Wedemeyer’s Victory Plan

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

NerveAgent is sometimes distraught by how long it’s taking him to write his thesis, considering that then-Major Albert Wedemeyer devised the U.S. Army’s World War II grand strategy, unit structure, equipment requirements, and general concept of operations, all in a period of about three monthsbefore Pearl Harbor and America’s decision to enter the war.

Wedemeyer was tasked with calculating the nation’s total manufacturing requirements for the coming war, but he realized that his mission was much more complicated than that:

In order to deduce the nation’s ultimate production requirements, Wedemeyer concluded that the essential first task was to compute the size of the Army and Air Corps that the War Department would have to arm and equip. Size and composition of forces were functions of mission, however, and no one could estimate the size of military forces required without knowing the missions they would be ordered to execute. Missions depended upon military strategy, and in order to know the military strategy, Wedemeyer had first to know the national objective in the event of war… Wedemeyer therefore established for himself a series of questions to answer in order to accomplish his task:

  1. What is the national objective of the United States?
  2. What military strategy will be devised to accomplish the national objective?
  3. What military forces must be raised in order to execute that military strategy?
  4. How will those military forces be constituted, equipped, and trained?

Apparently no one in Washington had given those questions any thought. Wedemeyer came up with this mission statement:

To eliminate totalitarianism from Europe and, in the process, to be an ally of Great Britain; further, to deny the Japanese undisputed control of the western Pacific.

I suppose it seems obvious in retrospect, since that is what the US did, but did it make sense to wage total war against Germany to eliminate totalitarianism from Europe and, in the process, to be an ally of Great Britain? I suppose that depends on what you thought would happen without quick US intervention:

In 1941, U.S. war planners were deathly afraid that Russian resistance would soon collapse, leaving Germany in control of Mackinder’s Eurasian “heartland.” If that happened, Germany would require about two years to stabilize and exploit its conquests and reconstitute its military capabilities for an invasion of the British Isles. Because the U.S. would require almost as much time to fully mobilize, Wedemeyer had to assume the worst case scenario of America continuing the war against Germany alone.

Wedemeyer saw the importance of controlling the oceans and the air, and he realized that America did not have the manpower to overwhelm Germany without armor and tactical air support. On the other hand, he overestimated the need for anti-aircraft and tank-destroyers — because our own aircraft and tanks handled those problems just fine.

(Hat tip to Joseph Fouché.)

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