Table of ContentsIntroduction iii
I Air War Plans Division of the Air Staff 1
II Concepts, Principles, and Strategy of the Air Corps Tactical School 4
The Struggle for Recognition of Air Power 4
Bombers versus Fighters 7
The Protagonists 8
Bombing Probabilities 9
Controversy between Air Corps and War Department Concepts 14
Basic Doctrine of Air Warfare 18
The Nature of War 19
Relationship of Armies, Navies, and Air Forces to National Policy
and to each other. 20
Basic Tenets of Air Strategy 24
Principles of Employment 25
AIR FORCE OBJECTIVES 26
Strategic Air Options 28
III Strategic Air Intelligence and the International Situation 30
Strategic Guidelines 35
IV Production Requirements to Defeat our Potential Enemies 38
Development of AWPD-1 42
Strategic Foundations for Planning 43
The Strategic Basis of AWPD-1 44
The Plan 49
Neutralizing the German Air Force 52
Overall Force Requirements 55
Presentation of AWPD-1 55
The Impact of Pearl Harbor 61
Any process, in most cases, can be understood by examining some historical examples and looking for common threads. The Air Campaign Planning process is no different. By looking at historical air campaigns and their development we can then see the evolution of a process. The evolution of aerospace power occurred over a relatively short span of history and thus limits our available sources. Nevertheless an air campaign process has and is still evolving.
To this date, what has evolved is a distinct entity of a Theater Campaign Plan called an Air Campaign Plan. This subset of the Theater Campaign Plan has a planning process which consists of five stages.
Stage I - Combat Environment Research is all encompassing and continues throughout the entire process. As time and resources permit, it is a study of any and everything pertaining to the theater for which you are planning.
Stage II - Objective Determination is the key to determining what aerospace power is to do in a campaign. Being that the Air Campaign is a subset of the Theater Campaign, the aerospace objectives must therefore be a subset of the theater objectives.
Stage III - Strategy Identification is how aerospace power will be employed to meet its objectives in the Air Campaign. It too must be a subset of Theater Strategy.
Stage IV - Center of Gravity Selection/Identification which when successfully attacked or defended (from enemy attack), satisfy the hierarchy of objectives; Air, Theater, and National.
Stage V - The Air Campaign Plan (the product) indicates what forces will be required for which missions and targets to what level of effort by service, aircraft, allies, etc.
These common stages have been distilled from past Air Campaign Planning efforts. One of these efforts was the development of AWPD-1, an air campaign designed to defeat Germany in WW-II. The process by which it was developed is accounted for by Major General Haywood S. Hansell Jr. who will lead us through it!
I Air War Plans Division of the Air Staff
On July 3rd, 1941, General Henry H. (Hap) Arnold, the high mogul of the United States Army Air Corps, told his secretary, "Get Hal George on the phone for me." Hal George was Lieutenant Colonel Harold L. George, then Commanding Officer of the Second Bombardment Group (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses) at Langley Field, near Fortress Monroe, Virginia.
Shortly, General Arnold's phone buzzed. He picked up the receiver and said, "Yes?" The answer was, "General Arnold, this is Harold George." General Arnold said, "Hal, I have two memos on my desk-your name is on each of them. One recommends you to enter the Army War College as a student this fall, and the other recommends you be ordered to Washington as Chief of the Air War Plans Division which has just been authorized in my office. What action would you like me to take?"
Hal had to think quickly. He knew that one of the top rungs on the ladder for the career military officer was graduation from the Army War College. He also realized that, with war going on in Europe, there was a strong possibility that within several months this country might become involved. He knew the challenge and responsibilities that would fall upon the Chief of General Arnold's Air War Plans Division if war did occur. And, prior to such an occurrence, planning and preparation would be of critical importance. "Sir," He said, "I would be delighted if you would order me to Washington as Chief of your Air War Plans Division." General Arnold's answer was, "Start packing. Your orders will be out in a few days."
Lieutenant Colonel George reported to Brigadier General Carl (Tooey) Spaatz, General Arnold's Chief of Staff, on July 10, 1941, to become part of what was, in many ways, a strange organization.
General Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army, had agreed to the concentration of Army aviation under General Arnold as Commanding General, Army Air Forces, and had authorized the establishment of an Air Staff along the lines of the War Department General Staff. General Arnold would occupy two positions: Deputy Chief of Staff for Air of the United States Army, and Commanding General Army Air Forces. The Air Staff was analogous to the General Staff and occupied a level above the Chiefs of Services. The position of "Chief of Air Corps," which General Arnold had occupied, was retained, with Major General George Brett as the new Chief. Also, the "Office of the Chief of Air Corps" continued in existence, under the new Air Staff. Brigadier General Muir Fairchild, one of the ablest of Air Corps officers, was Executive Officer of the Office Chief of Air Corps. Brigadier General Carl Spaatz, who had headed the old Plans Division in the Office Chief of Air Corps, came into the new organization as Chief of Air Staff on 23 June, the day after the new organization went into effect and, by coincidence, the day after Hitler launched his massive invasion of Russia.
General Arnold had chosen wisely in selecting Harold George to head the new Air War Plans Division of the Air Staff. He needed an imaginative thinker who also had the advantage that came from broad practical experience.
Harold George had these qualities in abundance. His background spanned the entire spectrum of air power experience to date.
He had been a bomber pilot in the Second Day Bombardment Group in World War I.
He had been a bomber pilot with Billy Mitchell's First Bombardment Brigade in the "battleship tests" off the Virginia capes, and had the privilege of personal association with Mitchell.
He had been a bomber pilot stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground and had dropped more bombs than any man before him or possibly since; and he had the opportunity to examine the effect, against a variety of structures, of every bomb that had been produced.
He had been Chief of the Bombardment Section of the Training and Operations Division of the Office of the Chief of Air Corps, under Carl Spaatz, and had been a member of every Bombardment Board that weighed new bomber designs.
He had been Chief of the Bombardment Section at the Air Corps Tactical School, Chief of the Air Force Section, and Director of the Department of Air Tactics and Strategy there.
He had graduated from the Army's Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth.
And, finally, he had returned to the bombardment unit in which he first saw service-the Second Bombardment Group -this time as its commander. The Second Bombardment Group was the prize outfit of the Air Corps. It was the B-17 Flying Fortress unit and it had pioneered new tactics and strategic air movements.
He was about to face a challenge that would sorely test his experience, his intellect, and his spirit.
As head of the new Air War Plans Division, Colonel George found himself housed with General Arnold and his staff, atop the ninth wing of the old Munitions Building in Washington. This "temporary structure" was already twenty-three years old and now, with the mushrooming of the defense establishment, a sort of penthouse was added. That part, at least, was new.
In a way, the men of General Arnold's new staff were particularly fortunate. Few were unknown to each other. In the days of struggle for the Air Corps, their paths had crossed many times and those now congregated atop the old Munitions Building represented, as it were, the cream of the crop. Already tested in a hundred different ways, virtually every man on the staff knew the dedication, skill and potential of the men with whom he would be working.
Harold George, with the official title of "Assistant Chief of Air Staff/War Plans," found his Division very sparsely manned. While charged with preparing the "over-all plans for control of the activities of the Army Air Forces," George had only Lieutenant Colonel Howard Craig, who had been Assistant Chief under General Spaatz, but was now head of the "Projects Group," assisted by Lieutenant Colonel Orvil Anderson; and Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Walker, who headed another sub-division known as the "War Plans Group," in which he was alone.
Colonel George was particularly delighted to have Walker, whom he regarded as one of the most brilliant and far-sighted officers in the United States Army. Ken had been a senior instructor at the Air Corps Tactical School when Hal George was there as a student. Upon George's graduation he remained at the Tactical School as an instructor on Walker's recommendation. Because both were dedicated believers in the potential of air power, they developed a close friendship and a companion philosophy of air power consistent with the teachings of Douhet and Lord Trenchard who, with General Billy Mitchell, had been the world's leading exponents of air power.
George and Walker believed that air power of the future could decide the outcome of war. They firmly believed that without superiority in the air, no nation could be victorious in a modern war. Air power possessed, in their opinion, the potential to overcome a nation's will to resist. This was the concept they taught at the Air Corps Tactical School-which later became the Air War College-a concept developed through logic, map problems and war games.
The day following his assignment as Chief of the Air War Plans Division George learned that I, who was then in General Arnold's Intelligence Division, had just returned from England where I had been in contact with officers of the Intelligence Group of the Royal Air Force. I knew Colonel George well. I had been at Maxwell Field when George and Walker were instructors at the Air Corps Tactical School. In fact, I had done considerable research for each of them and, as a consequence, had been infected with their enthusiastic belief in the doctrines of Mitchell, Douhet and Trenchard. As a result, Hal had generously sponsored my ambitions to learn something of air strategy and had arranged to have me assigned to the Tactical School as a student. On graduation in 1935 I became a member of the faculty. It was there that I, following in the footsteps of such men as George and Walker, played my small part in hammering out the doctrine of strategic air warfare, the doctrine that would become the heart of AWPD-1. I was Instructor in Air Force successively under Harold George, Bob Webster and Santy Fairchild.
Laurence Kuter, my classmate at the Air Corps Tactical School, who had graduated at the head of the class, joined the faculty at the same time I did, and became an Instructor in Bombardment. We were privileged to be associated with these leaders of air power theory and doctrine, and to contribute our efforts in the critical years that terminated the decade of the thirties. These years of effort that went into the development of an American concept of Strategic Air Warfare before the creation of the Air War Plans Division are germane to the story of AWPD-1.
II Concepts, Principles, and Strategy of the Air Corps Tactical School
The broad outline of strategic air power had been described in the era of World War I by such pioneers as General Smuts, General Douhet, General Mitchell and Lord Trenchard. Their concepts, however, had never been finally developed into specific principles and doctrines of strategic air employment. Inspired, by the visionary goals described by Mitchell, the Air Corps Tactical School sought methods for their practical attainment. The School readily acknowledged the usefulness of air forces in support of surface forces, but it went a step further and formalized a use of air power that went far beyond the customary vision of the airplane as a support weapon. This use envisioned air power as no less important than land and sea power. With its own technology, its own doctrine, and operating in its own medium, it seemed certain that it could have a strategic as well as a tactical function. Indeed, assuming proper employment, the strategic function could outweigh the tactical one and bring to warfare an awesome and perhaps decisive application of military might.
Such ideas were heretical in the l920s and l930s. As a result, the story of strategic air warfare during that period is a story of conflict within the War Department. There were strong factions which denied that it was feasible to achieve a decisive military purpose through the application of air power. Other factions contended that it didn't really matter whether or not air power might have an independent role; its optimum employment lay in support of the mission of the ground forces. A few, almost all of them fliers, recognized air power not as a new weapon but as a new arena of military activity, one of such potential that it might eclipse the others. The conflict arose immediately after the close of World War I, centering first on proper employment of the airplane as a support weapon, then upon independent operations and command of the air forces, and finally upon strategic doctrine itself.
The Struggle for Recognition of Air Power
In August, 1919, the Secretary of War appointed a board of general officers headed by Major General Charles T. Menoher to report on a series of bills in the Congress proposing various forms of reorganization which would have raised military aviation to a higher level in the defense establishment. The Menoher Board stated: "An Air Force acting independently cannot win a war against forces on the ground." But the Board also stated that surface forces could not be effectively employed without air support. And, it recognized the importance of military aviation by recommending that it be accepted as a combat branch, like the infantry, artillery, and cavalry. However, it had to be an integral part of an army command. "Not only during battle but also during the entire period of its doctrinal training...the military air force must remain under the complete control of the Army and form an integral part thereof both in peace and war."
The revised Army Field Service Regulations of 1923 declared: "The coordinating principle which underlies the employment of the combined army is that the mission of the infantry is the general mission of the entire force." Since pursuit aviation "created the conditions which enable the other elements to operate with the greatest degree of effectiveness," the Regulations considered pursuit to constitute "the most vital element of the air service."
The official War Department position on the role and organizational control of military aviation, derived from the only combat experience available, clearly denied the importance of "independent" air operations beyond the immediate rear of the enemy ground forces. It just as clearly demanded control over aviation by the senior ground commander, to the same degree as that he held over infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
Not long after these conservative conclusions on the role of military aviation were stated at the close of World War I, a faction broke away from the mainstream of official opinion and openly advanced contentions of its own. In doing so, three principal leaders of the Air Service ran headlong into official policy and doctrine. These three were: Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, Major General Mason Patrick, who had become Chief of the Air Service, and former Brigadier General Benjamin Foulois, now reduced to Major.
Mitchell was the first to renounce the old order and lay claim to the new. He had been exposed to ideas of other air power pioneers, notably Lord Trenchard, General Guilio Douhet, and Count Gianni Caproni. In World War I, Trenchard had led the way in consolidating control of aviation so that it might exploit its flexibility and apply its mass. But he was primarily concerned with organizing and applying air power in a manner which would maximize its contribution to the success of the ground forces. Douhet, writing after the war, advocated the creation and employment of air forces to bring an enemy nation to its knees by direct attack on the seat of political power-core of its "will to resist."
The major theme of Mitchell's crusade was that aerial warfare now ranked with naval and ground warfare in importance. In taking this stand he was basing his contentions on vision and forecast. Nothing in the combat experience of aviation in World War I justified such a contention. He was focusing, not upon the past, but upon the characteristics and potentials of tomorrow. Like all pioneers in the new medium he was caught up in the constant interplay between the visionary expectancy of airplane development and the strategic employment which could grow out of this ever-increasing capability.
This constant groping for the role of military aviation led along two paths. The first sought to determine the impact of air power upon the established modes of warfare; the second sought to define an entirely new mode of warfare which was reserved to the mission of air power alone. The first path led General Mitchell to contend that naval forces could not perform their traditional role of coast defense within the range of hostile air power, whereas friendly air forces could perform this defensive role. The second path prompted him to contend that air power could be decisively applied directly against the economic, industrial, and social system of a hostile nation, far behind the surface barriers of its defending armies and navies. In so doing, it could bring a modern nation to a state of helplessness. In other words, air power's inherent flexibility permitted its use in support of surface forces, but perhaps most important, it paved the way for a new and decisive role against the heart of a modern state. In either case the enemy air force would have to be defeated, and this was a role which only a friendly air force could perform. Consequently, the air force should be organized as a unified and separately controlled force which would permit its concentration and use in any of these vital roles.
Mitchell's "extravagant'' claims about the impact of air power on naval forces naturally met with indignant rebuttal by the Navy. His insistence and his campaign in the press, however, led to the "battleship" tests of 1921 and 1923. Harold George participated directly in these tests and was drawn intimately under the spell and enthusiasm of Billy Mitchell in the process.
The successes of the First Bombardment Brigade in sinking naval vessels vindicated Mitchell's contentions about the potential impact of air power as a primary instrument for defense of the United States against surface invasion. But the fate of this initial success was akin to the fate which met the early and premature commitment of the tank in World War I. It alerted the enemy to his danger and prompted frantic efforts to provide a counter move before the new monster became too powerful. The "enemy," in this case the United States Navy, responded very vigorously indeed. The shock produced by the sinking of the German battleship Ostfriesland had hardly subsided before the Navy moved to adopt this new weapon into its own arsenal. Thus, Billy Mitchell's dream of a truly unified national organization of air power was sucked under with the final plunge of the Ostfriesland. The Naval establishment, however, never embraced the other path of Mitchell's thinking: the role of bombardment as a major factor in destroying national will to fight and its capability to support its armed forces.
The Navy was not being unreasonable; neither was it being visionary. The effectiveness of air power against national structures was still very much in the realm of conjecture, and it was not likely to be resolved short of a major war.
Major General Mason Patrick, who had adopted a conservative viewpoint on air power when he was General Pershing's Chief of Air Service, took quite a different position after he became Chief of Air Corps in 1923. General Patrick recommended that a program for the production and purchase of modern aircraft be supported by Congress. He also contended that a properly balanced Army aviation force ought to have about 20 percent of its strength in "air service" (observation), and the remaining 80 percent in "air force" or combat aviation. Patrick proposed that "air service" observation units should be withdrawn from army divisions and consolidated under the command of Corps and Armies, and that an "adequate well-balanced Air Force ought to be built to serve as the GHQ Reserve." "Very often," Patrick wrote, "there is as distinct and definite a mission for the Air Force independent of ground troops as there is for the Army and Navy independent of each other."
In 1925, in a lecture before the Army War College, General Patrick revealed that he had "recently been quite impressed by a little book written by an Englishman, Captain B. H. Liddell Hart, called Paris, or the Future of War." Patrick said that he agreed with Liddell Hart's thesis that the main military objective in war should be "the will of the enemy to fight" rather than the defeat of his armed forces in the field. He also agreed with Liddell Hart's conclusion that the end of World War I came through collapse of the will of the German people and not the collapse of the German army.
Thus, almost inevitably, the thoughts of those fliers most concerned with the future of air power turned to a wholly revolutionary idea. Given proper weapons, doctrine and independence, they felt the traditional methods for waging war could be circumvented by something much less costly and much more effective than mass armies slugging it out for months on end. As Mitchell put it before a House Committee on Military Affairs in 1926:
There has never been anything that has come which has changed war the way the advent of air power has. The method of prosecuting a war in the old days was always to get at the vital centers of the country in order to paralyze the resistance. This meant the centers of production, the centers of population, the agricultural districts, the animal industry, communications-anything that tended to keep up war. Now, in order to keep the enemy out of that, armies were spread in front of those places and protected them by their flesh and blood. You had mass killings there, sometimes for years before those vital centers were reached. It led to the theory that the hostile army in the field was the main objective, which it was. Once having been conquered, the vital centers would be gotten at . . . Now we can get today to those vital centers by air power . . . In the future, we will strike, in case of armed conflict, when all other means of settling disputes have failed, . . . straight to the vital centers, the industrial centers, through the use of an air force and hit them. That is the modern theory of making war.
