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Preparing Civilian America for War

David Vincent Stratton (1884-1968) in the WWII draft registration of 1944. Selective Service Administration

"America's brilliant, if pitiless, war industry had entered the service of patriotism and had not failed it. Under the compulsion of military necessity a ruthless autocracy was at work, and rightly, even in this land at the portals of which the Statue of Liberty flashes its blinding light across the seas. They understood war." -- Field Marshal von Hindenburg.

THE United States is again building a war machine which it hopes to make even more efficient than the one which elicited this praise from the German commander in his autobiography. Appropriations for the Army and Navy are the largest in the country's history except in time of war. More than that, the Government is laying plans, now in peacetime, to bring the full weight of its resources in men, materials and morale to the support of its armed forces in case it becomes involved in another great war. Unlike the totalitarian states, the United States cannot institute a war economy in time of peace. Planning can go no further, therefore, than to prepare for an efficient transition from the normal pattern of political, economic and social life to one in which the military machine can attain its full effectiveness when war actually comes.

Since the War Department is most directly concerned with the problem, the advance planning which is already under way naturally centers there. Three agencies are engaged in making these preparations -- the Planning Branch in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War, the Army Industrial College, and the Army and Navy Munitions Board. Ever since the World War the Planning Branch has worked to devise an Industrial Mobilization Plan. The task of training the personnel necessary to operate such a Plan in all its vast detail falls upon the Army Industrial College, organized in 1924. In this institution annual classes of sixty Army, Navy and Marine officers are taught the principles and methods of economic planning. The responsibility for keeping the Industrial Mobilization Plan up to date devolves

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