Essay: U.S. Reliance of the National

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[. . .] The continental United States of America was served by units that were spread in one hundred and thirty posts that were the vestiges of the Indian wars for the most part (Doubler, 2003). 9 infantry and 2 divisions of cavalry made up the combat units. However, those units just serving as paper organizations and had little significance as none of the division was in close proximity to its sanctioned peace-time power. The Second Division had almost ten thousand men. However, this number was also four thousand men short (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

In 1938, Roosevelt had given considerable attention to the Army Air Corps believing that this military unit would serve as a major strength for defending the United States of America from any sea borne attack. For influencing Hitler and his Nazi forces, Roosevelt persuaded Congress to formulate a plan to make the manufacturing of ten thousand planes possible in a year time. On the other hand, no orders were given by him to increase the number of officers and soldiers or make improvements in training. He did not give any orders regarding the latter even though the Army insisted that it was necessary to increase the officers' number and more training (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

As a consequence, by September 1939, there were about twenty-six thousand men and two thousand planes in the Army Air Corps. As similar to the infantry, there were, without a doubt, severe manual power shortage and obsolete equipment in the Air Corps (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992). Thus, the combat capability of the Army was principally dependent on the infantrymen. Due to the isolationism and stern military funds and resources, very little was done by the United States' Army for the promotion of military aviation or mechanization of warfare (Doubler, 2003).

The National Guard and the Army Reserve were the two major reserve organizations of the United States Army at that point in time. Fortunately, they had a better number of regulars as compared to the Army itself. According to the facts and figures of the year 1939, "the Army Reserve contained a total of 119,773, with 104,228 in the Active Officer Reserve Corps and 12,408 inactive reserve officers" (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992, p. 21). There were more or less three thousand men in the Enlisted Reserve Corps. On the other hand, there were no units in the Army Reserve. It only consisted of men to be brought into play as fillers in a stretched Army (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

If compared, the strength of the National Guard and the Regular Army was not equal by any means. Contrasting the Reserve, there were 18 infantry and 4 cavalry divisions maintained by the Guard. However, it is also important to mention here that the Guard had also faced the consequences of the postwar period and suffered due to the Great Depression (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

The Role of Congress

The Congress made the figure of 400,000 as the authorized strength of the Guard as part of the 1920 National Defense Act. Conversely, this number remained limited to 199,491 due to insufficient funding. Only a few units managed to maintain the strength of that of peacetime. This condition of the Army, the Reserve, and the National Guard was not a surprise and emerged from both a response to the World War I idealism and the Great Depression devastation. The sentiment of isolationism reached its height among the American people after the end of the World War I and this feeling of deceit turned the common man inward and in opposition to militarism. In 1920s i.e. when there was prosperity in the country, Congress took advantage of the nation's mood, came forward and responded by repetitive trimming of the financials plans regarding defense (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

Even though the beginning of the Great Depression inspired and motivated people to get them enlisted, this did not improve the material base of the American Army. This was the major reason why the United States of America was to rely on the National Guard during the World War II as severe budget reductions did not leave any other option for the country other than choosing a course of action that would conserve its composition while letting go of its potency (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

Role played by General Marshall

Thus, it was the instantaneous concern of General Marshall in September 1939 to enlarge the size, augment the preparations and increase the availability of resources of the Army of the United States as well as the National Guard. Even though, it was not possible for the Army to find an immediate cure for all the harsh conditions and hard times the two organizations were challenged with, General Marshall did not lose hope to at least touch the peacetime strength mark. He also hoped that the two organizations will get rid of the obsolete and outdated weaponries and get the new material that was needed for warfare (Nelsen, 1993). He was also hopeful in creating a force that would be competent enough to move anywhere in and outside the continental America for responding to Axis belligerence and hostility. However, it was rather a difficult thing to obtain both his goals. To begin with, he had to get the approval of President Roosevelt for increasing the manpower of the Army to 280,000 and of the National Guard to 425,000. Such an attempt necessitated the order from the President and Congress-passed additional funds (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

Approval to Increase Manpower

General Marshall paid a visit to the White House on September 4, 1939 to inquire about the needed executive order. At the end of the meeting, he left the White House believing that his visit won him the presidential approval for the Army and the National Guard expansion. On September 5, his staff was told by him about the approval of the President about the requested amplifications and enlargements. The next day, Marshall gave orders to the War Plans Division (WPD) for drafting a letter to President Roosevelt from Secretary Woodring "recommending the increase of the Regular Army to 280,000 and the National Guard to 435,000 and also to prepare the drafts of letters from the President to the Secretary of War directing such increases" (as qtd. In Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

The National Guard Bureau was given the official notification by the General Staff on September 20 about the approved increases in manpower. It was also provided with the new training schedule for the recruits. Every state was informed within 48 hours regarding its share of the manpower increase. The nation witnessed an enthusiastic response from the Guard as the European war had stimulated the men to participate in it. Recruitment resulted in the netting of thousands of new groups. As a consequence of the energetic recruitment drive, the Guard appointed more than six thousand men from 39 states just in the first week. About thirteen thousand men were recruited by the second week's end (Sligh & Beaumont, 1992).

To cut a long story short, it won't be incorrect to state that the commencement of the World War II turned out to be a defining moment for the state militias, The National Guard in particular. The National Guard and the two state defense forces suffered tremendously during the interwar years because of the decline in their numbers and preparations. Even so, the government of the United States of America recalled the entire National Guard to federal service. One major issue emerged with the unease of the state governors as they had to leave their constituents exposed and defenseless. To satisfy them, the recreation of the state guards took place by the time the World War II started and America entered into it. The major objective of the National Guard during the World War II was to make sure that the infrastructure was secured. A good number of state guards were gathered together and activated as special security units for short-term phases in war (Sieg, 2005).

The National Guard in World War II

It is not an untold secret that the National Guard played a pivotal role during the two global conflicts popularly known as World War I and World War II. Not only did the National Guard made mobilization happen but also made sincere and direct endeavors for the provision of both land and space means/facilities for defeating the European and Asian totalitarian powers. The contribution of National Guard crystal clearly reflects the reliance of the United States of America on the citizen-soldiers who rendered their services for the sake of their states and the homeland in particular (Doubler, 2001).

As far as the states were concerned, the National Guard was employed for protecting the life and property of the fellow-citizens as well as the preservation of law and order, peace and safety of public. The World War II provided the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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