The Army and Economic Mobilization

By R. Elberton Smith | Go to book overview

Preface

The subject matter of the present volume derives its importance from a number of basic considerations. The achievements of the United States in the production of munitions and supplies for World War II provided this country, and to a large extent its allies, with a decisive superiority in military power. Moreover, in the process of establishing and attaining its war production objectives, the United States reshaped the structure of its economy and ushered in an era of supertechnology which marked the beginning of a new epoch in history.

Now, some twelve years after the war, military procurement programs still represent a substantial portion of the nation's economic activity. Also, to judge from contemporary news items, the complexities, problems, and misunderstandings associated with military procurement are no less confusing to the general public today than they were during the period of rearmament in the early 1940's. Although both the nature of the procurement process and the character of military end items have increased in complexity since World War II, most of the current issues and administrative problems have their origins or their counterparts in the last great war.

These and other considerations all reinforce the basic purpose of the present volume, which is to provide the reader with a fund of knowledge that will enable him to understand the complex tasks associated with Army procurement and economic mobilization in World War II. To achieve this purpose the author has attempted to select and describe as clearly as possible the major areas of the subject matter--beginning with prewar planning and the determination of military requirements, and running in logical sequence all the way to the settlement and liquidation of the World War II procurement effort. To the extent that the stated objective has been realized it is believed that the reader upon completion of the volume will fed at home in any discussion of basic problems of procurement and economic mobilization.

The term "history" includes potentially "everything that existed or happened" during a specified period of time in the past. Manifestly, nothing purporting to be a "complete" history of so large a subject as the one in hand will ever be written. The present study aims not at exhaustiveness but at maximum illumination of the subject matter. It attempts, therefore, to deal systematically with the broad substantive issues of procurement and economic mobilization faced by the War Department in World War II, and the basic policies and procedures

-xi-

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