Chapter II
 
 
 
 
THE ANTISUBMARINE CONTROVERSY
 
     
          The AAF Antisubmarine Command began operations at once, and with essentially the same units and equipment as had been employed against the U-boats by its predecessor, the I Bomber Command.  These squadrons were, on 20 November 1942, organized in two wings, the 25th and 26th, with headquarters at New York and Miami, and operating in the Eastern and Gulf Sea Frontiers, respectively.  Provision was made for redesignating several observation squadrons and re-equipping them for antisubmarine operations.  Equipment of the I Bomber Command available for the new assignment, although including several types of aircraft, was seriously limited in the critical category of long range bombardment.1  Eventually the Antisubmarine Command was to consist of 25 squadrons, most of which were equipped with B-24's, especially adapted for anti-U-boat warfare.  Command headquarters remained at 90 Church St., New York City.  
     
          The Command faced a large and varied problem of build-up.  Not only did it have to increase its effective strength as rapidly as possible, but to meet its new obligations it had also to inaugurate an entirely new training program, new supply procedures, and new administrative machinery for coordinating research in the tactics and techniques of antisubmarine warfare.  The Bomber Command had been  
     
     

 

     
     
 
42
 
     
  constantly handicapped by the officially temporary nature of its assignment.  he new command was able to attack its problems with all the ingenuity and energy it possesses, because it was officially committed to antisubmarine duty and had no legal reason to anticipate that at any time it might be returned to normal bombardment duties.  
     
          The command also faced the immediate necessity of extending the range of its activities beyond the western Atlantic.  In November 1942, two of its squadrons, completely equipped with B-24's, were ordered to England.  Later, other units were dispatched overseas, in all six squadrons doing service in the eastern Atlantic - - to be specific, in the Bay of Biscay and in the Moroccan Sea Frontier.  Still other units served, during 1943, in Newfoundland and in the Caribbean.  
     
          These movements were dictated by a fundamental change in German strategy for the deployment of the U-boat fleet.  Indeed, the activation of the Antisubmarine Command coincided with this shift of enemy forces.  Since May 1942, the Germans had been gradually withdrawing their submarine forces from the U. S. coastal waters.  By September they had apparently abandoned the policy of attacking merchant shipping wherever it might be found in profitable quantities, and had begun to concentrate their forces defensively against the military shipping which the Allies were sending to the British Isles and to Africa in preparation for offensive action in those areas.  Specifically, this meant deployment in the North Atlantic and in the approaches toward North Africa.  Little activity remained in the western Atlantic  
     
     

 

     
     
 
43
 
     
  except in the poorly defined Trinidad area, and except for a few nuisance raiders sent to keep large antisubmarine forces tied down to patrol off the U. S. coast.  This shift of enemy strategy called for a similar shift in U. S. strategy; and, since it was on the enemy's part essentially a shift from offense to defense, it pointed toward a corresponding change in American policy from defense to a vigorous offense.  Even if this natural logic were ignored, the new situation made a greatly expanded antisubmarine campaign absolutely essential.  
     
          The new submarine situation thus necessitated a review of antisubmarine measures.  Old questions regarding the strategy and organization of the antisubmarine campaign, never satisfactorily settled, began to render unstable the relationship between the services and to imperil a vital sector of the Allied war effort.  It again became a crucial question whether the extended antisubmarine war should proceed on essentially offensive lines, carrying the battle to the enemy as briskly as resources would permit, or whether it should consist primarily of extended convoy coverage.  And it again became a subject for the most heated debate whether the long-range, land-based aviation engaged in the campaign should be controlled ultimately by the Army or by the Navy.  
     
          The creation of the Antisubmarine Command, then, settled nothing.  It had the effect of substantially legalizing the Army's antisubmarine mission, hitherto considered exclusively a naval one, entrusted to the Army only as a temporary emergency measure.  But it reconciled  
     
     

 

     
     
 
44
 
     
  none of those differences of opinion which had harassed the antisubmarine campaign from the very beginning.  On both the strategic and administrative level, the newly aggravated debate led inevitably toward a crisis in the summer of 1943 which, in turn, affected the entire system of joint action and, incidentally, removed the Antisubmarine Command entirely from the scene.  
     
          Although the command had been conceived originally as a unit whose permanent field of operations should be the U. S. Atlantic coast, the Gulf, and the Caribbean, it did not take the War Department long to recognize the need for extending its activities beyond the western Atlantic.  General Marshall had, in fact, hinted at the possibility of extending the scope of the Army's antisubmarine forces in his letter of 14 September.2  Dr. Bowles had urged the possibility of extracontinental expansion in his memo of 7 August,3 and apparently he had the support of General Eisenhower.  General Arnold, and Secretary Stimson in this point of view.4  As conceived by General Arnold and presented to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in JCS 93/1 (dated 19 October 1942), "The unit [the newly activated command] has freedom of action in that it may be moved to where it is most needed, and operate in conjunction with but not under the command of the local sector commander."  And in December the scope of its operations was officially widened to include the destruction of submarines "wherever they may be operating in opposition to our war effort."5  Plans had matured, by October, to send two squadrons to England to operate with the Coastal Command, and, on 2 November the first unit left  
     
     

 

     
     
 
45
 
     
  Langley Field.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff had approved a plan for considerably extended antisubmarine operation, in which 416 AAF bombardment aircraft (288 heavy and 128 medium) were set as the forces to be made available for this task.6  
     
          These figures, though representing a greatly enlarged program, failed to satisfy General Larson whose ideas were shaped on an even broader pattern.  To be sure, the forces immediately at hand were, as he put it on 6 January 1943, still too small to allow him to fulfill the mission with which he was officially charged.  They consisted of 19 squadrons operating 209 planes, of which only 20 were B-24's, the type already recognized as the best available weapon for the purpose.6  Interpreting his mission literally, General Larson on that date presented to General Arnold a plan providing for the creation of antisubmarine wings to operate in the North Atlantic, the United Kingdom, Northwest Africa, the Mediterranean, Central West Africa, South Africa, Natal, the Antilles, the Pacific Coast, the Northwest Pacific, the Southwest Pacific, India, Asia, Hawaii, and Russia.  Owing to the relative mobility of antisubmarine units, he felt that "for initial planning" the mission could be accomplished by expanding the Antisubmarine Command to a strength less than half that required to maintain squadrons in all possible areas.  He therefore requested that the AAF Antisubmarine Command be authorized a total strength of six wings composing a total number of 42 squadrons.  In order to equip these units, a total of 544 B-24D aircraft, fully equipped for antisubmarine activity, would be required.7  He further requested that  
     
     

 

     
     
 
46
 
     
  the recommendations be approved in principle regardless of whether the means of implementing them were available.7a  
     
          AAF Headquarters approved this plan in principle with, among other, one major exception.  The Antisubmarine Command was intended to be "a highly mobile striking force" which at no time would "become confined to a stabilized effort" but would operate "where operation is most profitable."  With this in mind it had been limited to 20 heavy and 4 medium squadrons, not including such as might be transferred to the command and be redesignated as antisubmarine squadrons.8  Immediate requirements were placed at 228 B-24's, 12 for each of the existing 19 squadrons.9  In the absence of fully adequate forces, those that were available had to be utilized to the utmost, which involved rapid movement from one threatened area to another.  In other words, mobility was considered essential not only to the tactical and strategic situations, but to the logistical as well.  
     
