Glenn Flickinger’s 12 Things to Know about the US Army in WWII (Borrowed Entirely from Rick Atkinson)
By Glenn Flickinger
- The US Army Was Puny: When Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, the US Army consisted of 190,000 enlisted men and 14,000 officers. They were unprepared, ill-trained, ill-equipped, and not ready for Prime Time. They were also old. The average Major was 48. A quarter of all lieutenants in the National Guard were over 40.
- WWII Was the Last Total War: The war touched all Americans and enlisted most of them in one way or another. Everyone had a stake. About 16 million men and women served in uniform out of a population of 130 million.
- The US Army Was Supposed To Be Bigger: When the war began, the “Liberty Plan” called for 215 Army divisions. Only 90 materialized. 89 of those saw combat, two-thirds in Europe, one-third in the Pacific.
- The US Army Got Younger As The War Went On: On D-Day, the average GI was 26 years old. After that, 50% of new replacements were teenager. As casualties rose, the standards for manpower fell.
- The US Didn’t Win the War By Itself: The US had 60 allied nations supporting it, with the Soviet Union, the British Commonwealth, and China contributing the most. An estimated 80% of all German military casualties were inflicted by the Soviets.
- The US Army Started the War in Europe Against France in Africa: The war against Germany began for the US with an attack on French forces in North Africa in November 1942. The US wouldn’t fight Germans until early 1943.
(Zelma/RIA Novosti archive)
- The US Army Wasn’t Good . . . at First: The US Army learned how to fight in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. Three corps commanders and several division commanders were relieved of duty in the MTO.
- The US Army Wasn’t Just the Army: The 8 million who served in the US Army were evenly divided among Ground Forces, Air Forces, and Service Forces.
- Civilian Leaders Controlled the Military: President Franklin D. Roosevelt clashed several times with his military chiefs on grand strategy. General George Marshall and Admiral Ernest King opposed the invasion of North Africa, for example. The chiefs also opposed the policy of “unconditional surrender,” arguing it would lengthen the war.
- The Military Was an Agent of Social Change: The service of women and Black Americans accelerated the movement for Civil Rights after the war.
(US Air Force)
- WWII Is the Most Important Story of the 20th Century: And it should be told as such. It is vitally important to keep the story alive.
- 400,000 Americans Died For You: Those Americans who lost their lives in WWII did so to guarantee the freedoms for the US and the world. We need to live in the awareness of this truth.