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Old 09-18-2013, 04:41 PM
 
447 posts, read 729,564 times
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I have always been confused until a few years ago how the US army in WWII had 8.3 million in it at the wars end but only 90 divisions ? I know 2.3 million were in the US army air force so that left 6 million. Over time I found out that about half of the 6 million were combat troops and the other half were service troops. It makes you think how can they have 6 million ground troops but only 90 divisions ? Later I found out how the USA had so many units attached to divisions that were not part of the division that it nearly doubled the division strenth. So it made the strenth seem more like maybe 160 division. One example is the combat troops oversea's. The divisions came to about 1.2 million which is about 14,000 per division. But there was over 800,000 more combat troops that were not part of a division but were attached to a division when they were fighting. Thats makes the actual 89 divisions over 2 million combat troops but the USA had over 4 million ground troops oversea,s. Thats just as many service troops as combat troops ? The total army was about 6 million ground troops with 3 million combat troops and 3 million service troops. Most service troops did not fight but supplied the combat troops to keep fighting. I guess the USA had to have alot of service troops because it had to supply their combat troops thousands of miles around the globe. It was a logistical feet never equaled before in history. Ron
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Old 09-18-2013, 05:19 PM
 
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Several things here. The US Army was divided into the Army ground forces, the Army Service forces, and the Army Air Corps (now the US Air Force). The Army Service Force consisted of some of the support functions - MPs, engineers, quartermaster (although the divisions had there own support troops as well). The 90 divisions I assume was in the Army Ground Forces, which numbered only about 2.7 million at war's end. The Army Ground forces were further divided into divisional vs. non-divisional troops. Non-divisional troops could be replacements not yet assigned to a division, and again some support functions.
So what you are left with is only about 1.5m that were assigned to divisions.

The support to combat ration in ww2 ("tooth to tail" ratio) was at least 3 to 1 in WW2 and it has grown even larger in later wars. In Vietnam I think it was 10 to 1. I respect all people that served in the military but chances are many of them where no where near the fighting and I get a bit sceptical when they talk about Rambo exploits or "being in the middle of the sh*t". On the other hand some of these service troops engaged in combat as well so you can't always tell.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:38 PM
 
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If this helps any, here is the Divisional Order of Battle for ETO Europe that breaks down each division into its component parts.

1st INFANTRY DIVISION
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Old 09-18-2013, 08:42 PM
 
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Was it much different for the Germans, British, Italians, Japs, and Russians? I thought a 3:1 ratio was common amongst all of the powers.
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Old 09-18-2013, 09:37 PM
 
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During the war the US army had just over 5 million troops oversea's. Just over 3 million served in the European theater and almost 500,000 served in the Mediteranean theater along with 1.5 million in the Pacific. Of the 3 million in the European theater about 1.6 million were combat troops and almost 800,000 were service troops. And about 430,000 were Army air force troops. The rest were overhead and replacements. Of the 5th army in Italy there was about 270,000 troops in it in 1945 and about 140,000 were combat troops with the rest service troops.
In the Pacific at the end of the war the 6th army was getting ready and preparing for the first part of the invasion of Japan. It had about 585,000 troops with around 350,000 of them being combat troops.
I do know the British and Canadian's had about 1 million troops in Europe near wars end and as best as I can find about 400,000 of them were combat troops.
I also read that when the USSR attacked Japan in 1945 with 1.5 million men about 1 million were combat troops. Ron
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Old 09-19-2013, 12:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nolefan34 View Post
Was it much different for the Germans, British, Italians, Japs, and Russians? I thought a 3:1 ratio was common amongst all of the powers.
The US easily operated the highest ratio. The British came in second with around 2-2.5:1. The others operated generally around 1-2:1. Overall, the better the war went for your side, the higher the ratio of support to combat troops. The Germans in 1942 were at ~2:1 and the Soviets were at ~1:1. In 1944 the Germans were at ~1:1 and the Soviets were at ~2:1. It makes sense when you think about it. When you are losing you push more troops to the frontlines and your supply lines are generally shorter, etc. When you are winning, you are all about sustaining and supporting the advance. The supply lines get longer, infrastrcuture needs to be repaired, etc.

What generally kept the US ratio so high was the massive air arm and the ridiculously large logistics operation the US was running. Something like 3 million of the troops in the US Army were based in the United States in support and training roles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 383man View Post
During the war the US army had just over 5 million troops oversea's. Just over 3 million served in the European theater and almost 500,000 served in the Mediteranean theater along with 1.5 million in the Pacific. Of the 3 million in the European theater about 1.6 million were combat troops and almost 800,000 were service troops. And about 430,000 were Army air force troops. The rest were overhead and replacements. Of the 5th army in Italy there was about 270,000 troops in it in 1945 and about 140,000 were combat troops with the rest service troops.
In the Pacific at the end of the war the 6th army was getting ready and preparing for the first part of the invasion of Japan. It had about 585,000 troops with around 350,000 of them being combat troops.
I do know the British and Canadian's had about 1 million troops in Europe near wars end and as best as I can find about 400,000 of them were combat troops.
I also read that when the USSR attacked Japan in 1945 with 1.5 million men about 1 million were combat troops. Ron
In general, the full ratio includes ALL troops. So, soldiers stationed at a refueling station in Newfoundland are counted in the overall ratio. The in theater numbers do run closer to 1-1.5:1.
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Old 09-20-2013, 05:23 PM
 