Two years later Major General James Fechet, who had succeeded General Patrick as Chief of Air Corps in 1927, argued that overcoming the enemy's will to resist "can be obtained with less destruction and lasting after effect than has heretofore been the case. At present the Air Force provides the only means for such an accomplishment."
Proponents of new and revolutionary weapons systems almost inevitably have the vision to see the far reaching potential of their systems during the development phase. But that same vision seems to fade when it comes to anticipating the possible countermeasures an enemy might take. This was true of the air enthusiasts in the l920s and l930s. World War I had demonstrated the advantage of pursuit aircraft over the slower and less maneuverable bomber; yet the success of the strategic bombardment concept depended on the survivability of those bombers. How well would modern bombers survive in a hostile environment? The fighter versus bomber controversy was a hot one at the Air Corps Tactical School, which became the center of doctrinal development. Bomber survivability was crucial to the whole concept of air power, for unless the proponents of air power could count on bombers getting sufficient bombs "on target," without incurring losses that were too high to permit sustained operations, the whole idea was little more than an exercise in futility.
Bombers versus Fighters
The weakest link in the theory of air power lay in this question whether bombers could reach their targets in the face of pursuit and anti-aircraft opposition, without prohibitive losses.
On this question the Air Corps Tactical School in 1932 was split by the intense and deep convictions of two rival elements: the Bombardment Section under the driving intensity of Ken Walker and Harold George, and the Pursuit Section, under the equally partisan convictions of Claire Chennault. The whole concept of strategic air power hung upon the validity of the rival claims, and there seemed little hope of a practical test which would resolve the problem. If the bombers could reach their targets and deliver their bombs with acceptable accuracy, and if they could do so with a tolerable loss rate, then a whole new vista of warfare was opened up. If they could not, then a new weapon simply had been added to the arsenals of land and sea warfare.
These contentions were hotly debated at the Air Corps Tactical School. When Harold George became Director of the Department of Air Tactics, as well as Chief of the Air Force Section, he set about the establishment of overall air power doctrine within which these internal battles among the air protagonists might be brought to order. The problem was formidable from three points of view: the clash of ideas was intense; nearly all the separate contentions were also at variance with established War Department doctrine; and the individuals who supported their conflicting beliefs were men of unusual capabilities and vehement expression.
Harold George had need of strong character and wide aviation experience if he was to survive in the rip-tide of conflicting opinion and emotional dedication which seethed at the Air Corps Tactical School. In addition, he would need imagination, logic, and persuasiveness if he hoped to bring order and unity of doctrine to the Department of Air Tactics and Strategy.
Fortunately, he had all these qualities.
When the Air Corps Tactical School was in its last year at Langley Field, in 1929, the Bombardment Section was composed of Captain Robert Olds and First Lieutenant K. N. Walker.
Bob Olds and Ken Walker together were dangerously close to being a "critical mass." Both were almost explosively intense and dynamic. Under them the Bombardment Section forged ahead.
Bob Olds was personable and charismatic. Although he was devoted to the concept of bombardment, he found release for his immense physical energies in flying fighter type airplanes and in playing squash. His return to base from cross-country flights bore his characteristic signature: a slow roll over the flight line in his P-1 pursuit plane, at an elevation well below local regulations. His reactions were quick, his responses sharp, and he had the courage of his convictions. Harold George said of him that he had never known his equal when it came to perception of the right course of action and the drive to get it done.
Ken Walker, equally intense, equally devoted, was if anything the greater zealot. His approach was, however, more methodical. While Bob was rolling fighters, Ken was more apt to be found battering a typewriter to fragmentation. He spent nearly all his waking hours at his office. He did his thinking on that typewriter. His desk top was a charred mass of cigarette burns, put there when he was carried away with a thought and reached for a new cigarette to light while several were still smoldering at his elbow. Unlike Hal George, who was an expert on the typewriter, Ken was strictly a two or three finger impresario. Creative thought was expressed in a staccato clatter from the machine. Then there would be a halting and irregular series of sounds, followed by a blast like a burst from a machine gun as he "X"ed out a word or line. Argument and counter-argument were going on in his mind as he prepared his lectures, and his typewriter was left quite literally a wreck. He was constantly seeking out his associates, trying out his ideas on them in heated discussion, and then, returning to the shattered typewriter, he would jam in a new piece of paper and take off again.
Ken had missed World War I and was sensitive about it. He believed in personal leadership, and he envied those who had set out to do battle in the skies. Basically, he may have felt insecure in talking of war to veterans who had experienced it. There was no doubt of his sincerity, however. He would have been in the lead air plane, given the chance. Actually he might have chosen his ultimate fate, if he had had a choice. Certainly he would not have sought to evade it. As Commanding General, Vth Bomber Command, in January 1943 he was personally commanding in the air when his B-17 was shot down over Rabaul. He was there by choice and, since he had been warned not to expose himself on any more missions, he would probably have been in hot water if his bomber had made it home. As it was, his reckless expression of courage and personal leadership under fire earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Although I was a junior officer assigned to squadron and post duties, I fell in with Ken Walker and Harold George as a sort of handy man. I drank in with zest the heady discussions on tactics and strategy.
They had adopted Ken's contention that bombardment was to air power what the infantry was to the Army-the basic arm. And Ken was drumming away on his deepest conviction: "A well planned and well conducted bombardment attack, once launched, cannot be stopped."
But quite aside from the heated arguments with pursuit about survival of bomber forces, there were some other quite different problems facing the bombardment instructors. How did one judge the proper size bomber force to send against various targets? The enemy pursuit force was, of course, a primary consideration. But how many bombs must be dropped to be reasonably sure of destroying the target? How many must be dropped to get one or any specific number of hits on a target? There was no method of estimating beyond judgment based on "experience." As a member of the 2nd Bombardment Group I had often wondered about this too. Experience was obviously the key, yet how does one go about getting the benefit of that "experience"? The process generally ran something like this. You picked out a grizzled veteran of World War I (who had probably flown a DH-4 and dropped his bombs by looking over the side) and asked him how many bombers it took to knock out a bridge of certain dimensions. He shifted his cap, looked off into a selected quadrant of the sky, seemed lost in thought for several minutes and said, "Two flights." Whereupon he shifted his cap to another angle and walked away.
This was comforting, and evoked a proper respect.
But if you asked another veteran the same question he was apt to go through the same process, picking another quadrant of the sky. He was likely to answer, "Two Squadrons" or even "Two Groups."
Ken tried to find a more systematic approach by adopting the "theory of probabilities" as taught in the firing manuals of the Field Artillery and Coast Artillery. He compiled some bombing statistics from the local bombing range, and obtained the average error, and then the "probable error," in range and deflection. From these he could determine the "single-shot probability" of hitting within a target of any size, and combine the range probability and the deflection probability to obtain the overall probability of obtaining a hit within the length and breadth of the target with one bomb drop.
But his next step was unfortunately too simplistic. If the "single-shot probability" of obtaining a hit within the area of a proposed target was, for instance, one in ten, he reasoned that one should drop ten bombs to be sure of one hit.
Of course, this wasn't so. In any measurement system involving probabilities, one never reaches certainty. The more bombs you drop, the greater becomes the likelihood of getting a hit, but you never reach absolute certainty. The problem requires judgment as to how certain you want to be. It will always be possible that all the bombs will miss, but the likelihood that they will all miss will diminish as you make more shots. Furthermore it is possible to compute the probability that one will get precisely one hit, or two hits, and so on. Actually, if the destruction of the target can be accomplished by one hit, then all the additional hits simply add insurance.
What one would like to know is the probability of getting at least one hit or at least two hits, and so on. This can be done. But there is no getting away from the basic judgment factor: How sure do you want to be that you will get at least the number of hits that you have calculated to be necessary to achieve destruction? Do you want a fifty-fifty chance of success? This is "normal expectancy." Or do you want a two to one chance-a probability of sixty-six percent? Or a higher probability still? As you go higher in your required probability of success, the number of independent bomb drops goes up, not directly, but geometrically. How sure is sure enough ?
I worked on the problem with Major Grandison Gardner, an exceptionally able Air Corps engineer and scientist who knew far more about the theory of probabilities than I did. We arranged to have all the bombing statistics in the Air Corps sent in for analysis, and we devised forms for reporting. We expanded the "range and deflection" systems of analysis and included a "circular error" system. That is to say, we measured all errors radially from the aiming point as a center. And we prepared rather elaborate "curves of probability" from which it was possible to read the probability of getting at least one, or two-or ten hits based on a given number of trials and on average accuracy. And we prepared other curves which told the number of bomb drops that would be necessary in order to attain 50 percent or 60 percent-or 90 percent-probability of getting at least one or two or x hits.
Hal George and Ken Walker took a keen interest in our effort and incorporated the method into the bombardment instruction. For school problem purposes, George decided to accept my recommendation and take a 90 percent probability of attaining the desired number of hits as a reasonable norm. The reasoning was along this line: by the time the bomber force had penetrated weather and enemy defenses to reach the target, it had "paid the price of admission." It had taken the great majority of the losses that would be sustained on the mission. That being the case, it was wiser to employ sufficient force to make target destruction almost certain, and avoid the need to carry out a second mission, which would incur those losses all over again.
It is very interesting to note that Olds, Walker and George did not put all their hopes on daylight bombardment. Two systems of night attack were emphasized and taught in detail.
Initially, George and Walker were hard pressed to handle the arguments of Chennault, the Chief of the pursuit section, for they were forced to talk initially in terms of the cumbersome, ill-armed bombers of the early 1930s, planes with a top speed of about 110 miles per hour. Their ceiling, bomb load, and defensive firepower were also sadly limited. Chennault argued, and World War I experience tended to back him up, that such aircraft were too vulnerable to carry out a successful bombing campaign, in the face of pursuit opposition.
A dramatic change occurred with the introduction of the high performance B-9, B-10, and B-12 bomber aircraft. Single wing with stressed skin construction, the bombers had a "modern" look. Moreover, with retractable landing gear that could be withdrawn into the engine nacelles, they were nearly as fast as the best fighters, which, because of their thin wings, were still married to the fixed landing gear. Thus, in one of the marvels of the technological age, the bomber suddenly vaulted past the fighter, giving the bomber a survivability that was undreamed of in World War I. The problem now became one of interception. A high flying bomber, cruising over 200 miles per hour, simply could not be intercepted by a fighter of about the same speed which must first spot the oncoming enemy from the ground, then fire up the engine and climb to altitude before it could attack. By that time, the bomber would be past. The only alternative was to keep fighters on constant airborne alert, or patrol, a system far too expensive and impractical.
Ken and Harold were convinced that the bombers could get to the target, fighting their way if they must; Claire was sure they could not.
One of the interesting aspects of Chennault's convictions was his insistent contention that pursuit was the offensive branch of aviation. He considered the tactical offensive operations of pursuit to be the basic purpose of the air arm. To be sure, pursuit sought out enemy fighters and bombers and observation planes in the air and attacked them. But the over-all purpose of these actions was essentially defensive. The purpose of those actions was to protect the homeland or friendly forces against enemy aviation and to prevent enemy air forces from interfering with the advance of the surface campaign. Chennault contended that since pursuit used offensive tactics in accomplishing this role, it was an offensive force and the most important branch of the air arm. George and Walker contended that bombardment was the real offensive element of the air force, and hence it was the basic air arm. They felt that even if pursuit achieved complete air superiority, by itself it could do little to affect the course of the war. Chennault showed no interest in helping the bomber mission by providing pursuit escort. And he believed to the depths of his being that the bombers could be defeated by fighters. He rigorously avoided the role of the accompanying escort fighter as part of an offensive air strike. He could cite experience in World War I which showed that pursuit which was tied to the escort role lost the initiative, and eventually the combat. Indeed, Claire was so imbued with the zeal for aggressive action that he could never accept the role of defending the bombers, or at least he would never acknowledge it. To him, pursuit was the offensive arm, even though he confined it to local fighting for local air superiority.
It is interesting to note that, some seven years later when Claire Chennault commanded the China Air Task Force and later the 14th Air Force, he made insistent demands for escort fighters and placed extravagant claims for bomber operations which were really far beyond the capabilities of the small forces he had in mind.
Claire Chennault had a charisma that was not unlike Bob Olds', but his convictions were very different. His personality and character were well summed up in the title he chose for his book, Way of a Fighter and "Fighter" had just one meaning to Claire. It meant fighter pilot. Following Caesar's classic division of his domain into parts, Claire divided his domain into parts also. But Claire's division was simpler. Instead of dividing into three parts, Claire divided into two: fighter pilots and everyone else.
Claire Chennault had also missed World War I, and he too felt the loss of combat experience. He had two characteristics which would have stood him in good stead as a pursuit pilot in World War I: he was extremely aggressive, and he had tremendous confidence in his own ability. That confidence rose above vanity. He simply believed in himself.
He was a superb pilot. His years as a flying instructor had honed his flying technique to a fine edge. And he was a painstaking student of tactics. He studied and practiced air fighting.
Claire organized and led a "Pursuit Demonstration Team" which served three purposes which were dear to him: as a means of testing out ideas for air fighting; as a demonstration team to illustrate his tactical concepts; and as a vehicle for spectacular showmanship in national aviation. The Team bore the name "The Men on the Flying Trapeze," and it attended the National Air Races and other aviation activities, where it represented the US Army Air Corps in competition with a team from the United States Navy.
Chennault was the leader.
Luke Williamson, a Reserve officer who had joined the Regular Army Air Corps as a Sergeant when his active duty Reserve tour as an officer expired, flew the number two position as the right wing man.
I was the left wing man, number three.
Billy McDonald, another ex-Reserve Lieutenant turned Sergeant, was the spare.
Claire's tactics were initially built around a three airplane fighting unit, using cross-over turns. With practice we became quite proficient in cross-over turns, but they were actually too rigid for real combat utility. As long as the turns were made sharply and precisely the maneuver was pretty to watch. But it soon developed that the two-plane unit was much more flexible and much more effective, so that the standard composition of the fighting unit became the flight of three two-plane elements, rather than two three-plane elements.
Some of Claire's ideas were pretty restrictive. He opposed closed canopies for cockpits. He contended that this made for too much comfort, and that with comfort came carelessness and drowsiness. He contended that fighter pilots should be kept uncomfortable, so that they would be constantly alert. He seemed rather to enjoy this discomfort.
When Chennault went to China and organized the American Volunteer Group, Williamson and McDonald went with him. The fighter tactics which were so successful for the AVG in its defensive role in China were developed at Maxwell.
Chennault contended that an effective ground reporting system, using observers and a telephone network, could be set up. This was, of course, quite practical provided there was a large and friendly land mass between the enemy bases and their targets, a situation simply not likely in many areas of the world. Thus in the inconclusive arguments at the Tactical School the edge passed to the bomber and so remained until the advent of radar -which, of course, was unanticipated in those days-suddenly opened the controversy again.
This is not to say that the bomber enthusiasts of the period felt they could get to their targets without opposition. Even Douhet, with his concept of attaining "command of the air" during the first hours of a war, recognized the fact that air to air opposition was inevitable. Some measure of self-protection, therefore, had to be found for the bombers. And the Americans thought they had found the answer in masses of aircraft with high altitude capability and plenty of defensive armament.
The fighter versus bomber controversy largely remained a moot issue after Chennault left the Air Corps Tactical School. It was recognized that fighter escort was inherently desirable, but no one could quite conceive how a small fighter could have the range of the bomber yet retain its combat maneuverability. Failure to see this issue through proved one of the Air Corps Tactical School's major shortcomings.
In 1934 Colonel John F. Curry, Commandant of the Air Corps Tactical School, reorganized the academic portion of the school into three principal academic departments: Air Tactics, Ground Tactics, and Basic and Special Instruction. Flying was a fourth department. The Air Force, Attack, Bombardment, Pursuit, and Observation Sections came under the Department of Air Tactics. The following year the departments were renamed the Department of Air Tactics and Strategy, Department of Ground Tactics, and Department of Command, Staff and Logistics.
Three very gifted officers successively held the position of Director of Air Tactics and Strategy in the 1930s. They were Harold L. George, Donald Wilson, and Muir Fairchild.
Harold George was the prophet of Air Power. He carried his audiences with him into new concepts of air warfare. And he brought order out of the quarrels among the Sections.
Don Wilson was the logician. He analyzed requirements and capabilities, and brought a cool clear reason to his conclusions, which were monuments of classic logic.
"Santy" Fairchild was the philosopher. He explored the field of national policy and the role of air power as an instrument for the furtherance of national objectives. He sought to distill the nature of military requirements from the muddied waters of national policy, and to point the role of air power in terms of national need.
The selection of Harold George as the first Director of the Department of Air Tactics was a natural but difficult choice for Colonel Curry to make. Harold George was not the senior Air Corps officer in the Department. In fact, he was only a captain at the time and the new position carried with it the temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Nevertheless, Colonel Curry did make the decision to give George the directorship and, to the everlasting credit of the officer directly eligible for the position, let it be said that he gave his enthusiastic and loyal support to Harold George.
Initially, George served both as Director of the Department of Air Tactics and Strategy and as Chief of the Air Force Section, with Captain Robert Webster as Instructor. In the fall of 1935, upon my graduation from the school, I succeeded Bob Webster as Air Force Instructor, and my classmate, First Lieutenant Laurence S. Kuter, joined the faculty as Bombardment Instructor.
Controversy between Air Corps and War Department Concepts
During the 1920s and early 1930s, a number of special "Boards" or "Commissions" met to evaluate aviation and examine its possible impact on the military and the nation as a whole. Almost without exception, these early "Boards" were conservative and, when it came to the military aspect of the problem, were partial to the Army's view of aviation as strictly a support weapon. The airmen themselves played little or no part in determining the recommendations of these boards.
By the mid 1930s, however, the developing doctrine at the Air Corps Tactical School, the lingering legacy of the Mitchell court-martial, and the appearance of the B-17 had brought the problem of air doctrine to the point where some confrontation between the air enthusiasts and the War Department was unavoidable. Thus, in 1934, the President of the United States entered the picture, directing Mr. Clark Howell of the Federal Aviation Commission to head a "Board" to evaluate civil and military aviation.
