality is worth considering as well. Lot of good men and material went into the 1943 (and after, in the case of the Marines) divisions, which presumably could have made their mark in the organizations raised in 1940-42. Keeping all 14 of the 1940-42 armored divisions in the heavy TO&E, as opposed to the 2nd and 3rd; providing a fourth RCT for selected divisions; spreading the high quality manpower that went into the airborne and mountain divisions; etc,
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 17 Mar 2021 05:56, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by McDonald » 17 Mar 2021 05:53

I am in general agreement with you. We in fact had too many divisions, and an insufficient ability to keep them fully manned and equipped.

We also had too many Guard divisions, and probably could have cut three or four from the force structure at the same time the 21st thru 24th Cavalry Divisions were disbanded right before the war started. What would also have solved some of the problems with the so called Organized Reserve divisions is to have kept those inter=war cadres together, and called these divisions into service with a basic skeleton organization, instead of some guy who was a Lieutenant Colonel a year ago being given a division flag, told you are now a Major General, go organize a division at Fort Wherever.

In fact I question a lot of McNair's decisions on structure. I don't believe we needed airborne divisions, rather airborne (meaning parachute( regimental combat teams. Cavalry Groups were not really needed as well, and I believe we would have been better off breaking all cavalry regiments into squadrons, disbanding the two active cavalry divisions, and using their regiments to form separate squadrons as well, then assign a squadron to each division, regardless of division type. Tank Destroyers was another concept that made no sense to me. The towed gun was next to useless, and the TD function, which was necessary, could have easily been fulfilled by a four to six gun platoon on M10's, M18's or the ultimate M36.

Non divisional regimental combat teams could have been put to much better use.

I would even go so far as to question the wisdom of the armored division. I don't have anything against armored divisions, but rather think that any division can be what you want it to be. If you want something heavy give it a couple of tank battalions, perhaps three, and fill in the rest of the division with armored Infantry battalions, say six. If you want something for general purpose, for the division with two tank and seven walking Infantry battalions. There are a quite a few more combinations, but the general idea is to keep the division base uniform in design, while the number and type of maneuver battalions are tailored to need.

The one thing I do really like about McNair's concepts though are Artillery and Engineer groups. They are much more flexible than similar sized organizations that existed in those two branches before.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 17 Mar 2021 06:13

McDonald wrote:
17 Mar 2021 05:53
I am in general agreement with you. We in fact had too many divisions, and an insufficient ability to keep them fully manned and equipped.

We also had too many Guard divisions, and probably could have cut three or four from the force structure at the same time the 21st thru 24th Cavalry Divisions were disbanded right before the war started. What would also have solved some of the problems with the so called Organized Reserve divisions is to have kept those inter=war cadres together, and called these divisions into service with a basic skeleton organization, instead of some guy who was a Lieutenant Colonel a year ago being given a division flag, told you are now a Major General, go organize a division at Fort Wherever.

In fact I question a lot of McNair's decisions on structure. I don't believe we needed airborne divisions, rather airborne (meaning parachute( regimental combat teams. Cavalry Groups were not really needed as well, and I believe we would have been better off breaking all cavalry regiments into squadrons, disbanding the two active cavalry divisions, and using their regiments to form separate squadrons as well, then assign a squadron to each division, regardless of division type. Tank Destroyers was another concept that made no sense to me. The towed gun was next to useless, and the TD function, which was necessary, could have easily been fulfilled by a four to six gun platoon on M10's, M18's or the ultimate M36.

Non divisional regimental combat teams could have been put to much better use.

I would even go so far as to question the wisdom of the armored division. I don't have anything against armored divisions, but rather think that any division can be what you want it to be. If you want something heavy give it a couple of tank battalions, perhaps three, and fill in the rest of the division with armored Infantry battalions, say six. If you want something for general purpose, for the division with two tank and seven walking Infantry battalions. There are a quite a few more combinations, but the general idea is to keep the division base uniform in design, while the number and type of maneuver battalions are tailored to need.