          This plan for expansion implied a doctrine of the strategic offensive.  It was based on the notion that the job of the Antisubmarine Command was not mere protection of shipping but an organized U-boat hunt, aiming ultimately at destroying the submarine at sea.  The Antisubmarine Command was not alone in this crusade for the offensive.  In January, Dr. P. M. Morse, of the Antisubmarine Warfare Operations Research Group (ASWORG), analyzed the situation in the following terms:10  
     
 
        . . . a major change in the antisubmarine battle requires that we pass from the defensive to the offensive.  The plane is primarily an offensive weapon against U-boats; being preeminent, by reason of its speed, in its ability to seek out the enemy.  The surface vessel is, at present, less than one tenth as efficient at finding submarines as is the plane and
 
     
     

 

     
     
 
47
 
     
 
is no more efficient at killing the submarine, once found.  Its major advantage over the plane is its staying power, essentially a defensive property: the surface vessel will always be the backbone of the convoy escort.  The plane is also useful as an escort; but it is a most inefficient use of the plane's offensive capabilities to hold it down to protecting convoys which are not specifically threatened.
 
     
  Moreover, like General Larson, Dr. Morse looked to a vastly increased aerial campaign, going so far as to say that 1,000 to 2,000 long-range aircraft would be necessary in the total antisubmarine war if that effort were to result in eliminating the U-boat.11  The Bay of Biscay and the North African coast had, he said, at the time (5 January 1943), the highest submarine density of any portion of the North Atlantic.  He therefore strongly urged the Antisubmarine Command to provide enough planes to carry on offensive operations in these areas.12  
     
          A similar attitude was taken about the same time by the Joint U. S. Committee on New Weapons and Equipment.  This agency complained of the naval policy which employed AAF antisubmarine aircraft chiefly in convoy escort and in patrol of waters that had been practically free of submarines for months.  For, although two units (ultimately organized as the 480th Antisubmarine Group) had been allowed to operate under the RAF Coastal Command in a campaign of search and attack in areas of high submarine density, the bulk of which the enemy had long since withdrawn the bulk of his forces.  It advocated extending the idea of "special groups with the specific task of killing submarines."  These, it claimed, "might well reduce substantially  
     
     

 

     
     
 
48
 
     
  the number of enemy submarines operating."  The AAFAC was, it continued, such a group, and it recommended that the command be provided with an adequate supply of long-range planes and sent out in an offensive U-boat hunt.13  
     
          From other sources, however, came certain qualifications to these somewhat enthusiastic statements of the offensive concept.  Brig. Gen. C. W. Russel, Army Liaison officer for antisubmarine warfare, had, in November, made an analysis of the situation in the Atlantic and had come up with a modified faith in the "killer-hunt" idea.14  Certain points rose obtrusively to the surface in his report.  One was that the number of U-boats would have to be reduced before shipping losses would permanently decline.  However carefully the convoys might be protected, he said, "the inescapable fact is that the more submarines there are operating, the more merchant vessels will be sunk."15  The second fact was that present defensive operations against the U-boat had failed to hold shipping losses "within tolerable limits."  It seemed therefore that "persistent offensive measures" would have to be adopted, aimed at destroying the U-boat fleet.  But General Russel was not at all sure that action in the open sea was the type of offensive required.  Although he complained, many attacks were being made on the enemy craft at sea, both by air and surface craft, few had met with success.  Equipment fell short of the lethal requirements to kill many U-boats and the latter had the advantage of a highly protective element.  Accordingly, while not scorning the part played  
     
     

 

     
     
 
49
 
     
  by long-range bombers operating at sea, be placed in first priority the yards at which submarines were built.  
     
          In January he repeated his recommendation, citing what he believed to be the effective bombing by Eighth Air Force units of French Coast submarine bases.  He added, however, that the North Atlantic convoy route indicated the crying need for long-range, land-based aircraft, losses having "invariably" occurred in sections of the convoy route not provided with air coverage.  And he advised that the AAFAC be equipped with long-range aircraft at the earliest possible moment.16  In short, bombing of submarine yards should be given first priority, and long-range air coverage for the North Atlantic convoy route a close second.  
     
          A summary of the official AAF policy, formulated 6 February 1943, reflected General Russell's point of view.  If anything reducing the emphasis he had placed on long-range air coverage:17  
     
 
        In considering the entire antisubmarine problem [General Stratemeyer wrote], it is desired to emphasize that use of aircraft and surface forces against submarines at sea can never be expected to effectively reduce the total number of operational submarines.  The only way to destroy the submarines is to destroy them at their source by destruction of crucial materials, assembly plants, yards and operating bases.  Any diversion of a large force of our air effort for the purpose of hunting down the submarines at sea, would be reducing the effective number which can be used against the submarine at their source and is an improper employment of available forces; however, it must also be borne in mind that unless we do protect our shipping, we will be unable to feed and supply forces now committed to the theatres. . . . We must, therefore, divert a certain amount of our effort to protection of our lines of communication.  The amount so diverted should be sufficient only to fill the need of protecting our shipping and not sufficient to attempt to destroy the submarine at sea.
 
     
     

 

     
     
 
50
 
     
          It would appear the AAF headquarters was admittedly groping in its effort to assign an unquestionable priority to any one type of air antisubmarine operation.  A study had been requested which would indicate, in the light of recent operations, the relative effectiveness of attacking submarine production, repair and maintenance installations, parts manufacturing plants, and the operating submarines themselves.18  Early in March an exhaustive, if still necessarily tentative, study was submitted by AC/AS, Intelligence.  By that time merchant vessel sinkings had taken a sharp upward turn, and emphasis was being placed on immediate results.  This report concluded (1) that air patrols, either by land or carrier-based planes, can materially reduce shipping losses, even without a high rate of submarines "killed"; (2) that improved weapons may be expected to raise the lethal rate of aircraft attacks; (3) that bombing of submarine bases and construction yards, though still unproved, should be pressed -- the bombing of component parts plants could not, however, be expected to yield large results.19  This report, then, while not destroying faith in the offensive of the Eighth Air Force against the submarines at their source, renewed somewhat the official confidence in an aggressive sea-search-attack policy.  It pointed to the belief that the effect of air patrol could not be measured entirely in terms of U-boats sunk.  It was, in fact, quite possible to limit submarine action simply by harrying tactics as had recently been employed in the Bay of Biscay where antisubmarine forces, although sinking relatively few of the U-boats attacked, had managed to give the enemy craft such a bad time, both in going from and returning to  
     
     

 

     
     
 
51
 
     
  their bases, that their effectiveness in convoy area was sharply reduced.  This report also highlighted what had frequently been mentioned as a major criticism of the over-all U. S. antisubmarine policy, namely, that a large proportion of the Antisubmarine Command strength was left tied to a coastal patrol area, flying thousands of hours where few if any submarines were operating, while only limited forces were being moved to those areas, the Bay of Biscay for example, where the submarines abounded.20  
     
          In general, the Army Air Forces advocated an increased air effort in which bombing of submarine bases, air coverage for convoys, and an independent air offensive where the U-boats were thickest, each had it peculiar function, not to be overrated.  Perhaps the Antisubmarine Command stressed the last policy because it was its own; but even it was satisfied with any strategic policy which carried the war as directly and as rapidly as possible to the enemy, considering, of course, commitments of equal or higher priority.  Its planners were apparently quite agreed that continued emphasis should be placed on striking the U-boats in their construction yards and operating bases.21  Yet it was on the question of independent offensive action in areas of enemy concentration that one of the decisive controversies became focused.  
     