The War Department mobilized the talents of the General Staff to support its contention that the Air Corps should remain a part of the mobile army. With Brigadier General C. E. Kilbourne, Assistant Chief of Staff, War Plans Division, as spokesman, it stated unequivocally that the basic and primary mission of the Air Corps was the furtherance of the Army mission in land warfare.
The General Staff took on the task of answering all questions pertaining to military strategy, military requirements, and military employment. The Chief of the Corps, who was under the Army General Staff, was directed to prepare a paper on aviation training, aircraft procurement, and air mobilization. All participants in this exercise were directed to prepare their presentations in writing and to submit them to General Kilbourne for review and approval.
In his letter to the various participants, General Kilbourne laid out the ground rules.
It appears that there is still some misunderstanding of the freedom of witnesses to express personal opinion. No expression of opinion contrary to War Department policy should appear in the presentations of the War Department representatives, but it appears inevitable that, in questions by the Commission, personal views will be asked and must be given. The only requirement in case such opinion is at variance with the approved policy of the War Department is that the witness call attention to the fact, as well as to the fact that these policies have been formulated after consideration of testimony from all available sources. I must depend upon you to make this clear to witnesses.
The Commanding General GHQ Air Force, Major General Frank M. Andrews, and his Chief of Staff, Colonel Hugh Knerr, were not scheduled for appearance before the Commission, even though they were at Langley, Virginia, less than 130 miles away. Instead, the testimony pertaining to the GHQ Air Force was handled by Major General Oscar Westover, Assistant Chief of the Air Corps. The reason given was the non availability of funds for travel. Four others, including Arnold, were named as "possible witnesses," but again were not provided with travel funds.
Among the issues raised by the Commission, one was of particular interest, i.e., what are the advantages of an independent air force, or, failing that, a joint Army and Navy striking force?
The reply prepared by the General Staff on this issue established very firmly the Army's contention that aviation should be one of the combatant arms of the Army. "Army Aviation and Navy Aviation (should) continue [to be] integral parts of the Army and Navy, subject to the same system of control as are other elements of the two services," is the way the General Staff put it.
The Navy took an even more vigorous opposition to change, and added an element of derision to its logic in rebutting the concept of independent air operations or organization. The position of Naval aviation was described as follows:
Naval aviation exists as a part of the Navy and operates mainly as an arm of the Fleet . . . Any other arrangements than the present one of having the Naval Air Component an integral part of the Navy would be fatal to the efficiency of the Fleet and would jeopardize national security.
Fortunately the Howell Commission was not prepared to be spoon-fed by the War and Navy Departments. Its Chairman, Mr. Clark Howell, was publisher of the Atlanta Constitution and he had been interested in aviation matters for many years. He was aware that a group of instructors were analyzing the growth and potentials of military aviation at the Air Corps Tactical School and were expounding air concepts that were out of harmony with War and Navy Department doctrine. The Commission thus asked for several air strategists by name to appear as witnesses. They were: Major Donald Wilson, Captain Robert Olds, Captain Harold Lee George, Captain Robert Webster, and First Lieutenant Kenneth N. Walker. (None of these had been earlier listed as "possible witnesses.") George and Webster were then at Maxwell. Major Donald Wilson, Captain Robert Olds, and First Lieutenant Kenneth Walker were students at the Army Command and Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
The reaction of the War Department was significant. The Department contended that there were no funds to defray travel and living expenses of these offices. The Commission insisted, and the War Department notified the individuals of the Commission's interest in their testimony, adding that if they chose to respond, they were at liberty to do so. It would be at their own expense, however, with the time charged to leave. Furthermore, if they elected to appear before the Commission they must first report to General Kilbourne for instruction on War Department policy. Needless to say, to these junior officers, such instructions had a very ominous ring.
The Air Corps group got together by telephone and decided to accept the challenge. It began by accepting the role of military aviation in support of or in cooperation with the mobile Army, but decided to challenge the finality of this role.
Were there not other roles, beyond the scope of the mobile Army, which military aviation alone could perform? Were there strategic situations in which these other roles comprised the greatest contribution which military aviation could make to national victory or national defense? Were they sufficiently important and plausible to warrant organization of the military air component in a manner which would permit its employment in direct support of the ground forces, in cooperation with the ground and sea forces, or in the conduct of strategic air warfare beyond the scope or mission of the surface forces ?
The testimony prepared by the Air Corps group addressed itself to these questions. But because the roles of support and cooperation were generally accepted, they tended to ignore these features and to concentrate upon the third role: the conduct of strategic air warfare.
The Air Corps group sought to build a persuasive and sensible argument starting from considerations which they thought to be more basic than those on which the Army Field Service Regulations were founded.
Harold George led the way in attempting to show that the long-range airplane was not just another weapon to be used in the battle. Rather, strategic air warfare was a new and effective method of waging war. He began his testimony with a statement used by each of the Air Corps individual witnesses: "Before presenting my testimony I desire to state that the opinions which I give are my own and are not the official views of the War Department." Then he continued,. . . the object of war is now and always has been, the overcoming of the hostile will to resist. The defeat of the enemy's armed forces is not the object of war; the occupation of his territory is not the object of war. Each of these is merely a means to an end; and the end is overcoming his will to resist. When that will is broken down, when that will disintegrates, then capitulation follows.
Before the advent of air power there was no means whereby pressure could be applied directly to break down the hostile will without first defeating or containing the hostile surface forces.
. . . Air power as a new method for waging war can only be realized when its employment as a new method of conducting warfare is understood and when it is given an opportunity to develop itself primarily for the waging of independent warfare instead of as an auxiliary of the other armed forces.
I believe that our Navy requires Naval Aviation as an integral part of that organization. I believe, however, that all other aviation should be organized into an independent Air Force.
George proposed a War Department Organization which grouped the ground forces under a Chief of Staff, the Air Forces under a Chief of Air Staff, with common administrative services serving both. It was very similar to that which was finally approved in March of 1942, encompassing the Army Ground Forces, the Army Air Forces, and the Army Service Forces.
Don Wilson related air power to the defense of the United States but stressed preparedness and the importance of bombing enemy bases. The US is far more vulnerable to air invasion than to surface invasion, he insisted, and hence only an air force, properly equipped and trained, could counter such an air invasion by attacking enemy air bases and by fighting in the air. To his view, these were strategic operations, requiring an air force capable of independent action.In my opinion [he stated] we have no such air force now, nor will we have until its creation is definitely fixed as the responsibility of an agency whose primary purpose is that of providing for air defense for the nation. The nature of such an agency makes little difference provided it has representation co-equal with the Army and Navy on all questions concerning the national defense, before the President, the Bureau of the Budget, the Congress, and such joint boards as have been or may be created.
Needless to say, these men were not ignorant of the risks they were taking in offering such testimony. Remembering Billy Mitchell, some form of martyrdom was a distinct possibility. Certainly in going contrary to established War Department policy, in mouthing heresy from a public platform, as it were, they were putting their careers on the line. Moreover, they had defied the War Department before a Presidential Commission. On the other hand, courage, born of conviction, left them no other choice.
Prominent among those attending the Howell Commission was the Chief of the War Plans Division himself-Brigadier General Kilbourne. At the conclusion of the testimony by those junior air officers General Kilbourne rose and asked if he might make a statement. Mr. Howell replied that this portion of the Commission's investigation had been reserved for the Air Corps witnesses, and the decision to speak would rest with them.
The Air Corps officers went into a hurried conference. They didn't know what would be forthcoming, but resolved to meet the blast in the open. They signified their willingness.
General Kilbourne said that he wished to congratulate the witnesses. He said that he had learned much from what they had said, that they had presented a viewpoint and a concept which had not been clear before, and that the testimony would influence his own opinion on the subject of national defense.
It was a magnificent action. It surely was not easy for a general officer, charged with the strategic plans and requirements for national defense, to acknowledge instruction from a major, four captains, and a first lieutenant who had openly defied his carefully developed judgment. It spoke eloquently for his character and breadth of mind.
Although he was chief of the powerful War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff, the broadminded action of General Kilbourne did not remove the basic dichotomy that existed between the zealots of strategic air warfare and the old soldiers whose professional background boasted centuries of experience in ground warfare. The Field Service Regulations-the Bible of the Army-remained unchanged; the airmen returned to their stations with undampened ardor and continued to formulate doctrine and tactics for the optimum utilization of air power.
Basic Doctrine of Air Warfare
Perhaps the greatest contribution that Harold George and his associates made to the evolution of air warfare rests upon the attainment of a new perspective. They struggled against, and broke, the chain of mental inertia which binds all established organisms-and military organisms particular-to continuation of existing patterns. This inertia is a normal human characteristic and its peculiar strength in military matters stems largely from the fact that military organizations have few opportunities to test the validity of proposed changes-war is terribly expensive as a laboratory-and it also stems from the disastrous effects of miscalculation. If the proposed change should prove to be wrong, it can lead to national defeat at a cost that is simply incalculable. Hence, there has been a natural tendency among military men to perpetuate the concepts, tactics, and equipment that have proved reasonably satisfactory in the past, and to concentrate on improvement in the technical characteristics of existing weapons. "Higher, farther, faster." "Bigger, stronger, harder." "More guns, bigger guns, longer range."
It was not too difficult for the ardent airmen to break away from traditional restraints and stake out new claims. But to be persuasive in their arguments and claims was quite a different matter. Such persuasive arguments would have to be dispassionate and well reasoned. It required detachment from standard military clichés, and calm assessment of the nation's real military needs. And since these military needs stemmed from national aspirations and policies, it required inquiry into the nature of national policies and into the sources of national conflict. What was the nature of war? The object of war? What are the characteristics of modern military forces and what should be their relationship to national objectives? What should be the nature of military employment?
The School tackled these questions in that order.
The Nature of War
Harold George led off the series of lectures with one on the nature and objectives of war.
What is war, and why does it occur?
What is the object of war?
How has it been waged in the past, and why has it been waged in that manner?
Has modern civilization reduced or increased the vulnerability of nations?
Has science and invention provided a new method of waging war, or has the invention of the airplane merely added a new weapon for the support of the older methods of waging war?
Quoting from his lecture:
"As for the first question, 'What is war?', we may adopt the answer which most historians and military students have accepted, the one defined by von Clausewitz:
" 'War is the furtherance of national policy by other means.'
"It involves the use of violence when all the 'normal means' -diplomatic pressures, economic pressures, financial pressures, threats and demonstrations-have proved inadequate. It is, or should be, the last resort in furthering national policy.
" 'And what is national policy? It has been described as the strategy pursued by a nation to attain security, prosperity, and ethnic unity.'(General George credited Frank Simons, The Price of Peace, as the source of this definition.)
"Security is paramount. Self preservation is the strongest of man's instincts; it is the same with nations. In the final analysis all national policies rest upon the continued preservation of the nation. Over and above the basic quality of self preservation, progressive nations have aspirations for improved conditions of life, for greater prosperity. The urge for ethnic unity as a major impulse in formulation of national policy generally stems from past aggressions which have divided ethnic groups and have provided a political war cry for revenge or restitution.
"As for the question, 'What is the object of war?' Obviously, if war is a continuation, by violence, of a nation's policies, and if war is resorted to only when the peacetime machinery has failed to insure a continuance of those policies, then the purpose of war is to compel an adversary to accept such policies. In other words, the real object of war is to overcome the hostile will. When that is accomplished, the object of war has been attained. Therefore, the basic purpose, the fundamental object of war, is to force the will of one nation upon another nation; to overcome the hostile will.
"The next question is 'How has war been waged in the past?'
"In the past, governments which resorted to war directed their armies against the hostile nation in order to seize the vital areas upon which national life depended. The defender interposed his own army-or made a similar attack intended to seize the vital areas of the aggressor, and was in turn faced by an enemy army. In both cases, the enemy army must be defeated.
"Therefore, we find throughout the pages of military writings statements that the objective of a nation at war is the destruction on the field of battle of the enemy's main forces. Such a conclusion is a confusion of the mean with the end. The destruction of the military forces of the enemy is not now and never has been the objective of war; it has been merely a means to an end,-merely the removal of an obstacle which lay in the path of overcoming the will to resist.
"Has modern civilization reduced or increased the vulnerability of nations?
"The trend in modern nations has been toward specialization in industry and agriculture, which makes for large territories which are not self supporting. The city dweller is dependent upon other communities for nearly everything he consumes, and the consumer and producer are brought together only through the medium of intricate systems of modern transportation. In large cities many of the workers are not self-sufficient even for their means of locomotion between home and work. Nearly everyone is dependent upon systems of public works which provide elements essential to daily life: electric power, sources of fuel, and of water. All industry is dependent upon electric power.
"It appears that nations are susceptible to defeat by the interruption of this economic web. It is possible that the moral collapse brought about by the break-up of this closely knit web would be sufficient; but connected therewith is the industrial fabric which is absolutely essential for modern war.
"That nations today are more vulnerable than was the case a century ago, I believe, is obvious.
"Has science and invention provided a new method of waging war?
"We know that modern airplanes can carry bombs capable of tremendous destruction. We know that airplanes are being constructed with a range of thousands of miles. We know that one by one the limitations of aircraft are being removed. We know that mountains, oceans, and deserts provide no obstacle to travel through the air.
"There is one thing certain: Air power has given to the world a means whereby the heart of a nation can be attacked at once without first having to wage an exhausting war at that nation's frontiers.
"Whether air power can, by and of itself, accomplish the whole object of war is certainly an academic question; but that the air phase of a future war between major powers will be the decisive phase seems to be accepted as more and more plausible as each year passes."
Relationship of Armies, Navies, and Air Forces to National Policy and to each other.
Later I followed this exposition of "The Nature of War" by Harold George with a lecture of my own on "The Aim in War," in which I sought to relate the purpose of war to the requirements and characteristics of military forces.
I too turned back to von Clausewitz as a point of departure.
The lecture acknowledged the quotation used by Harold George:
War is the furtherance of national policy by other means;and added another-
Armed forces are instruments for the furtherance of national policy.
The Aim in War was defined as the establishment or restitution of peace under conditions which are favorable to the pursuit of national aspirations and the preservation of national security. Armed forces are the instruments which make possible the removal of threats and obstacles which cannot be otherwise dealt with, and the erection of a structure for favorable peace. Military forces do not build that structure; they only make possible an environment for the resumption of peace. National policy had been described as the efforts undertaken by a nation to attain security, prosperity, and ethnic unity. Prosperity involved freedom of access to world markets and resources and the right to travel and trade on a basis of equality. The lecture added a fourth motivation which can mold national policy: the urge to conquer. This latter factor was less susceptible to rational analysis than the others, but there were many instances in history-current as well as ancient-in which wars had been waged in furtherance of policies which stemmed from emotional rather than rational causes. Sometimes the motive had been the forcible imposition of religious concepts, sometimes the imposition of an unwelcome ideology, and sometimes it had apparently been simply a primal desire to conquer and dominate. A countervailing and opposite emotional force, directly opposing that primal "urge to conquer," seemed to be latent in American society. This countervailing force was the desire to support and defend the victims of aggression and injustice, without any direct benefit to America itself. This tendency had surfaced at various times in sufficient strength to affect our national policy.
All these factors were at work on the world scene, and the United States was affected in one way or another by each. We had a growing need for "security" at home. But this was not enough. If we intended to pursue "prosperity" as well we would need in addition the capability to support our rights and aspirations abroad. The precise relationship between prosperity and power was hard to establish. But to the extent that prosperity derived from international trade there seemed little doubt that prosperity rested to some degree upon a base of international power.
The "instruments" of Clausewitz's time were surface armies and navies. Now there were three dimensions to armed forces and a vast new area of application, creating new questions.
How, for example, should armies, navies, and air forces be apportioned and related in the furtherance of national policy? Each had powers and characteristics peculiar to itself. Each was capable of cooperating with the others. All had limitations, and together they must come within the limitation of the nation's needs and resources.
It was essential that these peculiar powers and limitations and characteristics be analyzed and related to national policy in terms of their capacity to achieve three general kinds of effect:
1. Acquisition of foreign territory;
2. Acquiescence on the part of hostile nations to our national needs and aspirations and to the recognition of our national rights.
3. Defense or preservation of our territorial integrity or that of our allies, and of our national will and courage to pursue our national policies.
If the end-purpose of the war was to be the acquisition of enemy territory and its incorporation into the zone of authority of the nation, then the primary military instrument would have to be the Army. Only the Army could occupy hostile territory and establish civil government over people who were to be permanently absorbed.
The Navy and the Air Force might help, but they could not achieve the final goal. The Navy might weaken an enemy which was dependent upon maritime commerce, and it might insure the transportation of our troops against enemy ships and submarines. But the primary role of the Navy would be that of a supporting force.
The Air Force might break the will to resist of the enemy people and destroy the means to support the enemy armed forces. But, like the Navy, it could not occupy and administer on a long term basis.
If the end-purpose was to force acquiescence, or submission to our desires, upon a hostile nation, without any intent to destroy the identity of the enemy nation or permanently to acquire its territory, then occupation by the Army became simply a means of applying compelling pressure against the enemy "will to resist" -and not an end in itself. Occupation would be one of several measures to compel compliance-and the Army would be one of several forces which could be chosen to be the primary instrument. The proper means to enforce acquiescence-and the primary force to be used-would depend upon the situation. The primary force could be the Army, the Navy or the Air Force. If the enemy nation's borders were contiguous and military conflict was not dependent upon crossing the sea, then the Navy could have little influence. Or if the enemy nation had a powerful air force, then neither the Army nor the Navy could expect to apply important pressure until that air force was defeated or neutralized.
The Air Force, on the other hand, could play the primary role in forcing acquiescence if its bases were within radius of action of the vital elements of the enemy state.
The Air Force might be used:
(1) To destroy the social-economic- industrial systems on which a major enemy state was dependent for its life as a modern great power-the intricate, sensitive, interrelated systems which supply power, fuel, transportation, communications, water, and food; Or,
(2) to destroy the industrial means of providing munitions and supplies which the enemy armed forces must have in order to fight; Or,
(3) to destroy the means by which finished munitions are delivered to the enemy troops; Or,
(4) to attack enemy armed forces directly-especially enemy air forces.
