Industrial mobilization planning, as the term had come to be used by the end of the 1920's, concerned all activities which would be necessary to insure the success and minimize the burdens of a wartime procurement program. More specifically, it was designed to insure the availability of all contributory resources--raw materials, labor, power, fuel, transportation, and the like--for the largescale production of munitions, while at the same time maintaining the nation's industrial establishment and supplying essential civilian needs. Planning of this nature envisaged widespread controls over the entire economy--controls which would vitally affect all segments of the population and raise important and delicate questions of national policy in many different areas.
In discharging his industrial mobilization planning responsibilities under the National Defense Act, the Assistant Secretary of War suffered under a number of limitations. He could not assure the preparation of adequate procurement plans by the Navy and other agencies external to the War Department, and it was not until the early 1930's that estimates of the Navy's wartime needs began to become available as a basis for industrial mobilization planning. Moreover, in time of emergency or war the actual execution of the broad plans for industrial mobilization--in contrast to the specific procurement plans--would not be the responsibility of the War Department. Throughout most of the planning period it was taken for granted that general controls over the entire economy would be exercised by one or more specially created wartime superagencies operating under civilian administrator's appointed by the President. The Assistant Secretary was thus obligated to make industrial mobilization plans for someone else to carry out in time of war. The many doubts as to the nature and number of wartime superagencies, and the extent to which they would adopt the plans prepared by OASW, threw a cloud of uncertainty over the whole planning operation.
Another difficulty faced by OASW throughout much of the planning period was the prevailing climate of public indifference or actual hostility toward measures of any kind which could be described as "preparation for war." The failure of World War I to create a lasting peace, widespread discussion of the costs and causes of the war, assignment of war guilt to "munitions makers and militarists," and faith in disarmament as the only guarantee of peace were among the many conditions which characterized the aftermath of that war. Coupled with these influences were the seeming remoteness of American involvement in any future war and the general preoccupation with peacetime pursuits in the