          Early in 1943, during February, German submarines began their spring offensive.  Merchant vessel sinkings, after having decreased rapidly during December and January, suddenly increased, especially along the North Atlantic convoy route.  This renewed activity called  
     
     

 

     
     
 
52
 
     
  for drastic measures, but there was considerable room for disagreement as to what those measures should be.  Given unlimited supplies of trained men and specialized equipment, both sides might easily have justified their respective measures, each as part of a many-sided, coordinated campaign.  But, as usual, the planes were numerous and the equipment meager.  Naval authorities, continuing to invest their hopes in an extended system of convoy coverage, stressed the need for more Army B-24's operating from Newfoundland in order to cover that hitherto especially dangerous leg of the journey from U. S. ports to Europe.  The AAFAC, without doubting for a moment the need for this activity from Newfoundland -- even, in fact, planning experimental operations from Greenland as well --32 nevertheless felt that a considerable portion of its available strength in VLR aircraft should be devoted to an independent offensive.  
     
          Since November 1942, the Coastal Command, RAF had been carrying on just such an offensive against the U-boat in its transit area in the Bay of Biscay.  The Bay was a focal area through which virtually all the enemy operating in the Atlantic had to pass as they left or approached their bases on the west coast of France.  This campaign therefore, became not only the pivot on which the RAF turned its antisubmarine war, but the archetype of a VLR air killer offensive.  In November two AAFAC squadrons had been sent to England, with the original mission of protecting TORCH convoys.  After consultation with the British, the Commanding General, ETO decided to employ these squadrons in the Bat of Biscay to augment the Coastal Command's effort,  
     
     

 

     
     
 
53
 
     
  because that organization had a very limited supply of ASV-10 equipment (the sine qua non for effective U-boat hunting).23  These two squadrons accordingly took an active part in the "Gondola" campaign, 6-15 February 1943, which marked one of the high points of the Biscay offensive.24  
     
          The Biscay campaign failed, however, to impress Admiral King who felt that, although "excellent in concept," it had been pushed with a vigor unwarranted by "diminishing returns." and which might better have been expended on the Newfoundland area.  Submarine sightings had, he complained, become steadily fewer in the Bay of Biscay, by February no more than one for each 250 hours of flying, while German submarines had been allowed to concentrate and flourish with little interference off the Newfoundland banks "for several months."  He appreciated the fact that the AAFAC had "the Newfoundland matter" now in hand.  What gave him concern was "the length of time it took to make the picture clear."25  To this criticism, the AAFAC replied that the Biscay offensive was one which would require continual air effort to restrict U-boat operations; that an increase in the number of hours per sighting was a favorable sign since it indicated that the enemy submarines, which were evidently increasing in number, were having to traverse the Biscay transit area under conditions which could only reduce their efficiency.  Furthermore, the recent U-boat concentrations in the North Atlantic were being reported beyond effective range from the Newfoundland air bases.  They could be reached from Greenland, and plans were being laid to operate from  
     
     

 

     
     
 
54
 
     
  there with at least one VLR squadron; but operating conditions were so bad in that area that little could be expected from such action.  In fine, "Our conception of this problem is that the protection of the sea lanes is basically a Navy problem," and AAFAC units are better employed in the specialized work for which they were specially trained and equipped -- specifically, such operations as those in the Bay of Biscay.26  
     
          And so the discussion developed.  Mainly it was a case of emphasis, rather than of mutually exclusive views.  As an Eighth Air Force report put it, "The air war against the U-boats should not be regarded as either wholly defensive, nor wholly offensive.  It can probably best be termed a counter-offensive."27  It was also very difficult to prove, conclusively, either argument.  It was against this operational and doctrinal background that the Atlantic Convoy Conference met in Washington, from 1 to 12 March 1943, comprising representatives from British, Canadian, and U. S. agencies concerned in the Battle of the Atlantic.  Among several other topics, this of the proper deployment of VLF land-based aircraft rose stubbornly to the surface during the deliberations of the conference.  
     
          By this time it had become generally recognized that antisubmarine warfare was a problem for air power just as much as for surface forces, if not considerably more.  Much time was still being spent in documenting this point and the operational statistics regarding attacks and sinkings of enemy submarines tended to move steadily in favor of aircraft.28  And it was equally evident that too few aircraft,  
     
     

 

     
     
 
56
 
     
  especially VLR, were being employed in this kind of warfare.  Admiral Noble, R. N., struck this note early in the conference:29  
     
 
        The submarine menace, to my mind, is becoming every day more and more an air problem.  We haven't had enough aircraft during the last two years.  We are just reaching a point where we can see ahead of us the chance of getting enough, and I am sure this conference will come to some agreements and decisions as to how to best use these aircraft when we get them and when they get to their proper operational theatre.
 
     
          The Atlantic Convoy Conference, however, dealt only with the problem of air coverage for convoys, insofar as air operations were included in its recommendations at all.  The problem of an air offensive was ignored, no doubt, for the very good reason that it bore only indirectly on the problem of convoy.  Admiral King, however, took pains in his opening address as chairman to make his position on this subject very clear:30  
     
 
        I take upon myself the privilege of offering some advice as to how you should go at the matters in hand. . . . the High Command recognizes that the antisubmarine war is a matter of first importance; but we must also recognize that the defeat of the U-boat is not of itself the goal we seek, however much it is an essential step in reaching the goal.  May I add the observation that your immediate task is to protect our shipping by what may be called defensive antisubmarine warfare. . . . We have got to devote our somewhat limited overall resources only in part to finding submarines.  This makes it necessary that we use what we have to the very best advantage. . . . I have heard something about "killer groups" which may be of great use when we can get enough means, provided they are used directly in connection with the convoy routes, for that is where the "bait" is.  I see no profit in searching the ocean, or even any but a limited area, such as a focal area -- all else puts to shame the proverbial "search for a needle in a haystack." . . . antisubmarine warfare for the remainder of 1943, at least, must concern itself primarily with the escort of convoys.
 
     
  In these words, Admiral King recommitted himself, if not the entire U. S. Navy, to a policy of defense in the U-boat war, at least for the  
     
     

 

     
     
 
56
 
     
  rest of the year.  Yet at the same time he left the way open for the future development of an offensive strategy.  
     
          Concurrently with this debate regarding strategic doctrine ran a parallel debate concerning organization.  The controversy over strategy suggested that some reorganization of command would alone be likely to remedy a basic disagreement over the deployment of forces.  The nature of the antisubmarine war remained such as to demand as nearly absolute cooperation between the commands and services involved as was humanly possible.  And there were other problems which pointed in the same direction.  All boil down in the final analysis to the constant need for economy and for mobility in the use of those resources available.  
     
          It was the old story over again, reminiscent of the days before the AAFAC was activated.  The German submarine fleet, under a single commander, and deployed within a large strategic plan, possessed the great advantage of flexibility; and being flexible it was able to retain the initiative in the Atlantic even after it had been forced by strategic considerations beyond its control to concentrate its efforts defensively against the "invasion" convoys.  In contrast, the antisubmarine forces, especially those of the United States, suffered from complicated and divided command and from a wasteful duplication of effort.  Little attempt had been made to standardize communications, intelligence dissemination, training, or tactical doctrine, either among the nations concerned or between the U. S.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
57
 
     
  Army and the U. S. Navy.  As a consequence, each agency felt that, in order to discharge its obligation, it would have to plan a much larger program than would have been required in a strictly integrated plan.  Finally, no single commander existed, either among the Allies or within the U. S. forces, whose sole responsibility it was to prosecute antisubmarine warfare, and to move antisubmarine forces as the tactical situation indicated.  
     