If there was no national intention permanently to acquire territory, or to impose political suzerainty, then air power might be the primary instrument for enforcing agreement with our policies, supported as needed by the army and the navy. Temporary occupation by the army pending establishment of new machinery for peace might be a necessary follow-on.
If the end-purpose of national policy was defense of our territory and that of our allies, and support of the national will in furtherance of our rights and aspirations, then again the roles of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force would depend upon circumstances. It would be necessary to prevent the enemy from attacking our home territory with his army, or with an expeditionary force, or by decisive air attack against our vital military, industrial, and political elements.
Since an enemy would need to neutralize the effectiveness of our Air Force before he could successfully pursue any of these strategies, the friendly air force could frustrate all of these threats if it could seriously inhibit the establishment and operation of enemy air bases and successfully combat such enemy air forces as did approach our vital areas. Enemy sea forces and expeditionary forces would be too vulnerable to air attack to approach our shores so long as our air forces were operational in strength.
The lecture concluded-perhaps not surprisingly-that, since it was unlikely that we would be motivated permanently to acquire foreign land, air forces were by nature especially adapted to meet the needs of the United States in furtherance of our national policies. It implied that optimum employment of that air power in any of its roles required centralized control and separate organization.
There was a third and quite important dictum of von Clausewitz directly related to the "furtherance of national policy" which found less favor with the school and was not emphasized.
When it came to the actual prosecution of military operations in war, von Clausewitz had offered an admonition about the role of the civilian politicians in such war operations. Clausewitz had said, with regard to participation by politicians, "It is wholly (their) business, and can only be (theirs) to determine what events and what shifts in the course of negotiations properly express the purpose of the war . . . It is a senseless proceeding to consult the soldiers concerning plans of war in such a way as to permit them to pass purely military judgments on what the ministers have to do; and even more senseless is the demand of theoreticians that the accumulated war material should simply be handed over to the field commander so that he can draw up a purely military plan for the war or for a campaign."
The School had no disagreement with the right and obligation of politicians to determine when the state should go to war, and what the objectives of the war and the peace should be. The lecture had made this clear. But the idea of frequent change in military objectives brought about by politicians would have brought misgivings and opposition.
In the lecture, as in all the school's deliberations, the military situation was based upon the assumption that two or more major powers, generally including the United States, were at war, and that the military victory might fall to either side. It followed that the friendly nation would need to apply its full resources with skill, perseverance, and utmost vigor. This would entail consistent adherence to over-all national objectives. If military objectives were frequently changed by political leaders it would introduce vacillation, and this would not only impair military effectiveness but would also inhibit the dedication with which the military forces fought for a military victory. It was felt that, when two sides were evenly endowed with military strength, the victory is forfeited by the side that vacillates. Since it never occurred to the School that defeat was an acceptable solution, there was a natural tendency to encourage vigorous efforts to attain the selected over-all national objective, and to discourage vacillation born of political flexibility or instability. The spectre of military defeat loomed large on the horizon of military strategists. Once the war had started, the military people placed military victory-or, in the case of military desperation, the avoidance of defeat- in top priority.
Military thinking on the actual conduct of war operations was more in tune with the viewpoint of Helmuth von Moltke:
"Politics uses war for the attainment of its ends; it operates decisively at the beginning and the end (of the conflict), of course in such manner that it refrains from increasing its demands during the war's duration or from being satisfied with an inadequate success-Strategy can only direct its efforts toward the highest goal which the means available make attainable. In this way, it aids politics best, working only for its objectives, but in operations independent of it."
The School did not go quite so far as to say that in war operations are independent of politics, but it was inclined to apply the "Principle of the Objective"-and its implied corollary, the "Principle of Perseverance" and wholehearted dedication of purpose-to the national scene as well as the field of military operations.
The School assumed that the politicians and statesmen who sanctioned the resort to war would have the foresight to prescribe the dimensions of peace, and that the military leaders would be expected to apply the instruments with skill and effectiveness toward providing the foundations for that peace.
Basic Tenets of Air Strategy
The structure, principles, and doctrine of air power developed at the Air Corps Tactical School rested upon three basic tenets:
1. Modern great powers are dependent upon mechanization and industrialization both for the conduct of war and for the preservation of great power status. Thus, destruction of carefully selected elements of the industrial system could paralyze war-supporting industry and vitiate the capability to wage effective warfare.
2. Bombs were available or could be built which if properly placed would destroy any man-made structure. Such bombs could be delivered from the air with adequate accuracy.
3. In the current relationship between the powers of the bomber and the defending fighter, it was considered that offensive air forces could use speed, initiative, deception, altitude, defensive formations and gunfire to penetrate air defenses and reach vital interior targets without incurring intolerable losses. If, however, enemy air defenses seemed likely to induce unacceptable losses, the enemy fighter forces would have to be weakened by air attack and air combat, as a preliminary or "intermediate" step.
In the School concept, the basic functions of American air power fell within five categories:
1. Strategic offensive air warfare, including (1) the disruption of the enemy capability to wage war and the breakdown of the enemy will to resist. This would be achieved by selection and destruction of the industrial systems which produced the means to wage war and to sustain the life of a modern, industrialized nation. (2) the destruction of the enemy air forces if they constituted a threat to our own nation, to our military forces, or to the success of our air offensive.
2. Air support of ground forces in the attainment of their immediate goals, including the provision of local air superiority.
3. Air support of sea forces or, in the absence of such sea forces, performance of certain functions of sea power.
4. National air defense against enemy air forces threatening our own sources of national power; and
5. Air operations against surface invasions threatening our shores.
The School proceeded to develop and describe principles and doctrines for the employment and composition of air forces in these roles.
Principles of Employment
The School addressed itself, not only to the conceptual aspects of Air Warfare, but also to the Principles of Employment. Harold George, in his lecture on The Principles of War, accepted the thesis that the basic principles of armed conflict are fundamentally the same, whether the fighting is on land, on the sea, or in and from the air. But the application and interpretation of those principles would vary with the situation and with the characteristics of the armed forces.
Although the Principles of War have been listed in different manner by various strategists in the course of military history, the Army Field Service Regulation listed nine of them by name.
The Principles of:
Economy of Force
George contended that the introduction of the airplane had had an unusually profound effect upon the application of these Principles. Whereas in the past they had been applied to the strategies of military commanders "in the field," the introduction of Air Power had expanded the "field" to include the entire nation. The entire nation, with all the elements which supported the state and the war as well as those which actually waged it, was in the combat zone of the bomber. Hence, in looking at the Principles of War, he contended that the perspective should be that of the national leadership.
He pointed out that the Principles often had to be considered in groups, and sometimes all together, and that sometimes one Principle seemed to work in opposition to the others. Judgment was needed in reaching decision.
Following is a bare-bones description of the Principles of War, using key phrases from George's lecture to indicate the nature of each:
The Objective. The most critical of the Principles. It describes the end-purpose to be sought. All action should be related to that end-purpose. In strategic air warfare, application of the Principle of the Objective seeks to answer the question, "What targets in the enemy's social and economic structure, if destroyed or severely crippled, would contribute most to overcoming the enemy's will to resist, of his capability to survive and continue to fight?"
The Offensive. Only offensive action brings effective pressure to bear upon the enemy's will to resist. The defense may be essential to survival, but it is unlikely to solve military problems. "Once a nation has become involved in war, it must engage in an unrelenting offensive and maintain that offensive until its objective has been realized."
Mass. The maximum resources available and needed should be applied 'in mass' to attain the purposes chosen as the Objective. In strategic air warfare the mass of the attack must be devoted to this purpose. The number of targets must be constrained within the capacity of the mass to destroy; the mass must be conserved and concentrated on those targets. The temptation to divert portions of the mass to the destruction of other targets which are appealing at the moment must be resisted. "The maximum proportion of the forces available . . . should be employed to attain the selected objectives."
Economy of Force. "The other side of the coin of Mass." Absolute minimum forces should be diverted from the Mass seeking the principal objective in order to accomplish other tasks, and those other tasks should be essential to the success of the military operation. "No unnecessary detachment-no diversion of effort- should be permitted at the expense of Mass."
Security. Security of the nation, of the forces, and of their bases is necessary, not only to avoid defeat, but also to prosecute the offensive. Without adequate security at home there is inadequate support for the offensive against the enemy.
Surprise. "Everything, pleasant or terrible, causes us the more pleasure or fear in proportion as we have least expected it." The effect of surprise can be quickly dissipated by use of inadequate force. To be really effective, surprise should accompany massive action.
Movement. In strategic air warfare within any Theater, concentration of mass at the target is achieved by the inherent flexibility of the airplane, rather than by movement of troops and bases. The speed and range of the airplane permit rapid transfer of mass between Theaters.
Simplicity. A simple plan, well executed, is often better than a complicated plan which is in danger of poor execution, even if the latter is designed to produce greater results.
Cooperation. Cooperation among coordinate commands is very difficult to achieve because of the great distances over which strategic air forces must operate and the great influence of time in high-speed operations. To the extent possible, the air commander must seek to attain cooperation by careful planning and direction and establishment of air discipline and standard doctrine. Beyond that he must rely upon the willingness and desire of separate units to supplement each other.
AIR FORCE OBJECTIVES
Major Donald Wilson, when he was Chief of the Air Force Section, gave a memorable lecture on "Air Force Objectives."
Don Wilson was one of the major architects of Air Corps Tactical School doctrine and development. He and Harold George made a fine team. Where Harold George was dynamic, zealous, enthusiastic -charismatic on the lecture platform, Don was quiet, a little pontifical, calm, slow spoken, and immensely persuasive. He seemed constantly to be understating his case with the result that his listeners often appeared to be running before him in reaching the conclusions which he propounded with such calm logic. Actually his performance was a masterpiece in persuasiveness. Although he was deriving and stating very advanced ideas, he seemed to be reaching those propositions through a flow of restrained logic and objectivity which carried great conviction.
In this lecture, he pointed out that the hostile air force is a natural first objective of a friendly air force but, unlike ground forces, it is not necessary always to choose the opposing similar force as the primary objective. He passed up the enemy air force as a first objective with comments along this line: As in other forms of warfare, it "depends on the situation." If the enemy air force is so powerful as to threaten the security of one's own nation and one's own bases of operation, then it is risky to proceed without attempting to defeat that air force. Or if the enemy air defenses are strong, it may be necessary to concentrate upon them simply to improve the effectiveness of one's own air offensive against other prime targets. "Complete and permanent air victory will be difficult, and may be impossible, to attain. As a result, an air force commander may, at times, be justified in not waiting for complete defeat of the hostile air force before attacking other territorial objectives. But if the hostile air force is strong enough to be a serious threat, and that was our hypothesis, then our deviation must be very temporary, or the consequences are apt to be disastrous."
"Douhet has said, 'The art of air strategy consists mainly in choosing the objectives.'
"Air force objectives may be classified as to type as follows: the hostile air force; other objectives on land (we say 'other' because the air force is found on land, also); and objectives on the sea. Today we will literally jump into the middle of things by selecting other objectives on land, reserving discussion of the hostile air force and sea objectives for a later conference.
"Objectives on land are classified as political, strategical, and tactical.
"The attack of political objectives is worthy of serious thought. Probably our national policy would forbid such a course except as a retaliatory measure. However, judging from expressions of European opinions, we very likely would be the recipients of such attacks, in the event of war, so we will discuss the subject briefly.
"The destruction of the enemy's will to fight is the aim of a nation at war. When this will is broken, he is in that condition where he prefers to give up the cause for which he went to war, rather than to remain in the condition to which he has been reduced. Douhet calls this will to fight 'national resistance' and regards it as the sovereign force.
"Suggestion of air attacks against the civilian population raises a storm of protest, very naturally. General J. F. C. Fuller, British Army, an opponent of such attacks, expressed grave doubt whether any nation would risk bombing its enemies' industrial centers and cities lest it be charged with being an international criminal.
"Dr. Hall, of Harvard, in discussing attack on industrial centers, states in part: the progress of technology has for the first time made these attacks feasible at the very moment when the interlocking of industries, the mechanization of war, and the increased dependence of armies on their home industrial organizations have given such attacks a greatly increased military importance.
"Eliminating political objectives, and operations against the hostile air force, most air force operations will be against strategical objectives. Intelligent action against such objectives requires a knowledge of the whole enemy economic system. The aim of the air force may be said to be the disorganization of the enemy's resources for military production, and his means for securing the arrival at the front of men, material, and supplies. It must be remembered that disorganization, with its consequent paralysis, rather than complete destruction, is the ultimate aim of the air force. (The hostile air force must be put out of the way as a means to this end.) Disorganization and paralysis, rather than complete destruction, is the aim because it is more economical, and is equally effective.
"Wing Commander A.G.R. Garrod, writing in the January, 1930 RAF Quarterly, states: This implies a knowledge of the channels of supply and distribution of all commodities required for the upkeep of the forces, and of the location of the warehouses where such articles are stored. And when all the data have been collected, a sound appreciation (British for estimate of the situation) must be formed regarding the particular sphere of the enemy's national activities whose disorganization will lead to the most profitable results. Here is a whole new field of study for the air strategist, a study which brings him into close association with the international economist, a field that lies quite apart from the normal collection of intelligence regarding the mere strength, disposition, and fighting efficiency of the enemy's armed forces."
Strategic Air Options
The Department of Air Tactics and Strategy considered that Strategic Air Warfare embraced five optional categories:
I. a. Direct Attack of enemy armed forces, including: air forces, on the ground and in the air; concentrations of troops; naval and maritime elements; logistic facilities in the combat zone; and
b. Local air defense of friendly military forces and bases.
II. a. Indirect air attack of enemy forces , including destruction of: munitions factories of all kinds; major interior depots and supply concentrations; steel production and nonferrous metal production; machine tool factories; military fuel sources, including oil producing fields oil refineries synthetic petroleum facilities oil transportation fuel storage; military explosive and ammunitions sources, sources of raw materials; systems supporting military production, including: electric power generating stations, transformer and switching stations, dams and penstocks, fuel and transfer facilities; transportation systems which provide integration of military industrial resources; transportation systems which move finished supplies to the armed forces; and
b. Air defense of friendly military support facilities.
III. Indirect air attack of the economic and social structure of the enemy state, including destruction or neutralization of electric power systems; communication systems; basic economic industrial production, water supply systems; industrial and economic transportation systems; food handling systems; food production systems; food preservation and distribution systems; and management control systems.
IV. Direct air attack of enemy social centers, including cities and factory worker dwelling areas.
V. Strategic air defense of one's own urban, industrial and base areas.
Within the constraints imposed upon them, the airmen were thinking more and more of sustained, high altitude bombing of selected industrial targets by day. But that was only the beginning, the expression of an abstract concept. It was not sensible to proceed in a vacuum. For planning purposes, it was necessary to consider who were the potential enemies, and where in their industrial and social structure lay the weak links. How vulnerable were these targets? What measures would the enemy probably take to protect them? How far were they from our air bases? What new air bases would have to be acquired?
The problem was a vastly complicated one for it supposed knowledge about a nation which that nation naturally tried to hide. Much of the value of the bombing offensive, should there be one, would necessarily rest on intelligence data, and the conclusions the planners gleaned from it. Actually these specific questions were beyond the competence of the School. Strategic air intelligence concerning major world powers would require an organization and a competence of considerable scope and complexity.
III Strategic Air Intelligence and the International Situation
In 1940, General Arnold had a conversation with Major Truman Smith, a former U. S. Army Assistant Military Attaché in Berlin, who had recently returned from Germany. The latter described at some length the development of the German Air Force. When General Arnold asked why he didn't get such information, which was obviously important to the Air Corps, Major Smith replied, "I don't know. I've turned my reports in at G-2 of the War Department."
General Arnold, who was then chief of the Air Corps, took up the matter of receiving intelligence reports from abroad with the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army. The Deputy Chief explained that the distribution list was limited to the War Department General Staff and that Arnold was not on the list. Arnold, he said, was at liberty to come and read the reports in the G-2 offices, but he was not at liberty to take them out.
General Arnold's reaction was understandably explosive and he resolved to do something about it. He took the matter directly to the Chief of Staff, General Malin Craig. He also sought permission to establish his own "Assistant Military Attaché's for Air" at U.S. Embassies throughout the world. When this permission was granted, Colonel Ira Eaker, Arnold's Executive Officer, called me in along with Major Thomas D. White. We were told that General Arnold wanted to establish an Air Intelligence system, and for us to get on with it.
After discussing the nature of the function to be performed, the kind of people we would need, and the structure of the organization, Tommy White and I divided the Strategic Air Intelligence Section (as we called it) into two broad areas. As chief of the Section, Tommy undertook the establishment of the system of Assistant Military Attachés for Air, and the collection of information through them. He selected the attachés, brought them in to Washington for orientation and instruction, and sent them abroad. He also arranged the channels for communication, which provided that G-2 of the War Department General Staff should have copies of all pertinent reports.
I undertook the area of strategic air intelligence and analysis. I set up three sub-sections, or branches one devoted to foreign air forces, including size, composition, equipment, disposition, tactical doctrine, and proficiency; one concerned with airports and air bases throughout the world, together with maps and weather data; and one which went into the economic-industrial-social analysis of major foreign powers, culminating in analysis and description of the vulnerable systems and, finally, target selection and target folders.
This latter activity involved a completely new venture. G-2 of the War Department gave us no help whatsoever. On the contrary, we ran into vigorous opposition to the collection and analysis of such information on the grounds that it did not relate to proper military intelligence. We had to proceed on our, pioneering in one of the most difficult, critical, and challenging ventures in the field of intelligence. We knew that correct collection and analysis was vital to the success of the strategic air effort. Miscalculations of any significant magnitude, on the other hand, could completely discredit the concept.
