The Bessel Committee reported that the time had definitely come for long-term programming to guide the war machine developing in the United States. The committee determined that what was required was a broad and long-range strategic plan for the defeat of the enemies of the United States, whereby requirements might be balanced against means and resources and then translated into a realistic military program. Despite their focus on long term solutions, various other committees continued to debate the total number of personnel and divisions the Army truly needed. In 1943, the Maddocks Committee recommended putting off making a decision regarding troop strength until the end of summer based on the realization that ultimately, the size of the Army was largely dependant on the course of the Soviet-German fighting and the effectiveness of the combined British-American bomber offensive in Europe; a recommendation that reinforces a focus on planning for and against a known enemy with specific capabilities. At no time was there mention that these groups were focusing beyond the war.
The challenges that General Marshall and the Secretary of War had in determining and selling manpower numbers to Congress and the nation pale in comparison to today’s planners. Since the end of the Cold War, accurately identifying our enemies has proven to be very difficult. And unfortunately, with very few exceptions, not knowing who you are going to fight makes it difficult to determine on who you can rely.
In today’s military, the enemy may not be across an ocean or large geographical expanse but here in our own back yard. War plans have expanded beyond the design of two brigades forward and one brigade back. Today we are forced to develop TTPs that allow our military to meet Homeland Security missions such as: prevent, deter, defend, and defeat attacks on the United States, our population, and our defense critical infrastructure (homeland defense) and support civil authorities directed by the President or Secretary of Defense as part of a comprehensive national response to prevent and protect against terrorist incidents or manage the consequences of attack or disaster (homeland security).
While General Marshall and his cohorts projected manpower needs to fight a known enemy on a symmetrical battlefield, today’s planners are dealing with the issues of determining if we have the right combination of troop strength and organizational framework capable of symmetric and asymmetric responses to current, potential, and unidentified threats both locally and globally and in a joint force framework. Where General Marshall’s decision to move forward with 90 divisions may have indeed been an insightful decision (or courageous gamble), it was still a decision (gamble) made without the multitude of complexities that faces today’s DOTMLPF capabilities driven Army.