          Although it was a problem involving the entire campaign and each of the Atlantic Allies, it was a particularly vexing one for the United States, where each of the above mentioned difficulties existed in peculiarly aggravated form,  Basic disagreement existed concerning the nature of the antisubmarine mission.  Each service seems to have planned with the entire campaign in mind -- AAF authorities had observed with some misgivings that the Navy was including in its allocation plans a force sufficient to do the whole job without the aid of the AAFAC.31  This duplication, or threat thereof, involved training facilities and bases as well as planes.  Though the Navy exercised operational control over all U. S. antisubmarine operations, it had as yet no integrated system for exercising that control.  The job was left to the various sea frontier commanders who had other responsibilities, under the coordinating authority of the Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet, whose office had also many other things to do.32  And the AAFAC, organized, equipped, and trained under the administration of the AAF, actually failed to fit into this inflexible system of naval control.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
58
 
     
  The result was that the AAFAC flyers had frequently to work with naval commanders who did not understand their training, equipment or tactical doctrine.  Still worse, units of valuable antisubmarine aircraft were left frozen to naval frontier commands where practically no submarines existed or to the protection of "unthreatened" convoys, while certain overseas waters teamed with the enemy.33  It was alleged that the Navy not only failed to act upon over-all intelligence reports concerning U-boat concentrations, but failed also to provide the AAFAC units with enough basic intelligence data upon which to operate effective patrols.34  The position of the overseas squadrons (the two sent to England in November of 1943 and moved to Africa in March 1944; was especially anomalous.  Without wing organization in which they might have found some degree of autonomy, these squadrons were forced to operate under a foreign (although basically congenial) system while in England, and while in Africa under a bitterly disputed area command.35  Any attempt to move the AAFAC squadrons involved ponderous procedures within War and Navy department channels, possibly even unavoidably slow liaison with other Allied commands.  The result was that movements were likely to be too slow to cope with the extreme mobility of the U-boat fleet.36   
     
          Most agencies concerned recognized the need for reorganization of the antisubmarine effort.  Admiral King, himself no friend of radical change, experienced impatience at the slowness with which the antisubmarine forces were being moved to counter the shifting U-boat concentrations.37  And he had agreed, a little grudgingly, to General Marshall's proposal that a study be undertaken to improve coordination  
     
     

 

     
     
 
59
 
     
  in the campaign.38  The problem was accordingly entrusted to a subcommittee of the Combined Staff Planners (created 5 January 1943) for study and recommendation.39  
     
          Preliminary discussions in the subcommittee seem to have been promising.  The flaws in existing organization, especially the lack of unified command, were too obvious to excite much disagreement in the abstract.  According to the AAF members, however, it appears that on second thought the U. S. Navy members "interposed strenuous objections" to any plan which amounted to a change in their existing organization or policies.  The result was a paper which the AAF members felt "intimates much but specifically says nothing."40  
     
          What this report (CPS 56/3, dated 1 March 1943) did was to present the problem formally and collect considerable reference data on the problem of countering the submarine menace.  Little exception could be taken by anyone to the general recommendations concerning organization.  It recommended that the national antisubmarine effort in each Allied nation be integrated under one naval commander who "should be able to concentrate entirely on that task."  Forces should be allocated to antisubmarine operations exclusively and areas of operation clearly defined, especially for the air forces of the two services.  To permit flexibility in control and operation, "an ideal to be aimed at" would be the creation of a system of bases, communications, and weather-forcasting facilities within which the forces might be moved rapidly from one area to another.  Although a single authority for the total United Nations antisubmarine effort would be  
     
     

 

     
     
 
60
 
     
  very desirable, that would have to wait until the national organizations became more uniform with each other, a process which would take time.  Meanwhile, with increased flexibility and augmented forces, it would be reasonable to expect the antisubmarine machine to be set to work on both offensive and defensive projects in which air and surface forces would operate in close cooperation.  
     
          Innocuous as this report appears, it aroused vigorous protest on the part of the AAF members.  After much discussion, during which the recommendations had been considerably diluted, they had agreed to sign it rather than to submit a split paper.  Colonel Williamson did however, turn in a minority report in which he objected that the subcommittee had given too little attention to reducing the number of U-boats at sea.  He recommended that first priority he given to implementing plans for organization and technical developments which would increase the effectiveness of action against the submarines at sea, including the use of killer groups composed of radar- and DF-equipped destroyers to break up submarine concentrations.  There should, he maintained, be no diversion from offensive operations to defensive convoy coverage.41  
     
          The AAF members further clarified their position in a plan of their own for reorganizing the antisubmarine machinery, which they submitted to General Arnold.42  They proposed specifically that each of the major Allied nations concerned should create a task force under a single commander who should control all national anti-U-boat operations; that all national air and surface forces (the latter  
     
     

 

     
     
 
61
 
     
  including carriers) be placed under an air and a surface commander respectively; that all Allied antisubmarine forces in the Atlantic be placed under one commander who would have no other responsibility; and that this over-all commander should be given a deputy for air and one for surface forces operating in the Atlantic.  This statement represented the AAFAC position in general, and was in substantial agreement with the British and Canadian opinion.  An earlier plan from AAFAC sources had made no objection to leaving supreme control in naval hands "since the responsibility for securing trade routes is the responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy."43  The official AAFAC position was thus less radical than some earlier recommendations, such as that submitted in January 1943 by the Joint U. S. Committee on New Weapons and Equipment which would have removed the AAFAC entirely from the control of the Navy, and made it into a specialized force for locating and destroying U-boats wherever the latter might be found.44  
     
          The report of the CPS subcommittee (CPS 56/3) continued to be discussed.  In general it was felt to be a useful report, lacking, however, in recommendations of a sufficiently specific nature to be of much value in actual planning.  As CCS 203, it was submitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combined Chiefs of Staff, and on 30 April 1943, after almost 4 months of discussion, it was decided that this document should be approved in principle and sent to the agencies concerned for "guidance" and "appropriate action."  Action in any greater detail had been forestalled by Admiral King who feared  
     
     

 

     
     
 
62
 
     
  that, if the CCS approved the paper in its entirety, the result would be to restrict rather than to improve antisubmarine operations.45  Throughout these deliberations, Admiral King seems to have been especially concerned to avoid any sort of agreement which would limit the autonomy of the U. S. Navy, by taking from it the right to reorganize the forces under its responsibility according to its own plans.  
     
          This same attitude had been apparent when, in the meantime, the Atlantic Convoy Conference met early in March, to ponder the extremely critical situation in the North Atlantic.  Short of making clearer the areas of national responsibility in the convoy routes, the conference avoided the ticklish question of organisation.  Admiral King, its chairman, had warned against what he felt would be an unnecessarily unsettling discussion on that point.  He appealed to the conference for "unification of effort." but added:46  
     
 
        May I caution you not to think that unity of command is a panacea for all military difficulties or that it is the sine qua non of unity of effort.  Unity of Command in appropriate circumstances does unify the effort, but unappropriate centralization of command produces only the form and not the substance of unified effort.
 
     
  He warned especially of "mixed forces," a comment which surprised Air Marshal Durston, who spoke very favorably of the cooperation achieved by the RAF Coastal Command and the AAFAC squadrons sent to the United Kingdom.47  
     
          During the spring of 1943, then, the problem of organization was being weighed without more result that an uneasy agreement that some  
     
     

 

     
     
 
63
 
     
  reform, in the direction of closer integration of authority, would be highly desirable.  Meanwhile the rugged logic of events was fast outrunning the more academic thinking that prevailed in the official conferences.  By March the situation in the North Atlantic had become so grave that President Roosevelt, on the 18th, wrote as follows to the Chief of Staff, U. S. Army and the Commander in Chief U. S. Fleet.48  
     
 
        Since the rate of sinking of our merchant ships in the North Atlantic during the past week has increased at a rate that threatens seriously the security of Great Britain, and therefore both "Husky" and "Bolero," it seems evident that every available weapon must be used at once to counteract the enemy submarine campaign.
 