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Look at this site

U.S. Army in World War II Series - U.S. Army Center of Military History

It is the Online repository of the U.S. Army 'Green Book' series. Look into the Army Ground Forces series and go into the volume about 'Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops' for more information than you probably want about manning the divisions. and that is just one book of about 130!
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Old 09-23-2013, 10:01 PM
 
3,910 posts, read 9,426,269 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 383man View Post
During the war the US army had just over 5 million troops oversea's. Just over 3 million served in the European theater and almost 500,000 served in the Mediteranean theater along with 1.5 million in the Pacific. Of the 3 million in the European theater about 1.6 million were combat troops and almost 800,000 were service troops. And about 430,000 were Army air force troops. The rest were overhead and replacements. Of the 5th army in Italy there was about 270,000 troops in it in 1945 and about 140,000 were combat troops with the rest service troops.
In the Pacific at the end of the war the 6th army was getting ready and preparing for the first part of the invasion of Japan. It had about 585,000 troops with around 350,000 of them being combat troops.
I do know the British and Canadian's had about 1 million troops in Europe near wars end and as best as I can find about 400,000 of them were combat troops.
I also read that when the USSR attacked Japan in 1945 with 1.5 million men about 1 million were combat troops. Ron
One problem with this is that, when you say the U.S. had 3 million troops in the European Theatre, that only applies to mid-1944 forward. Before D-Day, the U.S. had very few troops in the European Theatre. We had a couple of divisions in North Africa assisting the British and we had Army Airforce troops stationed in England. Things ramped up gradually when we invaded Italy.

People often mistake the overall total number of troops as having been fighting all along when it was only the latter half of the war.
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:27 AM
 
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Another thing a lot of people miss is that the US had a VERY hard time keeping that size of combat force functioning in theater. By late 1944 / early 1945 the replacement system was breaking down and the US faced a severe manpower shortage for combat troops. They handled it by stripping support units of soldiers and re-assigning them as combat infantry, but it was clear that the entire system was not nearly as efficient as it needed to be. A big part of the problem was keeping divisions in combat continuously versus rotating the divisions out.

The US model basically said that a division was permanently in theater and engaged. The divisions would then have their combat strength replenished via the replacement system on a continual basis. This is why US units in theater have such lengthy combat records.

The model used by virtually everyone else was to form multiple divisions and then rotate those division in and out of combat. When a division suffered a large number of casualties, the division was rotated out of the line and replacements were brought in until the entire division was rotated back.

The other problem with this system is that it meant that non-casualties were always in theater and fighting. Look at the combat history of the 1st Infantry Division. They literally fought from Torch to Husky to Normandy to the Bulge to the Ruhr. There are some men who were in all of these operations. Overtime this leads to issues where the veterans segregated themselves from the replacements and caused major morale problems in American units. The other model allowed veterans to bond with and train the replacements.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:27 PM
 
447 posts, read 729,564 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nolefan34 View Post
One problem with this is that, when you say the U.S. had 3 million troops in the European Theatre, that only applies to mid-1944 forward. Before D-Day, the U.S. had very few troops in the European Theatre. We had a couple of divisions in North Africa assisting the British and we had Army Airforce troops stationed in England. Things ramped up gradually when we invaded Italy.

People often mistake the overall total number of troops as having been fighting all along when it was only the latter half of the war.

That is true about the European theater because the US was not in the European theater until D-day June 6th 1944. They were training troops in the states and England. Many Pacific comanders did not like the fact that over a million US troops were idle in England training as they wanted them in the Pacific. The US army was about full strenth by the end of 1943 as the last divisions were created in mid 1943. But they trained until June 6th and were not comitted until then other then the ones that went to the Pacific. Many dont realize that the US Navy and Air Force counted for about 6.3 million men. The US had the largest Navy and Air force the world had ever seen. When you look at the USSR about 90% or more were army troops as their war was mainly a ground war. The USSR had about 13 million under arms in June 1945 and the US had 12.3 million under arms. But the USSR had about 11 million in the army ground forces and the US had about 6 million in army ground forces and 6.3 million in the Navy and Air force. Counting the Navy (which includes Marines) the US had over 7 million overseas out of 12.3 million. I would figure the US to have more service troops them most anyone else as they had to ship their forces all over the world to fight and needed alot of service troops for logistics. They had the best equipped army in the world and they had to ship everything to them which was food to feed them and even water to the Pacific islands along with everything else it takes to survive which was an unbeleavible task. Thats one reason it was hard to keep 90 divisions fully prepped to fight. Ron
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