In view of the world situation, the Strategic Air Intelligence Section naturally concentrated on the Axis powers. It was slow and tedious work, but ultimately we made a lot of headway with Germany and Italy. Japan, however, was a different story. The Japanese had established and maintained a curtain of secrecy that we found absolutely impenetrable. There were not even any recent maps available.
The rising concern in the United States about Hitler's Germany was of great value to us in our undertakings. It made available a number of gifted men who were willing to enter the Service and contribute their special talents. Also, it made available modest sums of money which could be used to hire civilian experts.
One of the most valuable of these civilians-turned-military was Major Malcolm Moss. He had had broad experience in international business and had traveled extensively. We were also fortunate in enlisting the services of a Ph.D. in industrial economics and an expert in oil.
Our initial inquiries into the industrial-economic structure of Hitler's Germany focused attention on the following: electric power, including sources of fuel and distribution systems; steel, including sources of raw material; petroleum products, including synthetic processes; the aircraft industry, including aluminum production and engine plants; and transportation, the most prominent components being the railway, canal and highway networks. We also included in our evaluations the nonferrous metal supply, machine tool production, and food processing and distribution.
Malcolm Moss made a particularly valuable suggestion with regard to the electric power system in Germany. He knew that the electric power generating and distribution system of Germany was relatively new, and that it had been built with capital borrowed largely from the United States. He also knew that American banks do not lend large sums of money for capital equipment without making careful investigations of the proposed structures. He suggested that we inquire of the great international banks, particularly in New York, as to the availability of drawings and specifications of German electric plants and systems.
He tapped a gold mine.
Using these sources, together with scientific journals and trade magazines, it was possible to put together a comprehensive target study on the German electric power system and the electric distribution system. It was even possible to prepare target folders, including aiming points and bomb sizes.
We were also able to make considerable progress on petroleum and synthetic oil plants, partially through the same sources, partially through the oil industries, and partially through individuals. We were fortunate in that our civilian oil expert had worked in Germany, in the Rumanian fields at Ploesti, and in the Middle East. It was through his knowledge and analysis that we recognized the extreme importance and vulnerability of the German synthetic oil plants and the related importance of the Ploesti refineries. Thus, we were able to prepare target folders, aiming points, and bomb sizes for these target systems also. In addition, we made an analysis of the German steel industry and its sources of raw materials. We were less successful in our analysis of German transportation, partly because of the extent of the rail and canal system. But enough was discovered to place the transportation system high on the priority list of desired targets.
Later, before AWPD-1 was drawn up, I had a chance to go to England as an observer. The express purpose of my visit was to explore British Intelligence in response to a generous invitation by the RAF, and bring home what I could. At the same time, however, I took a hard look at possible air base construction sites in England since by this time British and American military leaders had met in Washington in what became known as the ABC conversations. We knew that if we should become involved in the war we would probably be allied with Britain against Germany and that the bomber offensive, if we ever launched one, would probably be from bases in Britain.
My relations with the RAF and the Air Ministry were extremely gratifying. I spent much of my time with Group Captain Sharp, and I was also literally welcomed into the inner chamber of RAF Intelligence. I had brought along digests of our own intelligence and was made more comfortable by the discovery that we had much to offer. On balance, we were better informed than the British on German electric power and on German petroleum and synthetic products. The RAF was better informed on German aircraft and engine production, the German Air Force, and German transportation.
At the end of my visit I found myself happily loaded down with priceless gifts of intelligence. The burden was formidable. There was nearly a ton of it. Most of it was in the form of "target folders" rather than analysis of target systems but it was very valuable and was most gratefully received. I wondered how to get it back to the United States, since it was "classified" for the most part "Secret." In the end I was able to have it shipped back by air in an American bomber.
I was particularly impressed by the fact that the basic philosophies evolved independently by the RAF and the U.S. Army Air Corps were remarkably similar. The very fact that the British had laboriously and painstakingly compiled target folders of German industrial systems and had prepared detailed target studies based on analysis of those systems indicated that they too had sought the collapse of German industry through the destruction of carefully selected targets. Even the target systems were singularly parallel The primary difference lay in British war-experience with their operational bombers. They had found that their bombers were not sufficiently well armed and armored to permit them to carry out daylight precision bombing attacks in the face of the vigorous opposition of German fighters. They then turned to night operations and, since they lacked the means to hit small targets with precision at night, they struck larger area targets.
U.S. observers had naturally watched the Battle of Britain with keen interest. They sensed, as did the British, that the fate of the nation hung in the balance. They sought with intense interest to determine what lessons were to be learned from the first modern air war. All the elements were there: problems of target selection; the attempt, through varying objectives, to gain air supremacy; the countermeasures; the development of tactics for combat against fighters as well as bombers; the use of escort fighters, etc. But for all its ferocity, the Battle of Britain could not duplicate the sort of air battle that the American air planners had in mind. As a result concrete "lessons" simply did not materialize. True, both German and British bombers proved vulnerable to fighters, but then they were medium bombers, poorly armed and flying at relatively low altitude. Also, as expected, the British fighters went for the bombers, which were doing the most damage on ground targets, while the German fighters sought out their British counterparts. It was a sort of three way fight, such as we would experience over Germany later on. But the experience seemed inconclusive at the moment. American long range bombers were much better armed and they would be flying at high altitude. Still, they would be, for the most part, without escort, and their defense would rest on tight formations and concentrated firepower.
The American observers, in full knowledge of the British and German experience in the Battle of Britain, continued to place their faith in the heavily armed Flying Fortress and the Liberator, flying in great masses and in close defensive formations. Such force, in adequate mass and properly employed, they reasoned, would permit the precision daylight attacks so essential to American strategic air doctrine.
It was while I was preparing to return to the United States with my precious intelligence data that Hitler launched his massive assault in Russia. And it was at this time, although it was naturally unknown to me, that President Roosevelt was setting in motion his requests for estimates of what it would take to defeat our potential enemies. Buried in his request was the seed that would vitally affect the development of strategic bombardment, Harold George's War Plans Division, and the careers of many officers who had accepted strategic bombardment as a matter of faith.
Immediately upon my return to Washington, I was transferred from the Strategic Intelligence Section of A-2 to the new Air War Plans Division. Thus I again came under Colonel George and Ken Walker. Until the Air War Plans Division was enlarged, the task of organizing our efforts to meet the broad assignment of developing "overall plans for the control of the activities of the Army Air Forces" fell upon the three of us.
It was, in this crucial state of affairs, a formidable assignment. It embraced such questions as size, composition, equipment, disposition, and organization of the air forces. And these in turn invoked the need to adopt the optimum concept for the wartime employment of these forces. Moreover, it was axiomatic that the employment must make its maximum contribution in support of overall national policy.
At the time, National Policy was very difficult to define. Nowhere was it clearly and neatly described. It was apparent that the President viewed the possibility of a Nazi victory with deep concern. For a period of half a year after the fall of France, Britain had stood alone. With the German attack on Russia, Britain gained a breathing spell, but it seemed likely that the Soviets would be defeated. If so, the whole might of the victorious Wehrmacht would then be turned against Britain. The prospect was ominous to say the least. The President seemed to favor American intervention before the collapse of Britain should make it a lost venture.
The country as a whole was nowhere near such a mood. Most Americans seemed to cling to the hope that we could save the remnants of freedom and democracy in Europe by providing material aid to Britain. They were even willing to extend such aid to Soviet Russia in the belief that a surviving Communist regime was a much lesser threat than a triumphant Nazi Germany. They were willing to extend our naval screen far out into the Atlantic and to prepare for active defense of the entire Western Hemisphere. But they were not ready to take the step of active participation in the war in Europe. The President had had to retreat from semi-belligerent policies on several occasions when it was clear that the bulk of the American people were not willing to go that far.
Our Far Eastern policies caused little public concern. The American people simply could not believe that Japan would challenge the United States in open warfare.
Until American policy firmed considerably, the best we could do for guidance was to determine, in broad terms, the general characteristics of the force requirements which America seemed most likely to need. For those characteristics, we naturally turned back to lengthy discussions we had had on the subject back at the Air Corps Tactical School. We had reasoned that armed forces, as instruments for the furtherance of national policy, might be called upon to perform in three ways. One was the active acquisition of foreign territory. This could be discarded as a policy of the United States since the country had long since repudiated imperialism. Another was the coercion of enemy nations whose policies were in conflict with our own, or whose actions threatened our security or freedom. Such action on our part would probably involve operations abroad. Finally, there was the preservation of our national existence at home or in the Western Hemisphere against some ominous threat, such as invasion by sea, or massive attack from the air.
In 1941, there seemed almost no possibility of American aggrandizement through aggressive military operations. Permanent acquisition of foreign territory would involve primary reliance on land armies, but the requirement seemed remote. Taking some sort of temporary military action abroad in support of our national interests seemed increasingly probable, however, in which case primary reliance might fall upon the air forces, or it might fall upon land armies, with naval and air forces operating in support roles. This possibility, i.e., that aggressive action by forces unfriendly to the United States might compel us to take some action to protect our national interests and to force a halt upon the aggressor, seemed a distinct possibility and received careful consideration. Air power might play the dominant role here. The third possibility, national and hemisphere defense, would require primary reliance upon air power for air defense, and might call for primary reliance upon air power to repel invasion.
Three dictators, all hostile to the United States, were driving toward domination of important parts of the world, and threatened completely to upset the balance of power and with it world peace. Hitler and Mussolini had completed the conquest of Europe and the Balkans and were verging on the conquest of Western Russia and North Africa. England might either fall or be forced into a humiliating accommodation. On the other side of the world the Japanese war lords were tearing Asia and Southeast Asia apart. Meanwhile, a fourth dictator, Stalin, though hardly a friend of America, was a most valuable asset in resisting Hitler. It seemed likely, however, that he too would be overwhelmed.
If, in mid-1941, there were no firm national policies on which to structure our national defense, there were at least certain strategic guidelines. In September 1940, the Tripartite Pact had brought Japan openly into the Axis camp. At about the same time, the unexpected collapse of France, followed by the epic Battle of Britain, had opened the eyes of many political and most military leaders to the possibility of a world dominated by Hitler in the West and Japan in the East. As a result, the President decided to offer material aid from the "arsenal of democracy" to those fighting the Axis. Also, after consultation with the Secretaries of War, Navy and State, the President decided that some formal military staff conversations with the British were in order. The result was a series of conversations in Washington at the end of January 1941, conferences known to history as ABC-1.
The British personnel attending were Rear Admiral R. M. Bellairs and Rear Admiral J. H. Danchwerts, representing the Royal Navy; Major General E. L. Morris, representing the British Army and Air Vice Marshal John C. Slessor, representing the Royal Air Force. The United States personnel attending were Rear Admiral R. L. Ghormley, Rear Admiral Richard R. Turner, Chief of the Navy War Plans Division, Captain A. G. Kirk and Captain DeWitt Ramsey, U.S. Navy, and Colonel O. T. Pfeiffer, USMC, representing the U.S. Navy; and Major General S. D. Embick, Brigadier General Sherman Miles, Assistant Chief of Staff G-2, and Colonel L. T. Gerow, U.S. Army and Colonel J. T. McNarney, U.S. Army Air Corps, of the War Plans Division of the General Staff, representing the Army. Although there were "rated" air officers of the United States present, there was no official representative of United States air power corresponding in position to the representative of the Royal Air Force.
On an informal basis the Plans Division and Intelligence Section of the Information Division of the Office of Chief of Air Corps cooperated very closely with Air Vice Marshal John Slessor and members of his staff, and with Colonel McNarney. One of the most vital and fruitful developments of this informal relationship was a detailed exploration of the potential air base capacity of the United Kingdom, a potential found to be several times greater than air planners in the United States had anticipated.
Our informal plans for possible deployment of U.S. Army Air Forces to England had been predicated upon and limited by an analysis of existing airports. After making allowance for RAF requirements for air bases, it appeared that the remainder would drastically restrict American air force deployment. Group Captain A. C. H. "Bobby" Sharp, RAF, who was in Washington on logistic matters at this time, produced a survey of suitable sites in England on which air bases could be built. It completely revolutionized our ideas of the potential capacity for accommodation of U.S. air units. This discovery had an immense effect upon the dimensions of the air offensive that might be sustained from Britain and the potential scope of American air participation. The results that were potentially obtainable from such an air offensive became a major aspect of combined offensive strategy.
The ABC-1 conferences reached agreements and conclusions which were submitted to the President and to the Prime Minister in March of 1941. The results of these conversations on the subsequent strategic developments of the war were profound. In consequence the U.S. Air Force owes an immense debt to Sir John Slessor and to Colonel Joseph McNarney. The salient features of the conversations, which were predicated upon the contingency that the United States might be compelled to participate in the war, included the following:
(1) The Atlantic and European area is considered to be the decisive theater; hence, the primary effort will be exerted there.
(2) Offensive measures in the European area will include a sustained air offensive against German military power, supplemented by air offensives against other regions under enemy control which contribute to that power.
(3) Italy will be eliminated at an early time.
(4) Raids and minor offensives will be conducted initially against the Continent.
(5) Support of all neutrals and belligerents who oppose the Axis will be provided.
(6) Forces will be built up for an eventual land offensive.
(7) Positions from which the offensive could be launched will be captured.
This agreement was incorporated into the War Plans being prepared by the War and Navy Departments, and on May 14th the Joint Army-Navy Board approved the War Plan known as RAINBOW No. 5. It was subsequently approved by the Secretaries of War and the Navy.
The Air War Plans Division found itself in solid accord with the ABC conversations and with RAINBOW No. 5, the overall war plan which envisioned Great Britain and the United States standing against Germany, Italy and Japan.
Careful planning was now more essential than ever and under the leadership of Colonel George we discussed a number of important subjects in detail. As specified by George, these subjects were:
(a) What were the underlying causes that brought about the war in September, 1939, between Germany, England, and France, and under what circumstances might the United States become involved in the conflict?
(b) To what extent did the surrender of France affect the vulnerability of Great Britain?
(c) What could military planners reasonably conclude from the defeat of the German Air Force in its bombardment operations against Great Britain?
(d) To what extent did the Tripartite Pact, which brought Japan into the Axis camp, threaten the security of the United States and how should it affect our strategic planning?
(e) To what extent should the conclusions and recommendations of the ABC-1 conversations influence the organization, size and composition, as well as the strategic employment of the military forces of the United States, if this nation should become involved in war with the Axis Powers, to wit, Germany, Japan, and Italy?
(f) How would the outcome of the German invasion of Russia affect her prosecution of the war with Great Britain as well as the ability of the United States critically to influence the final determination of that conflict?
We were in deep discussion of these and other problems when, on the morning of August 4, 1941, the intercom in Hal George's office started buzzing. Hal pressed the answer button and said, "George speaking." The answer was, "Get up to my office immediately." We knew it was General Arnold. Hal said, "Yes, sir," but the connection had already been broken. The Boss didn't need an acknowledgment or affirmation to his orders.
We suspected that this summons was important. We knew that the War Department War Plans Division had been wrestling with an urgent request from the President.
IV Production Requirements to Defeat our Potential Enemies
On July 9th, some two weeks after Hitler had launched his attack on Russia and the day before Harold George had arrived in Washington to set up the Air War Pans Division, President Roosevelt had sent a letter to the Secretaries of War and the Navy asking them to prepare an estimate of "overall production requirements required to defeat our potential enemies." The request apparently was intended to produce an overall basis for war-production rather than an estimate based on strategic operations.
In his request to the Secretaries of War and the Navy, the President had indicated the need for a prompt reply. This was essential, he indicated, in order to allow for systematic planning of the vast expansion of war industry which would be needed to meet the demands of lend-lease and of U.S. military growth.
The problem confronting the War and Navy Departments was staggering. The President, in effect, was requesting a mobilization plan based upon new and unprecedented requirements, with an adequate answer expected in a matter of weeks.
The Joint Army-Navy Board recognized that any useful answer concerning such logistic requirements must reflect: (1) the national purposes and objectives which might be sought in the event of war; (2) the nature of the military operations to be undertaken; (3) the theaters of major effort; and (4) the timing of the war. Unfortunately, the Joint Board never received high level guidance on these vital questions. The Board therefore agreed to use the general framework of ABC-1 and RAINBOW 5 as the strategic armature, and further agreed that each Department should compute its own requirements within that framework.
The Army's task fell upon the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff. General Marshall authorized WPD to call upon any agency of the War Department for assistance. The general approach adopted by the Army was that the President's request was more or less a request for a statement of armament requirements upon which national mobilization might be based.
With this requirement in mind, the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff did not attempt to prepare a detailed operational plan. Rather, it sought to determine our own requirements by comparison with the forces and armaments of our "potential enemies," and to calculate the number of divisions of various types that might be required and the equipment and supplies that should go with them. In keeping with RAINBOW 5, our "potential enemies" was construed to mean Germany, Italy, and Japan. And, since an alliance with Britain was presumed, the capabilities and requirements of British divisions were estimated also.
Finally, the WPD tried to assess the total industrial and manpower mobilization potential of the nation, to make allowance for the requirements of the Navy as well as the Army Air Corps, and to adjust all requirements to come within maximum national potential. As General Albert Wedemeyer notes, from the standpoint of the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff, the resulting "Victory Program'' was neither a strategic nor a tactical plan, although it was based upon elements of each. The Victory Program called for an expeditionary force of approximately five million, and an over-all total of almost eight and a half million in uniform in ground, air*, and reserve units. Considering the "division slice" to be about 30,000 men, and the five million men in the expeditionary force to include about four million for the Army, this would provide for about 133 divisions.
To provide the logistics which would maintain five million men in the European Theater of Operations would require about seven million tons of shipping. This would mean a fleet of a thousand vessels. The Maritime Commission estimated that it would take two years to build up a merchant fleet to those requirements. Hence, for all practical purposes, WPD had a period of two years in which to generate and train the combat and service forces for the Army and the Army Air Forces contemplated in the program.