     
  Both Army and Navy high commands had come to about the same conclusion, and every effort was being made to strengthen the antisubmarine striking force.  The AAFAC squadrons formerly operating from England were moved, in March, to Pt. Lyautey in North Africa to help cover the vital approaches to that theatre.  In accordance with the recommendations of the Atlantic Convoy Conference, additional squadrons were made available for Newfoundland to help cover that critical leg of the northern convoy route.49  General Arnold had declared himself especially anxious to implement the ACC recommendations recommendations in these two areas as quickly as possible.50  In order to supply the necessary VLR aircraft for this increased ocean coverage, the Combined Chiefs of Staff committed their respective nations to provide, by 1 July 1943, planes of this type according to the following schedule:51  
     
     

 

     
     
 
64
 
     
 
US AAF
75
US Naval AF
60
RAF
105
RCAF
15
 
255
 
     
  General Arnold left no doubt about the "firmness" of this committment.52  Fortunately, it was estimated that it could be met without changing planned commitments to other theatres.53  
     
          What remained to be done was to make the antisubmarine machinery, thus fueled, to operate both effectively and economically.  Reorganization would raise basic issues, many of which had proved chronically insoluble.  But something had to be done to remedy what was now recognized as the bottleneck of the Allied war effort in the West.  In this spirit, General Marshall wrote to Admiral King on 16 April:54  
     
 
        I wish to state now that I feel the air operations against submarines can be greatly improved and that complete reorganization of method, particularly as applies to very long range aircraft, is plainly indicated . . . . We [Generals Marshall. Arnold, and McNarney] are all firmly of the opinion that the present procedure is largely ineffective and makes poor use of a valuable instrument.
 
     
  And it was in this spirit that he brought the matter before the Joint Chiefs of Staff 3 days later.55  
     
          War Department experts had meanwhile been at work on plans for reorganizing the antisubmarine effort, insofar as it involved the use of VLR and LR aircraft.  It had become evident that this was the crux of the entire problem, overshadowing, in its immediacy, the loftier issue of unified Allied control.  It was on the basis of these studies that General Marshall was prepared to take action in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
65
 
     
          Early in March, Dr. Bowles, who had remained throughout its history the sage of the antisubmarine program, and had worked in the closest relationship with Secretary Stimson, submitted an exhaustive report to the Secretary of War covering the entire submarine situation.  In it he set forth what may be termed the logical Army policy with regard to the control of the AAFAC.  His recommendations arose from certain fundamental assumptions: (1) that the problem of antisubmarine warfare, since on it depended the Army mission in Europe, was essentially an Army problem; (2) that offensive tactics, both against the submarines' breeding grounds and on the open sea, could alone reduce the submarine fleet and therefore the mounting menace to vital Allied shipping; (3) that the long-range land-based bomber is the most useful weapon in this offensive strategy; and (4) that an effective use of this weapon depended on a closely coordinated and independent antisubmarine command.  Together, these assumptions led to certain inescapable conclusions concerning organization.  First of all, antisubmarine forces, whether surface-craft or aircraft, Army or Navy, should be controlled under one head. who should have the freedom of action and the status of a theatre commander.  The man to whom the responsibility would be entrusted for the safety of supply to the overseas troops should naturally be an Army man.  "The U-boat is primarily a weapon against supply, not against naval fleets."  
     
          Since "past difficulties have in no small measure stemmed from a failure to realize the effectiveness of air attack on the U-boat,"  
     
     

 

     
     
 
66
 
     
  the new commander and the new organization should be such that the air arm would enjoy the greatest possible mobility and freedom of initiative.  Although effective enough in the past, new weapons and navigational aids should, if used intelligently, make future operations against the submarine decisively successful.  In order to eliminate the necessity of routing commands through AAF channels -- coordination of the Army antisubmarine program was then being accomplished through the Director of Bombardment -- Dr. Bowles suggested placing the AAFAC under the direct control of Operations Division, WD General Staff, with theatre status.56  
     
          Dr. Bowles expressed some concern that such a large proportion of B-24 production was being allocated to the Navy, since most of these precious "heavies" would become a part of the Navy's own antisubmarine force on the Atlantic Coast.  "Could we not," he urged, "make more efficient use of them in our own Command?" and, moreover, "should not a duplication of effort be discouraged?"  
     
          Secretary Stimson gave Dr. Bowles' study his hearty approval.  He was especially pleased with the prospect that under the proposed plan the Army could have an attacking system in operation by midsummer rather than by the end of the year, which was the best the Navy could offer under its current plans.  He foresaw difficulties in coordinating with the Navy, and he was prepared to take the matter to the President if that service proved "too obdurate in respect to cooperation."  In any event he was opposed to a compromise treatment of these plans in the Joint Chiefs of Staff which would "not allow full operational freedom to the Army in the command of killer planes."  
     
     

 

     
     
 
67
 
 
 
 
        Such a compromise [he wrote in 14 March 1943] might stultify the vigor and initiative available through the faith and initiative of our air command.  There is a very good precedent for such freedom in the British relation between the Coastal Command and the British Admiralty.  We ought to strike at no less than that.58
 
     
          Planners within the AAFAC followed roughly the lines of policy suggested by Dr. Bowles.  Apparently recognizing the fact that, until some final settlement of the command question could be reached, a period of experimental operations would have to be gone through, they proposed two alternate plans to allow units of the command to operate through the AAF chain of command and not "under the operational control of any other headquarters."  According to Plan A, the CG, AAFAC would deploy all his units in any required areas, operations to be conducted in cooperation with whatever air and surface antisubmarine forces might be active in those areas, but, presumably, not under the control of any such forces.  According to Plan B, he would create a task force composed of certain designated units of the Command which would operate on a status similar to that of Plan A, the remainder of the units operating as they were at that date, under operational control of the Navy.59  
     
          The Secretary of War had, a few days earlier (1 April 1943), made a proposal similar to Plan B,  As a temporary stopgap measure he suggested the organization of a small task force within the AAFAC to function "during the experimental period more or less in an independent status."  The Secretary of the Navy had given his veto and that of COMINCH to this plan which they felt to be tactically unsound.60  
     
     

 

     
     
 
68
 
     
          With reference to these abortive discussions, and on the basis of plans outlined by War Department experts, General Marshall frankly raised the issue of organization in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  In a memorandum (JCS 268), presented on 19 April 1943, he declared himself strongly of the opinion that the ultimate solution for the employment of the air arm in antisubmarine operations "particularly, and possibly exclusively as applied to VLR aircraft: could only be found in a unified command responsible for that type of operations.  If such an authority could be set up, the result would be to override the limiting effect of the system of naval districts and sea frontiers under which the air arm had been forced to operate.  If such an authority could not be determined, he felt "we will tend to limp along under unavoidable difficulties that always exist when a new procedure has to develop under normal staff routine and operational organization."  He therefore proposed that the U. S. shore-based air forces on antisubmarine duty in the Atlantic be organized to provide "highly mobile striking forces" for offensive action in addition to convoy coverage "in certain critical areas," and that this command operate directly under JCS as to policy in a manner similar to that of a theatre commander.  Moreover, in view of the urgency of the situation, General Marshal added that the Army and Navy should each provide VLR B-24's for this command at the rate of 12 per month during May, June, and July -- this in addition to the 75 Army and 60 Navy VLR aircraft currently allocated to the antisubmarine campaign.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
69
 
     
          In JCS 268, General Marshall hoped to place the joint air force above questions of rival jurisdiction.  By vesting the control of his proposed command in the JCS themselves, with COMINCH as their executive, 61 he left the way open for the appointment by JCS of an immediate commander most suitable for the job.  It was a solution more in accord with the complex and competing command relationships than Dr. Bowles', though no more logical than the latter's proposal that final authority rest with the War Department.  According to policy then in the process of formulation (JCS 253/2/D, dated 20 April 1943), command of any joint force would be settled on the basis of the nature of the mission to be performed, and the single commander would be designated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  Now it did not take abnormal insight to see that in view of this policy a very strong argument could and would be made for an Army Air Forces officer as commander of the VLR aircraft on antisubmarine duty.  For the moment, General Marshall was apparently willing to leave that point unstated, hoping that, as soon as JCS 263/2/D was approved the question would resolve itself.  
     
