By Thomas Donnelly
Best Defense office of historical force structure analysis, French and Indian War to World War II division
Beyond the official story, that Army chart tells you a couple of things:
1. Army was never as big as planned.
2. It got heavier -- more tanks and more artillery.
3. It got heavier in different ways than planned -- fewer tanks, a lot more artillery.
4. Didn't buy as many aircraft as planned.
5. Needed many more higher-echelon support troops than planned.
1. Were the differences a result of policy, manpower constraints, industrial constraints, tactical learning?
2. For a war that's supposed to be about the rise of tactical aviation and close air support, the increase in artillery and failure to meet aircraft goals is interesting.
3. Higher-echelon support troops: Like other wars, this was fought in coalition and at great strategic distances from the United States and at great operational distances within the theaters. Is "tail" actually "tooth?"
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.