This method of calculation, based upon the size of enemy ground forces, probably was a sensible approach for estimation of our own surface force requirements. No doubt some WPD planners expected that the air requirements would also be determined by the size of the enemy air forces, along with the size of our own ground forces which they were to support. But there were two major difficulties which the air planners would encounter in any such approach to estimation of Air requirements. In the first place, it was not feasible to determine the size and composition of our air forces by comparing them to those of the enemy. The history of air warfare was so short that it provided no reliable factors for determining the ratio of opposing bomber forces. Furthermore, bombers don't fight bombers. They fight primarily through destruction of strategic targets on the ground. And there is a very indefinite relationship in the ratio of opposing pursuit forces. Second, and perhaps most fundamental of all, the basic problem facing the air planners pertained to the selection of the Air Objective.
It was an accepted axiom that the principal objective of an Army was to defeat the enemy Army, and the Army presumed that the principal objective of an Air Force was to neutralize the enemy air forces and thus assist the Army in defeating the enemy Army.
The official War Department doctrine --Training Regulation 440-l5--in effect at the time stated:
Air operations, like any other operations, are governed by the same fundamental principles that have governed warfare in the past. Air Forces constitute a highly mobile and powerful element which conducts the air operations required for carrying out the Army Mission.
What air power would be like in the forthcoming conflict was a foregone conclusion if the War Plans Division of the Army were to write the air portion of the report to the President. This was something to be feared. The Air Force people continued to feel that ground support was just one of several possible uses of air power. They stressed quite a different objective for strategic air warfare which they felt represented the optimum use of air power. Thus, while the Army might have been satisfied with a plane for plane ratio, the air enthusiasts realized that the size of the required bomber forces depended entirely upon the overall strategic purpose to be sought, the size, nature and location of target systems, the rate of repair or recovery of such target systems, the efficiency of the defending air opposition, and the location of air bases. It is quite possible that the War Plans Division of the General Staff would have had no serious opposition to this contention, but the purpose behind the "sustained air offensive" would certainly have been too hot for the WPD, if the issue had been raised at all. Fortunately it was not. Moreover, the industrial and economic analysis and target system selections were quite beyond the capacity of the General Staff to judge.
The War Department's War Plans Division suggested that some members of the Air War Plans Division be detailed to assist WPD in the preparation of the Air Annex. The idea was that the Air Corps requirements would be determined by using the same general approach adopted by the Army. The resultant document would be affixed to the Army requirement as an "Air Annex." The airmen opposed this approach.
It was no secret that General Arnold was a disciple of General "Billy" Mitchell and an ardent advocate of air power. In the present situation he saw an opportunity for which "Billy" Mitchell and the believers in his philosophy had been struggling since the conclusion of World War I--the privilege of drafting the specifications around which to create American air power. He definitely did not want that privilege and responsibility to be given to a group of ground-oriented Army officers--no matter how dedicated they might be to their country's security.
We knew that General Gerow of WPD had approached General Arnold for assistance in preparing the Air Annex.
The Army's task was monumental in terms of its own ground force requirements and, as a result, the War Plans Division was making little progress with strategic air requirements. Quite naturally the Air Corps personnel in that Division had started to prepare the Army's aviation portion and it was quite natural that they should seek informal assistance from the Air Staff. Lieutenant Colonel Bissell, an Air Corps officer assigned to WPD, had taken an active lead in this. But when he proposed to Harold George that the Air War Plans Division should provide assistance under WPD leadership, George raised strong personal objections to this approach. He contended that the Air Staff should prepare the air portion of the reply, not simply provide a pool of personnel to assist the War Plans Division of the General Staff. He insisted that the Air War Plans Division had been set up to meet just such requirements-and said as much when he explained his position to General Spaatz.
When Hal George was summoned to General Arnold's office, Kenneth Walker and I wondered if George's stand was the subject of the conversation. Within ten minutes he was back, out of breath and full of excitement.
Hal reported that General Arnold had responded to General Gerow's request by proposing that the Air Staff take on responsibility for the preparation of the entire air requirements-thereby enabling General Gerow and his War Plans Division to devote their undivided attention to the preparation of the requirements of the massive ground forces. General Gerow had accepted General Arnold's position. He asked only that General Arnold emphasize to his planners the necessity of remaining within the guidelines of RAINBOW 5 and the provisions of the recently completed ABC-1 conversations.
We realized instinctively that a major milestone had been reached. Suddenly, without anywhere near the opposition we expected, we found ourselves able to plan our own future. How well we would plan and what success we would have in getting that plan past the Army General Staff remained a matter of uncertainty, but for the moment one of our fondest dreams had been realized. And the credit belonged primarily to General Arnold and Colonel George, both of whom had the vision to recognize the opportunity, and the foresight and courage to grasp it.
George, in particular, should be accorded high praise. It was his Division that would do the work, and it was his insistence that his Division could do that work well that helped convince Spaatz and Arnold to accept the challenge. George, while recognizing the importance of the decision, is more inclined to give the credit to Arnold who, after all, had to make the final decision. As George later put it:
This decision and action of General Arnold has not been given proper recognition in our historical records. If he had answered General Gerow's request for aid by sending several of his officers for temporary duty to General Gerow's War Plans Division, no individual, historian or participant would have been able to determine the effect of such decision on the development and employment of United States aviation during World War II. Furthermore, the basis for development of U.S. Air Power would have been as an auxiliary of surface warfare.
After Hal told Ken and me General Arnold's conversation with General Gerow, we all wondered what General Gerow's thoughts might have been had he known that the Air War Plans Division was only twenty-one days old and that the Air War Plans Group consisted of three relatively junior officers. We concluded, perhaps naively, that his reaction to General Arnold's offer of assistance would have been the same. He was, after all, confronted with such a monumental task that he would have welcomed any assistance which provided for reasonable, dedicated, and intelligent solutions to an important part of his problem.
Meanwhile, all this maneuvering with the General Staff had taken time. The Secretary of War was demanding a prompt reply to the President's request. By 4 August, twenty-three days had already passed. On that late date, the Air War Plans Division of the Air Staff had been given responsibility for preparation of the "Air Annex" for the conduct of a major air war-with a deadline which seemed impossible to meet.
Despite the deadline, we were greatly stimulated by the realization that we had been charged by General Arnold with the preparation of the air part of the requirements program stipulated in the President's letter to the Secretary of War. It was while we were discussing the approach we should make in solving the problem that Ken Walker remarked that General Spaatz, should ask Brigadier General Twaddle, Assistant Chief of Staff G-3 (Operations) of the War Department General Staff, to assign Major L. S. Kuter to the Air War Plans Division until the task was completed. General Twaddle knew of the President's letter to the Secretary of War and he had also been advised of General Arnold's offer to General Gerow to be responsible for a very important part of the War Department's problem. He agreed to Kuter's temporary assignment.
Larry Kuter was, of course, an important asset. He had been an outstanding instructor in Bombardment at the Air Corps Tactical School and "spoke the language" as it were. Further, like the rest of us, Larry Kuter was a strong advocate of the doctrines and philosophies of General Mitchell and he was thoroughly familiar with the principles of air warfare as developed at the Air Corps Tactical School.
With Kuter added, the team set about the task of providing a reasonable and rational solution to the problem with which we were charged. That solution would have to be acceptable not only to General Arnold but also to the War Department General Staff and the Secretary of War. It would also have to create the kind of air power that would be required for victory if this nation should find itself involved in a war with Germany, Japan and Italy.
Development of AWPD-1
Guided only by the general provisions of ABC-1 and RAINBOW 5, the Air War Plans Division, now officially twenty-four days old, undertook the preparation of an air war plan on an unprecedented scale. The guidance provided was very broad indeed, and it indicated the prosecution of four principal air tasks: (1) the provision of air forces in the defense of the Western Hemisphere; (2) the prosecution of an unremitting air offensive against Germany and lands occupied by German forces, including air preparation for a final invasion of the continent if that should be necessary; (3) the provision of strategic and close support air operations for such a land invasion; and (4) the provision of air defense and air support for strategic defensive operations elsewhere. Within this guidance the latitude was unlimited.
There were no commonly acceptable formulae for such things as: (1) the method to be employed in the air offensive; (2) the specific objectives to be sought; (3) the targets to be attacked; (4) the size and composition of the air forces; or (5) the timing of the various major strategic operations, including the mobilization date, the outbreak of war, the build-up of all forces, and the final surface offensive against the continent. The best we could do was develop our own formulae, based on our critical experience at the Air Corps Tactical School, our belief in the potential of strategic bombardment, and our own experience. Perhaps no other military operation in all of history presented such an awesome task without providing a usable past experience and at least a few lessons of history.
The Air War Plans Division had a very brief period in which to complete and present its plan. But if the task was staggering, so too was the opportunity. In a very real way, we sensed that the future of American air power depended, in large part, on what we accomplished in the next few weeks.
Harold George undertook direction of the project himself. He naturally received assistance from a number of officers in the Air War Plans Division and in the Intelligence Division of the Air Staff as well as the Training and Material Divisions of the Office Chief of Air Corps. But the "Task Force" which undertook the detailed preparation, assembly, and presentation of the plan, was composed of only four officers. They were:
Colonel Harold L. George, Chief of the Air War Plans Division and ex-director of the Department of Air Tactics and Strategy of the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field;
Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth N. Walker, Chief of the War Plans Group of the Air War Plans Division and ex-Instructor in Bombardment at the ACTS at Maxwell;
Major Laurence S. Kuter, on loan from G-3 of the General Staff and ex-instructor in Bombardment at Maxwell; and
Myself, Major Haywood S. Hansell, Jr., Chief of the European Branch of the War Plans Group and ex-Instructor in Air Force at Maxwell.
Strategic Foundations for Planning
When we had recovered from our initial elation over General Arnold's arrangement for the Air Staff to prepare the Air Annex, we faced a very sobering problem. From then on, until we completed our task, we were at our desks from early morning until late at night. We worked as a team, determining each line of action. One of us would then draft the conclusions we had jointly reached and work out the details of his assigned task. Following the guidelines established in ABC-1, we broke down the strategic problem into the following divisions:
First:To conduct air operations in defense of the Western Hemisphere.
Second:To prosecute as soon as possible, after the commencement of war, an "unremitting and sustained air offensive against Germany."
Third:To support a strategic defense in the Pacific Theater.
Fourth:To provide air support for the invasion of the European Continent if that should be necessary, and to continue to conduct strategic air operations thereafter against the foundations of German military power and the German state until its collapse.
Fifth:After victory over Germany, to concentrate maximum air power for a strategic air offensive against the home islands of Japan.
Even as we labored long hours over our perplexing problems, an air of tension and anxiety was augmented by a rapidly deteriorating situation in Europe. The Germans were now assisting the Italians in North Africa and Britain's "jugular vein" through the Mediterranean to India and the Pacific was being threatened. All of French North Africa had come under the authority of the German dominated puppet government at Vichy under Marshal Pétain. The most awesome events, however, were taking place in Russia. Using the tactics of space and gap, with deep armor penetrations and encirclement, Germany was cutting into the heart of Russia. If Operation Barbarossa, as it was called, maintained its momentum, and there was no reason in the autumn of 1941 to expect otherwise, the collapse of Russia was a distinct possibility. That would leave Germany free to control and exploit the "heartland" of Europe and, given time, to build an empire of such fearful proportions that Hitler might well fulfill his ambition for world domination.
Time was of utmost importance. Yet a political democracy in peacetime is not likely to recognize international danger until it becomes blatantly apparent. In the United States military preparedness has inevitably followed the danger rather than preceded it. Delay had already reached the danger point; it might already be too late.
The air planners were aware of the progress being made by the War Plans Division of the General Staff. We accepted the estimates of the War Plans Division that it would take about two years to raise, equip, train, and move the necessary Army ground forces to bases overseas, preparatory to invasion of France. It would take a few months longer to prepare the forces and facilities for the invasion. Conditions of weather, daylight, and tides would require that the invasion, if it should be launched, should be undertaken in the late spring, summer or early fall.
This meant that the air war should have attained its prime objectives of defeating the Luftwaffe and attaining air superiority, and seriously undermining the war-making foundations of Germany, by the time the ground forces were ready to move. More specifically, the German Air Force would have to be defeated and the German war-making capacity would have to be crippled, if not destroyed, within two and a half years after "M" Day. Since the War Department General Staff expected that "M" Day would come in the spring of 1942, "D" Day for the invasion would probably come in the summer or fall of 1944.
We estimated that strategic air forces could be created, moved overseas, welded into a striking force through combat experience, and be ready for mass employment in about a year and a half, or the late fall of 1943. Following this there would be a period of six months of undiluted air attack at full strength to create the conditions under which invasion was made feasible, easy, or unnecessary. If invasion were to take place against strong opposition, a brief period of concentrated air effort in direct preparation for the invasion would have to be carried out to weaken opposition on the ground. In short, the air offensive force would have to reach full strength, develop its own tactical doctrine, test its practical limits, and be fully prepared for six months of massive air warfare, by fall of 1943.
The Strategic Basis of AWPD-1
Harold George had to make two strategic decisions before the Plan could be formalized. One pertained to the optimum employment of air forces and particularly the prosecution of strategic air warfare against the European Axis powers. The other pertained to the submission of a plan which was sufficiently persuasive to be acceptable to the War Department. After all, the official War Department Doctrine did not recognize the potential decisiveness of strategic air warfare. On the contrary, the Army was insistent on the overriding importance of air support for ground operations. Moreover, the Army was undeniably in the seat of authority regardless of what the Air Corps might think. Air Corps officers were still a part of the United States Army and could be expected to behave as such. Thus, if the plan drawn up by Harold George and his staff were rejected by the War Department and the Secretary of War, there was not the ghost of a chance that the President would ever hear of it.
In essence, Harold George faced the overriding question which dominated all subsequent thought, "How far can we go in a plan for air warfare and still have some chance that it will be seriously considered by the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Secretary of War?"
Definition of the basic strategic concept to be adopted in the strategic air plan for a "sustained air offensive against Germany" was, properly, our first order, of business.
The fundamental questions at this stage of planning were:
(1) Should the plan be based upon a victory over Germany primarily through strategic air warfare (with the Army in the role of an occupying force) to be followed by similar air strategy against Japan? or
(2) Should the plan be based upon (a) an initial massive strategic air offensive against Axis Europe in the hope that it would be decisive, but fully recognizing and preparing for the contingency of surface invasion of the continent if that should be necessary, while making preparations during this phase for a subsequent air offensive against Japan and (b) a later massive air offensive against Japan, to be backed up by combined operations by air-ground-sea forces if necessary? or
(3) Should the plan be based upon a victory through combined operations, without any prospect of decisive strategic air warfare, involving joint air-land invasion and offensives in Europe and provision for air-sea-land invasion and offensives in the Pacific at a later time?
In response to these questions, a number of factors had to be considered. In the fist place, it was not feasible for the initial operations to be a combination of surface and air campaigns in the European/Atlantic area. The Army would require about two and a half years after Mobilization Day to create, equip, train and transport the necessary ground forces. The Air Forces, on the other hand, could move much more quickly due to the fact that they were already well along in mobilization as a result of President Roosevelt's decision to expand American aviation. Also, industry had been geared up to fill the extensive orders placed for American aircraft by the French and British, as well as the orders for Lend-Lease.
Secondly, a successful air war to defeat the German Air Force would be necessary before any important joint land-air operations could be undertaken, even if forces had been ready for such a venture. An assumption made by the Germans prior to the Battle of Britain and underscored a hundred times by the battle itself was the conclusion that no amphibious operations should even be considered without at least temporary control of the air.
Thirdly, as long as Britain held out, there were base areas available at once for an air offensive against Germany. If Britain were to succumb, those vital bases would be lost. It was thus imperative that the air offensive be launched as soon as possible.
In our planning, we operated on the assumption that since the German State was supporting one of the greatest military operations of all time, it was under great internal stress. The German military forces were engaged in a massive war against Russia. The German economy and industry, presumably drawn taut by these demands, were at their maximum vulnerability to disruption from the air. If we waited, and Russia collapsed, this vulnerability would be vastly reduced. Of course, if that happened, long-range air warfare would be the only feasible method of waging war at all for a very long time, even though the target systems would be less sensitive to attack from the air.
Meanwhile we assumed that since grand strategy contemplated an initial defensive attitude in the Pacific, the main burden in that theater would fall on the U.S. Fleet. There was no assurance that the fighting in the Pacific would begin at the same time as our involvement in Europe. If it did not, then the primary task of the U.S. Fleet initially was to contain the Japanese Fleet and keep open the sea lanes to the Philippines. If the war in the Pacific did break out simultaneously with that in the European Theater, the task of the U.S. Fleet in the Pacific might be enlarged to include the defeat of the Japanese Fleet.
In no case did the pre-Pearl Harbor grand strategy contemplate the strategic offensive against Japan until victory in Europe was assured. Only then would the long trek across the Pacific to offensive bases against Japan be a primary thrust. Agreements based on ABC-1 and reinforced at the national level had already established the European Axis Powers as the primary enemy in point of time. But there was no established agreement on the relative weight to be assigned the air contribution or the strategic objectives of the air offensive.
As mentioned earlier, the basic strategic concept for the contribution of the Air Forces had to be considered in terms of what the War Department would accept. In our case, feasibility and acceptability were not synonymous. Moreover, what seemed perfectly feasible to us would, no doubt, encounter strong opposition, not only at WPD where the immediate authority lay, but at higher levels as well, where policy and grand strategy were determined. Even assuming that we could get it by the Army General Staff, it would have to survive consideration by the Joint Army-Navy Board. Only then in the normal course of events, could it go before the Secretaries of War and Navy, to say nothing of the President.
The road ahead promised to be a stormy one. Feasibility of effective and sustained air attack as the key to victory could not be demonstrated by past experience. Victory through air power alone was pure theory. It had never been accomplished and it could hardly be expected that the United States would voluntarily pin its future existence exclusively on an untried theory.