          Navy authorities no doubt arrived at this conclusion themselves, for action on JCS 268 was deferred pending the receipt of a report being prepared by the Navy Department bearing on the same problem.62  On 1 May, Admiral King presented his alternative plan63  (JCS 268/1, dated 3 May 1943).  He proposed to set up at once in the Navy Department an antisubmarine command to be known as the Tenth Fleet.  Headquarters of this command would consist of "all existing antisubmarine activities  
     
     

 

     
     
 
70
 
     
  of the U. S. Fleet."  The Commander, Tenth Fleet, would have direct command over all sea frontiers, using frontier commanders as task force commanders; and would exercise control over all LR and VLR aircraft engaged in the work.  In order to avoid duplication, initial training in Army antisubmarine aviation would be given by the AAFAC under guiding directives prepared by the Commander, Tenth Fleet.  Maintenance of any antisubmarine aviation would also appropriately remain a function of the Commanding General, AAF.  A logistical plan would be evolved to permit the greatest possible mobility on the part of the air units.  
     
          The Tenth Fleet proposal provided only a partial answer to the problem.  It vested responsibility for antisubmarine operations in a commander who did not have competing claims to his attention.  That at least was a step in the right direction.  But it did not in any way meet General Marshall's recommendations in JCS 263.  It placed shore-based air power under the control of the Navy Department rather than the JCS; and, while it appeared to involve a sweeping reorganization of the Navy Department, it actually did nothing of the sort, for it left the system of sea frontier commands as the basic machinery for the employment of the air arm.  Indeed, to AAF observers it seemed that the only real change involved in Admiral King's paper was that COMINCH would emerge with increased control over AAF antisubmarine forces and the right to use Army bases.64  It also appeared that Admiral King envisaged the possible expansion of the Tenth Fleet's jurisdiction beyond the Atlantic to include the South and Southwest  
     
     

 

     
     
 
71
 
     
  Pacific.65  This jurisdiction would actually involve the authority to allocate antisubmarine aircraft and vessels between Atlantic and Pacific area, a prerogative hitherto resting with the JCS.66  
     
          Final action on the Tenth Fleet proposal (JCS 268/1) was left to personal discussion between Admiral King, General Marshall, and General Arnold.67  Although the plan failed to meet his full approval, General Marshall was willing to compromise.68  He recognized that, according to JCS 263/2/D, the Navy had prior interest in antisubmarine warfare in general.  He was therefore willing to accept the Tenth Fleet even at the expense of removing antisubmarine operations from the province of the JCS to that of the Navy Department.  And since the air component would be a joint force it should be operated within the Tenth Fleet.  But JCS 263/2/D would also govern the command of this joint land-based air force.  Not only was the antisubmarine mission of special importance to the Army, but the problems of bases, air transport, maintenance, and supply were all essentially Army problems.  And, with some 400 VLR bombers scheduled for this antisubmarine mission by the end of the year, the Army was entitled to some recognition in the command orgainzation.69  General Marshall therefore requested that an Army air officer be given command of the VLR and LR aircraft engaged in antisubmarine warfare.70  It is impossible to determine from the available papers how this request was received.  It is clear, however, that on 19 May, Admiral King proclaimed the existence of the Tenth Fleet, under the direct command of COMINCH, for the purpose of exercising unity of control over U. S. antisubmarine operations in that part of the Atlantic under U. S. strategic control.71  
     
     

 

     
     
 
72
 
     
          The Tenth Fleet, though a step in the right direction, solved nothing.  The situation remained in an acute state of unstable equilibrium.  In fact, it may be that, by the latter part of May, a compromise settlement on the antisubmarine situation was no longer possible.  By that time, and issue much larger than that of the land-based antisubmarine air force had been raised, and a solution of the lesser problem would have to wait until the larger issue, of which it constituted a part, could be satisfactorily settled.  In other words, control of land-based antisubmarine aircraft raised the question of the control of all land-based long-range aircraft employed on overwater missions.  
     
          The Navy had steadfastly resisted the notion that land-based aviation constituted a virtually separate arm which no longer fitted into the older pattern of the two primary services.  In a perfectly natural effort to make its forces self-contained and to be as free as possible from the cramping necessity of coordinating with forces of another service over which it could exercise only an indirect authority, the Navy had striven to build up an air force of its own.  This effort became especially vigorous when the long- and very-long-range bombing planes demonstrated it preeminence in the execution of long-distance offshore patrol.  The Navy quickly recognized the value of the B-24 and secured large allocations of these aircraft.  By the end of June 1943, the Navy had received almost its full quote of 60 ASV-equipped VLR aircraft specifically designated for antisubmarine operations, 72 and was requesting increased allocations  
     
     

 

     
     
 
72
 
     
  for patrol work in other theatres.  According to the Bureau of Aeronautics, this requirement for an increase in land-based aircraft arose in part from a shift of emphasis from seaplanes to long- and medium-range land planes for both antisubmarine operations in the Atlantic, and sea-search, reconnaissance, and patrols in the Pacific.73  And Admiral King had, in his comments on the unified antisubmarine command, intimated that he hoped such a system could be extended to include operations in the Pacific.  
     
          It was a very natural policy on the part of a service which had traditionally maintained a purity of organization impossible in the Army forces.  As General Marshall pointed out, the problem of control of long-range aircraft operating with the Navy on antisubmarine patrol bore a marked similarity to the Army problem of divisional organization.74  A divisional commander knows that he can handle the artillery and engineering more efficiently if they as all organic parts of the division and do not include elements attached only for a particular operation.  But, without forces almost unlimited in numbers, such a policy would result in a duplication which, however efficient for the particular project, would be ruinously wasteful to the war effort as a whole.  This was a problem which the Army had been forced to face since 1917.  But, except for the creation of virtually a second army in the shape of the Marines, the problem had not presented itself to the Navy until the question of air striking forces had arisen.  It was a trend which, if carried to its logical conclusion, would mean the eventually consolidation of the Army and Navy, for it would remove the essential distinction between them.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
74
 
     
          It is clear that the Navy had no such consolidation in mind.  But for some time, in fact from the beginning of the allocation of B-24 aircraft to the Navy, Army observers had been concerned about the Navy's plans for controlling these forces.  Now, in the summer of 1943, it began to appear that the Navy was bent, not only on building up a large force of long-range land-based bombers for patrol purposes and convoy coverage, but was prepared as well to deploy then on a large-scale strategic offensive, along lines roughly similar to those marked out by the AAFAC.  Admiral King had eschewed an offensive for the entire length of the calendar year 1943.75  For 1944, Navy planners were preparing to deploy antisubmarine forces in a coordinated offensive with the object of destroying the enemy at sea, a policy which the AAFAC had developed from its inception.76  Signs were apparent by the middle of 1943, however, that indicated the Navy's intention to begin offensive action somewhat earlier.  In April the Allied Antisubmarine Survey Board urged deployment of support groups, composed of aircraft carriers and destroyers to be given the primary mission of taking offensive action against submarines.  It also urged that the "maximum effort" should be put into an offensive in the Bay of Biscay transit areas.  All these offensive operations would, however, have to wait until sufficient convoy escort forces had been secured.77  A few days later Admiral Leahy, in a meeting of the JCS intimated that the only reason for the delay in offensive action was a lack of forces.78  In May the question of an Allied offensive in the Bay of Biscay was again broached by the British Chiefs of Staff.79  By this  
     