The one thing I do really like about McNair's concepts though are Artillery and Engineer groups. They are much more flexible than similar sized organizations that existed in those two branches before.
Well, there's a lot there, but I was keeping it simple. As it was, the US chose not to form 10 divisions (9 infantry and one airborne) that were in the 1943 program, largely to meet various calls on manpower ... my thought is that's a wash, but points to a potential "historical alternative" (meaning a different path that is actually a realistic option to consider, as opposed to "alternative history," which is what it is), namely, don't form those listed above (16th and 20th armored, 2nd Cavalry (Version 2), 10th Mountain, 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne; 42nd, 63rd, 65th, 66th, 69th, 70th, 71st, 75th, 97th, and 106th infantry divisions, plus the 4th, 5th, and 6th Marine divisions (or elements thereof, since all three drew on units that were formed in 1941-42.)).

That gives a lot of good manpower, cadre, fillers, and replacements, to keep the divisions mobilized in 1940-42 up to strength, and in better shape, in some ways, then they were historically.

One of the interesting sidelights of this as the CGs; names drawn from Stanton and Rottman:

16th AD - Greene, Pierce;
20th AD - Henry, Allen, Ward, Leonard;
2nd CD - Johnson
10th Mountain - Jones, Hayes
11th ABN - Swing
13th ABN - Griner, Chapman
17th ABN - Miley
42nd ID - HJ Collins
63rd ID - Hibbs, Harris
65th ID - Reinhardt, Copeland
66th ID - Kramer, Lauer
69th ID - Bolte, Reinhardt, Maraist
70th ID - Dahlquist, Barnett, Herren
71st ID - Spragins, Landrum, Wyman, Rolfe, White
75th - Paul, Pricket, Porter, White, Doran
97th - Craig, Halsey, Kramer
106th - Jones, Perrin, Stroh;
4th MD - Underhill, Schmidt, Cates
5th MD - Bourke, Rockey
6th MD - Shepherd

Certainly gives an idea of the manpower "potentially" freed up...

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 17 Mar 2021 07:17

McDonald wrote:
17 Mar 2021 05:53
...
The Guard was then and still is a political issue. The Guard Cavalry divisions were a particularly onerous case, since unlike the other guard divisions based in typically one to three states, the Guard Cavalry division was scattered across as many as 11. In any case, only the 22d Division was Federally recognized and in 1929 the Secretary of War directed no further funding would go to organizing the Guard Cavalry divisions; concurrently recognition of the 22d was withdrawn. It wasn't until 1935 that an attempt was made to organize them again, the 24th was recognized in January 1936 and the three others slowly organized by July 1940...only to be disbanded on 1 November.
Was told by a elderly elder circa 1969 the interwar Cavalry, both Active and NG were the child of Congressmen trying to keep horse breeding farmers afloat as the Depression & mechanization trashed their business model.
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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 17 Mar 2021 08:04

Hi daveshoup2MD,

I am none the wiser.

You post, "I was trying to contrast my point - that all the Allied infantry divisions committed to action from 1942 onwards accomplished their missions, whether they were "combat veterans" beforehand or not. The obvious examples are the 1st and 45th divisions in HUSKY and the 1st Marine Division and the Americal during WATCHTOWER, or the British 51st and Canadian 1st in HUSKY." I am not at all sure where that contrasts with anything I posted.

You post, "Your interpretation appeared to be that the US 45th and Canadian 1st were incapable of action, in comparison to the US 1st and British 51st, or the Americal in comparison to the 1st MD." I can't be expected to defend positions I have not taken, especially about divisions I haven't even mentioned.

Are you sure you aren't mixing me up with another poster?

I would suggest that 82nd Airborne Division can't be taken as typical of the wider status of US Army infantry divisions in its numerical sequence. It was a specialist formation with selectively recruited manpower into the creation of which particular effort were focused.

