Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations

Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations

Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations

Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations

Excerpt

The treatment employed in the first volume of this work on the Office of the Chief of Staff requires a brief explanation. The original desire was to provide a fully sequential narrative, but this method was found to lead only to confusion. During any one week of the prewar period the Chief of Staff was likely to be concerned with any number of the numerous large ultimate responsibilities of his Office--administration, training, supply, arming, selecting, planning, guiding legislation, considering public policy, pacifying opposition, pressing for interservice or international co-ordination, and the like. To deal with all these responsibilities and all their variations on a week-to-week basis in a running narrative proved unprofitable. It was clearly better, in dealing with the prewar tumble of activities, to consider one class of responsibilities at a time, to discuss that class as far as possible in a sequential manner, and then to proceed to the next. Even this method could not be pursued with unfailing consistency. The difficulties of presenting a simple narrative of so complex a task as that which faced the successive Chiefs of Staff on the approach of a war for which the nation was pitifully and almost willfully unready will be manifest in the recital.

The narrative undertakes to portray in broad terms, rather than in detail, the extent of that unreadiness, the reasons for it, and the efforts of the Office of the Chief of Staff to correct it with maximum dispatch. Few separate aspects can be fully covered. Since there was hardly any activity of the War Department or the Army which in principle did not touch that Office, however fleetingly, a full account of the Office would in reality be something like an account of the whole Department against a background of world affairs as they affected American foreign policy. Even before Pearl Harbor it was clear that the Chief of Staff himself was in peril of being overwhelmed by detail, but the Departmental wartime reorganization that freed him of much of this detail and hence released more of his time for the major responsibilities of his Office did not take place until March 1942.

Because this volume deals with the approach to war, it deals with the period when the Chief of Staff's concerns were dispersed over the whole width of . . .

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