The Army and Economic Mobilization

By R. Elberton Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
Organization for War

The Evolution of Central Mobilization Control Agencies

The transition period granted to the United States for converting its economy from peace to war was not a thirty-day, three-month, or even a twelve-month period. A full year and a half elapsed between the fall of France in June 1940 and the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor. A large-scale military procurement program was begun at the end of June 1940, but the nation did not embark upon an all-out war production program until after 7 December 1941.1

The Industrial Mobilization Plan had been devised to afford an orderly transition from peace to war, but it was not officially adopted at the beginning of the defense period or, indeed, at any other time. Nevertheless, many functional as well as organizational elements of the plan were utilized-- some at the outset of the defense period and others at later dates both before and after Pearl Harbor. But what was regarded by some authorities as the keystone of the Industrial Mobilization Plan--the proposal to establish, at the very beginning of an emergency, unified organizational control over the economic mobilization program-- was rejected. Both the reasons for and the consequences of this decision have been the subject of much speculation and debate.2

The decision to select an alternative organizational structure instead of the one proposed by IMP was made by President Roosevelt in a milieu of complex and delicate political circumstances. The factors which led to this decision are too numerous for more than a brief summary of the subject. Fundamentally, the President believed that the nation as a whole was not ready for the degree of economic control implied by the formal adoption of the plan. In particular, he had serious misgivings as to the desirability of creating, in time of peace, the kind of powerful superagency represented by the War Resources Administration. Such an agency, he felt, would interfere with his

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1
This eighteen-month period of preparation is usually referred to as the "defense period," in contrast to the "planning period" which preceded it and the "war period" which followed Pearl Harbor. From the standpoint of economic mobilization, World War II included both the defense and war periods.
2
For example: (1) Truman Committee, Hearings, 21-24 Oct 47, 42:25573-789 and Exhibits 2672-83; (2) AIC R56, Plans for Industrial Mobilization, 1920-1939, especially pp. 68-85; (3) Connery, The Navy and the Industrial Mobilization, Ch. III; (4) Albert A. Blum, The Birth and Death of the M-Day Plan (draft copy for inclusion in Twentieth Century Fund, Study of Civil-Military Relations [circa 1955], OCMH; (5) CPA, Industrial Mobilization for War, Pt. I, Chs. 1 and 2; (6) U.S. Bureau of the Budget, The United States at War, Chs. 1-5, passim; (7) Nelson, Arsenal of Democracy, Ch. 5, especially pp. 87-92; (8) Eliot Janeway , The Struggle for Survival ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951), Chs. I-V, especially Ch. III.

-98-

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