You post that perhaps, ".....the entire tranche of 1942 activations could have been in action by mobilization plus 18 months or so." Perhaps, but whether they would have been as fully worked up as they were after 30+ months or so is another matter. Were there complaints about "over training", as there were for British divisions in the UK from mid-1940 to mid-1944?

To reiterate my earlier point, "The key point is that the US Army should be large enough and good enough quickly enough, which it was." Was it one of the great armies of history? Probably not. Was it up to the task? Demonstrably, and with more in the tank at war's end, given that so much of it still had limited combat experience and the US's manpower pool had barely been touched by comparison with its allies or opponents.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by McDonald » 17 Mar 2021 17:15

I am going to attempt to address two different posts with only one of my own;

Mr Anderson.

I don't think we really did keep our divisions up to strength in manpower and equipment. Your example of the 28th ID after Hurtgen is not completely accurate based upon accounts I have read, and from people I have known over the years that were there. The 28th did receive a lot of fillers, but not nearly all they required to make up the Hurtgen losses. Additionally those fillers were drawn from all sources to include some who had just arrived from the States, plus personnel freed up from other units that were disbanded in theater to provide Infantry replacements. There was also reported shortages in just about every category of equipment, from rifles to radios. One of Eisenhower's chief concerns throughout the Fall of 44 and extending to the end of the war was the shortage of replacements, particularly Infantry replacements. What is remarkable is that the 28th did as well as they did, and I think most of that can be attributed to three men Rudder, Nelson, and Fuller.

My comment on reducing the number of Guard divisions prior to the war is based upon what each of the States was able to mobilize in terms of manpower in World War I. Virginia for instance furnished one Infantry Regiment (116th) and one Field Artillery Regiment (111th) at full strength in World War I, based upon their population density. By 1941 Virginia was organized with a Brigade of Infantry (2 regiments) and an artillery regiment. All three regiments were at a little better than half strength. Maryland was the same. New Jersey had been broken from the 29th Division to form part of the 44th ID. My premise in making that statement of mine was based on my feeling that the World War I structure should have been pretty much been left alone as far as force structure allocated to each of the States goes. Maryland was fully capable of manning a force of about 4000 during the inter-war years. Now you can put those 4000 spaces into one regiment and perhaps another type battalion, and you can fill them with faces, or you can spread those 4000 spaces over too much structure and only half fill them with faces. From the point of view of readiness, I think it much better to do the former, and upon Federalization get down to the business of training, instead of wasting the first three or four months of Federal Service in getting yourselves organized, and ready to get serious about training. Our views are different only in that they provide two perspectives on the same problem

It did not take the Army until 1986 to get around to my way of thinking. It was 1962 and ROAD, which is all I did above, look at ROAD and compare it to the divisional structure of the WWII division. ROAD was nothing more than the tailoring of all divisions based upon the model of the WWII (light) armored division. For an insight look at who was commanding CONARC as ROAD was being adopted.

In many ways the story of U S Army organization in World War II was one of the children not being able to play well together. If the U S Army is ever destroyed, and I pray that will never happen, it will be destroyed by branch politics and empire building.

Mr Shoup:

I fully understand your point, and would offer as a possible alternative the activation of some of those divisions you list, but as training division that would remain in the States that would be specifically structured to provide combat arms replacements to overseas commands.

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Re: 200 U. S. trained divisions?