     

 

     
     
 
75
 
     
  time Admiral King offered only initial objections to diverting air units to that project.  He maintained that an "irreducible minimum" of antisubmarine forces had to be maintained on the eastern coast of the United States because. while few submarines were currently in those waters, they could change their location more rapidly that aircraft.80  And he once again declared himself opposed to the mixing of forces in projects of this sort.81  As soon as it was demonstrated that an excess of VLR aircraft was located in Newfoundland, following the defeat in May of the U-boat packs in the North Atlantic, Admiral King solidly supported a plan for transferring as many as possible of those units to the United Kingdom for the purpose of participating in the Bay of Biscay offensive.88  
     
          It is not surprising, then, that War Department observers looked on Navy plans relative to land-based aircraft with some apprehension, not mixed with suspicion.  As far as the AAFAC was concerned, it appeared that the Navy was intent either on duplicating its function within its own organization by the increased allocation of B-24's to be deployed on offensive operations, which would be patently wasteful, or on securing complete control of all antisubmarine aircraft, including those of the AAFAC, which would simply remove the danger of duplication to a much higher level and expand it on a much grander scale.  The density of the AAFAC as a strategic air striking force then became inextricably tied up with the question of strategic air striking forces in general, a question which all but involved the separate existence of the Army Air Forces itself.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
75
 
     
          So the situation after the establishment of the Tenth Fleet remained extremely acute.  Indeed it rapidly deteriorated.  For the issues were now clearer, and it had become evident that control of the long-range antisubmarine air force could be disposed of in two ways only;  it could be given to the Army Air Forces, with or without the over-all operational supervision of the Navy, or it could be given completely to the naval authority.  The AAFAC, acting merely as the AAF's contribution to the total antisubmarine air force, no longer occupied a tenable position.  Logically speaking, there was plenty of middle ground.  If, as General Larson himself maintained, the AAFAC were considered the "Strategic" antisubmarine air force and deployed exclusively as a long-range, mobile striking force, then the Navy air arm engaged in antisubmarine patrol could be left the job of close support of the Fleet in the peculiar naval mission of protecting shipping, and thus become the "Tactical" antisubmarine air force -- a division of command into two independent organizations, based on a natural division of function.83  But the force of circumstances now greatly outweighed the force of logic, and General Larson's conception of his Antisubmarine Command and its place in the military scheme of things bore little relation to the larger conflict of interests in which the command had become involved.  
     
          Pending a final settlement with regard to the control of all air units engaged in antisubmarine warfare, there arose a grave danger that the air campaign itself might suffer.  Fortunately, by June, the situation in the North Atlantic no longer threatened the very  
     
     

 

     
     
 
77
 
     
  life line of U. S. forces in the European Theatre.  But the situation in the Mediterranean depended on still doubtful ability of ocean convoys to reach African and Mediterranean ports.  It was to make safe the passage of these convoys that the Navy urged participation in the British offensive in the Bay of Biscay.  The War Department, although well aware of the value or offensive action in this key area, was reluctant to commit U. S. air units to the project until the question of their control could finally be made clear.84  The project was given War Department and AAF endorsement before any serious delay was experienced.85  The fact remained, however, that the AAFAC and those agencies having to do with its mission were handicapped by the impossibility of reconciling long term obligations with an immediately precarious status which necessitated planning on a short-term, emergency basis.86  This momentary hesitation on the part of the War Department helped to force the issue concerning the over-all organization.  
     
          Final deliberations had already begun.  On 10 June 1943, Rear Adm. McCain met with Generals Arnold and McNarney to draw up an agreement which would settle the question once and for all.  From the documents available it is impossible to give a detailed account of the resulting discussions.  Suffice it to say that an agreement was reached along the following lines:87  
     
 
a. The Army is prepared to withdraw Army Air Forces from anti-submarine operations at such time as the Navy is ready to take over those duties completely.
   
b. Army anti-submarine airplanes would be continued in that service as long as the Navy as need for them.
 
     
     

 

     
     
 
78
 
     
 
c. Army anti-submarine B-24 airplanes would be turned over to the Navy in such numbers as they could be replaced by Navy combat B-24's.
   
d. The Navy is requested to submit a schedule on which the Army can turn over their planes to the Navy and draw Navy replacement B-24's.
   
e. The Fleet Air Wings which the Navy proposes to station along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts will comprise only those types of aircraft who's primary functions are those of offshore patrol and reconnaissance and the protection of shipping.
   
f. It is primarily the responsibility of the Army to provide long-range bombing forces (currently called "strategic air forces") for operations from shore bases in defense of the Western Hemisphere and for appropriate operations in other theatres.
   
g. Long-range patrol planes assigned to Fleet Air Wings are for the primary purpose of conducting offshore patrol and reconnaissance and the protection of shipping, relieving Army long-range bombing forces from these duties.
   
h. Nothing in the foregoing sub-paragraph is to be so interpreted as to limit or restrict a commander in the field, Army or Navy, in his use of all available aircraft as weapons of opportunity or necessity.
 
     
  In effect the Arnold-McCain agreement constituted a radical division of responsibility in the employment of long-range aircraft.  In return for unquestioned control of all forces employed in protection of shipping, reconnaissance, and offshore patrol, the Navy would relinquish all claim to control of long-range striking forces operating from shore bases.  The control of these so-called "strategic air forces" would remain, therefore, ineluctably an Army Air Forces responsibility.  It was an agreement which affected issues far larger than that of the immediate fate of the AAFAC.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
79
 
     
          It was one thing to reach an agreement in committee and quite another to secure its approval by those more conservatively attached to the vested interest of their respective services.  Neither Admiral King nor Secretary Stimson was willing to give up without a struggle.  Admiral King accepted with alacrity the proposal that the Army hand over its antisubmarine responsibility to the Navy.  It was, he said, a solution he was himself preparing to propose.88  He gave no indication, however, of turning over to the Army the quid pro quo by which the concession was to be obtained, apparently preferring to leave unsettled the Army's right to conduct other long-range striking operations by land-based planes.89  
     
          To Secretary Stimson this failure of Admiral King's to indorse both halves of the Arnold-McNarney-McCain agreement seemed simply to guarantee continuation ad infinitum of trouble between Army and Navy.  
     
          Furthermore, he was by no means convinced that the agreement itself promised any improvement in the war effort.  He granted the wisdom of clarifying the over-all jurisdiction, provided the result was clear enough to eliminate friction between Army and Navy.  But he seriously doubted if the antisubmarine campaign would profit by the elimination of an AAF organization staffed by young, air-minded men, trained in the use of long-range land-based bombers, and possessed of the initiative and inventiveness necessary to develop antisubmarine offensive measures to the utmost.  The AAFAC had, he felt, embarked on a policy entirely foreign from anything the Navy had hitherto proposed.  And it still possesses the equipment, personnel, and doctrine uniquely adapted to the purpose of destroying the submarines at sea.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
80
 
     
          Since reorganization was necessary, he had strongly supported the plan originally presented to the JCS by General Marshall, which provided an AAF commander for all land-based VLR planes, who would work under the general operational supervision of the Navy.  The plan had an impressive precedent in the relation of the RAF Coastal Command to the Admiralty.  To Secretary Stimson, it seemed the only reasonable way of insuring that a concerted offensive would be launched which would clear the Atlantic of submarines in advance of the "enormous stream of our troops which will have to cross that Ocean for the 1944 invasion."  In his opinion the organization for antisubmarine warfare proposed by the Navy was deficient in the elements essential to success:  namely, free initiative, exercised by men acquainted with modern methods, elasticity in the operation of these methods, and freedom from the limitations imposed by an organization based on coastal frontiers.  If these views of Secretary Stimson's did less than justice to the resourcefulness of the U. S. Navy, they full indorsed the potentialities existing in an AAF command for carrying an effective antisubmarine warfare.  
     