Harold George thought that a reasonable case could be made for an all-out strategic Air Warfare offensive provided it was backed up by preparation for a later combined air-land-sea invasion and subsequent air and land offensives. If the air offensive succeeded in bringing about capitulation, so much the better. The degree to which the strategic forces approached their goal of critically weakening the enemy state clearly would affect the degree to which invasion and subsequent offensive operations would be made feasible and their cost in terms of casualties reduced. In any event, a preliminary and successful air offensive was necessary before a surface invasion could be undertaken. There could be no debate about this issue.
After some discussion, Harold George made the decision to adopt this approach: A strategic air offensive to debilitate the German war machine and topple the German state if possible, and to prepare for support of an invasion. It did not eliminate the possibility of achieving victory through strategic air warfare alone, or limit the effort to attain that objective. It placed prime emphasis on air power, including strategic bombardment. But it also acknowledged that an invasion might be necessary and an air offensive was essential in preparation for such an invasion and subsequent combined operations.
Based on this decision, the work of preparation of the plan itself was divided into tasks. Individuals were assigned team leadership in each, with provision for united team effort in the final result.
The following schedule of planning tasks in preparation of a plan to accomplish the objective, within the time limit, was set up. As indicated earlier, ABC-1 and RAINBOW 5 called for several primary air tasks, which the Air War Plans Group defined in terms of strategic air warfare. The first was by far the most challenging:
1. First Air Task. To conduct a sustained and unremitting Air Offensive against Germany and Italy to destroy their will and capability to continue the war and to make an invasion either unnecessary or feasible without excessive cost; to determine:
a. Target systems in Germany whose destruction would accomplish the objective, and to establish them in order of desirability.
b. Targets within target systems, and estimate the effect of target destruction in terms of contribution toward the objective.
c. Size bombs and number of hits required for target destruction.
d. Repetition rate to keep targets "out."
e. Influence of weather on bombing efficiency.
f. Influence of enemy fighter opposition on bombing.
g. Influence of enemy anti-aircraft artillery opposition on bombing.
h. The number of bomb drops required, based on probabilities and taking into consideration the influence of weather and opposition on bombing accuracy, in order to attain the required degree and permanence of destruction.
i. Selection of target systems, in order of priority.
2. Second Air Task. To provide air operations in defense of the Western Hemisphere; to determine
b. Bases available and required.
c. Types of forces.
d. Size of forces.
3. Third Air Task. To provide air operations in Pacific defense; to determine the nature of our operations and size of our forces needed, in conjunction with the Army and Navy, for defense of:
d. Other areas.
4. Fourth Air Task. To provide for the close and direct air support of the surface forces in the invasion of the Continent and for major land campaigns thereafter. Large tactical air forces would be required for this task, when the Army was ready for invasion.
5. Fifth Air Task: Calculation of Total Air Requirements. For the accomplishment of all these tasks, it was necessary to determine:
a. Total combat air forces and types of combat aircraft required, and the time schedule for performance of each task, with operational priorities for various types of aircraft.
b. Combat losses and replacement requirements.
c. Training requirements.
d. Production capacities and priorities.
e. Total aircraft requirements, adjusted to come within potential production capacity, and recommendations as to:
(1) Priorities by types,
(2) Priorities by time.
Although Harold George assigned primary responsibilities for team leadership of these tasks to members of the team, there was constant interplay among the members of the team, and constant reaction to decisions and estimates of production capabilities. A great deal depended on the time at which we entered the war. For instance, we wanted to build the air offensive around B-l7 and B-24 bombers based in England, supplemented by the B-29 and the B-32 types based in Ireland and in the vicinity of Cairo, Egypt. In addition, we called for production of the B-36, to be based in the Western Hemisphere in the event that bases in England might be lost or become untenable. Production schedules clearly indicated, however, that the B-29, B-32, and B-36 would not be available in quantity for several years. Hence we made the decision to rest the offensive primarily on the B-l7 and B-24 in the initial stage of the war, but to place great emphasis on the B-29 and B-36, and to bring them in as they became available. We provided for deployment to England of such medium bombers as were already available, pending availability of B-l7s and B-24s.
Meanwhile, we struggled with competition for resources among the strategic objectives of Hemisphere Defense, Pacific Defense, and European Air Offense.
It was Harold George who, as overall Team Leader and Chief, resolved these conflicting demands and monitored the progress of the plan. To him belongs most of the credit for the result, AWPD-1.
The final Plan estimated that initial operations could be undertaken with available forces within a year of our entry into the war. These initial operations could be valuable in terms of experience, but little effect was expected of them. The primary target systems were selected on the basis of an air offensive embracing the entire strategic air force, after it had reached full strength and lasting for six months. Moreover, the offensive was planned to be completed before the invasion, if an invasion should prove necessary. Target schedule for the beginning of the main air offensive was taken as one year and nine months after the outbreak of war. One year was for the production, training, and organization of the force. Nine months were reserved for deployment overseas, build up, and initial combat experience of the force. By that time, we anticipated there should be a total bomber force of nearly 4,000 bombers in place. A force of this massive proportion, we felt, could reach targets all over Germany and in six months bring much of her vital industry to ruin. This long range capability, as an essential feature of the offensive, meant that the entire geographical area of Germany had to be analyzed in the search for appropriate targets.
This, as the section on air intelligence indicated earlier, presented an extremely difficult problem. Many factors formed vital links in Germany's industrial and military might. The overriding question was, which were the most vital links? And among these, which were the most vulnerable to air attack? And from among that category, which would be most difficult to replace, or to "harden" by dispersal or by going underground? Each link in the chain had its own interconnecting links and the search had to be for the one or more keys to the entire structure. The transportation network, for example, consisted of railways, canals and roadways, all of which were vulnerable. But if railways proved the best target of the three, what should be hit: marshaling yards? maintenance and repair facilities? tunnels? bridges? Obviously, the destruction of a key bridge would do more to disrupt transportation than an assault on marshaling yards where trains could be rerouted with ease while the yards were being repaired. But to hit small targets such as tunnels and bridges, relatively low altitude attack was necessary to ensure accuracy, and with low altitude came a proportionate increase in losses. Moreover, the target or targets selected not only had to be put out of action, they had to be kept out of action. In theory, this might seem an easy task calling for periodic raids. In point of fact, a highly resourceful enemy such as the Germans found it possible to design effective countermoves. Key areas, for example, could be skillfully defended, dummy factories could be built, camouflage and smoke screens used, air to air defenses strengthened, repair methods improved and refined, and very vital points hardened by putting them underground. During the planning phase, we sensed this inevitable interplay of challenge and response and, as later events proved, we somewhat overestimated our challenge and underestimated their response.
Since the principal objective of AWPD-1, as we saw it, would be the waging of an unremitting air offensive against the war-supporting structures of Germany, we devoted our study to a determination of the main targets in the economic and industrial structure of the German nation, the crippling of which would contribute most to destroying that nation's ability to wage war.
After intensive analysis, comparison, and discussion, our primary air objectives were concluded to be:
(1) the disruption of the German electric power system,
(2) the disruption of the German transportation system (railroads, highways and canals) and
(3) the disruption of the German oil and petroleum system (primarily the synthetic oil production complex and the oil sources of Ploesti in Rumania).
At the same time, we recognized what we called an "intermediate objective," i.e., the need to overcome the German fighter defenses in order to permit optimum effectiveness of the strategic air offensive.
These choices would have to be justified and defended, mostly before individuals who were unsympathetic to the proposals and had no idea what the problem of targeting entailed. For this reason, the arguments supporting the choices and the results expected or hoped for had to be prepared in some depth.
1. Electric Power
An in-depth study indicated that the great majority of industry in Germany, civil as well as military, had its roots in electric power. The second largest system in the world, the German power network was vital not only to the German war effort but also to civil life. Indeed, an impressive number of German industries, such as aircraft manufacture, aluminum production, aircraft engine production, the armament industry, and the shipbuilding industry, as well as communications, refrigeration, etc., were dependent on electric power.
Electrical power as a target presented some major problems. The dams, as British efforts later proved, were vulnerable to large bombs but were particularly difficult to reach. Also, the power stations and relay stations were relatively small, calling for an unusually high level of precision if a small attacking force were used or, failing that, a much larger force operating from high altitude, with attendant decrease in accuracy. However, the generating equipment itself was vulnerable to large bombs and was extremely difficult to replace. The number of hits to be expected was estimated from the laws of probability, based on bombing experience. The number of bombs to be dropped to attain a very high expectation of target destruction was also computed. Some vital parts, such as the turbines and generators in the power stations and the large transformers were irreplaceable for many months. If large bombs were dropped, these vital elements could not be adequately protected even by blast walls. Some of the more critical power lines could be run underground, but power lines themselves were not really vulnerable to high altitude bombing anyway. Finally, the importance of the system would not be lost to the Germans who would mass their anti-aircraft and fighter defenses around such vital targets. All of these factors were considered. The conclusion remained the same, however. The Germans' electrical power system was a key to so much of the German industrial machine and social structure that despite the difficulties, it should be a primary target.
2. The German Transportation System
In preparing for war, Germany had deliberately dispersed many critical and sensitive components of its industry. However, this had increased the problem facing the German transportation system. An estimate of the several segments of the transportation system indicated that the railroads carried roughly 72 percent of the tonnage, the waterways 25 percent, and motor transport the remaining three percent.
We had reason to believe that the German rail system was working at near capacity. Moreover, it was dependent upon a highly complex system of marshaling yards, with the great majority of the traffic concentrated in the Ruhr Basin. There seemed much to be gained by sustained air assaults on such heavy centers of industry where disruption of the traffic and damage to the factories could, perhaps, pay double dividends.
The inland waterways (rivers and canals) were of great importance to the German transportation system. Traffic on these waterways was relatively slow, but nonetheless formed a vital part of the transportation network. Moreover, the waterways seemed particularly vulnerable. We estimated that the destruction of fourteen carefully chosen targets would neutralize the effectiveness of the east-west canal system of Germany. These fourteen targets consisted of three ship elevators, nine locks, and the inland harbors at Mannheim and Duisburg.
3. The German Oil and Petroleum System
The German Air Force, the German Navy, the German Army and German industry were all heavily dependent upon oil and petroleum products. The amount of oil in storage in Germany at the beginning of the war with England and France was not known. We believed, however, that the current German production and importation of oil--and the production of synthetic oil and gasoline--would be sufficient to meet the current war requirements. We estimated that about 60 percent of aviation gasoline came from synthetic production in Germany proper, with 80 percent of this production coming from 27 plants. These plants were located from 400 to 1,000 miles from air bases in England. About 20 percent of aviation gasoline was believed to come from Rumania primarily by water transportation up the Danube to Germany.
As with electric power and transportation, oil and petroleum plants were particularly attractive targets. Our assumption that such a large proportion of Germany's armed forces was mechanized or motorized underscored this point. Also, oil refineries seemed unusually vulnerable. They were complex structures of many interdependent parts, they were easily identifiable, and they were generally in open areas, away from densely populated towns and cities. Storage tanks could be protected with blast walls but the sprawling network of pipes and cracking chambers appeared as complex and as interrelated as the working of a watch.
Neutralizing the German Air Force
To achieve the principal objectives listed above, it was obvious that the German Air Force must be prevented from expanding its strength, and its present operational capabilities must be materially reduced, if not destroyed. In the opinion of those of us engaged in the preparation of AWPD-1, there was no doubt that as long as the German Air Force had freedom to operate in the air over Europe, the maximum effectiveness of the bombardment components of the Royal Air Force and the Air Forces of the United States would be very seriously reduced, if indeed the principal objectives could be attained at all. If not, the overall strategy of the Allied military would also be seriously affected since a successful landing by the Allied armies on the Continent of Europe and the subsequent defeat of the German Army could not be expected.
The defeat of the Luftwaffe, or at least the neutralization of the fighter force, listed in AWPD-l as an "intermediate objective," promised to be a most difficult task indeed. From the Battle of Britain we knew that we could expect the German fighter pilots to be aggressive and imaginative, and to meet our challenge with an appropriate response, including, no doubt, challenges of their own. Having already largely precluded fighter against fighter battles by selecting some targets deep in the heart of Germany, far beyond the range of available escorting fighters, we had to count on our own ability to hold defensive positions and use massed supporting firepower to keep the Luftwaffe, not from taking some toll, which was unavoidable, but from shooting down sufficient bombers to seriously hamper the mission. We knew that defensive firepower in the air would not suffice to defeat the Luftwaffe, and that we would have to take up the offensive against German bases, aircraft manufacturing and assembly plants, and aircraft engine plants on the ground. Unfortunately, the air bases did not appear to provide the lucrative targets we had initially expected. The Germans had expended great effort to provide security for their air squadrons and their operational personnel. According to available information, there were approximately 500 air bases in Western Germany and the occupied territory. These were provided with strong "flak" defenses. The aircraft were generally dispersed about a mile from the landing areas, with each airplane protected by a revetment. Moreover, the whole system was expertly camouflaged and aircrews were scattered through the villages.
This was a far tougher problem than that which the Luftwaffe faced in its effort to defeat the RAF by hitting Fighter Command bases early in the Battle of Britain. As a result, it became increasingly clear that the German Air Force could only be defeated or neutralized by the destruction of the manufacturing facilities necessary for the building of its aircraft and engines, by the elimination or curtailment of its fuel supplies, and by air to air attrition.
As mentioned earlier, we had concluded that the output of the aircraft manufacturing facilities would be seriously crippled by continuous bombing attacks against the German electric power system. At the same time, the destruction of aviation gasoline resources would restrict German air operations. We regarded it as axiomatic, however, that systematic attacks against all segments of German industry engaged in the manufacture and supply of aircraft were essential. This presented a most difficult problem because these facilities were widely dispersed. Nevertheless, no action, including air to air encounters, could be overlooked that would contribute to neutralizing the effectiveness of the German fighter forces.
In selecting principal targets, we attempted to identify "service systems," i.e., systems which motivated or connected industries, rather than industries themselves. Electric power, for example, was vital to all industries, including manufacture of all munitions. Transportation of raw materials and components of finished products affected almost all production, and petroleum products were vital to all the mechanized elements of the armed forces and to many industries as well.
After putting as many pieces of the puzzle together as were available to us, we pinpointed some 154 targets which, we felt, would disrupt or neutralize the German war-making capability provided, of course, they could be destroyed and kept out of operation. We believed that the air offensive against these selected targets should be vigorously pursued with full force for six months. The minimum effect, we concluded, should be a significant decline in operational effectiveness of the German army by the time the invasion of the European continent was ready for launching. The maximum effect might bring the German nation to terms.
Using these criteria, the initial consideration given to the steel industry as a target was dropped in favor of electricity and transportation. The sprawling steel furnaces and rolling mills had to have electricity, and the furnaces had to have ore which was transported to them. The steel mills, moreover, were less vulnerable than electricity and transportation. But, by the same criteria, there was some inconsistency in our selection of aluminum and magnesium plants. They too are dependent upon electricity and transportation. A basic reason for their selection was their high degree of concentration into a small number of targets.
It remains to be noted that we carefully considered the validity of German civilian morale as an objective. We concluded, however, that it was not a proper objective until widespread defeatism had been engendered by heavy air attacks against the systems which supported the means to fight and the means to live, coupled with despondency concerning the prospects of victory. We also considered, and worried much, about the distinct possibility that in the prosecution of the war the air offensive would be dissipated through diversion to other uses. As it turned out, that fear was well grounded.
Meanwhile, in selecting and analyzing our 154 "select" targets, we concluded that many targets, with the possible exception of electric power generating and switching equipment, could be reconstructed or repaired within a period of two to four weeks after a heavy attack. It would be necessary, therefore, that most of the targets be subjected to repeated attacks. In theory at least, this meant that if a single target could be capable of operation within two weeks after an assault it had to be hit at least twelve times during the six months period.
After further analysis of the 154 targets, we concluded that we were in a position to determine the total number of bombardment operations necessary to achieve the required degree of destruction, disruption, or neutralization of each system for a period of six months or longer. This, in turn, was based on a fairly detailed analysis about the proper bomb to use against each particular structure, and the number of hits that would be required to cause the necessary damage. After that, we could determine the number of bomb drops required to achieve a high probability (90 percent) of obtaining that number of hits on each target, using peacetime bombing range errors multiplied by a factor of 2 1/4. This factor represented the estimated influence of enemy fighter attacks, anti-aircraft artillery fire, and other combat conditions on bombing accuracy. We based this conclusion on British experience in their early days of daylight bombing, and accepted as a result a circular probable error of about 1,250 feet. Using probability tables for multiple attacks, the number of bombs which should be dropped to obtain 90 percent chance of securing at least the desired number of hits on each target was computed, taking into consideration the size of the target and the 1,250 foot probable error.
In addition to the above, we used British climatological records to calculate the number of days per month when major daylight operations would be possible. We arrived at the depressing number of five, a figure that we had earlier anticipated.
We speculated on the number of aircraft "aborts" due to mechanical failure and tried to anticipate the number of aircraft that would be lost to enemy action on the way to the target. From these calculations, we estimated the total size of the bomber force and the necessary replacement rate.
When we made our first estimates of the total force required for the air offensive against Axis Europe, current information indicated that the air base requirements in England exceeded the capacity of those in existence or planned. As a result, we considered providing double crews for the B-17s, B-24s, and B-29s to be based in the European Theater. In this way, we hoped to increase aircraft utilization pending construction of additional bases and the availability of a large number of B-36 type aircraft with a 4,000 mile radius of action. We anticipated that ultimately twelve groups of B-29s would be deployed in the Mediterranean basin, probably in the vicinity of Cairo. Twelve more were scheduled for Northern Ireland. The B-36s would operate from the Western Hemisphere.
In contemplating the optimum force structure for the Air Force, we naturally gave attention to the two other prime tasks levied upon us, i.e., support of ground operations, strategic defense in the Pacific, and defense of the Western Hemisphere.
Support of ground operations gave us some concern, primarily because of our fear that strategic forces would be diverted to ground support. This opened up a whole new area of problems, not the least of which was weakening the strategic offensive itself and the inevitable problem of trying to recover forces once they had been loaned out.