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Mar 2021 03:32

McDonald wrote:
17 Mar 2021 17:15
I don't think we really did keep our divisions up to strength in manpower and equipment. Your example of the 28th ID after Hurtgen is not completely accurate based upon accounts I have read, and from people I have known over the years that were there. The 28th did receive a lot of fillers, but not nearly all they required to make up the Hurtgen losses. Additionally those fillers were drawn from all sources to include some who had just arrived from the States, plus personnel freed up from other units that were disbanded in theater to provide Infantry replacements. There was also reported shortages in just about every category of equipment, from rifles to radios. One of Eisenhower's chief concerns throughout the Fall of 44 and extending to the end of the war was the shortage of replacements, particularly Infantry replacements. What is remarkable is that the 28th did as well as they did, and I think most of that can be attributed to three men Rudder, Nelson, and Fuller.
Um, as of c. 0600 hours 16 December 1944, the 28th Inf Div reported 14,074 PFD, versus a nominal T/O&E of 14,253, so was manned at 98.7% of full strength. Of course, there are caveats, but the Army did a remarkable job of getting personnel replacements to the division. There were endemic shortages of some items of equipment, the most problematic being BAR during much of the European Campaign. Tanks were probably the greatest problem, but that did not impact an infantry division, which did not have tanks. Otherwise, there were no major shortfalls in equipment that I can recall for the 28th Inf Div when we did the ACSDB.
My comment on reducing the number of Guard divisions prior to the war is based upon what each of the States was able to mobilize in terms of manpower in World War I. Virginia for instance furnished one Infantry Regiment (116th) and one Field Artillery Regiment (111th) at full strength in World War I, based upon their population density. By 1941 Virginia was organized with a Brigade of Infantry (2 regiments) and an artillery regiment. All three regiments were at a little better than half strength. Maryland was the same. New Jersey had been broken from the 29th Division to form part of the 44th ID. My premise in making that statement of mine was based on my feeling that the World War I structure should have been pretty much been left alone as far as force structure allocated to each of the States goes. Maryland was fully capable of manning a force of about 4000 during the inter-war years. Now you can put those 4000 spaces into one regiment and perhaps another type battalion, and you can fill them with faces, or you can spread those 4000 spaces over too much structure and only half fill them with faces. From the point of view of readiness, I think it much better to do the former, and upon Federalization get down to the business of training, instead of wasting the first three or four months of Federal Service in getting yourselves organized, and ready to get serious about training. Our views are different only in that they provide two perspectives on the same problem
Okay, but the Guard organization as embodied in the National Defense Act of 1920 was based upon the distribution of the National Army units in the Great War. The problem was that Federal recognition brought Federal dollars, so the States tended to compete...as well as attempted to organize units that simply could not be supported by the community (the root of the legislation limiting the personnel assigned to the OR). In this case you are talking about the right way, rather than the Army way, or the Congressional way, all of which are very different animals.

That is why you saw the plethora of Guard recognition followed by withdrawals of recognition throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. Combine that with the endemic lack of funding for both the Regular Army and National Guard and you end up with oddities like "Inactive Regular Army" units and the half-strength Guard.
It did not take the Army until 1986 to get around to my way of thinking. It was 1962 and ROAD, which is all I did above, look at ROAD and compare it to the divisional structure of the WWII division. ROAD was nothing more than the tailoring of all divisions based upon the model of the WWII (light) armored division. For an insight look at who was commanding CONARC as ROAD was being adopted.
I'm going to have to stop pulling legs...they keep on coming off. :D

Yes ROAD, like PENTOMIC built around a common division HQ/brigade HQ structure, replacing the old regimental and combat command organization, but they were still structured as Armored or Infantry Divisions. In ROAD, the Mechanized Division was added, but the structure was not plug-and-play, the mechanized division had seven mechanized and three tank battalions, the infantry division had eight mechanized and two tank, and the armored division had five mechanized and six tank. That did not really change the way the Armored Division could task organize, but it was a major change from the pre-PENTOMIC Infantry Division regimental organization.

Anyway, what is the insight derived from GEN Herbert Powell being CG CONARC when ROAD was developed?
In many ways the story of U S Army organization in World War II was one of the children not being able to play well together. If the U S Army is ever destroyed, and I pray that will never happen, it will be destroyed by branch politics and empire building.
The children have never played well together. PENTOMIC was a creature of the Airborne Mafia, Division 86 was a creature of the TRADOC Mafia, and now the Snake Eaters are in charge, which means that MRE's will eventually be replaced by Snake Ready to Eat. :lol:

If you want to get into Branch politics lets talk the Armored Force...or maybe you could wait until For Purpose of Service Test gets published. :D
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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