          In short, Secretary Stimson refused to approve the transfer of any antisubmarine activity to the Navy unless the latter were prepared to accept the entire Arnold-McNarney-McCain agreement, and he stated that he wished to be heard by the President on the subject should it reach the White House.90  
     
          Faced with a possible impasse in a matter so close to the heart of the war effort, General Marshall issued what General Stratemeyer  
     
     

 

     
     
 
81
 
     
  termed "one of the strongest and most important documents which has been signed by the Chief of Staff thus far during the war"91:92  
     
 
        The question of responsibility for offensive operations against submarines and that of responsibility for long-range air striking forces are so closely related that a proper solution of one, in my opinion, involves consideration of the other.  The tentative Arnold-McNarney-McCain agreement appeared to offer an acceptable solution to both of these issues and solely on that basis I stated to you in my memorandum of June 15 that your proposal to take over anti-submarine air operations appeared to offer a practical solution to a vexing problem which has adversely affected the efficiency of our aerial war effort.
 
     
 
        I should state here that in all of these Army and Navy air discussions I have tried very carefully to hold myself to a position from which I could consider the problems from a somewhat detached and I hope, purely logical basis.  As I remarked in the meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff the other day I feel that the present state of procedure between the Army and Navy is neither economical nor highly efficient and would inevitably meet with public condemnation were all the facts known.  I have been hopeful that during the actual war effort we could manage our business in such a manner as to be spared the destructive effects of reorganization procedure.  But I am becoming more and more convinced that we must put our own house in order, and quickly, in order to justify our obligation to the country.  I feel this very strongly because it is plain to me, however it may appear to others, that our present procedure is not at all what it should be.
 
     
 
        Feeling as I do that the two questions involved are part and parcel of the same problem I believe that the Committee on Missions of the Army and Navy should be given both questions in their entirety for appropriate recommendation, or that we should formalize the entire Arnold-McNarney-McCain agreement.  The latter procedure promises earlier, and I believe, more satisfactory results as it appears rather likely that the Committee may reach an impasse in the matter as the result of past strong prejudices and bitter discussions.
 
     
  General Marshall made it clear that the Arnold-McNarney-McCain agreement did not establish a basis for the duplication of the long-range air striking force now in being in the Army.  "Such duplication, if permitted, would be patently uneconomical and would result in an  
     
     

 

     
     
 
82
 
     
  unavoidable drain on our resources."  Meanwhile, he assured Admiral King that the AAFAC would continue to function.  "Insuring that no detriment to the war effort will occur as a result of any delay which may accrue while this matter is being properly settled."  
     
          On 9 July 1943, approximately 1 month after the Arnold-McNarney-McCain committee convened, its agreement was accepted by both War and Navy Departments.  A schedule was subsequently established whereby 77 Army antisubmarine-equipped B-24's would be transferred with related equipment to the Navy, in return for an equal number of combat equipped B-24's from Navy allocations.  The transfer was to take place gradually from the latter part of July to the end of September.92  Some difficulty arose over the relief of the squadrons on duty in the United Kingdom and in Northwest Africa.  Finally it was decided to keep them in their current duty status until such time as they could be relieved by similarly equipped Navy squadrons.  On 6 October 1943, Bombardment Branch, Operations, Commitments, and Requirements, was able to report that the 77 planes in the original agreement had been transferred.93  In October, also, the Navy Liberators arrived at Dunkeswell, Devonshire, to relieve the 479th Group.  By the middle of November, the 480th Group had been relieved and was on its way back to Langley Field from Northwest Africa.  
     
          The AAFAC officially passed out of the picture before the complicated mechanism of transfer could be completed.  By an order, dated 31 August, from Headquarters, EDC and First Air Force, its headquarters was redesignated Headquarters, I Bomber Command, and assigned  
     
     

 

     
     
 
83
 
     
  to the First Air Force, effective 24 August 1943.94  The AAFAC wings, the 25th and 26th, were inactivated and their personnel, together with all excess personnel left over from the earlier expansion made necessary by the increase in antisubmarine activity, were made available to AC/AS, Personnel for reassignment.  The domestic squadrons, 17 of the 25 separate squadrons of the command, were redesignated as heavy bombardment units and assigned to the Second Air Force.  The 18th Squadron, which had operated as an OTU at Langley Field, was assigned to the Sea-Search Attack Group of the First Air Force for the purpose of conducting replacement crew training on radar equipment.  The 23rd Squadron continued temporarily to serve as a special task unit, on special duty with the Navy in the Caribbean for the purpose of experimenting with 75-mm. armament in B-25 aircraft, after which it went, with the bulk of the other squadrons, to the Second Air Force.  The 479th Group, with four squadrons stationed in the United Kingdom, was inactivated and its personnel and equipment (the latter not a part of the 77-plane agreement assigned to the Eighth Air Force, its personnel to be used as a nucleus in forming a pathfinder group.  Similarly, the 480th Group returned intact to the United States, where upon the bulk of its personnel was assigned to the Second Air Force, a few of the officers remaining on duty with Headquarters, AAF.  Its aircraft were made available for use in the American and Pacific theatres.95  Both the 479th and the 480th Groups continued operations until the later part of October 1943.  
     
          As this slow process neared completion, and the Army Air Forces prepared to bow finally from the stage of antisubmarine operations,  
     
     

 

     
     
 
84
 
     
  the work of its deceased Antisubmarine Command became the subject of several laudatory statements, in which Admirals King and Andrews joined with General Arnold and others, who were in like position to know whereof they spoke, in pronouncing it a job well done.96  
     
          If there is one fact which stands out above another in this story of the policies and concept surrounding the Army Air Forces' participation in the antisubmarine campaign, it is that the fate of the AAFAC depended not at all on its doctrine of antisubmarine warfare or on its ability to fulfill the requirements of its mission.  Throughout most of the story a sharp cleavage in strategic doctrine had emphasized a cleavage already existing between the services jointly engaged in the work.  And there were those who, like Secretary Stimson and General Larson, maintained to the end the value of the Army doctrine and the unique ability of Army air officers to implement it.  But, although committed to an organization which scarcely allowed the flexibility considered in air circles essential to the highest efficiency in antisubmarine warfare, and possessed of no less adequate experience in the operation of land-based aviation then the AAF, the Navy was ready in the summer of 1943 to project an offensive which the AAFAC had preached since its previous incarnation as the I Bomber Command.  There doubtless still existed a difference of opinion relative to the priority to be attached to offensive operations.  To the Navy, convoy escort probably still ranked above killer tactics.  
     
     

 

     
     
 
85
 
     
  Nevertheless, the Navy was prepared to throw everything possible into an effort to destroy the U-boats at sea as soon as the maximum requirements for defense had been met.  And, thanks to the substantial defeat of the U-boats during May, June, and July, those requirements could be met at an earlier date than naval plans appear initially to have anticipated.  
     
          The question at issue therefore was not strategic or even tactical, but rather the larger one of jurisdiction over long-range, land-based air striking forces.  With reference to this more comprehensive problem, control of the AAFAC constituted little more than a test case.  But the importance of a test case is determined by the importance of the issue being tested, and the case of the AAFAC becomes consequently one of the most significant arising in the U. S. armed forces during the present war.  
     
     
     
     

 


 

Click the icons to view the associated records

Return to the Army Antisubmarine Command History page
Return to the Army Air Force Antisubmarine Command page