Basically, however, the problem was one of numbers and in this regard we came up with what we felt were adequate tactical air forces, so, that demands upon the strategic air forces would be minimal. The Plan called for tactical air forces in both England and the Mediterranean. In the aggregate, these amounted to thirteen groups of light bombers, such as the A-20, and thirteen groups of dive bombers, along with two photo-recon squadrons, 108 observation squadrons, and nineteen transport groups. In addition, ten pursuit groups were scheduled for England and six for Cairo. Five pursuit groups would be set up as a reserve.
In defense of the Western Hemisphere, the Plan called for bombers to cover the coastal areas of the Atlantic and to support defensive operations in the Pacific to protect our possessions in Hawaii and the Philippines against attack. We expected that those aircraft deployed in the Western Hemisphere for example would be useful in anti-submarine operations, in much the same manner as the RAF operated bomber types under Coastal Command. To meet the air requirements for the Western Hemisphere, the Plan called for 25 Bomber Groups and 32 Pursuit Groups. This included Hawaii. The Plan presumed that the major burden of defense of the Far East would be borne by the U.S. Navy relying primarily on its carriers and battleships. In the latter area, air forces could act in support of or in lieu of the fleet.
Overall Force Requirements
Overall, the number of organized combat air units recommended by AWPD-1 came to 207 groups without the B-36 type bombers, and 251 groups with them. This came to 11,853 unit equip. combat aircraft. This massive combat force was to be backed by 37,051 trainers, for a total of 61,799 operational aircraft, including 3,740 B-36s. (Twenty-one percent of the aircraft in this total force, 109 percent of the combat aircraft, would be in reserve depots. The forces were to be manned by 179,398 officers and 1,939,237 enlisted men.)
To understand the scope of AWPD-1 it must be remembered that the stated objectives required not only the production of vast quantities of aircraft but also the training of enormous numbers of personnel. The Plan called for 135,526 pilots, navigators, bombardiers, observers, and machine gunners, 862,439 technicians, 60,153 non-flying officers, and 1,106,798 non-technical, but trained, personnel. This amounted to some 2,164,916 men.
The total number of aircraft of all categories required to accomplish the objectives stipulated in AWPD-1 came to 68,416. In addition, vast numbers of replacements would be required. As mentioned earlier, 37,051 of this number were earmarked for training. Anticipated attrition called for a monthly replacement rate of some 2,133 aircraft.
Presentation of AWPD-1
The completed plan was not an attractive document. There had been no time for glossy maps, charts and eye-catching presentation. The plan was mimeographed, the charts were in black and white, and the whole package was bundled together and deposited with the War Department General Staff at midnight of the last day.
There had been an informal presentation of the Plan to General Arnold and others, but this was merely a prelude to the awesome task of trying to sell it to the War Plans Division of the Army and ultimately to the whole War Department. The latter was not only unconvinced of the validity of the strategic air concept, it was not even aware that we had incorporated it into the plan. However, if the plan was to become anything beyond an exercise in futility, the General Staff, and especially its Chief, had to be convinced that it was worth trying. The plan, in other words, had not only to be accepted in principle--it also had to be adopted in fact.
The prospect was not encouraging. We did not have to remind ourselves that, in effect, we were proposing that the War Department abandon its prevailing doctrine on the employment of Army aviation; that it abjure a statement of joint strategy which it had just signed with the Navy; and that it accept the thesis that the primary instrument of warfare against the Axis Powers in Europe could well be a vastly expanded Air Force. Only after the successful prosecution of the air offensive against Germany would the Army play a significant role, and then it would be against a State whose back had been broken by air warfare. The proposal, coming from one of the subordinate elements of the Army, must have appeared brash almost beyond belief.
To weave our way through this formidable and hazardous obstacle course, we first put together a formal, oral presentation. This was essential since the plan would no doubt have to be explained, which meant having vital information ready for instant recall.
Our submission of the basic document to the War Plans Division passed without incident. When the plan was taken to the WPD, the officers were working under such heavy stress to complete the Army's requirements that they had no time to look carefully at the Air Annex. They simply took our package, labeled it "ANNEX 2, Requirements of Army Air Forces," and added it to their own efforts. The bundle was then sent to the Government Printing Office for reproduction.
The first formal presentation of AWPD-l outside the Air Staff was made to Brigadier General Twaddle, G-3 of the War Department General Staff, and several members of his staff. The presentation was made in an extemporized war room in the part of the Munitions Building assigned to Harold George for the Air War Plans Division.
It may seem strange that G-3 of the War Department General Staff should be the first external recipient of a briefing and a presentation rather than the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff. There was method in our madness, however. General Twaddle, it will be recalled, had been sympathetic to our efforts and had agreed to lend the services of Larry Kuter. Kuter had wisely maintained a warm relationship with his boss and had paved the way for our exploratory effort.
The presentation was made by the same four officers who had done most of the work in preparing and assembling the plan; Harold George, Kenneth Walker, Laurence Kuter, and myself.
George was an unrelenting taskmaster in the preparation for the presentation. The "scenario" or script was carefully written. Maps and charts were prepared. Each of us memorized his portion of the presentation. Over and over it was rehearsed. We each spoke without notes, generally standing at maps or charts. The presentation consumed over two hours.
Harold George struck the key note in the opening paragraphs. The strategic concept, he said, was based firmly on the provisions of ABC-1 and RAINBOW 5. The grand strategy called for victory over the Axis Powers in Europe while maintaining defense of the Western Hemisphere and the strategic defensive in the Pacific. As for the great offensive effort in Europe, George was proposing that the United States and Great Britain set in motion a massive air offensive against Germany, to be followed by an invasion of the Continent--if that became necessary. The primary objective of the air offensive against Germany, he suggested, had already been defined by the policy guidance of ABC-1. He described the objective in these words:
To conduct a sustained and unremitting Air Offensive against Germany and Italy to destroy the will and capability (of those countries) to continue the war; and to make an invasion either unnecessary or feasible without excessive cost.
Harold George thus set before General Twaddle the shocking idea that the main thrust of the air plan was the waging of strategic air warfare against Germany in such a way as to break the will and the capability of the state to conduct effective resistance. This was to be achieved before the Army entered the picture at all.
In reference to timing for the air offensive, George pointed out that in any event the problem of air superiority would have to be successfully dealt with before surface forces could invade the Continent. This led him to the conclusion that air forces should be given priority for equipment, training, and deployment in order that the strategic air forces might be employed exclusively for the attainment of their purposes during the period when they were undermining and destroying the sources of German strength. This might break Germany's back, making an invasion unnecessary. But whether the strategic air offensive was decisive or not, one of the primary conditions for invasion would be the defeat of the German Air Force and the establishment of complete air superiority, something which, he was careful to point out, would also pave the way for the bomber offensive as well as the invasion. Consequently, in AWPD-1 the German Air Force was being listed as an "Intermediate Objective" of overriding importance. The Primary Objectives, however, remained target systems which supported the whole German state and its ability to wage war.
To emphasize the time factor, George pointed out the possibility of Russian collapse under the furious assault of Hitler's forces in the East. (It was a telling argument for the official intelligence estimate predicted that this collapse was likely to occur not later than the following spring.) If this happened, he went on to say, it would be necessary to have long range bombers which could operate from remote bases. They would be a valuable asset if England should continue in the war and they would be absolutely essential if England collapsed. Once the pressure was taken off the German military forces in the East and they were permitted to regroup against England, the combined task of obtaining air superiority and destroying war-making capacity would be enormously increased. Since it was impossible to tell how long England might stand up under such massive assault, contingency plans should be made for continuing the war without the British bases. To this end, very long-range bombers such as the B-36 were mandatory.
As George pointed out, the Plan presumed that while the strategic air war was being waged, the Army would be preparing itself for the invasion that might have to follow. Thus, tactical air units to support the invasion and the subsequent ground operations were included in the plan.
The briefing team then took up an explanation of the target systems which we had selected as being of Primary Importance in the air offensive. We pointed out that one group of targets pertained to the Primary Objective, which was the collapse of the German will and capability to support the war. Another group pertained to the elimination of the German Air Force as an obstacle both to the strategic air offensive and to invasion.
We explained how we arrived at selection of the Primary Target systems and in what way they were vulnerable to air attack. We discussed in considerable detail each of the major target systems and showed how selective targeting combined with proper force and precision bombing could cripple, and perhaps paralyze, Germany's war making capability.
We felt compelled to discuss another general target system, which was listed in AWPD-1 as "German morale." The plan, we pointed out, discouraged direct attack on German morale until such time as the whole structure of the state seemed on the verge of collapse. We stressed the point that until that time there was reason to doubt the efficacy of simply bombing civilians.
Before concluding, we presented our plans for ground support and for hemispheric defense, culminating in the total proposed force structure. Finally, Harold George presented the tabulations on the number of aircraft that would have to be produced and the number of crews that would have to be trained. He summarized the requirements for the entire operation, including the attrition rate that would be essential to the activation, employment, and sustained support of the new air forces.
We felt the general presentation to General Twaddle went very well. At any rate, we were better prepared for the next presentation, which took place two days later. This one was for Mr. Robert Lovett, the Assistant Secretary of War for Air. The audience included Brigadier General Carl Spaatz, Chief of the Air Staff, and Brigadier General I. T. Gerow, Assistant Chief of Staff, War Plans Division.
The key members were General Gerow and Mr. Lovett. We expected Mr. Lovett to be sympathetic to the plan. He had been an ardent supporter of air development for years. Indeed, we could call him one of the real architects of American air power. General Gerow's reaction, on the other hand, was anticipated with apprehension. His position as Assistant Chief of Staff, War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff, was extremely important.
Again the presentation went quite well. General Gerow showed himself to be a broad-minded, intelligent, and high- minded officer concerned primarily with the overall success of American forces. There was considerable discussion but no active opposition.
The next formal presentation took place on August 22. Its principal recipient was Major General George Brett, Chief of the Air Corps. General Gerow came a second time. Also present were Brigadier General "Santy" Fairchild, Colonel Bundy, Chief of the Planning Branch of the War Plans Division, and Colonel Don Wilson who was now on duty in the War Plans Division. Colonel Bundy asked a number of penetrating questions but again the presentation went fairly well.
The most crucial presentation of all was given for General George Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army, on August 30. At that presentation Mr. W. Averell Harriman, the President's representative to Russia, was also present as were General Arnold, General Fairchild, Colonel Bundy, and several other members of the General Staff. We viewed this presentation with a great deal of apprehension because General Marshall was the one man in the War Department who could, with a gesture, dismiss the entire effort. If the plan did not have his endorsement as Chief of Staff, it had no chance whatever of acceptance by the Joint Board, by the Secretary of War, or by the President. Without his support it would never get to any of them.
At this critical presentation a number of points were raised about the plan, and some vigorous dissent was voiced by members of the General Staff and officials concerned with war production. This served to highlight the ambitious nature of the concept at the same time it put the pressure on us, for there was no hiding the fact that the Plan made a truly staggering request for development, production, and employment of air forces. Indeed, our request was out of all proportion to the requirements brought forth by the Army and the Navy. Little wonder that several members of the War Department General Staff raised objections.
As usual, Harold George explained both the logic and the basic strategy behind our position. General Marshall showed great interest throughout the presentation but was completely noncommittal. When the arguments finally died down, he said simply, "Gentlemen, I think the plan has merit. I would like for the Secretary and the Assistant Secretaries to hear it."
We were greatly relieved. General Marshall could so easily have said, "This plan is interesting but it is completely out of keeping with the strategic attitude of the Joint Board," or, "I am perfectly sure that the Navy members of the Joint Board will never accept this proposal," or, "The demands on American production are excessive; they could be met only at the expense of the rest of the Army. The plan is consequently out of proportion." He might have added that "there is no historical precedent for the contention on which this plan is based."
We had, as all innovators must, more or less expected the worst. Thus, Marshall's statement that "the plan has merit" was like music to our ears. There can be no doubt that his willingness to adopt such an attitude and pass the plan on to the Secretary of War and others constitutes one of the major milestones in the evolution of American Air Power. Then, as later, the Air Forces benefited immensely from his support and understanding.
It is worth noting that General Marshall proposed that the plan for strategic air warfare be referred directly to the Secretary of War, Mr. Stimson--not to the Joint Board, although the latter would appear to be the more proper action. He knew perfectly well that the Joint Board would not only refuse to endorse it, but would marshal the strength of the Navy Department to have it discredited. In retrospect, it is clear that the United States owes an immense debt to General Marshall, who showed remarkable wisdom, vision and courage, attributes that have since become indelibly associated with his name.
General Marshall and General Arnold attended the next presentation, which was on September 4th, as did a significant number of people associated with production. It included Mr. Knudsen, head of the Office of Production Management, with five of his Division chiefs, and Mr. John Biggers, the President's Lend-Lease representative, together with a few from the War Department General Staff. The presentation was given in much its original form and this time it was subjected to very vigorous questioning from the standpoint of manufacturing capabilities. Mr. Knudsen for one took some issue with our intelligence estimates, based on the resources available to Germany. We were able to meet his questions and apparently to allay his fears. But the battle raging around our own production capacity was vigorous. Fortunately, the Air Materiel Command had done its job well. Representatives from A-4 were able to answer and rebut most of the criticism.
Finally, on September 11th the Honorable H. L. Stimson, Secretary of War, received an informal briefing in his own office. Only General Marshall again was present. Harold George summed up the meeting in these words:
. . . Secretary Stimson said: "General Marshall and I like the Plan. I want you gentlemen to be prepared to present it to the President. I will speak to him about the date. Thank you for coming to my office."
We were jubilant. We had crossed the Rubicon. Our concept of a United States Air Force, and its strategic employment, had been accepted by the senior military officials in the nation.
On September 25th the "Victory Program" in its printed and bound form was forwarded by the Secretary of War to the President. AWPD-1 was included.
The time for our expected meeting with the President was approaching when two events took place which shattered the entire time schedule. The first took place on the 4th of December, 1941. The Chicago Herald Tribune published verbatim (in facsimile as a matter of fact) almost the entire Victory Program, which was classified SECRET, including AWPD-l. From our point of view it was a shocking breach of security. Not only did it deal a very serious blow against the preparations America was taking for her defense, but it also was a breach of British security as well as our own. Much of the secret information I had gathered in England was spread before the world in the pages of a newspaper. This indicated British strengths, intentions, capabilities and dispositions, all of which were classified "Secret."
The next cataclysm fell three days later when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and in one blow destroyed the validity of all the Army and Navy War Plans. Naturally all strategic plans of any importance had embraced a major role for the United States Fleet. Suddenly the surface component of that Fleet had lost its backbone. Not only were we suddenly at war but almost all the strategic planning for the conduct of our military operations had been nullified in one stroke. Among the strategic plans, only AWPD-1, the Air Plan, retained its validity.
Whatever might have been the fate of AWPD-1 after exhaustive arguments with the Joint Board and presentation to the President and his advisors, the attack on Pearl Harbor suddenly made it the only valid scheme on which it was possible to proceed at once.
The Impact of Pearl Harbor
At first the loss of the capital ships at Pearl Harbor seemed to strengthen rather than weaken the relative merits of AWPD-1. While AWPD-1 did remain basic, however, the disaster at Pearl Harbor provoked a new and hard look at overall U.S. strategic thinking. The war was now truly "global." The Russians had temporarily stopped the Germans outside Moscow with their December counter- offensive, but the outlook in that theater was still so bleak that Russia's demise was still expected by the following spring. The situation, in short, was desperate the world over. Britain still faced the possibility of an invasion by Germany after the fall of Russia, and with the U. S. fleet out of action, a period of rapid and vast Japanese expansion was inevitable in the Far East. Thus, while "defeat of Germany first" still seemed the logical approach, there was much public opposition to it. Moreover, it was no comfort that even with the war in Europe won, the Pacific presented vast logistical problems, and territory, now lost with ease, would have to be regained by long and bloody fighting.
These considerations led the Air War Plans Division to take a hard look at its own plan and consider what revisions, if any, might be desirable. The same planning team (although Colonel Orvil Anderson had since replaced Larry Kuter) went to work and, on 15 December, only eight days after Pearl Harbor, came up with a new "Air Estimate of the Situation and Recommendation for the Conduct of the War."
The new estimate proposed a general increase in combat units and aircraft, and a marked increased in air transports. The increase in bomber strength reflected the loss of sea power in the Pacific and our apprehension that the bombers consigned to the strategic air war in Europe might be reassigned--or diluted in number--to meet emergency demands from the Pacific. The increase in transports reflected the loss of control of sea lanes and the growing dependency upon air transportation.
Meanwhile, almost immediately after Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill asked to meet with the President along with their respective military advisors to determine a united grand strategy. The first meeting of the heads of government and the Combined Chiefs of Staff took place in Washington. Called the Arcadia Conference, it lasted from 22 December 1941 through 14 January 1942.
At this conference, the growth and ultimate size of the armed forces were considered. Naturally the air strategy and requirements were discussed. The Combined Chiefs did not favor such an overriding priority for the Army Air Forces as that proposed in the most recent estimate. The Combined Staff did, however, accept AWPD-1, with some modifications, as a guide for the development of the air forces of the U.S. Army. And the proposed expansion of the air transport production paved the way for the creation of the global air transportation system, The Air Transport Command.
On January 19, 1942, Secretary of War Stimson authorized a new name for the Army Air Corps. The Army Air Forces, as it was called, this began its expansion to a total of 115 groups, including 34 heavy bomber groups, 12 medium bomber groups, 10 light bomber groups, 31 pursuit groups, 12 transport groups, and 16 observation groups. This expansion was a step toward the goals set up in AWPD-1.
From the air point of view the primary accomplishment of Arcadia was the approval of AWPD-1 by the Combined Chiefs of Staff as a schedule of production requirements for the U.S. Army Air Forces. And this approval carried with it a tacit acceptance of the strategic plan on which the production schedule was based. Thus, AWPD-l, with minor modifications, was established as the schedule on which the Army Air Forces were created and developed. It also became (and remained) the established concept on which the American strategic air offensive was based.