Academic journal article McNair Papers

4. Interwar Planning for Industrial Mobilization

Academic journal article McNair Papers

4. Interwar Planning for Industrial Mobilization

Article excerpt

The National Defense Act of 1920 (which was the foundation for the Planning Branch, the Army and Navy Munitions Board and Army Industrial College) directed that the Assistant Secretary of War prepare an industrial mobilization plan to prevent the fumbling that occurred during World War I. (1) During the interwar period there were four plans developed. The first, in 1922, written in the Planning Branch, was really an outline of a plan to be prepared in three volumes that later became an Industrial Mobilization Basic Plan in 1924--but which still lacked detail. The latter "plan," or the 1924 "plan," recognized the need for an industrial mobilization superagency to be "established by act of Congress or by the President, under congressional authority for the purpose of coordinating, adjusting anti conserving the available agencies for resources so as to promptly and adequately meet the maximum requirements of the military forces and the essential needs of the civilian population." This was basically a procurement plan. The keystone of the 1924 plan and all those that followed was a hypothetical Mobilization Day (M-Day), the date of the first day of mobilization, considered simultaneous with a declaration of war. The officers in the Planning Branch (and subsequent authors) found it inconceivable "in the light of American practice and thinking" that the "United States would ever begin mobilizing before the outbreak of war." (2) As it actually happened, Roosevelt indeed began to plan for mobilizing industry even before Germany invaded Poland, and legislation to assist mobilization was passed well before 7 December 1941. Four mobilization agencies were tried and all failed before the Japanese bombed Pearl harbor. M-Day thinking was a mistake.

The next plan, written in 1930, had additional flaws, all of which were carried through in subsequent Industrial Mobilization Plans. One was the assertion that existing executive and other government agencies should not be used as any of the governments tools for industrial mobilization. This provoked hostility in the senior departments. Another was the failure to recommend a branch to collect, assess and distribute statistics. Most significant was the failure to recognize that the United States would probably have Io assist in arming its allies. (3) The 1933 Plan's preface summarized the thinking behind all of the interwar industrial mobilization planning:

   Complicated weapons and machines are used up rapidly in
   war. Armies and Navies must not only be well supplied
   initially, but maintenance must be adequate and continuous.
   Thus, the success of a modern fighting force, is directly and
   immediately dependent upon the ability of the Nation's
   resources to satisfy promptly its requirement in munitions...
   War is no longer simply a battle between armed forces in
   the field--it is a struggle in which each side strives to bring
   to bear against the enemy the coordinated power of every
   individual and every material resource at its command . . . .
   The following comprise the essentials of a complete plan for
   mobilization of Industry:

      a. Procurement planning

        (1) Determination of requirements

        (2) Development of Plans for the procurement of such

      b. Plums for control of economic resources and mobilization of

        (1) Determination of the measures to be employed to
        insure the proper coordination and use of the Nation's

        (2) Development of plans for the organization and
         administrative machinery that will execute these control
         measures. (4)

The Plan was approved by both the Secretary of War and Secretary of the Navy (the first to be approved by both and the first written by the Army and Navy Munitions Board). Only 102 pages long, it came with an appendix of proposed industrial mobilization bills drafted for congressional consideration. …

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